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DNA: The Code of Life

We want to congratulate our Associate Science Editor Dr Ali and his wife for receiving the gift of their first child. May Allah make little Rayyan a source of delight for his parents and a wonderful servant of humanity in the future. Dr Ali enlightens us with the amazing science of molecular biology, please read on.

Recently my family was blessed with a baby. I am still in awe at all his perfectly formed features, from his eyes, nose and mouth, all the way down to his fingernails. The human body not only includes the external visible features, but also all the internal systems that developed whilst the foetus was inside the womb. Among these are the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, immune system, musculoskeletal system and central nervous system. All this came from two cells that combined and then replicated to form every type of cell to form a whole body. 

The instructions to form every type of cell are contained in the DNA, which is a molecular chain that consists of 3 billion pairs of bases. If you were to unravel the DNA within a single cell, it would be about 2 meters long. A base consists of a sugar molecule attached to one of four different nitrogen-containing molecules, which geneticists give the letters A, C, G and T. The four bases form a code that instructs the cell which type of cell to become, which proteins to make and how to carry out its complex biological functions. 

In order to assemble a protein molecule, a section of the DNA is unzipped, copied and each set of three bases codes for one of twenty different protein subunits. The subunits are added sequentially to form the long-chained protein molecule which folds in on itself, resulting in its useful form. What an amazing programming language. 

Here is what the Majestic Quran tells us about this miraculous event of birth.

The seven stages of human development

12 Indeed We created humanity from the concentrate of clay. 13 Then We made him from a sperm fluid kept in the protected cavity the womb, 14 then We turned the sperm fluid into an embryo, the embryo into a lump of flesh. Then we made the lump of flesh bony and covered the bones with flesh. Then We made him into a special creation, so blessed is Allah the excellent of Creators. 15 Then after living for a while you will die. 16 On judgement day you will be raised up again. (Al-Muminun:12-6)

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