Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hijab now the cause for vitamin D deficiency?

By Faraz Omar
If “oppression” didn’t work, it’s a “health hazard.” Yes, the old talk about how Hijab can cause vitamin D deficiency in women has resurfaced. As science gets political, “facts” are derived from preformed conclusions. The “truth” that researchers arrive at nowadays depends on who is funding the research.
So time and again Muslim women in the West have been told that their wearing of Hijab is causing vitamin D deficiency, as “proven” by research, which was no more than a study revealing such a deficiency in Asian or Arab women. Studies however have also shown something else: 54% of black and 42% of white childbearing women in the Northern US were found with insufficient vitamin D levels.
Unless it is believed that such a large percentage of North Americans are good Hijabis who cover themselves up completely, the accusation falls flat.
Dr. Abdul Majid Katme of the Islamic Medical Association in Britain said, “This is a common fallacy among the people of the West. It is a medical fact that diet is the main cause of vitamin D deficiency among some Asians, and not lack of exposure to the sun. We Muslims who live in the East and Asia are exposed to the sun all the time and our houses, yards and private gardens are full of sunshine.” (Q-News, 1995)
Vitamin D is important and Allah has so perfectly made our body that it produces the vitamin automatically when exposed to sufficient sunlight. Normally one would receive enough exposure even while staying at home by just standing by the window or in the balcony – with or without Hijab. In fact, Hijab has nothing to do with it because exposure to sun doesn’t mean every part of the body must be exposed.
Mona Salama, an Egyptian nutritionist and pediatrician, was asked in an online Q&A session on (2007) on the issue of Hijab and sunlight. She replied:
“Alhamdulliah (that we are) Muslimat (Muslim women) and that we wear Hijab. Besides protecting us from bad looks and immodest people, Hijab also protects our skin from the damages of ultraviolet rays. Overexposure to sunlight causes more than 90 percent of all premature aging (sagging, bagging, wrinkling, scaly skin) and 90 percent of all skin cancers. “Ultraviolet rays cause skin damage and weaken the skin structure by diminishing production of elastin and collagen, the two important substances that keep skin firm, youthful and wrinkle-free.
“There are three main types of UV rays (UVA, UVB and UVC). The truth is we need the sun’s UVB rays as it triggers our supply of vitamin D which in turn regulates Calcium. This gives us stronger bones and disease protection. But it only takes 10 minutes of sun exposure to manufacture a month’s worth of vitamin D, and the Hijab can by no means block this benefit. It’s easy to get the necessary amount simply by taking a short walk at lunchtime with your Hijab or simply stand in the balcony, also with your Hijab, for 10 minutes.”
For Muslims, the natural scientific benefits that come with following our Creator’s laws is not the reason for following Islam. We follow Allah’s laws in full obedience and submission to our Creator – out of our will and love. Allah praised the believers who say: “We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your Forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all).” (Qur’an, 2:285)
He also instructs us: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error.” (Qur’an, 33:36)
Whether we come to know of the benefit of a particular injunction or not, we submit to the divine laws because of our firm belief in the truthfulness of Qur’an as the Word of God and Islam as the Religion of God. This belief is not blind, but based on solid evidences and indisputable facts that are more than sufficient for mankind to believe in His message. – SG

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sea slug surprise: It’s half-plant, half-animal

Scientists aren't yet sure how animals actually appropriate genes they need

This green slug, which is part animal and part plant, produces its own chlorophyll and so can carry out photosynthesis, turning sunlight into energy, scientists have found.

By Clara Moskowitz
updated 2:50 p.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 12, 2010
A green sea slug appears to be part animal, part plant. It's the first critter discovered to produce the plant pigment chlorophyll.
The sneaky slugs seem to have stolen the genes that enable this skill from algae that they've eaten. With their contraband genes, the slugs can carry out photosynthesis — the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
"They can make their energy-containing molecules without having to eat anything," said Sidney Pierce, a biologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Pierce has been studying the unique creatures, officially called Elysia chlorotica, for about 20 years. He presented his most recent findings Jan. 7 at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology in Seattle. The finding was first reported by Science News.

"This is the first time that multicellar animals have been able to produce chlorophyll," Pierce told LiveScience.

The sea slugs live in salt marshes in New England and Canada. In addition to burglarizing the genes needed to make the green pigment chlorophyll, the slugs also steal tiny cell parts called chloroplasts, which they use to conduct photosynthesis. The chloroplasts use the chlorophyl to convert sunlight into energy, just as plants do, eliminating the need to eat food to gain energy.


Rarely seen creatures
Feast your eyes on these extraordinary creatures from under the sea and on land.
"We collect them and we keep them in aquaria for months," Pierce said. "As long as we shine a light on them for 12 hours a day, they can survive [without food]."

The researchers used a radioactive tracer to be sure that the slugs are actually producing the chlorophyll themselves, as opposed to just stealing the ready-made pigment from algae. In fact, the slugs incorporate the genetic material so well, they pass it on to further generations of slugs.

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The babies of thieving slugs retain the ability to produce their own chlorophyll, though they can't carry out photosynthesis until they've eaten enough algae to steal the necessary chloroplasts, which they can't yet produce on their own.

The slugs accomplishment is quite a feat, and scientists aren't yet sure how the animals actually appropriate the genes they need.

"It certainly is possible that DNA from one species can get into another species, as these slugs have clearly shown," Pierce said. "But the mechanisms are still unknown."
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