The heart and cardiovascular system in the Qur'an and Hadeeth

That is the title of an article to be published in The International Journal of Cardiology, a presumably reputable journal published by Elsevier. Avijit Roy, the editor of the pro-science website Mukto-Mona, published in both Bengali and English, takes Elsevier to task on Talk Reason here.

Roy, an engineer, details a number of misconceptions in the Koran (the preferred spelling, according to Merriam-Webster) and argues that the paper should never have been published in a scientific journal. According to a cc of an e-mail I received from a third party, Roy complained to the editor of IJC and was told that he could submit his own rebuttal for peer review.

I read the article, though not carefully, and I could certainly see Roy’s point. Though some of the material may be of historical interest, the article reads like someone trying to justify all the quack medications you find in a so-called health food store. Roy’s rebuttal suggests that the authors are very adept at quote-mining.

In their conclusion, the authors comment, with apparent approval,

The heart is extensively described as both an organ of psyche, intelligence, and emotion, as well as an important body of the organ that can be harmed such as [by] exhibiting thrombi.

In other words, as they say earlier, the Koran gives the heart functions now known to belong to the brain. They call this description of the heart metaphorical, but I suspect that the writers of the Koran did not think of it as metaphorical at all. In other words, the Koran, like the Bible, is a potpourri of sense and nonsense, fact and fiction, history and allegory. The authors of articles like this one cannot seem to tell the difference. I had thought that editors of medical journals, however, would be more astute.

As far as I can tell, the Koran is not appreciably more reliable in its medical advice than are the writings of Galen.