Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Can muslims marry first cousins ?

Dear Brother, Assala-mu-alikum.

Holy Book, Word of Allah, Message from Allah

Quran 2:2 "This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah"

I am confused about the marriage of cousins, like daughters of my paternal uncles or paternal aunts or maternal uncles and maternal aunts. It is very clearly mentioned in Quran, Surah 33 (Al-Ahzab), Ayat 50 that only Prophet Mohammad  (Be peace upon him) got that privilege from Allah (SOA) due to migration. It  is also clearly mentioned that any of these marriage is not for (rest of ) the believers. Also in Sura 4 (An-Nisa), Ayat 23 Allah (SOA) forbidden to marry "your sisters." In this Ayat, Allah (SOA) mention the forbidden relationships to marry for us. Here, Allah (SOA) mention " sisters" which is plural better describes own sister including all four related cousin sisters of Surah 33, Ayat 50. This is what my understanding from Quran regarding marriage between cousins which is forbidden for normal believers like me except Prophet Mohammad (Be peace upon him). Science also proved that this kind of marriage between close blood relationship may be detrimental for the offspring.

Brother, I already know that this kind of marriage is going on all over the muslim world. That doesn't mean this practice is correct (may Allah(SOA) mercy us) and we have to continue it. We know, our prophet's sunnah cannot be contradictory to Allah's ordain. Would you please show me any Ayat from Quran which can permit us (regular believers) to marry the same cousins. These two Ayats are so clear that I need your kind explanation based on Quran only, not by any other human being. Inshallah Quran is explained in very simple and clear way. Human practice may have errors. Besides, If we believe then we must have to believe whole Quran;  Ayat by Ayat or word by word not as per our liking. We cannot hide any part of Quran for our own benefit too. May Allah (SOA) forgive us all.

Please, answer.


Alamgir R. Siddiqui

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16 Responses »

  1. salaam,

    that verse is concerned with permission rather than prohibition as it starts with, "Prophet, we have made lawful for you..."
    But that is just the way I see it, really. It is well known that prohibited marriages are
    outlined in detail in Verses 22, 23 and 24 of
    Surah 4, entitled "Women", or "An Nisaa ".
    The first of these verses starts with a clear
    order: "Do not marry women whom your
    fathers had married...The second begins
    with a simiclear prohibition: Forbidden to
    you in marriage are your mothers,
    daughters, etc. When the list is complete,
    the third of these verse states: And lawful to
    you are all women beyond these, for you to
    seek out, offering them of your possessions,
    taking them in honest wedlock, and not in
    fornication, etc." Moreover, such marriages
    are lawful according to the practice of the
    Prophet who married his own daughter,
    Fatimah, to his cousin, Ali. Had there been
    any restriction on the marriage of cousins,
    the Prophet would not have allowed such a forbidden marriage.
    I also remember one hadith where it was written that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised one of his companions to find himself a wife from a tribe different to his and then finding a good spouse for his son/daughter from another tribe. I think from Islam's point of view it is much better to widen our circle and making new relatives when it comes to marriage.
    I hope I've given some help anyway =)

  2. Im a sister but still - wa alaikum assalaam,

    "Would you please show me any Ayat from Quran which can permit us (regular believers) to marry the same cousins. These two Ayats are so clear that I need your kind explanation based on Quran only, not by any other human being. Inshallah Quran is explained in very simple and clear way. Human practice may have errors. "

    Brother, the Quran is not a book that any Muslim can or should pick up and make their own rulings out of.
    It needs a mufassir. Undoubtedly it is a book of guidance and rahmah for all, but with regards to fiqh and shariah derived from it, that is not the job of us ordinary Muslims. We have to take from the scholars, who are humans yes, but who are that much closer to Allah and more educated as well as inspired inshallah.
    Rasoolallah s.a.w has compared a worshipper (abid) and a scholar (alim) as the worshippers being the stars with the scholar being the moon.
    Even during the Sahaba's time, they had certain specific companions who were reknowned and approached for Tafseer - such as Ibn Abbas r.a.

    The scholars have unanimously agreed that in Islam it is permissble to marry first cousin, it is not a prohibited act. Yes science may have its concerns and you can advice people to marry that are not too closerly related however we are not permitted to make something haraam which Allah s.w.t has made halaal. It cannot be more harmful than beneficial as in that case, it would have been made haraam. Neither is it recommended like some cultures make it seem like. It is simply permissible for those who want to do it.

    If you want the technical nitty gritty scholarly side of it, then you are in the wrong place. You need to approach an Alim to explain to you how it is not prohibited in the Quran or Sunnah of Rasoolallah s.a.w. Nobody here is a qualified scholar.

    Was salaam

  3. Hi alsalam mu alaikum nice advise Faith and i hope you will take it.Quran is the book of guidance to everyone in this whole world.So when ever you have any question in any Aya it better to read any translation books of quran or ask any Scholar or an Alim as Allah ordered as to ask them if we dont quran there is no certain Aya witch forbids the marriage between cousins. it like wish if you want to or not & may Allah guide us to the right path.

  4. My understanding is that it is permissible.

    However, what has happened, in my opinion, is that muslims have taken this permissibility and fashioned it into a default rule. Islam encourages moderation in all respects. I find that particularly in south asian muslim communities, consanguinous marriages are the norm. Hence, many offspring of such unions experience genetic abnormalities, which I won't get into here. They typically occur where generation after generation "marries each other."

    So many groups are permissible to us within which we can marry. Yet, so many muslim cultures endorse cousin marriages as the standard.

    To give you an example, in Islam, we are permitted to eat any type of meat except pork. Chicken, seafood, lamb, beef, etc. But if we restricted our diets to chicken only, eventually we would suffer the consequences of eating an imbalanced diet.

    The Holy Quran says that Allah SWT has created tribes amongst us so we can get to know one another. That is a very powerful message and I think that should be the guiding principle in this era where siblings' children marry each other, and their children then marry each other, and so on.

    • Maryam, do you live in South Asia, have you experienced it?

      As far as my knowledge of South Asia goes, majority of people marry other than first cousins.

      What do you say?

      • Come on, maryam has a point, big time.

        Asians, specifically pakistanis, indians and etc were and still are too much into marrying cousins.

        In TOO many families , especially "back home" we find that it is not really an seen as an option to marry anyone else. Since birth, you are brought up with this mentality where its got to be Aisha, Amina or Aliya, one of your first cousins. Oh and preferrably you should choose the one lightest in complexion n colour!

        I dont currently but I have lived in south asia and I've experienced it - not personally- but as in seen enough of it.

        Maryam's example of chicken was a v good one, mashallah.


        • Yes I am Southeast Asian and this happens alot, cousins marrying cousins. I think its to make the family ties stronger? It's better to marry a family member that you know well instead of a stranger? I don't know what the reason is but it happens often. It is one of these things that is permissible if you happen to find a cousin that you like, but it is not mandatory meaning if you marry someone who is not your cousin it will not be a sin.

          I personally believe that there are more than 1.5 billion muslims out there, why not choose someone new? If you can (marrying someone outside of your family members) I mean go for it because not many of us are that lucky unfortunately 🙁

        • He he,

          Sad story 🙁

          He made us tribes so that we may know each other - you say it has a strong message - of course - it does have it.

          But how many of those who says these ayats follow it?

          Would you marry someone other than your race or nationality Maryam?

          • I am of Pakistani extraction, and yes I would 100% marry outside my race and nationality (which is not Pakistani).

            All of my cousins in Pakistan have married their cousins. My parents are cousins. My uncles and aunts all married cousins. The list goes on. And its not just in my family. I see it everywhere. It is especially rampant amongst first and second generatioin immigrants in the U.K.

            I believe that it actually stems from the caste system that is so ingrained in south asia, originating of course with the Hindu subculture. It is so much easier to marry within your caste by marrying within your family. For the same reason, cousin marriages were common amongs european and asian royalty and aristocracy, and still continues, I believe, in parts of China.

          • This is why birth defects, mental retardation and insanity have historically been common in European royalty. They are excessively inbred.


    • I learned that back in the day Cousin Marriage would especially happen to keep their business/wealth among the family and not be spread to extended family.

  5. Salaam brother,

    As far as the ayaat 50 of Surah 33 Al Ahzaab is concerned, let us look at it deeply.

    يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَحْلَلْنَا لَكَ أَزْوَاجَكَ اللَّاتِي آتَيْتَ أُجُورَهُنَّ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ يَمِينُكَ مِمَّا أَفَاءَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمِّكَ وَبَنَاتِ عَمَّاتِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالِكَ وَبَنَاتِ خَالَاتِكَ اللَّاتِي هَاجَرْنَ مَعَكَ وَامْرَأَةً مُّؤْمِنَةً إِن وَهَبَتْ نَفْسَهَا لِلنَّبِيِّ إِنْ أَرَادَ النَّبِيُّ أَن يَسْتَنكِحَهَا خَالِصَةً لَّكَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَدْ عَلِمْنَا مَا فَرَضْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِي أَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَمَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ لِكَيْلَا يَكُونَ عَلَيْكَ حَرَجٌ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا

    Ya ayyuha alnnabiyyuinna ahlalna laka azwajaka allateeatayta ojoorahunna wama malakat yameenuka mimmaafaa Allahu AAalayka wabanati AAammika wabanatiAAammatika wabanati khalika wabanatikhalatika allatee hajarna maAAaka waimraatanmu'minatan in wahabat nafsaha lilnnabiyyi in aradaalnnabiyyu an yastankihaha khalisatanlaka min dooni almu'mineena qad AAalimna ma faradnaAAalayhim fee azwajihim wama malakat aymanuhumlikayla yakoona AAalayka harajun wakana Allahughafooran raheeman

    Common translation:
    O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you and a believing woman (imraatan mu'minatan) if she gives herself to the Prophet, ] if the Prophet wishes to marry her, [this is] only for you, excluding the [other] believers. We certainly know what We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right hands possess, [but this is for you] in order that there will be upon you no discomfort. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.

    The word here used is "imraatan mu'minatan" not nisa. Most of the well known English translators of the
    Qur'an here translate this as a "believing woman" not as a "believing wife or believing married woman".
    The word "imraat" occurs in the Qur'an in this form 25 times out of which leaving this verse for a moment and verse 282 of Surah Al Baqarah, the exact, apparent and fitting meaning for "imraat" at all 23 instances is "wife".

    In Surah 4, An Nisa, ayats 22,23,24 state the women whom believers should not marry and those who are haraam for believers are stated. ( I hope you can open the Qur'an and go through these ayats quickly).

    Rest all women are halaal aur lawful for marriage to the believers which include the cousin sisters as well.
    Ayat 50 of Surah Al Ahzab speaks about the women who are lawful for the Prophet (and along side him for the believers as well, because if it was haraam Allah would not allow it to the Prophet as well) and after stating all the women who are lawful for the Prophet and believers, Allah makes the exception. The word "imraatun mu'minatan" - " a believing wife" ; if she bestows her "nafs - psychology - self" to the Prophet and if he desires to marry her, a privilege for him only and not for the rest of the believers, so that there is no blame against the Prophet in what Allah has made lawful for him.

    If we translate the word "imraat" as just a " woman and not as a wife" than any believing woman who offers her nafs to the Prophet and if he desires her, he can marry her, in that case, it would not be something for the "Prophet only", all believers are allowed to do it and marry believing woman who offer themselves and whom they desire to marry.

    Only if we consider "imraat" in the ayaat as "wife" we are able to answer this question of "something exclusively" for the Prophet and not for rest of the believers.
    Otherwise, if we go by all major translations of the Qur'an which say "believing woman" then we shall have nothing in the translation of the ayat which states " something is exclusively for the Prophet and not for the rest of the believers".

    So do not worry, it is halaal as per 22,23,24 ayats of Surah Nisaa for you to marry believing women other than those stated there.

    I hope the question is answered to your satisfaction and may Allah increase the sincere ones in the
    Knowledge of His Book, those who strive to learn it with truth.

  6. I do not want to marry cousins, whether close or distant, because of the potential problems it could entail. Marrying one would seem to be more convenient. I believe that the greater the genetic similarity between the parents, the greater the chance of getting two copies of the bad gene when marrying cousins and passing along the genetic diseases that are caused by recessive genes to the next generations of off-springs. Furthermore, we can move on from an ex-spouse, but there is no such thing as an ex-cousin. How are our parents and the ex's parents supposed to handle a nasty divorce or a breakup? How can they support their kid without antagonizing their siblings and their siblings' kids? We would have wrecked the whole family. I believe it is a whole lot worse than marrying a friend or an office mate.

  7. Hi,
    I will just get to the point. My mother told me to marry my cousin(my uncle daughter). Then I express my concern regarding cousin marriage. She told me that the reason she choose my cousin is because she know her akhlak (personality, manners and etc). The thing that you have to understand here is that in our community we don't visit stranger home and male and female don't get to know each other, so the chances of finding a women yourself is really low. Your parents (especially mother) have to look for your future wife. I haven't made up my mind yet so I am still waiting, maybe I should do istiharah prayer. My mother further explain that she can find a women which is not related but she cannot guarantee her akhlak.

    • Assalamu'alaikum,

      You could agree with the latter option and talk to the gorl before you decide to marry, finding out if her akhlaaq fit your expectation. This is what one does when he does not know the girl.

      Abu Abdul Bari Editor

  8. Cousin marriage also occurs when one cannot find a suitable marriage partner in his/her surroundings due to poor economic condition of the region. One is then forced to marry his/her cousin abroad. Then one has to leave his/her country, detached from the culture of origin and then get to fit in an alien culture.

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