Saturday, May 2, 2009

Medical Science in Islam

The Discovery of the Human Genome:Its Implications for the Muslim Community

"Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid, then He made you pairs (the male and female). No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge. And no one groweth old who groweth old, nor is aught lessened of his life, but it is recorded in a Book. Lo! That is easy for Allah" (35:11).

According to an article in the January 15, 2001 issue of Time magazine, science has now discovered exactly what that "book" is. It is the human genome (the third level down from a chromosome), which has scientists racing to be the first to unravel the code to curing the diseases of mankind.

However, this race largely ignores the fact men are not only created of genome, but also of spirit and the will of Allah. Man is not simply a slave to his genome, but has will over it (through the power of prayer and positive thinking).

Genome researchers are hoping to take over the field in which pharmacists, herbalists, and natural health practitioners have been working side by side for years. They are calling the medicines we have today "inefficient," and stating their intention to replace now "outdated" methods of treating and curing illnesses.

Time magazine says, "When the human genome was sequenced last year, scientists finally gained access to the full text of God's reference manual: the three billion biochemical letters that spell out tens of thousands of genes. These genes, strung out along the 46 chromosomes in virtually every human cell, carry the instructions for making all the tissues, organs, hormones and enzymes in our body."

Furthermore, scientists have decided to "read" this book. A newly designed computer, fittingly called "Zeus" (an ancient Greek pagan god), has been engaged to help scientists decode the mysteries of the genome. Of course, discovering its secrets has many implications, but medical scientists have their eyes set first on the possibility of making better pharmaceuticals.

Calling modern pharmaceuticals "woefully inefficient" and stating that we've "beaten those (drug targets) to death", Francis Collins, director of the National Institute of Health's Human Genome Researching Institute, throws modern pharmaceuticals out in one sentence and cleverly sets the stage for his company to step in and fill the gap. Time dutifully takes on the role of Collins' advertising manager by writing, "Until now doctors have not really been fighting illnesses like cancer, stroke and heart disease. Instead they have been intervening at the level of symptoms - the last visible step in a complex cascade of biochemical events." Further on, they describe modern pharmaceuticals in an even less flattering light, "Drugs are molecular saboteurs." Writer Unmesh Kher states, "They exert their curative effects by gumming up the works of key proteins in the body. The compounds with the fewest side effects are the ones that drop their monkey wrenches selectively, slotting seamlessly into grooves."

Muslim natural healing, however, has worked for hundreds of years on the premise that, "Allah never inflicts a disease unless he makes a cure for it..." (Hadith) and that "Allah, He is the Truth. Lo! He quickeneth the dead, and lo! He is Able to do all things (Qur'an, 22:5)." Following the example of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Muslim healers have largely relied on "God's pharmacy" with the confidence that Allah created man and prepared the perfect medicines for the cure of any illnesses that might inflict him. Until now, even modern pharmaceuticals have been an attempt to synthesize and improve upon this natural pharmacy by copying substances found in natural cures.

Muslim natural healers, as well as many medical doctors, have also recognized that Allah gave man some power over his body and an ability to heal through prayer and will. The Qur'an (32:9) states, "Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye!"

Again, the Qur'an states, "For any disease, there is a cure, and when the cure matches the disease, the person recovers by the will of Allah." This invalidates any claims that scientists have to be the sole manipulators in the curing of disease.

It is not only within the Qur'an that "alternative forms of healing" are given credit. Entire books, or significant portions of others, have been written on the metaphysical and spiritual causes of disease. They provide numerous examples of how disease can be caused by a lack of spirituality, or by trauma or negative thoughts, and of how prayer, positive thinking, and/or therapy to resolve old issues have subsequently cured it. Such books include: Your Health...Your Choice by Dr. Ted Morter, The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell, Reinventing Medicine by Larry Dossey, MD and hundreds more.

The first findings by the computer Zeus confirm this truth. After testing hundreds of thousands of gene structures for the protein receptor responsible for breast cancer, scientists narrowed the field down to a few that were present in 80% of breast cancer patients. They could not account for the other 20% of the patients. Also, no account was taken of any other diseases patients may have had or of how long they had been treated for breast cancer, or if the disease itself had anything to do with lab results.

Scientists hope to take these tests further and eventually corner the gene responsible for all cancers, including prostate and colon cancer so that someday, "Doctors will treat diseases like cancer and diabetes before symptoms even begin."

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also taught that one should try to prevent diseases instead of "just curing them" when he said that, "An ounce of prevention is better than a ton of treatment." He prescribed many methods of prevention for Muslims including fasting in Ramadan, prayer, and moderate eating and living habits. Allah's Messenger (SAW) said, "The stomach is the central basin of the body, and the veins are connected to it. When the stomach is healthy, it passes on its condition to the veins, and in turn the veins will circulate the same; when the stomach is putrescent, the veins will absorb such putrescence and issue the same."

With the new possibilities for drugs, however, doctors are proposing that we can bypass all of these spiritually and physically challenging methods of prevention by simply targeting diseases before they start with new medicines that are "smarter" (than the diseases themselves). As Muslims we need to keep an eye on this new area of genome research where scientists claim to have "God's code" to our genetic makeup and are attempting to create "computer gods."

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