Miracle of Allah: Tolerance of our body’s defense system

Updated 30 October 2014
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Miracle of Allah: Tolerance of our body’s defense system

The elements of the defense system fight against the enemies that will harm the body just like ordered and disciplined soldiers. First the soldiers that render the enemies ineffective by swallowing them (known as phagocytes) come to the battlefield. Sometimes however, the battlefield conditions overwhelm the abilities of these soldiers; then other soldiers (known as macrophages) step in. This causes a “situation alert” to occur in the target area and an army of soldiers (called helper T cells) is called to the battlefield.
However, during this struggle, a miracle takes place. Even though the body is always on the alert to fight against the organisms that can cause it harm, it allows millions of other types of bacteria to live in some organs. For example, it is known that 80 species of microorganisms live in the mouth, throat and the tonsils. According to research, there are 200 organism species which keep our bodies constantly healthy. The reason that our defense system does not attack these organisms is that these are vital for tolerance of the defense system.
T cells are the fighter white blood cells of our body. They fight against everything harmful to the body and they eliminate hazardous bacteria and molecules out of our body. However, during the clean up they do not harm the body’s healthy tissues and bacteria beneficial to the body.
Every cell has an identification system to introduce itself that we call receptors. Fighter T cells can make this distinction by recognizing the receptors in all other cells, and they ignore the cells the body needs. This quality of the defense system is called “tolerance.”
This situation is actually a great miracle because the defense system is able to distinguish thousands of different proteins from one another.
So how did cells acquire a system that allows them to distinguish such different structures from one another?
It is of course impossible for coincidences to account for the ability to choose, which requires characteristics such as knowledge, consciousness and intelligence. There is no doubt that the defense system acts with the inspiration of Almighty Allah as revealed in the verse “hearkening to its Lord as it is bound to do!” (Surat Al-Inshiqaq, 2)
The defense system that we have been speaking of causes another very miraculous event. The pancreas is sheltered from the rest of the body. Therefore, the white blood cells do not directly work together with pancreatic cells. Instead, some intermediary cells interface with white blood cells and introduce the pancreas. In order to do this, these cells put on a mask that displays the antigens of their normal neighbors, thus suppress the immune system and keep it in a quiet and calm state. These are called “dendritic cells.”
T cells recognize these antigens and learn not to become alarmed by the pancreatic cells and attack this organ.
As it can be seen from this example, it is clear that qualities like developing new methods to recognize one another, agreeing with one another, making plans and moving with a perfect organization according to these plans cannot be expected from defense cells and a mere organ. There is no doubt that even a community of human beings couldn’t move in such a flawless synchronicity and accomplish what needs to be done without failing, forgetting, making a mistake or causing confusion.
There is only one definite truth that must be accepted here and that is all cells, just like everything else in nature, are created specially by Allah, Who is the Owner of an infinite power, knowledge and intelligence:
“... He created all things and He has knowledge of all things.” (Surat Al-An’am, 101)
Another organ, which the defense system tolerates is the intestines. Even though our general body is covered with very detailed defensive weapons, millions of bacteria nonetheless continue to survive in our intestines because the food we eat and the fluids we drink are digested by the bacteria in our small intestines. In addition, these bacteria provide a natural method of protection as they prevent the reproduction of other bacteria that could harm the body so defense cells cooperate with these bacteria that prove beneficial for the body. Even though there is the possibility of activating an immune system response and starting a war in the intestines, T cells somehow ignore the bacteria in the small intestine and prevent this. So, how do defense cells tolerate these bacteria?

Cells’ training that is amazing
In a research paper published in Nature Immunology journal, investigators led by Shannon Turley of Harvard Medical School have found that the defense system has a tolerance mechanism that was previously unknown. According to this, the lymph nodes are like strategic encampments that surround the whole body. The white blood cells pull the antigens to the lymph nodes and fight them
However, the lymph nodes found in the intestines are like a training center more than a strategic encampment. The basic cells found there train the T cells, which are the soldiers of our defense system, about behaving in an appropriate and tolerant manner toward these uninvited, yet friendly guests. It cannot be explained away that such a system in this part of the body could have come into existence by coincidences. Shannon Turley states her excitement as such: “It’s obvious that T cells must be able to ignore — or become ‘tolerized’ to — normal intestinal tissue. ... But it has been unclear how dendritic cells, which are extremely sensitive to microbial agents such as bacteria, teach T cells to resist attacking healthy intestinal cells.” Unconscious cells do not have the intelligence, consciousness and ability to make it possible to “teach” a biological process to one another. There is no doubt that a system, which even the most intelligent researchers and scientists cannot comprehend, being placed inside a cell with no ability to think and consider things for itself has a very special meaning.

Allah created the defense system with impeccable equipment
With the invention of the microscope some 250 years ago, scientists revealed that we live side by side with numerous tiny organisms invisible to the naked eye. Moreover, these organisms were everywhere, from the air we breathe to the water we drink, from everything we touch to the surface of our own bodies. In addition, these organisms frequently enter inside the body. The presence of this enemy was detected 250 years ago. However, many of the secrets of the “defense system” that fights that enemy so effectively are still not completely understood today.
The defense system recognizes and distinguishes viruses and bacteria that are harmful to it from friendly organisms. The way that defense cells with no mind or brain can accomplish this is a reflection of the matchless Creation of Allah, the Lord of infinite knowledge, seen in a small cell. It is revealed that Allah’s infinite knowledge encompasses all: “... They cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His kursi encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent.” (Surat Al-Baqara, 255)


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016
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The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.