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NOVEMBER 2000

MONTHLY    *    Vol 14-11 No:167    *   NOVEMBER 2000 / SHABAN 1421H
  email: editor@islamicvoice.com

MUSLIMS AND SCIENCE


Fight against Myths and Disease
Moon sighting for Ramadan

Measles and Smallpox

Fight against Myths and Disease

Al-Razi was the first ever physician to investigate the cause of smallpox. His book helped Edward Jenner to discover the vaccination.

SMALLPOX is considered one of the dangerous diseases in the world. It is a highly contagious disease, characterised by fever and the appearance of small spots leaving scars in the form of pits. The symptoms include chill, headache, and backache. The spots appear about the fourth day. This is a fatal disease. Even if one survives the attack, the skin in scarred permanently. According to present records, this disease was identified in Egypt in 1122 B.C. and is also mentioned in ancient Indian books written in Sanskrit. In the past, this disease gripped many countries in the form of dangerous epidemics. Thousands of people fell prey to it. As far back as 1156 B.C. this disease was taking its toll of human life, there being visible evidence in the pock marked face of the mummy of the Egyptian Pharaoh, Ramses V, who died in that year. (His embalmed body was found inside a pyramid). Even then, it took thousands of years for this dreaded disease to be investigated scientifically. Now we know that smallpox is a contagious disease resulting from virus infection, and such remedies have been discovered as can ward off attacks, provided suitable precaution are taken in advance. But it was not until the end of the ninth century, subsequent to the emergence of Islam, that this medical fact was unearthed for the first time. 

Prior to scientific study by the Muslims, smallpox was attributed to wrath of deities and patients were left to die

The first name which became prominent in history in this connection was that of the well-known Arab physician, Al-Razi (865-925), who was born in Ray in Iran. In search of a remedy for the disease, he investigated it from the purely medical standpoint and wrote the first book on the subject, called, Al-Judri wa al-Hasba. This was translated into Latin, in 1565 in Venice and later into Greek and thus spread all over Europe. Its English translation, published in London in 1848, was entitled, A Treatise on Smallpox and Measles. Researchers have accepted that this is the first medical book on smallpox in the whole of recorded history. Prior to this, no one had ever done research on this topic.

After reading Al-Razis book, Edward Jenner (1749-1823), the English physician who became the inventor of vaccination, was led to making a clinical investigation of the disease. He established the connection between cowpox and smallpox. In 1796, he carried out his first practical experiment in inoculation. This was a success, and the practice spread rapidly, in spite of violent opposition from certain quarters, until, in 1977, it was announced by the UN that for the first time in history, smallpox had been eradicated.

Now the question arises as to why such a long time had elapsed between the initial discovery of the disease and the first attempts to investigate it medically with a view to finding a remedy. The reason was the prevalence of shirk, that is, the holding of something to be sacred when it is not, or the attribution of divinity to the non-divine. Dr. David Werner writes: In most places in India, people believe that these diseases are caused because the goddess is angry with their family or their community. The goddess expresses her anger through these diseases. The people believe that the only hope of a cure for these diseases is to make offerings to please her. They do not feed the sick child or care for him because they fear this will annoy the goddess more. So the sick child becomes very weak and either dies or takes a long time to get cured. It is essential that the child be given plenty of food to keep up his strength so that he can fight the infection.

Islam banished such superstitions about disease announcing in no uncertain terms that none except God had the power to harm or benefit mankind. The Creator was the one and only being who had such power. All the rest were His creatures and His slaves.

When, after the advent of Islam, such ideas gained ground, people began to think freely and independently of all superstitions. Only then did it become possible to conduct medical research into diseases in order to discover appropriate remedies.

Only after this intellectual revolution had come to the world did it become possible to make smallpox the subject of inquiry. Only then did it become possible for such people as Abu Bakr Razi and Edward Jenner to rise and save the world from this dreaded disease by discovering a remedy for it.

The real barrier to finding a cure was the generally accepted body of superstitious beliefs based on idol worship; these beliefs were swept away for the first time in history by Islam. (majordomo@muslimsonline.com) 

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Moon sighting for Ramadan

THE amavas or the new moon for this month occurs ar 4.41 am on Sunday the 26th November. There are no chance of the ruyath hilal. The same evening in India as the age of moon is 13 hours only and the MSL just 27 mnts. But for the West ruyath hilal occurs inshaAllah 100% the same day evening in Colombia, South America- see the map and the ILDL on November 26th. Consequently ruyath hilal occurs 100% all over the world on Monday the November 27th heralding the first day of Ramadanul Mubarak from Tuesday the November 28th. The Indian Astronomical Ephemeris confirms this fact.

Dr. Syed Abdul Zaheer M.S., Islamic Astronomist, Tel: 080- 6647960.

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