Marriage: Among relatives

Q344 :Scientifically speaking, consanguineous marriages, i.e. marriages between first cousins, tend to cause biological complications for children. How does Islam view such marriages?

A344 : Islam permits marriage between first cousins. If you read the Qur'anic verses which enumerate women to whom a Muslim cannot be married, you will find that this list does not include cousins. Therefore, such a marriage is permissible. What you have mentioned about the effect of such marriages on children is quite true. Hereditary points of weakness in a family tend to be more pronounced in the children of any marriage between cousins of that family. May I say that this is not totally a new discovery. In fact, the Prophet himself touched on it when he recommended his followers to marry outside their families and indeed outside their clans. It is needless to say that when marriage of cousins is repeated over several generations, they are bound to have more effects on children. The Islamic view is that while marriage between cousins is permissible, it is certainly preferable to choose a marriage partner from outside one's family. We have to distinguish between what is permitted and what is advocated. [ Some clans restrict marriages to amongst their kin only - a practice far from what is advocated].By permitting such marriages Islam does not encourage them. It advocates, not only for the reasons outlined above, the cementing of social relations through marriages between totally unrelated families. The Prophet once told one of his companions to choose a wife from a tribe different to his, and then to choose for his son a wife from a third tribe, and to seek for his second son a girl from yet another tribe. Preferring this course of action, Islam nevertheless permits marriage between cousins because it meets a social need.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )