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Question
http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2002/10/01/689400.htm

(also this)

Surprisingly, scientists found that the best way to release (liberate) these vital substances is to dip the fly in a liquid!! Because these substances are concentrated on the outer surface of the fly body and wing.

(also this)
When Bayer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, learned about this study, it derived great benefit from it. It established biological breeding farms, where they would raise flies and extract antibiotics from their wings – the strongest antibiotics in the whole world. This antibiotic was made into a course of five pills, which is given to the patients, and it is used – believe it or not, my brothers – to treat AIDS patients.


http://www.nature.com/news/insect-wings-shred-bacteria-to-pieces-1.12533

http://kaheel7.com/eng/index.php/health-a-medicine/397-new-facts-the-flies-have-

Answer
Dear Deba,

Thank you for your message. I am not sure where your question is, however. Please have a look at the links you sent me and read the comments where they are available.

Here is an article that proves the fly hadith to be scientifically wrong. What do you think about it:

Bukhari Hadith about dipping a fly into a drink is scientifically proven to be wrong

Narrated Abu Huraira: "Allah's Apostle said, "If a fly falls in the vessel of any of you, let him dip all of it (into the vessel) and then throw it away, for in one of its wings there is a disease and in the other there is healing (antidote for it) i e. the treatment for that disease."  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 71, Number 673)"
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."  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 54, Number 537)"

The scientific evidence does not support the veracity of the fly wing hadith for the following reasons:

1. Bacteriophages are not limited to any specific wing of the fly.

2. Bacteriophages in the natural state and concentration are not antidotal to bacterial diseases, particularly for temperate or lysogenic phages.

3. Bacteriophages are ineffective against non-bacterial diseases carried by flies.

4. Phage therapy is not a generally-accepted medical therapy at present because it is largely ineffective and requires large quantities of purified, possibly genetically-engineered, phages not present in the natural condition.


Here is a detailed refute of the fly hadith concept. The thesis put by Hadithists is that it has recently been proven by modern science that flies carry not only pathogens but also the agents that limit these pathogens, thus proving the fly wing hadiths. They principally identify these agents to be bacteriophages, though they also sometimes refer to fungi.

I will debunk this hadithist Pseudoscience using our understanding of the medical sciences of bacteriophages and pathogenesis.


BACTERIOPHAGE BIOLOGY
A good general introduction to bacteriophage biology can be obtained from the internet, including the following:
http://www.med.sc.edu:85/mayer/phage.htm
http://www.mun.ca/biochem/courses/3107/Lectures/Topics/bacteriophage.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteriophage
http://www.britannica.com/nobel/micro/45_23.html
http://www.bartleby.com/65/ba/bacterio.html
http://www.cat.cc.md.us/courses/bio141/lecguide/unit2/viruses/lytlc.html
http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/bgnws011_submission.htm

The key points that must be noted are:
1. Bacteriophages only attack bacteria, and specific bacteriophages attack specific bacteria. They do not attack viruses, fungi or any other organisms.

2. Phage therapy was tried out in the pre-antibiotic era, but ceased to be used because it was largely ineffective. However, some research interest is resuming on phage therapy due to the prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Progress is slow and phage therapy is not a standard medical practice. In fact, the only large-scale phage therapy research appears to be conducted by Eastern European researchers like the Eliava Institute in the Republic of Georgia as a continuation of largely unsuccessful Soviet research.
http://www.phagetherapy.com/ptlinks.html

3. Like most parasites, bacteriophages do not infect the entire host population. In fact, an equilibrium exists in which only a minority of host cells are ever infected at any one point in time. This is particularly so for lysogenic phages.

ANALYSIS
The point that must be stressed is that the Hadithists interpret the hadiths to mean that bacteriophages in the natural state are antidotal to the human pathogens carried by the fly. Therefore, this is the starting point for the analysis.

It may be that in the future, medical science may develop highly-purified, genetically-engineered bio-agents derived from bacteriophages as therapeutic agents. However, this still does not prove the veracity of the hadiths and the supposed wisdom of the prophet because these bio-agents would be artificial and ironically, developed by those whom sunnis/shias claim to be "kaffirs".

1. Which wing contains the venom and which the antidote?

Ibn Hajar wrote in his commentary on the hadith:

Quote

   I found nothing among the variants to pinpoint the wing that carries the antidote but one of the Ulema said he observed that the fly protects itself with its left wing so it can be deduced that the right one is the one with the antidote.


This is so ludicrous that it’s actually funny. Seriously, though, this must be the starting point in debating hadithists on this subject. For if they say that the presence of phages proves that the hadith is correct, then pointing out that phages are not limited to any one wing, right or left, immediately proves the falsehood in the hadiths.


2. Hadithists make erroneous assumptions:

A. They assume that bacteriophages are antidotal to bacteria.
Bacteriophages cause lysis of their bacterial hosts in the final stage of infection – thereby releasing new phage particles to infect other bacterial cells in the population. However, in the natural environment, this state is equilibrial – meaning that only a small proportion of bacterial cells is infected at any one time. Just like only a small proportion of humans is ever infected with the flu virus at any one time (except in a pandemic).
http://www.mansfield.ohio-state.edu/~sabedon/bgnws011_submission.htm

Some bacteriophages are temperate or lysogenic. This means that only a small proportion of the phages cause lysis with the majority of the phage population living as internal parasites which do not cause lysis. How this situation can be considered remotely antidotal betrays a lack of understanding of pathogenesis and bacteriophage biology.
http://www.med.sc.edu:85/mayer/phage.htm


B. They assume that flies must carry the antidote to the pathogens they carry.
Quote:
… from the perspective of logic, if the fly did not carry some sort of protection in the form of an antidote or immunity, it would perish from its own poisonous burden and there would be no fly left in the world.”

As far as we know, flies do not succumb to human pathogens – they are merely carriers. This shows that the hadithists do not understand pathogenesis. FLIES DO NOT SUCCUMB TO HUMAN DISEASES.

The way it works is like this: fly lands on sh!t or rotting carcass – gets bits of sh!t or rotting carcass on itself. Fly lands on human food – drops bits of sh!t or rotting carcass on human food – fly flies away – human consumes contaminated food and gets sick. Fly lives happily ever after.

C. They falsely assume relations that do not exist.

Quote

   “The existence of similar bacteria-killing mechanisms in two bacteriophages suggests that antibiotics for human infections might be designed on the basis of these cell wall-destroying proteins. Science 292 (June 2001) p. 2326-2329.”


The ability to design antibiotics that might utilize bacteriophage infection pathways does not prove that phages are antidotal to bacteria. Antibiotics are not phages. Further, these antibiotics are likely to be ‘artificial’ and do not reflect the natural state of fly-human disease interactions.

Further, it proves that in the natural state, as when Muhammad allegedly made his fly wing pseudoscience observation, bacteriophages are useless in treating fly-borne diseases.


3. Hadithists make patently erroneous statements:

Quote

   “Only in modern times was it discovered that the common fly carried parasitic pathogens for many diseases including malaria, typhoid fever, cholera, and others. It was also discovered that the fly carried parasitic bacteriophagic fungi capable of fighting the germs of all these diseases.”


There are two errors here:
A. the common fly doesn’t carry malaria – that is carried by mosquitoes.
http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/distribution_epi/epidemiology.htm

B. There is no such thing as bacteriophagic fungi. This term may sound impressive to non-scientists, but bacteriophages are viruses and fungi are, surprise, fungi.


4. Hadithists quote scientific articles that contain errors:

Quote


   “These fly microbiota are bacteriophagic or "germ-eating". Bacteriophages are viruses of viruses. They attack viruses and bacteria. They can be selected and bred to kill specific organisms. The viruses infect a bacterium, replicate and fill the bacterial cell with new copies of the virus, and then break through the bacterium's cell wall, causing it to burst. The existence of similar bacteria-killing mechanisms in two bacteriophages suggests that antibiotics for human infections might be designed on the basis of these cell wall-destroying proteins. Science 292 (June 2001) p. 2326-2329.”


I suggest this is a misquote as it contains errors that no scientist, much less a respected science journal like “Science” would commit.

A. Bacteriophages do not attack other viruses. See references above.
B. Not all bacteriophages encode cell-wall destroying proteins to lyse host cells.


5. Hadithists misinterpret scientific facts:

Quote

   "Gnotobiotic [=germ-free] insects (Greenberg et al, 1970) were used to provide evidence of the bacterial pathogen-suppressing ability of the microbiota of Musca domestica [houseflies] .... most relationships between insects and their microbiota remain undefined. Studies with gnotobiotic locusts suggest that the microbiota confers previously unexpected benefits for the insect host."


This basically says that the microbiota of insects protect them from their (i.e. insect) pathogens. It doesn’t say anything about human pathogens carried by insects.

Quote

   “An article in Vol. 43 of the Rockefeller Foundation's Journal of Experimental Medicine (1927) p. 1037 stated: 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.
   Cited in `Abd Allah al-Qusami, Mushkilat al-Ahadith al-Nabawiyya wa-Bayanuha (p. 42).”


Yup, the hadithist has just proven the existence of bacteriophages. What he hasn’t proven is whether these bacteriophages protect humans against human pathogens carried by flies.


6. Hadithists make extension of claims:


Quote

   “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).


Now it’s not only phages on the right wing, but the yeast cells inside fly stomachs and respiratory tubules. I assume it’s the yeast antibiotics they’re referring to. The presence of tiny amounts of antibiotics (produced by fungi) does not protect humans from enteric diseases. Islamists are confused about antibiotics – they do not understand how antibiotics work. Dosage is important. Modern antibiotics are artificial and highly purified. Treatment of bacterial infections involves ‘massive’ doses of purified antibiotics that are not found in the natural environment.

This summary of the history of penicillin shows that it had to be purified (and produced in massive non-natural amounts) to be of therapeutic benefit.
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761577894/Antibiotics.html


7. Hadithists confuse the use of bacteriophage:

Quote

   “Bacteriophagic medicine was available in the West before the forties but was discontinued when penicillin and other "miracle antibiotics" came out. Bacteriophages continued to flourish in Eastern Europe as an over-the-counter medicine. The "O1-phage" has been used for diagnosis of all Salmonella types while the prophylaxis of Shigella dysentery was conducted with the help of phages. Annales Immunologiae Hungaricae No. 9 (1966) in German.”


A. the O1-phage is used for typing (i.e. diagnosing) Salmonella infections, not treating it. http://www.geocities.com/avinash_abhyankar/typing.htm

B. Bacteriophage therapy was subsumed by antibiotic therapy in the 1940’s because it was largely ineffective. Before antibiotics, physicians were desperate for cures – they’d try anything, even bacteriophage therapy – but that doesn’t prove bacteriophage therapy works. In any event, one would need massive doses of phages to treat each case – which doesn’t occur in the natural environment. A fly dipping its right wing, left wing, or its entire body, will not be sufficient.

Admittedly there is considerable interest in phage therapy, particularly in Poland and former Soviet republics like Georgia. In fact, phage therapy has been widely used in Eastern Europe for many decades, but it is not of much interest in the Western world due to known difficulties. Some interest was sparked in the 1980’s due to the emergence of antibiotics resistance, however, research on phage therapy in the West seems to have largely petered out and at present, phage therapy is not in the kit bag of the local general practitioner.

In fact, this review shows that the Eastern European research on phage therapy may be construed as ‘suspect’ and lacking scientific proof.
http://surfer.iitd.pan.wroc.pl/phages/Carlton.pdf#search='www.surfer.iitd.pan.wr

This review also sites some of the problems with phage therapy. The FDA appears to have discounted the Eastern European phage therapy research for various reasons.

One can examine the views of phage therapy advocates on the internet:
http://aac.asm.org/cgi/content/full/45/3/649?view=full
http://www.phages.org/PhageInfo.html
http://www.evergreen.edu/phage/phagetherapy/phagetherapy.htm
http://www.phageinternational.com/phagetherapy/stalin.htm

A summary of the problems with phage therapy is given by this site, http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:4s4XQvp1ecIJ:www2.oakland.edu/biology/chaudhr

Quote

   Among the problems associated with phage therapy are the rather narrow specificity of given phages, the possibility of bacterial resistance to phage attack, and the potential for lysogeny when using temperate phage. Another concern relates to the fact that over 90% of administered phage is eliminated from the circulatory system within a very short time frame, thereby limiting the pool of phage which is available for infecting bacteria.


Besides, phage therapy whether effective nor not, does not prove the hadithists right because the therapy involves highly purified, concentrated doses of potentially genetically-engineered bacteriophages or their active agents; something dipping a fly wing into a drink can never provide.


8. Hadithists do not understand what they purport to be proof:

Quote

   “However, researchers in eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union, continued their studies of the potential healing properties of phages. And now that strains of bacteria resistant to standard antibiotics are on the rise, the idea of phage therapy has been getting more attention in the worldwide medical community. Several biotechnology companies have been formed in the U.S. to develop bacteriophage-based treatments - many of them drawing on the expertise of researchers from eastern Europe."


http://www.sciencefriday.com/pages/2000/Jul/hour1_072100.html

This article highlights one of the main limitations of bacteriophages in therapeutics, i.e. it is rapidly taken up by the human body and destroyed in human spleen cells. Therefore, even when a fly should carry bacteriophages, normal human physiology precludes these phages from acting as antidotes.

Even if some biotechnology companies want to develop bacteriophage-based treatments, it doesn’t prove the hadith to be correct. These bacteriophage-based treatments involve the use of genetic engineering and other advanced scientific techniques to utilize bacteriophage pathogenesis for the treatment of human diseases. Naturally-occurring bacteriophages are useless for this purpose.


9. Hadithists ignore non-bacterial enteric diseases:

Flies also spread pinworm, tapeworm, viral gastroenteritis, amebic dysentery, giardia enteritis, and enteric hepatitis. Bacteriophages and fungi are totally ineffective against these diseases.

CONCLUSION

The scientific evidence does not support the veracity of the fly wing hadith for the following reasons:

1. Bacteriophages are not limited to any specific wing of the fly.

2. Bacteriophages in the natural state and concentration are not antidotal to bacterial diseases, particularly for temperate or lysogenic phages.

3. Bacteriophages are ineffective against non-bacterial diseases carried by flies.

4. Phage therapy is not a generally-accepted medical therapy at present because it is largely ineffective and requires large quantities of purified, possibly genetically-engineered, phages not present in the natural condition.

Source: http://free-minds.org/forum/index.php?topic=16127.105  

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