Monday, April 11, 2011

Allah - The Name of God

Al’lah is simply defined by the New American Webster Dictionary as “(Moslem) God”. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines Allāh (Arabic: “God”) as the one and only God in the religion of Islam.

There are 129 million references on Google Search for the word “Allah”.
This paper is a compilation of information gleaned from some of them and internet webnews.

Most scholars agree that allah is the Arabic word that shares the same ancestral root as the biblical Aramaic elah and Hebrew eloah, which is the singular of elohim, a generic word for God used throughout the Old Testament.
The name’s origin may be traced to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for “God” was “Il” or “El”, the latter being the Old Testament synonym for YHWH.
Western scholars are fairly unanimous that the source of the word is probably Aramaic from the Syriac word alāh (“the god”).
It has its root in the word ’l, which in Syriac was pronounced as alâhâ (“the god”), which has the same meaning as ha-’elôah in Hebrew, ho theos in Greek and Allâh (= al-ilâh) in Arabic.
The word allah also appears in other Semitic languages such as Assyrian, Babylonian, Aramaic and Phoenician Ugarit languages.
In the Semitic languages, this word refers to a power which is beyond the reach of human beings, a power that belongs to the gods.

The Arabic translation of the Bible, along with the holy books of other religions (Torah, Sikh) uses it based on a common treasury of the Arabic language.

There are controversies about the pre Islamic origin of the word allah, which most sources claim to have been previously used by pagan Meccans as a reference to the creator deity, possibly the supreme deity, in pre-Islamic Arabia.

Inscriptions with the word “allah”, dated from as early as 5th century BC, have been discovered in archeological findings in the region, lending support to the fact that the word was already in general use before Islam and Prophet Mohammad (570-632 AD).
His father, who died several months before Mohammad’s birth, was called Abd Allah ibn Abd al-Muṭṭalib (545-570AD).
Abd Allah, which means "servant of God", "slave of God" or "worshipper of God" was once a common name among Arabic-speaking Jews as well.

The term Allāh is derived from a contraction of the Arabic definite article “al-“ "the" and “ilāh "deity, god" to al-lāh meaning "the [sole] deity, God".
In Islamic tradition, there are 99 names of God each of which evoke a distinctive characteristic of Allah.
All these names refer to Allah, the supreme and all comprehensive divine name. Muslims insist that the name “Allah" must be used in every language and cannot be translated to “Dios” in Spanish, “Dieu” in French, or “God” in English.
Muslims thus regard "Allah" not as a generic word for god, but as the proper name of “the God” as revealed to the Prophet Mohammad (?610AD).

Shared usage of the word Allâh was acknowleged in the Qur’an by Prophet Mohammad. The Madinah Covenant drawn up by the Prophet after the Hijrah 622 AD acknowledged that while the Jews and Christians had different religions (dîn), they were still part of the people of the one Allâh (God), meaning that they were people who worshipped the true Allâh (God)

This view was reiterated in the Hadith which recorded the incident when the Christians from Najran met with the prophet in Madinah to discuss matters relating to dogmas where they differed from the prophet.
The Christians were invited by Muhammad to use the prayer room in his house to conduct their worship, because there was no church in Madinah.
The prophet acknowledged that the Christians worshipped the same Allâh (God) although their religion (dîn) was different.

The Wikipedia Bahasa Indonesia summarizes it as follows: Allāh adalah kata dalam bahasa arab yang merujuk pada nama Tuhan. Perkataan tuhan dalam bahasa arab adalah Ilah sebagaimana dalam dua kalimah sahadah Islam. Kata Allah ini lebih banyak dikenal sebagai sebutan tuhan oleh penganut agama Islam. Kata ini sendiri di kalangan para penutur bahasa arab, adalah kata yang umum untuk menyebut tuhan terlepas dari agama mereka, termasuk penganut Yahudi dan Kristen Arab. Konsekuensinya, kata ini digunakan dalam terjemahan kitab suci agama Kristen dan Yahudi yang berbahasa arab, sebagaimana pula terjemahan Alkitab dalam bahasa Indonesia dan Turki.

Allah in Bible Translations

The oldest Arabic translation of the Bible (manuscripts dated 867 AD) by Bishr Ibn Al Sirri, a Nestorian Christian living in Damascus, was discovered in the 19th century in the Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai.
Since the ninth century AD, Arab Christians have continued to translate “elohim” and “theos” (the primary terms for god in Hebrew and Greek) as “allah” in the Arabic Bible and Muslim writers have used Allah in their quotations of the Christian Bible.
Jewish scholars have also been translating elohim and elah as Allah since the earliest known Arabic translations of the Torah in the ninth century until today.

As of July 2010, translations of the books in the Bible have been made into 3,168+ languages, one of the two Testaments in 1,668 languages, and the complete Bible in 457 languages.

Albert Cornelius Ruyl, a Protestant Dutch merchant in Indonesia, translated the book of Matthew into Malay in 1612, which was printed in the Netherlands in 1629. He then translated Mark which was published in 1638.
The Malay (Indonesian) New Testament was printed in 1731 and the complete Al Kitab in 1733.
The Malay translation of Matthew has the distinction of being the first non European language translation of any book of the bible.

Both the terms Allah and Tuhan are used in the Malay and Indonesian Bible. Mainstream Bible translations in both languages use Allah as the translation of Hebrew Elohim (translated in English Bibles as "God").
This goes back to early translation work by Francis Xavier in the 16th century. Following the precedence set by the Arab Christians, Allah is used to translate el/elohim and Tuhan (TUHAN) is used to translate Yahweh (YHWH).

The word Tuhan is also applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Thus we read of the Lord Jesus as Tuhan Yesus.
The word Lord was used to translate the word kurios 8400 times in the Greek version of the Old Testament. It refers to human beings only 400 times and to God 8000 times. Of these 8000 times, 6700 are substitutes for the word YHWH.
The transference of the title kurios LORD/YHWH to Jesus Christ is testimony to the belief in the deity of Christ right at the beginning of Christianity.

The Indonesian (BIS) bible (Alkitab Kabar Baik dalam Bahasa Indonesia Sehari-hari) uses the word “Allah” 4192 times, “Tuhan” 6871 times and “TUHAN Allah” 977 times.
In the first book of the bible, Genesis there are over 180 verses containing this word “Allah” translated in the English version as “God”.

This simple statistical survey shows clearly that the demand by Muslims that Christians simply substitute the word Allah with Tuhan is untenable since it will render many Biblical references to God and Jesus Christ incoherent.

What is the translator’s job when handling the Scriptures?
It is to communicate as faithfully as possible, taking a word that is used in the source language, and utilizing its equivalent (if there is one) in the target language.
The principle is this: that when referring to God, you may use the generic cultural word for “god”, but not the proper name of a specific god from that culture (e.g. Baal, Zeus, Thor, etc.).

In the Arabian, Malay, Indonesian or Iban translation of the Bible, the word allah has been used in the generic sense for god, not referring to the Allah professed by Muslims.

The Malay language is a member of the Austronesian language family spoken as a native language by more than 33 million over Malaya, Sumatra and Borneo and the national language of Malaysia and Indonesia. 20 million Indonesian Christians use the Alkitab in Indonesia (90% Muslim).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lifetime Exposure to Cigarette Smoking and the Development of Adult-onset Atopic Dermatitis

From The British Journal of Dermatology

C.H. Lee; H.Y. Chuang; C.H. Hong; S.K. Huang; Y.C. Chang; Y.C. Ko; and H.S. Yu

Adult-onset atopic dermatitis (AD) has recently been recognized as a distinct disease entity, but its risk factors have not yet been clearly defined.
Although gestational and perinatal exposure to tobacco smoking may be associated with the development of classic AD, the association between active/passive smoking and adult-onset AD remains controversial.
To determine if exposure to smoking, including environmental tobacco smoke (ETS), is associated with the risk of adult-onset AD.
Tobacco smoking and exposure to ETS were measured in a case–control association analysis in 83 patients with physician-diagnosed adult-onset AD and 142 age- and sex-matched controls.
Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that, among the potential environmental risk factors, both current and ever smoking were significant risk factors for adult-onset AD [odds ratio (OR) 4·994 and 3·619, respectively], compared with never smoking. Also, packs per year was significantly associated with adult-onset AD (OR 1·058, 95% confidence interval 1·028–1·089), suggesting a lifelong cumulative risk in current smokers. Moreover, nonsmokers with adult-onset AD reported significantly more exposure to ETS.
Early and/or current exposure to cigarette smoking may contribute cumulatively to the development of adult-onset AD.
Exposure to ETS in childhood is associated with the development of adult-onset AD. Adults should be discouraged from smoking to prevent adult-onset AD in themselves and their family members.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by chronic relapses of dermatitis in patients with a personal or family history of atopic disease.
The onset of AD commonly occurs in early childhood, although symptoms can persist or begin in adulthood.
Depending on the age of onset, AD preferentially affects specific locations on the skin. For example, AD usually affects flexural areas with lichenification in children, while adult-onset AD preferentially affects the face and hands.
Taking into consideration the familial tendency towards specific antigen sensitization to AD, a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors may play an important role in the pathogenesis of AD.
Several important environmental factors are considered risks for AD, including food allergens, aeroallergens and infectious agents such as Staphylococcus aureus
This study focuses on tobacco smoking and its possible contribution to AD.

Although the development of AD was thought to occur in very early childhood, recently several groups from Japan, Australia and the U.S.A. have described adult-onset AD. Both classical AD and adult-onset AD cases present with intensive itching. However, adult-onset AD differs from classical AD by preferentially affecting the face, hands and nonflexural areas and a prurigo-like pattern occurs more frequently in adult-onset AD. Except for a study in Italy demonstrating the outcome of patch tests in patients,no risk factors have been defined for adult-onset AD.

Although there is an increased risk of asthma from gestational and perinatal exposure to smoking,studies investigating the influence of such exposure on the development of AD show mixed results.Wang et al. reported that exposure to smoke during pregnancy might increase the risk of childhood AD, but results from other reports are inconsistent with these findings. A molecular investigation found blood IgE to be elevated in infants born to mothers who smoked, and there are reports that active smoking might increase IgE in asthmatic patients.Evidence that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) during early childhood predisposes the child to later AD has been documented,[12,13] but the association between current smoking and the development of AD remains unclear. Using mail-in questionnaires from a study population of 40 888 subjects, Bo et al. reported an association between active smoking and the development of AD in Norway [odds ratio (OR) 1·31], but the association did not reach significance. In the U.K., self-reported mail-in questionnaires from 150 patients with AD also suggested a similar but insignificant association with smoking (OR 1·1).
In France, an analysis of 14 578 subjects reported a significant association between active smoking and AD in adolescents (OR 1·8).
Although the approaches varied considerably, from very large surveys with no clinical data to smaller clinical studies, these studies consistently indicate an association of active smoking with AD.
The studies, however, did not specifically address the association of active smoking and adult-onset AD, probably because they were studying cases of classical AD in which the age of onset precedes the onset of smoking behaviour.
Moreover, self-reported questionnaire surveys are subject to inaccurate diagnosis for AD and a low response rate, and they lack a physician diagnosis.
Smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day is reported to increase the risk of hand eczema, also suggesting a potential link between smoking and adult-onset AD.
Thus, the current evidence consistently suggests a link between tobacco smoking and AD, but a more thorough investigation is required to support the link. Moreover, how adult-onset AD is associated with smoking has never been addressed.
In this hospital-based, case–control study we investigated whether exposure to tobacco smoke, including current smoking, ever smoking and ETS, is associated with the risk of adult-onset AD. It represents the first study to investigate directly the possible association between ETS exposure and adult-onset AD.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Yoga Found to Reduce AF Episodes

From Heartwire

Sue Hughes

April 2, 2011 (New Orleans, LA) – Taking a 45-minute yoga class three times a week was associated with a halving of episodes of atrial fibrillation (AF) in a new small study.

The study, presented today at the opening press conference of the American College of Cardiology 2011 Scientific Sessions , was conducted by a team led by Dr Dhanunjaya Lakkireddy (University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City).

He said he started the study after a patient had reported a great improvement in her AF after having started practicing yoga.
For the study, 49 patients with paroxysmal AF underwent a three-month control phase in which they could engage in any type of physical activity they were previously accustomed to doing.
They then underwent a three-month study phase where they participated in a supervised yoga program consisting of breathing exercises, yoga postures, meditation, and relaxation.
They were also encouraged to practice the exercises at home on a daily basis. All participants were new to the practice of yoga, and the program was designed to allow beginners to progress safely from basic movements to more advanced practice over the course of the study.

Results showed that during the yoga-intervention phase, the number of episodes of AF was significantly reduced--from a mean of 3.8 to 2.1. The number of phantom episodes was also reduced, from a mean of 2.6 to 1.4. In addition, 22% of patients did not have any AF episodes during the yoga phase.

Lakkireddy reported that there was also a "drastic" improvement in quality of life, with significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores.

He said: "It appears yoga has a significant impact on helping to regulate patients' heartbeat and improves their overall quality of life.
Any intervention that helps in reducing or controlling the arrhythmia burden in atrial fibrillation can have a huge impact on public health."

He recommended that yoga be used as a supplemental therapy in AF. "I am not suggesting that patients should stop taking their medication, but if used as a supplement to medication, yoga could really make a dramatic difference," he added. He also stressed that yoga cannot prevent stroke, and patients definitely need to continue on their anticoagulant treatment.

He said he did not know how the yoga was working but suggested that it might prevent the peaks in sympathetic and parasympathetic tone that precede AF episodes. "It looks as if yoga is reducing the triggers of AF, but we would like to do more studies to look into the mechanisms further," Lakkireddy added.
He suggested that yoga may also bring about this effect by reducing systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction.

He commented to heartwire : "Yoga also helps reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and stress, so it is a comprehensive lifestyle change that can have a broad effect."

Asked if clinical recommendations could be made on the basis of a 49-patient study, Lakkireddy said: "We're not claiming yoga fixes everything in AF, and we are advising patients to continue taking their medication, but we have shown some impressive effects. Everything has to start somewhere."

Radiation From Airport Scanners Very Low: Study

From Reuters Health Information

By Julie Steenhuysen

CHICAGO (Reuters) Mar 29 - Airport scanners are an "extremely low" source of radiation exposure that poses virtually no health risk, not even to frequent air travelers, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

The study may help ease fears of uneasy travelers already spooked by reports of radiation leaking from the crippled nuclear plants in Japan.

"There is such a vast difference between super-low doses of radiation and the really high doses that happen if you are in the middle of a nuclear accident," said Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a radiology professor at the University of California, San Francisco, whose study appeared online March 28th in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Because they are all called radiation, we are tempted to put them all in the same category. That is a mistake."

She said the nuclear crisis in Japan has heightened fear about radiation, but she said a person would have to get more than 50 airport scans to get as much radiation exposure as one gets from a dental X-ray.

"When used properly, the doses from these machines are extremely low," Dr. Smith-Bindman said in a telephone interview.

Some travelers and airline crews have expressed concerns about being repeatedly exposed to radiation from the body scanners, which the Transportation Security Administration has deployed to detect banned items on passengers.

Only one type of full-body airport scanner - the backscatter X-ray machine - expose individuals to ionizing radiation such as that used in common medical X-rays.

To estimate the risk from these machines, Dr. Smith-Bindman and co-author Pratik Mehta estimated radiation exposure for three different groups: all flyers, very frequent fliers, and 5-year-old girls who are frequent fliers, because children are more sensitive to the effects of radiation.

They said of the total 750 million flights taken per year by 100 million passengers, there would be an additional six cancers over the course of the travelers' lifetimes. That is in addition to the 40 million cancers that would normally develop among people in a group this size.

For very frequent fliers -- people who fly 60 hours a week -- there might be four extra cancers on top of the 600 extra cancers just from so much flying - which exposes people to more solar radiation - and 400,000 cancers that normally would occur over their lifetime.

And for every 2 million 5-year-old girls who travel one round-trip a week, going through the scanners would cause one additional cancer out of the 250,000 breast cancers that are set to occur in this group over their lifetimes.

Dr. Stephen Machnicki of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not involved in the study, said the radiation from one of these scanners is less than what someone would get just by taking a cross-country flight.

He said he hopes the new data will help people "to overcome their fears of going through the scanners."

Dr. Smith-Bindman - who has published several studies on cancer risks from overuse of medical imaging - said the risk from airport scanners is trivial.

"If you compare it to a CT scan, you need to go through an airport scanner 200,000 times to be equivalent to the dose of one CT," she said.

"I'd rather focus on getting rid of some of those CTs."

Arch Intern Med 2011.

Regular Exercise Can Help Preserve/Build Heart Mass

From Heartwire
Exercise and heart mass

Sue Hughes

April 2, 2011 (New Orleans, LA) – Another benefit of regular exercise has been discovered--preventing the reduction in heart mass normally seen with aging.

Speaking at a press conference on the opening day of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) 2011 Scientific Sessions , Dr Paul Bhella (John Peter Smith Hospital, Fort Worth, TX) explained that heart muscle size--typically measured by left ventricular (LV) mass--peaks early in life and diminishes with sedentary aging.

Bhella conducted a study to look at the effect of regular exercise on this process and found that being physically active over the course of a lifetime can "preserve the heart's youthful elasticity." He noted that as the heart muscle atrophies with age, the heart becomes weaker, less capable of responding to increasing demands such as those associated with physical activity, and, in many circumstances, this leads to a stiffening of the heart by increasing the relative proportion of connective tissue compared with cardiac muscle.

In the study, Bhella and his colleagues compared two groups of people: 81 healthy but sedentary individuals aged 21 to 82 years; and 67 people aged 65 or older who had exercised regularly throughout their lives. The second group was subdivided into those who had exercised two to three times per week, four to five times week, and six to seven times per week. Exercise was defined as a period of at least 20 to 25 minutes of aerobic activity. Study participants underwent cardiac MRI to estimate cardiac mass and LV mass.

Results showed that in the sedentary group, LV mass reduced with age from an average of 55 g/m2 in those in their 30s to 24 g/m2 to those in their 60s. In contrast, in those older individuals who had done regular exercise, LV mass either stayed stable or actually increased, and there was a clear dose-dependent effect with the amount of exercise taken. Those who had did exercise two to three times were per week, had an average LV mass of around 53 g/m2, and this increased to about 62 g/m2 in those exercising four to times a week and to about 68 g/m2 in the six-to-seven-times/week group.

Similar results were seen with peak oxygen uptake. This decreased steadily with age in the sedentary group but increased with increasing exercise levels in the active group. Those individuals aged over 65 who exercised four to five times a week had a higher level of peak oxygen uptake than those aged under 34 who were sedentary.

"Use it or lose it"

To heartwire , Bhella commented: "You have to use it or lose it. It is never too late to start exercising. Exercising twice a week can prevent age-related loss of cardiac mass, while exercising four to five times a week can rebuild cardiac mass. This is the first time anybody has shown this."

He explained that while higher cardiac mass has not directly been shown to cause better outcomes, it is associated with increased levels of fitness, which has been shown to be associated with better outcomes. He stressed that all the increases were in the healthy range and that cardiac mass did not start to become pathologic until levels of around 130 g/m2, which happens in left ventricular dysfunction. "The increase we are seeing is a healthy remodeling of the heart, associated with delivering more blood effectively to the body. So oxygen uptake increases, and in turn fitness increases," he explained.

Lead investigator of the study, Dr Benjamin Levine, said in an ACC press release: "The data suggest that if we can identify people in middle age and get them to exercise four to five times a week, this may go a very long way in preventing some of the major heart conditions of old age, including heart failure. Defining how to intervene at the right time and with the right dose [of physical activity] are critical questions we need to answer from a public-health standpoint, but also as cardiologists we want our patients to remain healthy and forestall heart problems."