Saudi Arabia: July 2010 Use Your Imagination – She Married Her Cousin

Each month American Bedu blog features a post titled “Use Your Imagination.”  The post is a work of fiction started by American Bedu but the conclusion is determined by YOU.  You may choose to finish the post to a conclusion or alternatively take it to the next level to allow another reader to pick up and continue where you left off.  Each “Use Your Imagination” post is based on an aspect of Saudi Arabia culture, customs and traditions.  These monthly posts are aimed towards fostering discussion and understanding.

American Bedu readers were given the choice to vote on which subject they would most like to have me write about.  With 47.1% majority votes, the winner is “She Married Her Cousin.” Marriages between first cousins remain common in Saudi Arabia. This fictional story highlights how and why the marriages are arranged as well as complications and decisions which arise in first cousin to first cousin marriages.

Like many of her teenage friends, which were mainly female cousins, Sabrina did not give much thought about marriage.  Why should she?  After all, she knew since she was fourteen years old that she was promised in marriage to her cousin, Adnan.  When Sabrina and Adnan were much younger, she remembered playing with him.  They lived on the same street in Makkah.  Sabrina’s mom and Adnan’s dad were brother and sister.  But when she was twelve, his family moved all the way to Riyadh since Adnan’s dad, (her Uncle), received a good job offer in the capital working for Saudi Telecom. After Adnan moved away, he and his family continued to return to Makkah each year during Ramadan and celebrated Eid al Fitr with Sabrina’s family.  However, Sabrina had started menstruating by then so she was considered a woman and no longer allowed to have contact with Adnan.

When she was informed by her parents that they had promised her in marriage to Adnan, the only thing that occurred to her at the time was that she wondered what he looked like.  She remembered him as a pudgy boy who delighted in playing practical jokes and enjoying their Grandmother’s sweets.  If she recalled correctly, he laughed a lot too.  She knew he was an only child which was quite unusual for a Saudi family.  She never questioned why her Uncle and his wife did not have any more children as that would have been inappropriate.  However at fourteen years old she had more things pressing on her mind than a future marriage.

Sabrina’s grandmother had been ill for many years with kidney disease.  She had lived with Sabrina’s family since her husband had died eight years ago and they all took great joy with her presence.  Sabrina knew she could visit her grandmother at any time and her grandmother’s wrinkled face would break into a beaming smile. Grandmother heartily approved of the marriage between Sabrina and Adnan.  She believed they would be well-suited to one another.  She also was a firm believer that marriage should be kept within the family.  There was no need to have any outsiders be privy to family business, assets or wealth in Grandmother’s view.  This was a typical belief among conservative Saudi families.

When Sabrina was sixteen, Grandmother’s health started failing rapidly.  The doctor announced she probably would not last the year.  Although no one would dare to tell Grandmother her time on earth was coming to an end, she knew.  One evening after prayer, she requested for her daughter and her son to come to her room.  She told them that her last wish was to see her granddaughter and grandson married before she took her last breath.

The next thing Sabrina new was that she was taken out of school.  After all, she was soon going to be a wife and no longer had a need for education.  Everything she’d need to know about marriage and taking care of a house her mother could teach her. The days were busy with preparations for the wedding. A wedding hall had to be reserved.  Invitations needed to be printed and mailed.  Dresses needed to be made.  Sabrina and Adnan had to make individual appointments to see a doctor for mandatory pre-marital blood tests.

Sabrina found life to be a big blur at this point.  So much was going on around her and inside of her head.  All these plans were being made yet she would have no opportunity to speak to or see Adnan until their wedding party.  It never occurred to her to ask to see or speak to Adnan.  It was accepted by all that the two would marry and there was no need for them to speak or interact.  It would never occur to either of them to go against the wishes or tradition of their family.

Sabrina’s parents accompanied her to the doctor for the mandated blood tests.  Adnan’s blood tests had already been done.  Once Sabrina’s bloodwork was completed, the tests would be compared to ensure there were no genetic deficiencies or other problems that could impact on compatibility or having children.  This procedure was now standard in Saudi Arabia because of the high number of birth defects and disease due to extended “inbreeding” within families.  Sabrina’s extended family simply viewed these tests as part of the new regulations which had to be followed and didn’t give much thought to the reasons behind the tests.

Three days after the tests had been taken, Sabrina and Adnan’s parents were contacted by the Ministry of Health.  The official strongly advised against their marriage.  Their blood types were incompatible and there was a very high risk of disease and birth defects should the couple marry and wish to have a child.  The parents did not say much in reaction to the news other than thank the official for the information.  Once back in Sabrina’s uncle’s home, her uncle and mother talked among themselves.  They decided that all which occurred was after all pre-ordained by God so they chose to go ahead with the marriage plans without informing either Sabrina or Adnan about the blood test results.

And now is where YOU pick up the story.  You may continue the story to its conclusion or take it to another level for the next person to continue.

50 Responses

  1. As much as I’d like to condemn marriage among cousins, it is only fair to understand why it became somewhat a tradition namely in the Arab society. Does Islam prohibit inbreeding practice? if yes, in this case tradition alone seems to suffice religion in many of the Arab practices. Yes?

  2. My goodness, where did you get that poster?!

  3. i have already heard about the mandated blood test which is required in saudi before marrige.however, i wonder what this test checks excactly .what percentage does this test give that kids of the couple that is tested will be healthy?

  4. “They decided that all which occurred was after all pre-ordained by God so they chose to go ahead with the marriage plans without informing either Sabrina or Adnan about the blood test results.” After all, Allah is more powerful than doctors; if He wanted Sabrina and Adnan to have normal children, He would allow that. If He wanted to test them with birth defects and diseases, He would do that, too, with or without predictions from blood tests designed by humans.

    So Sabrina and Adnan were married, and no one knew from the expressions on their faces how pleased they were with one another’s appearance when they finally saw each other after having been separated at adolescence. Sabrina had grown into a slender woman whose bright smile melted Adnan’s heart. Adnan had grown into a robust young man with abundant, wavy hair and a beautiful complexion.

    Sabrina lost her first pregnancy, but after a period of grieving, she accepted the will of Allah, and got pregnant again. Despite her prayers, two more miscarriages occurred, after which she and Adnan consulted human medicine.

    The doctors did not know how to tell Sabrina and Adnan that their chances for producing a normal child were nil. They consulted amongst themselves. Some of the doctors wanted to withhold the information, citing the omnipotence of Allah, the possibility that Allah would bless the couple after all. They did not want to take responsibility for crushing the dreams of the a couple who were so desirous of starting a family.

    Other doctors wanted to tell them the truth so that the two could reassess their marriage and priorities in life.

    Meanwhile, Sabrina and Adnan, who weren’t as naive as adults imagined, had been talking about the future. They knew they could go to America or Europe, and explore options such as surrogate parenthood or adoption– not that they found these paths desirable or even permissible— but they loved each other, and did not want to start marriage all over again with new partners just for the sake of having children.

    Every time they reaffirmed their love for each other, however, the reality of their barrenness loomed up between them, so that eventually, they found themselves in a sort of psychological limbo. No longer childhood playmates, yet locked out of the natural progression into family life with children of their own, they grew apart.

    Life became a series of days, a walking of the treadmill, with the idea of a second wife growing from possibility into probability. Neither of them really wanted that, but neither of them wanted any of the scenarios that lay in the future regarding their family life.

    Adnan poured himself into his career. Sabrina honed her homemaking skills and continued to pray. Wisely, the two kept talking, kept loving, and opened their minds, knowing that if one of the possible scenarios did not present itself as acceptable, Allah would offer them a path they could not have imagined. They knew and accepted the impossibility of having their own biological children, and in fact, Sabrina suffered five additional miscarriages before she stopped getting pregnant altogether. This sadness became the burden of their lives.

    Eventually, they learned of their parents’ deceit in withholding the genetic analyses from them as they had prepared to get married, so many years ago. How could any of them had behaved any differently? Perhaps their parents had been right all along— the will of Allah would prevail.

    No one could have known– then– that the will of Allah would not look like anything anyone had expected.


  5. Oh Marahm…I want to hear more from you! You left it at such a suspenseful part and your story followed Islamic teachings throughout too.

    @Diana – marrying within extended families is more culture than Islamic. To begin with most marriages are arranged by female relatives. As a result, these women will look for a match within their circle. Many Saudis circulate within extended families. Secondly, many marriages are kept within families to retain family wealth and assets.

    @Madelenas – it is amazing what results google images will provide!

    @Irina – I cannot tell you specifically what the test does or does not test for. I hope that some of the readers who in the medical sector in Saudi will answer in detail. If I am correct, it is not as detailed as tests as one would hope for in the case of marrying within same families.

  6. Other cultures have similar problems with inbreeding. Jews are one group that has allowed cousin marriage and has similar genetic disease problems.

  7. I did not know that Jews also allow for marriage to cousins. The west dont allow it and they have a new reason for it: to avoid in breeding. Good for them but I bet no one thought about this fifty or so years ago. As to genetic problems, well, what genetic problem? More people with deformities in KSA or what? Unless there is a clear study to show the side effect, marriage to cousins aint a bad idea at all.

  8. Inherited genetic disorders in itself should make cousi marriages a bad idea.
    For those who dispute this i could suggest some good genetic texts, why on earth would you want to potentially visit thalussemia, sickle cell anaemia, spinal deformities etc., on your kids?as if there arn’t enough problems int his world.

    50 yrs ago maybe this was not known, even then a few cultures took some precautions. in a few there were cousin marriages but only of opposite siblings, like you could marry your mum’s brothers child but not your mum’s sisters, same with dad, that brought atleast a 50% mix in genes sometimes but even that causes major issues in offspring.
    there’s billions of people inthis planet, it’s insane to marry cousins in this day and age and with htis much technology.
    that’s why there is a blood test, use it wisely and learn from what they are trying to say.

  9. I will refrain from continuing the story for a few days, until your other readers and writers have a chance to pick it up.

    I like this idea of the story that passes from writer to writer. It’s fun. It reminds me of a party game that was played years ago. Everyone sat in a circle. One person whispered something into the ear of her neighbor, and the neighbor passed it on to her neighbor, adding something to flesh out the idea,. until the whispered tidbit came back full circle, to be announced by the one who started it. Of course, it ended upt totally different from how it started. I think the game was called “Pass it On.”

  10. Marahm ..good expose (with apostrophe). so there are cousins and there are cousins. I need a tutorial on this because all along i thought cousins are cousins in plain speak.
    Until it is proven there is danger in inbreeding I will continue to support it. Reading about the works of Mendel etc can hardly suffice. But as I said before we do not seem to have a preponderance of dunces in KSA. So what gives

  11. When they realised that their parents had withheld the medical information and that they couldn’t have a normal child and in any case Sabrina didn’t want another pregnancy and miscarriage, they decided to rekindle their dream of young days again.

    Adnan applied for immigration to Canada on a business visa – he had amassed enough money by now to become eligible for this expensive visa. Sabrina applied for undergraduate course in journalism in a Canadian university.

    Soon, Adnan was granted the business visa. Sabrina was admitted with one year’s scholarship. She also applied for immigration because Adnan was already an immigrant now. Sabrina was accepted soon by the Canadian Embassy. They went off to Canada.

    Adnan set up a successful hotel in a Canadian city where there were many Arabs and other Asians, who would make his clients. Sabrina, with her immigrant status now, applied for financial assistance at her university. Adnan was supportive of her in her studies.

    After four years, Sabrina got a degree in journalism and a placement in a leading news agency in Canada. By now Adnan had grown his business and had established a chain of hotels across several Canadian cities.

    They both decided to adopt a child. They travelled to Mali – a poor Muslim majority country in West Africa and adopted twins – a daughter and a son from an orphange.

    Finally, their dreams came true – they were successful professionals, with the world lying before them to explore, no restrictions of a retrogressive laws of Saudi Arabia and two beautiful children from Mali, who were their own now.

    They also had the satisfaction that they gave a good home and education to these children, who had otherwise no hope in their future life.

    Did they still follow the traditional life of Saudi Arabia in Canada?

    Maybe some other commentator can take this up.:-)

  12. We called that game “Chinese Whisper.” It’s called “Telephone” in America.

  13. PS – Sabrina had finished school education in Saudi Arabia in all these years at a nearby school.

  14. “As to genetic problems, well, what genetic problem? More people with deformities in KSA or what? Unless there is a clear study to show the side effect, marriage to cousins aint a bad idea at all.”
    if you keep marry your cousins for 1400 years, you will get pretty bad results, gene pool is simply too polluted.
    one cannot wonder why moslems are so weak in natural sciences – they simply never will be enough intelligent to make something really good. Chinese and Asian people in general have strong taboo against it…and wow, who excels in natural sciences – people who avoid imbreeding…
    so, I think it is good to encourage moslems for cousin marriages – it is good to have someone for simply tasks.. but I bet during some years robots will be far cheaper😀

  15. It is scientifically established that blood related marriages lead to many genetic problems. Radha above is a medical doctor, so she knows.

    We were all taught this in our high school science books. I’m surprised that this is not taught to school students in some countries and they are not aware of this scientifically proven fact.

    I think people on this blog would like to read this –

  16. Cousins were marrying for years and years in India and in some parts it is still very normal. But I don’t think India is lacking of brainy people.

    Einstein married his cousin. Not aware how his kids turned out.

  17. @nas –
    “Cousins were marrying for years and years in India and in some parts it is still very normal. But I don’t think India is lacking of brainy people. ”

    Inbreeding has nothing to do with brainy people or not, there are genius among aspergers’s syndrome kids, it is still not somethng to be desired.

    There are tons of problems in india because of inbreeding, like i mentioned they do not marry kids of same sex siblings , so as to dilute the blood relationship, even that means nothing, we have 2 cases of kids having mental disorders in our family and they are both cousin marriages. generations of doing this cause harm, it’s is a FACT not something that’s a vague science.

    keeping wealth within the family is not a good enough reason to risk the future of kids. atleats not to me. money comes and goes, health and kids are our lifelong treasures.

    Again there are tons of examples of cousin marriages thata re fine, but still even if there is a 10% chance of potential problems why risk it, I wouldn’t .. again to each his own. like they say ” you can only lead a horse to water cannot make it drink.”

  18. @Radha

    i do agree that close relatives marriages will have some problems but about the “brainiy” bit, I was only commenting on what Flame said that because of inbreeding by muslims, “they simply never will be enough intelligent to make something really good”

    In fact, Prophet Muhammad married from different tribes so as to create good relations with those tribes.

    And Quran says that tribes are created so that we may know one another.

  19. No one is continuing with the story!

  20. “In fact, Prophet Muhammad married from different tribes so as to create good relations with those tribes.”
    nothing can be further from truth.
    your Prophet has only one criterion – youth and beauty (ah, I forgot lust).
    if you want I can prove it by your own sahih hadiths.


    Although Pakistani parents produce just 3.4 per cent of the babies born in Britain that also accounts for 30 per cent of children born with genetic illnesses, researchers claim. The risks of inbreeding rise sharply if the practice is repeated over several generations.

    so if you are doing it for 1400 years, your gene pool will be pretty dirty.
    but it is always good to have someone for simple tasks.

  22. The article which was provided is an excellent read. I was frequently approached while in Pakistan to help children who were born with rare genetic disorders. It saddened me. I also saw the same in Saudi, especially working the health care sector and seeing children waiting for a doctor who could not talk or were disformed.

  23. Combining their established and successful hotel chain with Sabrina’s journalism, she and Adnan decided they could go a step further. To begin with they created a web site about the dangers of continuing marriages within extended families. They decided to take the risk and share their own story. They also formed a coalition of medical specialists who regularly contributed articles which were in English, Arabic and Urdu to further educate those around the world who practiced marriages within the family. With Sabrina’s articulate way with words, their web site got the attention of many. A documentary was produced about their story and with the many medical specialists contributing views and facts on the danger of inbreeding. Six months later the document was reproduced but in Arabic and with Urdu subtitles.

    Adnan and Sabrina’s outreach exceeded their own expectations. To their surprise, they now found their hotels were fully booked to capacity on a regular basis. Muslims and non-Muslims alike were drawn to the hotels in the hopes of meeting this extraordinary couple. The resulting profits from sales of the documentary and hotels sales provided them with the start up capital to establish their own non-profit charity, Muslims Against Inbreeding. This charity provided educational classes and seminars and also guidance and medical care to couples who had a child born with inflictions as a result of inbreeding.

    Sadly, through their openness, Adnan and Sabrina found themselves shunned by their families. This saddened them for they had never stopped loving their parents in spite of the trials they had faced.

    Who wants to pick up next?

    On Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 9:08 PM, Carol Fleming wrote:

    > The article which was provided is an excellent read. I was frequently > approached while in Pakistan to help children who were born with rare > genetic disorders. It saddened me. I also saw the same in Saudi, > especially working the health care sector and seeing children waiting for a > doctor who could not talk or were disformed. > >

  24. oh, but the adoption is un-islamic. I do not think that they can adopt legally a child in KSA. or pass their property to such child.
    so I think that they never return to KSA.
    so much for the story.

  25. people are going to KSA to study rare genetic diseases that are the outcome of polluted gene pool. read this.
    He died over physical disability and the reason was that his mom is married to my cousin. Marrying relatives in our family causes physical disabilities to their babies. It was something no one paid attention to 12 years ago. It wasn’t only my nephew, we lost many children in the family.
    so this is for khalid who naively thinks that 1400 years of marriages of first cousins is just nothing.. ok, maybe one or two chid with some ehm, disfigurements…

  26. Flame,
    With the money they made in Canada, they didn’t need their property in KSA, nor did they want to returned, as they had got integrated into Canadian culture completely – they were good immigrants.

  27. Being an American, I’m apparently culturally inclined towards the “ick” factor when it comes to marriage within the family. Being an almost French teacher, I tend to be highly intrigued by cultural dynamics as well, which I feel may be an aspect that is being somewhat overlooked in this story/debate. I was looking for more information and found this article from a few years ago:

    I’m not much of an expert so I don’t know how reliable the source may or may not be, but I thought that there were a lot of interesting cultural elements pointed out here that could provide deeper insight into the topic, from several angles. I agree that cousin-marriages are vastly unhealthy, but does anyone have any comments on the family/nation/culture aspects of it? Perhaps this could even provide for an additional twist to the story.

    Thank you!

  28. Flame

    All of prophet’s marriages had an example and a reason. Most of them are from different tribes/clans. This helped to unite the tribes with blood relation.

    Aisha, daughter of Abu Bakr Siddiq (first caliph) from the tribe of Bani Tim

    Umm Salama, was from the clan of Makhzum.

    Umm Habiba, daughter of Abu Sufyan from the tribe of Umayyah

    Zaynab bint Jahsh, was the daughter of the Prophet’s aunt.

    Juwayriya bint Harith, daughter of Harith, chief of the defeated Banu Mustaliq clan.

    Safiyya, daughter of Huyayy, of the Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir

    Sawda bint Zam‘a, from tribes of Banu ‘Amer bin Loii and Bani Najjar. She was the first wife after his first wife Khadijah and was a widow.

    Hafsa, daughter of Omar ibn Al-Khattab (second caliph) from the tribe of Adi

    Zaynab daughter of Khuzaymah, was an old-aged widow, from nomadic tribe of ‘Amir b. Sa’sa’ah

    Maymunah from the tribe of Bani Makhzum. Maymunah was 51 years of age.

    All of his wives, except for Aisha, were either widows or divorcees. Some were middle-aged. So much for beauty, lust …

  29. well, so I will cite some ahadits and seerah
    first comes poor little Aishah.
    Sahih Bukhari ,Volume 7, Book 62, Number 18:
    Narrated ‘Ursa:
    The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for ‘Aisha’s hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said “But I am your brother.” The Prophet said, “You are my brother in Allah’s religion and His Book, but she (Aisha) is lawful for me to marry.”

    Sahih Bukhari,Volume 7, Book 62, Number 37:
    Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:
    It was said to the Prophet, “Won’t you marry the daughter of Hamza?” He said, “She is my foster niece (brother’s daughter). ”

    according to your narration it seems that Abu Bakr pestered Mohamed to marry his daughter, but according to your hadiths, the opposite is true.
    so before advent of islam, it was not lawful to marry his niece?
    wow, how great change brought islam.

    why your pophet of bad renown married Sawda that was not young? surely not for lust, she was too aged for him.. so why he married her? he needed someone to look after his children, to brought them up, to keep his household clean.. and Aisah was too young for that (in six or seven for sure).
    surely it was cheaper to pay mahr than to pay the maid, so as the good businesman he had good eye for business to select the cheapest solution (do not forget that maids do not offer sexual services)
    “Safiyya, daughter of Huyayy, of the Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir” hmm, she was extremely beutiful.. and whitout Mohamed´s raid she woud be never widowed…
    In the aftermath, the female captives were divided amongst Muhammad and his followers.[6] Safiyya was assigned to Dihya ibn Khalifa, but Muhammad selected her while compensating Dihya with two of her cousins,[9] or, according to other sources, seven head of cattle,[3] and according to a differing source, seven female slaves.[10)
    so if she werent of exreme beauty Mohamed would surely not care a damm for her and she would be sold as slave or served as the sex toy to some moslem soldier. but her fate is nothing to be envied, to be the property of the murderer of her tribe.
    Sahih Muslim 8:3329:

    Anas, (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Safiyah (Allah be pleased with her) fell to the lot of Dihya in the spoils of war, and they praised her in the presence of Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said: We have not seen the like of her among the captives of war.

    Sahih Muslim 8-3328

    There fell to the lot of Dihya a beautiful girl, and Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) got her in exchange of seven heads.
    so she was no ugly. (again, lust). her mahr was her emancipation, so she costed him really nothing.
    against you can see the cost oriented nature of your illustrious prophet.

    so, Juwairiah :
    Narrated Ibn Aun:
    I wrote a letter to Nafi and Nafi wrote in reply to my letter that the Prophet had suddenly attacked Bani Mustaliq without warning while they were heedless and their cattle were being watered at the places of water. Their fighting men were killed and their women and children were taken as captives; the Prophet got Juwairiya on that day. Nafi said that Ibn ‘Umar had told him the above narration and that Ibn ‘Umar was in that army.” Volume 3, Book 46, Number 717:
    if he did not attacked her people, she would surely remain free.

    “when the prophet-peace be upon him- distributed the captives of Banu Almustaliq, she (Barrah) fell to the lot of Thabit ibn Qyas. She was married to her cousin, who was killed during the battle. She gave Thabit a deed, agreeing to pay him nine okes of gold for her freedom. She was a very beautiful woman. She captivated every man who saw her. She came to the prophet-peace be upon him-, to ask for his help in the matter. As soon as I saw her at door of my room, I took a dislike to her, for I knew that he would see her as I saw her. She went in and told him who she was, the daughter of al-Harith ibn Dhirar, the chief of his people. She said: “you can see the state to which I have been brought. I have fallen to the lot of Thabit, and have given him a deed for ransom, and I have to come to ask your help in the matter.’ He said: ‘would you like something better than that? I will discharge your debt, and marry you.’ she said: ‘yes. O then it is messenger of Allah! Done.’ he replied.”

    so old one did not set her free, just changed one master for another.. and he nedeed to pay Thabit, otherwise unselfish moslems warrior would no more fight for them.
    Ibn-i-S’ad in his ‘Tabaqat’, states that the father of Juwairiyah paid her ransom amount, and when she became free, the Holy Prophet married her. As a result of this marriage a11 the prisoners of war numbering about 600 were freed by the Muslims as they did not like that any member of the family in which the holy Prophet was married, be made a slave.”
    so not Prophet freed them, but moslems themselves… again, he did not set any example for freeing prisoners, if it may represent a finance loss for our dear prophet. but early moslems were not completely rotten by islam and some of their core values still remained intact -so they freed other prisoners.

    another day I will continue with other wives.. of course, always with the support of hadith or reliable moslem early sources.
    btw, Nas, do you know this moslem joke? from which second is 1400 sahih hadith no more sahih?

  30. Culture plays an immense role in the marriages within families in Saudi.

  31. in Iran all couples(defective embryo is not limited to cousin couples) go to genetic tests and if it showed embryo has genetic problem, it is aborted.
    Flame, adoption is not unislamic .it is better to say it is not legalized or couraged in saudi Iran all couples even single women (30-40) can adopt kids.

  32. Mariam – are you saying a woman will have tests conducted while pregnant as a standard procedure? I mean, I know that pretty much everywhere pregnant women will receive blood tests and other tests but I find it hard to imagine that many Saudi women would abort even if indications of a genetic problem.

    Here is an earlier post I wrote back in 2007 on adoption:

  33. it is not standard and they are not force to do that but they are heavily encouraged to do that and many do.if a couple think that they can cope with a down syndrome kid , it is up to them but most of them some cases like Thalassemia 100% are aborted.we have sufferd so much from these diseases. (still suffering from kids born befor).people dont want more suffering specialy when they want to have only one or two kids.
    thank you for providing above link.

  34. @Flame

    “according to your narration it seems that Abu Bakr pestered Mohamed to marry his daughter

    According to my narration? What narration would that me? I just listed the wives of the prophet and the tribes they blong to. Where oh where did I mention that Abu Bakr pestered Mohammed.

    “why your pophet of bad renown married Sawda that was not young?”

    What? He married her because she was widowed and had no one. She migrated twice. The first time to Ethiopia. If he married someone young its lust, if he married old then its because he needed someone to look after his children. lol.

    You are out of point. My point was that he married different tribes and you are giveing long list of hadiths which does not show anything concerning the point.

  35. I love the way Sabrina and Adnan’s story has evolved! The developments show how relationships and situations typically contain elements of joy and sadness at the same time– a mark of mature humanity.

  36. the poster maker has cruelly taken a photo that he considers suitably unflattering and insensitively based on their appearance tagged a line about inbreeding. this is pure exploitation and i’m sure they’d be very upset to know that their photo was being used in this way and i really think it woud like to suggest you remove it.
    what is more, because the glasgow based celtic football team is strongly associated with people of irish descent and who are catholic, i fear the poster might also fall into the category of perpetuating myths about irish people.

  37. i think it’s better to avoid cousin marriage. unfortunately, in an effort to preserve the “purity” of the tribe families expose their off spring to all sorts of risks. i feel that at least in certain communities this practice has been given some religious legitimacy,also. at one point, a pakistani scholar issued a ruling about suitable matches. he, rather outrageously imho, suggested that a man from such and such a tribe in pakistan would be an unsuitable match for a woman from such and such another tribe. he was widely condemned but for some people who already have these practices it would have given an unfortunate legitimacy.

  38. i suppose that high rates of gnetic illness would also be found in any isolated community,like an island or within cults,such as the one i recently watched a progeamme on, in utah… it’s an offshoot of the mormons, the one that labels and expells lost boys

  39. Hey Flame … your uncouth statements deserve no reply, but here is some food for thought: For 1400 years Muslims married their cousins and yet history books tell us about algebra, alchemist and astronomy originating from the works of Arabs. You are free to deny this and re- write history by probably saying this is a but a tale of the ancients. Now what about modern day achievers in science, for example, Nobel laureates in pure sciences? Do we see any Arab there? I think so, but then you can equally say theirs was plain sorcery used to deceive eh? Go ahead in your denial…
    Or you can equally say that individual achievers are out of it, as someone suggested above. But then what are we talking about. If you can find individual achievers in KSA and individual achievers elsewhere then it throws inbreeding into the gutter. Unless one can prove there is preponderance in one and not in the other.
    This theory of inbreeding is really inconclusive. Having retards and married cousins around does not necessarily prove inbreeding as the cause since there are retards in families where there are no cousin spouses. More work need to be done in this area before people start making assertions. I support all those going to KSA and elsewhere to study the subject. It is not enough to make sweeping generalizations and use anecdotes to argue a case like this.
    As to lack of sciences background i think its more a problem relating to educational system etc. Take an Arab kid to Japan, or an African, red Indian, gypsy or a Uyghur, for the duration of primary to tertiary education. I believe all of them will turn out to have the same science background as the japanese. Or bring Japanese to KSA and see whether he can rise above what the educational system there can offer. Which brings us to the issue of nature and nurture and which have all along not been factored into the argument.
    But wait a minute I have just realized no one, not even Bedu, has defined the kind of cousins we are talking about here. Someone mentioned different types of cousins and I believe there are parallel cousins, distant and close cousins. So which ones are the experts here talking about as posing inbreeding problems? It is not wise to take part in an argument without a clear definition of the variables …

    Nas .. thank you for the list of the wives of the Prophet and their tribes.

  40. khalid, my own feelings were based on the fact that there are laws in many us states against cousin marriage. i am certainly not an expert but i am of the view that there must be some risk involved if law makers go to the effort of legislating against it. nevertheless, i am open to others’ opinions o the matter.

  41. africana, thanks for the response. If they have laws against cousin marriage in the US then surely the issue has been articulated. I am particularly interested in the definition of a cousin and conclusive studies of the inherent associated risks. So far no one has touched on that.
    For example I have several friends who share the same grandparents or great grand parents with their spouses but none have any retards in the family.
    A conclusive study could mean we wait till those who went to KSA and elsewhere publish their findings.

  42. To continue the story …

    (I know my English is not good and my grammar is worse but anyway I will try and please excuse any bad grammar).

    Sabrina and Adnan longed for a child. They were both aware of the medical complexities,but they did not want to lose hope. After all, it is all in God’s Hands.

    In the silence of the night, tears would trickle down onto the pillow as Sabrina asked God, the All-Hearer, to listen to her pleas. That all she wanted was to hold her baby in her arms. She promised to be a good mother and raise the child to be a good Muslim. On the other side of the bed, Adhan would make silent prayers of his own. “Oh Allah, if there is one thing I would ask you, it is for an offspring. Please do not leave my affairs even for a blink of an eye”, he prayed the supplications of the Prophet.

    Every morning was a like a bouquet of roses – a sign of hope. The sun’s first rays were beams of good news. Or so it seemed to the cousins. Adhan worked hard at his new job as autocad engineer. He loved his work as he had always wanted to be an engineer. Allah has surely blessed him with this work. Sabrina pursued her online Montessori course. She wanted to qualify to teach children. Sabrina always made sure that she kept her tongue moist with istaghfir (forgiveness). One of her friends had told her that God would grant the prayers of one who asked for forgiveness continuously and that is what was doing all day and night – while cooking, cleaning the house, waiting for her husband to come home – at any time.

    In the month of Ramadan, the couple decided to perform Umrah. It was not the first time for both of them but it was first time for them to make it together. They were truly excited. It was a special month and they knew that Umrah at the time of Ramadan was virtuous and rewarded as the reward of Hajj.

    Off they went and when they stood in front of the spectacular mosque, both of them burst into tears. It was as if it was the very first time they had seen it and with hearts overflowing with prayers, they could not contain themselves. Neither of them was aware of the other and at once started their own personal prayers – just there, outside the mosque. After a while, having pouring their pleas out, they looked at each other and smiled the smile of confidence. Together they walked inside.

    There standing in front of the majestic ka’aba, Sabrina made the most strongest of pleas to the God. “Oh Allah, you are the Creator, to You belongs all the most beautiful Names, I know that not a single dua of your servants escapes You. Oh Allah, if You can make Maryam bear a child who had no father, if You can make Ibrahim’s wife give birth in her old age, surely my condition is no challenge for You. I know the doctors have said something but You, You oh Allah, nothing is impossible for You. All I ask is this one healthy baby who will one day return to You as a good Muslim. Oh Allah fill my womb with a soul from You, fill it, fill it, fill i.t Oh Allah and I will be ever so grateful.”

    Tears streaming down her cheeks, she was hardly aware of the man next to her, weeping, asking forgiveness on this blessed month, never losing hope on the power of dua. Adhan had made the most fervent prayers reading the Quran and praying, reading and then praying.

    Together, they were lost in the spiritual world of prayers. They both knew that God would not turn His back on them; He would not ignore their pleas. The All Merciful, surely He can hear the words directed to Him alone.

    Having completed their Umrah rites, they went back home and spent the rest of Ramadan praying with the same enthusiasm. During the days, Adhan worked at his job, and Sabrina studied and cooked making dhikr (remembrance of God) all the time. During the evenings, after breaking their fasts, they would go to the mosque for the tarweeh prayers. At the end of the prayers, the imam would make the duas for the community and the whole world, he would raise his voice and repeat some parts for emphasis. His beautiful voice and words would make the congregation weep.

    For Sabrina and Adnan, some of the duas had special meanings. When the Iman asked God to make the following generations to be aware of the evils and follow the good, Sabrina could not help but quickly add, “Oh Allah, please do not leave me without generations”

    The joyous day of Eid marked the end of Ramadan. Although it was kind of sad to bid farewell to the blessed month, the day of Eid was welcomed by all. It was on the first day of Eid, right after the family lunch, that Sabrina felt something was different. She did not feel like herself. From the time, she had missed the date of the month, she had secretly hoped that it was the answer to all their prayers. On that day of Eid, sure enough, she felt that something was happening. Should she tell Adnan? Or wait for some time? What the heck! She thought and informed her husband about her thoughts. Happiness knew no bound for Adnan. He beamed from ear to ear and could not stop asking her again and again “Are you sure!?”

    Nine months passed by: many visits to the ob/gyn, many sleepless nights, many medications and so, so , so many prayers, and then finally the little bundle of joy was in the loving arms of his mother. “His name is Nadir”, Adnan whispered into Sabrina’s ear, “Because his case is so rare and he beat the odds”.

    “He didn’t beat any odds with God”, Sabrina smiled, “but Nadir he is!”

    Nadir was a healthy boy with a radiant face resembling his father. Both parents hugged the tiny baby and then looked at each other and remembered all their pleas to Allah. While Adnan went to the mosque to offer prayer of thanks, Sabrina made a long dua from her hospital bed. “Oh God, I asked you fill my womb with a soul and so You did, I asked for a healthy baby and so You gave, I asked you to bestow on me generations and so You did. You indeed can do anything and for this I will keep my word. I thank you and my thanks know no end. If the way of thanks is to raise a good child, then that is what I plan to do. I am ever so grateful for this little gift that is now in my arms”.

    And so time passed by for the couple. They enjoyed watching their little son grow. Sabrina made sure that Nadir had good education and religious teachings and both parents did theirr best for their son.

    Now that Nadir grew up to tell the story of hope and steadfastness to his own children, the on-going generation that Sabrina had prayed for all those years ago, continued …


    PS. Some parts of this story are real.

  43. Someone named Khalid supposes that there are no studies concerning the consanguinity.
    the fact that someone from his family has first child showing no sign of any disease signifies nothing – the problems may come later, or other children may be not healthy.
    Enumerating the types of birth defects, Dr Khaled Abu-Amero, Laboratory Director, Shafallah Genetics Medical Centre, says, “The common birth defects that we come across are congenital heart defects, neural tube defects, haemoglobin disorders (thalassemia and sickle cell disease), Down syndrome, different mental retardation disorders, various body dysmorphic disorders (dysmorphia) and recently autism came into this picture.”

    In an exclusive interview to Qatar Today, Dr Abu-Amero spoke about the main reasons for the defective births in the country and the Arab world in general, the preventive measures that parents should take, the importance of premarital testing and counselling and what approach should be taken to prevent such birth defects.

    He emphasised that countries low on development and a large part of the Arab world is rife with this problem.

    Sudan tops the list, having 82 out of 1,000 live births with birth defects, followed by Saudi Arabia (81.3), Kuwait (74.9), Oman (74.8), and Syria (74.3). “Not surprising that France has the lowest figure, with 39 birth defects out of every 1,000 live births,” he says, quoting the report.

    Consanguinity: The main reason
    “It is not only Qatar that is plagued by this phenomenon. In fact, the whole Arab world is battling with this issue due to the high consanguinity rate in this region. First cousin marriages and the tribal nature of marriages have resulted in a very high rate of genetic defects among children in some Arab countries. In a recent survey published in 2006, the rate of consanguinity in the present Qatari generation is high (54 percent) and the common type of consanguineous marriages was between first cousins.

    “Besides consanguinity, the other reasons behind this worrisome phenomenon could also include: poverty in some Arab countries, malnutrition and survival advantage against malaria for carriers of sickle cell and thalassemia genes, high percentage of older mothers and poor maternal and child health care services.”

    Prevention, the only panacea
    “The practical solution to this problem is through prevention, which should be the prime public health concern where these disorders are prevalent.

    “Preventive genetics is best achieved through establishment of national databases on the basis of surveys, target the people at risk and prevalent premarital diagnosis, prenatal diagnosis, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and by genetic counselling.

    “These preventive measures must take into account the social, cultural and religious aspects of the Qatari society. The Saudi Government, for instance, has made testing for thalassemia and sickle cell anaemia compulsory.”

    Stressing the importance of premarital testing for couples embarking on marriage, as well as prenatal testing for couples on their way to parenthood, he says, “These tests are particularly done for diseases, which families from both sides have a history for. In the case of a consanguineous marriage, both families are considered to stem from the same origin and as such must be tested. For instance, premarital testing for cystic fibrosis, will reveal the genetic mutations that couple in question potentially has. If the couple expresses the trait, they are advised to undergo genetic counselling, which will lay down the possibilities of them having a defective child or a child with a disorder. Whatever choice the couple makes, post counselling is, thus, an informed choice.
    The Shafallah focus
    Shafallah has 500 children, 70 percent of whom have disability, caused either by genetic factors or by the interaction between genetic and environmental factors.

    “Our main genetic testing addresses autism, syndromic/non-syndromic mental retardation, blindness, deafness, epilepsy and a wide variety of other disorders. The facility at Shafallah is one of the best in this part of the world and we do advanced genetic tests,” says Dr Abu Amero. All genetic testing which will be carried out on Shafallah children is optional and will only be carried out after obtaining consent of the parents and after full explanation of the benefits of testing and what it means to them and to their extended family. Genetic testing will involve drawing 5 cc of blood or obtaining a mouth swab with minimal or no risk to participants.

    Shafallah aims to help in preventing defective births by offering genetic counselling and by educating would be parents on the choices before them (especially in cases where a family already has had a defective birth), the counsellors help families make informed decisions.

    The Shafallah Genetics Centre also plays a crucial role in extending cooperation to the country’s health authorities.

    He outlines the extensive education programme for clinical geneticists, students of genetic research and the young scientists’ programme, which targets high achievers in science in high schools (A-level).

    “In addition, we help as much as we can in advanced genetic testing and by way of community education whereby we organise lectures on genetics and how it affects the daily life of the public at large.”

    What is genetic disorder?
    Genetic inheritance is the transfer of genetic material from parents to offspring. Each offspring gains half of their genetic makeup from their father and the other half from their mother. The offspring express the inherited genetic material in the form of their unique hair colour, eye colour, body shape, etc. This genetic material transfer occurs through the human DNA which carries genetic codes and chromosomes.

    Normally, humans carry 46 chromosomes. The male carries 46 (XY) and the female carries 46 (XX). The male sperm is divided into two parts one part carries the X chromosome and the other part carries the Y chromosome. During fertilisation and when the sperm carrying the X chromosome penetrates the ova, which carries only the X chromosome, the zygote becomes female.

    However, when the sperm carrying the Y chromosome penetrates the ova, the zygote becomes male. If there is any change in the number or the structure of these chromosomes, a potential defect can result in the offspring.

    By Aparajita Mukherjee
    here is the case of highly inbred marriage.
    Available evidence suggests that congenital and genetic disorders are responsible for a major proportion of infant mortality, morbidity, and handicap in Arab countries.1-3 The population of the region is characterised by large family size, high maternal and paternal age, and a high level of inbreeding with consanguinity rates in the range of 25-60%.1 2 4 w1 Certain disorders are common throughout the Arab world, including haemoglobinopathies, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, different congenital malformations caused by recessive genes, and several metabolic disorders.1 2 Other recessive disorders cluster in certain groups and subpopulations.1 2 5 Genetic services vary in extent and coverage in different Arab countries, but mostly they remain patchy, selective, and inadequate.2 5 6
    High consanguinity rates—25-60% of all marriages are consanguineous, and the rate of first cousin marriages is high (figs 1 and 2; table A on w1 In addition, isolated subpopulations with a high level of inbreeding exist. Furthermore, in many parts of the Arab world the society is still tribal.5 6 w1 This has made the epidemiology of genetic disorders complicated, as many families and tribal groups are descended from a limited number of ancestors and some conditions are confined to specific villages, families, and tribal groups, leading to an unusual burden of genetic diseases in these communities.
    as for this fake myth of Islamic scientific golden age – first – this rare spark of rationality was possible due two things – gene pool was not so polluted as it is now, only someone can suppose that with 25 – 50% percent of first cousin marriage for 1000 years will have zero impact.
    so those statistics exists, but people do not like to take them into account.

    second thing was that Abbasids werent very pious moslems and they limited irationality of imams and they have supported mutazilas instead of irationalities of a mosque.
    so this Golden Age is in fact anti-islamic, because it could exist only when the suffocating grip of islam was loosened.
    when the Caliphs became more pious, backwardnes started to gain the influence (the dark figure of irational backwardness is famous mysogynist Al-Ghazali).

  44. Nas, very well done! I enjoyed reading your version. And I wish that your dreams come true.

  45. Beautifully written nas, I hope the parts which are not real become real later on.

  46. @NN, Sarah

    Thanks, I hope dreams come true for all of us.

  47. Nas, have you ever read the blog rickshaw diaries? You should check it out.

  48. Sarah, I checked richshaw diaries. It is very interesting. I have bookmarked it. Thanks!:)

  49. Well done, Nas! Excellent writing, and a happy ending. Though the scientist in me doesn’t like it, I am smiling.

    I read the book Rickshaw Diaries. It’s well written, entertaining and full of wise life-lessons. A memorable book, worth a second read.

    I’ve looked at the blog; the book has more staying power.

  50. Hey Marahm .. thanks. Its nothing to do with science. It is all about faith. But to tell you the truth, its happened to many people I know. So its not really unusual.:)

    I will try to get the book Rickshaw Diaries. For some reason, the name appeals to me. I like the title.

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