Pathan - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Although polygamy with up to four wives is permitted under Muslim law, monogamy is prevalent. Marriages are overwhelmingly endogamous within the clan and to a large degree within the subsection. Parallel-cousin marriage with father's brother's daughter is preferred among some tribes. Marriages are arranged by the couple's parents and their plans are generally fulfilled. The union is commonly contracted on the basis of bride-price. Frequently the bride's parents spend the money received in bride-price as dowry to meet the future domestic needs of the couple. A common practice is exchange marriage between close agnatic kin in which a sister or daughter is given and one simultaneously taken. Residence after marriage is virilocal, the bride coming to live in a single compound with the son, who receives separate quarters within it. The death of the patriarch of a family is frequently the time when such joint or compound families divide themselves into separate compounds. Despite the ease of obtaining a divorce under Muslim law, it is very rare among Pathans. The bride-price and the man's honor are lost if the woman remarries.

Domestic Unit. The household (kor) is the primary unit of consumption and cooperation and is conceived of as those who share a hearth or as a man and/or his sons. Three main types of domestic unit are found: (1) the nuclear family; (2) the compound family, in which a patriarch and/or his sons and their wives live together and share expenses; and (3) the joint family, in which the nuclear families in a compound, frequently brothers, keep independent budgets.

Inheritance. Land is divided as inheritance only among the males and on the basis of equality. The eldest brother is generally given an extra share to be used for the upkeep of the family guest house (hujra). It is over the inheritance of land that rivalry develops between brothers and, in the next Generation, cousins. Despite Islamic injunctions, neither wives nor daughters inherit property.

Socialization. With the separation of the sexes inherent in Islam, children are raised primarily by their mother and elder sisters. In the segregated atmosphere that prevails there is a great deal of competition for attention and affection, though men tend to be indulgent toward children. Boys are circumcised by their seventh year.

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