The Book of Life
Fruits of Labour
8th Century Dentist : Albucasis
Helping Others is a Part of Faith
Lucknow Boys Win Laurels
"Moral of the Story Contest"
Words from Quran
The Book of Life
With the map of the human genome in hand, man waits for victory against diseases
Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz *
On June 26, we had this stunning piece of news : “The human genome has been mapped.”
While most of us could not understand the significance of the event, for those who did, the feeling was that there could not have been a better way to welcome the new millennium. The mapping of the entire one lakh genes on the 23 chromosomes of a cell has now opened doors for a vast array of new possibilities. It is expected that now medicine would be available for various hereditary diseases such as diabetes, asthma, cancer etc.,. These disorders were so far incurable. Their presence would be detected before a child is born and would be cured in the womb itself. In fact, this research has already begun and tens of thousands of genes have been identified, including those responsible for kidney diseases, breast cancer, strokes, diabetes, deafness and skeletal disorders. Besides, there could be tailor-made drugs for each individual depending on one’s specific genetic make up. Scientists even have plans to introduce genes or alter them for certain desirable characters or behaviour. List is endless.
Every living being is made up of tiny units called cells. Each cell has the capacity to develop into a complete individual i.e. a cell from a carrot can grow into a complete carrot plant. It means that each cell has complete information about the organism. This remains hidden or coded in the chemical compound called DNA (Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid). It is a delicate double helix structure which is “packed” inside thread-like “chromosomes” present within the nucleus. This DNA molecule comprising certain enzymes is often called a wonder molecule because it is the only molecule which is capable of replicating itself, like a living thing A certain portion of DNA molecule which has codes for a particular enzyme is called a “gene” and there could be a few hundreds to several thousand genes on one chromosome.
In early 60s, a new scientific discipline of “Molecular Genetics” was born and scientists started making attempts to “de-code” the codes of genes. Encouraged by the initial successes they got with lower organisms, they began to de-code the entire human genetic code or “genome” and thus the Human Genome Project or HGP was started in mid 90s to de-code around 3.2 billion codes distributed through 100,000 human genes located on 23 pairs of chromosomes. It was an international project and had scientists from 18 different countries including the USA and Britain working on it. It was to be completed in 2003. But helped by the advancement in computers, they completed it three years before the due date.
One thing is certain, Genetics will altogether be a new discipline now onwards, so would be the medicine, genetic engineering and gene-related technologies. Hereditary diseases, which are no less than 5,000 in number, have a sure chance of eradication. But so are the fears and apprehensions.
Concerned people are worried about the possible misuse of a technology which is equal in importance to the splitting of atom and has the same deadly potential.
* The author teaches Botany at Zakir Hussain College, Delhi and Edits the Urdu Science monthly.
There once lived a rich businessman who had a lazy and fun- loving son. The businessman wanted his son to be hard-working and responsible. He wanted him to realise the value of labour. One day he summoned his son and said: “Today, I want you to go out and earn something, failing which you won’t have your meals tonight.”
The boy was callous and not used to any kind of work. This demand by his father scared him and he went crying straight to his mother. Her heart melted at the sight of tears in her son’s eyes. She grew restless. In a bid to help him she gave him a gold coin. In the evening when the father asked his son what he had earned, the son promptly presented him the gold coin. The father then asked him to throw it into a well. The son did as he was told.
The father was a man of wisdom and experience and guessed that the source of the coin was the boy’s mother. The next day he sent his wife to her parent’s town and asked his son to go and earn something with the threat of being denied the night meals if he failed. This time he went crying to his sister who sympathised with him and gave him a rupee out of her own savings. When his father asked him what he had earned the boy tossed the coin at him. The father again asked him to throw it in a well. The son did it quite readily. Again the father’s wisdom told him that the coin was not earned by his son. He then sent his daughter to her in-laws’ house. He again asked his son to go out and earn with the threat that he shall not have anything for dinner that night.
This time since there was no one to help him out, the son was forced to go to the market in search of work. One of the shopkeepers there told him that he would pay him two rupees if he carried his trunk to his house. The rich man’s son could not refuse and was drenched in sweat by the time he finished the job. His feet were trembling and his neck and back were aching. There were rashes on his back. As he returned home and produced the two rupee note before his father and was asked to throw it into the well, the horrified son almost cried out. He could not imagine throwing his hard-earned money like this. He said amid sobbing: “Baba! My entire body is aching. My back has rashes and you are asking me to throw the money into the well.”
At this the old man smiled. He told him that one feels the pain only when the fruits of hard labour are wasted. On earlier two occasions he was helped by his mother and sister and therefore had no pain in throwing the coins into the well. The son had now realised the value of hard work. He vowed never to be lazy and safekeep the father’s wealth. The father handed over the keys of his shop to the son and promised to guide him through the rest of the life.
Arab dentist Abul Qassim developed a series of tools for dentists
Niyaz Ahmed Khan
The dental sciences today owe a lot of debt to famous Arab dentist of the 8th century Abul Qassim. This dental surgeon was born at Cordoba during the Islamic Caliphate in 836 AD. His contribution was mainly in the field of periodontology, a branch which deals with root tissues of teeth. He described in detail the method of sealing (scraping) the teeth. He developed a large number of sophisticated instruments for the purpose.
Abul Qassim known as Albucasis in the Western medical books, also wrote on removal (extraction) of teeth, splinting of teeth with goldwire. He developed methods by which teeth of lower jaw were made to fit with the teeth of the upper jaw when the two jaws are closed. His books on these topics were translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona in the 12th century. These book greatly impressed surgeons like Gugleimlo Salicati (1201-1277), Guy de Chauliac (1300-1368) and Fabricius of Aquapendente (1537-1619).
Abul Qassim described the method of removing deposits from the teeth: “Occasionally there is deposited in the inner and outer surfaces of the teeth or between the gums, large and rough, ugly concretions. The teeth turn black, yellow or green colour following which the gums are altered and the teeth look ugly.
He devised a series of instruments for use in scaling the inner and outer surface of the teeth.
Narrated Abu Huraira : The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “Faith consists of more than sixty parts. And Haya (It covers a large number of concepts which are to be taken together; amongst them are self-respect, modesty, bashfulness, and being principled etc.) is a part of faith.” Sahih Bukhari.
As it is put in a hadith, “By God, he is not a Muslim who eats his full, while his neighbour goes hungry.”
This shows that Muslim is one who is as concerned with others’ hunger and thirst as he is with his own; who is concerned not only with his own person but with whole of the humanity.
According to another hadith, you should “extend greetings to people, feed them and earn your place in heaven.”
This shows that according to Islam that person is worthy of heaven who is eager to share with everyone whatever he has, be it goods, clothes or medicine. In short one should share in people’s pain and suffering. Islam is a religion of humanity, Islam considers serving others as a great act of worship. According to the teachings of Islam, it is only in serving people that we shall have a share in God’s mercy.
Lucknow (From Obaid Nasir): Yousuf Fauzan of City Montessori School in Lucknow has done India proud by winning the gold medal in Aqua Robotics at the Millennium Bean Robotic Games held in Canada on June 9-11.
Fauzan and his classmates Vaibhav, Diwakar, Devvrat, Pankaj and Chetan took part in the event where students from the USA, Germany and several developing countries were also participating. Fauzan was also among the five students selected by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) who won the first prize in astronomy at Quanta ’99 held in Russia last year. The Government of India awarded him Bal Vaigyanik (Child Scientist) Award on Feb 28. Earlier Tahsin Ameen of the same school had won three international Robotics awards in 1993. The boys won the award sheer by hardwork and inspiring guidance from science teacher A. S. Bedi and Principal Sadhana Chooramani.
This four-stage picture tells an interesting tale of two donkeys.
All you need to do is to write the moral of the story in not more than 10 words.
Best answer will be awarded Rs. 500. Three other entries liked by the Editorial Board will each be sent Rs. 100.
Send the entries on photocopies of the portion of Islamic Voice. Cut the coupon (placed above this column) and paste it on the photocopy. Do not forget to write your name and full address. The entries should reach us by August 25, 2000. Wishing you good luck !
Battikhatayn bi yad wahida ma biyithamlu
Two water melons cannot be carried in one hand
Don’t attempt the impossible
Courtesy : Primrose Arnander & Ashkhain Skipwith, Stacey International, London.
The name of Snake man from Bangalore featured in Islamic Voice July 2000 issue should
be read as Muhammad Anees and not as given.
Error is regretted.
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