Dental enamel a reflection of Allah’s artistic detail

Updated 19 December 2014

Dental enamel a reflection of Allah’s artistic detail

Contrary to what people think, the most resistant part of our bodies is not our large and strong bones, but the tiny teeth in our mouths. It is dental enamel that gives our teeth their resistance. Enamel is the hardest and most intensely mineralized substance in the body, and is one of the four main components of the teeth, alongside dentin, cementum and pulp. The enamel covers the tooth as the external protective layer. Since it contains no nerves, it is not sensitive.
This feature of enamel is certainly a great blessing from Allah because if the enamel were full of nerves, then biting and sucking and chewing would be very painful. As with the example of dental enamel, Allah has bestowed so many blessing on us that it is impossible to generalize. This is revealed in verses: “Is He Who creates like him who does not create? So will you not pay heed?
If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 16:17-18)
Scientists examining dental enamel discovered a highly detailed and unique structure. That structure makes the enamel, and therefore the tooth, hard. Although enamel looks smooth, it is not: It has tiny, shallow cracks. These cracks begin at the bottom of the enamel and spread toward the surface. They prevent the tooth from cracking by dispersing the pressure placed on the enamel and thus make it stronger and more resistant.
The sublime knowledge and detailed artistry in Allah’s creation of dental enamel also emerges in another way. Under normal conditions, these cracks in the dental enamel should grow every time we put pressure on our teeth. But they disappear thanks to a special healing process because while these cracks grow under pressure, organic substances fill them up and thus prevent the cracks from deepening and breaking the teeth. Our teeth should normally abrade away under the erosive effect of the foods we eat and this structural characteristic of the enamel. But thanks to Allah’s sublime creation, they are able to perform this difficult and lengthy task in the very best way.
In their research into tooth development, scientists uncovered a gene that provides instructions for dentin sialophosphoprotein (DSPP), which plays a major role in the formation of the softer dentin. This gene, which plays a crucial role in dental development, produces only one protein. However, this protein divides into two proteins with diametrically opposed functions, dentin sialoprotein (DSP) and dentin phosphoprotein (DPP). DPP creates pitted and chalky enamel leading to brittleness, while DSP increases the hardness of enamel and its rate of formation. To put it another way, as a result of the delicate collaboration between these two proteins that complement one another, and operate in just the right proportions, our teeth are neither too soft, nor so hard or brittle that they break.
The perfect equilibrium between DSP and DPP reveals the sensitivity in the critical dentin-enamel link because DSP, an active substance in the protection of teeth and present in a thin layer at the interface of enamel and dentin, is harder than all enamel. If the level of this protein is increased, the teeth become more brittle. In the same way that an excess of fluoride, which makes teeth hard and protects against decay, will weaken the teeth, so an excess of DSP has been shown to weaken the teeth and make them brittle.
On the other hand, DPP is known to have a weakening effect on teeth. Excessive levels of this protein will mean they decay and fall out. However, as the result of the omniscience of Allah, a very delicate balance has been established between DSP and DPP. This balance is so sensitive that DPP and DSP together lead to perfect tooth formation.
Allah reveals in a verse that He creates everything with a specific measure: “...Everything has its measure with Him.” (Qur’an, 13:8)
Dental enamel has a far superior structure to ceramics. The crystal structure of the salts in enamel, which contains large quantities of carbonate, magnesium, sodium and potassium ions, make the tooth more resistant to pressure.
Enamel consists of 97 percent mineral salts. Dental enamel is arranged in the form of hexagonal apatite crystals. Calcium salts that enter the structure of the enamel collect and crystallize, gradually dissolving into the organic tooth outline. This accumulation starts in the mother’s womb.
As the teeth come into being, millions of cells first store calcium and then combine with one another to form a large block.
The shape of the block is again determined by the cells that constitute it. At this point a miracle of creation takes place. For example, cells in the lower palate know the kind of structure that the cells in the upper palate, so far away from them, will produce. Both groups of cells produce giant blocks such that each will fit the other. In this way, when the jaw is closed a molar in the top of the jaw and one in the bottom fit together perfectly.
It is obviously Almighty Allah Who gives the cells that make up the teeth, and indeed all other cells, their properties.
One can see this flawless creation everywhere in our own bodies and at every point in the universe. The important thing is to reflect on these signs and to turn to Allah: “In the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and day, and the ships which sail the seas to people’s benefit, and the water which Allah sends down from the sky, by which He brings the earth to life when it was dead and scatters about in it creatures of every kind, and the varying direction of the winds, and the clouds subservient between heaven and earth, there are signs for people who use their intellect.” (Qur’an, 2:164)
n The writer has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science.


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

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.