THE CLONING OF LIVING THINGS
[Satan said:] “I will lead them astray and fill them with false hopes. I will command them and they will cut off cattle’s ears. I will command them and they will change Allah’s creation.” Anyone who takes satan as his protector in place of Allah has clearly lost everything.” (Surat an-Nisa’, 119)
The above verse contains the expression “yubattikunna,” which derives from the verb "battaka” meaning ”to cut off or break off.” The term “yughayyirunna” in the verse derives from the verb “ghayyara,” meaning “to change, alter, impair a thing’s original form.” At the end of both verbs appears the confirmatory letter ”nun.” With these expressions, verse 119 of Surat an-Nisa’ may, in one aspect, be pointing to the scientific activity of copying or cloning of organisms. (Allah knows the truth.) That is because cloning experiments are generally conducted with cells taken from an animal’s ear. To put it another way, a replica living thing is produced with the taking of cells from tissue samples “cut from animals’ ears,” just as described in the verse.
A report by the German Federal Agricultural Research Center provides the following information:
The tissue collection phase is short and simple. Once an animal has been located and restrained, a tissue sample like an ear clipping can be collected within seconds. Furthermore, somatic cells can be collected from all species. … For cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, camelids and llamas, a unified and identical procedure can be used by obtaining a tissue sample from the ear using notchers which are also used for setting earmarks… Clearly, for all species lymphocytes could be used, but somatic cells from ear clippings will be much easier to obtain and are therefore preferable. 1
Some reports concerning organisms cloned by taking samples from ear tissue include:
- According to a report by Reuters dated 1 May, 2002, a research veterinarian at the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil, Jose Visintin, produced cloned embryos for the first time in the country by using cells taken from the ear of an adult cow.2
- According to a BBC report, South Korean scientists cloned a dog called Snuppy from cells taken from a 3-year-old Afghan hound. Researchers at the Seoul National University extracted genetic material from the cells taken from the ear and placed it into an empty egg cell. An embryo was then obtained by stimulating the cell to divide.3
- Another BBC report said that a new clone had been produced using ear cells from an adult cow in research carried out by Dr. Jean-Paul Renard et al. at the Institute National de la Recherche Agronomique in France.4
- According to information of the official Human Genome Project website, in February 2002, scientists from the Advanced Cell Technologies (ACT) biotechnology company carried out experiments on cloning a cow embryo using the skin cell of the donor cow’s ear.5
- A report by Associated Press, dated 24 January, 2000, announced that Japanese scientists had cloned the clone of a bull for the first time. In the re-cloning, skin tissue samples from the first generation cloned bull’s ear were taken when it was four months old. These cells were then fused with an unfertilized egg from which the nucleus had been removed.6
The way that changes in the creation of living things are referred to in the Qur’an and the expression “cutting off cattle’s ears,” at a time when no branches of science such as genetics or embryology existed, shows that the Qur’an has come down from the Sight of our Lord, Allah, Who is unfettered by time. We are also told at the end of the verse that these people will be disappointed when they alter what Allah has created. The verse may therefore be indicating that cloning will give rise to various problems for human beings. (Allah knows the truth.) Indeed, statements from the Genetic Science Learning Center of the University of Utah provide the following information:
When we hear of cloning successes, we learn about only the few attempts that worked. What we don't see are the many, many cloning experiments that failed! And even in the successful clones, problems tend to arise later, during the animal's development to adulthood.7
Information from the Human Genome Project website take this form:
Dolly, the first mammal to be cloned from adult DNA, [died on] Feb. 14, 2003. Prior to her death, Dolly had been suffering from lung cancer and crippling arthritis. … More than 90% of cloning attempts fail to produce viable offspring. … In addition to low success rates, cloned animals tend to have more compromised immune function and higher rates of infection, tumor growth, and other disorders. Japanese studies have shown that cloned mice live in poor health and die early. … Appearing healthy at a young age unfortunately is not a good indicator of long term survival. Clones have been known to die mysteriously. For example, Australia's first cloned sheep appeared healthy and energetic on the day she died, and the results from her autopsy failed to determine a cause of death.8
In general terms, the risks arising from cloning experiments are as follows:
1) A high failure rate: The level of success is just 0.1%-3%. That means a failure rate of 970-999 for every 1000 experiments.9
2) Problems during development: Cloned animals that do survive generally have abnormally larger organs compared to the originals. This may lead to respiration and circulation difficulties, unhealthy kidneys and brain, and an impaired immune system.
3) Abnormal gene expression patterns: Although clones have the same DNA sequences as the originals, the cell nucleus in the clone does not have the same program as that in a natural embryo. To put it another way, the DNA cannot express the right set of genes essential for the development of the clone at the right time. For example, cells of all kinds, nerve, bone, blood or skin for example, all have different programs but the genetic programs in the clone embryo do not work as healthily as those in a natural embryo.
4) Telomeric differences: Chromosomes are shortened as cells divide. The reason for this is that DNA sequences at both ends of a chromosome, known as telomeres, are shortened during each DNA replication. As an animal grows older, the telomeres shorten as part of that aging. Therefore, the copied life form has shortened chromosomes from the moment it is born, just as if it were actually older.
Genetic material taken from living cells is used in cloning experiments, but fertilization takes place artificially. The reproduction mechanism created by Allah is thus impaired with these methods, and unidentified diseases, developmental deficiencies and early deaths are encountered. The way that it was reported 1400 years ago that scientists would engage in cloning and that the problems awaiting people therefrom are emphasized, clearly reveals that the Qur’an is a Divine scripture.
In the cloning process, DNA from a cell of the living thing planned to be copied is placed under the microscope and placed into an egg cell from another member of the same species. The DNA of the animal intended to be copied is used for this. An electric shock is then applied, which stimulates the egg cell to start dividing. The embryo continues to divide and is placed into the womb of a member of the species, and is then left to develop and be born.