When you marry people who are near relatives for too long, you get inbreeding. I had not known there is a section of the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York dedicated to the treatment of Jewish genetic diseases produced from too much inbreeding among the highly orthodox. I was wondering when there will be a broader public discussion of inbreeding among Muslims. Generations of marrying first cousins continue to produce a much higher incidence of genetic diseases among Muslims than the general population. Cue Islamic outrage. People who work in hospitals are well aware of this fact, though they do not talk about it.

An interesting article on the subject appears in Wikislam.(I cannot tell whether this site is sincere or a front, but the information seems genuine).


In Pakistan, where there has been cousin marriage for generations, and according to professor Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen from South Danish University, the current rate is 70%,[5] one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 percent for married double first cousins, 7.9 percent for first cousins, 9.2 percent for first cousins once removed/double second cousins, 6.9 percent for second cousins, and 5.1 percent among non-consanguineous progeny. Among double first cousin progeny, 41.2 percent of pre-reproductive deaths were associated with the expression of detrimental recessive genes, with equivalent values of 26.0, 14.9, and 8.1 percent for first cousins, first cousins once removed/double second cousins, and second cousins respectively.

A BBC report discussed Pakistanis in the United Kingdom, 55% of whom marry a first cousin. Given the high rate of such marriages, many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report states that these children are 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either dies in infancy or develops a serious disability.[6]

From Gavin McInnes, in Takimag, this fact:

Muslim immigrants in Britain obviously don’t “keep it in the family” as much as their relatives back home, but they’re still suffering the consequences. Though Pakistanis comprise a mere 3.4% of Britain’s overall births, they “produce an alarming 30% of the UK’s genetically diseased children.” British politicians are calling for intermarriage to be outlawed, arguing the result is a form of child abuse.

Here is a chart from the reproductive health journal of degrees of first cousin marriage in Islamic societies. >1C indicates double first cousin marriage, 1C indicates first cousin marriage.

Table 1

Consanguinity rates in Arab populations. Minimum and maximum reported rates are indicated when available
Country >1C, 1C Overall consanguinity References

Algeria 11.3 22.6-34 [14,100]

Bahrain 24.5 39.4-45.5 [10,101]

Egypt 14.3-23.2 20.9-32.8 [15,70,102104]

Egypt (Nubia) 39-47.2 60.5-80.4 [105,106]

Iraq 29-33 47-60 [86,107109]

Jordan 19.5-39 28.5-63.7 [6,9,43,110113]

Kuwait 16.9-31.7 22.5-64.3 [114117]

Lebanon 6.7-31.6 12.8-42 [4,5,118120]

Libya 48.4 [121]

Mauritania 47.2 [93]

Morocco 8.6-10 19.9-28 [21,122124]

Oman 24.1 56.3 [125]

Palestine 13.6-34.2 17.5-66.3 [7,1113,71,126129]

Qatar 34.8 54 [19]

Saudi Arabia 24.6-42.3 42.1-66.7 [67,84,99,130,131]

Sudan 44.2-49.5 44.2-63.3 [66,132,133]

Syria 28.7 30-3-39.8 [16,134]

Tunisia 17.4-23 20.1-39.3 [18,9,135,136]

United Arab Emirates 20.7-28.2 40-54.2 [20,36,137]

Yemen 32-34 40-44.7 [17,138]

For comprehensive details and additional data, see Additional File 1.

Abbreviations: [>1C] = Double first-cousin marriage; [1C] = First-cousin marriage.

Tadmouri et al. Reproductive Health 2009 6:17   doi:10.1186/1742-4755-6-17

Open Data

Out of curiosity I looked up the table of Kindred and Affinity in the Anglican Prayer Book at p.562 and was unable to find a ban on marrying first cousins.

A Man may not marry his A Woman may not marry her
2   Step-mother 2   Step-father
3   Mother-in-law 3   Father-in-law
4   Daughter 4   Son
5   Step-daughter 5   Step-son
6   Daughter-in- law 6   Son-in-law
7   Sister 7   Brother
8   Grandmother 8   Grandfather
9   Grandfather’s Wife 9   Grandmother’s Husband
10  Wife’s Grandmother 10  Husband’s Grandfather
11  Grand-daughter 11  Grandson
12  Wife’s Grand-daughter 12  Husband’s Grandson
13  Grandson’s Wife 13  Grand-daughter’s Husband
14  Aunt 14  Uncle
15  Niece 15  Nephew

So, I wonder, why are certain tribes (Anglo-Saxons, Iroquois, for instance) outward marrying (exogamous) and other tribes inward marrying (endogamous)? They say endogamous marriage is for protecting property, but could it also indicate much lower trust levels in the society as a whole?