Greek philosophers hypothesised that everything in the universe is created from four elements, which are symbolically represented by Earth, Water, Air and Fire and with respective qualities associated with each of them. For example, the Earth element is associated with the quality of Cold and Dryness, Water with Cold and Moistness, Air with Heat and Moistness, and Fire with Heat and Dryness. These elements should not be interpreted as physical states of earth, water, etc., but rather as metaphysical states from which the basic elements, necessary for the existence of matter, are created.
Everything in the universe, from the smallest to the largest in creation, is made up from a combination of the four elements, with their respective qualities. The result of this is that each and everything created has an overall quality (a combination of heat, coldness, moistness and dryness) associated with it. This overall quality is called ‘temperament’.
For example, the temperament of human beings, is associated with Hot & Moist qualities. This is understandable, considering that the human body is maintained at an average temperature of 37ºC, and consists of approximately 70% water. This explains the overall quality of the human being’s temperament as being Hot & Moist. Similarly, animals have an overall temperament of either Hot & Dry or Dry & Hot. Plants have a temperament of Cold & Moist, while minerals have a temperament of Cold & Dry, as is obvious when touched.
Every level of creation from atoms to compounds, cells to tissues, have a specific temperament. Each level of organisation is characterised by distinct building blocks for all of creation from minerals, animals, plants and humans. Each step on this ladder of progression manifests greater sophistication. Minerals are followed by plants, lower animal forms are followed by higher ones and ultimately human beings, stand at the top of the ladder. Every creation is made-up from different ratios of the four elements and having an overall quality known as temperament.
In addition to the concept of temperament, everything in the universe has been created with a suitable structure to perform specific functions. Innumerable creatures inhabit our planet, yet each living entity has a unique and specific form and shape that allows it to exist, thrive and procreate. The wings of birds enable them to fly, the four-legged animals to run, and the fins and tails of fish to swim. Plants of varied and differentiated shapes and sizes grow in different biospheres, habitats and climates. All plants, insects, animals and humans have a particular and unique structure with an assigned temperament enabling them all to perform specific functions.
Elaborating on the creation of human beings, just as the atom is the unit for the outer environment, cells are the basic unit for the inner environment of man and all living entities. Cells combine to form tissues, the combination of which forms organs. Ultimately from the cells, tissues and organs the overall shape of the body is obtained. Once again, each level, whether it is a cell, tissue, organ or the total human being (body, mind and soul), is created with a specific temperament and structure to perform specific functions.
For example, the shape of ears enhances our ability to hear. Our nose filters out impurities from inspired air before it enters the lungs. Our eyebrows prevent perspiration from entering our eyes.
When examining the geometry of our internal organs, we see many different shapes, again performing different functions, each having a specific temperament. For example, the shape of the heart facilitates the pumping action whereas the overall temperament of the brain is moist (with less heat), enabling nerve impulses to be transmitted easily, because moisture is a good conductor of electrical impulses. On the other hand, the overall temperament of the liver is hot (with less moistness), because of the heat generated during the process of metabolism.
“If we examine any corner of the universe, from the galaxies in space to the living beings in nature, and from our own body to the invisible cells, we see a flawless plan incorporating order, design and purpose. This order, design and purpose illustrates the perfection of creation.” [Yahya, 1999]
Delving further into the marvels of the body, we begin to realise just how intricate the systems of the body are: the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and nervous systems, and of special significance in the context of health and disease, the immune system. Each system working independently and yet is associated with and interconnected to each other. All of which make us realise the perfection of creation.