Imam W. Deen Muhammad
QUESTION; Do you agree with the marrying of cousins — with cousin marrying cousin?
IMAM: In many societies cousins are allowed to marry. Jewish people as far back as we can trace their tradition, have been allowed to marry cousins. Arab people were also allowed to marry cousins.
Under Prophet Muhammad, the Muslims, in general, were allowed to marry cousins. So Muslims are allowed to marry cousins, in fact, many Muslims prefer to marry cousins. I think that's because they know them better.
In our society, it's not the same as it is in Islamic countries or predominantly Islamic societies. In Islamic societies, people stay closer together. The relatives usually grow up together, and they are acquainted with each other, so you know your cousin better than you know other people — other girls or other boys.
In our society, we are moved around so much until really I knew strangers, non-relatives better than I knew some family members. I had cousins in Chicago, but these cousins weren't in my neighborhood. For most of my young life as a child, I wasn't seeing cousins, I was seeing non-relatives.
Naturally you became interested in the girls that you are seeing. And you most likely will marry somebody that you grew up with, somebody that you know very well or someone you meet and like.
But in the Muslim society these arrangements are often made very early and parents choose for the children. Often they choose a cousin because the cousin is compatible with the personality that they want to match them with. They say they have very compatible personalities and both are aspiring for similar things.
They try to put mates together that will stay together, whereas over here we have a different kind of society altogether; most of us mate because our careers are compatible or because opportunity says, yes, we'll make it together.
But I think what we have to look at here is the basic difference in these societies. We're talking about countries that have Islamic law or countries that have customs that have provided for this for centuries, thousands of years perhaps. And we are talking about America where this is not accepted.
It's very rare that you find anyone marrying a cousin over here. If you do, most
likely it's a Jew or perhaps an immigrant Muslim.
We don't want to encourage this kind of thing in our society since we don't have that kind of development among us. Why should we encourage it since it is not accepted in by the American society?
We should consider our interest in growing and prospering here in America. And anything that we take on, though it be approved in our religion, if it's unnecessary, and it causes a problem for us in the American society, we should just forget about it. Why should we take it on? Don't start looking for a cousin just because Muslims can marry cousins.