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Is It Permissible for Me to Marry My Maternal Cousin’s Son?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

I am a woman who has received a marriage proposal from my maternal cousin’s son. Is it permissible for me to marry him?

Answer:Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage

It is permissible for you to marry your cousin’s son, as he is not mahram (permanently unmarriagable kin) to you.

I encourage you to enrol in and complete this course Marriage in Islam: Practical Guidance for Successful Marriages.

Culture

It sounds like in your culture, your cousin is like your sister, and so your cousin’s son would feel like your nephew. It’s important to clarify the difference here – legally, your cousin’s son is not your nephew, so it is permissible for you to marry him.

May Allah bless you with a loving and tranquil marriage, and bring you and your husband closer to Him.

Please see:

Who Is Mahram?
Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered

A comprehensive collection of resources that offer clear and practical guidance on successful marriages. Based on the Qur’an, Prophetic teachings and scholarly wisdom, find out how we can all have marriages that fulfill the worldly and spiritual potential of what the Prophet ﷺ referred to as “half the religion.”

And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this there are signs for a people who reflect. Qur’an [30:21]

Intention, Priority and Purpose

Overcoming Difficulties Before Marriage

Parents and Guardians

Overcoming Differences And A Troubled Past

Converts

Keeping it in the Family

Getting Married The Right Way

Staying Married

Related courses

Marriage in Islam video playlist, with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Habib Hussein as-Saqqaf, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Shaykh Muhammad Adeyinka Mendes, Habib Umar bin Hafidh and many others.

First Cousin Marriages and Potential Hereditary Diseases

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I am interested in sending a marriage proposal to my first cousin. My parents were first cousins, and it has come to my attention that marrying my first cousin may be mukrooh as there are known hereditary diseases in my family that may be transmitted to my offspring. I have made istikhara and the interpretation was positive. I love my first cousin but will not marry her if the marriage would be considered mukrooh or may be displeasing to Allah (swt). Please give me advice on how I should proceed.

 

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

It is permissible to marry one’s first cousin; there is nothing wrong or disliked about it in Islam. However, if for a specific family it is feared that multiple generations of marriage to cousins can lead to hereditary diseases, then it could be disliked or even unlawful to marry one’s cousin due to the potential of resultant harm.

A legal maxim states, “Harm is to be avoided,” [Majalla] based on the saying of the Prophet himself (peace and blessings be upon him), “There is neither harm nor reciprocating harm.” [Ibn Maja, Daruqutni]

As for your specific situation, consult a reliable physician and genetic counselor, and then seek expert legal opinion from a reliable scholar for your specific case.

For more detail, please see:

The Ruling of First Cousin Marriages: A Balanced Perspective

Did the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) Discourage Marrying Cousins?

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Did the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) Discourage Marrying Cousins?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Did the Prophet (peace be upon him) discourage marrying relatives (ie. cousins) even though it is lawful?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

The short answer is that there are certain narrations that discourage marrying cousins, yet experts of hadith verification have determined them to be extremely weak or fabricated.

The Narrations in Question

– “Do not marry within the family [i.e., cousins], as that leads to children that are thin and weak.”

– “Do not marry within the family [i.e., cousins], since the child would be born thin and weak.”

– “Marry outside the family, lest the offspring be thin and weak.” [Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Habir]

Regarding these and similar narrations, the 7th century hadith specialist Ibn Salah said, “I found no reliable basis for them.” Many eminent hadith masters mentioned his statement and concurred, such as Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Ibn Mulaqqin, and others. [Ibn Hajar, Talkhis al-Habir; Ibn Mulaqqin, Khulasat al-Badr]

Taj al-Subki said regarding these narrations, “I found no chain of transmission (isnad) for them.” [Subki, Ahadith al-Ihya Alati La Asla Laha]

Hence it can be concluded that these narrations — as statements of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) — are fabricated.

After mentioning Ibn Salah’s verdict, Hafiz Iraqi does state that it was rather Sayyidina Umar who made such a statement, specifically in response to a certain family/tribe whose offspring were thin and weak. He said, “You all have become thin and weak, so marry outside the family.” [Iraqi, Takhrij Ahadith al-Ihya’]

Incidentally, this advice from Sayyidina Umar corresponds with current genetic research indicating that marriage to cousins in successive generations is associated with increased likelihood of disability in offspring.

Also, the Hanbalis in particular explicitly mention that it is recommended (mustahabb) for a man to marry outside the family, as doing so normally leads to healthier and stronger offspring. [Mawsu`a Kuwaitiyya]

The Legal Ruling

As a legal ruling however, marrying one’s cousin is completely lawful in Islam, based on the Qur’an, Noble Sunna, and scholarly consensus (ijma`).

The categories of women one is forbidden to marry are clearly delineated in the Qur’an (see 4:22-24), and one’s cousin is not listed there.

Moreover, it is well-known that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) married off his daughter Fatima to Sayyidina Ali, who was the Prophet’s cousin (Allah be pleased with them both).

And the Prophet himself (peace and blessings be upon him) married his first cousin, Zaynab bint Jahsh (Allah be pleased with her), as she was the daughter of the Prophet’s paternal aunt Umaymah.

Of course, the permissibility does not necessarily mean that such marriages are encouraged in the Sacred Law, especially when repeated over generations. As mentioned above, there are often health concerns if first cousin marriages continue over several generations. A physician should be consulted in particular cases.

This answer sheds more light on the issue:

The Ruling of First Cousin Marriages – A Balanced Perspective

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Are First Cousins Considered Like Brother and Sister for the Purposes of Marriage?

Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam

Question: One of my relative is about to marry his father’s own brother’s daughter.  Isn’t he a mahram to her? Aren’t they like brother and sister. Is it allowed in Islam?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

It is permitted to marry one’s cousin. This is clear. [Mawsili, al-Mukhtar li’l Fatwa; Maydani, al-Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

The scenario you mention seems to indicate that he is marrying his cousin. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Examples from the Sunna

Examples from the sunna include that of the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and give him peace) marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh (Allah be pleased with her), his cousin; and that of Sayyiduna Hanzala (Allah be pleased with him) who married his cousin Jamila bint Ibn Ubayy.

The Conclusion

The upshot is that they are not considered like brother and sister. Far from it, rather, they are considered to be two unrelated people. He is not of the unmarriageable kin (mahram) for her; hence they would observe proper etiquette accordingly.

Related Answers:

[1] Are First Cousin Marriages Permissible in Islam?

[2] The Ruling of First Cousin Marriages: A Balanced Perspective

And Allah knows best.

Wassalaam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Are First Cousin Marriages Permissible in Islam?

Answered by Ustadh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I’m looking for answer on first cousin marriage according to Quran and sunnah.  I love my cousin but her mother say first cousin marriage is not allowed in Islam.  According to her mother Allah warns us to beware of cousin marriage danger.  Please explain this for me.  Thanks.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

The General Ruling

First-cousin marriage is completely fine and lawful according to the Qur’an and Sunna. There is scholarly consensus (ijma’) on its permissibility.

In Sura Nisa’ (4:22-24), Allah Most High lists all the categories of women that one cannot marry, which does not mention first cousins, and then says, “Lawful to you are all besides those mentioned.”

From the Noble Sunna, we know that our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) married his daughter Fatima to his first cousin Ali (Allah be well pleased with them both). And the Prophet himself (peace and blessings be upon him) married his first cousin Zaynab bint Jahsh (Allah be well pleased with her).

Your Particular Case

Having said that, the permissibility does not necessarily mean that such marriages are encouraged, especially when repeated over generations.

There are often health concerns if first cousin marriages continue over several generations. A physician should be consulted in particular cases. This answer sheds more light on the issue:

Lastly, I would strongly advise you to consult a pious scholar or counselor to help you deal with this situation, as there are other considerations that must be taken into account when dealing with such sensitive issues. A marriage with family approval more often than not is better in the long run, although there are always exceptions.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

The Ruling of First Cousin Marriages: A Balanced Perspective

Answered by Dr. Asim Yusuf

Question: My questions relates to marrying first cousins. Although its permissible in Islam, i was wondering as regards to arguments against this as many people cite health issues and high rates of disabilities among children. I’m struggling to get my head around a ruling in Islam that potentially puts people or children at risk. I am in no way saying the Islamic ruling is wrong as I would never oppose anything in Islam but rather I would like clarification so as to have a better understanding as non-Muslims often ask why we would have this ruling and always cite particular studies.

Answer: Thank you for your question and your concern for supporting the religion.

As you have quite rightly pointed out, the default legal (shari`) ruling is that first cousin marriages are permissible. However, there is no intrinsic animosity between ‘fiqh and fact’, as it were; and indeed the opinions of experts in fields such as medicine and astronomy have always been taken into consideration when issuing fatwa. It is important to bear in mind the difference between the ‘fiqh’ (which is the general or default ruling) and the ‘fatwa’ (which is a specific legal opinion that considers individual circumstances).

Examples abound in the legal literature, with a prominent case being the determination of the qibla through reliance on astronomical and mathematical findings. In addition, and perhaps more pertinently to your query, expert medical opinion plays a central role in applying various dispensations regarding purification, prayer, fasting and hajj.  Before looking more closely at the specific medical evidence regarding consanguinity (the marriage of close relations), though, it might be worthwhile exploring something of the nature and philosophy of Islamic law.

The Shari’a As Mercy

Our scholarly tradition, from the very outset, has recognised that the fundamental principle underlying the whole of the Divine Law is mercy, which is defined as ‘the intending of good to those in need.’

Allah says that, ‘the All-Merciful taught the Qur’an,’ and the commentators on this verse explain that the guidance contained within its verses is the greatest explicit manifestation of His ineffable mercy [cf Qurtubi: al-Jami’]. One of the aspects of our beloved Prophet Muhammad’s (peace and blessings upon him) honorific ‘Mercy unto the worlds,’ is that he was sent with a way that is a manifestation of pure mercy; and one of the understandings of the hadith, ‘the religion [in its entirety] is pure well-wishing,’ is that the shari’a is nothing but the manifestation of Allah’s intending pure goodness for human beings [ibn Rajab: Jami’ al-‘Ulum wa’l Hikam].

Foundational concepts such as this are crucial for our own understanding of our religion; they ground us in our relationship with Allah, and transform what can seem mundane, repetitive tasks into transcendent signs (ayat) that point to the Creator. In addition, however, they provide a framework with which to explain our religion to others. It is the failure to discern the general wisdom underlying specific rulings of the Sacred Law – and our failure to express it – that puts many people off Islam as a whole.

To a non-Muslim, making the point that ‘Islam is mercy,’ might come across as an easy platitude. It is important, therefore, to understand that our ulama took this fundamental truth and laid bare  its operation at the very core and marrow of the shari’a. Behind every specific ruling of the shari’a, they discerned a deep wisdom, which they summed up as follows: ‘the basis of the rulings of sacred law is to avert harm and accrue benefit’ [al-Izz: Qawa’id al-Sughra (paraphrase)]. They further specified the higher purposes of the shari’a as being: ‘the preservation of religion, life, intellect, lineage and wealth.’ [Ghazali: al-Mustasfa].

With this in mind, we note that fiqh rulings – and especially specific fatwa – give particular weight to sciences such as medicine as a means of determining where benefit and harm lie. For example, the obligatory fast of Ramadan may actually be prohibited to individuals who – in their physician’s considered opinion – are at significant risk of serious harm. In this case, the avoidance of (physical) harm takes precedence over the acquisition of (spiritual) benefit. In cases where one’s actions are likely to result in harm to others, this principle is even more emphatic. For example, it would be impermissible for an HIV positive man to have unprotected intercourse, because of the high risk of infecting his wife (and unborn child) with a lethal disease.

Consanguinity (Close Relation Marriages)

The upshot of the preceding paragraphs is that the shari`a legislates in the best spiritual and material interests of individuals and societies, and medical evidence is a valid means of determining where benefit and harm lie. The pertinent question, then, is: what does the medical evidence indicate about consanguinity? The field of genetics is an extremely complicated and rapidly expanding one, with new findings being regularly presented and critiqued. Currently, there have been about seventy major peer-reviewed studies performed on consanguinity, and their consensus findings would certainly suffice as evidence on which the fuqaha might base legal rulings.Their conclusions can be briefly summarized as follows:

1. One-off consanguineous relationships lead to a slight increase in the risk of genetic defects. As the incidence of many of these defects is very low anyway, the absolute risk still remains low.

2. Repeated cross-generational consanguineous relationships (known as endogamy) have a significantly higher risk of genetic defects (up to 10 times in some studies).

3. Most of these defects are mild to moderate, and can manifest in childhood developmental disorders (such as deafness or mild mental retardation) or adult illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and mental disorder.

4. The major problem occurs with consanguineous relationships in the context of certain rare hereditary illnesses known as Autosomal Recessive conditions. These are severely disabling conditions for which there are few effective treatments, often resulting in early death. Consanguineous relationships mean that both spouses are likely to be carriers of the defective gene, which in turn leads to a greatly increased risk of children suffering with these severe illnesses. As an example, if a couple such as this had three children, there would only be a 30% chance of all three escaping unaffected.

Summary

Thus in summary, one might state that:

1. The shari`a permits first-cousin marriage because the absolute risk of harm to the child remains low.

2. Endogamy is a cultural practice not specifically encouraged by the shari`a, and although it has been widely practiced by Muslim societies, major figures such as Imam Ghazali (citing Sayyidina Umar, no less) have cautioned against excessiveness in this – precisely because it ‘weakens the offspring.’  [Ghazali: Ihya XII]

3. In specific cases, where medical evidence indicates a very high risk of harm to future children, such marriages might even be deemed unlawful.

4. Prospective couples felt to be at risk of transmitting such genetic defects to their children would be expected to take the means to quantify the risk (though genetic counselling and medical consultation) and then seek expert legal opinion in their specific case.

5. Thus, as with most matters, the shari’a takes the middle path – between an excessive reliance on medical evidence that is nuanced in its findings, and a willful rejection of science as somehow antithetical to trust in the Divine.

‘And so have We made you a median nation, that you may be witnesses to mankind, and We have made the Prophet a witness over you.’

‘Allah desires ease for you; He does not desire hardship for you … that you might glorify Allah for what he has guided you to, and that you might be thankful.’

was salam

Asim Yusuf

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Dr. Asim Yusuf is a teacher, author vocalist and medical doctor. He was born in London and grew up in Manchester, before emigrating to South Africa with his family for a ten year stay.  He has been studying the sacred sciences for many years with many notable scholars including Al-Allama Rasool Bakhsh Saeedi, Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi amongst others. He is the academic director of the Path to Salvation (www.pathtosalvation.co.uk), an integrative modular syllabus of Islamic studies. He has been authorized to instruct students in a number of Islamic sciences, and currently teaches theology, jurisprudence, spirituality, tafsir and hadith. Dr. Asim is also a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is currently pursuing his Masters in Medical Education.