Maternal affection signs of God’s compassion

Updated 22 January 2015

Maternal affection signs of God’s compassion

Recent scientific research has shown that there are genes in infants that are activated when they receive affection — or lack of affection — from their mothers.
Brain analysis performed by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center has revealed that several hundred genes are more, or less, active when infants experience pain than those that do not. However, when infants receive affection from their mothers as a manifestation of Allah’s compassion, fewer than 100 genes are similarly expressed.
In a study involving rats, Regina Sullivan, a neurobiologist researching the subject, for the first time revealed the short-term effects of maternal affection on a distressed infant’s brain.
The study was also designed to show the long-term consequences of maternal affection. The study’s conclusion was striking, because similar effects were shown in humans as well as other mammals.
The study showed that a mother’s “tender loving care” (TLC) reduces sensations of pain in babies. TLC also had a positive effect on early brain development. It did this by altering gene activity in the region of the brain involved in emotions.
Sullivan said: “Our study shows that a mother comforting her infant in pain does not just elicit a behavioral response, but also the comforting itself modifies — for better or worse — critical neural circuitry during early brain development.”
The study involved genetic analyses on the almond-sized amygdala region in the infant rat’s brain. This is the region responsible for emotional processes. Signals related to fear or pleasure, for instance, are processed by that region.
Sullivan discovered that maternal affection controlled electrical signaling in the infant rat’s brain. The latest research has shed light on the complex mechanisms by which affection eliminates feelings of pain in newborns.
Sullivan went on to say that nobody would want to see an infant, from whatever species, suffering, and emphasized that, new alternative methods should be developed to treat pain in infants, since the opiate-based drugs used to treat adults suffering from physical pain could be very dangerous for infants. Maternal affection and care, and maybe even factors such as the mother’s scent, may be able to reduce that pain.
Sullivan directed her attention to the long-term consequences of these genetic modifications: In her view, these long-term consequences must be compared to the short-term benefits for tying pain stimuli throughout infancy to the mother, the symbol of safety and security.
Sullivan also said that, “The more we learn about nurturing the infant brain during infancy, the better prepared we are to deal long-term with treating problems that arise from pain, and physical and mental abuse experienced during infancy.”
It is of course Almighty and Omniscient Allah Who produces all living things’ superior characteristics, Who causes them to adopt rational plans, and Who creates and inspires these: “Allah created you from dust and then from a drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female becomes pregnant or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for Allah.” (Qur’an, 35:11)
Chance is unable to account for the cause and source of a living being’s behavior. It is of great importance to examine living being’s behavior from that perspective because observations show that no living being is completely uncontrolled. It is Allah, the Lord of the earth and heavens and all that lies between, Who creates all living things from nothing, Who observes them at every moment and commands their behavior. This is revealed as follows in the Qur’an: “I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path.” (Qur’an, 11:56)

The wisdom behind sensitivity to affection
There is much wisdom in the way that Allah creates people to be so sensitive to love and affection. Allah is the most merciful of the merciful, and He commands people to submit to, and seek refuge in, Himself.
The fact that people are created to be so sensitive to love and affection means that they feel a natural need to seek the shelter of our Lord, the All-Merciful and Most Merciful. Such people turn to Allah with a great passion, and submit to Him on all matters.
The affection that people need as babies is met by the love of Allah manifested in the mother but as a person gains consciousness, he becomes aware that he needs to seek the shelter of Allah’s love, and he needs to use his mind and will to that end. Believers possessed of deep faith know that Allah is the All-Merciful and Most Merciful and that He is most loving toward His servants, and they feel His love and compassion throughout their lives. Paradise, the greatest manifestation of His love of all, awaits them in their eternal lives.
It is revealed in the Qur’an that Allah is the Most Merciful of the merciful as follows: He (Moses) said, “My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy. You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Qur’an, 7: 151)
And Ayyub when he called out to his Lord, “Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Qur’an, 21:83)

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.