Cousin marriage in Islam

Islam permits cousin marriage. Cousin marriage was prevalent in ancient arabia and later it has become widespread among muslims because of tacit support in Islamic doctrine.

Islam's prophet Muhammad himself hoped to marry his first-cousin Fakhitah (later better known as Umm Hani), who was the daughter of his uncle (father’s brother) Abu Talib and the elder sister of Ali. To his disappointment Abu Talib refused permission, and Umm Hani was married off to a maternal cousin instead. After the death his first wife Khadijah, Muhammad married other women, including two of his own cousins, both daughters of his father’s sisters – Umm Salamah (the daughter of his aunt Atikah), and Zaynab bint Jahsh (the daughter of his aunt Umaymah). Umm Salamah was his 6th choice of wife, and Zaynab his 7th.

Muhammad's own daughters all married cousins for their first husbands. Zaynab married a maternal cousin, his daughters Ruqaiyyah and Umm Kulthum married the sons of his paternal uncle Abu Lahab, and his daughter Fatimah married her second-cousin Ali, the son of his paternal uncle Abu Talib.

Marrying close relatives such as cousins is considered act of incest in many cultures throughout the world. In addition to that, offsprings produced in this kind of marriage have high chance of death and genetic disorders.

The problem persists predominantly in muslim communities where cousin marriage is frequent and prefered.

According to a global report on birth defects which was conducted in 2006, the following mainly Muslim countries are the ones most affect by birth defects per 1000 live births:

1. Sudan 82.0/1000
2. Saudi Arabia 81.3/1000
3. Benin 77.9/1009
4. Burkina Faso 77.0/1000
5. Palestinian territories 76.6/1000
6. United Arab Emirates 75.9/1000
7. Tajikistan 75.2/1000
8. Iraq 74.9/1000
9. Kuwait 74.9/1000
10. Afghanistan 74.8/1000
11. Oman 74.8/1000
12. Syria 74.3/1000
13. Pakistan 73.5/1000
14. Nigeria 73.5/1000
15. Kyrgyzstan 73.4/1000
16. Qatar 73.4/1000
17. Bahrain 73.3/1000
18. Jordan 73.1/1000
19. Libya 73.0/1000
20. Tunisia 72.7/1000
21. Morocco 72.3/1000
22. Yemen 72.1/1000

Some articles that address this issue:

1. Muslim Inbreeding: Impacts on intelligence, sanity, health and society.

2. Genetic disorders in the Arab world.

3. Inbreeding: A huge Muslim problem.

4. The Richest, Fattest Nation on Earth: obesity, diabetes & genetic disorders among Qataris.

5. Muslim inbreeding causing surge in birth defects.

6. Cousin marriage becoming more estranged among British-born Pakistanis.
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