Would you marry your cousin?

Published: October 8, 2011

A recent post “Why you should not marry your cousin” on the medical consequences of marrying within the family sparked intense debate on whether the tradition still has a place in Pakistani society.

While many comments on the post contended that these marriages are permitted both in Islam and by Pakistani law most found them unappealing.

In this video I asked a few young Karachiites whether they would marry their cousins. All of them say no. Besides the general “eww” factor which was the primary reason most interviewed gave for not marrying their cousins, a few said that they did not think it was a healthy decision.


Do you approve or disapprove of cousin marriages?

     View Results

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Sidrah Moiz Khan

The author is a sub-editor at The Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    eww… Its Tribune team. You should have come outta building to get variety of opinions from different people.Recommend

  • Vazim Malik

    Lady, you need to work hard on your writing skills. The way you have written this short, quick retaliatory piece is good, though totally non-journalistic. ET =PFFT!
    And please, be courageous enough to let my post appear. I see ET doesn’t have the guts to accept criticism as my comments oftentimes get deleted without having any offense in it.


  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Oh dear. The rednecks of Pakistan aren’t going to like this!

    YEEEEHAWWWW. Recommend

  • A

    The Karachites you asked were all employed by Tribune. Not that that matters, but it speaks volumes about the kind of thinking they have. Hippy’s. So while I wouldn’t marry my cousin either, your “report” is biased.Recommend

  • geneticist

    Why marry at all! I am a firm believer of friends with benefits. It is psychologically very healthy to meet new people and to have relationships with new people. I’d say its never a bad idea to be in a relationship (including sexual) with a new person every year. Recommend

  • sanity

    We Pakistanis should follow the West. But even that will not please them. Recommend

  • Pragmatic

    views are only of young, educated, rich and affluent people, what about majority of Pakistanis.Recommend


    May be one or two said in the video that they consider cousins part of their family, He / she is indeed part of their family BUT the ones with whom they CAN marry( if they want to ). Its not against our religion to marry our cousins, BUT if someone doesnt like it that is something else. Recommend

  • Choas A.D

    A few young ‘Karachiites’? :) that was 1/2 the ET staff. but since all y’all live in Karachi, I guess that statement’s accurate. Interesting little video. good.Recommend

  • http://jingoist.pk/blog jingoist

    @Vazim Malik:

    Its easy to criticize dude. learn to appreciate!

    Nice work! It would have been gr8 if you had included more opinions!
    keep up the good work!Recommend

  • Aurangzeb

    Worthless post! Do we need to complicate our lives even more. I don’t think so!
    Plus why everyone want’s to start a spark or a gossip. We didn’t needed it, next time bring something that is needed. To me it is extremely WORTHLESS!Recommend

  • http://zambeel.wordpress.com Ali Z.

    I wouldn’t marry my cousin, but the medical reason doesn’t really factor into my decision…. it’s because I’d like to marry someone who’s new for me and also to avoid all the family politics..Recommend

  • Ali

    Tradition & Culture and other than that the GUY being a Mummy-Daddy, not having guts to stand on his own feet to marry someone out of the family and the GIRL being “Jo Ammi Abbu ne socha hoga behtar he socha hoga…Yasir BHAI qabool hain” !!!
    As for the Parents; well they play a safe game k “kam az kam hamari nazroo k sammnay tu hoge”!
    I guess this sums it all up besides the Medicine part!Recommend

  • Ali

    I don’t know about the others but my cousins are hot! :)Recommend

  • Amir

    Its eeew now but when faced with the fact that their college and university boyfriends have to “stand on their feet” during the next 5-8 years and its either random rishta hunt and chai trollies for them or “Kamal bhai in canada”, they’d all go for “Kamal bhai Canada walay”. Recommend

  • MF Hussain

    cousin: one step away from brother sister.
    the question should be would you marry your brother/ sister?Recommend

  • A.

    HAHAHAHAHA i love how one guy keeps being liek HELL NO IT’S FAMILY MAN
    but oyu guys reallly should have interviewed people from outside the tribune team, you know?Recommend

  • Najia H Khan

    Being a doctor I know that consanguineous (cousin) marriages have a higher incidence of recessive birth defects i.e genetic defects that run in a family and may have been ‘diluted’ (for want of a better word) by marrying outside the family, get a chance to express fully in the children born to these couples. Having lived and worked in Birmingham where a very large Pakistani population resides and intermarries freely, you will be horrified by the number of children you see with rare medical conditions due to generations of intermarriages. Its really sad. I think your poll results are encouraging. However to bring about a change the culture has to change, with parents teaching their children to love their cousins as brothers and sisters and not as potential spouses and by completely taking away the option of marrying them. Recommend

  • Amir

    I am not a hater but bacha-bachis, u seriously need to grow up: the people who say its “incest” or “hello, its family”, go say that to your mom and dad, ur khala-khaaloo who married in the family ….. if they were all involved in incest, what does that make you?? not all the vocabulary u pick up while surfing the adult sites is worth regurgitating at the first possible opportunity….Recommend

  • KK

    Ridiculous and disgusting post… if the things are permissible so one shouldn’t have doubt on it. Recommend

  • natasha ahsan

    good job gal , really like it :)…Recommend

  • Saad

    I cant believe some of the comments on here! And as far as I know, cousin marriages, even though they are allowed in islam, they were not encouraged (by the prophet pbuh) because of the health risks, go do your research people! Cousin marriages are a pakistani tradition, not an islamic tradition.Recommend

  • http://Boston Sundeep

    eeeww.. exactly..Recommend

  • Dr. Zafar Iqbal

    Chances for hereditary abnormalities, especially neurological disorders, are amplified in most consanguineal marriages. One can see such cases in communities (Jews, Muslims, Parsees, old-time Christians, and others) , which have marriages between cousins. Although not prohibited by Islamic laws, it is better to improve genetic pool by marrying outside family members. In olden days, this system was practiced, especially by wealthy people to keep family wealth within family. Recommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos

    @Najia H Khan: Thanks for bringing out the factsRecommend

  • rafeh

    All the opinions dispalyed in the video have little or no concern whether cousin marraige is scientifically unhealthy and unrecommended thing. It seems that their choice of saying no is obsessed by the their own preferences or likeness. Not all cousin marragies may lead to complications. But yes there are genetical complications attached with marragies in family and i do agree with the opinion to discourage cousin marriages. Recommend

  • Not well reported

    So did you forget to speak to the majority of Memon and Chinyoti families that practice this ‘ritual’ on a regular basis?Recommend

  • xahra

    you did a great job but u should’ve asked all those parents who believe that cousin marriages are far better than marrying their kids out of family :PRecommend

  • Cynical

    As someone has already hinted, this is as close as you can get to a ‘brother-sister’ relationship.
    Though to be honest, I wouldn’t mind marrying my cousin if she is hot.Recommend

  • http://www.esljob.org esl jobs

    Awesome read. I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that. He actually bought me lunch because I found it for him! So let me rephrase: thank you for lunch!Recommend

  • khan

    Hey ..the question is biased because most people shy away from these kind of questions imagne if someone has only 1 cousin and they say yes so it would naturally mean that they would marry him/her ….so the question that should have been asked is something like this ” Do you approve if someone marries their cousin ?? Recommend

  • hassan

    Allah, in his infinite wisdom, has allowed cousin marriages, may be, because, he wanted all of us to be born retarded.

    In any case, how does it matter, if you are born deformed or mentally handicapped? All it matters is how we are going to live in an after-life. Our aim and goal should be to reach our Jannah with good scores. I am sure God will give better rewards to those who endure pain in this ‘earthly-life’. Recommend

  • T.tariq

    @geneticist:cant be more proud for having people like you..i wonder why our elders sacrificed everthing for people like you..Recommend

  • T.tariq

    @sanity: Why west…why not follow who we are..following others will erase our identityRecommend

  • http://[email protected] T.tariq

    We cant be more proud for having people like you..its such an honour..I wonder why our elders thought of the negative or this side before sacrificing themselvesRecommend

  • Mehdi

    naaah iam not in favour if any1 marries in the family,I guess it is last hope for few people when they lose their capabilities to convince sum1 from outside ! Every1 has own perception n mindset about inter Marriages … Recommend

  • Sanjeev

    How different in my part of world, they dont marry within any family member who could be related with me in the family tree for last 7 generation from my father side and 3 generation of relatives from my mother side.

    The panjikars have kept records from last 800 years…of each family tree, so that consanguineous does not occurr.Recommend

  • Vazim Malik

    @jingoist, My criticism was constructive. The woman works for a “well-known” newspaper she ought to be careful while writing. As for you coming to her defense, I can understand your emotions while you came to the defense, but again one should be open to criticism boy. This would help a writer improve.


  • TribunePK

    Wow, what a survey! These people don’t represent 1% of Pakistanis even. How do you consider them “Karachites”?

    You could of stepped out of your AC offices and asked 10 random people standing outside about this. I know for a fact 9/10 would say yes it’s ok. Recommend

  • Pavan

    All the time you’re calling them bhai and then it’s weird that you marry ’em off defines it precisely. It’s a taboo sooner it is realized the better it is.Recommend

  • Alia

    As a journalist your job SHOULD require you to leave the confines of your office to, first, get some expert advice and then, some opposing/different viewpoints. This is just a lazy attempt at what could have been one hell of an interesting discussion especially in a place like Pakistan. You missed a great opportunity. Recommend

  • e-samosa

    “We’re not tribal people, we should marry outside our tribes!”

    Sarah Palin moment!Recommend

  • LOveableLion

    No-matter how suppress it it becoming in this era of modernization to get married with Ur cousin, still Cousin remains more loyal in life lasting relationships than others…there could be a few drawback either, still more advances could be seen in true bonds, if they are being made for true purposeing of living a simpler and prestigious life, rather than enjoying all the way and induldding useless fantancies from it…Recommend

  • Meerza

    If we are truly in Love, i will most certainly marry.
    However we would discuss with my spouse, reexamine our genealogy & if found conflicting we would rather adopt & refrain for having our own children.
    Love Lives !Recommend

  • Ubair Arif


  • Ajmirza

    Well i would agree that you should not marry your cousin … Well its coming from personal experience so i do know best.

    All of you who are debating how many of you are married to your cousins?

    The best thing about this marriage is that you rarely have conflicts due to an understanding but on the other hand the worst is you do not live your life according to your own rules; you will continuously see someone interfering in your personal matters.Recommend

  • waseem

    Can you show me where it is not encouraged by Hazoor pbuh. There are no health risks to that.. check out the new studies and it clearly states that there are NO HEALTH issues what so ever in marrying cousions. Islam does not allow any thing that can lead to health/life/social/financial issues therefore Allah was well aware of health issues when he said that you can marry your cousions. and science now proves it.Recommend

  • Omar

    I blame all our countries problems on intermarriages. Including Power and Water issues.

    But seriously ew! Recommend

  • http://Lahore -ive man

    No they are all ugly like meRecommend

  • http://[email protected] xyz

    Medical reasons – I totally agree, but else, there’s no justification.

    A (surprising) fact of life is that you cannot argue that they are ‘half a brother to you’, because (unfortunately) they’re not. Let’s accept it. I don’t know about the west and other religions, but cousins are not brothers and sisters in our religion at least. It is just that our parents are wrong. You call your cousin ‘bhai’ because your parents taught you right from the moment you learned to speak that ‘He’ is your ‘bhai’, whereas he is not. There is no justification of declaring him your ‘bhai’. And surprisingly, those who taught you to call them ‘Bhai’ arrange your marriage with him. The problem is that you are thinking that he is your bhai, and he is thinking that you are his ‘behan’, but surprisingly, you both marry, because you like him and he likes you. All of a sudden that ‘bhai behan waala rishta’ dissapears!Recommend

  • Sharjeel Basit

    Dear Readers,

    Lets make this Question “marring your cousin?” easier for you (the writer).

    Highlighting this issue is more dangerous cause being Christen its not allowed or not looked very good. they dont marry their cousin. So i hope that we are not discussing this issue in such prospective.
    But ya its an individual choice to or not to marry his her cousin.
    Its very personal and family oriented issue that should not be discussed on this forum.

    Best Regards Recommend

  • Raja


    “Allowed” does not automatically mean “good” or “not bad”

    Islam also allows polygamy. What if every male seeks multiple wives? Are you sure that wide spread polygamy will not lead to “health/life/social/financial issues”

    Just as polygamy is ‘allowed’ to ensure that some unfortunate women are not left high and dry, is it possible that cousin marriages were permitted before early muslims were moving around in small tribes (with practically nil intermarriages) and hence pretty much one’s choice of a partner was limited to a few cousins.Recommend

  • Mohsin


    Follow US? Is it really going to help? I don’t think so.Recommend

  • Sadia

    wow ET. Good job on being neutral and objective. Recommend

  • FAZ

    I agree! She should have asked this to a “sabzi wala” who might be having 6 children from her “Khala zaad!” and would still be hoping to marry her another widowed mamo zaad!! (to “support” her ofcourse!)Recommend

  • Alina

    I do agree that intermarrying within generations is problematic and should be avoided, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with cousin marriages. It was practiced everywhere in the world only until recently, so it’s not just a “Pakistani” thing. Also, I heard of a higher occurrence of it in Palestine, where one can say that some want to increase their race. Anyhow, God knows what is best for us and he wouldn’t decree or allow anything that would harm us. He didn’t make cousin marriages an obligation, didn’t even say that it’s preferred, but gave us the choice to do so. We should always use our intellect in every facet of our lives, regardless of choosing whether or not to marry our cousins. So if there is an obvious medical hazard, a prevalence of a certain disease in both parties’ genes, then don’t do it! But we shouldn’t say it is wrong or gross. Recommend