Recent scientific research has shown that there are genes in infants that are activated when they receive maternal affection — or lack of affection — from their mothers.
Brain analysis performed by researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center has revealed that several hundred genes are more, or less, active when infants experience pain than those that do not. However, when infants receive affection from their mothers as a manifestation of Allah’s compassion, fewer than 100 genes are similarly expressed.
In a study involving rats, Regina Sullivan, a neurobiologist researching the subject, for the first time revealed the short-term effects of maternal affection on a distressed infant’s brain.
The study was also designed to show the long-term consequences of maternal affection. The study’s conclusion was striking, because similar effects were shown in humans as well as other mammals.
The study showed that a mother’s “tender loving care” (TLC) reduces sensations of pain in babies. TLC also had a positive effect on early brain development. It did this by altering gene activity in the region of the brain involved in emotions.
Sullivan said: “Our study shows that a mother comforting her infant in pain does not just elicit a behavioral response, but also the comforting itself modifies — for better or worse — critical neural circuitry during early brain development.”
The study involved genetic analyses on the almond-sized amygdala region in the infant rat’s brain. This is the region responsible for emotional processes. Signals related to fear or pleasure, for instance, are processed by that region.
Sullivan discovered that maternal affection controlled electrical signaling in the infant rat’s brain. The latest research has shed light on the complex mechanisms by which affection eliminates feelings of pain in newborns.
Sullivan went on to say that nobody would want to see an infant, from whatever species, suffering, and emphasized that, new alternative methods should be developed to treat pain in infants, since the opiate-based drugs used to treat adults suffering from physical pain could be very dangerous for infants. Maternal affection and care, and maybe even factors such as the mother’s scent, may be able to reduce that pain.
Sullivan directed her attention to the long-term consequences of these genetic modifications: In her view, these long-term consequences must be compared to the short-term benefits for tying pain stimuli throughout infancy to the mother, the symbol of safety and security.
Sullivan also said that, “The more we learn about nurturing the infant brain during infancy, the better prepared we are to deal long-term with treating problems that arise from pain, and physical and mental abuse experienced during infancy.”
It is of course Almighty and Omniscient Allah Who produces all living things’ superior characteristics, Who causes them to adopt rational plans, and Who creates and inspires these:
“Allah created you from dust and then from a drop of sperm and then made you into pairs. No female becomes pregnant or gives birth except with His knowledge. And no living thing lives long or has its life cut short without that being in a Book. That is easy for Allah.” (Qur’an, 35:11)
Chance is unable to account for the cause and source of a living being’s behavior. It is of great importance to examine living being’s behavior from that perspective because observations show that no living being is completely uncontrolled. It is Allah, the Lord of the earth and heavens and all that lies between, Who creates all living things from nothing, Who observes them at every moment and commands their behavior. This is revealed as follows in the Qur’an:
“I have put my trust in Allah, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path.” (Qur’an, 11:56)
The wisdom behind sensitivity to affection
There is much wisdom in the way that Allah creates people to be so sensitive to love and affection. Allah is the most merciful of the merciful, and He commands people to submit to, and seek refuge in, Himself.
The fact that people are created to be so sensitive to love and affection means that they feel a natural need to seek the shelter of our Lord, the All-Merciful and Most Merciful. Such people turn to Allah with a great passion, and submit to Him on all matters.
The affection that people need as babies is met by the love of Allah manifested in the mother but as a person gains consciousness, he becomes aware that he needs to seek the shelter of Allah’s love, and he needs to use his mind and will to that end. Believers possessed of deep faith know that Allah is the All-Merciful and Most Merciful and that He is most loving toward His servants, and they feel His love and compassion throughout their lives.
Paradise, the greatest manifestation of His love of all, awaits them in their eternal lives.
It is revealed in the Qur’an that Allah is the Most Merciful of the merciful as follows: He (Moses) said, “My Lord, forgive me and my brother and admit us into Your mercy. You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Qur’an, 7: 151)
And Ayyub when he called out to his Lord, “Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful.” (Qur’an, 21:83)