Circadian Rhythm

Digital CameraAlhamdulillah, I have a six month old daughter, and every day is full of witnessing wonders of Allah (swt). One thing, which always amazed me, is that healthy babies get up in the early hours of the morning, around Fajr time. This observation sent me to the computer for searching on the Internet about ‘body clocks.’ As I was doing that, I discovered more wonders of Allah’s (swt) creations.

Circadian Rhythm

All living beings have body clocks including humans, plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. This body clock is a 24-hour, 11-minute cycle that exists in the physiological processes of all living things. These cycles became known as ‘circadian rhythm.’ It comes from the Latin word Circa (around) and Dies (day), literally meaning ‘about a day.’ These rhythms are generated within the body, although they can be modulated by external cues, such as light and temperature.

Circadian clocks sense light through a process that transfers energy from light to chemical reactions in cells. These clocks in cells respond to differences in light between night and day and thereby allow organisms to anticipate changes in the environment by pacing their metabolism to this daily cycle.

Circadian Rhythm in Plants and Animals

In plants, the circadian rhythm controls processes, including leaf and petal movements, the opening and closing of stomatal pores, the discharge of floral fragrances and many metabolic activities.

The sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals and their patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, digestion, cell regeneration and other biological activities are linked to this daily cycle.

Human Body’s Pacemaker

In humans, the circadian clock serves as a pacemaker and is located deep within the brain, where it helps the body keep time. This is the ‘master clock’ of the human body. It controls a number of body functions and interacts with the mechanisms controlling sleep. Recent studies have revealed that organs outside the brain, such as liver, lungs, spleen, etc., have their own rhythm and work independently.

Research has revealed that the circadian clock is affected by light. Darkness stimulates sleep and sunrise triggers the chemical process that enables a person to begin waking up. In the evening, the pineal gland in the base of our brain begins producing the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. For most people, studies show that the pressure to sleep builds up throughout the day and peaks around 9 -10 pm. At this time, the body’s temperature starts to drop and lowers about one degree during sleep. As it starts to rise around 4 am, the likelihood of waking increases, and this increase in temperature revives our metabolism for the day ahead.

At dawn, our blood pressure has its sharpest rise, allowing us to assume a vertical position safely. Around lunchtime, our liver enzymes kick into full gear in anticipation of food.

Human body clock also has a built-in alarm system, which is why we often wake up, before our alarm goes off. Researchers conclude that hormones increase because of our anticipation, which is widely thought to be a characteristic unique to conscious action. This pervades sleep and facilitates spontaneous waking. It has also been found that older people rise earlier than young ones.

Out of Sync

Experiments by researchers have revealed that our constant exposure to artificial light is leaving our bodies out of sync with the light rhythms of the natural world. In modern society, we are regularly exposed to artificial light, both in the work place and after the sunset. This extended exposure to artificial light late into the night, along with the shielding from sunlight by curtains and shades early in the morning, could be wreaking havoc with our natural biological clocks.


Disruption of rhythms usually has a negative effect in the short term. Many travelers experience the condition known as jet lag, with its associated symptoms of fatigue, disorientation and insomnia.

Disruption of rhythms in the long term is believed to have significant adverse health consequences on peripheral organs outside the brain, particularly in the development or exacerbation of cardiovascular diseases.

Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sa)

Rasoolullah (sa) used to sleep immediately after the Isha prayer, which must have been around 10 pm in Arabia, and he would wake up for Tahajjud, i.e., before Fajr prayer. May be he used to wake up around 4 am, which according to research is the natural circadian time to wake up. However, one constant Sunnah of the Prophet (sa) is that he used to take a short nap in the afternoon for 30 to 45 minutes. This is another thing that researchers are finding very helpful in increasing effectiveness and productivity of a person. In fact, they call it ‘power nap.’


Allah (swt) says in Surah Fussilat (41:53): “We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their own selves, until it becomes manifest to them that this (the Quran) is the truth.”

The circadian clock is a sign of Allah (swt) in our own selves. It is an example of His mercy, organisation, tender love, supreme power over mankind and all His living creations. Moreover, the waking and sleeping pattern of Rasool Allah (sa) shows, how close he was to nature and natural laws, Subhan’Allah.

The Wastage Phenomenon

By Hafsa Ahsan

Asma was a bright, ambitious engineering student. She entered one of the most prestigious institutes of engineering and four years later graduated with laurels. However, immediately after her graduation, her parents fixed her marriage into a family, which wasn’t so keen on her utilizing her engineering degree in any way.

Her mother wasn’t too bothered. When certain concerned friends inquired quite incredulously, as to why she let her daughter take admission in a professional university, if she had no intentions of pursuing her career, she remarked casually: “Well, she had a passion, so we let her pursue it. Of course, we had told her quite strictly that she will not be allowed to work or pursue a career in it. And now her in-laws don’t like it as well.”

As sad as the above account may sound, the fact of the matter is that even though an increasing number of female students is taking the initiative and acquiring most of the limited number of seats in professional colleges, a high percentage either drops out before completing the four-year education, or chooses not to utilize the degree in any way after graduation.


Of course, one cannot deny that many female students are ambitious. They want to study and carve a niche for themselves in their lives. And the elimination of the quota system in professional colleges means that every year a greater number of female students gets admission in these colleges, as compared to the number of male students. They put in their time, energy and effort (not to mention their parents’ hard-earned money) to get through their academic years.

But the end result is back to square one. All the money and all the efforts go down the drain, when the parents either arrange the marriage of their acquiescent daughter while she is studying, or when she is done studying. And there goes another professional seat down the drain.

So, what is wrong with this phenomenon? The very basic wrong thing is that these girls, who take admission in professional colleges, which are already scarce in this country given the number of students aspiring to take admission, occupy a valuable seat. The same seat could have gone either to a girl, who was more inclined towards pursuing a career even after marriage, or a male student, who would have to earn his livelihood through the concerned profession no matter what.

When female students occupy most of these valuable seats with no intention of pursuing a professional career after graduation, male students lose out and are either forced to take admission elsewhere or completely change their field of interest. Many of them end up studying in a private professional institute, whose degree is not recognized in the job market, or acquiring non-professional degrees, which later prove detrimental when searching for a job. All this ultimately adds to the growing rate of unemployment in this country and increases the social problems that stem from it.

Unfortunately, all this goes unnoticed by these female students and their relatives. Parents either push their unwilling daughters into professional education for the sake of prestige, or female students themselves take admission, quite willing to drop out when their marriage date is fixed, oblivious to what a grave injustice they do to their country, which is already suffering from a shortage of professionals.

So, what is the solution? Of course, changing anyone’s mindset is quite a Herculean task, and chances are that even if you do talk to anyone about this, they will label you as a Western feminist, who thinks that marriage isn’t the be-all and end-all of life. You can try to tell someone that utilizing a degree doesn’t mean working from nine to five and neglecting one’s responsibilities at home. But another sad fact about the people of this country is that they see a trade-off between marriage and career.

However, parents can be approached and made aware of the lack of professionals in this country. They can be told that it is unjust on their part to push their unwilling daughters towards professional colleges or not allow them to utilize their degrees in any way. They could also be made aware of the fact that there are different ways of utilizing the degree.

Serious intervention is needed on the part of both the policy makers and those at the helm of affairs in the professional educational institutes. Policy makers can re-introduce the quota system to give an edge to the male students, who ultimately do have to make use of the degrees they are pursuing. Many would argue that this is unjust, but what parents and prospective in-laws are doing is even more unjust at the end of the day.

Where the institutes themselves are concerned, the authorities of the selection committees conduct extensive interviews during the admission process with all the candidates aspiring to take admission. Female students should especially be grilled about the reasons why they want to pursue this particular degree, and what they intend to do with it. In this way, any female applicant, who is applying because of pressure from her parents, or has no interest in the field, can be screened out at the time of admission.

Of course, no one is saying here that the girls, who have no interest in acquiring professional education, are inferior in any way. Although all of us have our own priorities, our actions should nevertheless not adversely affect anyone else, least of all the country that we live in. If girls aren’t interested in professional degrees, there are loads of non-professional degrees, which can be pursued for the purpose of acquiring higher education. These degrees aren’t inferior and shouldn’t be considered as such.

Thus, a change in the mindset and in policies is acutely required, if the wastage phenomenon of the seats is to ooze away smoothly.

Proud as a Peacock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe may never really know, how a peacock feels, and perhaps calling him proud may be doing him an injustice; however, we humans can definitely understand what it is like to be arrogant and worse still – to be treated with arrogance. For instance, there is the case of Saima, who felt looked down upon at work, since she did not speak English very well and did not come from an elite business school. There are other people at work, too, whom we merely take for granted – the sweeper, for instance, who comes early in the morning, much before most people arrive for work, or the intern, who is slogging it out in a cramped corner of the office. Before we move on to discussing, whether arrogance is an acceptable trait, we must first define it.

What is arrogance?

In a Hadeeth narrated by Abdullah Ibn Masud (rta), the Prophet (sa) said: “He, who has in his heart (even) a weight of an atom of arrogance, will not enter Paradise.” Someone asked: “How about a person, who likes to wear beautiful clothes and shoes?” Allah’s Messenger (sa) replied: “Indeed Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the Truth and having contempt for people.”

Is arrogance acceptable?

The Quran is filled with stories of people and nations, who were overbearing and puffed up with self-importance; they rejected Allah’s (swt) Word and mocked the messengers. Their end speaks volumes about how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance. The Pharaoh, for instance, was drowned along with his followers, Qarun was swallowed up by the earth, and the nations of Ad, Thamud and Lut were destroyed by natural calamities.

We also find words of admonition in the Holy Quran regarding arrogance. For example, there is the advice of Luqman to his son: “‘And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.’” (Luqman 31:18)


Even the arrogant Qarun was admonished by his own people for his overbearing attitude:

“Verily, Qarun (Korah) was of Musa’s (Moses) people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. And We gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. Remember when his people said to him: ‘Do not exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). Verily, Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah).’” (Al-Qasas 28:76)

In the books of Ahadeeth, we find the end of a man, who was puffed up with pride.

Ibn Umar (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “A man was walking dragging his dress with pride, he was sunk in the earth because of it and will keep sinking in the earth till the day of standing.” (Bukhari)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated: Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Pride is my cloak and honour is my loincloth, and whoever contends with me regarding one of them both, I will throw him in the fire.’” (Abu Dawood)

The above Quranic verses and Ahadeeth clearly show how much Allah (swt) dislikes arrogance.

Are you arrogant?

One is quick to jump to conclusions about people’s vain attitude. However, it is much more important to recognize arrogance within yourself. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you love listening to how well you work and how well-dressed you are?
  • Do you believe that you have got this job only, because you worked hard and well? After all – you deserve it!
  • Do you listen to others at work, or do you always want your way? After all – your opinion is what really matters!
  • Working as part of a team, do you feel that the less important work makes you literally that – LESS important?
  • When someone criticizes your opinion, do you feel like saying: “How dare you question my judgment?”

If your answer to most of the above questions is a ‘yes,’ it is likely that the plant of arrogance has taken root inside your heart.

The ways of rooting out arrogance


Begin with seeking Allah’s (swt) help: “O Allah! Keep me alive (in a state of) humbleness and grant me death in (a state of) humbleness, and gather (resurrect) me in the company of the humble ones.” (Ibn Abi Shaibah)

Praise Allah (swt)

When someone praises you, instead of saying thank you, say: “Alhamdulillah!” (Praise be to Allah!)

Remember the warning in the Quran

Remind yourself of the miserable end of the nations and people, who were arrogant.

Look up to the Prophet’s (sa) example

As a part of a team, the Prophet (sa) did not despise any task, no matter how menial and ordinary it appeared to be. Once, he was traveling with his companions and it was time to prepare food, he asked them to slaughter a sheep. A man said: “I will slaughter it.” Another said: “I will skin it out.” A third one said: “I will cook it.” So, Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “I will collect the wood for fire.” They said: “No. We will do that work.” The Prophet (sa) said: “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a servant of His privileged to others.” So, he went and collected firewood. (Khulasatus-Siyar, p.22)

Remind yourself of your creation

Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “It is He, Who has created you (Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female sexual discharge [i.e. Adam’s offspring]) then from a clot (a piece of coagulated blood), then brings you forth as an infant…” (Ghafir 40:67)

Dealing with arrogant people

Difficulties in the workplace arise from the attitude of colleagues and supervisors. Dealing with an arrogant boss or a colleague is difficult; however, you can use the following tips to deal with them more effectively.

Be gentle with them

Allah (swt) told Musa (as), how to deal with the arrogant Pharaoh: “And speak to him mildly, perhaps he may accept admonition or fear (Allah).” (Ta-Ha 20:44)

Arrogance is rooted in insecurity. Being gentle with such a person may tame his desire to overpower others.

Advise them in private

From a Hadeeth, we learn that the Prophet (sa) said: “Islam is a word of sincerity and well wishing.” Upon this, the companions asked: “For whom?” The Prophet (sa) replied: “For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for the leaders and the common Muslims.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, and At-Tirmidhi)

Advising such people in private would perhaps give them a chance to reflect on their behavior, which is detrimental to their own self as well as to others around them.

Supplicate for them

Lastly, make a prayer for that arrogant colleague or boss to help him/her get over the overbearing attitude, which invites Allah’s (swt) wrath.