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Welcome to Aisha’s Office

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Ahlan wa Sahlan – Welcome!
    Thank you for visiting me here in my office, a central place I’ve created for sharing the articles I write for various websites. Please scroll through the home page slider to learn more about these sites. I will be updating Aisha’s Office regularly, insha’Allah – God Willing. ;^)

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Aisha’s Oasis WordPress Blog

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Aisha’s Oasis is a state of mind, as much as a place on the map of Egypt. It’s a peaceful place to relax while on my wild joyride to Egypt from South Carolina after eloping with a wonderful Egyptian Muslim man I met online.
Select AO on the menu, above, or visit: https://aishasoasis.wordpress.com

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KissFromTheWorld.com

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KissFromTheWorld.com is a unique online travel & people magazine packed with stories, videos, and photos shared from fascinating travel bloggers all over the world.
 
Select KFTW on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s KissFromTheWorld.com author archive at: https://www.kissfromtheworld.com/travel-blogger/aisha-abdel/blog-posts/world/by-country-u3241l.html

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InspiredEconomist.com

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InspiredEconomist.com is an interesting place for discussing the people, ideas, and companies that redefine capitalism, embrace social responsibility, and inspire positive change.
 
Select IE on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s InspiredEconomist.com author archive at: http://inspiredeconomist.com/author/aishaabdelhamid

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SolarLove.org

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SolarLove.org is the perfect source for solar energy news and commentary. From solar science, to solar policy, to solar economics, we are obsessed with solar.
 
Select SL on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s SolarLove.org author archive at: http://solarlove.org/author/aishaabdelhamid

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CleanTechnica.com

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CleanTechnica.com is the #1 site in the US for cleantech news & commentary, focusing on clean, renewable energy alternatives, such as solar energy, wind energy, electric cars, and other clean technologies.
 
Select CT on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s articles on CleanTechnica.com at http://cleantechnica.com/author/aishaabdelhamid

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Planetsave.com

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Planetsave.com is a very popular site for News about Science, Space, Global Warming, Renewable Energy, Animals, Nature Conservation, Eco-Travel, and How To Live The Green Life.
 
Select PS on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s Planetsave.com author archive at: http://planetsave.com/author/aishaabdelhamid

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EdenKeeper.org

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EdenKeeper.org is a site dedicated to our faithful stewardship of creation, exploring the relationship between spirituality and environmentalism, and participating in interfaith environmental activism.
 
Select EK on the menu, above, or view Aisha’s EdenKeeper.org author archive at: http://edenkeeper.org/author/aishaabdelhamid

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#Voices4Arctic

 Share the ShoutOut across social media! Visit:http://savethearctic.org

Share the ShoutOut across social media! Visit:
http://savethearctic.org

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#J2E 4: Salam wa Smiles, 40 yrs, 5’5″

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Yes, that’s the Boston Tea Party Boat in the Boston Harbor!

Click Here for the previous episode Or Click Here to start at the beginning of the story

Shy is not one of my personal adjectives. If you get to know me, you will know this. But fear of rejection is a phobia I hide in my heart and it seriously affects my social life. image It prevents me from maintaining friendships with more than three people at any one time. But now, coming at this moment out of a rotten marriage to an agressive, dictatorial and emotionally abusive alchoholic, you might think that shy would be a good way to describe how I was feeling. I was definitely a few quarts low on the self confidence meter, but shy? No, I wasn’t shy. I was totally scared to death.

This felt like my big moment arriving, and I was completely unprepared for it. Every good quality I had hit Refresh to display this!been dreaming about in a husband was suddenly present in front of me, and he was inviting me to send him a message. The ‘Send A Message’ button was right there in front of me, practically begging me to push it. I had returned to my computer, half expecting the miracle ad to no longer be there, but there it was, patiently waiting my return. I sat and stared at the face of the man in the ad. I liked his eyes, they looked like the sharp eyes of a deep thinker. I liked his ad, he obviously put a lot of thought into it. I liked his unpolished English maybe best of all, and his mistakes inspired me to believe him. And finally, I liked his suit, he looked like a very respectable, professional man. I thought we’d look very nice together!
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Making Hajj in a Wheelchair

640px-Al-Haram_mosque_-_Flickr_-_Al_Jazeera_English

Although the Hajj isn’t obligatory for disabled Muslims, nevertheless, a strong desire to make this spiritual homecoming pulls on the heartstrings of every Muslim.

In past ages, the physical challenge of Hajj was far more rigorous than our air-conditioned era of caretaker travel agencies, convenient mass transit and comfortable accommodations.

Nowadays, compassionate attention to the needs of disabled Muslims means that more and more Muslims are able to fulfill their dream of performing Hajj.

Dedicated to Disabled Pilgrims

Beyond the normal travel/visa regulations every pilgrim must comply with, there are no specific travel restrictions on disabled pilgrims wishing to enter Saudi Arabia.

And there are more travel agencies and services than ever before available for disabled pilgrims wishing to make Hajj.

The level of assistance required by a disabled pilgrim will determine if a dedicated travel agency is required. In all cases, travel arrangements and assistance for any disabled pilgrim must be made clearly and carefully, prior to paying for any service.

For pilgrims not fully wheelchair-bound, nearly all Hajj travel agencies and services can accommodate disabled pilgrims with limited physical abilities, such as boarding buses, and ascending/descending stairs. Online reports are encouraging, regarding the variety of disability services available.

Pilgrims requiring full-time wheelchair service and assistance will be better served by a dedicated travel agency. In this case, every moment of Hajj will be carefully planned, with caregivers providing for individual needs of each pilgrim in their group.

For example, Disabled Hajj services have been offered since 2000 by the UK & European Disabled Hajj Mission (DHM), a non-profit Hajj and Umrah tour operator specializing in disability needs.

Making Hajj in a Wheelchair

Based on the wisdom gained with 15 years of experience, DHM recommends performing Hajj in a ten-day period, as this represents a manageable length of time for people with disabilities, who may be over-taxed by a lengthier visit.

Most pilgrims arrive at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah, but with the recent opening of the International Airport in Madinah, disabled pilgrims will find it more convenient to fly into Madinah.

Not only are the crowds lighter, the time required for customs procedures upon arrival is also significantly reduced.

Arriving Early Into Madinah

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Arriving into Madinah several days ahead of Hajj offers the convenient opportunity to visit Masjid Al-Nabawi, the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him.

Programs offered to disabled pilgrims may also include visits to Quba’a Mosque, Qiblatain Mosque, Uhud Mountain, etc, while in Madinah.

Ihram, Travel to Makkah, Tawaf and Sa’ee

Ihram is customarily entered at Al-Miqat station on the way from Madinah to Makkah. However, disabled pilgrims may find it more convenient performing Ghusul (Ihram shower) and entering Ihram from the comfort of their hotel room before leaving Madinah.

Then, pronouncing Talbiyah and boarding an air-conditioned coach equipped to handle wheelchairs, the 420-kilometer journey to Makkah begins.

Makkah’s Aziziyah district is often chosen for more convenient accommodations for physically-challenged pilgrims, due to huge traffic and crowds around the Haram.

Upon arrival at Aziziyah, a short stop to unpack is followed directly by a ride to the Grand Mosque to perform Tawaf Al-Qudum (Arrival Tawaf) around the Ka’aba, and As-Sa’ee, between Safa and Marwa.

Wheelchairs, pushers, and access are provided throughout the Grand Mosque complex, and both electric scooters (for rent) and standard wheelchairs (many free) are available.

For those traveling with their own fold-up wheelchair, it is recommended to keep it well-labeled and close to hand at all times.

Mina, Arafat & Muzdalifa

Leaving their accommodations on the 7th of the month of Dhul Hijja, pilgrims make their way to the tent encampment at Mina for Hajj rituals. Not all toilets at Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa are wheelchair accessible.

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Accordingly, Disabled Hajj providers like DHM offer specialized services, including “Disabled toilet and fully equipped tents in Mina & Arafat,” as well as “Helpers throughout the whole journey from the moment of arrival.”

After Fajr prayer on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, pilgrims proceed to Arafat, spending the day in prayer vigil and supplication until sunset.

Proceeding next to Muzdalifa, Maghrib and Isha prayers are combined at Isha, followed by collecting 70 pebbles for Ramee, or stoning Shaitan at the Jamarat in Mina.

Returning to Mina in the night is usual, but women, elderly and disabled people often spend the night in Muzdalifa.

Mina for Jamarat, Zabiha & Return to Makkah

Mina activities include three days of Ramee Al-Jamarat, or stoning the satans, and on the 10th of Dhul Hijja, the Zabiha, or sacrificial slaughter.

Stoning the satans is very crowded, although nowadays the entire Jamarat is wider, safer, and air-conditioned. Nevertheless, physically-challenged pilgrims may appoint someone to perform Ramee for them.

On the 12th of Dhul Hijja, pilgrims return to Makkah. Proceeding to the Grand Mosque, the final ritual of Hajj is performing the farewell Tawaf Al-Wida.

The Prophet’s Sunnah of Disabled Hajj

The victorious return to the Ka’aba upon fulfillment of Hajj represents not only the fulfillment of every enabled Muslim’s dream and spiritual obligation.

It is a spiritual return to Allah, a blessed homecoming, second only to the final homecoming we all long to be a victorious part of in Jannah, insha’Allah.

We may also recall the Prophet Muhammad’s victorious homecoming to Makkah. Fulfilling the spread of Islam even unto the internal corners of the newly-purified Ka’aba, the blessed Prophet rode into the Haram upon his camel.

According to Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet Muhammad didn’t dismount, but instead provided a merciful example for every disabled Muslim to gratefully follow:

In his Last Hajj, the Prophet [Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] performed Tawaf of the Ka’ba riding a camel and pointed a bent-headed stick towards the Corner (Black Stone). [Sahih Bukhari]

800px-Mosquée_Masjid_el_Haram_à_la_Mecque


 

(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)

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Therapeutic Cloning Advances in the Muslim World

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Far more than just copying cells for the purpose of duplicating human beings, cloning technologies are leading to exciting medical applications. Continuing the discussion of Part 1: Human Cloning in Islam and the Qur’an, this article explores therapeutic cloning advances in the Muslim World.

In 1998, scientists for the first time ever isolated human embryonic stem cells. In January 2003, facilitating further Islamic examination, the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) filled in the knowledge gap left open at the 1997 Casablanca and Jeddah conferences regarding therapeutic cloning, due to lack of technological advances prior to 1998.

The 2003 ECFR fatwa on cloning adopted in full the resolutions of Casablanca. Furthermore, it declared therapeutic cloning of embryonic stem cells is permissible, provided no fetus over 40 days old is damaged or destroyed.

Raising Ethical Questions

Therapeutic cloning technology typically fuses a human skin cell with a donated egg after removing the egg’s DNA. If successful, the cell divides and multiplies over 5-6 days, producing an embryo. These embryonic cells are “pluripotent,” forming the foundations for all human cells.

Growing embryonic stem cells in lab dishes, scientists select specialized cells for therapeutic treatment of the original skin cell’s donor. Conceivably, everything from cell tissues to whole organs could be bred in this way, perfectly matching the donor’s DNA. The goal is to transplant the new tissues, or new organ, into the donor with no fear of rejection from the immune system.

Therapeutic cloning therapies raise new possibilities for eradicating many diseases, including heart diseases, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, type-1 diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, ethical questions rise persistently, due to high numbers of human eggs required for success.

But sanctity of life is perhaps the bigger question raised when cloning produces a live human embryo. Although highly contentious to non-Muslims, the majority of Islamic scholars agree with the 2003 ECFR fatwa limiting embryonic experimentation, and thus fetus lifespan, to less than 40 days.

The Moment of Ensoulment in the Qur’an

Identifying different uterine stages of human development, the Qur’an reveals:

{Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature: so blessed be Allah, the Best to create!} [Surat Al Muminun 23:12-14].

Informed by Islamic interpretations of these verses, “ensoulment” occurs, not at conception, but at the arrival of flesh upon bones.

In Islam, therefore, an embryo has a legal status only after ensoulment. Thus embryonic experimentation for human benefit is permitted prior to ensoulment, established by fatwa as beyond 40 days of life.

Regenerative Medicine Rising in the Muslim World

The human body contains 220 different types of cells with limited potential for self-renewal. Lost, damaged, or diseased cells may be repaired and/or regenerated by therapies produced from cloned stem cells.

Mercifully unhampered by ethical constraints, Muslims play a prominent role in the rising field of stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine.

As reported lately by Samia Khoury and Ali Bazarbachi of the American University of Beirut (AUB) in NatureAsia, “There are few medical fields as fast-moving and expansive as cell therapy and regenerative medicine in the Middle East. If progress continues at its current pace, the Middle East and North Africa could become one of the world’s centers for biomedical research.”

Khoury is Director of AUB’s Multiple Sclerosis Center, and Bazarbachi is Director of the Bone Marrow Transplantation program, and a professor hematological and oncological medicine. Both biologists report that hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is now commonly treating patients with blood-related diseases, such as sickle-cell anemia, aplastic anemia, and thalassemia.

In the past decade, HSCT clinical work and research programs have significantly increased in Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Syria.

Grafting tissue produced from specific stem cells is common treatment for many bone, skin, and corneal diseases or injuries. Congenital, degenerative, and autoimmune diseases are being evaluated for stem cell treatments, as well.

Khoury and Bazarbachi state that in the Arab World, 32 clinical trials were registered in September 2013. Funding is steadily increasing, and research facilities are on the rise.

Cell-Based Therapy in the Muslim World

20-5-15_Therapeutic-Cloning-Advances-in-the-Muslim-World(Image note: Researchers looking at slides of cultures of cells that make monoclonal antibodies. These are grown in a lab and the researchers are analyzing the products to select the most promising of them. Wikicommons)

In Kazakhstan, clinical trials are underway studying the use of CardioCell’s cell-based therapy for treating acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Partnering with the Ministry of Health in Kazakhstan, California-based CardioCell LLC is beginning a Phase III AMI clinical trial on the intravenous administration of CardioCell’s Ischemia-Tolerant Mesenchymal Stem Cells (itMSCs), as a regenerative therapy for recent heart attack patients. CardioCell’s itMSCs are exclusively licensed from CardioCell’s parent company Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc.

In Indonesia, Stemedica Asia PTE, LTD, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stemedica Cell Technologies, Inc., is partnering with Jakarta-based Kalbe Farma Stem Cell and Cancer Institute, operating similar AMI itMSC clinical trials in Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.

Malaysia also holds a leading position in the field of cell-based therapy. Biotechnology Corporation (BiotechCorp), an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), is the lead development agency in Malaysia’s bio-based industry. Partnering with BiotechCorp, Cell Therapies Pty Ltd (CTPL) is working to deliver innovative therapies to patients.

BiotechCorp CEO Dr. Mohd Nazlee Kamal said: “Malaysia is committed to building a world-class biotechnology industry compliant with global scientific and quality standards.”

Kamal continued, “CTPL has been active in Malaysia for many years, has helped establish cGMP-compliant cell manufacturing facilities at UKM Medical Centre PPUKM, and provided input to the development of the recently published draft guidelines for regulation of cellular therapies. By establishing a cellular therapy manufacturing hub in Malaysia, CTPL will help bring innovative new therapies to Malaysian patients, build the country’s knowledge workforce and create a new export industry.”

Also located at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Medical Center, the Tissue Engineering Centre (TEC) is actively involved in the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Founded in 1999, TEC was recognized by the Malaysian Ministry of Education as a Center for Research Excellence in 2008.

Under the direction of Dr. Ruszymah Idrus, TEC states that it is involved in “clinically driven research and development of various human tissues, mainly skin, cartilage, bone, nerve, heart muscle, and respiratory epithelium.” MyDerm, a skin substitute for burn and ulcer patients is TEC’s first tissue-engineered product.

Iran, as reported in The Current State of Clinical Cell Transplantation Trials in Iran: A Survey in 2011 by Babak Arjmand, Bagher Larijani, et al., has two major institutions offering leading technologies in cell-based therapies: the Royan Institute, and Tehran University of Medical Sciences (TUMS). The reported cell-based therapies included applications for cardiovascular and liver disease, neurological disorders, skin lesions, and oral pathologies.

The authors, a majority of whom were affiliated with TUMS, noted that TUMS University, with the largest network of more than 90 research centers, “accounts for more than one-third of science production in Iran.”

Royan Institute, a public non-profit organization, was approved in 1998 by Iran’s Ministry of Health as a cell-based research center, and in 2009 its cell therapy center was founded.

In Turkey, the Human Gene Therapy Unit was established in 2003 at Akdeniz University Faculty of Medicine in Antalya Province. Restructured in 2010, the gene therapy unit added cell-based therapies and transitioned into the Center for Gene and Cell Therapy of Akdeniz.

A prominent area of interest, states the Gene and Cell Therapy Center website, is diabetes treatment, especially “pancreatic islet transplantation fortified with gene delivery.” Other therapies being studied include auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers such as lung, prostate, and breast.

Revolutionary Therapeutic Antibodies Cloning

A 2009 partnership between Indian Biotechnology firm, Biocon Limited, and Abu Dhabi-based pharmaceutical manufacturer Neopharma was established at Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park, “Dubiotech.” Biocon launched India’s first indigenously produced monoclonal antibody in 2006.

The Muslim Republic of Bashkortostan which lies under Russian occupation has also established a globally respected biomedical industry. In 2014, the Russian company Mikrogen partnered with Bashkortostan’s Health Ministry and began clinical trials examining the use of recombinant monoclonal antibody therapy in hopes of eradicating Ebola virus.

20-5-15_Therapeutic-Cloning-Advances-in-the-Muslim-World_1(Image note: Monoclonal antibodies can be grown in unlimited quantities in bottles. Wikicommons)

Not requiring an embryo, monoclonal antibodies involves cloning immunoglobulin gene segments of a virus or yeast. They are produced and approved for treating viral infection, cancer, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and transplant rejection.

Monoclonal antibodies detect and/or attack only the specific substance for which they are developed. For example, monoclonal antibody therapy for cancer requires cloning a specific antibody that targets a specific cancer cell, inducing an immunological response against it.

Treatments are under development to both induce an immune response, and possibly deliver a toxin, radioisotope, or other similar substance to hasten eradication of disease.

Filling the Frontlines in a Jihad Against Human Suffering

Once at the forefront of medical science in our golden age of Islamic History, the Muslim World is again today well-positioned for the coming revolution in medical treatments resulting from therapeutic cloning. Guided by Islam and the Qur’an, the Muslim World faces significant, promising opportunities.

Insha’Allah, we will eradicate human genetic abnormalities, cure debilitating diseases, and improve the health and lives of humans and animals in ways previously unimaginable.

With the mercy of Allah, Muslims may once again fill the frontlines in the jihad against human pain and suffering. Ya Rabb il’alameen, ameen!

colonyhuman embryonic stem cells (1)(Image note: This microscope image, at 400x magnification, shows an oval cluster of roughly 1,000 human embryonic stem cells growing together as a colony. Wikicommons)

(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)

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Moving 3 Million People a Day During Hajj

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With Allah’s personal invitation to Makkah extended to every able Muslim throughout every age, Allah continually guides the service upgrades to ease the Hajj experience.

And, considering the current realities of moving three million people a day during Hajj, every step of the journey clearly reveals the marvelous blessings Allah mercifully bestows upon his obedient pilgrims.

Situated 43 miles west of Makkah, King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) in Jeddah is the predominant Hajj arrival location since opening in 1981.

Estimated among the world’s largest air terminals, KAIA’s Hajj Terminal occupies over 510,000 square meters. There are 18 gates for up to 26 airplanes, 143 customs counters, 32 bathroom locations, several mosques, restaurants, and a 123-room hotel dedicated to Hajj pilgrims.

However, with the numbers rising to the current three million pilgrims arriving annually into Saudi Arabia for Hajj, airline services received a much-needed boost with the July 2015 opening of Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport (PMIA) in Madinah.

Spread over 4 million square meters, this is KSA’s first airport constructed and operated entirely by the private sector.

It is also tops in state-of-the-art green technology, being the first in the world outside of the USA to receive the US Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certificate.

Phase 1 of the new Madinah airport serves eight million passengers annually, while phase 2 will increase this number to 18 million. The third and final phase of development is planning to handle a truly inspirational 40 million passengers annually.

Future plans and financing are also in the works to convert the domestic airport at Taif into an international airport serving additional pilgrims arriving for Hajj and Umrah.

Mass-Transit Handles Massive Numbers in KSA

Long gone are the days of riding into Makkah on camels. Highways and byways, regularly congested with the traffic of Makkah’s resident population of over 1.6 million, becomes choked to a snail’s pace when buses, vans and taxis delivering pilgrims incessantly arrive to the area during Hajj.

Clearly the spiritual journey to perform Hajj is a physical challenge not encountered anywhere else in the world. There are no exercises to prepare for the physical reality of three million people inundating Makkah’s small, rocky valley in the month of Dhul Hijja like a flash-flood accompanying a sudden, torrential downpour.

Until recently, Makkah had no formal mass transit plan. However, KSA is currently undergoing a major transformation, infusing US$45bn into a regional railway, with projects such as North-South Railway Line, Al-Haramain High-Speed Rail, Riyadh Light Railway, and Makkah Metro.

Complementing Makkah Metro, a modern bus service is planned, with 400 buses on 100 routes, covering 36 million kilometers. A total of 400 bus stops throughout Makkah will connect with the metro at many locations.

Al-Haramain High-Speed Rail Project

Recently described as “the largest public transportation project in the Middle East,” the Al-Haramain High-Speed Rail Project is critically needed to reduce traffic between Jeddah, Madinah, Makkah and King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

450km of electric track will serve 35 electric trains, with each train carrying 19,600 passengers at 300k/h. Plans include seven trains running every hour to and from Jeddah, two between Makkah and Madinah, and four between Makkah and KAEC.

Growing the Makkah Metro Network

Khaled Shamouth, Chairman of Public Transport Authority in Makkah stated, “We are launching a mass transit system that will cater to the growing population of the city as well as the millions of pilgrims who visit Makkah every year,” he noted.

“We receive three million Haj pilgrims every year and more than five million Umrah pilgrims who visit the city around the year but mostly during Ramadan. This calls for a massive and innovative service. We are planning to have a metro network spread across 188 kilometres, served by 88 stations on four lanes.”

Makkah’s first metro line opened in 2010. Linking Makkah with pilgrimage sites at Mina, Muzdalifa and Arafat, the 18km Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugadassah metro line runs only during Hajj.

However, it significantly relieves traffic during Hajj, carrying 72,000 passengers in each direction per hour, daily transporting half a million pilgrims every 6-8 hours.

Four new metro lines are planned for Makkah, totaling 188km with 88 stations. To be constructed in two phases, the Makkah Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) expansion program is expected to require 10 years for completion.

Phase 1 consists of two lines scheduled for completion by 2019. The first of the two runs 10km, mostly underground, with six stations.

Serving the Jamaraat region in Mina via the northern side of the Grand Mosque, it will link up with the Rusaifa Al-Haramain high-speed station to the Makkah-Jeddah Expressway.

Both underground and elevated, the 33km second line will serve 15 stations. Starting on Madinah Road north of Taneem Mosque, this line runs south along the western side of the Grand Mosque, and via King Abdulaziz Towers, Azizia Street and Taif-Karr Road to Umm Al-Qura University.

file-30-Haramain railway station

(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)

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Islam at Vatican Climate Change Symposium

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Invited to the Vatican Climate Change Symposium in Rome, Italy, Dr. H. Din Syamsuddin represented Islamic views in a speech to conference attendees on Tuesday, April 28.

The conference, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Religions for Peace, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Network, was entitled: Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

Aiming to find common ground on the important relationship between climate change and sustainable development, the event was opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and attended by over 100 governmental diplomats and policy makers, religious leaders, scientists, and business leaders. President Mattarella of Italy and President Correa of Ecuador were also in attendance.

Thanking the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for hosting the symposium, UNSG Ban Ki-moon also thanked Pope Francis for the warm welcome and commended “His Holiness, and all faith and scientific leaders here, for raising awareness of the urgent need to promote sustainable development and address climate.”

UNSG: “Climate Change is the Defining Issue of Our Time.”

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Discussing the importance of the symposium, Secretary-General Ban stated that: “climate change is the defining issue of our time.” He acknowledged, “It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. We have a profound responsibility to protect the fragile web of life on this Earth, and to this generation and those that will follow. That is why it is so important that the world’s faith groups are clear on this issue — and in harmony with science.”

Exploring the moral dimensions of climate change and sustainable development, the Vatican symposium offered opportunities for delegates to offer scientific, religious, technological, global, and local perspectives. Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered the keynote address.

Calling for a change of course toward the idea of sustainable development, Turkson offered a vision of a “holistic and ethical approach that links economic prosperity, social inclusion, and protection of the natural world.” Reciting from the Christian Old Testament/Hebrew Bible book of Isaiah, Turkson noted that “the earth languishes for the sins of man.”

Representing Islam at the Vatican

Many religious leaders spoke at the Vatican symposium, including Dr. Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the prominent Muhammadiyah Organization of Indonesia, Orthodox Metropolitan Immanuel France, Olaf Tveit of the World Council of Churches, Buddhist Rev. Kosho Niwano from Japan, Sikh Swami Brahmanda from India, and Hindu Swami Theertha.

Professor Din, representing Islam to the symposium attendees, gave a speech in a session entitled “Justice and Responsibility.” In his address, Syamsuddin explained that Islam is “a religion of nature with some 750 of around 6,000 verses in the Qur’an mentioning nature and environment and all its inter-connections.”

In regards to protecting the natural environment and promoting sustainable development, Prof. Syamsuddin presented relevant ahadith illuminating Islamic practices and values, as evidenced in the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him.

Likewise, Syamsuddin offered in his presentation Qur’anic verses regarding the environment, especially the creation of the universe, as well as biodiversity and balance which Allah bestowed upon His creation.

Syamsuddin shared with the symposium attendees the Islamic perspective which recognizes the sacred aspect of nature and the environment as God’s creation.

As the earth is a blessing from God, he said, humans are merely inhabitants, never owners, and in fact only borrowing it for a time from coming generations.

Moreover, Din stated, Islam requires humans “to treat nature justly and responsibly for the benefit of future generations.”

Finally, Dr. Din Syamsuddin encouraged all of the symposium participants to “build a coalition to glorify the environment, involving clerics, politicians and businessmen, as well as other stakeholders.”

Moral and Religious Imperative for Humanity

Noting that humans have all the means needed to transition to clean energy, the Vatican Climate Change Conference stated that “human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

As scientists and religious leaders come together to build consensus and work together to resolve the issues of global warming, it is clear that these joint efforts are slowly but steadily helping. “Indeed, they are fully aligned. Together, we must clearly communicate that the science of climate change is deep, sound and not in doubt,” said UNSG Ban Ki-moon.

{Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the mountains, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool.} [Surat Al-Ahzab 33:72].

wpid-1407769848089-hiroshima w quran text
(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)

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Mercy of Allah: Adaptation to Weather Extremes

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With Ramadan occurring in the hottest time of year for those of us in the northern hemisphere, and the coldest time of year for those in the southern hemisphere, our physical ability to handle weather extremes becomes an interesting topic to reflect upon.

Can you imagine the special situation required of our bodies to adapt to extreme changes in weather? For example, if my sister, currently experiencing winter in southern Australia, visits me for the Eid in Egypt during summer, she will experience a dramatic change in climate.

Her body must adapt to summer, and then she will return home, once again adjusting to winter. How do our bodies handle such changes?

In fact, Allah has provided us with very efficient systems for regulating our internal temperature, automatically maintaining a stable core body temperature in cold winters, warm summers, and wild swings between both extremes.

The normal core body temperature for a healthy human is around 37°C (98.6°F). However, this can vary by as much as +/- 0.6°C (1°F) depending on the physical activity, metabolism, hormonal levels, and even the time of day.

In cold weather, if the core body temperature drops below 34.4°C (94°F), hypothermia occurs. If it continues declining, the temperature regulating system in the hypothalamus usually fails around 29.4°C (85°F), with death soon after.

Physical Adaptation to Cold Climates

Living in cold locations, humans undergo physical adaptation to increase our internal heat production.

As observed by the German biologist Carl Bergmann in 1847, humans in cold regions have greater body mass than those in warm climates.

The process of metabolism, converting food to fuel in our body’s cells, is accompanied by heat production. Therefore, greater body mass is equivalent to more cells, which produce greater heat for protection from cold.

Additionally, Allah provides other long term physical adaptations to cold, including increased basal metabolic rate, as well as heat-insulating fat surrounding vital organs. Changes in blood flow patterns are also noted among people living in cold climates.

In the short term, as when a sudden, drastic change in location to a cold climate occurs, physical acclimatization has also been wondrously designed into our body systems by Allah to protect us in this case.

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Sensing a drastic change in climate, our bodies respond to protect core body temperature. First, vasoconstriction occurs, narrowing blood vessels near the skin’s surface.

By reducing blood flow to areas in closest contact with the cold, less heat is lost through radiation. However, if temperatures are below freezing, our bodies won’t maintain vasoconstriction, because frostbite would occur.

Consequently, the internal temperature system responds with vasodilation, dilating these same blood vessels, increasing warm blood flowing near the skin to protect from freezing.

Cycling continuously between vasoconstriction and vasodilation, the body attempts to protect both stable core body temperature, and skin from freezing. Shivering, a natural increase in small muscle activity also helps produce heat.

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Adapting to Hot Weather

In hot weather, if the core body temperature rises to 40.6-41.7°C (105-107°F), hyperthermia occurs. This condition can be fatal within only a few days, due to internal organs deteriorating.

However, Allah has also designed our bodies to protectively respond to heat. Radiation is responsible for reducing most excess body heat; but in hot, dry climates, evaporative cooling, or sweating, can be significantly more helpful.

As noted by Bergmann also, less massive bodies are the rule among individuals living closer to the equator.

This is due to the same relationship between metabolism and heat production, where less massive bodies have fewer cells, and thus produce less heat. As we see, Allah designs our bodies for our individual locations and circumstances.

As the weather heats up, body heat is radiated from our skin. First, bringing blood vessels closer to skin, vasodilation increases heat radiation from the body.

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Then, sweating releases water to cool the skin as it evaporates. These processes cycle continuously to protect both a stable core body temperature and the skin from being damaged by heat.

However, sweating’s cooling efficiency is directly related to the degree of humidity in the air. When moisture content is high, sweat can’t readily evaporate. Without rapid evaporation, the cooling effect of sweating is reduced.

On the other hand, less body fluid is lost in high humidity conditions, protecting the body by retaining precious fluid and mineral salts.

In hot, dry weather, sweat evaporates quickly, providing an efficient cooling effect. Even so, rapid loss of water and salts from sweating is more significant in dry, desert conditions.

Over a quart of fluid an hour may be lost through sweating on a hot summer day in the desert. Replacing body fluids is critical to keep the body hydrated and replace lost mineral salts.

A weak lemonade juice with a bit of salt added can be a very healthy alternative to a commercial sport drink.

Adapting to Sudden Changes in Climate

With the sudden change of climates, a person going from a cold environment to a hot environment or vice versa experiences additional adaptations, provided by Allah for special protection in this case.

For example, when experiencing a hot weather within a period as short as a few days, the degree of salt in the sweat gradually decreases, and the volume of sweat increases. The natural volume of a person’s urine decreases, additionally reserving precious body fluids and mineral salts.

Thankfully, Allah has provided us with homes as places of refuge from the weather. Technological progress has allowed us to build better and safer homes, as well, protecting us from the mortal dangers of climate extremes. But, subhan’Allah, it is both a wonder and a comfort knowing that, even within the natural processes of our bodies, Allah is well aware of our physical circumstances, and has designed our bodies to adapt to climate extremes.

 

(This article originally appeared on OnIslam.net)