The Selective Nature of the Nerve Cells

The Selective Nature of the Nerve Cells

By Harun Yahya

Nerve Cells• What is the resting potential of the neurons and how is it preserved?

• What is action potential and how are the signals transmitted?

The nerve cells, which are called the neurons, unlike other cells, have axons and dendrites. The dendrites consist of many short extensions and look like the roots of the cell. These extensions receive signals from other neurons and the recipient cells and convey it to the body of the cell. Axons, on the other hand, are thin structures that arise from the cell body. One axon arises from the cell body and they help carry the messages to the brain. These neurons make a huge network of communication, all together.

Every cell membrane has an electrical charge and every neuron is like a tiny biologic battery ready to discharge itself. And each neuron is like a mini, biological battery ready to discharge its energy. The ions are electric-charged molecules inside and outside the nerve cells. This creates a difference in the voltage throughout the cell membrane. In order for the neurons to send signals, minus 50 millivolts (one millivolt is one in one-thousandth of a volt) is needed at an average.1 The signal is transmitted through the axon. After every signal, potassium ions are exchanged through the cell membrane. The neuron has to be recharged after every signal. To do that, the neuron gets back the ions to reach its potential value.

One neuron takes one-thousandth of a second to send a signal. This makes it possible to send a maximum of 1000 signals a second, however generally only 300-400 signals are sent in one second. The nerve cells have varying lengths in people2 and the speed of transmission is around 100-300 meters a second.3

Prof. Peter Suckling, a neuroscientist at the Downstate Medicine Center, explains his awe at the cell membrane:

“This thin cell membrane preserves the electric voltage more efficiently than any other insulating material. This is a very high insulating power. It has to be strong and at the same time, it is very thin.”4

The fact that the nerve cells can signal each other through the electricity produced in the cell membrane, the fact that they can send messages and ensure that the body functions continue, is something to be pondered upon. Furthermore, these electrical signals find the right address and make sense to the recipient cell. Every cell knows what the signal means and acts accordingly. This is a miraculous incident that has to be thought about very comprehensively. If it wasn’t for this flawless system between the cells, no living thing could survive. Then how did this system that displays an amazing intelligence and engineering come about? Surely, it is impossible to say that unconscious piles of atoms and molecules came together to build the cells and led to this amazingly engineered system between the cells. The existence of such a conscious system proves us the existence of creation in the living things. This incredible microstructure that left scientists amazed belongs to our Lord, the Creator of Everything:

“Is He who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed?” (Al-Nahl, 17)

Neurons at rest

nerve cell 2A nerve cell is at rest when it is not communicating a signal. However, this doesn’t mean that the neuron is completely immobile. It has to be ready to transmit signals that could be received from the neighbors at any moment. A neuron that is at rest has to polarize. This means that the liquid inside has to be negatively charged compared to one outside. One nerve cell has an electric potential of around 70 millivolts across the cell membrane. This is called the membrane potential or the resting potential. Although this might seem like a small amount, it means that it produces a voltage that is equal to 1/20 of the energy in the battery of a small flashlight and creates a potential for the electricity production throughout the axon membrane.

Outside the axon, there are sodium and (Na+) chloride (Cl-) ions, while inside, there are charged proteins and potassium (K+) ions. The electrical imbalance between outside and inside of the cell creates the resting potential throughout the membrane. This imbalance created by the charged ions is obtained through the cell membrane being semipermeable for different ions. Even if the sodium, potassium and chlorine ions pass through the cell membrane, the entrance of big molecules creating an electric potential, is restricted.

However, semi-permeability is not the only solution, as the potassium ions inside the cell (K+) are always higher in number than the sodium ions (Na+), while the sodium ions outside the cell membrane (Na+) are always more than the potassium ions (K+). In order to ensure the necessary ion balance, the intensity levels in the nerve cell have to be reverted.

The cell does this using a kind of ion pump. The sodium-potassium pump is a big protein molecule that builds a channel in the cell membrane. This pump gets its energy from the ATP (Adenosine-5′-triphosphate: the cellular energy molecule that living things directly use) and after sending the sodium (Na+) ions out, accepts the potassium (K+) ions inside. Thus, it preserves the right ion ratio inside and outside the cell. In every square micrometer of the cell membrane, there are some 100–200 sodium-potassium pumps and each of them sends out 200 sodium ions while accepting 130 potassium ions inside.

Action potential and transmission of the signal

When a neuron is prompted by another neuron or the conditions, the signal starts and right after this, the signal moves along the axon and makes the cell membrane potential to be reverted. As there are thousands of protein channels or gates on the neuron membrane allowing the passage of the ions. These gates are usually closed. When there is a signal, the sodium channels are opened and the positive-charged sodium ions flow inside. This way, the inside of the cell membrane has more positive charge and the resting potential is reverted, which increases the cell membrane potential up to +50 millivolts. The reverting of these charges is called the ‘action potential’. During the action potential, the potassium gates are opened and the positively charged potassium ions flow outside. This re-balances the resting potential and the inside of the neuron becomes negatively charged while outside becomes positively charged.

A single electric signal triggers all this process. Therefore, we can say that the transmission of the signals triggers a domino effect. As each domino falls, the next one falls. After the signal is sent, the dominos stand back and get ready for the next action potential.

The molecular traffic between the nerve cells continues on a constant basis. It is the ions and some proteins that tell this traffic to move or to stop. It is surely impossible for unconscious molecules to build this amazing nervous system in our bodies and then organize it perfectly. They have come together to serve a single purpose within a system. This fascinating system in our bodies is one of the manifestations of Allah’s beautiful creation and infinite control over everything.

Synapse Paths

nerve cell 3The nervous system in human body is a very complex structure that consists of billions of nerve cells. These nerve cells communicate with each other and the other cells in the body through the synapses. The synapses are small sections in the neighboring nerve cells which are very close to each other, but they never touch. Since they do not touch each other, the signals do not directly pass from one cell to another, rather than that they are carried through by using chemical means which are called neurotransmitters.

When a signal is received in the first cell, this leads to the release of some neurotransmitters to the intracellular gap. After that, the neurotransmitter molecules are diffused in this gap and go to a less dense environment and bind to the recipient protein molecules in the second cell. Since the neurotransmitters and the recipient molecules have too many different types, this synapses transmission can be fast (one-thousandth of a second) or slow (one-hundredth of a second). The chemicals either trigger or stop the second cell. Therefore, the synapses serve in the nervous system either by changing the data or processing it. This is why the synpasis function in the brain is linked to learning and the memory.

The neurons receive and send messages through connections called synapsis and exchange chemicals at these points. There are one trillion connection points between the nerve cells in the brain and the molecular traffic over these connections is continuous.  The ones who dictate when this traffic should stop or continue, are the ions, which are electrically charged chemicals and different types of proteins. Clearly, the fact that we can live very comfortably, that we can react to our surroundings become possible by the means of this special system that Allah created in our bodies. Furthermore, the nerve cells make only a small part of the complex system in our bodies. This system all around our bodies is one of the great manifestations of Allah’s infinite power and control. However, every detail in our bodies is created with a very special duty, by our Almighty Lord who has infinite knowledge. Our Lord says in the verses:

“Ask them for a fatwa: is it they who are stronger in structure or other things We have created? We created them from sticky clay.

“No wonder you are surprised as they laugh with scorn!” (Al-Saffat, 11-12)

 

Footnotes:

1- (http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/ ArtEd/ChildDev/1cNeurons.htm; [Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration, and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.)

2- (http://www.noteaccess.com/APPROACHES/ArtEd/ChildDev/1cNeurons.htm; [Coon, Dennis. Introduction to Psychology, Exploration, and Application. St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1989.)

3- (http://www.remarkablemedicine.com/Medicine/bodyelectricity.html)

4- (http://www.remarkablemedicine.com/ Medicine/bodyelectricity.html)

Even if we know or not what the synapsis cells do, or even if we forget about them, it won’t make much of a difference in our lives. However, the cells have an important duty to know these details and work with them without making any mistakes. They are very committed to their job, doing it every moment, without us even feeling it, and without mistakes or problems. These signals that are carried through doors which are opened in a split second, actually make up the invisible parts of a huge structure. Tasting an apple, smelling a rose, recognizing your mother’s voice, remembering a phone number, being able to press the button of a remote controller, being able to answer a question easily, climbing down the stairs fast, in short, everything you do in your life without thinking about it, can happen by the means of this system. And our duty is giving thanks to our Lord, Who created this system without us even knowing how necessary it is.

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Harun Yahya was born in Ankara in 1956. He studied arts at Istanbul’s Mimar Sinan University and philosophy at Istanbul University. Since the 1980s, the author has published many books on political, faith-related and scientific issues. Harun Yahya is well known as an author who has written very important works disclosing the imposture of evolutionists, the invalidity of their claims and the dark liaisons between Darwinism and bloody ideologies. Some of the books of the author have been translated into English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Albanian, Arabic, Polish, Russian, Bosnian, Indonesian, Turkish, Tatar, Urdu and Malay and published in the countries concerned. Harun Yahya’s books appeal to all people, Muslims, and non-Muslims alike, regardless of their age, race, and nationality, as they center around one goal: to open the readers’ mind by presenting the signs of Gods eternal existence to them.

 

 

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Health and Islamic Philosophy

By Shahid Athar

health

Prophet Mohammed led a very active life, advising Muslims to teach their children physical exercise including swimming, archery, horseback riding.

Islam considers health as a basic human right.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentioned in one of the hadith (saying): “Your body has a right over you.” (Al Bukhari)

Health is a state of total physical, mental and social well-being in order to maintain the quality of life that we can enjoy at our best performance. A Muslim’s quest for good health is in conformity with his salvation in the life hereafter, as much as for the enjoyment of life in this world. For a Muslim, health consciousness is God consciousness. The Qur’an is explicit in this matter and states:

{O you who believe, be God conscious and let every soul look toward it send for the life hereafter, and observe your duty to God, so God is informed of what you do. Be not like those who forgot God and therefore He caused them to forget themselves. Such are the wrongdoers.} (Al-Hashr 59: 18-9)

We forget ourselves not only by forgetting the reality of the life hereafter but also by forgetting our duties here, including responsibilities regarding our own bodies which have been given to us as a trust. We will be questioned if we do not keep the trust. Knowledge of health and disease is not just for physicians and those involved in health care, but for every one of us since we live in our own bodies and feel the pain when the body suffers.

Thus, we will be directly affected if we are not able to maintain the machine that we live in. If we clog up our arteries with excessive salt, sugar, fat, and lack of exercise and develop diabetes and coronary artery disease or high blood pressure as a result, we cannot call this the will of God as it is not the will of God for us to do so. Good health is a gift from God, and illness sometimes is from our own actions. God says in the Qur’an:

{Everything good that happens to you is from God. Everything bad that happens to you is from your own actions}. (Al-Nisa’ 4: 79)

The Qur’an is not a textbook of medicine but in it, there are guidelines that if practiced correctly will give the healing that it calls itself. God says in the Qur’an:

{We have sent down in the Qur’an that which is healing and a mercy to those who believe}. (Al-Isra’ 17: 82)

In addition, God says:

{O mankind! there has come unto to you a direction from your Lord and healing for the diseases in your hearts,– and for those who believe, a Guidance and a Mercy}. (Yunus 10: 57)

The Qur’an causes the healing not by kissing it or keeping it on a high shelf, but by following the guidance from it and avoiding what is prohibited and doing what is good, it is beneficial for them.

The Medical Benefits of Articles of Faith

The first Article of Faith is belief in God. This belief in God means also belief in our health as a gift from Him, and our responsibility toward our body, because we do it for the pleasure of God so that we may serve Him better. We must understand that whatever God has prohibited us from doing it is only for our own benefit and not for His sake. Therefore, if He has told us in the Qur’an to avoid intoxicants like alcohol and meat like that of swine, only He fully knows of the medical harms of such prohibitions.

Science has confirmed some of them and will confirm many later on as our knowledge grows. The blood and meat of dead animals can be full of germs and other harmful elements such as antibodies. Pork is high in cholesterol and salt and may contain worms, and has abnormal sex hormones in the fatty tissues. Alcohol and intoxicants cloud the mind, suppress the inhibition and interfere with our normal capacity of being able to determine what is good and what is bad. Thus under the influence of alcohol, a person may become violent. He may want to undress in public or engage in unlawful sex acts. All these can lead to trouble. Over the long term, alcohol damages all the organs including the liver, stomach, endocrine glands, heart, and brain.

If the Qur’an prohibited homosexuality 1400 of years before the epidemic of AIDS was known, it must have the knowledge of the future. It is true that one can contract AIDS from other modes of transmission including blood transfusions; however, if you investigate the source of the original contamination of even blood, it will finally lead to homosexuality.

Let us discuss the medical benefits of Islamic prayer (salat). Prayer has three components:

Ablution

The washing of all exposed areas of the body, which come into contact with germs and dirt throughout the day, including hands, feet, face, mouth and nostrils, five times a day is healthy, preventive medicine. If we keep our nostrils clean in the manner prescribed for the ablution, we will breathe in cleaner air to our lungs. Is it not the washing of hands being encouraged in hospitals for everyone to prevent the spread of infection?

Recitation of Qur’an

The effect of the sound echoing during the recitation of the Qur’an and the meaning of the verses have a healing effect on the body and the mind. Different letters of Arabic when recited have echoing properties to different target organs in the body. It has been studied and determined that listening to the recitation of Qur’an reduces the heart rate, blood pressure and rate of respiration, and has a biofeedback-type tranquilizing effect. A study has been published by Dr. Ahmed El-Kadi of Akbar Clinic in Panama, Florida. The physical activity in the Islamic prayer (salat) is mild, uniform and involve all muscles and joints.

Charity or Zakah

The second pillar of Islam is charity or zakah. Zakah has been described as purification of one’s wealth, and it is the right of the poor over the wealth of the rich. Most people who have money are very much attached to it and because of the love of money, they are driven to insanity. The Qur’an says:

{And he is violent in the love of wealth}. (Al-`Adiyyat 100: 8)

With the lack of money, people are committed to crimes and also with an excess of money, they are under stress. People die of heart attacks sometimes when they win a lottery jackpot.

By having the institution of zakah, in which every Muslim must give 2.5 percent of their saved wealth to the poor, with the addition of the general charity which is voluntary, one becomes more peaceful knowing that the money belongs to God and is being returned to Him for His cause. Therefore, those who give regularly to charity are more peaceful people, and it is advisable that in illness, one should give more to charity which will help a person recover from his illness.

Fasting

The third pillar of Islam is fasting in the month of Ramadan. Fasting produces physiological change in the body, gives rest to different organs and improves adaptability. It lowers the blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It produces peace and tranquility in the mind. It is an institution in learning self-restraint as those who have a habit of nibbling food, drinking a lot of coffee and smoking, will have to give up all that during the month of fasting. Hopefully, this pattern of restraint will continue even after Ramadan is over, and that is why Prophet Mohammed has advised us to fast on Mondays and Thursdays after Ramadan.

Pilgrimage

The next Article of Faith is Hajj or a pilgrimage to Makkah. This Pillar of Islam is a requirement for all able men and women and is to increase one’s physical endurance. Long walks and heat from the sun, thirst, and physical exercise are to remind us of the Day of Judgment, and in doing hajj, there is a form of jihad and striving in the cause of God that makes us strong Muslims.

One must also keep himself in good shape before hajj so that he can perform the Hajj in the correct manner which as mentioned, requires a lot of physical endurance.

Nutrition and Health

We are told in the Qur’an:

{O you who believe, eat of the good things which we have provided to you, and thank God if indeed it is He whom you worship}. (Al-Ma’idah 5: 4)

We are also told not to commit any excess in eating and leave one-third of the stomach empty. With the stomach being a blender and grinder, it would not work to mix the food when it is full to the neck. Among the foods, fruits are especially emphasized in Qur’an (36: 57; 43:73, 16:67 and 50:68). Among the fruits that were mentioned were the ones which were known in Arabia at that time, including grapes, pomegranates, figs, olives, and dates. Fruits are low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Sugar in fruit is fructose, not sucrose, and fructose has been shown to cause no rise in blood sugar and sometimes even lowers the high blood sugar of diabetes. Honey is from fructose. We are told in Qur’an:

{There comes from their bellies a drink of diverse color, in which there is a healing for mankind}. (Al-Nahl 16: 69)

Therefore, in honey, there is a cure. Recent studies have confirmed that honey has antibiotic properties comparable to Gentamicin, a very strong antibiotic.

Value of Exercise

Prophet Mohammed led a very active life, advising Muslims to teach their children physical exercise including swimming, archery, horseback riding, etc. He used to walk at a fast pace and helped his wife with the housework and even raced with her. It is the lack of routine physical activity or exercise with abundant food that we have, which has caused our present-day obesity and coronary artery disease. Unfortunately, Muslims of today especially women do not engage in regular exercise.

What should we do when we are affected by a disease?

Muslims should accept their disease with patience as a test and pray to God for recovery. The Qur’an says:

{If God touches you with affliction, no one can remove it but Him. If He touches you with happiness, He has power over all things}. (Al-A`raf 6: 17)

Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said:

{And When I am ill, it is He who cures me}. (Al-Shu`ara’ 26: 80)

In one of the hadith, Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) has said: “No Muslim is afflicted by injury or illness without God causing his sins to drop away just as a tree sheds its leaves.” (Al-Bukhari)

Illness brings us closer to God. The question is: should we seek medical help if cure is from God? The Prophet, when he was asked this question, replied: “Yes, take medicine as God has not created a disease without creating a cure, except for one, that is old age.” (Abu Dawud)

This implies that we Muslim physicians should seek the cure for disease, and Muslim patients should use it. During the illness, in addition to resting, taking medicine and appropriate nutrition, we must increase remembrance of God. As God says in Qur’an:

{Those who have belief, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt in the remembrance of God, do hearts find satisfaction}. (Al-Ra`d 13: 28)

It is now known that psychological peace and tranquility lower the level of the ACTH hormone which in fact affects the T-lymphocytes and cell-mediated autoimmunity. Thus once the immune system becomes more effective under psychological peace and tranquility, giving the body a chance to fight the disease. On the other hand, those who are at the peak of their anxiety with stress have very high levels of ACTH and suppress their own immune system as a result.

In conclusion, establishing Islam not only means establishing mosques, Islamic centers, and schools, but also establishing Muslims economically, politically as well as physically. Prophetic medicine is not just honey and black seed, but also understanding the working of the body and knowing what is good and what is not good for this machine.

To know the value of exercise and stress management, and preventive checkup of this machine, not waiting for it to completely break down, and taking it to the emergency room. It also means to accept the doctor’s advice and take medicine in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad.

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Courtesy onislam.net with slight editorial modifications.

Shahid Athar M.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and Endocrinology, Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis, Indiana. Visit his website: Islam-USA.com

 

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Health Benefits of Movement, Washing & Drinking Water

Health Benefits of Movement, Washing & Drinking Water

By Truth Seeker Staff

What is more, walking barefoot is a very effective method of releasing the static electricity accumulated by the body. It serves as a kind of earthing of the body.

What is more, walking barefoot is a very effective method of releasing the static electricity accumulated by the body. It serves as a kind of earthing of the body.

One of the forms of behavior noted in the Qur’an is concealed in a revelation vouchsafed to the Prophet Ayyub (as):

“Remember Our servant Ayyub when he called on his Lord: “Satan has afflicted me with exhaustion and suffering.” “Stamp your foot! Here is a cool bath and water to drink.” (Saad 38:41-42)

One of the pieces of advice given to the Prophet Ayyub (as) by Allah in the face of the exhaustion and suffering inflicted by Satan is “stamping the foot.” This expression in the verse may be indicating the benefits of movement or sport.

During sport, blood flow is accelerated, particularly by the movement of long muscles such as those in the legs (isometric movements) and the level of oxygen reaching the cells increases. As a result, the individual’s fatigue is eliminated and he or she is energized as toxic substances are expelled from the body.1 At the same time, the body acquires increased resistance to microbes. People who take regular exercise possess broad, clean arteries and this has the effect of preventing them from clogging and thus of preventing heart disease.2 In addition, regular exercise plays a role in the prevention of diabetes by regularizing the blood sugar balance. The beneficial effects of sport on the liver raise the levels of good cholesterol.3

What is more, walking barefoot is a very effective method of releasing the static electricity accumulated by the body. It serves as a kind of earthing of the body.

“It is He Who sends down water from the sky. From it you drink and from it come the shrubs among which you graze your herds.” (An-Nahl 16:10)

As emphasized in the verse, washing is also known to be the most effective method of discharging the static electricity in the body. In addition to providing physical cleanliness, washing also reduces stress and tension. Washing therefore has a curative effect on many physical and psychological disorders, especially stress and fevers.

In the verse, in addition to washing, drinking water is also recommended. The beneficial effects of water on all organs of the body cannot be ignored. The health of many organs-such as the sweat glands, the stomach, the intestines, the kidneys and the skin-is directly related to the presence of adequate amounts of water in the body. The treatment of all such disorders, as may arise in this field, is possible by means of providing extra water. The answer to fatigue, tiredness and drowsiness is again to increase the level of water in the body and thus to cleanse it of impurities.

Implementing each of these recommendations, of vital importance to our physical and mental health, will bring about the ideal results. Each of these recommendations is also a manifestation of the verse “We send down in the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers…” (Al-Isra’ 17:82)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from miraclesofthequran.com.

  1. Prof. Fehmi Tuncel, Bilim Teknik Dergisi (Journal of Science and Technology), January 1993.
  2. Barbara A. Brehm, “Your Health and Fitness,” Fitness Management Magazine, 1990.
  3. Kathleen Mullen, Some Benefits of Exercise (Medical Times C. Brown Publishers: 1986).

 

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Earth as an Exhibition of God’s Art

Earth as an Exhibition of God’s Art

By Aisha Abdelhamid

earth

This nickname came to Badiuzzaman early in his youth, when he excelled in his studies of Islam and mastered the skill of theological debate.

At the turn of the 19th century, civilization was at a crossroads, a chasm was widening between science and faith, but Badiuzzaman Said Nursi was born to build bridges.

Living in a modern age with an enlightened mind, the junction of science and religion never represented a parting of the ways with Badiuzzaman.

However, while previously ignorance had been the enemy of faith, now this new age of science was striving mightily against the faithful.

For the sake of unity he pushed back relentlessly with both pen and armed resistance, and for 85 years Badiuzzaman embodied his own belief that science and religion, nature and the transcendent, were equally eloquent expressions of the same truth.

Born in 1877 in Nurs, southeastern Turkey, the Kurdish Imam Said Nursi is internationally recognized as Badiuzzaman, or, “the most unique and superior person of the time.”

This nickname came to Badiuzzaman early in his youth, when he excelled in his studies of Islam and mastered the skill of theological debate.

At fifteen, Badiuzzaman was invited to reside with the Governor of Van Province, and lived there for 15 years while continuing his education in the sciences, debating with professors, and presenting lectures to students.

It was during this period, at the age of 21, Badiuzzaman read a news article reporting that British Minister of Colonies Gladstone had said to the British Parliament as he held a Qur’an: “We cannot rule over the Muslim as long as this Qur’an remains in their hands; we must do everything possible to remove the Qur’an away from Muslims or alienate them against the Qur’an.”

Defeating the Plot to Destroy Islam

From this defining moment forward, Badiuzzaman devoted his entire life as an Islamic scholar to proclaiming the glory of the Qur’an, its miraculous viewpoint of nature and the universe, and its inspirational guidance to the true source of all wisdom and knowledge – that is, Allah, The Creator.

Badiuzzaman, in this early period of his career, said, “If man does not believe in the All-Wise Maker, Who performs everything wisely and with order, and unthinkingly attributes everything to chance; and if he thinks of the inadequacy of his power in the face of those calamities; it will result in a hellish and heartrending state for him, of compounded fright, fear, alarm, and anxiety. Being the noblest and best of creatures, he will be more wretched than anything, thus opposing the reality of the perfect order of the universe.”

Advocating for an Islamic University to be established in Eastern Anatolia, Imam Nursi believed that the plot to destroy Islam must be defeated by educating Muslims as both scholars of Islam and modern scientists.

Appreciating the rising prominence of rational logic and modern science in academic endeavors, Badiuzzaman advocated teaching modern science in religious schools, and religious sciences in secular schools.

“The light of wisdom is positive sciences,” said Badiuzzaman, “the light of conscience is religious sciences. When two are combined, truth arises thereupon.”

Activism in a Time of Ideological Transition

Rising to the challenges of “irreligious, materialist-mechanistic” Western civilization; Badiuzzaman turned to political activism for educational reform.

Advocating for stronger unity among the diverse peoples of the Ottoman Empire, he proposed educational reforms to facilitate dialogue between traditional religious madrassah training, Sufism, and modern scientific pursuits.

However, the turn of the century was turbulent all over the world, and the Ottoman Empire was arguably the epicenter of the earthquake.

Slowly imploding, the Ottoman Caliphate was embroiled in endless coup and counter-coup, and Imam Nursi found himself buffeted in the political crosswinds.

Detained for involvement in the 1909 Ottoman counter-coup against the liberalist Committee of Union and Progress, Sunni Imam Nursi was shortly acquitted and set free.

It was a time of ideological transition, as much as political, and Badiuzzaman’s first encounter with the legal system wasn’t to be his last.

As existentialism and modern humanist philosophical perspectives rose in popularity, atheism gained traction, and coincidence became the answer to all universal mysteries.

Untethered from the transcendental Divine, Science turned to the study of nature’s more solid matter, through minute measurements and indisputable observations. Imam Nursi rejected this notion utterly, offering in response: “The imaginary and the insubstantial thing that Naturalists call Nature if it has an external reality, can at the very most be work of art; it cannot be the Artist. It is an embroidery, and cannot be the Embroiderer. It is a set of decrees; it cannot be the Issuer of the decrees. It is a body of the laws of creation, and cannot be the Lawgiver. It is but a created screen to the dignity of God, and cannot be the Creator. It is passive and created, and cannot be a Creative Maker. It is a law, not a power, and cannot possess power. It is the recipient, and cannot be the source.”

An Unapologetically Defiant Imam

Offering staunch resistance in the face of society’s declining concern for modern religion and traditional moral values, Badiuzzaman remained unapologetically defiant.

“I will show and prove to the entire world,” he stated, “that the Qur’an is a never-fading, inextinguishable spiritual Sun.”

Always adamantly explaining to his many students that his way of looking at the universe is, in fact, the Qur’anic view, Badiuzzaman pointed out that this Qur’anic view of the universe is a primary differentiation between Islam and modern philosophy: “With its acute expositions, the Qur’an of Miraculous Exposition rends the veil of familiarity and the habitual cast over all the beings in the universe, which are known as ordinary things but are all extraordinary and miracles of Divine power, and reveals those astonishing wonders to conscious beings. It attracts their gazes and opens up before their minds an inexhaustible treasury of knowledge.”

He then added: “As for philosophy, it conceals within veils of the commonplace all the miracles of power, which are extraordinary, and passes over them in an ignorant and indifferent fashion.”

Military Campaigns and Commentary on the Qur’an

Commanding a regiment formed from his own students, Imam Nursi fought in World War I while simultaneously writing his famous commentary of the Qur’an, called “Isharat-ul I’jaz,” or “Signs of Miraculousness.”

When the Russians overtook Bitlis, he was wounded, captured, and imprisoned as a POW for two and a half years in Siberia.

Escaping the camp in 1918, Badiuzzaman made his way back to Istanbul, welcomed as a member of the Islamic Academy, Dar al Hikmat al Islamiye.

When the English occupied Istanbul, Imam Nursi once again joined in military resistance, supporting the National Independence Army. Rewarding his activities in Istanbul, Badiuzzaman was invited to the new parliament in Ankara.

Although the war for independence had been won, nevertheless European ways were taking hold, and the outspoken Imam was disappointed in Ankara.

Finding most of the assemblymen westernized and neglecting their prayers, Imam Nursi issued a declaration exhorting them on the value and importance of their prayers.

When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the new leader of the Turkish Republic, offered him the post of Minister of Religious Affairs, Imam Nursi famously declined.

Depressed, Badiuzzaman opted instead to return to Van, in spite of the many lucrative offers he received to stay in Ankara.

Another rebellion broke out in 1925, exchanging Imam Nursi’s life of seclusion in Van for exile in Isparta Province.

Among the charges leading to his exile under the Secularist Kemalist regime was the crime of raising the adhan, or call to prayer, in Arabic.

Moved to Barla after attracting too much attention for his teachings in Isparta, Badiuzzaman’s life took another turn.

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Aisha Abdelhamid is a native of Long Beach, California, happily residing in Egypt with her husband, Mohamed.

A syndicated writer for Important Media Network, Aisha often represents the Muslim perspective on EdenKeeper.org, an interfaith website exploring the relationship between faith and the natural environment.

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Human Development as Revealed in Qur’an & Hadith

Human Development as Revealed in Qur’an & Hadith

By M. A. Rahim

Knowledge of the successive stages of growth from the near-nothing of a spot of bodily fluid cannot but create a sense of awe at the responsibility one carries for the miracle of one's life.

Knowledge of the successive stages of growth from the near-nothing of a spot of bodily fluid cannot but create a sense of awe at the responsibility one carries for the miracle of one’s life.

Dr. Albar is a Consultant to the King Fahad Medical Research Center, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah. In this excellent, fully illustrated study, written in plain English with only the minimum of technical words, he presents a summary of present knowledge about human embryonic development in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith.

The Qur’anic descriptions and those in the Hadith are remarkable for their accuracy in relation to what is known about the subject now. But, what was known then? Until 1688, among Muslim as well as European scientists, the Aristotelian account dominated, no one daring to question it.

The two theories in Aristotle’s time were: (a) the embryo is preformed as a miniature in either the male semen or the female secretion and then grows in the womb; and (b) the embryo is actually formed and created out of the menstrual blood. Aristotle favored the second view, adding that male semen caused the menstrual blood to coagulate, like milk curdling into cheese.

The Qur’anic description tells us, by contrast, that (a) the embryo is not pre-formed but grows in successive stages (71.13-14, 23.12-14,22.5); and (b) is formed equally of male and female fluids (76.2).

The relevant ahadith re-state what is in the Qur’an. Interestingly, while exegetes of Qur’an and Hadith did not fall into error in their account, many Muslim scientists and doctors, under the spell of Aristotle, repeated Aristotle’s (incorrect) view.

Thus, about 700 years after the Revelation, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani commented: ‘Many of the anatomists claim that the semen of the male has no role in the creation of the baby. Its role, they claim, is limited to curdling the menstrual blood… The saying of the Prophet denies what they say. The semen of the male actually participates equally to that of the female in the formation of the embryo.’

The pre-formation theory lasted in Europe into the 18th century when it was believed that a full miniature existed either in the female ovum or in the male sperm, then simply got bigger in the womb. This theory was destroyed gradually and was no longer held in any form after 1900.

Gender of the Embryo

Von Baer (1829-37), called the ‘father of embryology’, identified the human ovum. Subdivision of the egg, i.e. growth of the embryo in successive stages, was properly demonstrated and understood in 1839 by Schwann and Schleiden. And in 1875, Hertwig described the fertilization of an egg by a sperm. Then in 1883, Von Benden showed that male and female cells contribute the same number of chromosomes to the embryo.

However, not until this century, have a number of discoveries established how and when the sex of the embryo is determined; how and when the hones and musculature, the organs of sight and hearing, the nervous system, and so on, develop. It is rather more than remarkable, therefore, that in Qur’an and Hadith we should find unmistakably accurate and detailed references to these matters.

The earliest of the successive stages of embryo development is the nutfah, in turn, distinguished as male and female nutfah (in modern terminology, gamete), the two being commingled to form the nutfat amshaj (zygote). The Qur’an clearly and explicitly states (75.3(t), 53.45-6, 59. 58-9) that the sex of the embryo is carried in the fluid ejaculated by the male (X or Y chromosome in the fertilizing sperm).

Also, in the Qur’an s emphasis that growth is from a lucre drop of fluid, we find a clear pointer to the fact that the spermatozoa make up a mere 0.5% of the ejaculated fluid, in which tiny quantity is carried an average 2 to 300 million individual sperms. The nutfat amshaj (zygote) develops into ‘alaqah (that which clings) which attaches itself to the uterine wall.

The stunning precision of the term ‘alaqah for the detail of how the zygote attaches, implants and is nourished in the womb, is striking in Dr. Albar’s account. (For even more on the detail, see Sikander Hussain ‘Al’Alaq: the mystery explored’, Ark Journal, London, 1986, pp. 31-6.) The ‘alaqah is transformed into mudghah (chewed lump), the somite(s) from which hones and muscles are subsequently differentiated. The mudghah stage includes also the pharyngeal arches (out of which face, ear and neck are formed) – the marked indentations give the embryo the look of a ‘chewed lump’.

The Qur’an’s allusion (22.5) to mukhlaqa and ghairu mukhlaqa, formed and non- formed development of the mudghah, is now readily understood as the critical period of organogenesis when the embryo is most susceptible to factors which can cause congenital malformations. The Qur’an says (2.259): kayfa nanshuzu-ha thumma naksu-ha tahma, ‘how We erect them (the bones) then enclothe them in flesh’.

Nanshuzu-ha, here inadequately rendered ‘We erect them’ is as informative as any modern textbook description, for example ‘With time a number of needle-like spicules are formed which progressively radiate from the primary ossification centers towards the periphery.’

The pre-formational aspects of embryo development are now understood as hereditary characteristics contributed by parental genes. In the Qur’an (81). 17-19), the nutfah (male and female gametes) is said to carry these predetermined characteristics. There are several ahadith confirming this reading.

Formation & Differentiation

Human Development as Revealed in Qur'an & Hadith 2One, in the Sahih of Muslim, explicitly mentions 40-42 days after fertilization as the moment when the angel enters the womb and ‘gives the nutfah its shape and form, creates its hearing and visual apparatus, builds up the hones, the muscles and forms the skin.

He then asks, God, is it a boy or a girl, what is its livelihood and what will be its lifespan? God gives His answer and the angel writes all that will come. ‘The textbooks tell us that ‘In the sixth week of development the Primordial germ cells invade the genital ridges; if they fail to reach the ridges, the gonads do not develop..’ The site of formation of the gonads is indicated in Qur’an 86.5-9 as ‘between the backbone and the ribs’. This is exactly right.

Once formed the gonads differentiate into either male and female and make their progress in the body accordingly. Blood and nerve supply and lymph drainage remain connected, even in the adult, to the area ‘between the backbone and the ribs’. In this review, only a few of the great many correspondences between the Quranic text or ahadith and current knowledge about human embryo development have been mentioned.

What is the point of noting these? Almost all of these Qur’anic verses have as their general context a reminder of the resurrection. The re-creation of individual human life after death. We are confronted with the fact of life as a stunning miracle of the Mercy and Omnipotence of the Creator.

Knowledge of the successive stages of growth from the near-nothing of a spot of bodily fluid cannot but create a sense of awe at the responsibility one carries for the miracle of one’s life. And one carries it back to Him whose care initiated, ordained, proportioned and sustained our life – the contrasted human contribution being that drop of ‘lowly fluid’. Then, what – except perversity – could allow us to doubt that the Creator has concern for how we use our lives, or doubt that He can and will bring us again to life so that we may ourselves understand fully the worth of our intentions and actions?

Also, these verses, urging a meditation upon the fact of life rather than upon the fact of death, educate a positive temperament, a positive attitude. Religious responsibility can be awakened by reflecting upon the wonder of birth, as much as by reflecting upon the mystery of death. No textbook about human embryo development can inspire reflections of this kind. Of course, it is also of the utmost importance to know that the information in the Qur’an, given in words which are extraordinarily precise and yet remain generally intelligible, is accurate.

Most non-Muslims do not believe that the Qur’an is the Book of God verbatim, as Muslims believe. In trying to make sense of the phenomenon – so copiously illustrated by Dr. Albar from the field of human embryology – of how so much accurate knowledge is there in the Book, they may be led to question the assurance with which they hold to their non-belief.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from The Fountain Magazine: Issue 11 / July – September 1995.

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Religious Inspirations and Scientific Inventions

Religious Inspirations and Scientific Inventions

By Halil I. Demir

Religious InspirationsWhat exactly is it that inspires us, say, to write a beautiful poem or an article, or the next big idea that will change our life? There is no short answer to this question, for inspirations may come from many sources. Sometimes a dream, reading a text, a small organism in nature or a random thought can be the source of inspiration that we have been seeking for a long time. The inspiration itself does not necessarily have to be a complex form of information. It can be the simplest piece of a large puzzle waiting to be solved.

There are many examples of inspirations in history. Sometimes it comes with a dream, as it happened to the famous chemist, Friedrich Kekule (1829-1896), helping him to make one of the most amazing discoveries of his time. He saw atoms in his dream whirling, dancing and reassembling themselves in a snake-like motion, and the snake snapping its own tail. This dream provided him with the inspiration to discover the benzene ring. Benzene, a colorless and highly flammable liquid, is an important industrial solvent in the production of drugs, plastics, and dyes. Kekule is not the only person who found inspiration to an important question in his dream. For example, Otto Loewi, a famous German scientist, was inspired by a dream about an experiment that became the foundation for the theory of chemical transmission of the nervous impulse and led to a Nobel Prize. Once you contemplate on a question long enough, it becomes an important part of your life. You start seeing things in a different way, and everything becomes related to that question.

Ten years ago, a close friend of mine asked me a very interesting question. He said, “Did you ever read or witness any inspiration from Holy Scriptures, like the Qur’an, pointing to the Internet? After this question, I started to think deeply about the texts I had read, or the things I saw in my environment, and selected my readings more carefully. This helped me to capture more inspirations from my life.

It did not take long for me to relate many verses from scriptures to the question posed by my friend. It was an easy process to go backward from the result to the possible starting ideas (verses). The hard thing about inspiration is that both the starting point and the result are unknown. Once we know the result that we wanted to achieve, it is easy to relate many things and find similarities around us that might get us to the same point. This can be either a scientific fact or a religious belief.

The relationship between science and religion and inspirations from scriptures are the two most common controversial topics. Science and religion are the two strongest forces influencing humans. Some people use science to justify religious claims, while others start from religious information to reach unknown scientific points. Both approaches have many challenges and may lead to consequences that conflict with one’s belief. Scriptures can help us think outside of the box, and provide many inspirations for science. However, it is important to keep the balance between both worlds, while working hard on understanding science and building our faith on a solid ground.

So, how did I find the verses that pointed to the idea of the Internet in the Scriptures? I started to think of the core properties that make up the Internet. What will be my first words if I wanted to define the Internet? Some of the key definitions or features of the Internet that came to my mind was “a worldwide network of computers,” “connecting people to each other,” “storing or accessing world of information,” “removing physical boundaries,” “easy and cheap communication,” or “freedom of speech.”

Which feature of the Internet would sound too intricate to ever exist a thousand years ago? Probably, the possibility of storing and accessing all the information available throughout the history of mankind would be the most challenging feature. We haven’t reached that point with the Internet yet, but so much ground has been covered towards this goal. Let’s see how much progress is made on this road of storage and retrieval.

Wikipedia, a free web-based multilingual encyclopedia project, has over 22 million articles (over four million in the English Wikipedia). There are roughly 40 million books in US libraries. Google is building the largest online library in the history of the world and already scanned over 20 million books. ISI Web of Knowledge, an online scientific database, is a source for thousands of journals with millions of articles published from the 1900s to present. Everything published in the last couple of centuries becoming available online from handwritten books to newspaper archives, magazines, and journals.

Chemistry databases list information (e.g. structures, spectra, reactions, syntheses, and thermo-physical data) for tens of millions of organic and inorganic compounds known to man that are used in various industries. Biological databases provide information (e.g. gene sequences, textual descriptions, attributes and ontology classifications, citations, and tabular data) for living and even extinct organisms.

Besides the published information, other types of data from various types of arts, music, and picture libraries are becoming an important part of the Internet. More and more museums provide virtual galleries that make all paintings, sculptures and other art pieces accessible to remote users. E-government projects make personal records, health and financial data of all citizens available to related parties. More personal information is available online through personal blogs, image galleries, video sharing, and discussion forums.

Could you make a person, fifty years or even fourteen hundred years ago, believe that one day all the information would be available in a book, a box or a device? This was my starting point to find clues about the Internet in the scriptures. This journey led to many interesting ideas and understanding of my environment. In the middle of the search, the Holy Qur’an provided an important message to summarize this journey:

With clear arguments and scriptures; and We have revealed to you the Reminder, that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may think and reflect. (Al-Nahl 16:44)

As an explanation to this verse, Ibn Mas`ud, the sixth person to embrace Islam, said “[Allah] made it clear that in this Qur’an there is complete knowledge of and about everything.” The Qur’an contains many verses about events in the past and future, what is lawful and unlawful, and information about the religion, our life in this world, and our destiny in the afterlife. Divinely inspired Scriptures, Prophets, and laws were sent successively, in part as an assurance of the true knowledge.

Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim scholar, lists the types of knowledge and understanding as follows; “… that is based on beholding or actively seeing something, inner (comprehensive knowledge) or outer (description and measurement), implementation of the lesser understanding (technology) or of the spiritual understanding (contemplation and worship, which yield wisdom), learning and teaching, self-based or other-based, the learner’s or teacher’s belief in independence of action or being, and of the believer’s surrender and trust to the Creator …” [1]. We need to learn how to “read” the universe and scriptures consciously to acquire true understanding and wisdom.

My search for the inspiration for an idea of the Internet led me to find many verses from the Holy Qur’an. Here are some of the verses that I personally think is a starting point to inspire the idea of storing all the information known to mankind.

… there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered), but is (inscribed) in a clear record (to those who can read). (Al-An`am 6:59)

… nor is hidden from the Lord (so much as) the weight of an atom on the earth or in heaven. And not the smallest and not the greatest of these things but are recorded in a clear record. (Yunus 10:61)

… and there is nothing hidden, in heaven or earth, but is (recorded) in a clear record. (Al-Naml 27:75)

These verses can be interpreted in different ways. Some scholars refer these verses to the knowledge of the All-Knowing God, or a book called Lawh al-Mahfuz that stores the information on the destiny of mankind. Actually relating these verses with the Internet, and the traditional interpretations have a very interesting connection. With ever-growing capacity and capabilities, the Internet is like a small book of destiny that stores our everyday life. However, it is far from storing every single event in the universe. This helps us to realize how mighty and vast the knowledge of the God is, and the capacity of Lawh al-Mahfuz.

When I recited the verses from Qur’an that related to the idea of the Internet, my friend was surprised. As in this example, scientific discoveries and inspirations can be connected with the verses from the Qur’an in many ways. It is important to make this connection for the greater good. Gülen says, “… Recent scientific discoveries have clarified certain Qur’anic verses. Such advances in knowledge occur successively, as the universe proceeds upon its decreed course and in the measure of understanding appointed for us. We must acknowledge and praise the efforts and achievements of researchers and scientists, but they should not lead us to ingratitude and insolence (the roots of unbelief). Rather, we should reaffirm our dependence upon the Creator for guidance both in our quest for and application of knowledge…” [1]. There is no doubt that the Qur’an drives us to deep thoughts, creativity, inspirations and great ideas.

Our further discussion raised another important question, “What is the purpose of reading scriptures?” To know why we read scriptures is as important as reading itself. The Qur’an explains the meaning of reading and draws attention to creation [2] by saying:

Read, in the name of your Lord, Who created. (Al-`Alaq 96:1)

The Qur’an suggests us to observe the universe and learn from its laws and processes so we do not repeat the mistakes of the previous generations, and instead, build a better future.

 

References

1. Gülen, Fethullah. Questions and Answers about Islam. NJ: The Light, Inc.

2. Gülen. Fethullah. Religious Education of the Child. NJ: The Light, Inc.

 

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Acknowledgment: This article was produced at MERGEOUS [3], an online article and project development service for authors and publishers dedicated to the advancement of technologies in the merging realm of science and religion.

Halil I. Demir is an internet entrepreneur and freelance writer.

 

 

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