Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Inside me

I’ve been very busy lately, with various activities and commitments. My university switched over to semester system in March and we have our first semester finals in June, preparation for which is in full swing, Alhamdolillah. One very important thing that I’m becoming increasingly aware of – and amazed by – as I delve deeper into my medical books, is the immensely intricate and absolutely beautiful system that is at work in our bodies.

These days, I’m going through a chapter in Pathology (Pathology = literally, the study of diseases) that explains the processes underlying the development of Neoplasias or tumors/cancers. The book describes how cells normally are regulated within very strict cycles of life, with constant quality contol to ensure mutations (leading to unlimited cell multipilication – cancer) do not arise or go unnoticed. SubhanAllah, there are so many different genes and gene-products working round the clock to ensure cells stay in line! And there are so many different points where things could go wrong were it not for the constant ‘policing’ by regulatory genes and enzymes. Imagine this for instance – as the cells prepare to divide, they make copies of their DNA for the daughter cells to receive. This DNA, during the copy-process, naturally incurs some breaks, some missing parts, etc. and if it were left like that, we’d be unable to exist as we do today. The accumulation of such potentially lethal or even carcinogenic (cancer-causing) changes/mutations would make life impossible – or make grossly distorted and dysfunctional bodies an inevitable occurence. Instead, repair and analytical enzymes put the DNA through strict testing measures. If repair is possible, it is done but if it is not possible, these regulatory mechanisms activate certain “suicide” genes which activate cell-shut down mechanisms, to prevent the mutated DNA from proceeding into further daughter cells! SubhanAllah!

Could we have ever imagined all this could be going on inside our bodies? Even as you read this, your cells are constantly at work like a super factory, where each departments and each process is playing its role to sustain your life, without your having to tell them to do so! Amazing isn’t it? And I’ve only introduced you to the tip of the iceberg! The specific genes, enzymes, receptors, nuclear transciption factors, growth factors and checkpoint molecules, as we discover them with each passing day, are impossible to describe here. Researchers are wow-ed over and completely taken in by what they discover. Only a scientist will tell you with conviction that all this, just one part of the great complexity that we call ‘nature’, is not something to take lightly. We’re dealing with intelligence at levels we cannot even comprehend!

Soon, We will show them Our signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth! Is it not sufficient in regard to your Lord that He is Witness over all things?

Verily! They are in doubt concerning the Meeting with their Lord? Verily! It is He who is surrounding all things!”

Quran: Surah Fussilat (Chapter 41): Verse 53-54

Everytime I read something about such intricate processes in nature, it only makes me realize that all of these beautiful systems did not arise by ‘accident’. They were designed and guided into this evolving system by the One Creator – the One Who Created man the first time, the One Who gives life to all living things… the One Who created you and I! And all of this did not happen without a purpose.The core of all this is that we recognize the Beauty and Superiority (in all power and attributes) of Allah (swt)! And that we be grateful to Him with all sincereity, obey His commands and follow the lifestyle He designed for us, that meets our every need perfectly. Would not the Creator be aware of the best ‘Instruction manual‘?

All thanks and praise be to Allah, who made me so perfect and protects me from harm, even within my own self!

“…It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah…”

Quran: Surah Faatir (Chapter 25): Verse 38

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5 responses to “Inside me

  1. Firas MR April 25, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Assalamualaikum!

    Great article! 🙂 This is easily the first medical article at your blog in a long time!

  2. JK May 30, 2008 at 11:06 am

    I find it incredibly arrogant that you are ascribing something so complex and beautiful to an intelligence while ignoring the beauty of incredibly well supported models of reality (Evolution comes to mind).

    It really has no basis in reality that what you “realize” has any truth value to it. An intelligent person such as yourself knows that these things did not arise by accident but were developed through minute genetic changes over billions of years in an intricate interplay with the natural environment. Evolution is the opposite of accident. No evidence has ever been found of an intelligent contribution and, indeed, it makes no sense to even say that as a viable hypothesis. You might as well say that dancing leprechauns were responsible or the great juju dancing snake of the african pygmies (a facecious example but you get my point). Putting a few trite verses (and they are very very trite) which could are so general as to mean anything at all does not help the validity of your convictions.

    Your grasp of the facts is impressive (I am referring to your grasp of intro level biochemistry) but your lack of overall biological understanding is evident. I will take one example: “Would not the Creator be aware of the best ‘Instruction manual‘?” My friend, our bodies are NOT made from the best instruction manual, our genes are cobbled together from accidents, mutations, bottleneck effects and speciation. Our eyes, being a product of evolution, have their retinal cells backwards. We have vestigal organs, we have broken and joined chromosomes. Each and everyone of these things are testament of how organisms develop by being cobbled together from what was present and not from some divine manual. We and every other species are simply the minimum that could be done to survive and proliferate with whatever was available. We are not perfect and definately not the best.

    For further reading, go past your text book (and indeed the notions that have been drilled into your head since childhood) and read some Stephen Jay Gould, Sagan or perhaps some seminal genetics books such as the selfish gene (or even the origin of species). There you’ll find the works of scholars working with more data than you, more experience than you, and more sensitivity to the nature of reality than you collating and showing how such complex systems actually arise.

    Please do not confuse the complexity of life with your personal god, it is an affront to the hundreds of pure scientists whose complex hard work you have the privilege to discuss and offhandedly ascribe to something meaningless.

    Don’t take me wrong, I can see where you may be coming from. Jumping straight from Inter to Med school without intervening complex scientific training tends to overawe a person. I remember sitting in primary school and being thought biology with a quote from my textbook saying all things are made by Allah!!!! in a textbook!! No wonder the Biological faculty in my university produces more high impact (and more overall papers) than the whole of Pakistan.

    Trust me, this isn’t about religion and it isn’t about science, its simply about what is real and what is not. As a future doctor (and I welcome you the the discipline) I hope that you’ll be able to tell the difference.

    JK (a fellow med student with MD in progress)
    B.Sc in Cell Biology and Genetics

  3. Ameera May 30, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Assalam-o-alaikum JK!

    That’s a lot you had to say and I appreciate that you took out the time to say all that – to help me.

    Now, what do I say? The fact that you’ll agree with me upon is that we hardly know a teensy weensy bit about the massive and intricate system before us. We’re just unraveling mysteries here, day by day. However, just because by doing that, we have yet ot answer the question – “WHY?”

    I mean really – why? Why on Earth am I the way I am? Evolution – fine – mutations and all those selections are all agreeable. But then, ‘why?’ For so-called ‘vestigeal’ organs, we haven’t even started to understand them. In our own medical books, we find writers saying, “perhaps some mediator is responsible for such- and such effect…” We can’t close the case on the “vestiges” yet.

    Also, there’s a lot to be said about Evolution and while you advise me to “open” my mind, you could perhaps do well to do some research too. You claim to have been indoctrinated in school – I kind of agree there because the books don’t really inspire you to think. But then, that’s about as far as I’ll go with you. There’s a lot that evolutionists need to explain to… the day they reasonably produce intermediary forms of living organisms in fossilised forms is when their arguments might be supported. Currently, we have yet to see, as Darwin supposed to find, many many “intermediary” forms in fossils. The few that were “found” were discarded eventually as either mistakes or outright fabrications. The famous “Archaeopterx” that we’ve been studying as “proof” all this long has been recently put to rest as well.

    I’m not alone in saying this as you know very well. What are known as “Creationists” are spread all over the world and it’s an intellectual debate that will continue, no doubt, till Allah wills. The fact is that as we see life renew itself in nature – whole forests burn down to the ground and saplings emerge – we too will eventually return to the Maker.

    Perhaps you need to approach a scientific study towards the Quran. Don’t be quick to label things “trite”. Dr Keith Moore – the author of a textbook you, I and countless other people around the world follow for Embryology – his recorded statement on video is available at this address:

    http://scienceislam.com/scientists_quran.php

    Don’t shut the case on this topic so quickly. There’s a lot to be learned yet:

    http://www.scienceislam.com
    http://www.harunyahya.com

    As for those books you have pointed to me – they are nothing new. Read them and wonder, “Oh my! This person is right! There’s nothing real about religions and all sort of stuff. That’s all a figment of our imagination. What we really are are a bunch of animals mixed up with other species surviving on the planet… eat and drink and all those animal pleasures… that’s it. My whole belief base has crumbled…” Then, you go through a period of total “disillusionment” with everything that exists around you. Next, you start “seeing the real world” and you feel “free”, “liberated”, “ecstatic”, “progressive”… ready to take on the world with all kinds of new ideas that you’ll put into a book and sell for millions and make money off, to spend for the rest of your life. And when you die… well, for you it’s the final chapter isn’t it? But only now will the curtain really lift from your eyes and the reality of Life will become clear to you. But what point is it now, to learn all this? Didn’t you think it was pish posh anyway? And that’s the beginning of a new story altogether.

    Assalam-o-alaikum.

  4. SMarmyBast May 31, 2008 at 7:55 am

    BIOLOGY
    You’re doing it wrong

  5. Jeff May 31, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Don’t feed the beasts.

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