International Journal of Cardiology, a medical science journal by prestigious Elsevier group is in a process of publishing a very controversial paper entitled, “The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth  (doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2009.05.011). This is probably the first time a scientific journal is going to attribute ‘holy’ religious text in it ignoring all the standard procedure of scientific enquiry. I sent a strong letter to the journal editor and informed the other fellow scientists known to me. My letter has been published in Talk Reason, a well-known site for rationalists and scientists. My letter can be seen here. Here is the summary of the letter for Mukto-Mona readers:

Letter to the International Journal of Cardiology
By Avijit Roy

 

The Editor of International Journal of Cardiology,

Sir,

I am an engineer by profession (having a PhD in biomedical engineering) and maintain a Bengali freethinker’s site named mukto-mona. I am also the author of several Bengali best -selling books on science and philosophy. I recently came across a very controversial paper named, The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth (authored by Marios Loukas, Yousuf Saad, R. Shane Tubbs and Mohamadali M. Shojawhich) claimed to be peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of your journal.

I am disappointed to see a reputed journal publishing, or even accepting a cleverly crafted religious propaganda. Careful study of Qur’an, Hadeeth and other Islamic resources for years, I know that like other ancient books, these scriptures also contain lot of errors and weird misconceptions in embryology, biology and medicine. For example, in one verse of Qur’an it clearly declares that sperm originates between the back and the ribs (sura At-Tariq 86:6-7) i.e, it comes from the kidneys! Note that, Greek physician Hippocrates theorized this wrong idea long before Muhammad that sperm passed through the kidneys into the penis. For centuries this was an accepted (and incorrect) belief of the origins of sperm. Aristotle though correctly described the function of the umbilical cord, also amusingly believed that sperm testicles functioned as weights to keep the seminal passages open during sexual intercourse. Not only this, Qur’an, as a whole, has a whole lot of ambiguity and meaningless statements. For example, occasionally it tells that we are created from earth (11:61), sometimes it claims from dry clay (15:26,28,33, 17:61, 32:7), sometimes “from nothing” (19:67), sometimes “NOT from nothing” (52:35), sometimes from wet earth (23:12), or from mire (38:71), sometimes from water (25:54, 21:30, 24:45), sometimes from dust ( 3:59, 30:20, 35:11) or even sometimes from dead (30:19, 39:6) etc.. So which one is true? Those contradictory ambiguous statements actually do not reveal any scientific facts regarding either how we created or what exactly we are made of. If we go forward we will see – according to Qur’an and Hadeeth, Allah’s Angels ‘take charge’ while sperm enters a woman’s womb (see Sahih Bukhari 1.6.315, 4.54.430, Sahih Bukhari, 8.73.17, 18, Sahih Muslim, 33.6392 etc.), Human limbs can ‘carry Islamic Sins’ (Sunaan Nasai, 1.149), or Human organs can even talk like a human being (41:20, 41:21, 36:65, 24:24 etc). These are becoming simply meaningless and entirely laughable if we consider the knowledge of today’s context.

Of course, the authors did not mention the above funny verses from Qur’an and Hadeeth while submitting their ‘scholarly’ paper. Nevertheless, they did not forget to mention that honey as the good medicine referred by Qur’an, or it mentions some ‘miraculous spiritual power’ (?) of Zam Zam water etc. Well, Honey is not at all any good medicine in today’s standard, however, was used by ancient people as medicine and food for tens of thousands of years. Physicians of Pharaoh King used to prescribe Honey for diseases. In pre-Islamic Arab, pagans used to use honey widely as medicine. In India, Ayurbedic medicine widely used honey as the ingredients of medicine thousands of years before the arrival of Qur’an. Honey was known as “Grandma’s Medicine” throughout the ancient world for thousands of years. What is so miracle or even important to mention in a cutting edge journal? Lest we speak about the ‘miraculous spiritual power’ of a simple well the better for us. There are many well documented technical details about the well are available even in the Internet.

Lastly, the paper was not written following standard method of proper scientific enquiry. The frequent attribution of “God” (e.g. ” The entire Qur’an is believed to be the direct word of God”, ” the Qur’an and Hadeeth recognize the pursuit of knowledge as being an act of worship to God”, “God created disease and God also created a treatment for every disease”, ” remedy is made apparent, the disease is cured by the permission of God”, “… as God removes “rage form their hearts”, ” scripture and remembrance of God is supposed to heal the hidden ailments of people”, ” Mohammad states that while praising God is half of faith”, “moustache are all acts that benefit the body and thus bring one closer to God”, “invoked the name of other than God”, “The relationship between God and man is illustrated” etc.), and the use of non-scientific words such ‘spiritual’ (e.g. ‘treatment can be found—spiritual healing and physical healing’ , ‘Although spiritual healing is most mentioned in the Qur’an ‘, ‘heart that are described are the extensively described spiritual heart ‘ etc.) or ‘miracle’ shows the authors were trying to express a specific brand of belief, not doing proper scientific investigation or research. Our scientific knowledge has moved beyond childhood. A scientific journal should not depend on imaginary fairy-tales or a ‘God in gaps’ to provide for our explanations or needs. Science proposes explanations about the natural world and then puts those hypothesis for repeated testing using experiments, observations and a creative and diverse array of other methods and strategies. The paper like ‘The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth’ , on the other hand, discourage skepticism or critical examination of cherished precepts.

It is simply laughable that a reputable science journal of twentieth century would publish such a poorly argued paper – ‘The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth’! I sincerely believe, if you publish the article in your journal, you will loose all the credibility. I hope that your consciousness will return and your editorial board will realize that this paper is not worthy at all for publication.

Dr. Avijit Roy
email: [email protected]

 

The renowned scientists of the world came to know about my letter and they have started showing their concern and anger.  Renowned scientist and writer Dr. Matt Young, Senior Lecturer Department of Physics Colorado School of Mines Golden,  published my letter in Panda’s Thumb, a very popular weblog  (Nature listed it as one of the top five science blogs) among mainstream scientists mentioned and analyzed my letter. He wrote:

…Roy, an engineer, details a number of misconceptions in the Koran (the preferred spelling, according to Merriam-Webster) and argues that the paper should never have been published in a scientific journal. According to a cc of an e-mail I received from a third party, Roy complained to the editor of IJC and was told that he could submit his own rebuttal for peer review. I read the article, though not carefully, and I could certainly see Roy’s point. … (complete post of Matt can be read from here)

Some other scientists also took onus to publicize the news in web. Such as, I found Dr. Taner Edis of Truman State University  published the news in his blog – Cardiologists losing it.   Breakingspells.net has published – International Journal of Cardiology Hosts Islamic Superstition?.  Becausenooneasked.com published – The Koran is NOT a medical text. Frontpage Magazine also published – International Journal of Cardiology publishes Islamic apologetic tract etc.   Many of my scientist friends personally emailed me showing their immense concern. Here are some samples:

Avijit,

[‘The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth’ is a ] Crackpot stuff. Shame on the journal that published it. They have sullied their reputation.

What you’ve sent is just the tip of the iceberg.

For 30 years I’ve been challenging these dodos to come up with at least one new useful invention or testable prediction based on the Quran.

Am still waiting.

———
Pervez Hoodbhoy
Professor of Physics
Quaid-e-Azam University
Islamabad, Pakistan
And the author of Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality and Education and the State Fifty Years of Pakistan

Dear Avijit,

Very interesting. Thanks for bringing these to my attention.

For now, I’m not going to write the journal; I’m a physicist, and they should be hearing from physicians or others with biomedical background such as yourself. But occasionally like this are annoying enough that they need to be publicized:

http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2010/02/cardiologists-losing-it.html

Thanks again!
 

Dr. Taner Edis
Department of Physics
Truman State University
5 Woodland Lane Kirksville, MO 63501
http://www2.truman.edu/~edis/

And the Author of An Illusion of Harmony: Science And Religion in Islam and Science and Nonbelief

Dear Avijit:

It is nice to hear from you again. I’ll try to post your letter on the Panda’s Thumb (as a a guest contribution) unless you tell me not to do so. PT has a wide audience and it maybe useful for supporting your suggestion to send letters to editors of the journal regarding that laughable paper about Quran’s alleged medical significance.

Best wishes,

yours

Prof. Mark Perakh
Professor emeritus of Mathematics and statistical mechanics at California State University, Fullerton in Fullerton, California.
And the author of Unintelligent Design 

This is surprising. The Islamic view of medicine is however better than the early basic Christian knowledge, which in the middle ages was utterly abysmal. The Quran is largely a book of theological poetry, and these ideas about physiology are, should we say poetic. This article might be better suited for a journal concerned with the history of medicine. Some of this article’s claims are still preposterous.

Lawrence B. Crowell

The author of Can Star Systems Be Explored?: The Physics of Probes

I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon with some New Age believers, but their focus is more on technology. Some argue that the lost island of Atlantis had technology more advanced than ours, and some say similar things about ancient Egypt. Often it’s extra-terrestrials who are given credit for giving these ancient civilizations their advanced technologies. There’s a kind of Golden Age mythology that seems to run through these notions.

Charles A. Sullivan

 writer, philosopher and philosophy instructor

Dear Editor;

I just read an essay The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth written by Marios Loukas, Yousuf Saad, R. Shane Tubbs and Mohamadali M. Shojawhich.

Your decision to publish such a “voodoo Science” is bound to affect your reputation. My conjecture is very soon, the Christians, the Jews, the Hindus and the Voodoo practitioners in Africa and the charm and amulet dealers in all parts of the world may submit their claims of modern medical science in their trades.

The author of the above essay has cited a few verses from the Qur’an and ahadith to demonstrate scientific materials related to human heart in those verses. I will say this simply is not true. Anyone who reads these verses will have no doubt that the verses almost invariably refer to the stubbornness of the infidels who do not to open their hearts to Islam or to demonstrate the peace and tranquillity that descends when a person embraces Islam. I urge you to read the referred verses to judge for yourself the veracity of my statement.

Now, here are a few examples from the Qur’an:

Allah sealed the hearts of the non‑believers, and put veils on their eyes; there is a great penalty for the non‑believers. (Qur’an 2:7).

One of the most eminent scholars of the Qur’an, ibn Kathir writes that the seal is placed on the heart and the hearing; Allah has sealed their hearts because of their unbelief. Another eminent scholar of the Qur’an, ibn Abbas says: This refers in particular to the Jews Ka’b Ibn al‑Ashraf, Huyayy Ibn Akhtab and Judayy Ibn Akhtab.

The hypocrites have disease in their hearts, Allah has increased the disease, and there is a grievous punishment for them. (Qur’an 2:10). Ibn Kathir writes disease means doubt. Ibn Abbas says: the reference is to the hypocrites: Abdullah ibn Ubayy, Jadd Ibn Qays and Mu’attib Ibn Qushay.

The Muslims should muster all their power and might, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles…etc.) to strike terror in the hearts of the unbelievers (Qur’an 8:6). Ibn Abbas says this means killing them.

Where is the modern medical condition of the heart in these verses? Mind you, I just cited only three verses from the Qur’an to demonstrate the utter untruthfulness of the author of the essay. The Qur’an is littered with hundreds of such hateful verses. How can we relate these hateful verses to modern medical science?

Many such similar passages are found in the Ahadith as well. For example, in a hadith we note that Muhammad had used “camel’s urine” as a medicine. Do you think we should now resort to drinking camels’ urine just because Islamic texts recommend it? Will you allow an essay extolling the virtues of drinking camels’ urine in your journal?

Your decision to publish such a misleading and completely unscientific essay is utterly imprudent and highly regrettable. It will simply embolden religious bigotry and encourage the Islamist terrorists.

Abul Kasem

Lecturer in Civil Engineering
Sydney, Australia
Email: [email protected] 

Dear Sir,

I am a Ph.D. in biological science and worked many years in the U.S. with research animals and I am quite familiar with the anatomy, physiology and pathology of humans and most research animals. I have recently came across an amazingly controversial paper: ‘The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth’ (Marios Loukas, Yousuf Saad, R. Shane Tubbs and Mohamadali M. Shojawhich) and surprisingly this fraudulently crafted article claimed to be peer reviewed and accepted for publication by the Editorial Board of your well reputed journal.

I am surprised as well as appalled to see how a reputed journal like yours is going to publishing or even accepting a deceitfully crafted article which has been written based on 100% false claims of science in Quran or Hadiths. This article is an absolutely illusionary dream by some cunning Islamists only to fool westerners. I can bet million dollars that nothing can be proven true about their claims by an impartial scrutiny of Quran and hadiths, if you desire to conduct any such independent investigation.

I have thoroughly read Islamic religious book of Quran and also Islamic tradition called Hadiths for the last 20 years. I have found this Quran and Hadiths are really silly books loaded with plenty of mumbo-jumbos of utterly superstitious crap. I have found Quran and hadiths are full of contradictions and errors in scientific, historical, ethical, moral, and political matters. These books are also full with utter hateful scriptural verses against all non-muslims. I have written many full size articles with Quran and hadiths depicting monumental errors and contradictions in the Quran. You can read one such article here:

http://enblog.mukto-mona.com/?p=54 

I am quite positive that the peer-reviewers of your journal either never read and checked the authenticity of any Quranic verse that authors claimed, or they have simply believed by the utter deceptively and fraudulently distortions of Quranic verses or hadith by their (authors) wishful manipulations.

These wishful Islamists (authors) have deceived you by selective (pick & choose) verses, taking part of the verse, sometimes by changing the actual words, adding non-existing words etc, they intentionally twist or manipulate the commonly accepted meanings of verses—to prove science in Quran. Who has ever heard about scientific theory in any religious book? Is any religion really compatible with the modern science? I thought, religion and science are like oil and water which never mix together! Please read this article here: http://www.islam-watch.org/SyedKamranMirza/Nostalgia-of-Islamic-Golden-Age.htm only to learn that, ancient luminaries of Islamic kingdom did not get their scientific ideas from Koran or Hadiths at all; instead they all got it from the ancient Indian, Greek and Chinese sources.

Their claims about Quranic embryology is a pure joke and full of superstitious craps. Please read this article about Quranic embryology here:

http://www.islam-watch.org/SyedKamranMirza/Quran-Human-Embryology.htm

I urge you to investigate the real source the so called Holy Quran and hadiths for accuracies of their claims. I wonder why your “cutting age” journal could accept such fraudulently written article without any proper investigation of the source. While I understand that accepting or publishing any article in your reputed journal is purely your prerogative but I fervently request you to do your peer-review investigation one more time. Please ask them to submit all the Quranic verses and hadiths ( in original) and make an independent investigations by non-muslim scientists (not by Mullahs) and find the truth about this article.

Quran is replete with hateful harsh and unethical cruel verses against non-muslims. You can read some samples here:
http://www.islam-watch.org/SyedKamranMirza/TerrorManual.htm 

This utterly fraudulent article if you publish will surely give a giant leap of propaganda tool in the hands of cunning Islamists. Also please consider that—by publishing such fraudulent article in your reputed journal will only embolden the religious zeal of Islamic terrorists further to destroy our civilization. And of course, your journal will surely lose its prestige in the international scientific community. Thanks for your understanding.

Sincerely yours,

Syed Kamran Mirza, Ph.D.
[email protected]

 (Full letter of Syed Kamran Mirza was sent to journal, only partial has been pasted above)

Publishing such a tale-tell has definitely raised the question of the quality (reliability & validity) of this journal. Trying to save face of the diminishing respect of Islam and Muslims to the present-day world of reasons has simply added more mockery to it. The article contradicts how the science is done. The very statement ‘revelation’ is a misrepresentation of the fact that Islam is one of the three religions that came into being from the same feudal family to compete each other. Also the practices and so called science of the prophet Muhammad described in this article can be transparently considered as plagiarism for it has been described in many early texts for example, ‘Manisanghita’ about 5 thousand years ago practiced by Aryan monks before the doctrine of Islam came to Middle East. Nevertheless, the authors desecrated the holy books by aligning them with science. Science is the claim from evidence and so a rational domain of human being. I would respect Al-Brunni as the then front line member of scientists from Middle East. Advising with no observations and facts garnered is not a science itself rather than authoritarian views. Science never spews hatred against the nature but just read the comments of a real devout Muslim professor from Australia who has simply cited a few verses to support the terrorism against non-believers. How the authors claim the Quoran and Hadith as per with science? Science is not an absolute but dynamic and skeptical that changes with new findings. Do ‘Quoran’ and ‘Hadith’ mandate this nature of science? Dreaded it might be if that is so as we have seen in many incidents that almost knocked the very world peace. take for man example, Taslima Nasreen — a female medical doctor and rational scientist herself is facing the Islamic sword on her neck because she asked for change of ‘Quoran’ & Islamic practices in view of the present day needs. How then these authors mischievously try to describe the statements from an authoritarian scriptures as science. To me they themselves are complete ignorant of what it is that is called science.

My advice with these authors would be to avoid this pseudo-science and rather stand strongly against the heinous terrorists to wash the smeared hands of Islam with dignity.

Dr. Ankut
Professor of Science & Education, USA.

TO:
Dr. A.J.S. Coats
Editor-in-Chief
The International Journal of Cardiology
University of Sydney
NSW 2006, Australia

COPY TO:
Dr. Graham Brumfield
Elsevier
Radarweg 29
1043 NX Amsterdam
The Netherlands


Dear Dr. Coats, 


The articles “Islamic legacy of cardiology: Inspirations from the holy sources” (doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2009.09.470) and “The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth”  (doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2009.05.011) appearing online in the International Journal of Cardiology , published by Elsevier, caught my attention. I request that you retract these two papers from both online and print versions of your prestigious journal. 

I am a biomedical scientist with a PhD working in a prestigious research institute, and having had published over 80 scientific papers, mostly in peer reviewed, international scientific journals. These journals include such reputable ones as the Journal of Biological Chemistry, PLoS Pathogens, Biochemistry, and the Journal of Molecular Biology. My most recent paper appeared in the Elsevier journal, Analytical Biochemistry.

 As the name International Journal of Cardiology suggests, I found all the articles, as can be found in the current ‘free sample copy’, deal with scientific research related to the heart, except the two articles cited above. These two articles address neither science nor scientific investigation, but quotes religious scriptures and practices to glorify the religion. Being born to the faith, I am pretty well educated in both Quran and Hadeeth, and find no science in them except self-contradictions, but will refrain to elaborate since that is not my field of research. The two articles may be more suited for one of many other journals including Religion and History of European Ideas both published by Elsevier. I found no theology experts in the list of your editorial staff nor did I find a scope of religious discussion in this prestigious journal. Unless you expanded the stated scope, “both basic research and clinical papers”, of the journal to include non-scientific literature, I am surprised that these two papers passed the peer review process.  
As in the middle and dark ages, religion has always been an impediment to scientific progress. Even in today’s world of religious ‘tolerance’, clergies are found to deliver hateful sermons against those engaged in scientific research, and being publicized in the electronic media. The problem is so acute, that I do not wish to expose my identity in writing this comment because of fear of my life! I believe publishing these two articles in your journal will do a great disservice to the scientific community and science. Must the above religious articles appear in your journal, I will reconsider submitting any of my scientific papers in any of the Elsevier journals. I am sure many of my colleagues in my renowned biomedical research institute of 700-plus strength and my peers elsewhere, will follow me. 

I therefore respectfully request that you reconsider publishing these papers in your journal.  I also request that you do not make my email address public.
  
Very respectfully, 

Ahmed
A scientist opposed to ‘religious science’

Here is the updated list of the scientists who have already protested and informed us.


 

Hope this post will inspire you to make similar protest, if you have not done so:

Please write your protest note here. Please click on the following link:

Contact the Editor of the International Journal of Cardiology

Kindly fill up the first name, last name, email address, and subject. In the subject box, you may copy paste: Opinion on the paper – ‘The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur’an and Hadeeth’. Then paste your message to the editor of the journal and press submit button

Regards

Dr. Avijit Roy
[email protected]

P.S. Please inform me if you have sent your protest!