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Why does Islam permit cousin marriage?

Salam! Why is permissible in islam to marry one’s cousin/why isn’t it considered incest? Considering the high health risks that could affect the baby?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Islam permits things when prohibiting them would do more harm than good. Sometimes (in an isolated village, for example) the only suitable person for marriage is a cousin. Allowing the marriage despite the risks would be better than requiring the couple to remain celibate. Cousin marriage used to be quite common in Europe until the 20th century. Charles Darwin married his first cousin. Cousin marriage is also far less risky than the Jewish practice of uncle-niece marriages (cousins on average share 12.5% of our genes, while the sharing is 25% between uncles and nieces, and 50% between siblings). 

While cousin marriage can be a burden to the couple due to having children with genetic abnormalities, it can be beneficial to the population as a whole in the long-term. From a scientific article on cousin marriage:

In ‘Consanguinity in Context,’ author and medical geneticist Alan H. Bittles of Murdoch University in Australia examines common misconceptions about cousin marriage from legal, cultural, religious and medical perspectives.

But the risks apply primarily to couples who are carriers of disorders that are normally very, very rare, Bittles explained. “For over 90% of cousin marriages, their risk [of having a child with a genetic abnormality] is the same as it is for the general population,” he said.

One surprising and oft-neglected advantage of marriage between close biological relatives is a phenomenon called purging, in which disease genes are exposed and removed from the gene pool. Thanks to purging, marriage between close relatives in early human populations would have kept the prevalence of genetic disorders low, Bittles explained.

But in the long-term, shrinking family sizes and increased mobility in many parts of the world means that cousin marriage is likely to decline. In the absence of purging, harmful genetic variants could accumulate over time.

“We may be creating a problem for ourselves in future generations,” Bittles said.

And here is a detailed article that shows the risks of cousin marriage are not so clear-cut as is usually thought.

Cousin marriage also has the benefit of creating families that have far more “kin affection” than other families. The children will share more genes with each other. Twins are famous for being especially loving toward their twin siblings. Children born to cousin marriages will be somewhat like that. They will also have far more loving aunts, uncles and grandparents because rather than sharing 25% of their genes with them, they will share something like 35%-40%, so the aunts and uncles and grandparents will treat them almost like their own children. I have seen this in the Middle East where the children of cousin marriages have a very special place in the hearts of their aunts, uncles and grandparents.

So while cousin marriages may not be something to recommend, the risks are not great enough to require prohibiting it if you also consider the benefits.

Does the Quran advocate reading?

Does the word iqra in the quran really mean the quran is advocating people to read and what does God won't not change people unless they change themselves?

iqraʾ is a command that means “read” and “recite”. In many contexts it is used when to mean “read”, for example in Surat al-Alaq (Sura 96) it mentions pens soon after using iqraʾ, and in verse 17:14 it says:

“Read your book; today there will be none but yourself to call you to account.”

But it is not clear if the Quran advocating general reading.

The Quran says God will not change the condition of a people unless they change the condition of their souls. This means that if a people want blessings, peace and ease, then the way to get this is through becoming better people themselves.

Can Muslim women be airline pilots?

Can a woman be a pilot who travels around? She is travelling but for work and is with other staff (flight attendants, cabin crew, other pilots)?

If her faith and dignity are preserved then there is no issue with it, since we do not have any clear statements from the Quran and hadith on such issues and scholars generally use their own reasoning. Whether that work is acceptable or not depends on the specific circumstances of her job. If the staff is full of flirty males then that is different from the staff being polite and reserved. So at the end of the day it is for her to decide whether the job allows her to preserve her faith and dignity or not. Her own personality also matters, some women are more dominant than others and can defend themselves easily, while others are not. It might be perfectly acceptable for a particular woman to work at a job that is not acceptable for a different kind of woman.

If homosexuality is against nature, why do animals engage in it?

If homosexuality is against the rules of nature, why do 1500+ animal species (these are only the ones that have been observed for this purpose yet) exhibit homosexual behaviour?

Homosexuality, adultery, infanticide and murder are normal parts of nature for animals. They are unnatural for creatures that have agency / free will. For humans a desire may be perfectly natural while being immoral if acted upon.

How do I face difficulties in life?

What do you usually do when faced with difficulties and hard problems in life?

Normally people become more religious, pray more and read more Quran when going through a difficult trial. I try to practice Islam in such a way that difficulties do not affect how I do it: I want to always read as much Quran as a person going through great difficulty, regardless of whether I am going through difficulty or not.

So I do not have anything special that I do when faced with difficulties. I want to always live in such a way that I am always ready to face difficulties without having to make any changes.

Is it permissible to read the Quran without wudu and when menstruating?

Should I perform wudu before reading from it? Can I read when I'm going through menstruation?

Reading the Quran without wudu is permissible, but touching a book of Quran without wudu is considered impermissible by most scholars. I’m not entirely convinced by their arguments but just to be safe it is best not to touch an Arabic book of Quran without wudu. This does not apply to reading the Quran from a computer or smartphone; this is allowed even when menstruating. The prohibition on touching a book of Quran without wudu does not apply to translations since they are not considered literal books of Quran.

One can also read from an Arabic book of Quran without wudu and when menstruating as long as they do not touch it, for example if they wear gloves.

References

How does one maintain a strong faith in God?

Salam alaikum. This is a personal question for you, brother. How do you hold onto your belief so firm and sincerely? Do you rely not only to your strong reasoning, but also your intuition to trust the information you gather and the knowledge you have?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I believe our souls have the power to recognize God and to feel His presence. As I write this, all it takes is a tiny bit of effort and I feel God. A connection is established. I believe people lose this ability due to starting to dislike God after suffering losses and hardships. It is a grudge that closes their hearts so that they start to refuse to face God, always refusing to look into that place in their soul where the connection is.

Islam enables me to channel this connection in the right direction, but it is not essential to it. The connection is always there regardless of any thinking. But if I ever rationally doubt Islam, all it takes is reading a few pages of the Quran and all my doubts go away. Reading it, on every page I run into a few verses that clearly could not have been written by a human. It is as if someone wrote a passage that deserves a Nobel Prize in Literature, and did it not just once, but over and over again across 600 pages.

Which one is better: tahajjud or qiyam al-layl?

Asalaam alaikum Which one better between tahajjud and Qiyam layl

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Tahajjud is normally considered more virtuous due to it being more difficult, since a person has to interrupt their sleep to do it. But I believe God rewards us based on our efforts, so it depends on each person’s situation. So regardless of whether you perform tahajjud or qiyam, your reward depends on what you do with the time and abilities that God has given you.

Why does Allah let some people suffer so much?

When will my suffering end? it's been long enough since I'm in emotional pain. I think suffering never ends for some people. My mother is a nicest human being anyone would ever meet on the Earth and Allah has tested her through out her life. First she got an abusive husband and because of him one by one all of my mother relatives deserted her. From her parents to her siblings to her cousins to her friends all left her. Why Allah gave her such a life? I think same is going to happen with me. 🙁

There will always be suffering. The difference is that with God our suffering will be meaningful and useful, while without God we suffer pointlessly. Face God and say “I will love You regardless of what You decree for me.” Realize that this entire universe is like a video game maintained by God’s imagination. We are all figments of His imagination. There is no escape from Him. We cannot get away with any evil or sin, He will make us suffer its consequences. Once you acknowledge your utter helplessness before Him, once you offer yourself to Him to do with as He wants, that is when suffering starts to become meaningful.

We need hardship to make us remember our powerlessness and our dependence on Him. But if you do something that always makes you recognize these things without needing hardship, there will no longer be a need for hardship to remind you. Since I started reading the Quran daily for an hour, alhamdulillah all meaningless inconveniences and hardships have left my life. I almost never run into inconveniences like not finding a taxi just when I need one most, or the Internet stopping working in the middle of my work. My life operates like a well-maintained and cleaned machine where almost nothing ever goes wrong.

But my life isn’t empty of suffering. I suffer from multiple chronic illnesses, one of which disables me from getting any work done for weeks at a time, so I cannot hold down a normal job. But God has taken care of my family financially. My inability to work has enabled me to read, which is one of my greatest pleasures. I read 23 books this Ramadan, and I recently finished 4000 pages of C. S. Lewis’s collected letters. My illness prevents me from feeling happiness or joy most of the time, but who cares if I was happy or sad in 2009 if I am a better person because of it now? I would choose a meaningful and beautiful life over a happy life any day.

Is it permissible to marry someone if we do not love them?

Salam brother! As you always say that marriage is an individual's personal matter so cux of some valid reasons I think it's not appropriate for me to get married but at the same time I know very well that getting married is the only way I have, to escape from my toxic parents and purely because of this reason I'm getting married. What Islam says about this? Because if I continued living with my parents I would become severely psychologically ill.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Islam does not require us to marry for love. Many marriages take place due to the couple finding each other good fits due to coming from the same kind of family or having the same degrees. So if you want to marry to get away from your parents, that is perfectly fine. I believe a person is capable of falling in love with almost any person of the opposite sex as long as there isn’t something horribly wrong with the two persons. So regardless of what reason you marry for, as long as both of you are reasonably decent human beings, love always develops.

Islam and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

Hello, I'm the anon who asked about the homunculus. Thank you for answering my question. I have another question to ask of you. Is GMO, or genetically modified organism, generally a good thing or a bad thing?

Hello,

The Quran speaks against “changing God’s creation”, but as I discuss in my answer on cosmetic surgery, this refers to mutilating living things for superstitious reasons. Islam permits the castration of farm animals, grafting one type of plant onto another, creating new varieties of plants using selective breeding, and hybridization, all of which are major ways of “changing God’s creation”.

My conclusion is that making changes to living things, including genetic changes, is permissible in Islam, as long as it is done for a good reason. I have nothing against genetic modification in itself, although like any tool it can be used to create dangerous and harmful things as well as beneficial things. 

A disease could wipe out all banana trees that bear the kind of bananas we are used to, due to the fact that they are all the same genetically, and genetic modification may be the only way to enable the trees to survive. And one day we may have genetic therapy that can be used to change a person’s genes to cure things like autism and bipolar disorder. 

From a theological point of view, I believe that God created the earth’s creatures through “topological evolution”, which refers to the fact that the shape of the earth, the presence of seas, rivers and mountains, the strength of gravity, and various other factors all went into creating the creatures we know. And since topology is changeable (we are permitted in Islam to remove hills and mountains, dam rivers, create canals that link disconnected seas), this means that the creatures are changeable. Linking two disconnected seas will cause genetic changes to various creatures by changing the topology in which they exist. It was never God’s plan to create changeless creatures, but to create creatures whose genetic code could respond to the environment and change with it. For more on this see my essay: Reconciling Islam and Darwinian Evolution: Al-Ghazali’s Matrix and the Divine Template

Can you pray nightly prayers (tahajjud) if you do not pray other sunnah prayers?

Can you pray nightly prayer even if my usual prayers aren't up to the mark? I usually stay awake at night and I end up thinking maybe I should pray but since I mostly only pray obligatory prayers and not sunnah out of laziness I feel like I can't pray at night? I want to know if there is a ruling about this thank you

You can perform voluntary prayers whenever you want at any time of day or night (except during the few minutes when the sun rising or setting). And if you do not perform the usual sunnah prayers that is all the more reason to perform the night prayers when you feel like it.

Ways to improve the Muslim community

Salam. What is your opinion about our Muslim community? Is there any particular thing we should improve as a community?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

A community is just a collection of individuals, and if the individuals are good the community will be good. One thing that would greatly help any community is for the members to learn to love those around them regardless of their differences and disagreements. No matter how rude or narrow-minded and ignorant we think someone is, treating them with love and forgiveness rather than judgment will help soften their attitudes and make them more eager to be better toward others. This is of course easier said than done. It requires the calmness of spiritual maturity to be able to override our natural resentments and angers toward others and to treat them in ways we do not feel they deserve.

Curing jealousy in Islam

Salam alaykum. For a long time I’ve been tested with jealousy. I am deeply insecure with myself physically and spiritually, and jealousy makes me feel uglier. My spouse in the past use to look at other women and that really made me more insecure and jealous. He has changed now. But jealousy is still something I face a lot and it builds anger and hatred in my heart. I just want to overcome jealousy and be a loving secure person with myself, and appreciate others. Please help.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

I believe the best solution is to read the Quran daily and to try to live up to its ideals. Once you have a close connection with God it becomes easy to separate yourself from your situation and to view it with calmness and contentment. Rather than fighting the jealousy, work to become the type of person who naturally does not feel jealous. Maintaining a close relationship with God and the contentment that comes with it requires daily work. It is not something that can be achieved once, it has to be achieved every day by doing sufficient worship or Quran-reading.

How should a moderate Muslim treat conservative, liberal and Islamist Muslims?

Salaam. Brother, do you have any advice on how a moderate Muslim should behave towards the conservative, the liberal, and the Islamist Muslims? I seem to see them in a negative light and I know it's not the right attitude towards those who have different perspective in faith and life in general. Also, I hope you would give a glimpse of history of why they are that way now. Thank you very much and have a good day.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Just see them as humans doing their best to make sense of things. You do not have to like them but you can love them. What distinguishes a saint from an ordinary person is the way their loving connection with God spills over until it includes everyone on earth. In God’s presence you see everyone as their mothers saw them when they were infants. This is of course difficult to achieve and maintain, but it is an ideal we can all work toward. The point of Islam is to always work toward the highest ideal. And once people know that your main attitude toward them is love, they will be much more likely to soften their hearts and attitudes toward you and to be convinced that something they are saying or doing is wrong.

Unfortunately I cannot go into their history in an answer. Different circumstances and personalities lead to different understandings of religion. People can always force a text to say what they want it to say.

Does bleeding from the body invalidate ablution (wudu)?

Hello ^^ I have a question if you don't mind answering: does bleeding from your body (not the private parts) invalidates ablution? I've done research online and it seems that opinions are split in half about this matter and I have no idea which to follow! Thanks.

Hello,

Bleeding does not invalidate the state of ablution unless it is from the private parts. A person can even perform salah while they are bleeding. There are hadiths that mention the Prophet PBUH and Ibn Umar praying after bleeding or while bleeding without renewing their ablution.

References:

Are women required to cover their hands in prayer (salah)?

Salam. I wanted to ask if women should cover the hands, especially the back of the hands, so that the prayer can be considered valid? Also, is there any specific dress for a woman to pray or is it the same as, like, when women wears a loose abaya in the middle east? Thank you.

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Covering the hands is not required during prayer in the Shafii and Maliki schools, which is the opinion I prefer. Any costume good enough to go out in should be good enough to also pray in. See the Hijab page for more details.

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