Article:Islam and the brain by Dr.Sulaiman Duffort
book:coversion journeys on becoming Muslim in the west
Al-Quran often describes the miracles of the natural universe as the first basis of our faith,so I want to muse about how the brain works.Undoubtedly,the human brain is the primary miracle of the human body.It is the human brain the makes man khalifah of the created universe,because those few genes seperate us from the monkeys have produced this organic marvel-in man,and other creature.All the organs of the human body are similar to those found in other animals,except the brain.No other creature has a brain like ours.
In Al-Quran 61:18,Nabi Musa as says to his servant: "I will not give up until I reach the point where the two seas meet,thought I may march for ages." Human blodd is salty,it has the same salinity as the ocean.The rest of the human body is made of at least 70% fresh water,which is why we can fast from food for many days whereas we must drink water or we soon die.
Between the ocean-salty blood and the fresh water-based brain cells,there is the "blood-brain barrier".If the blood escapes into the brain cavities in a hemorhage,one usually dies.The salty blood must always be kept seperate from the fresh -water brain cellls,even while it suplies nutrients the brain cells must have.Hence the Quran states that fresh and salt water shall never meet.Yet Nabi Musa as is determined to find the place where "the two seas" DO meet.If he is talking about oceans and rivers,what IS he talking about?
Inside the human brain,there are two hemispheres,right and left.These hemispheres are connected by a bridge the "corpus collosum".When surgeons cut through the 'Corpus callasum" to stop seizures in epileptic patients in the 1950's,they found that right and left brains,when seperated,behaved in quite different ways.Left brain loved to talk,while right brain only understood pictures but could not talk about them!On the other hand left brain could not even draw a good picture!
A famous article in '"Science American " magazine of those days was entitled, "One Brain or Two?"
Shariah,hadith,and all those words used to regulate our behaviour as Muslims must therefore be understood by left brain,which has the language processing skills.Right brain ,on the otherhand,is the artistic side and must be adressed by images,chants,zikr,rhythms,intuitive,insight,inspiration and the like.In other words,Tariqa!
When a famous Muslim scholar said that syariah without tariqa is dead.whereas Tariqa without shariah is dangerous,he must have means that we need our Islam to come from BOTH sides of our brain ,From BOTH brain hemispheres.What might this mean?
Some people are left brain dominat.They like Nabi Musa as,want to follow the written laws very strictly,because laws are made up pf words an dleft brain understand words.But what didi Nabi MUSA as people's do while he was on Mount Sinai receiving the ten commandments from Allah swt?They madde an image and they sang and danced around it!
While Nabi Musa as was taking care of their left brains.their right brainswanted to express themselves in artistic activity.So what they did may only have been"human nature" after all,althought it made Nabi Musa as very angry when he came back down the mountain with new religious laws in his hands. If there was any way his people could have entertained themselves without goingagainst shariah,ifthey had a Tariqa, perhaps he would have accused them.
THAT IS OUR CHALLENGE TODAY
How to follow both brain hemispheres without going against either one of them.in other words,WHOLE BRAIN BALANCE.A left-brain code of law(the "letter of the law") is enough,by itself.It must be accompanied by right brain holistic understanding of the total situation(the spirit of the laws),in other words,true JUSTICE.
I n surah "the cave" ,when Nabi Khidir was teaching Nabi Musa as,he tried to give the "Big picture", an overall understanding that expalained why he (NabiI Khidir)had to go against the written law in certain cases when JUSTICE required him to take an action.
An Nabi Musa as back in those days of his life,had not yet understood his right brain function,so he was dismissed by Nabi Khidir.As usual,the left brain dominat individual (even a Nabi!) objected to right brain understanding of the situation,because it wasnot lpgical.
What does it mean to be right brain dominat,like myself?Many of us are!We are the "silent types".We are not very moved or impressed with lots of words,sermons,logic,analysis,or even money(which is a lefht brain invention!)But if we are lucky,we have a good left brain and therefore good verbal skills.Ican write this story for you because of my left brain.My left brain may be only 40% to my 60%right brain dominance,but there is always a balance of some sort.I do not prefer Tariqa to Shariah(highly unbalance)but shariah without tariqa can lead to fanatic fundamentalism even terrorist.I dread Shariah without tariqa.Most converts come to islam from tariqa,because there is more feeling in it,more heart
The best is WHOLE BRAIN BALANCE.This is my interpretation of what Nabi Musa as was looking for,the total cooperation of right and left brains.It was so valuable for him that he was ready to "march for ages",untill he found it.Whole brain balance means,among other things ,that Muslims must serve humanity not only with law and order,but also ith wisdom and justice.That is one part of Nabi Khidir's special knowledge direcly from Allah SWT.