ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES029910-ORDER (NIDHAM)Lecture given to 1st year students of the Kulliyah of Medicine on ...
Order (Nidham)
Order (Nidham)
Order (Nidham)
Order (Nidham)
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Order (Nidham)

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Order (Nidham)

  1. 1. ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES029910-ORDER (NIDHAM)Lecture given to 1st year students of the Kulliyah of Medicine on Saturday 9th October 1999 at 11.30 am1.0 CONCEPT OF ORDERA. PHYSICAL LAWSOne of the wonders of modern scientific discoveries is that complex phenomena in the universe can be explained by a few simple mathematical equations. These equations are the laws for example laws of relativity, laws of gravity, laws of motion, laws of thermo-dynamics, and laws of hemo-dynamics. These laws are simple but they accurately describe phenomena that appear to the un-initiated to be very complicated and very detailed. The laws also serve as a reminder that the empirical world is in essence simple and straight-forward running on a few basic principles and paradigms. Failure to understand this is the cause of seeing the trees and not the forest when we get lost in the details and secondary issues, furu'u The physical laws according to which the universe is ordered are what the Qur’an calls sunan Allah. The sunan are among the signs of Allah, ayat al allaah . They are found in humans, sunan al llaah fi al insan, in the universe,sunan al llaah fi al kaun, and even beyond, sunan al laah fi al afaaq. They are fixed and are characterized by stability, thabat. They therefore serve as a basis for predictability of empirical phenomena. They explain the consistency, repetition, parity, symmetry, harmony, co-ordination, and purposiveness of physical phenomena in the universe. Even apparent differences and exceptions follow some fixed laws. There are situations in which the laws may not seem to work or even contradict one another. This arises in only two situations: (a) when they is a higher law unknown to the scientist that explains all events (b) a miraculous intervention by the creator that temporarily suspends the normal laws such as when fire that normally burns was cold to Ibrahim on Allah’s order (21:68-70). However for practical purposes such miraculous intervention is for prophets and special circumstances that the Qur'an and sunnah told us about. As an example of a physical law we may cite the law of parity, zawkiyyat, that is a constant phenomenon in the universe. It is found in humans (53:45), animals (42:11), and plants (20:53). The parity of day and night (3:27) is one of Allah's signs. There is no distinction between social and physical laws. They all relate to the same reality of the universe and its contents. The Qur'an gives more space to social laws because humans transgress them more often than physical laws. Many people will easily tell a lie and violate a social law ordering human social intercourse but few would dare violate the law of gravity by jumping off a high cliff. One of the tragedies of modern civilization is the dichotomy between social and physical laws. A top cardiac surgeon whose professional work is highly ordered and organized may not appreciate the need for order in his family life or personal life. He may violate marital laws or may be addicted to alcohol and drugs. It becomes difficult to accept that the well organized surgeon in the operation theater on Friday is the same person during the weekend.  B. ORDER IN THE QUR'ANThe Qur’an describes order in Allah's creation on earth and beyond by pointing out relations among various physical phenomena all this being manifestations of Allah's signs (6:96-99). The universe is orderly, systematic, harmonious, and predictable (22:65, 23:71, 35:41). The order seen in the universe could not be a product of human whims and fancies (22:65). The order reflects Allah's will; the earth and heavens are held together and in their positions by His will (35:41). This is expected because the creator of  the universe and all what is on it is one. The orderly universe is the best logical manifestation for one sole creator (6:75-79). C. ORDER IN STRUCTUREThe human body in its gross and microscopic anatomy is a reflection of a high level of order. Every structure is adapted to its function and is functionally related to all other structures so that everything works in an orderly manner. There is parsimony of structure such that there is no useless tissue in the body. Each tissue has just the size needed to discharge its function. The parsimony is seen even at different periods of the life-cycle. Some tissues are relatively small in children, grow larger by middle age and during old age actually reduce in size because of reduced functional demand. D. ORDER IN FUNCTIONThere is organizational order in all physiological functions. This order is seen in each function as well as the perfect inter-relations among various functions. Study of the human neuro-endocrine system provides a very good insight into this. We will deal with this later in the course. Existence of orderly relationships is the basis of medical treatment. If the chemical reactions were not predictable and orderly, each instance of disease would require new research to discover the right medicine for it. E. SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH and PHYSICAL LAWSScientific research would not be possible if there was no order in the universe. There are physical laws that describe and summarize this order. The purpose of all scientific investigation is to find these laws, understand them, and use them for the benefit of humans. The periodic table of elements is a very good example of predictability of physical phenomena. The relationships among elements are so predictable that the properties of elements not yet discovered can be described accurately. 2.0 ORDER and SYSTEMS:A. STABILITYThe universe has a stable state to which it returns after temporary disturbances. This state is referred to as homeostasis in physiology. It is the steady-state situation in biological systems that must be maintained for proper function. B. NEGATIVE FEEDBACKNegative feed-back is the process that underlies the maintenance of the steady-state homeostatic situation. It is essentially a self-correcting system that ensures that a product of a certain process stops or regulates that process if it reaches a certain threshold. Negative feed-back is normal in biological systems. C. POSITIVE FEEDBACKPositive feed-back is not normal in biological systems because it will destroy the balance and homeostasis. In positive feed-back the product of a process enhances that process thus creating a never-ending loop that will result in permanent impairment of the homeostatic steady state. D. COMPENSATION IN PHYSIOLOGYThere is constant change and flux in the body. Compensatory mechanisms in normal physiology assure return to the normal resting state. The purpose of these mechanisms is to maintain order. E. DECOMPENSATION IN PATHO-PHYSIOLOGYIn patho-physiological situations, corrective mechanisms fail to restore order after disturbances and this results eventually into definitive pathological changes and disease. 3.0 ORDER and CHANGE CHANGE:A. CONSTANCY OF CHANGEChange is a constant phenomenon in the in nature. It has been said that the only constant in physical phenomena is change. The Qur'an tells us that social changes are ordered and are regulated by the laws of Allah, sunan  al llaah fi al taghyiir. (6:89, 8:53, 13:11, 47:38). The same applies, by analogy, to physical changes. B. ASTRONOMYAstronomical phenomena were the first observed constant and predictable changes in human history. Day and night follow each other in a predictable way, wuluuj al layl wa al nahar. The sun and the moon move in is fixed orbit and move according to accurate and predictable reckoning, hisaab. C. THE WEATHERClimate or weather is one of the manifestations of constant change. It consists of winds, temperature, rainfall, sunshine, and humidity. It depends on altitude, latitude, terrain, nearness to the sea, and ocean currents. The major climatic zones on earth are: polar, temperate, cold desert, hot desert, and tropical. There are seasonal and secular variations in climatic conditions. The type of climate affects social and cultural norms of a people. The Qur’an has in many verses discussed the changes in weather and climate. It mentioned clouds, rain, and winds. Further details about rain such as wind-storms, tempests, thunder, and lighting have been described. D. GROWTH and DEVELOPMENTPeriods of rapid growth in infancy and adolescence are periods of major and rapid biological change. This change is not chaotic. It follows a fixed predictable order. E. PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTIONSPhysiological reactions and processes are in a state of constant change. The change is according to a definite order and is not chaotic. 4.0 THE SEEN, shahadat & THE UNSEEN, al ghaibA. COMPLEMENTARY RELATIONSThere is no strict dichotomy between the world of the seen, ‘alam al shahadat, and the world of the unseen,aalam al ghaib. The two are just two extremes of one spectrum. The two complement one another. A human needs to know how to interact with both worlds giving each its due.  Accurate and reliable knowledge of how to interact with the two systems is from the Qur'an. Use of human ingenuity in this delicate interface could cause a lot of mistakes. Superstitious beliefs and behavior are an example of attempting to navigate the seen/unseen interface without proper guidance. B. THE SEENThe world of the seen can be perceived by the human using limited sensory apparatus. This perception is not always certain or reliable knowledge because human senses can be deceived. Even in cases in which they are not deceived, human intellect may not interpret the sensory stimuli correctly of fully. In the end perfect knowledge is from Allah only. C. THE UNSEENThe world of the unseen has two components: the absolute, ghaib mutlaq, and the relative, ghaib nisbi. The Qur’an told us that the following are ghaib mutlaq: the nature of the ruh (17:85), the time of the last day, 'ilm al saa'at (7:187-188),  and the time of human death, ajal (31:34). Examples of ghaib nisbi are: knowledge of the past, al madhi (30:2), knowledge of contemporary events, al hadhir (8:30), and knowledge of the future, al mustaqbal (30:2-4). Most phenomena in the physical universe areghaib nisbi. Humans through research or just waiting for long enough can get to know things that were unknown before. Humans can roll back the frontiers of ghaib nisbi by intellectual processing. For example the development of artificial intelligence can enable humans discover relations hitherto unknown when the unaided human senses and intellect are used. Knowledge of ghaib is with Allah (6:73). Only He knows ghaib mutlaq (6:50). Humans, even prophets, do not know ghaib (7:188) unless so permitted by Allah. Neither do the  jinn d know ghaib (34:14) without Allah's permission. The Qur'an and sunnah provide humans with sufficient knowledge of the ghaib mutlaq for them to conduct their affairs. They can not seek to know more by any other means. Allah has given humans the potential to research and know some aspects of ghaib nisbi. D. BELIEF IN THE UNSEENIt is one of the distinguishing characteristics of  believers that they believe in ghaib (2:3). This is not blind faith. It is based on the knowledge that revelation is a source of knowledge about the unseen and that the human can accept it without the need to try to empirically prove the facts for himself. This should not be difficult for the scientist to understand. We know that atoms and sub-atomical particles exist and we can describe their properties as well as manipulate them but we need not have seen them with our own eyes. E. SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHHumans through scientific research or use of instruments that extend the reach of human senses can see elements ofghaib nisbi that would otherwise be unreachable. A normal human can for example not be able to see another human 10 kilometers away using naked eyes and as far as he is concerned this is ghaib known only by Allah. However using a powerful telescope he can see 10 kilometers away and the issue is taken out of th realm of ghaib. 5.0 BALANCE and EQUILIBRIUMA. EQUILIBRIUM, i'itidaalEquilibrium is a delicate balance between potentially opposing or contradictory tendencies. It need not be the half-way mark between two extremes. The ideal equilibrium is what assures the optimum in function and benefit while minimizing harm and damage. A. CENTRAL TENDENCY, wasatiyyahThe concept of wasatiyyat is very important in all phenomena in the universe. Extremes of anything are usually destructive and are not desired; the best is the equilibrium of the middle path. The Qur’anic concept of wasatiyyat, mafhuum al wasayiyyat  is used to refer to the average, the middle ranks, or the normal expectation (2:143, 5:89, 68:28). C. ACTION/REACTION, tadafu'uOne of the constant laws of the universe is that for every action there is a reaction. This is necessary to restore and maintain order. For example rise of body temperature leads to peripheral vaso-dilation and loss of heat to the outside environment. Tadafu'u as a tool of maintaining order. D. OBJECTIVITY, istiqamatBeing objective allows humans to maintain order. If personal whims and fancies were followed there would be a lotof anarchy and chaos. E. CONSTANCY, thabaatMinimizing changes and maintaining constancy is desirable in some physical phenomena in order to maintain order. Allah in His mercy also allows changes because rigid constancy would not allow response and adjustment to changing circumstances. DISCUSSIONHow do humans learn the physical laws?How do physical laws differ from social laws?Define steady state and give examplesWhat does the concept of homeostasis in biological systems mean?Define negative feed-back and give examplesDefine positive feed-back and give examplesWhat do you understand by the interface between the seen and unseenExplain in your own words what you understand by the concept of constancy, thabatExplain why the occurrence of changes does not nullify the concept of constancyGive reasons from empirical observations for the assertion: 'an orderly universe is evidence of a sole creator'Explain why the universe is said  to be evidence of tauhid al rububiyatDo the jinns know the unseen, ghaib? Give reasons to support your argumentDo some humans know the unseen? Give evidence for your answerWhat is the difference between ghaib mutlaq and ghaib nisbiExplain the concept of wasatiyah in relation to order in the universe YOUR NOTES and OBSERVATIONS:<br />© Professor Omar Hasan Kasule October 1999<br />

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