Why is marriage between first cousins not prohibited in Islam?Â Isn’t there scientific research that strongly shows that marriage between first cousins can lead to genetic defects?
Thank you for your response.
To understand why Islam has not prohibited marriage between first cousins, it is imperative to first understand the scope of Islamic teachings, in general and its prohibitions, in particular.
The scope of Islamic teachings is limited to the individual and collective morality and spiritual well being of the people. Islam, for instance, does not guide us to make more effective rockets to reach the moon or to discover more effective cures for cancer or AIDS. By the same token, Islam does not prohibit things for their medical or scientific repercussions. On the contrary, Islamic prohibitions are strictly related to the moral and spiritual repercussions of things or actions. Thus, Islam prohibits the consumption of liquor, not because of its repercussions on the physical health of a person but because of the potential dangers of liquor on the moral and spiritual health of the individuals and the society; and because smoking a cigarette or consuming (chewing) tobacco does not entail such moral and spiritual repercussions, Islam does not prohibit it, even though the repercussion of smoking or chewing tobacco may not be any less grave, as compared to the consumption of liquor.
Keeping the foregoing explanation in perspective, it should be easy to understand why Islam has not prohibited marriage between first cousins, while emphatically prohibiting a number of other relations.
The reason why Islam has declared certain relations as prohibited for marriage is to warrant a stable family structure for man, which, in turn, is one of the essential requirements for the socio-moral well being of man. Marriage between first cousins – as opposed to marriage between brothers and sisters, for instance – does not destabilize the family structure, even though it may have certain negative medical repercussions on the children born of such a marriage. Thus, Islam does not prohibit such a marriage.
29th July 2000