Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Islamic Revolution

The Islamic Revolution

The Tawheed, which Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) propagated, was distinct from all other ideas because it was based on two principles:

Tawheed Rububiyyah, which means that Allah, is One, without any partners or associates.

Tawheed 'Ulluhiyyah, which means that Allah must be worshipped alone in everything, and total slavery must be to Allah alone in everything ranging from the spiritual to the political.

It was this call for Tawheed, which provoked the anger of the Makkan political authority because they realized that Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) posed a threat to their societal setup with this call. The response of Ja'afar ibn Abi Talib (RadiyAllaahu 'anhu) also illustrates this understanding which the Makkan authorities feared:

"He summoned us to worship the One True God and to reject the stones and idols we and our fathers had been worshipping in addition to Allah. He ordered us to be trustful in speech, to fulfill all the duties that were entrusted to us, to care for our relatives, to be kind to our neighbors, to refrain from unlawful food and consumption of blood. He forbade us to engage in lewdness and lying, the devouring of the money of the orphan and the defamation of married women. He commanded us to worship the One God and to assign no partners unto Him, to pray, to pay the purifying tax and to fast. We deemed him truthful and we believed him, and we accepted the Message he brought from Allah."

This understanding of the spiritual-political nature of the Message of Islam can also be found in many verses of the Qur'an.

Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon on July 20, 1969. Why did it take thousands of years for man to land on the moon?
Non-Muslims ask, "If Islam had never come into existence, would there have been anything seriously lacking in world history?" The answer is yes.

Polytheism and superstition looked upon things and creatures as deities, and encouraged their worship. Before the advent of Islam, polytheism dominated the entire world. Man considered the moon, the sun other planets, wind, river, snake, cow, fire, mountain, etc. as deities. These natural objects inspired man to bow before it rather than try to conquer it. Holding the moon to be sacred was a major obstacle to even thinking of conquering it. The supremacy of polytheism was brought to an end by the Islamic revolution, which replaced it with monotheism, making it the dominant creed of the times. 

What is revolution?

Revolution is defined as a sudden, radical or complete change; especially the overthrow or renunciation of one ruler or government and substitution of another by the governed. To change fundamentally or completely. To turn over in the mind: reflect upon: ponder.

In the Muslim world this revolution was brought about through the influence of religion. The western world began its revolution by separating the secular sciences from religion culminating in the landing of man on the moon. Modern science is a part of the Islamic revolution. Because of the polytheistic view natural sciences had become forbidden territory and natural phenomena were given sanctity. The Islamic revolution of monotheism opened the doors of research and investigation by displacing nature from its sacred pedestal. Modern science is wholly the gift of the Islamic revolution-directly in its initial stages, and indirectly in its later stages. Modern scientific revolution was set in motion by Islam, which was sent by the Almighty for the guidance of all mankind for all eternity. Henri Pirenne author of "History of Western Europe" says, "Islam changed the face of the globe. The traditional order of history was overthrown." Islam is complete truth. All-pervasiveness of superstition served as a hurdle to all kinds of human development. The kings or rulers exploited the masses through polytheism and superstition. The kings represented God on earth. Some kings like Nimrod, Pharaoh claimed as gods.

Dr. George Sarton, a former Professor of History of Science at Harvard University, stated in his book, "The Life of Science" that the foundations of science were laid for us by the Mesopotamian civilization (present day Iraq) whose scholars and scientists were their priests. The second development of science came through the Greeks. The Third Stage of development, however, is to be credited to the meteoric rise of Islam. For nearly four hundred years Islam led the scientific world as from one end of Islam to the other, from Spain to India, the great body of past knowledge was exchanged between her scholars and the torch carried forward with the new discoveries. Scholars of Christendom from about the eleventh century were mainly occupied for over two hundred years in translating from Arabic into Latin. Thus Islam paved the way for the Renaissance, which in turn led to science's fourth great development in the modern world.

It was God's decree that Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) to be a da'i (missionary) as well as a mahi (eradicator).

The Qur'an says:

"We have revealed to you this book so that, by the will of their Lord, you may lead men from darkness to light.
(Quran, 14: 1)
The Nile Goddess

In Egypt, it was an ancient and pagan custom that sometime in July a virgin decorated with bridal clothes was thrown in the Nile river as an offering to propitiate (or to do something to get favors) the Goddess of the river Nile. After the advent of Christianity, the Egyptians became Christians, however they continued to follow the ancient custom of sacrificing a virgin to the Goddess of river Nile.

During the time Hadrat Omar (RadiyAllaahu 'anhu), Egypt came under the Muslim rule and Amar bin Al-Aas (RadiyAllaahu 'anhuwas appointed Governor of Egypt. The Egyptian elders waited on the Governor in July, and wanted his permission for continuing the old custom of throwing a virgin in the river to seek the pleasure and favors of the Nile Goddess.

The Governor said that such a practice was offensive and revolting to Islam and hence he disallowed such practice in an Islamic State. He further argued that Islam knew of no Goddess of the Nile and the question of any expiation did not arise. Islam knew of only One God - Allah and Allah did not stand in need of any propitiation.

After listening to this argument the Egyptian elders were not satisfied. They warned the Governor Amr bin Al-Aas (RadiyAllaahu 'anhuthat unless the sacrifice was made, the Nile River would not rise in flood and the entire countryside would get dry. Governor Amr was however, unyielding and inflexible that floods or no floods human sacrifice could not be permitted. The Egyptian leaders returned home in a gloomily mood.

The month of July came and passed away. No sacrifice was offered, and there was also no rise in the level of the river Nile. The month of August came and still the river did not rise. The Egyptians were trembling at what would happen if the river did not rise. The month of August passed away and still there was no flood in the river. The Egyptian leaders grieved and said, " That is all due to Islam. The Muslims have brought this fate on us."

The month of August was gone and September came, and still there was no sign of any rise in the level of the river Nile. The Egyptians lost hope and most of them were thinking of migrating elsewhere. That made Amar bin al-Aas (RadiyAllaahu 'anhuworried. He reported the facts of the case to Hadrat Umar (RadiyAllaahu 'anhu) and wanted his instructions. Hadrat Umar (RadiyAllaahu 'anhuapproved of the action of Amr in not permitting the human sacrifice. Along with the letter, Hadrat Umar (RadiyAllaahu 'anhu) sent a card on which it was written:

"In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From the slave of Allah, Umar the Commander of the faithful to the Nile of Egypt.
"Everything in the Universe is subject to the will of Allah. The rise in your level is subject to the will of Allah, and we pray to Allah (SubhaabaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) to command you to rise in level."

Hadrat Umar asked Amr that the card should be thrown in the middle of the river. On the eve of the Feast of the Christian Day of the Cross, Amr had the Christians assemble on the river bank and after reciting some verses from the Noble Qur'an and taking the name of Allah, he threw the card of Hadrat Umar in the middle of the river. 

Then the Muslims assembled on the riverbank lifted their hands in prayers seeking the blessings of Allah, in making the river rise in level. The card of Hadrat Umar floated on the surface of the Nile for some distance and then it disappeared.

The next morning the river rose to its full flood height. Verily Allah had commanded the river to flow, and that was the end of the evil custom of sacrificing a virgin to secure a rise in the level of the river. That was the vindication of Islam. Many Egyptians now came to believe that Islam was a blessing and a true religion. They hastened to the Muslim camp and were converted to Islam.

Islamic Revolution

Before the time of the Prophet of Islam (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam), the ancient civilizations such as Greek, Egyptian, Roman and Persian- all were polytheistic (shirk) in their beliefs. That is they worshipped natural phenomena such as the earth (Goddess Gaiga now in the west), rivers, mountains, sun, moon or stars. Only Islam was able to displace them from the pedestal of worship and created the intellectual frame of mind, which is known as the scientific revolution.

The polytheists believed the river to possess divine attributes. They believed the goddess of river caused the water to move and made it useful or harmful. In Islam the river is a creation of Allah and not a creator and it was a servant of Allah and not the Lord. Thus the Muslims found ways and means to exploit the rivers on a large scale. The history books tell us that there is no precedent in any nation to the large-scale irrigation system developed by the Spanish Muslims. The Spanish Muslims developed agriculture and created Departments of agriculture science and irrigation in the universities. They studied trees and carried out research on the properties of soil. The infertile lands were converted into orchards and lush green fields, in today's terms -a green revolution. Before this people treated rivers, springs and sea as gods. But the Muslims brought the green revolution because of their monotheistic thinking.

Polytheism (shirk) was prevalent until the 7th century. It was replaced with monotheism (Tawhid) by the Islamic Revolution. This in turn opened the doors of research and investigation by abolishing the practice of worshipping the natural phenomena. Modern industrial progress owes its existence to the Arab Muslims due to their creed of monotheism, which instilled them a mental and practical revolution. Islam changed the thinking of the Muslims and contributed to the modern scientific revolution. Historians acknowledge that Islam changed the face of the globe. Polytheism and superstition blocked the progress and advancement of human development. Islam encouraged the investigation of nature and destroyed the sanctity of nature.

Islam also destroyed the concept of intermediaries between God and man, such as the Kings and priests who claimed as God's representatives on earth or even the incarnations of God on earth. Polytheism (shirk) curbed freedom of thought. Polytheism and superstition were the major obstacles to all kinds of progress. Superstitious beliefs were an obstruction in the pat of free enquiry. The search for new truths and discovery of nature's secrets remained forbidden areas for them for centuries. Before the Islamic revolution, the world had been swept by superstitious beliefs and idolatry. The revolution based on monotheism of Islam put an almost complete end to polytheism (shirk) The Greeks excelled in the fields of art and philosophy. Their contribution to the field of science (except Archimedes' hydrostatics) was actually quite negligible. Plato's teacher, Socrates (may be construed as a Haneef) never worshipped the pagan gods which were worshipped by the Athenians in Greece and instilled free enquiry among the youth of Athens and for that he was forced to drink hemlock as a punishment in 399 BC. Archimedes was killed by a Roman soldier in 212 BC failing to recognize him. The atmosphere for scientific progress did not exist in ancient Greece. Similarly, the mighty Roman Empire never produced a single scientist.

In Islam with its foundation of monotheism created an atmosphere and environment which stimulated scientific research that lead to the conquest of natural phenomena. The modern age which is the age of science and industry, of freedom and equality is the direct consequence of the Islamic revolution rooted in the Qur'an.

From the sixth century to the 10th century Europe was in dark ages while the Islamic civilization attained the pinnacles of science and technology. After the crusades the Europeans came in contact with the Islamic civilization. They went to Muslim universities in Spain, Sicily, Cairo, and Baghdad. They translated the Arabic works into Latin for over two hundred years. The European Renaissance started in the 15th century and culminated in the emergence of the modern industrial civilization. Islamic revolution is responsible for the emancipation of the human thought.

During the Abbasid era, paper was being manufactured on a large scale and so books could be produced without the dearth of paper. There were more than 400,000 books in the library of Cordoba (Spain) in the tenth century, whereas in Europe at that time, the library of Canterbury- the top of the list of the Christian libraries- contained only 1800 books in the 13 the century.

In many countries scholars were born with creative minds who could think independently of the their fellow citizens. But due to the unfavorable atmosphere and hostile environment of times, their efforts could be brought to fruition. Their knowledge withered away before they could flower. On the other hand Islamic revolution produced favorable atmosphere, it unleashed a mighty flood of knowledge which had been kept pent up for thousands of years by the dam of polytheism (shirk) and superstition. For progress of Science and Technology an atmosphere of free investigation is essential. One may be surprised to know that even today there are some people and societies who believe that the earth is flat. Even today the Hindus with MD and Ph.D. degrees worship the Sun as god and believe that the lunar and solar eclipses are caused when the snakes Rahu and Ketu swallow them. One thousand years ago Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni explained how the solar and lunar eclipses are caused by the shadows of moon and earth falling on the sun and moon respectively. The Hindus believe in 320 million gods and goddesses. Even if one spends one minute in reciting the name of a god, the whole life is not enough to recite the names of 320 million gods and goddesses.

Reference: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_1_50/islamic_revolution.htm

With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President,
Islamic Research Foundation International,

God bless the entire humanity


Monday, August 29, 2016

The Science of the Universe (Cosmology)

The Science of the Universe (Cosmology)

Islam is a religion (way of life) based on nature, and there is nothing in science that could contradict Islam. We in our limited knowledge often doubt this assertion about Islam, only to be proved wrong by a new discovery. Many things that modern science is discovering today were mentioned in the Qur'an more than 1,400 years ago. 

In this article we will concentrate on modern cosmology and the Qur'an. Cosmology is the study of the birth and evolution of the cosmos, or heavenly bodies, and the universe. 

The earth has plenty of water with only one-fourth-land area. The temperature on earth varies between freezing point and boiling point of water with an average temperature that keeps water liquid. 

Scientists say that life evolved on earth because the environment and conditions were conducive to its existence. However, one can propose an odd or counter argument that the presence of life on earth accounts for the exceptionally hospitable environment and conditions on the planet earth. The fact is that the real universe does harbor intelligent observers. In order to achieve this goal certain constraints were placed on the diversity of ways the universe could have begun. Similarly, constraints were placed on the physical laws that could have governed the development of the universe. If the universe were allowed to evolve in a random or accidental fashion, it would have been impossible for any intelligent life to come into existence. This argument is called the modern cosmological principle or anthropological principle. 

Any theory, which rises to reconstruct the initial conditions of the universe and the corresponding laws of nature, should show that those conditions and laws give rise to an inhabited universe. The high point of the modern cosmological principle is that the universe we live in is the only conceivable universe, which harbors intelligent life. The earth has a privileged position because intelligent life is present on this planet.  

DIMENSIONLESS NUMBERS 

 In 1937 P.A.M. Dirac (who died in Florida in 1984), a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, noted certain curious numerical relations among the dimensionless numbers that play an important role in physics and astrophysics.

The first quantity is a dimensionless form of the gravitational coupling constant, which is a measure of the strength of the gravitational force and has a value of roughly 10-40. The inverse of this becomes 1040

The second dimensionless number is the age of the universe expressed in nuclear units.  Professor Dirac defined it as the ratio of the Hubble age to the time required for light to travel a distance equal to the radius of a proton. This ratio has a value of roughly 1040

The third dimensionless quantity is the number of massive particles or nucleons (protons and neutrons) in the visible region of the universe. This number is estimated to be 1080 and the square root of this number is 1040

One can see that a relationship exists between these three constants, which are strongly constrained by the conditions necessary for the existence of man. Hence Dr. Dirac's numerical relations apply not to any possible evolutionary universe, but only to the universe humans observe that today.  Evolution of a habitable star system depends sensitively on the value of the gravitational coupling constant. In a universe where the gravitational coupling constant is an order of magnitude large, then the sun evolves into a Blue giant, which dies too soon. 

On the other hand in a universe where the gravitational coupling constant is an order of magnitude small, then the sun evolves into a red dwarf that exists for an extremely long time but radiates little energy. The emergence of life demands two things of a star. 

First, it must live long enough for living organisms to evolve. 

Second, it must radiate enough energy to warm a habitable region of space, that is, a region where a planet could have a stable orbit.

 Neither a blue giant nor a red dwarf satisfies both conditions, hence could sustain life. The anthropological principle asserts that the presence of life on earth explains why the sun is at the division between the blue giants and the red dwarfs and hence why the gravitational constant has the value it is observed to have.

It explains why the earth is 93 million miles (1 Astronomical Unit = AU = 93 X 10miles) away from the sun. If the earth was close to or farther away from the sun compared with the present location then life would not exist.
  
Stephen Hawking, Professor of Astrophysics and Cosmology at Oxford University who is called the greatest genius alive today, has concluded after many extensive calculations and the analyses that galaxies were not formed by a random process or chance after the Big Bang but were formed when recessional velocity was exactly equal to the escape velocity of matter. Professor Hawking concluded that since "the existence of galaxies would seem to be a necessary precondition for the development of any form of intelligent life." The fact that we have observed the universe to be isotropic is therefore only a consequence of our existence. 

   The Qur'anic Statements
       
The Qur'an talks about the foundation of the anthropological principle in these words:  

He has created the heavens and the earth for just ends.
(Surah al-Nahl, 16:3 & Surah al-Hijr, 15:85) 

Yusuf Ali, commenting on the above verses, says: "Everything in God's creation has use and purpose, and fits into a design. It is true sense of the word and it is good and just. Not for sport, or fortuitously and without design. God's creation is all for a true, just and righteous purpose." 
   
The fate of the earth is intimately linked with the fate of the sun. 

Astrophysicists estimate that the sun's nuclear fuel will be depleted in another Five billion years. Already the sun is four and a half billion years old. The Qur'an says:

Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth and (in) the difference of night and day are token (of His sovereignty) for men of understanding. Those who remember God while standing, sitting, and (tying) on their sides and contemplate on the creation of the heavens and the earth. 
(Surah Al-i-Imran, 3:190-191) 

It further says: 
He draweth the night as a veil over the day, each seeking the other in rapid succession; He created the sun, the moon and the stars, (all) governed by laws under His command. 
 (Surah al-A'RAF, 7:54) 

ACCIDENTAL UNIVERSE? 

Was the universe created by chance or by an accident? 
Let us consider how our sun (a star) was created. Paul Davies, formerly a  Professor of Astrophysics at Cambridge University, and now living in Australia,  says: If the primeval material was churned about random, it would have produced black holes rather than stars, because the black holes, being so much more disordered, can be produced in a vastly greater number of ways. For every star that formed, countless billions of more easily achieved black holes should have accompanied it. The chances against the sun, rather than the black hole, emerging from a purely random process will be one in 1020 (or the probability is 10-20 which is pretty improbable by any standards." 

If the same argument is applied to the entire universe, the chances of getting a starry cosmos with the present-day orderliness with no chaos are one in 1030. This is like trying to shoot a one-square inch target at the other end of the universe at a distance of 10 billion light years away. (A light year is the distance light travels for one year at the rate of 186,000 miles per second.) Therefore the conclusion is we live in a world of astronomical unlikelihood." Theologically one can infer that God caused against all odds the primeval matter to escape annihilation from an overwhelming array of universes dominated by black holes, and arranged it into life supporting stars such as our sun. It is quite clear from the above that it is highly improbable for a life-supporting star such as our sun to evolve by random processes. When the argument is extended to the entire universe, then the creation of the universe by random process becomes astronomically unlikely.

Reference: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_51_100/cosmology.htm

With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President,
Islamic Research Foundation International,

God bless the entire humanity




Sunday, August 28, 2016

Understanding Tasawwuf

Understanding Tasawwuf

Tasawwuf (mysticism) which is the esoteric or inward (batin) aspect of Islam, is to be distinguished from exoteric or ‘external’ (zahir) Islam. Exoterism (known in Islam as the Shari’ah), may be likened to the circumference of a circle. The inner Truth, or Esoterism, that lies at the heart of the religion (and is known in Islam as haqiqah), may be likened to the circle’s center. The radius proceeding from circumference to center represents the mystical or ‘initiatic’ path (tariqah) that leads from outward observance to inner conviction, from belief to vision, from potency to act. The tariqah is the doctrine and method to reach the haqiqah. Ordinarily believers are directed towards obtaining a state of blessedness after death, a state which may be attained through indirect and, as it were, symbolical participation in Divine Truths by carrying out prescribed works, Sufism contains its end or aim within itself in the sense that it can give access to direct knowledge of the eternal. The Shari’ah, for its part, is the ‘outward’ religion which is accessible to, and indispensable for, all. Tasawwuf, on the other hand, is only for those possessed of the necessary vocation. In practice, therefore, it cannot but be the affair of a minority, though it may sometimes have popular manifestations. 

SUFISM 

Sufism is the spirituality or mysticism of the religion of Islam. In Arabic, Sufism is called tasawwuf. Both words come from suf (‘wool’), a reference to the woolen robes worn by the earliest Sufis. Sufism is regarded as the ‘spirit’ or ‘heart’ of Islam (ruh al-islam or qalb al-islam). The origin of Sufism goes to Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallamhimself. One cannot be a Sufi without being a Muslim. There is no Sufism without Islam. The inner constitution of Sufism has three indispensable elements, 

first, a doctrine, 

secondly, an initiation and, 

thirdly, a spiritual method. 

Tasawwuf is applied in the Islamic world only to regular contemplative ways, which include both an esoteric doctrine and transmission from one master to another. 

ISLAMIC ESOTERISM 

Haqiqah - the name given to the ‘inner Truth’ or ‘inner Reality’ that is at the heart of the Islamic revelation. The Shariah (outward law) is in fact their vehicle or statement of the haqiqah, and this is why Sufis are always amongst the most ardent defenders of the Shari’ah.
The Central doctrine of Sufism is wahdat al-wujud, the ‘oneness of being’. This is derived directly from the shahaadah, which is understood not only as ‘there is no god but God’ but also ‘there is no reality except Reality’. One of the Names of God, indeed, is al-Haqq, which means ‘Reality’ or ‘Truth’.
 
THE MYSTICAL PATH

To embark on a spiritual path, a rite of initiation is indispensable. In Sufism, the aspirant receives the rite of initiation from a Sufi master (shaikh or murshid) who, in turn, has received it, at the beginning of his spiritual career, from his shaikh or spiritual master, and so on back to the Prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallamhimself who, by Divine Grace, initiated the first Sufis. The chain of initiation is known in Arabic as silsilah. The family tree of Sufi masters, from the earliest times to the present day, is replete with examples of outstanding holiness. Names of these Sufi saints are given to Sufi ‘orders’ or ‘brotherhoods’ and are known as turuq (singular tariqah = ’path’) and there are so many paths to haqiqah, the Inward, Divine Reality, or, in other words, to God Himself. The first Sufi order to appear was the Qadiri tariqah, which took its name from its illustrious founder, Shaikh Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (1078-1166). The other famous turuq are: Suhrawardi, Shadhili, Maulawi (Mevlevi), Chishti, and Naqshbandi. 

Reference: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_51_100/understanding_tasawwuf.htm

With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President,
Islamic Research Foundation International,

God bless the entire humanity


Friday, August 26, 2016

Quran and Determination of Sex

Quran and Determination of Sex

The Noble Qur'an which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) about 1400 years ago mentions how the sex of a human being is determined. The following two verses or Ayat of the Qur'an are very clear on this matter. (A. Yusuf Ali translation)
"And of him He made Two sexes, male and female."   Surah Qiyamat (the Resurrection), 75: 39
 
In the above Ayah, “of him He made two sexes, male and female" means that ‘of the human male (he), He (Allah) Created both the sexes male and female’.  Hence   human male is responsible for the birth of a male child or a female child.  The human female is not responsible for the sex determination of the child.  However, in many Muslim countries the woman is blamed for the birth of a female child as in these countries they welcome the arrival of a male child. "That He did create in pairs,-male and female, From a seed when lodged (in its place);  Surah Najm (the Star) 53:45-46

To understand Sex determination we need to understand the Chromosomes, particularly the X and Y chromosomes.
The accepted chromosome number for humans in 1935 was forty-eight. The year 1956 is considered to mark the beginning of modern human Cytogenetics. Until this time the number of chromosomes in the normal human cell was considered to be 48. Due to improvements in techniques it was discovered that the correct number is 46 (Tjio and Levan, 1956)
 Reference: Tjio JH, Levan A (1956) The chromosome number of man. Am J Obstet Gynecol 130:723-724   

What is a Chromosome?

A chromosome is composed of a very long molecule of DNA and associated proteins that carry hereditary information. The centromere, which is at the center of the chromosome, is a specialized structure that appears during cell division and ensures the correct distribution of duplicated chromosomes to daughter cells. Telomeres are the structures that seal the end of a chromosome. Telomeres play a critical role in chromosome replication and maintenance by counteracting the tendency of the chromosome to otherwise shorten with each round of replication.  
Chromosomes are composed of protein and DNA, and they are distinct dense bodies found in the nucleus of cells. Genetic information is contained in the DNA of chromosomes in the form of linear sequences of bases (A, T, C, G). The DNA in an individual chromosome is one, long molecule, which is highly coiled and condensed. The total number of bases in all the chromosomes of a human cell is approximately six billion and individual chromosomes range from 50 to 250 million bases. The DNA sequence for a single trait is called a gene. Each chromosome contains a few thousand genes, which range in size from a few thousand bases up to 2 million bases. 

During most of the cell cycle, interphase, the chromosomes are somewhat less condensed and are not visible as individual objects under the light microscope. However during cell division or mitosis, the chromosomes become highly condensed and are then visible as dark distinct bodies within the nuclei of cells. The chromosomes are most easily seen and identified at the metaphase stage of cell division.  

Sex Chromosomes X and Y

Somatic cell is any cell other than a sperm or egg cell. Somatic cells in humans and most other animals are diploid. Diploid cells are cells containing two sets of chromosomes. Each somatic cell in humans contains 46  chromosomes which can be distinguished from one another by their appearance under a microscope. Chromosomes differ in size, position of the centromere, and staining pattern.  A pair of chromosomes that have the same size, centromere position and staining pattern are called Homologous chromosomes (homologues). The chromosomes of a homologous pair carry genes controlling the same inherited traits. Each locus (the position of a gene along the length of a chromosome) is in the same position on homologues.

One exception to homologous chromosomes for human somatic cells is the two distinct sex chromosomes which are important in sex determination. All other chromosomes are referred to as autosomes 

Sex chromosomes in humans are the X and Y chromosomes.
  Females have a homologous pair of X chromosomes.
  Males have one X and one Y chromosomes.
  Thus, humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and 1 pair of sex chromosomes. 

The special type of cell division that produces haploid cells is called meiosis and occurs only in the gonads (ovaries of the female and testes of the male). Meiosis in humans produces sperm and egg cells which contain 23 chromosomes. When fertilization occurs, the zygote contains 46 chromosomes and is diploid. The process of meiosis and fertilization are unique to sexual reproduction and all sexually reproducing organisms follow a basic pattern of alternation between diploid and haploid conditions. Haploid cell is a cell that contains a single chromosome set. 

The number of chromosomes in human cells is 46 with 22 autosomal pairs (a total of 44) (one of each type contributed by the mother and one of each type from the father) and 2 sex chromosomes - 2 X chromosomes for females (one from father and one from mother) or an X and a Y chromosome for males (the X from the mother and the Y from the father). Sex chromosomes determine the sex of an organism and some other sex-linked characteristics.

In the process of reproduction, special cells are produced in males and females. Males produce sperm cells and females produce egg cells, or ova. The chromosomal makeup of these cells is interesting. Each sex cell from each parent contains only one member from each pair of chromosomes. Therefore, in ova or egg cells there are 22 autosomes plus an X chromosome. There are two types of sperm cells, each type carrying 22 autosomes plus a gender-determining chromosome, i.e., X or Y.  

The banding of chromosomes by using dyes was discovered in the late 1960's and before that cytogeneticists depended on chromosome length and position of a constriction to identify the individual chromosomes. The band width and the order of bands is characteristic of a particular chromosome - a trained cytogeneticist can identify each chromosome (1,2,3...22, X and Y) by observing its banding pattern under the microscope.

Sex Determination

Sperm and egg cells are called gametes and are distinct from somatic cells with respect to their chromosome number.  Each human gamete contains a single set of 22 autosomes and a sex chromosome (either an X or a Y). Gametes in humans and other organisms are haploid

Haploid number: The number of chromosomes in a haploid cell (designated N). The haploid number of humans is 23. Sexual intercourse allows a haploid sperm cell from the father to reach and fuse with an egg cell from the mother in a process called fertilizationFertilization is the fusion of a sperm cell and an egg cell to form a zygote.

Zygote is a fertilized egg cell and it contains the two haploid sets of chromosomes from the gametes and is diploid.
Half of the genes carried on the chromosomes are contributed by the mother (set of chromosomes from the egg cell) and half by the father (set of chromosomes from the sperm cell).
During development from a zygote to a sexually mature adult, the zygote's genetic information is passed with precision to all somatic cells by the process of mitosis. Sex organs, which form during development, then produce new gametes which can initiate a new cycle.

A human's sex is predetermined in the sperm gamete (spermatozoa).  The egg gamete mother cell is said to be homogametic, because all its cell possess the XX sex chromosomes. Sperm gametes are deemed heterogametic because around half of them contain the X chromosome and others possess the Y chromosome to compliment the first X chromosome. In light of this, there are two possibilities that can occur during fertilization between male and female gametes, XX and XY. Since sperm are the variable factor (i.e. which sperm fertilizes the egg) they are responsible for determining sex.  

Chromosomes X and Y

Chromosomes X and Y do not truly make up a homologous pair. They act similarly in their roles, but they are not homologous (the same). The X chromosome in humans is much longer than the Y chromosome and also contains many more genes. These genes are said to be sex linked, due to the fact they are present in one of the sex chromosomes. During fertilization, when the opposing homologous chromosomes come together, the smaller Y chromosome offers no dominance against the 'extra' X-chromosomes as indicated below. 

Sex Linked Characteristics

These sex linked genes on the X chromosome display a number of characteristics. The following are some examples of phenotypes as a result of these genes:
Red-Green colour blindness and  Hemophilia - (a condition which prevents the clotting of the blood)

Humans usually have 46 chromosomes per diploid cell consisting of 22 sets of autosomes and a set of sex chromosomes - either XX or XY. In the usual course of events, individuals with the karyotype 46, XX are female and individuals with 46, XY, are male.

The question arises as to how the sex of an individual is determined. Is sex determined by the number of X-chromosomes - with one X you are male or with 2 X's you are female? Or is sex determined by the presence or absence of the Y chromosome - the presence of a Y makes for a male or the absence of a Y produces a female?

The answer was provided by individuals resulting from non-disjunction of the sex chromosomes. Some individuals have 45 chromosomes and have only one X chromosome; other individuals have 47 chromosomes and have two X-chromosomes and a Y. The table below indicates the sex of these individuals. _____________________________________________________

Chromosome Constitution       Name of Syndrome                 Sex of Individual      Frequency in Population
            46, XX                            Normal                                       Female                                 0.511 *
            46, XY                        Normal                                       Male                                    0.489*
            45, XO                            Turner's Syndrome                     Female                                1 in 5,000
            47, XXY                          Klinefelter's Syndrome              Male                                   1 in 700
_____________________________________________________
* Female (46, XX) and Male (46, XY) frequencies taken from US Census projection of July 1, 1966 with no correction for chromosome constitution.

It is clear that the presence of a Y chromosome is necessary for male sexual characteristics to develop.

Reference: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_51_100/quran_and_determination_of_sex.htm

With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President,
Islamic Research Foundation International,

God bless the entire humanity



Thursday, August 25, 2016

From Passionate to Compassionate

From Passionate to Compassionate

O ye who believe!
Fasting is prescribed to you
As it was prescribed
To those before you,
That ye may (learn)
Self -restraint- 
(Fasting) for a fixed
Number of days;
But if any of you is ill,
Or on a journey,
The prescribed number
(Should be made up)
From days later,
For those who can do it
(With hardship), is a ransom,
The feeding of one
That is indigent.
But he that will give
More, of his own free will-
It is better for him.
And it is better for you
That ye fast
If ye only knew.
 
(Surah 2: Al Baqarah, 183-184)

  
Islam proceeded step by step and by degrees in the imposition of most of its obligatory duties and Fasting was no exception. The Noble Prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) advised Muslims to observe fasts for three days in a month but this was not obligatory. Then in the second year of Hijra, the Command (2:183) about fasting in the month of Ramadan was revealed. Verse 185 in Surah Al Baqarah was revealed next year. The first Commandment about fasting contained in vv. 183-184 was revealed in the second year of Hijrah before the battle of Badr. The subsequent verse which superseded it was revealed a year later but was inserted here because it dealt with the same matter.
 

Siyam or Fasting during the month of Ramadan is Third Pillar of Islam. Muslims wait all year long for the arrival of this month of Ramadan. FASTING MEANS from dawn until sunset eating, drinking and sexual intercourse is forbidden. Ramadan is the month of patience. A person who is ready to be patient, not to eat while he is hungry, not to drink while he is thirsty, not to lean to his lusts, such a person is a noble individual. Such a person will be given paradise by Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) as a gift, as a merit of award. 

To train yourself to abstain from the essentials of life is not an easy act. It needs a strong personality to dictate self-control, self-discipline and self-restraint. Fasting develops self-control and helps Muslims overcome selfishness, greed, laziness and other faults. It is an annual training program to refresh us for carrying out our duties towards Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa). A person who can restrain himself, for the love and pleasure of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa), deserves a reward from the Creator Himself. The hardship of fasting brings the glad tidings that the fasting undertaken for the sole purpose of pleasing Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaais sure to be accepted by the Most Merciful Lord.

Fast in which the spirit of Fasting is not observed is only an exercise in starvation but not really a Fast at all. The prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) said " whosoever does not give up telling lies, or
acting in a false manner, Allah has no need for his giving up his eating or drinking." 

The basic purpose of Fasting is to suffuse us with the quality of taqwa. The term "taqwa" implies fear and precaution and in Islamic terminology it means fear of Allah or God Consciousness and avoidance of disobedience to Him. Literally, taqwa means: 

Godliness, devotees or piety. According to the scientific meaning, it signifies a screen between two things. Thus, if the servant submits himself to Allah's will by carrying out all obligatory duties with which he has been commanded and abstains from that which Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaahas prohibited, then his obedient actions have placed a screen between himself and Allah's punishment. That is called taqwa. In our life journey we face innumerable temptations and we must shun them and stick scrupulously to the path of righteousness and truth- that is what constitutes taqwa, and for generating this taqwa. 

Taqwa is attained through knowledge which is coupled with true faith (iman). If we do not possess knowledge, we cannot really show piety. 

To obey the commands of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaaand to carry out His laws constitutes taqwa.  Fasting has been made obligatory on us. We are made conscious about the needs and deprivation of those who are more in need than ourselves. This heightening of one's sense of sacrifice is the opposite of selfishness and of a desire to exploit or oppress someone for the sake of gain. Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) does not need our hunger, but fasting helps us to develop and refine our reflex about right and wrong, our sense of love and gratitude. Ramadan teaches us how to control our animal passions, how to bring them under discipline. The end result is manifestation of a human personality that loves Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaaand loves His creation, that fears none but Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa), that draws all its strength from Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaaand Allah alone.

Ramadan is also the month of the Qur'an, the month in which the Qur'an was revealed.The moral and spiritual climate of Ramadan helps the flourishing of the Qur'anic message which the ambiance is of goodness, humility, righteousness, love for good and aversion for evil. 

BENEFITS OF SIYAAM: 

Besides the feeling of hunger and thirst, fasting teaches us to control the love of comfort. It helps us to keep our sexual desires within control. Siyaam builds and nourishes the soul of the fasting Muslim. The fasting person enriches his fasting by the remembrance of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa), the recitation of the Qur'an, the night prayers, Zakah, Sadaqah (charity), and by refraining from sins and obscenity. The fasting person lowers his gaze and suppresses his desires. He guards his tongue from vain talk and obscenities. He guards his hands and legs from the prohibitions of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) . He employs his hands and legs in the good and various deeds. Siyaam is not the mere refraining from eating and drinking, it is also refraining from vanity and obscenity. Siyaam builds a strong will and nourishes the truthful zeal in the soul. This is achieved when the fasting person struggles to work for his livelihood and resists his desires and temptations. Siyaam builds the strength to bear difficulties and hardship and instills the character of perseverance. 

The fasting person by depriving himself from food and drink, and other necessities of life becomes capable of controlling his desires, capricious whims, and temptations. The purpose of fasting is to enable a Muslim to control his passions, so that he becomes a person of good deeds and intentions. If one fasts from dawn to sunset, but continues to be abusive to one's spouse and children, tell lies, swears wrongly under oath, commits zina (fornication), cheats one's children by not giving them what is duly theirs of nafaqah in the form of care and love and indulgence in other wrongful acts, then the objective of fasting has not been achieved. Anger, a common human weakness, can also be brought under control by fasting. A Muslim should keep away from all bad actions during his fast. He should not lie, break a promise or do any deceitful act. Fasting in Ramadan helps one to develop good habits and suppress or eliminate bad habits such as smoking, drinking coffee, tea, etc. One can avoid or cut down on excessive consumption of food.

A fasting person has feelings of sympathy for the poor. The sense of compassion springs from the feeling of pain. Fasting is a practical means to develop compassion for other people's sufferings. The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) himself was very generous during Ramadan. 

Ramadan instills unity and equality among all the members of the Muslim Ummah. The Muslims fast during the same month, perform qiyaam al lail during the nights of this month and all seek the night of Qadr. They offer zakat-ul-fitr at the end of the month and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr together. By doing this together during this month of Ramadan, the Ummah becomes like one body living in harmony. The fasting person is alert and cautious not to fall into something that might spoil his or her fasting or seek the wrath of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa).

Fasting elevates the person from the material life to a higher spiritual life and helps him or her to approach a spiritual level that of angels who worship Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaaday and night without tiredness. 

Fasting builds important Islamic values, such as compassion, cooperation, diligence, firmness, affection, fear of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa), trust in Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa), and many other qualities.

Fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor. It is a compulsory experience of poverty in that it makes all people share an quality, of feeling and to sympathize with one another through a collective sense of pain. Fasting Muslims can really sympathize with the starving people everywhere in the world and see the hardship that they go through every day of their lives. This compassion increases the practical aspect of the unity of Muslims and will reduce the idea of nationality and geographical identity. Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) is pleased with his servants and answers the duaa of the fasting person, when he supplicates to Him. 

During the month of Ramadan, one should visit and offer prayers more frequently in the local mosques. Ramadan is a special time for visiting friends and family and sharing meals with the less fortunate. 
The Prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) said, " O people! The month of Ramadan has come with His mercy, blessing and forgiveness. Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) has decreed this month the best of all months. Its days are the best among days, its nights best among nights, and its hours best among hours. This is a month in which you have been invited by Him to fast and pray. Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) has honored you in it. Every breath you take in this month has the reward of praise of Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa). Your sleep in worship, your good deeds are accepted and your invocations answered. 

Therefore you must invoke your Lord in earnest, with hearts that are free from sin and evil, and pray that Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) helps you fast, and recite the Qur'an. Give alms to the poor and the needy. Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind toward your relatives and kinsfolk. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing and your ears from sounds that should not be heard.

Understand well that Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) has promised in the Name of His Majesty and Honor that He will not take to task such people who perform Salaat and Sajda and that He will guard their bodies against the fire of hell on the Day of Judgment. 

O' people! If anyone among you arranges Iftar for any believer, then Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) will reward him and forgive him his previous sins. (A companion of the prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallam) asked: "But not everyone among us have the means to do so." The prophet (SallAllaahu alayHi wa AaliHii Wasallamreplied: "Do it even if it be with half a date or some water if you have nothing else.") 

O' people! Anyone who cultivates in this month good manners will walk over the bridge leading to paradise on the day when feet will tend to slip. Anyone who treats his kinsfolk well in it, Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaawill bestow His mercy on him on the Day of Judgment while anyone who mistreats his kinsfolk, Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaawill keep him away from His mercy. Whoever recites a verse of the Qur'an in this month, his reward will be that of reciting the whole Qur'an in other months. 
 
O'people! The gates of paradise remain open in this month: pray to your Lord that they may not be closed for you. The gates of hell are closed during this month: pray that they may never be opened for you. Satan has been handcuffed: invoke your Lord not to let him dominate you."
 

May Allah (SubhaanaHuu Wa Ta'aalaa) make us become kinder people, better neighbors and set good examples of the teachings of Islam which we present. Ameen!

Reference: http://www.irfi.org/articles/articles_1_50/from_passionate_to_compassionate.htm

With thanks from Mr. Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D. President, Islamic Research Foundation International,

God bless the entire humanity




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