02 June, 2007

Irresponsible headlines

It pays to read the whole story: Marriage between close relatives 'does not pose health risk'


nzm said...

hi John

Your link isn't working.


John B. Chilton said...

nzm, Thanks. Fixed.

nick said...

"The Qur'an mentions incest in the Surat An-Nisa, which prohibits a man from having sexual relationships with his mother, daughter, sister, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, and niece. Relations with wet nurses are also prohibited."
So, apparently inbreeding with cousins is allowed and there seems to be a lot of this going on here in the UAE.

nick said...

source: wikipedia / incest - inbreeding

Anonymous said...

John, the link doesn’t work from the UAE community page.
It takes us to: 'http://uaecommunity.blogspot.com/Marriage', which seems to be 'not found'. It works fine from the comments page.
I believe that pre-marital health check is necessary, whether they are relatives or not; and I agree with the sentence: Marrying close relatives within the limits of religious sanctions may not necessarily pose health risks for offspring.
However, as far as I know, in Islam, we are advised to marry from non-relatives in order to increase our knowledge; it's just an advice, not an obligation, as far as I know…
If I am wrong in the last sentence, I will appreciate if someone corrects it!

Sheikha M. said...

OK, so if in Islam one is encouraged to marry outside of the family, why is it so prevalent?

If there was only one set of cousins that married, no problem. But when you look at generations of cousins marrying, the gene pool gets smaller. For those of you that remember your science classes, introducing new genes in breeding animals/plants known as "hybrid vigor" actually improves the strain.

So, if the ME has so many traits which are an outcome of very close genetics, and the Qur'an does not state that this should be done, why does the population continue?

Would be good to get some Nationals input on this.

MD said...

Yes Hatem, you're right. I tried looking for the exact Hadith or Quranic verses but couldn't find them. But marriage between kin is not particularly encouraged because as one of the Islamic scholars put it: "Marriage [is] a bridge between...tribes and communities and has been instrumental in the absorption of diverse people into a wider affinity."

My friend's parents are not allowing him to marry a local girl he loves. She's wonderful and belongs to a respectable family but they insist that his bride should belong to their own family--from the mother's side. Their argument is that they know the family and so, there is not room for any future problems. Personally, I don't think that's a good enough reason.

if in Islam one is encouraged to marry outside of the family, why is it so prevalent?

Ah, let's not go there again. Traditions and customs don't necessarily have a religious backing. Female circumcision is just one example.

fake balushi said...

It is always better to get married to a distant cousin, Then a girl you meat somewhere!

atleats you know the children you have are yours!!!! even if they r dumb and deaf.

who remembers the story about that local man who married a indian girl and later she Invited her Brother to stay in her husband home with them?????

The husband found out after 8 years that the guy is actaully her lover not her brother, and all his children are actually from her lover!!!

Thats was a Classic!

Women can never be trusted and Thats a fact, Fact!

Anonymous said...

What I don't like about this headline is that its totally unprofessional. I'm shocked every time I read such headlines in news papers.Its generalizations without being backed up by scientific facts and research.

Anonymous said...

Sheikha M, its more related to the culture and not religion.

Sheikha M. said...

Anonymous and MD, I am not tying it to religion and if that is your understanding, my apologies.

What I am curious about is...it appears that Islam is not FOR this, so why would the culture adhere to it, knowing that it can lead to problems? I understand in the old days, but I mean now?

What about the culture made this "the norm?"

As to fake balushi, I am assuming you had a mother....? Or perhaps you were found under a rock. What an ignorant thing to say about women. I am sure you make your mother very proud with these type of statements...

nick said...

Sheikha M,
don't get your knickers in a twist over Fake Balushi.

His parents are twins.

Emarati Nickel & Dime said...

Here's my $0.02.

One of the main reasons we locals marry among ourselves is to keep the family name and more importantly the wealth (inheritance and property) within our own. On the one hand our culture continues to erode bit by bit and all good things about it have pretty much vanished while we weren't looking. Yet, we hold on to this like dear life when the truth is it has very little to do with our culture/tradition and even littler to do with our religion.

To Nick who quoted the verse from the Qur'an.

You see, the source of our religion is not ONLY the Qur'an and if we looked only to it for answers we'd be long lost. For instance over 500 times the book mentions the word prayer and not once teaches us how to. That half comes of course from the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) which is also known as Hadith or the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet. And then of course, there's the fiqh (jurisprudence).

Now, needless to say, for any matter Muslims need not only to turn to the Qur'an but also the Sunnah of the Prophet; not excluding the issue of consanguineous marriages, of course.

As for consanguinity being a cause of genetic defects, no argument there, it's very true. And all leading medical journals are agreed that thalassemia, for instance, a disease known to be MOST prevalent in the gulf and a majority of its patients are children of consanguineous marriages. That has in turn resulted in a great percentage of the population carrying the gene and incidence continues to be on the rise sometimes even affecting children of non-consanguineous marriages. Then there is the ever rising incidence of tubal defects, cystic fibrosis plus a wide range of congenital anomalies. Having said that, I must say the government's efforts in pre-marital genetic testing are commendable but we still have too long a-ways to go before we can be safe.

Now as far as religion is concerned, contrary to popular belief, Islam does not advocate or encourage consanguineous marriages because in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, "close marriages will often produce weak children."

sara said...

Thank you for the nice post.

bklyn_in_dubai said...

EN&D makes the good sociological point about the preservation of wealth. in-family marriage is not limited to the gulf (very prevalent in indo-pak), and not just to muslims -- many royal euro royals kept within, most famously the russian royals with their hemophilia. many hindus also practice cross-cousin marriage.

fake balushi, oddly, makes a good (though buried) point that with cousin marriage, you at least know what you're getting into. unfortunately though, many families that thought they were close turn out not to be once marriage comes into the equation, causing all kinds of rifts.

and last point about genetic diseases -- too true. small aside to this though. there is a muslim caste/tribe/extended family in south india called nawayats who prefer cousin marriages. they have developed certain easily recognizable traits -- crane necks, bad eyesight. one woman when interviewed said she knew there are genetic risks in cousin marriages, but if this is what comes of it, then it's worth the risk for her. then again, this group doesn't seem to have the presence of thalassemia.

Macthomson said...

Congratulations on a very responsibly conducted thread (exception proving the rule). The 'nickel and dime' explanation is persuasive, whether applied here or in other cultures.

But... how sad. It raises the spectre of future generations wonderfully enriched financially but dangerously impoverished genetically.

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