Scientific and Spiritual Attributes of the Heart – Some New Research
Prof. Dr. Ibrahim B Syed
Scientists have discovered that the heart thinks, learns wisdom, and contains neurological canters that save data. The heart contains 40,000 nerve cells that form a “real brain”!! Qur’an revealed this fact more than 1400 years ago.
In Surah Hajj (Pilgrimage) 22: 46, Allah says:
The English translation is:
Do they not travel through the land, so that their hearts (can think/can reason/can learn wisdom/can understand or comprehend) and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind, but their Hearts which are in their breasts.
In many places in the Quran, one comes across “A-Falaa T’a’aqiloon”. or “Don’t you understand?”
In this Ayah we need to focus on the words “Qulbun Ya’aqiloon”. The vast majority of the Muslim scholars have translated it as “Hearts understand”. Although Ya’aqiloon has several meanings: that is the Heart can Think, Heart can Reason, Heart can learn wisdom, Heart can understand or comprehend, the Muslims scholars until today translated it as Hearts understand.
The Heart: Not Just Brawn but Brains, Too
About 100,000 times a day the heart repeats this monotonous task of survival. But what many think is a mindless pump turns out to have a mind of its own. According to the Institute of HeartMath—a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to helping people live healthier, happier lives—there are networks of nerve cells (neurons) around the heart that function in much the same way as parts of the brain.
Back in the 1960s, research conducted by John and Beatrice Lacey—pioneers in the field of psychophysiology—showed that the heart has its own reasoning that is not determined by directives from the brain. Subsequent investigations revealed an actual pathway and mechanism allowing the heart to send messages that inhibit or facilitate electrical activity in the brain. The new field of neurocardiology evolving from this research led to the development of the concept of the “heart brain” in 1991.
The “heart brain” is equipped with some 40,000 neurons(Brain Cells). These neurons can deliver pain signals and other sensations to the autonomic parts of the brain (which are largely unconscious), as well as messages to brain centers involved in conscious thought and emotion. Contact with the “executive” part of the brain can influence perception, decision making, and emotional responses. (http://www.rewireme.com/explorations/your-heart-and-stomach-may-be-smarter-than-you-think/)
One vital organ: Heart is more than a pump
Emerging field of neurocardiology shows it may affect how we experience emotions and make decisions.
The phrases are familiar: Listen to your heart. Have a heart. Or perhaps one that will be used Monday for Valentine’s Day: I love you with all my heart.
Until recently, the brain was considered the sole conductor of the body’s symphony. But studies in the new field of neurocardiology are showing what people have intuitively believed, that the heart may play a significant role in the way we experience emotions and make decisions. The acknowledgement of the constant communication between the heart and the brain is giving birth to new inter-disciplinary fields and proving invaluable in the treatment of neurological and cardiac diseases.
“The heart has many functions that we are probably not aware of. We are finding new attributes of the heart. New roles for the heart.”
Neurocardiology has just gained strength in the past 10 years and is still not practiced as a clinical specialty. There are only a handful of neurocardiologists in the United States. The collaboration between cardiologists and neurologists is becoming more prevalent.
Dr. David S. Goldstein, founder and director of the clinical neurocardiology section of the National Institutes of Health, found remarkable relationships between the heart and the brain in his study of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. Surprisingly, he says, Parkinson’s patients lose nerves in the heart.
The heart possesses its own nervous system, with a network of 40,000 neurons. It releases hormones that enable it to not only self-regulate but also to send messages to the brain that may have an effect on the whole body. Scientists have known about the heart’s neurological connections since the beginning of the last century, but that information has come back to the forefront recently, as more physicians delve into the study of heart-brain interactions to solve medical enigmas.
The heart gets signals from your brain, other hormones that are secreted by your brain — but it also has its own operating system inside the heart itself.
Understanding the heart’s functions might prove instrumental in treating stroke patients, and depression. The heart produces myriad hormones, including oxytocin, the so-called love hormone. Through the autonomic nervous system, the heart constantly communicates with areas in the brain associated with emotions, such as the thalamus, the hypothalamus and amygdala, which all respond to emotional input from the heart.
Guidance from the Qur’an
We read in Surah Al e Imran, 3:190
“In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, there are signs for people with intelligence”[Quran 3:190]
Ever since the dawn of mankind, people have been trying to understand nature and the place of humans in it. In order to understand the purpose of life many people have turned to religion. Most religions are based on books claimed by their followers to be divinely inspired, without any proof. Islam is different because it is based upon reason and proof.
Many Muslims cannot prove that the book of Islam, the Quran, is the word of God. Muslims must show reasons and evidence to support this claim:
There are scientific and historical facts found in the Quran which were unknown to the people at the time when the Quran was revealed in the 7th Century. However, they have only been discovered recently.
The Quran was revealed in a unique style of Arabic language that cannot be replicated, this is known as the ‘Inimitability of the Quran.’
There are predictions found in the Quran and as well as by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which have come to pass.
This article lays out and explains the scientific facts that are found in the Quran, centuries before they were discovered. It is important to note that the Quran is not a book of science, but a book of ‘Ayath” or ‘signs’. These signs are there for people to recognize Allah’s existence and revelation. In Science it happens sometimes that certain what is considered as scientifically correct concepts have to be modified or corrected as new knowledge is accumulated a few years later.
In this verse (3: 190), the last words are Ulul Albab. This term Ulul Albab occurs in the Quran 61 times. This term is not found in any Arabic or non-Arabic Book. The reward for Ulul Albab is Jannah. The term Ulul Albab has several meanings:
- Ulul Albab are persons who use their brain to think about the creation in the Universe of Allah.
- Persons endowed with insight and understanding.
- Persons who can do good assessment
- Persons who are mature thinking and capable of making Right Judgement (Wise)
- Those who are intelligent and have sound mind to contemplate about true reality of things, unlike deaf and mute who do not have sound contemplation.
- Critical Thinkers
- People of understanding who utilize their intellect to find out the path of real happiness
In their lives.
We also read in the Qur’an “Wa Maa Yaddhakkaru Illa Ulul Albaab” ( Baqarah, 2: 269) and (3: 7)
“Only intelligent and smart people will draw the right and appropriate lessons from the Qur’an.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: Aayah is 269.)
Albaab, in Arabic language, is plural for the word “Lubb,” which could be roughly rendered in English as “Brain Power.”
So, the clear-cut and inescapable meaning of that part of the Aayat (or Aayah) then is: Only those people will learn the right lessons from the Qur’an who possess “brains” in the first place and are trained and able to use them.
Meaning, people of knowledge, learning and understanding.
The basic root word in Arabic language for understanding (Ya’aqiloon) is “‘Aql.” The amazing Al-Qur’an uses that glorious and earth-shaking expression – “‘Aql” – in its pages more frequently than one can imagine. The Qur’an uses words such as Ta’aqiloon (“you understand”) and Ya’aqiloon (“they understand”) and the Qur’an makes use of those expressions several times.
Summarily, the heart is a thinking organ. The Qur’an wants the Muslims to be Thinking People.