Step by Step To All-Out War
Until now, we have discussed the general structure of the defence system, its organs, cells, and enemies. In this chapter, we will explore the deadly warfare between our defence system and enemy cells, and the wonderful defence our body mounts.
The brave battle fought by of our defence system is comprised of three important stages:
1. Identification of the enemy, first action.
The defence system has to clearly identify the enemy before it starts the fight. This is because each engagement differs from the other depending on the type of enemy. Moreover, if this piece of intelligence is not properly handed on, our defence system may inadvertently attack the body’s own cells.
The phagocytes, known as the scavenger cells of the defence system, take the first action. They fight hand-to-hand with the enemy. They are just like infantrymen who fight with bayonets against enemy units.
Sometimes, phagocytes cannot catch up with the increasing numbers of the enemy, at which point big phagocytic cells, macrophages cut in. We can liken the macrophage to cavalrymen cleaving their way through the middle of the foe. At the same time, macrophages secrete a fluid, which sets off a general alarm in the body to increase the body temperature.
Macrophages have yet another important characteristic. When a macrophage cell captures and engulfs a virus, it tears off a special portion of the virus, which it carries on itself like a flag. This serves as a sign for the other elements of the defence system as well as an item of information.
Once the gathered intelligence is forwarded to the helper T cells, by the help of which they identify the enemy, their first task is to immediately alert the killer T cells, stimulating them to multiply. Within a short period, the stimulated killer T cells will become a formidable army. This is not the only function of the helper T cells. They also ensure that more phagocytes arrive at the battlefront while they transfer the gathered intelligence relating to the enemy to the spleen and lymph nodes.
Once the lymph nodes receive this information, the B cells, which have been waiting for their turn, are activated. (The B cells are manufactured in the bone marrow and then migrate to the lymph nodes to wait for their turn to be of service).
The activated B cells go through a number of stages. Every stimulated B cell begins to multiply. The multiplication process continues until thousands of identical cells are formed. Then, the B cells, which are ready for war, start to divide and are transformed into plasma cells. Plasma cells also secrete antibodies, which will be used as weapons during the fight with the enemy. As stated in earlier chapters, B cells are capable of producing thousands of antibodies in a second. These weapons are very handy. They are capable enough to bind to the enemy first, and then to destroy the biological structure of the enemy (antigen).
If the virus penetrates the cell, the antibodies cannot capture the virus. At this point, the killer T cells come into play again and, by identifying the viruses in the cell with the help of MHC molecules, they kill the cell.
However, if the virus has been successfully camouflaged, escaping even the notice of killer T cells, then "natural killer cells", briefly called NKs, swing into action. These cells destroy the cells which host viruses in them, and which are imperceptible to other cells.
After the victory is won, suppressor T cells stop the war. Although the war is over, it is never to be forgotten. Memory cells have stored the enemy in their memory. Staying in the body for years, these cells help the defence to be faster and more effective if the same enemy is encountered again.
The heroes of this war have not received any military training.
The heroes of this war are not human beings able to reason.
The heroes of this war are cells so minuscule as to hardly cover a full stop when they come together in millions.
Moreover, this amazing army does not engage in fighting alone. It manufactures all the weapons it will use during the war; it makes all war plans and strategies itself, and cleans up the battleground after the war. If all these processes were left in the control of man, and not cells, would we ever be able to handle such a feat of organization?
What if the War in the Body Were Left in the Control of Humans Beings
People do not immediately realize that microbes or viruses are invading their bodies. Only when the symptoms of their illness surface do humans become aware of them. This is proof that a virus, a bacterium, or a similar micro-organism has long ago settled within their body. This means that the primary intervention has resulted in failure. Such unchecked conditions could cause the disease to progress considerably, resulting in irremediable dispositions. Even if the person has been infected with a curable and relatively simple disease, delayed response may result in a serious crisis, or even death.
Now, let us imagine that the coordination and control of the elements of the defence system and the ensuing strategies to be developed and implemented, the overseeing of the war itself were all left to human beings. What sort of difficulties would we confront?
Let us assume that the initial symptoms were effectively diagnosed. When foreign cells enter the human body, immediately the warrior cells must be manufactured and then sent to the area of conflict. The B cells must immediately commence the production of the weapon (antibody). How are we to determine the type and location of these foreign cells? This is a significant point, as future treatment depends on this initial stage. To do this, the only solution for the person would be to have a medical check-up which covered all the organs of his body down to every drop of his blood at the slightest suspicion of invaders having entered the body. Otherwise, it would be impossible to determine the type and location of the antigens. The long time needed for such a process would undoubtedly cause a serious delay in timely intervention. It is evident how troublesome and distressful life would be for people if they had to go to the doctor’s to undergo such a check-up on the merest hint of infection.
Let us suppose that timely intervention was possible and the type and location of antigens could be identified precisely. Depending on the type of the enemy, first the phagocytes have to be activated. How can phagocytes be directed to rush to the exact location? What kind of a message would help them to locate the enemy easily? Let us suppose that the impossible became the possible. Then comes the time to learn whether the phagocytes have won the war or not. Depending on the result, either the macrophages will be launched or the war will be stopped. No doubt, the only possible solution lies with visiting the doctor again and having a thorough check-up. If the war has not been won, the secondary forces, that is, the macrophages, must be sent to the area of conflict. Meanwhile, the time spent on the check-up would work against us. Without losing any time, the macrophages have to tear a piece off the enemy and warn the helper T cells. The helper T cells will in turn warn the killer T cells, thus initiating another struggle. These cells, too, must be checked on as to whether they are successful or not — for which, again, a doctor’s help is needed — and then the NK cells must be called in for assistance. After a final examination, it will be determined if the defence system has been effective in defeating the infection.
If man were asked to control only his defence system and nothing else, he would have to be involved in such a complicated and difficult process. Even a simple common cold would require him to go to the doctor’s many times over, follow up the recovery course of the cells with extremely advanced medical equipment, and direct them as necessary. Even the slightest delay or a problem in the course of the process would cause the illness to be further aggravated.
What if man were asked to form these cells, make them recognize the enemy and manufacture the appropriate antibodies, then teach and organize all the processes they would perform … Unquestionably, such a life would be far more troublesome and distressful than the aforementioned model. It would literally be impossible.
Allah has taken the burden of this process away from humans, creating a faultless system to work in the most immaculate and independent manner ever imaginable. Just like everything else in the universe, our defence system, too, has obeyed its purpose of creation to become an indispensable, critical element of life:
Hearkening to its Lord as it is bound to do…(Surat al-Inshiqaq: 2)
We have explored in previous chapters how the defence system distinguishes between friendly and hostile cells with the help of the receptors. However, the building blocks of some hostile cells are almost identical to those of certain tissues in the human body. This represents a significant problem for the defence system, which might conceivably attack some of its own tissues accidentally.
Under normal conditions, though, such a response never happens in a healthy human body. The defence system never attacks a molecule, cell, or tissue of its own. In medical terms this phenomenon is referred to as "tolerance".
This constitutes an extremely important miracle. We can clearly see that the defence system is fully capable of differentiating between thousands of proteins. For example, the defence system must distinguish the haemoglobin found in blood from the insulin secreted by the pancreas and from the vitreous humour contained in the eye, and indeed, from everything else in the human system. The defence system knows that while it fights a merciless war against foreign molecules, it must not harm any tissues belonging to the human body.
For many years, researchers have tried to understand how the defence system has learned to be tolerant towards its own tissues. Yet, details concerning why the most important lymphocytes, namely, the T and B cells, do not attack the human body have only been revealed in the last 20 years. The tolerance process, only a small portion of which mankind has been able to discover as the result of years long research, has been in operation since the human being came into existence.
How then has the defence system possessed the ability to distinguish the various different structures from each other? Can this be the result of unconscious coincidences as the theory of evolution suggests? It is certainly impossible for structures made up of unconscious atoms to coincidentally acquire this selection ability that requires such consciousness, information and intelligence.
When specially designed structures of lymphocytes enabling them to make the right choise is investigated, it will be understood how illogical and unreasonable the claim of evolutionists is.
A defence cell developed within the bone marrow or the thymus would be killed or inactivated if it reacted to the products of the body. A mature lymphocyte faces the same consequence in case it attacks the body’s own products. That is to say that any element of the defence system likely to harm the body is either killed or forced to commit suicide obeying the command it receives.
However, if a T cell is confronted by another body cell, it does not attack but rather inactivates itself. Similarly, if there is any substance in the body that carries antigen properties which should not, however, be destroyed, the human body does not produce any antibodies and so does not attack it.
If we consider the fact that our body contains around 1 trillion lymphocytes, we can appreciate the miraculous discipline required to ensure that these cells only target enemy cells and spare friendly cells.
The Protected Barrier
In essence, the embryo in a mother’s womb should normally be considered foreign matter by the host human body. Subsequently, when the embryo is first formed, the body would immediately instigate a struggle against it. The defence system would not allow such an ‘enemy’ to develop. However, despite this negative scenario, the embryo is not as vulnerable as we might assume. After it is formed, it succeeds in fully developing over an extended period of 9 months, completely protected against the intended attacks of the antibodies.
How then is this achieved?
There is a barrier surrounding the embryo specially created to absorb only the nutrients in the blood. This barrier helps the embryo to take up the necessary nutrients for its development, while isolating it from the destructive effect of antibodies.
Otherwise, the antibodies would immediately attack the embryo (considered as a foreign substance) and destroy it. The isolation of the embryo from the antibodies with such a special protection is one of the most perfect examples of creation in the mother’s womb.
Neither mutation, nor natural selection nor any other so-called evolutionary mechanism could have incorporated such perfect creation in the evolution tale. The miracle of creation is self-evident. In the Qur'an, Allah states that He placed the embryo in a secure repository:
Did We not create you from a base fluid. then place it in a secure repository for a recognised term? It is We who determine. What an excellent Determiner! (Surat al-Mursalat: 20-23)
There are occasions when these cells fail to fulfill their functions. However, it should never be forgotten that if Allah had willed, this would not happen either. Such disorders are created for a hidden cause for people to clearly comprehend how temporary and incomplete the life of this world actually is. Were it not for the existence of a variety of diseases and illnesses, humans would be likely to forget how helpless they were against Allah Who created them. They might fail to remember that no matter how advanced technology is, their recovery, as well as their life, depend on the will of Allah alone. They may continue to live as if they will remain in good health forever, as if they will never meet death and be called to account for their actions in the presence of Allah on the Day of Judgment. They may live on without reflecting on the plight of those who are sick, deprived and oppressed. Therefore, they may fail to appreciate that their health is a blessing from Allah and that they should live their lives in the most favorable and productive way. People of this sort, however, hardly ever accept these facts, which we have listed above. Illnesses make people accept them in a flash. It is not until then that people start to think about things that never occurred to them before, such as their helplessness and incapacity against the power of Allah, the fact that technology, which developed by the will of Allah, can again only be of any use by His will; they think of those people in need, of death, and depending on their illness, even the stage beyond death. Only then do people appreciate their health. Furthermore, they witness the undependability of the life of this world, to which they were blindly devoted and committed with all their existence; this causes them to re-assess whether they have worked enough for the hereafter, their true abode.
Indeed, our true abode is not this world, but the hereafter. Life in the hereafter is not limited by years, nor is its quality dictated by such basic needs as sleeping, feeding, or cleaning, or by negative factors such as diseases. The endless blessings in heaven are stated in the following verse of the Qur’an:
They will remain there timelessly, for ever, among everything their selves desire. (Surat al-Anbiya: 102)
It is a pity that the majority of people do not appreciate their health, or think of the fleeting nature of the life of this world. And only if they fall ill do they pray to Allah. When, however, they are restored to health and return to their daily lives, they forget everything. In the Qur’an, Allah draws attention to this characteristic of humans:
When harm touches people they call on their Lord, repenting to Him. But then, when He gives them a taste of His mercy, a group of them immediately associate others with their Lord (Surat ar-Rum: 33)
Allah, Who knows the truth of things (al-Khabir), created thousands of types of diseases, all of which lie in store for human beings. There is no guarantee that one of them, maybe the most dangerous one, will not infect you. Every miraculous organ and system in our body is apt to wear down and fail to operate. As we have stated earlier, if Allah had willed it so, none of this would happen and no problems would occur in any of our organs and systems. It is obvious that there is a message delivered to human beings in all these happenings, that is the temporary nature of the life of this world…