Life Lessons Learned from my Biochemistry Professor

Most of you know that I am a science “geek” or “scientist” (I don’t like to take that label because I’m not there … yet) but I’m also a Muslim. And being a biochemistry student makes me a better Muslim. How? I would go into more detail but I want to share a short story with you.
I had a meeting today with my professor to discuss the research I’ll be working on this year. He mentioned something to me that got me to thinking–we don’t look at humanity as one living organism. We look at divisions, we look at separation, we use mechanisms to make us all “unique”. But there was something in that statement that resounded in me as a Muslim. We are all responsible for our actions, our actions carry such tremendous weight in Islam, simply the fact that you prayed or fasted or paid Zakat (charity) matters. Your intention also matters, but really our actions matter. Typically we hear that hadith (paraphrased) that you have the right to oppress yourself but you in no way have the right to oppress or wrong another. So now you ask me what does that have to do with what my professor said…
Think about it. If we thought of humanity as one large organism, we could understand the fact that we are all interconnected and the action of one individual may not cause a problem (as one minor mutation in the body in one cell of one protein). However if that spawns the production of several other cells (through mitosis..of course) with that specific mutation, we may end up with a problem. Typically one mutation can actually be balanced out with another mutation that counteracts it and that’s just a whole bunch of science that I won’t bore you with…
Let’s look at another situation, what if the brain malfunctions and sends out a minor misfire? A muscle might jerk but it might be such a small jerk that you wouldn’t even notice it. But imagine that there are several misfires and it just adds up and guess what happens? You get a seizure.
So what does that mean to us as humans? If we don’t realize that we have to look at humanity as one single organism and that in order for the organism to function properly you need to have a cohesive, streamlined system that functions properly and works together to allow the organism to survive. As a Muslim I recognize this and learned from it because it carries so much weight for me in that if I want to do ANYTHING (literally) I need to rethink the implication of my actions to weigh out the effects and be cautious of that which I do, especially if it has to do with others. Because not only will I disturb the functionality of the organism (humanity), even if it is minor, but I will be hurting another in which I have no right to do and I *will* be held accountable for in front of God.
It’s time we start looking at humanity as an organism rather than individual people, or groups of people.


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