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My dear muslims

A team at Newcastle University announced few days ago that it had successfully generated “admixed embryos” by adding human DNA to empty cow eggs in the first experiment of its kind in Britain. With that, embryos containing human and animal material have been created in Britain for the first time, a month before the House of Commons votes on new laws to regulate the research. Admixed embryos are widely supported by scientists and patient groups as they provide an opportunity to produce powerful stem-cell models for investigating diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes, and for developing new drugs. Their creation, however, has been opposed by some religious groups, particularly the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, described the work last month as “experiments of Frankenstein proportion”. The reason is clear, one of the outcome from this experiment is it made by placing the nucleus from a human cell into an animal egg that has had its nucleus removed. The genetic material in the resulting embryos is 99.9 per cent human. The phenomenon is actually not a new one, as few attempts of human trying to humanising other new human started before. The idea of cloning had enticed scientists since 1938. When no one knew what genetic material was or consisted of, the first modern embryologist, Dr. Hans Spemann of Germany proposed what he called a "fantastical experiment" : taking the nucleus out of an egg cell and replacing it with a nucleus from another cell. In short, he suggested that scientists try to clone. In 1952, frogs were used for the test. The size of the eggs in the frogs are enormous compared with those of mammals, making them far easier to manipulate. Robert Briggs and T.J. King used a pipette to suck the nucleus from the cell of an advanced frog embryo and added it to a frog egg. It did not develop. The quest continues in 1970 where another experiment yields better results. John Gurdon successfully cloned the frogs. Even though the frogs never reached adulthood , the eggs developed into tadpoles but died after they were ready to begin feeding, the technique was a landmark. He replaced the nucleus of a frog egg, one large cell, with that of another cell from another frog. He later showed that transplanted nuclei reverted to an embryonic state. 1981, Dr.Karl Illmense of the University of Geneva and Dr. Peter Hoppe of the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, claimed that they had transplanted the nuclei of mouse embryo cells into mouse eggs and produced three live mice that were clones of the embryos. 1984, Steen Willadsen reported that he cloned a live lamb from immature sheep embryo cells. Others later reproduced his experiment using a variety of animals, including cattle, pigs, goats, rabbits, and rhesus monkeys. In 1994, Dr. Neal First of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who has been Dr.Ian Wilmut's most constant competitor, cloned calves from embryos that have grown to at least 120 cells. In 1996, Dr. Ian Wilmut of Roslin Institute, Roslin, Midlothian in Scotland, United Kingdom repeated Dr. Neal First's experiment with sheep, however he put embryo cells into a resting state before transferring their nuclei to sheep eggs. The eggs developed into normal embryos and then into lambs. On February 22, 1997, Dr. Ian Wilmut, the 52-year old embryologist astonished the world by announcing that he had created the first animal cloned from an adult-a lamb named Dolly. By scrapping a few cells from the udder of a 6-year-old ewe, then fusing them into a specially altered egg cell from another sheep. The process has been banned few years after that, by statement in 1997, that human cloning would have to raise deep concerns, given most cherished concepts of faith and humanity. Each human life is unique, born of a miracle that reaches beyond laboratory science.

A clone is like a photocopy of the original or an identical twin that is much younger in age. If an identical twin has a soul, then a human clone will also have a soul. A clone cannot be grown in a laboratory but in a surrogate mother's womb. The surrogate mother provides all the nutrients for the cloned cell to grow to become an embryo, a fetus and then after delivery a human child, just like the lamb Dolly. The only difference between a normal child and a clone child is in the genes. The normal child has 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 chromosomes from the father or 23 pairs in every cell of the body except the germ cells or gametes (sperm or ova). The clone child will have 23 pairs of chromosomes of one parent.
The fifth point in Muslim creed is to believe in life after death; to believe in the Day of Resurrection. This is the most important article of faith in Islam. It is in fact, the basis upon which Islam builds its whole philosophy of Life. A person cannot be a Muslim until after he/she accepts this principle. The advent of resurrection is more frequently mentioned in the Noble Quran than any other happening. On the day of hereafter, all human beings will be resurrected and will have to pass through God's judgement on their actions during this ephemeral life on earth. All this is vividly described in the Noble Quran. The word, Qiyaamah, occurs 68 times in the Quran. The Quran argues resurrection is rationally possible. If they really have doubts in their minds about the life after death, they have only to turn their attention either to their own nature, or to the nature around. How wonderful is their own physical growth, from lifeless matter, to seed, fertilized ovum, foetus, chid, youth, age, and death! How can they doubt that the Author of all these wonderful stages in their life here can also give them another kind of life after the end of this life? Or, if they look at external nature, they see the earth dead and barren and Allah's fertilizing showers bring it in to life, growth and beauty in various forms. The Creator of this great pageant of Beauty can surely create yet another and a newer world. The stages of man's physical growth from nothing till he completes the cycle of this life are described in words whose accuracy, beauty, and comprehensiveness can only be fully understood by biologists. Parallel to the physical growth, may be understood man's inner growth, also by stages and by Allah's creative artistry. The Noble Prophet has said the following in one of his moving sermons thus:I swear by Allah that all of you will certainly die, just as you go to sleep at night. Then surely you will all be raised again as you wake up in the morning. Then you will definitely be judged for the deeds you had been doing. You will get rewards for good deeds and punishment for the evil ones; it will either be the everlasting life of Paradise or the endless torment of Hell-fire. The Quran invites man to contemplate the whole vast structure of creation together with the innumerable phenomena and extract it contains, using his wisdom and intelligence which are his means for recognizing the principles underlying the universe. Thus cloning enables man to realize that the restoration of life to man through resurrection is not more difficult than the initial creation out of a mass of different materials that were compounded together. The Noble Quran reminds man of Allah's unlimited power to restore all the minute qualities and precise details of man's limbs with the following words in surah al Qiyaamah verse 3 and 4, "Does man imagine that We are not capable of reassembling his decayed bones? We are able even to restore his fingers to their previous state." In this verse Allah selects to mention out of all the marvels of man's composition the lines in his fingers as an example of His power. In the whole world, two people cannot be found with exactly identical fingerprints. This unique quality of fingerprints, first indicated in the Quran remained unknown until their discovery by British scientists in 1884. Hence the cloning of humans has to be addressed through Ijtihad. As long as cloning of humans does not violate the commands of Allah and as long as cloning of humans is for the benefit of mankind, the Muslims should welcome this technology. This scientific accomplishment is in itself an indication of the reality of resurrection; it provides a method, which joined together with reflection, may permit us to understand Qiyamah (resurrection) and prove it scientifically. Islam does not prohibit research and research related to human cloning does not interfere with God's power of creating living and non-living things out of nothing. Human cloning is a methodology to understand human creation in some more depth. However, Islam proscribes misuse of cloning research that destroys human dignity.

Barakallahu li walakum

Mohd Erfino Johari

Posted by Mohd Erfino Johari at Friday, April 04, 2008


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