Marriage between first cousins (close relatives) 

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Marriage between first cousins

Renowned UK doctors certify this practice to be medically perfect

Note: These articles are not intended to either encourage or discourage marriage between close relatives. They are intended to just dispel many myths spread by "others" with regard to the subject matter.

Marriage among Relatives: Answer from Islamic scholar (Mufti)

Marriage is not allowed to all relatives: it is banned to whom?

(A) Dr. Imteyaz Ahmad Khan

These medical reports are nonsense. You are quite right in saying that "I also believe that whatever our religion preaches cannot be unhealthy". Absolutely true. I am so pleased to read this sentence from you . This must be the belief (Eiman) of every Muslim.

If it was harmful enough to cause such serious complication as congenital deformities, Allah would not have permitted it and made it "Halal" unreservedly. You know very well that when Allah has prohibited "Sharab" ( Khamr) in Quran, He says that there are benefits in it and harm (evil) in it and its evils and harm are greater than its benefit , so don't go near it. I think to be congenitally deformed is far far more serious than being intoxicated , if it were to be the result of marriage between close relatives, Allah would not have permitted it.

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Secondly Allah says to Muslims in Quran that for you the best example is in the "Uswa of Rasoolallah SAS " (life and deeds of Prophet SAS). And Prophet SAS got his most beloved daughter Fatima RA (the head of ladies of Jannah) married to his own first cousin Hazrat Ali (R.A.). And Rasoolallah SAS himself married his own first cousin Zainab (RA) after her divorce from Hazrat Zaid. In fact Allah Himself performed Prophet's Nikah to Hazrat Zainab in the heaven. Do we think that Allah Who is the ultimate source of all the knowledge in the universe would go along a potentially and inherently harmful act for His most beloved prophet and do his Nikah to a close relative? Certainly not.

That was the religious and also most important consideration which outweighs and supersedes any worldly knowledge that turn out to be faulty, times and again, and get ultimately discarded at later stages.

Now let us look examine some facts and figures. The highest number of congenital deformity and very serious ones (involving brain) is found in Western people where there e is no marriage between cousins and close relatives. I have attended thousands of deliveries in operation theatre in UK and first question the mother asks " Is he/ she OK and normal"? I used to be surprised by this question , then I was told that there are frequent incidences of abnormal births in Caucasians. The incidence is far fewer amongst Muslims, married to close relatives or outside. Hindus don't get married to relatives and they have fair number of children born with congenital abnormalities.

I am married to first cousin. Alhamdolillah , I have 4 children and none of them have any physical , mental or intellectual disability, Alhamdolillah. There are quite a few friends of mine who are married to first cousins and their children have ended up in Oxford and Cambridge and are in top positions and have no abnormality. On the other hand I also know couple of other Muslim friends who were married totally outside ( not even a distant genetic link) and unfortunately they had child without any brain. The genetic medical theory is not backed up by facts on the ground.

(B) Dr. Khalid Khan, one of the youngest doctors to become a consultant in UK, writes

I will confine myself purely to the scientific side of the issue in general terms. Clearly the appropriateness of a given rishta is something only you and Aunty are in a position to judge. Furthermore, as a basic premise that which is permitted and done by our beloved Nabi (saw) cannot and is not harmful or undesirable.

1. 75% of the genes between first cousins are unique to them and not shared between then.
2. Most individuals carry one very serious genetic mutation in their bodies and thus nearly all couples related or unrelated will have abnormal genes in them but by the amazing process Allah has ordained for babies, these rarely manifest themselves.
3. The vast majority of serious abnormalities in pregnancies do not progress very far. Approximately 75% conceptions never go beyond the first 6-8 weeks of pregnancy. These usually have very serious some developmental problem that Allah does not allow to proceed. Remember that the birth of a normal baby is a scientifically and spiritually amazing process.
4. Most of the genetic or congenital abnormalities that do arise are from new mutations in eggs/sperm/embryo or development problems in utero e.g. Down’s syndrome, heart defects etc – they have no correlation with consanguity (close relationship between parents)
5. Many classically inherited disorders e.g. cystic fibrosis (the most common) invariably happen with unrelated parents as the underlying disorder is carried frequently (1:20) in everyone.
6. There are certain disorders such as haemophilia or thallassaemia that do run in families and where two individuals are known to carry this disorder (related or unrelated) then an increased risk of this disorder in the child exists – here counseling is important. Even here having further children is not prohibited in the modern medical world. In the Mediterranean where this is common quite commonly 2 unrelated individuals will carry the gene – it does not stop marriage etc.
7. Historically in the Royal Families of Europe over the last few centuries, marriage was invariably between 1st cousins to build bridges and maintain/propagate dynasties. Other than haemophilia in the Russian Royal family, there are little or no record of disorders arising in the many princes and princesses born.

I have summarized a few salient points that I hope you find helpful in your understanding and decision making. Most of the people who raise concerns over consanguity have little understanding of gentics and the risks and causes of congenital (majority not inherited), hereditary and developmental disorders which leads to a lot of confusion and misunderstanding as well as creating undue anxiety.