Cousin marriage in the Muslim world: The risks

muslim inbreeding 2 Capture


Many people would find the idea of marrying a first cousin shocking, but such marriages are not unusual in  British Muslim communities.

It is estimated that at least 55% of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and the tradition is also common among some other South Asian communities and in some Middle Eastern countries.

But there is a problem: marrying someone who is themselves a close family member carries a risk for children – a risk that lies within the code of life; within our genes.

Communities that practice cousin marriage experience higher levels of some very rare but very serious illnesses – illnesses known as recessive genetic disorders.

The practice remains so popular because the community believes there are real benefits to marrying in the family. Many British Pakistanis celebrate cousin marriage because it is thought to generate more stable relationships.

top 5 Pakistani celebrities who married to their cousins-5

Babar Khan is a famous and talented Pakistani performer. His first wife died in an accident.The second wife of Babar Khan is his cousin.

Pakistani Celebrities Who Married To Their Cousins

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a popular and talented singer of Pakistan. He was married to his cousin Naheed.

Strong unions

Such unions are seen as strong, building as they do on already tight family networks.

But the statistics for recessive genetic illness in cousin marriages make sobering reading.

British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population – they account for just over 3% of all births but have just under a third of all British children with such illnesses.

Indeed, Birmingham Primary Care Trust estimates that one in ten of all children born to first cousins in the city either dies in infancy or goes on to develop serious disability as a result of a recessive genetic disorder.

Variant genes

Recessive genetic disorders are caused by variant genes. There are hundreds of different recessive genetic disorders, many associated with severe disability and sometimes early death, and each caused by a different variant gene.

We all have two copies of every gene. If you inherit one variant gene you will not fall ill.

If, however, a child inherits a copy of the same variant gene from each of its parents it will develop one of these illnesses.


The variant genes that cause genetic illness tend to be very rare. In the general population the likelihood of a couple having the same variant gene is a hundred to one.

In cousin marriages, if one partner has a variant gene the risk that the other has it too is far higher – more like one in eight.

butterfly skin Capture

“Butterfly Children” is a term often used to describe younger patients born with Epidermolysis bullosa (because the skin is said to be as fragile as a butterfly’s wings),

Myra Ali has a very rare recessive genetic condition, known as Epidermolisis Bulosa.

Her parents were first cousins. So were her grandparents.

“My skin is really fragile, and can blister very easily with a slight knock or tear,” she says.

Myra has strong views about the practice of cousin marriage as a result. “I’m against it, because there’s a high risk of illness occurring”, she says.


According to Ann Cryer ,ex- MP, whose former constituency of Keighley constituency has a large Pakistani population, much of the Pakistani community is inann cryer Capture denial about the problem.

She once told Newsnight that she believes it is time for an open debate on the subject: “As we address problems of smoking, drinking, obesity, we say it’s a public health issue, and therefore we all have to get involved with it in persuading people to adopt a different lifestyle”, she says.

“I think the same should be applied to this problem in the Asian community. They must adopt a different lifestyle. They must look outside the family for husbands and wives for their young people.”

source: Naseeb


  1. Ted Dornan

    What a sad state of affairs for people to suffer so egregiously just because they belong to a certain set of beliefs that make them slaves of the evil one. Surely the Master Yahushua will rescue these helpless ones whom Islam has led astray, for He knows their plight, their suffering and death and that they are lost without His intervention in their lives. May His love and mercy be on them to lift them from the trash heap of humanity and into His glorious Presence, omein!

  2. DAVI

    How utterly fucked upmis this? 50% of marriages are with a relative? This religion has folks living in the damn stone age. These babies came out looking like a damn horror show. Sick sick sick. As for them burquas…..ridiculous horseshit. As bad as them stank ass Amish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s