Hox Genes Described Centuries Before DNA Science

by Linda “iLham” Barto

American geneticist E. B. Lewis discovered, in 1978, that eight genes, with only minor variations in the genetic code, are present in all species of the animal kingdom. Mammals, fish, fowl, and even insects all share the same master control genes that sculpt each basic body plan. These genes are called ‘homeobox’ genes –‘hox’ for short. They comprise the command center for the creation of each body. Hox genes produce proteins in a developing embryo. The proteins begin a developmental cascade by binding to specific DNA sequences; that in turn causes other targeted genes to produce their own proteins. The new proteins act as messengers that inform each cell what it is to become. For example, a Hox gene initiates the sending of messengers to one segment of cells to tell the cells to form either an arm, a wing, or a fin. The Hox genes are active along a creature’s body in a specific order, from head to rear, tracking the spine.

Perhaps, in addition to sperm, the Qur’an refers to the Hox genes when it says, “He [humanity] was created from a gushing fluid emerging from between the spine and the ribs” (Surah 86: 6-7). In the embryo, the Hox genes are located between what is to become the spine and the ribs, and they gush forth fluid-like in sending messages according to the body plan. The Hox genes are the master switches for turning on sets of other genes that, in turn, regulate the creation of distinct regions of an animal’s or a human’s body.

We may theorize that the Hox genes will also be activated in recreation on the Day of Resurrection. Exactly following the emergence verse given above, the Qur’an asserts, “Surely He [Allah] is able to resurrect him [humanity]” (Surah 86: 8).

Scientists theorize that our linear time will reach an event called ‘the Omega Point.’ At that turning point, our continually expanding universe will begin collapsing on itself, and time will be reversed. Physicist Frank Tipler believes that, during that collapse, everything that has ever had life will be resurrected. The Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings upon him) stated, “There is nothing of the human body that does not decay except one bone. From the bone at the end of the spine, each human body will be recreated on the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhari, Book 60, Hadith 457). Perhaps, without ever knowing anything of DNA science, the Prophet (peace!) was alluding to the Hox genes.

In another hadith, the Prophet (peace!) said, “Allah will say to the person who will have the minimum punishment in the fire on the Day of Resurrection, ‘If you had things equal to whatever is on the earth, would you ransom yourself with it?’ The person will reply, ‘Yes!’ Allah will say, ‘I asked you a much easier thing than this while you were in the backbone of Adam, and that was not to worship others besides Me, but you refused and insisted on worshiping others besides Me’” (Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 562).

Consider the words “in the backbone of Adam.” Congruent with the backbone of Adam was the DNA pattern, the Hox genes, for all humanity. Genetic scientists have already determined that all humanity has descended from the same two parents, and that the Hox genes have been inherited from one common ancestor. Intentional references to the area along the spine and to the tail bone (the area of the Hox genes) are used in my given selections from the Qur’an and Hadith, which, of course, are centuries older than DNA science.

One more reason to believe!

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