‘By all means marry. If you get a good wife you’ll become happy, and if you get a bad, you’ll become a philosopher.’
After reading this quote, I got a mixed kind of feeling in heart and some jumbled up thoughts in my mind that how come one can become a philosopher after marrying. Thinking so long on it, derived two meanings out of it.
First the literal meaning, if a man marries, being sick of his life, he chooses seclusion and disconnects from everyone. Second, the medical perspective, that after marrying (by chance or by will) and receiving a second hit on his gene, he becomes a philosopher because the recessive philosophy gene was running in his ancestors and as soon as it met its counterpart, it expressed itself.
Apart from the comics, consanguineous marriages have been the most important issue in the past and now have made their way into the modern science where scientists are working on this painstaking task to find the logical and biological important facts about these marriages.
In close marriages, i.e. the first cousins, the chance of receiving an odd gene is far greater than the unrelated marriage. In the unrelated marriage both the partners contribute around 4-8% chances, but that way, the chances of a second hit are lowest. While in the first cousin marriages, according t the Knudson’s Hypothesis the chances of getting the second hit are far greater. For example in the first cousin marriage, the grandfather would be common, if he has some gene that is lying recessive and waiting for its expression in the gene pool, but has no required power of expression. The rest of the power if provided by the cousin marriage can help to express the quiescent gene. As in literal meanings we call one and one eleven. Similarly in close marriages, the bad gene if given the power, acts as eleven when combined with its counterpart, the other one. E.g. if the mother has thalassemia trait and the father also has adopted it from his parents, their one in four children will have the chances to develop full blown thalassemia. Same is with blindness, mental retardation, birth defects, prenatal mortality, still birth malformations, apnea of prematurity, blood diseases, cystic fibrosis and renal failure etc.
The consanguineous marriage has it well developed historical background and is especially prevalent in Asia and Middle East. There have been special reason for it in the past but now they seem to be less important i.e. the perseverance of wealth, the low education status of the mother, traditions, vows of the elderly, family structure and fear of losing the money on wedding the daughter. In present times, the only thing that has come to light after studying the different population groups of Asia is that People don’t want to marry out of the caste as it, according to them will cause them lose their social status. Sometimes people also fear the external people about their habits and good reputation thus they marry their girls in the family always.
The very close marriages i.e. parents with children and brother with sister are not allowed in any religion, consanguineous marriages have been prohibited in some cultures and allowed in some but In Islam, there is obviously no such restriction because The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also married his cousin, Zainab Bint-e-Jahash.
Sometimes the Pakistanis settled in other countries like England and America are more prone to the consanguineous marriages because of the immigration policies of these countries. Some presume that local Muslim community there is so small and the people have no way out except for marrying the same generation women.
So the leaders in Asia must address this. The health education can be of immense help. Most important time of learning about these issues is while adolescence, so the school programs and event must be organized. Teachers must tell the students importance of preventing consanguineous marriages. Parents must avoid the close association of their children with sister, brother or cousins during the adolescence.
And if ever people have to marry their cousins, they must have pre-marriage genetic counseling or counseling when the marriage has been consummated.
Ammarah Fayyaz, Director Human Resource, MSF Pakistan