A third of my time during COVID-19 lockdown was reading to be efficient with time in my research interests: oncology particularly; in cancer therapeutic modalities and my religion Islam which the majority of the time today is misinterpreted. Hence, the reason why this review is found in the COVID-19 section on my website. This project aims to share a qualitative review for the public on one of my individual-based researches titled 'The link between Medicine and Science with the Glorious Quran - with a focus on anatomy and physiology'.
The Quran is the Book of Allah (God) revealed more than 1400 years ago during the month of mercy, Ramadan, to the Seal of the Prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him) in 610. A medical corpus is developed based upon the two branches of Islam: Quran and Hadith (Sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Typically, in this day and age, one would read the Quran with English translation to understand what is meant in the Fus-ha (classical Arabic language) of early Tafseer (exegesis) work.
The Quran requires an in-depth understanding of its Tafseer to eliminate misunderstandings. The philosophical interpretation of the Quran integrates ma'na (meaning) and isharah (sign) (Amir and Yusoff, 2017). To this day, the Quran is studied; by many scholars. I, as a Muslim, had to read from the primary scriptures of Tafseer by respected scholars within the field to write this article such as Ibn Kathir, Al-Qurtubi, Al-Tabari, Ibn Al-Ashur, Ibn Manzoor and Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani. This highlights the importance of seeking authentic sources to discuss matters of religion.
Similarly, to understand the human body and be able to treat disease requires one to study the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) at seven levels: molecular, cellular, enzymatic, tissue, organ, system and the whole organism (Sieck, 2019). In the same way, a machine or car would require all compartments necessary to work and manoeuvre optimally. If any organ(s) malfunctioned; it is said one has a disease and will experience symptoms. Thus, knowledge of the different forms of anatomy (functional, radiological and topographical) and physiology is fundamental for physical examination, interpretation of symptoms; and radiological images to provide the correct treatment (Arráez-Aybar et al., 2010).
The combination of the dimensions of health and Islam initiates with an analysis of Tawhid (Divine Unity) and influences evolutionary hypotheses to understand disease (Saniotis, 2012; Nesse et al. 2010; Hood and Jenkins, 2008; Melchert, 2011). Allah (The Most High) says in the Quran:
“The creation of the heavens and earth is far greater than the creation of mankind. But most of mankind do not know it.”
Al-Qurtubi explains that Allah has created the heavens and the earth, and is greater than the humankind and is capable of resurrecting them. Ibn Ashur (2000) commented how the Qadeer (Most Capable) created the universe and its constituents such as the stars and planets; then he is aqdar (more capable) of creating the human body and resurrecting humans back to life without hesitance due to the size, power and energy they comprise but still, the humanity rejects or not know of this concept.
Without doubt, medical knowledge of Galen, Hippocrates and Dioscorides has had a significant impact in medicine and were introduced to the Islamic Empire during the Medieval and Renaissance era through translation via Hunayn ibn Ishaq where various physicians re-vitalised and innovated these findings to logical, evidence-based and experimental models (Faruqi, 2006; Saniotis, 2012). This period was known as the ‘Golden Age of Islamic Civilisation’. In my previous individual-based research titled ‘Medicine Through Islamic History’ where I emphasis the contributions of many physicians and their impact on patient care.
The motivating force of Muslim physicians at the time was using their spiritual and temporal sense to understand the wisdom and creation of Allah by studying the natural phenomena in the Quranic context that encompasses the ethics and ideals of all aspects in human life (Kettani, 1976; Faruqi, 2006; Saniotis, 2012). Furthermore, assumptions made that the Islamic Empire consisted of Muslims alone. However, Faruqi (2006) informed that it was a multicultural society with a range of religions, languages and traditions due to conquering of countries from Africa to Asia to Persia to Arabia and how scholars of different faiths studied and taught under Islam (Faruqi, 2006).
Amongst the physicians who studied Galen’s anatomical concepts and human dissection were Abdul Latid Al-Baghdadi in 1200; who improved the anatomical presentations of the bones in the lower jaw and sacrum (Al Ghamdi et al. 2017; Khalique et al. 2019). Ibn Zuhr was otherwise known, as Avenzoar greatly influenced the understanding of anatomy (Abdel-halim, 2005; Support Group, The Renal Patient and Al-Ghazal, 2017). Another physician, Ibn Al Nafis, described the pulmonary blood circulation, the chambers of the heart and the lungs (Akmal et al. 2010). His findings was published in the book by Ibn Sina (Avicenna) titled ‘Canon of Medicine’. (West, 2008; Meyers, 1964). Ibn Al-Quff and Ibn Abu Usaybia were other 13th century physicians who described the heart physiology and function (Amr and Tbakhi, 2007; Dalfardi and Yarmohammadi, 2016). However, the physiology of the pulmonary circulation was known as the ‘lesser circulation’ at the time and was further explained in 1500 by Michael Servetus and Realdo Colombo (Meyerhof, 1935).
However, upon researching the discovery of pulmonary circulation, numerous researches presented William Harvey, the Founder of human physiology in the 17th century and he was the one who corrected the errors of Galen on the blood circulation and discovered the function of valves (Schultz, 2002; McMullen, 1995; Boyle, 2007; Bolli, 2019). With all respects to his contributions, other scholars within the field such as Aird (2011) and Faruqi (2006) have implied how Al-Razi described the role of valves in the veins in the 10th century and criticised Galen's anatomical theories. Al-Razi also discussed anatomical illustrations of ventricles and the brain in his book Kitab Al Mansuri Fi Al-Tibb. All of these discoveries of these physicians and others were established, through the clinical observations in the free hospitals they founded (Turner, 1995). They were transferred to the curriculum at medical schools in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance eras to strengthen the climate of learning, scientific thinking and exploration (Centre for Islamic studies, 2002). Therefore, this suggests how William Harvey was exposed to the understanding pf the cardiovascular physiology of the human body.
Furthermore, physicians such as Ibn Sina and Al Khawarizima did not only expand the Ancient Greek findings but also made their contributions of their own in other academic areas such as mathematics, physic and chemistry (Mannan and Kahvic, 2010; Hajar, 2013; Nasser et al. 2009; Faruqi, 2006). Thus, God was central in their lives and; they were the trustees who benefited from the world and used it to understand and share their knowledge. Our body cells rely on the photons (light particles) where our hearts and minds form an electromagnetic field that interacts with one another to increase our perceptions and make sense of the world around us.
Critics state that the Quran does not consist of evidence of every organ in the body. On the other hand, it is a source of guidance where 20% (1200 verses) of this Glorious book is composed of miracles in science and medicine (Alhinai, 2015). The Quran is a guide for every matter in which humanity faces, thus, even one verse from the Quran serves a foundation for a topic itself.
The Quran is also a source of healing of physical ailments and human diseases: cancer, heart disease (Ibrahim et al., 2016). However, it acts as a complementary approach and works hand in hand with modern treatment that comes from the knowledge given by God and; this is little (Ibrahim et al. 2016). Allah (The Most High) states:
"And they ask you, [O Muhammad], about the soul. Say, "The soul is of the affair of my Lord. And mankind have not been given of knowledge except a little."
My review aims to cultivate the two grounds: Quran and medicine in understanding the importance of anatomy and physiology of the human body using scholarly views on the Tafseer of the Quran. An understanding and cultural awareness from a moral and ethical perspective can be increased (Gatrad and Sheikh, 2001; Henley and Schott, 1999). The review is sub-divided over six months: embryology and the development of human, five senses, heart, brain, intestines, bone and movement with closing remarks on the 5th of each month at 8pm in the United Kingdom.
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Abdul-Rahman, M.S. (2003) Divine Unity (Tawheed) Open Library: MSA Publication Limited
Aird, W.C. (2011) Discovery of the cardiovascular system: from Galen to William Harvey Journal of thrombosis and haemostasis 9 (1).
Akmal, M., Zulkifle, M. and Ansari, A. (2010)Ibn Nafis - A Forgotten Genius in the Discovery of Pulmonary Blood Circulation. Heart Views. 11 (1) pp. 26-30.
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Nesse, R., Bergstrom, C., Ellison, P., Flier, J., Gluckman, P., Govindaraju, D., Niethammer, D., Omenn, G., Perlman, R., Schwartz, M., Thomas, M., Stearns, S. and Valle, D., 2009. Making evolutionary biology a basic science for medicine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(suppl_1), pp.1800-1807.
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