Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wisdom of the Fly

The oft maligned housefly, for millennia considered nothing more then a nuisance or pest was given a different standing in life just over 1400 years ago. That seemingly insignificant fly had other purposes beyond human understanding at that time, and only now have we began to understand its purpose and properties revealed centuries ago to the Prophet of Allah, through modern science.

Sahih Bukhari - Volume 4, Book 54, Number 537:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet said "If a house fly falls in the drink of anyone of you, he should dip it (in the drink), for one of its wings has a disease and the other has the cure for the disease."

As we see from the aforementioned hadith, there was an understanding about the nature of flies given to us by Allah through the Prophet Muhammad but only recently have we began to been able to understand this logic behind this.
“The surface of flies is the last place you would expect to find antibiotics, yet that is exactly where a team of Australian researchers is concentrating their efforts. Working on the theory that flies must have remarkable antimicrobial defences to survive rotting dung, meat and fruit, the team at the Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, set out to identify those antibacterial properties manifesting at different stages of a fly’s development.”

And so the search began to verify, even unknowingly the wisdom revealed 14 centuries ago, in hopes of finding a new antibiotic agent for curing more of today’s ailments.

"Our research is a small part of a global research effort for new antibiotics, but we are looking where we believe no-one has looked before,” said Ms Joanne Clarke, who presented the group’s findings at the Australian Society for Microbiology Conference in Melbourne this week.”

It was only through the study of that they were able to glean some understanding of the antibacterial nature of the fly.

“Flies go through the life stages of larvae and pupae before becoming adults. In the pupae stage, the fly is encased in a protective casing and does not feed. "We predicted they would not produce many antibiotics," They did not, However the larvae all showed antibacterial properties (except that of the Queensland fruit fly control). As did all the adult fly species…Such properties were present on the fly surface in all four species”

One would of course wonder how this relates to Islam and modern science, or specifically how it is overall beneficial to mankind, so let us look further

“The antibiotic material is extracted by drowning the flies in ethanol, then running the mixture through a filter to obtain the crude extract. When this was placed in a solution with various bacteria including E.coli, Golden Staph, Candida (a yeast) and a common hospital pathogen, antibiotic action was observed every time. We are now trying to identify the specific antibacterial compounds. Ultimately these will be chemically synthesised. Because the compounds are not from bacteria, any genes conferring resistance to them may not be as easily transferred into pathogens. It is hoped this new form of antibiotics will have a longer effective therapeutic life.”

So it is clear now, that Flies do indeed have antibacterial benefits even on their exterior body, and when put in context of revelation over 1400 years ago, is it not possible even for those who don’t believe in Islam of Allah, that there obviously was some understanding and wisdom behind this saying of the prophet?

Needless to say this is of course not the first time studies into the properties of flies has been conducted, and it is not a new premis, being able to trace this to at least 1927 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine entitled -

“BACTERIOPHAGE ISOLATED FROM THE COMMON HOUSE FLY (MUSCA DOMESTICA). BY RICHARD E. SHOPE, M.D. (From the Department of Animal Pathology of The Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, Princeton, N. Y.)” which concluded with:

Summary and Conclusions
1. Bacteriophage active against four species of bacteria was found
in a salt solution extract of house flies.

2. A growth-inhibiting principle, not bacteriophage, active against
four other species of bacteria was found to be present in the same

The search began a long time ago and will continue to go on from non Muslim scientists hoping for new antibiotics and from Muslim researchers hoping to scientifically prove further the miracles of the Quran and Wisdom of the Hadith.

To read about either study further online please visit:

For the study by The Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University -

For the Study in the Journal of Experimental Medicine please visit: (properly referenced: J. Exp. Med. 1927 45: 1037-1044.)

There is of course, much more information on this subject, but to find specifically neutral resources that are unbiased and available online I chose the above mentioned studies. Further research will offer your more insight into the subject, however when verifying the nature of a religious saying, edict, or passage virtually all resources will of course be biased in the eyes of others, and will of course be conducted by the followers of the faith and thus their objectivity will questioned. In the end you must decide yourself weighing the “science” against the faith” to see if it makes sense to you, as for me – my faith needs to scientific proof, but it does make for an interesting article now and again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In The Name Of Allah the Merciful, Most Merciful.

"Acquire knowledge, it enables its professor to distinguish right from wrong; it lights the way to heaven. It is our friend in the desert, our company in solitude and companion when friendless. It guides us to happiness, it sustains us in misery, it is an ornament amongst friends and an armour against enemies." (widely attributed to the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh))

The flies were given some of the cultured microbes for certain diseases. After some time the germs died and no trace was left of them while a germ-devouring substance formed in the flies - bacteriophages. If a saline solution were to be obtained from these flies it would contain bacteriophages able to suppress four kinds of disease-inducing germs and to benefit immunity against four other kinds.
So then, flies are not only pathogenic carriers but also carry microbiota that can be beneficent. The fly microbiota were described as "longitudinal yeast cells living as parasites inside their bellies. These yeast cells, in order to perpetuate their life cycle, protrude through certain respiratory tubules of the fly. If the fly is dipped in a liquid, the cells burst into the fluid and the content of those cells is an antidote for the pathogens which the fly carries." Cf. Footnote in the Translation of the Meanings of Sahih al-Bukhari by Muhammad Muhsin Khan (7:372, Book 76 Medicine, Chapter 58, Hadith 5782).
In the two world wars the wounds of soldiers exposed to flies were observed to heal and scar faster than the wounds of unexposed soldiers. Even today, fly larvae, or maggots, are used medicinally to clean up festering wounds. They only eat dead tissue and leave healthy tissue alone.

The Prophetic Sunna is an endless manual of healthy living and practical husbandry for people of all walks of life, especially the poor. The Prophet, upon him peace, at all times directed his Umma to avert waste and penury even in unsanitary conditions. Just as the hadith on camel milk and urine reveals knowledge of dietetics and natural medicine, so does the hadith of the fly reveal knowledge of preventive medicine and immunology. In this respect the command in these hadiths, as in many others, denotes an advisory Sunna of permissibility, not a literal obligation. "The command [of immersing the fly] denotes counsel (al-amru lil-irshad) so as to counter disease with cure." Al-Qastallani, Irshad al-Sari (5:304).

Despite the abundance of supporting evidence for the authenticity of these medicinal narrations (camel and fly) on the one hand and for their scientific viability on the other, certain voices continue to reject them on both counts. Principle skepticism of authentically transmitted narrations that pertain to facts demonstrated by ancient and modern science, or whose scientific worth is just now coming into view, is the wont of stagnant minds and diseased hearts for which there is no cure save the mercy of our Lord.