Professor Steve Jones: Islamic incest

Steve Jones is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London and an author of several popular science books.

He is one of the world’s top six experts on the genetics of snails (and the other five agree) and has also studied the genetics and evolution of fruit flies and humans.

During the ‘Hay Festival’ he commented that it was common in the Islamic world for men to marry their nieces and cousins.

He said that Bradford has a particular problem and warned that it could affect the health of children born into these marriages.

This of course has caused a stir but what does the Holy Quran actually say on the matter?

Dr Zahid Aziz has responded;

In the passage of the Holy Quran where those relatives are listed with
whom marriage is prohibited, it mentions
“brother’s daughters and sister’s daughters” (4:23).

This verse in full reads:

“Forbidden to you are your mothers, and your daughters, and your
sisters, and your paternal aunts, and your maternal aunts, and
brother¹s daughters and sister¹s daughters, and your mothers that have
suckled you, and your foster-sisters, and mothers of your wives, and
your stepdaughters who are in your guardianship (born) of your wives
to whom you have gone in ‹ but if you have not gone in to them, there
is no blame on you ‹ and the wives of your sons who are of your own
loins; and that you should have two sisters together, except what has
already passed. Surely Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful,”

No Muslim could be lawfully married in violation of such a direct
prohibition in the Holy Quran.


This should clarify that the issue is not one of religion but more a cultural issue, and it is important to note that Professor Jones also went on to discuss incest within Royal Families and in Northern Ireland. The reports that he was attacking Islam are simply sloppy journalism by people looking for cheap and easy headlines.

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