Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Embryology and Human Creation between Quran & Science

 Embryology and Human Creation between Quran & Science
Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal
August 2004

Acknowledgement :
 I would like to acknowledge the great help that Mr. M A H Madi *  provided into the English translation of this article
 لقراءة المقالة باللغة العربية ، من فضلك اضغط هنا 


Historical background

Since Aristotle had summed up the prevailing theories in his age relating to the creation of the embryo, controversy continued among the supporters of the theory of the full dwarf embryo existing in man’s sperm and those of the theory of the full dwarf embryo created out of the woman’s menstrual blood coagulation (thickening).  Most of them believed that man was reduced into that sperm drop, and they drew a figure in which they imagined the embryo as a full creature in the sperm drop, which then grew up in the womb as a small tree. (Figure 1). 

Figure 1 : The dwarf embryo as imagined by  Leonardo da Vinci from the 15th century (on the left)
and the sperm as miniature human being by Hartsoeker from the 17th century (on the right)

None of both groups could realize that man’s sperm and woman’s ovum participate in the creation of the embryo, as supported by the Italian Scientist “Spallanzani” in the year of 1775.  In 1783, Van Beneden was able to confirm this statement, and thus the idea of the dwarf embryo had been discarded.  During the years 1888 and 1909 Boveri proved that chromosomes when divided carry the different genetic characteristics.  Morgan, in 1912, was able to determine the role of genes, existing in certain parts of chromosomes, in hereditary.

Therefore, it is clear that mankind did not realize that the embryo is created of a man’s sperm mingled with a woman’s ovum except in the 18th century, and only to be confirmed at the beginning of the 20thcentury.

On the other hand, the Holy Quran and the Prophetic speeches have confirmed in a very accurate scientific manner the creation of man from a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), as coined by the Quran,which says ;
( إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا(الإنسان:2)
Verily We created man from a drop of a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight.” (76:2). 
It has been agreed upon by commentators of the Holy Quran that “amshaj” means mingling, as man’s water mingles with that of the woman, and this is also what the Prophet (
peace be upon him) confirmed in one of his speeches.  Imam Ahmed indicated in his book “Al Musnad” that a Jew passed by the Prophet Mohammed (PBUHwhile he  was addressing his companions.  Some people from Quarish said; “O Jew! This man proclaims that he is a prophet.”  The Jew said: “ I will ask him of something no one knows except a prophet.”  He asked the prophet (PBUH); “ O Mohammed! What is man created from?  The Prophet (PBUHsaid; “O Jew! Man is created from both: man’s fluid (nutfa) and woman’s fluid.”  The Jew said; “This is said by those prophets before you.” .

In the next few pages, the embryological developments as indicated in the Quranic verses will be discussed, while shedding light on the fixed scientific facts in each stage of development.

The Sperm
Scientific facts :

The sperms are formed in the testicles, which in turn are created, as proved by embryology, from cells underneath the kidneys at the back and then go down to the lower abdomen at the last weeks of pregnancy.  Man’s fluid mainly contains  the following components: the sperms which should be gushing, and motile to cause fertilization and Prostaglandin which causes contractions to the uterus, thus helping the transport of sperms into the place of fertilization. The man's fluid (semen) contains also sugar  necessary for providing energy for the sperms, different fluids for neutralising the acids at the entrance of the uterus and creating a slippery environment for the easy movement of the sperms.

While hundred millions of these sperms (500 m.- 600 m.) enter through the vagina to the uterine cervix, only one sperm is able to fertilize the ovum (Fig. 2); crossing through a long distance to reach the place of fertilization in the Fallopian Uterine Tube which connects the ovary with the uterus.  The distance is full of obstacles that can be compared with the distance man takes to reach the moon!   After direct fertilization, a quick change occurs to the membrane of the ovum preventing the entrance of the rest of the sperms.

The sperm contains 23 chromosomes, of which one chromosome determines the sex of the embryo. The chromosome in the sperm is either (Y) or (X), while the chromosome in the ovum is always (X). When a sperm of the chromosome type (Y) mingles with an ovum of the chromosome (X), the formed zygote will be male (XY), whereas the embryo will be female (XX) if the sperm (X) mingles with an (X) ovum.  So, the sex of the embryo is determined by the sperm (the male), rather than the ovum (the female).

After 5 hours of forming the zygote, which is the primary human cell containing 46 chromosomes, the dominant and recessive genetic characteristics can appear in the parent's sons or grandsons (the stage of genetic programming) .  The zygote is then divided quickly (Fig. 3) without a change in size and move from the Fallopian Tube (connecting the ovary and the uterus) towards the uterus, where it is implanted as seeds are implanted in the soil.

(Fig. 2) Of hundreds of sperms, only one can fertilize the ovum.  
(Fig. 3) The zygote divides within hours of the process of fertilization.
 (a picture taken by the Microscope)
The Uterus is the place where the embryo grows and develops before emerging as a fully created and well formed child.  The uterus is distinguished as a safe place to perform this function for the following reasons:

1-     The location of the uterus in the woman’s pelvis, where it is protected with ligaments and fascia that hold the uterus from the sides and allow its mobility and growth to hundred times its size at full term pregnancy.
2-     Muscles of pelvis and perineum fix the uterus in-situ.
3-     The secretion of Progesterone (pregnancy hormone) helps stabilize the uterus and slows down the uterine contractions.
4-     The embryo in uterus is surrounded with different membranes that produce amniotic fluid which the embryo swims in to protect the embryo from the effect of external trauma.

The process of fertilization and the travel of the zygote to the uterus continue for about 6 days, and the zygote keeps implanting ( known as blastocyst) and growing in the uterus wall for 15 days, when theAlaqa (thick clotted blood) stage begins.

Reflections and comments on related Quranic verses:

Nutfa” in Arabic means “very little water” or “a drop of water”. This coincides with man’s water which contain sperms as part of its components.  The sperm or (spermatozoon) is reproduced from the despised lowly water (nutfa) and looks like a long-tailed fish (this is one of the meanings of Sulalah).  Allah the Almighty says;
الَّذِي أَحْسَنَ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ وَبَدَأَ خَلْقَ الْإِنسَانِ مِن طِينٍ . ثُمَّ جَعَلَ نَسْلَهُ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن مَّاء مَّهِينٍ ) (السجدة :7-8)
 “He It is Who created all things in the best way and began the creation of man from clay, and made his progeny from an extract of despised fluid (Sulalah)  (32: 7-8) 

The other meaning of  Sulalah is "extract", means the essential or best part of something . By either implication, it means "part of a whole" indicating that the origin of creation is from only part of man's fluid and not all of it (which contains many components as shown above) .   
Clarifying the role of the 
nutfa in creation, He the Almighty says;
( فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ مِمَ خُلِقَ. خُلِقَ مِن مَّاء دَافِقٍ) (الطارق 5-6)
So, let man consider of what he was created . He was created of gushing water ” (86: 5-6) and also says;
( خَلَقَ الإِنسَانَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌ مُّبِينٌ )  (النحل : 4)
“He has created man from a sperm (fluid-dropand behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer.” (16: 4). 
The Quran tells us also that the essence of man is not the whole semen, but only a small part of it. this is explained in the Quran :
أَيَحْسَبُ الْإِنسَانُ أَن يُتْرَكَ سُدًى ، أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِّن مَّنِيٍّ يُمْنَى ) القيامة 36-37
Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled (without purpose)? Was he not once a fluid-drop of ejected semen?  .   (75:36-37
As we have seen , the Quran informs us that man is made not from the entire semen, but only a small part of it. That the particular emphasis in this statement announces a fact only discovered by modern science is evidence that the statement is divine in origin. The divine statement also reiterates that man’s characteristics are determined and decreed in the nutfa stage, as He says
( قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ . مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ . مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ ) ( عبس17-19)
“Woe to man! What has made him reject (Allah)? From what stuff has He created him? From a nutfa (fluid-dropHe has created him, and then moulds him in due proportions.” (80: 17-19).  
And Allah says :
(إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا ) (الإنسان:2)
“Verily We created man of a fluid-drop (nutfa), mingling (amshaj) , in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts of) hearing and sight.” (76:2) The mingled nutfa in this verse reveals the Quran miraculous nature.  Nutfa, in Arabic, is a single small drop of water, but it was described here as (amshaj) , which means its structure consists of combined mixtures .  This fits with the scientific finding, as the zygote is shaped as a drop, and is simultaneously a mixture of male fluid chromosomes and female ovum chromosomes. 
Has anyone ever thought, before the Quran was revealed, that man’s nutfa, when ejected, is responsible for determining if the embryo will be male or female?  Has this ever occurred to one’s mind?  The Quran says;
( وَأَنَّهُ خَلَقَ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنثَىِ . من نُّطْفَةٍ إِذَا تُمْنَى) ) النجم 45-46 )
“That He created the pairs, male and female, from a fluid-drop sperm as it is emitted.” (53: 45-46), confirming that man’s gender as male or female is determined when the sperm drop is emitted.  Who told the Prophet Mohammed that the sperm (nutfa) with one of its types (Y) or (X) is responsible for determining the sex of the embryo?  This was not discovered except after the invention of microscopes in the past century, when it was possible then to know that the embryo being  a male or female is only determined by the sperm (nutfa), rather than the ovum.  In other words, we were in the beginning of the 20thcentury and the whole of mankind were not aware that the nutfa decrees if the embryo is male or female.  While the Quran, which was revealed  14 centuries ago, has stated this fact in a very clear manner. 

Here is a remarkable note!  We have mentioned earlier that the sperms are formed in the testicles, which in turn are created, as proved by embryology, from cells underneath the kidneys at the back and then go down to the lower abdomen at the last weeks of pregnancy. This is in confirmation of Allah’s saying :
( وإذ أخذ ربك من بني آدم من ظهورهم ذريتهم ) (الأعراف 172)
“And remember when your Lord brought forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their seeds…” (7: 172).  This is a clear indication that the origin of progeny is at the region of the back where the embryonic testicles are formed.  So, praise be to Allah the Omniscient.

The uterus, as mentioned before, is considered as a place settled (Makeen) and safe for the growth and protection of the embryo, according to reasons mentioned earlier.  We find that Quran mentions and affirms this fact  14 centuries ago, as He Almighty says:
( فَجَعَلْنَاهُ فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ . إِلَى قَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ . فَقَدَرْنَا فَنِعْمَ الْقَادِرُونَ ) ( المرسلات :21-23)
”The which (embryo) We placed in a place of settlement, firmly fixed for a period (of gestation), determined. For We do determine, for We are the best to determine (things). (77: 21-23).


Al Alaqa ( Leech-like clot)
Scientific facts:

The stage of Alaqa starts on the 15th day and ends on the 23rd or 24th day, after which the embryo is gradually developed and looks like a leech, which lives in ponds (Figure 4).  Alaqa hangs to the lining of the uterus by the umbilical cord.  Blood is then formed in the vessels at the shape of closed islands, and is not circulated in blood vessels, thus having the image of clotted blood.

Although it is in the nature of human body to expel any external matter, the uterus does not reject the alaqa implanted in its lining despite the fact that half of the alaqa components and genes are from an external source (the father).  This is because the region of syncytial cells in alaqa have no antigens.
(Figure 4: Alaqa on the 23rd day)

It is noteworthy that the primitive streak is created at first on the day 14th or 15th, in which the primitive node appears (Figure 5). Out of this primitive streak, stem cells are composed, as well as the sources of the main tissues of Mesoderm, Ectoderm and Endoderm, which will form the different organs and tissues of the body as seen in (Figure 6. At the end of the 3rd week, the primitive streak shrinks and the remnant stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining of stem cells in this region.  This explains why some tumors in the coccygeal region which is called Teratoma(Figure 7) can contain different tissues (muscles, skin, cartilage, bones and teeth as well), contrary to the tumors that exist in different regions and take its toll on one definite tissue.


Figure 5: 
The primitive streak shrinks at the end of the 3rd week with its remaining that stays at the end of the spine
(press on photo for enlargement)
Figure 6: Stem cells form different body tissues 
(press on photo for enlargement)

Figure 7 : Teratoma in the coccygeal region at the end of the spine
(press on photo for enlargement)

Reflections and comments on related Quranic verses and Sunnah:

Transformation process from nutfa to alaqa takes more than 10 days till the zygote clings to the primitive placenta by way of a connecting stalk which later becomes the umbilical cord.  Therefore, the Quranic statement uses the conjunction article (thumma) in Arabic, indicating sequence of events with time delay and not using (fa) which also means "then" but indicates rapid progression without any delay.Quran states:
 (ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً) (سورة المؤمنون14)
then of that  fluid-drop (nutfa) We created a  leech-like clot" (23:14) .
 Alaqa, in Arabic, has several meanings:
1-     A leech that lives in ponds and sucks the blood of other creatures.
2-     A thing attached or clings to something else.
3-     Clotted or coagulated blood.

Figure 8 : illustration of embryo (at top)
that looks like a leech (at bottom)
Figure 9: embryo clinging to the lining of
uterus through the umbilical cord.
Figure 10: closed blood vessels net causing
the embryo to look as a clotted blood.

All these meanings fit exactly with the reality of the human embryo after being implanted in the lining of uterus (endometrium), as the embryo looks like a leech, as shown in Figure 8, while clinging to the endometrium through the umbilical cord (Figure 9), blood vessels initiated in the form of closed islands giving it the image of a clotted blood (Figure 10).

A quick transformation then occurs from alaqa to mudgha within two days (day 24 to day 26). Therefore, the Quran describes this rapid change with the use of the conjunctive article (fa) (i.e., 
then) in Arabic, to indicate rapid progression of transformation :
 (فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً) (المؤمنون: 14)
 “then We changed the Alaqa (leech-like clot) into a Mudgha (chewed-like lump) ” (23: 14).  So even the use of different conjunctive articles has miraculous indications, reflecting the difference in embryonic stages.  

Thus, the stage of alaqa is the second stage of embryonic stages, and is mentioned in the Quran in several verses.  He the Almighty says;
Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)?  Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.”(75: 37-39), 

And in a surah called al-alaq, i.e., a leech-like clot,
 Allah says;
( خلق الإنسان من علق ) (العلق 2)
 “ (We) Created man, out of a leech-like clot.” (96: 2).

Further to the point of primitive streak, it is the first to be created in embryo, and out of which, stem cells are composed, as well as the different organs and tissues; and at the end of the 3rd week, it shrinks, and its remaining stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining stem cells in this region.  This explains and coincides with the speech of the Prophet (PBUHwhich was narrated by Abu Huraira in Ahmad’s book “Al Musnad”: 
“All of the son of Adam decays, and is eaten by dust except for the coccyx, of which man is created and in which man is re-built.”

So, cells which form the tissues and the organs of man are placed in coccyx and out of which man is re-created.  Verily said the Prophet of Allah 
Here a very important question arises:  why did the Prophet Mohammad (PBUHraise such a scientific issue at a time no one was aware of, and how had he acquired such knowledge if he was not bound up with inspiration and taught by the creator of heaven and earth?  The answer is that Allah the Almighty knows with His encompassing knowledge that man will come to know one day the embryonic stages of development, and will know the role of the primitive streak, so He inspired prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to speak out such a fact to be a witness on the genuineness of his prophethood and message, that fits every time and age.

  Scientific facts:

The embryo is transformed from the stage of alaqa to the beginning of the stage of mudgha on the 24th day to the 26th day, which is a very brief period if compared with the period of the nutfa changing to alaqa.

This stage starts with the appearance of somites on the 24th or 25th day on top of the embryonic scapula, and then gradually appear at the embryo’s buttock.  On the 28th day the embryo is formed of several bulges, with grooves in between, thus giving the embryo the image of a chewed gum. The embryo turns and rolls in the cavity of the uterus  during this stage which ends by the end of the 6th week.

It is noteworthy that the stage of mudgha starts with the growth and increase of cells in a large number. The mudgha looks like a piece of meat which has no distinguished structure, then after a few days, the second stage starts, called the stage of formation (takhaloq), where some organs begin to appear, such as the eyes, tongue and the lips , but human distinguishing features do not appear except at the end of the 8th week.  Limbs bulges (hands and legs) also appear in this stage.
In the 5th week the heart starts beating and the embryo has already developed its placenta and amniotic sac.
The placenta is burrowing into the uterine wall to access oxygen and nutrients from the mother's bloodstream.


Figure (11) embryo (by microscopic and illustrative images)  on the day 26. 
Note the resemblance with the image of a chewed gum underneath. 

Reflections on Quran and Sunnah :

Mudgha in Arabic means the material chewed by teeth.  This gives an accurate description of the embryonic stage as the embryo shape looks like a chewed material which constantly changes, with the appearance of somites bulges.  The differences in these somites look like the “teeth imprints” over bread bite.  The embryo turns and rolls in the cavity of the uterus as a piece of chewed material in the mouth.
  The stage  of mudgha comes after the stage of alaqa.  This coincides with the Holy verse:
(فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً(المؤمنون: 14)
“And of that clot We made a (foetus) lump.” (23: 14).  Of the characteristics of mudgha is that it elongates and changes shape when chewed.  This is exactly what occurs to the embryo in this stage.  As we mentioned before, the mudgha has an early form before the creation and formation of organs and another form following the formation of organs.  The Quranic verse states:
( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِن مُّضْغَةٍ مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِّنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاء إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى) ( الحج 5)
 “O mankind!  If ye have a doubt about the Recreation (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a chewed-like lump of flesh, formed and unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term.” (22: 5) Thus, there are two types of mudgha: formed and unformed.  The formed one is the embryo itself which starts forming into different organs with specific functions and the unformed one is the placenta which starts developing in the 5th week (around day 35) of the mudgha stage . And Allah knows best !
The mudgha stage ends at the 6th week (i.e. 40 days).  Imam Muslim narrated in his “Sahih” on the authority of Abdullah Bin Masoud that he said; “Allah's prophet - Mohammad (PBUH) - the truthful and trustworthy, told us;  
"The creation of each one of you is  composed in the mother‘s womb in forty days, in that (creation) it turns into such a clot, then in that  turns into such a mudgha and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter). Then the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you (or a man) may do deeds of the people of the Fire till there is only a cubit or an arm-breadth distance between him and the Fire, but then that writing (which Allah has ordered the angel to write) precedes, and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it; and a man may do the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it

Who told the Prophet Mohammad (PBUHall these facts? Did he have anatomy and measurement tools, or microscopes to tell us the characteristics of an embryo no more than 1cm tall? It is He Allah (Who told him), the Only One, the Subduer.

The Stage of bones
Scientific facts:

During the 6th week, the cartilaginous skeleton starts to spread in the body (Figure 12).  Yet, we do not see the human image features except at the beginning of the 7th week (Figure 13), where the shape of the embryo takes the look of the skeleton.  Transformation from the mudgha form  to the beginning of the skeleton form occurs in a very short period of time at the end of the 6th week and the beginning of the 7thweek.  This stage is characterized with the appearance of the skeleton which gives the embryo the human image.
                                                                                             Fig. 12 : Day 42
         Fig. 13 : Day 44

Reflection on Quran and Sunnah :

The term of “izam” (bones), coined by Quran, accurately expresses this stage in the life of the embryo, which includes the external appearance and is considered the most important change in the internal structure, with its associated new relations among body organs and regularity of embryo shape.  This stage is clearly distinguished from the preceding stage of mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh).  Allah says;
( فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ) (المؤمنون: 14)
then We made out of that mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh) bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create.” (23: 14) . Bone formation is a notable process in this stage, as embryo is transformed from the image of mudgha which has no features of human image to the beginning of the skeleton image in a very short period of no more than few days at the end of the 6th week ; therefore, the quranic verse uses the Arabic conjunctive article (fa) instead of (thumma)  to indicate quick sequence of events. 
This skeleton gives the embryo 
the image of a human being after being clothed with lahm (muscles).  The two eyes and the two lips then appear, and the head is differentiated from the trunk and the limbs.  This is in accordance with the Prophet’s (PBUHsaying in "Sahih Muslim" “When 42 nights have passed over the conception , Allah sends an angel to it, who shapes it (into human form) and makes its ears, eyes, skin, muscles and bones.  Then he says; ` O Lord, is it male or female?`, and your Lord decides what He wishes and the angel records it.”  
After 42 nights (6 weeks), the 
embryo begins to take the human image with the appearance of cartilaginous skeleton, then the external genitals begin to appear later on (the 10th week).  In the 7th week (Figure 13) the human image gets clearer with the start of the spread of skeleton.  This week represents (between 40 and 45 days) the demarcation line between mudgha and human image.
So, it is well proved that the Quran's words are very well contrived and scientifically accurate, as they are composed by Allah Who has perfected everything .

This stage is characterized with muscles encircling and tightly surrounding the bones. With the completion of clothing the bones with lahm (muscles and flesh), the human image starts to be more clear, as human parts are appropriately connected. After completion of myogenesis (muscle formation), the embryo can start to move.  
This stage, which starts at the end of the 7th week (Figure 14) and ends at the end of the 8th week (Figure 15), is considered as the end of the stage of takhaloq (formation). Embryologists termed the end of the 8th week as the end of the embryology stage followed by the foetus stage which coincides with the Nash’ah (developing) stage as Quran stated.  Allah says;
(  فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ(المؤمنون: 14)
“And clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create.” (23: 14)

                                                                                                               Fig. 14 :  Day 48           Fig. 15 : Day 56

Until very recently, embryologists assumed that the bones and muscles in an embryo developed at the same time. For this reason, for a long time, some people claimed that these verses conflicted with science. Yet, advanced microscopic research conducted by virtue of new technological developments has revealed that the revelation of the Quran is word for word correct.  These observations at the microscopic level showed that the development inside the mother's womb takes place in just the way it is described in the verses. First, the cartilage tissue of the embryo ossifies. Then muscular cells that are selected from amongst the tissue around the  bones come together and wrap around the bones


The stage of Nash’ah (developing) and viability
Scientific facts: 
By the end of the 8th week, a new stage starts where important processes occur.  The rate of developing accelerates compared with the previous one.  The embryo transforms into another creature, as the sizes of head, body and limbs start to be balanced and regular between the 9th and 12th week.  At the 10th week, external genital organs appear, and the skeleton develops structure from soft cartilaginous to hard calcic bones at the 12th week (Figure 16-a).  Limbs and fingers are distinguished at the same week.  The gender of the embryo is manifest with the clear appearance of genitalia.
 The weight of the embryo increases noticeably.  Voluntary and involuntary muscles develop, and voluntary movements start in this stage. In the 16th  week (112 days) the foetus can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault (Figure 16-b).

(Fig16 -a) The 12th week ( around 84 days the embryonic shape appear with sizes of head, body and limbs well formed, and fingers distinguished. 
 ‘formation of another creature’ )

(Fig16 -bThe 16th week ( 112 days) : 13 cm tall embryo .
 eyebrows, eyelashes and fine hair appear.
The foetus can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.
here the 
unborn baby is sucking his thumb !
In this stage the organs and the systems become well prepared to function.  The foetus is ready for life outside the womb starting from the 22nd week to the 26th week (i.e., after the completion of the 6th month of gestation), when the respiratory system is ready to function and the nervous system is able to adjust the temperature of foetus body.  The first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light.
In this stage, no new system or organs are formed, and the uterus provides food and suitable environment for the foetus to thrive until the stage of 

Reflections on Quranic verses :

This stage starts after the stage of clothing the bones with lahm (muscles and flesh), i.e., at the beginning of the 9th week, taking a period of almost 3 weeks.  This is indicated with the use of conjunctive article (thumma) then, which denotes a time break between clothing with lahm and developing into another creature: He the Almighty says;
(فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَر فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ) (المؤمنون: 14)
“And clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create  (23: 14).  

After the development of the cartilaginous skeleton, clothing it with muscles, and the head and the limbs are distinguished, the embryo changes into a human creature well differentiated from other creatures
During this stage, some important processes occur in the development of the embryo, which are clearly described in the Holy Quran and can be summarized as follows:
Nash’ah (developing) which is clearly noticed in the accelerated rate of growth at the 9th week compared with the previous stages.
Khalqan Akhar (another creature): this description coincides with the first one and indicates that the embryo has changed in the nash’ah stage into another creature, i.e., the foetus. Limbs and external organs begin to appear, and fingers and external genitalia are distinguished.  Allah the Almighty says;
 ( هوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاء لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ)  آل عمران 6
 “He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases.  There is no god but He, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (3:6)

Here is an exquisite remark.  Allah says in Surat Al Zumar;
 ( يَخْلُقُكُمْ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ خَلْقًا مِن بَعْدِ خَلْقٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ ثَلَاثٍ) (الزمر6 )
He creates you in the wombs of your mothers in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness. (39:6), thus indicating the continuation of the embryonic development and the change from one stage into another, as explained earlier.  Embryologists have confirmed that the foetus is surrounded, during the stages of development, with three membranes:
1-     The amnion membrane which contains a fluid encompassing the foetus to make it in a state of swimming, thus protecting it from trauma that the uterus encounters, and facilitates the foetus movements for re-position smoothly during labour. (Figure 17)
2-     The chorion membrane.
3-     The decidua membrane.

Some scholars interpreted the three veils of darkness with the amniotic membrane surrounding the uterus, wall of uterus, and abdomen wall (Figure 18).  Yet, Allah knows best.

 Fig. 17 : Membranes
surrounding the foetus
(press on photo for enlargement)
  Fig. 18 : Three layers
protect the foetus

As we have mentioned before, the foetus become
s ready for life outside the womb after completion of the 6th month.  It is noticed that the Quranic statement indicates in Surat Ahqaf that the stage of conception and incubation takes 30 months;
 وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلاثُونَ شَهْرًا ) (الأحقاف: 15)
 “The bearing of him (the child) and the weaning of him is thirty months  (46: 15),
whereas in Surat Luqman, it is indicated that the period of incubation is 24 months;
( وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ) (لقمان: 14)
“And in two years was his weaning.” (31: 14). 
With a simple calculation, we deduce that the quranic statement decides that the least period of conception is 6 months as mentioned earlier
, being a scientific fact, and before the 22nd week, in which this stage starts, the foetus is delivered abortus (not able to survive) in most cases.  Praise be to Allah is the Omniscient.
It is very interesting to mention that the first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light. Consider the following three Quranic verses related to the development of the senses in the embryo

 " وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَة " (السجدة 9)
َAnd HE gave You (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (And understanding)  -  32:9

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا  " (الإنسان 2)
Verily We created man from a drop of a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight - 76:2

 " وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْشَأَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ " (المؤمنون 78) 
It is HE WHO has created For you (the faculties of) Hearing, sight, feeling And understanding: little thanks It is ye give! - 23:78
In all these three verses the sense of hearing is mentioned before the sense of sight. Thus the Quranic description matches with the discoveries in modern embryology that the sense of hearing is develops before the sense of sight


After the passing of 9 lunar months  (38 weeks), the foetus completes growth in the uterus.  It is time now to go out after the end of this specified period.  Allah says;
(وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاء إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى) ( الحج :5)
“And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term  (22:5) So the term is appointed and determined;
 ( فَجَعَلْنَاهُ فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ . إِلَى قَدَرٍ مَّعْلُومٍ . فَقَدَرْنَا فَنِعْمَ الْقَادِرُونَ )  (المرسلات :21-23)
The which (foetus) We placed in a place of rest, firmly fixed, for a period (of gestation), determined.  For We do determine, for We are the best to determine (things). (77: 21-23)

Before elaborating the stages of labour, it is noteworthy to mention the Quranic reference to the benefits of dates for the woman in labour, in which the status of the Lady Mary (mother of prophet Issa "PBUH")is described in the following verses as ;
(فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَى جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا منسيّا . فَنَادَاهَا مِنْ تَحْتِهَا أَلَّا تَحْزَنِي قَدْ جَعَلَ رَبُّكِ تَحْتَكِ سَرِيًّا . وَهُزِّي إِلَيْكِ بِجِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ تُسَاقِطْ عَلَيْكِ رُطَبًا جَنِيًّا . فَكُلِي وَاشْرَبِـي وَقَرِّي عَيْنًا ) (مريم 23-26)
“And the birth pains surprised her by the trunk of the palm tree: she said; ‘Ah! Would I had died before this! And become a thing forgotten.’ But (a voice) cried to her from beneath: ‘Grieve not! Your Lord has set below you a rivulet.  Shake to you the palm-trunk , and there shall come falling upon you dates fresh and ripe.  So eat , and drink, and be comforted … (19: 23-26).  
It has been scientifically proved that dates have several benefits.  Of these benefits, for the woman in labour:
  • Dates are rich in fibers which help avoid constipation, as it is a natural laxative, and helps a smooth delivery. 
  • Dates contain more than 70% glucose, which is easily absorbed and assimilated, thus ensuring the provision of necessary energy during labour. 
  • Dates is also rich in minerals, particularly magnesium which is necessary for cells physiology, and potassium which is necessary for the muscles, and iron which is necessary to treat anemia.
  • Dates contain a substance that helps alert the muscles of uterus to contract and increase contraction during delivery (this substance resembles Oxytocin hormone excreted by pituitary glands). This is in addition to many other benefits ( no room to mention here.  Praise be to Allah, the High and the Able.

Labour, which ends with delivery, is comprised of 4 stages:  
1-     Stage of dilatation of cervix and contraction of uterus muscle. This stage takes about 7-12 hours (Figure 19) and occurs as a result of several factors: mechanic and hormonal. A set of hormones is excreted to help facilitate the stage of labour.  Of these hormones are: Prostaglandin, Corticotropin Releasing Hormone, Adreno Cortico Tropin, Corticol, Oxytocin, Estrogin. .
2-     Stage of delivering the foetus.  This stage takes about 30-50 minutes, and starts after enough dilatation of cervix.  As a result of consequent uterus contractions, foetus head starts to emerge first (Figure 20).  It is striking that the diameter of foetus head may exceed 12 cm., i.e., normally triple the diameter of vaginal canal.  Having considered this fact, and the role of self hormonal factors, in addition to the expansion of pelvis ligatures and muscles, that all facilitate the delivery of the foetus, we realize the wisdom underlying Allah’s saying;
(ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ) (عبس: 20) 
“Then He makes his path smooth for him.” 
(80: 20).  So blessed be Allah, the Most Wise of all disposers.
3-     Stage of placenta emergence and the formation of blood clot behind the placenta (Figure 19).  This stage lasts about 15 minutes.
4-     Stage of uterus contraction.  This is to alleviate the bleeding after delivery process, and continues for about two hours.

After delivery, and cutting the umbilical cord (Figure 21), which the foetus has depended upon for acquiring food from his mother during pregnancy, the baby then starts another stage in a new station in his life.

Fig. 20 : Foetus head starts to emerge first

Fig. 21 : New born baby after cutting the umbilical cord

                Fig. 19 : Stages of Labour
(press on photo for enlargement)



The miracle of human creation in the holy Quran is one of many other medical miracles . Having reviewed previous detailed statements of Quranic verses and scientific analysis of the embryonal stages, it is evident that these Quranic verses give an accurate description of the main stages the embryo encounters during creation and formation until delivery.  It is noticed that these changes coincide with the remarks of modern embryology, and truly expresses the external phenomena of changes that result from the internal changes.  The Quranic descriptions contain expressions comprehensible to people of different backgrounds, whereas the current expressions in embryology used for the description of these stages do not identify the distinguished characteristics of the embryo in each stage, as numerical coding is used without reference to any description. This proves the wonderful miraculous nature of the Quran, which cannot be revealed except from the comprehensive knowledge of the Omniscient. These facts were confirmed by the embryologist  Professor Keith Moore  and also other non Moslem scientists.

In the age where Quran was revealed, with the description of human creation expressed in very accurate terms that fit with the modern rules of science, and with the confirmation  that the creation and development of embryo are fulfilled on stages, as Allah says;
 ( مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا .وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا )( نوح)
 “What is the matter with you, that ye are not conscious of Allah’s majesty,- Seeing that it is He that has created you in diverse stages" (71: 13-14)Non- Moslem scientists at that time believed that man was created from menstrual blood. In so far as the 17th century, they believed that the embryo was fully created from man’s sperm, and then it grew after entering the uterus. Thus they perceived man as a seed reduced wholly in that small drop of sperm.  The idea remained as such until the 18th century when microscopes proved that sperm and ovum are both necessary for pregnancy.  This was  discovered so many centuries after it had been revealed by the Holy Quran.  This shows that the Quran is the word of a Will that knows the creation of man down to its slightest detail. This Will is Allah, the creator of man, Who says;
( وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا) (النمل: 93)
 “And say: ‘Praise be to Allah, Who will soon show you His signs, so that ye shall know them’ (27: 93) , and Who also says;
( سنريهم آياتنا في الآفاق و في أنفسهم حتى يتبين لهم أنه الحق ) ( فصلت 53)
“Soon will We show them our signs in the furthest horizons, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth” (41: 53)Verily says the Almighty Allah.


1- The Holy Quran.
2- The Developing Human ( Prof. Keith Moor & Prof. T. Persaud)  Edition 6 – 19983Clinical Anatomy . By Richard Snell ( 3ed edition) published in 1986 - Little, Brown
4- A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Quran (Prof. Keith Moor) Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, 1986: vol.18, Page 15-16 5- Human Development as Described in the Qur'an and Sunnah, By : Keith L. Moore ; E. Marshall Johnson ; T.V.N  Persaud, ; Gerald C. Goeringer ;
    Abdul-Majeed  Zindani, ; and Mustafa A Ahmed , 1992, ISBN 0-9627236-1-4.  Collection of papers that were originally presented  in the First International 
    Conference on Scientific Signs of the Qur'an and Sunnah, held in Islamabad, Pakistan, 1987.
6- Islamic Medicine On-Line ( Dr.Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal)
7- Video presentations of :
   Professor Emeritus Keith Moore, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and the former Associate Dean of Basic Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine
      at the University of Toronto, Canada.  
Clip 1   Clip 2   Clip 3
   Prof. E. Marshall Johnson Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, and Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute,
      Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  
 Clip 1   Clip 2

   Dr. G.C. Goeringer, Course Director and Associate Professor of Medical Embryology at the Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine,
      Georgetown University, Washington, D.C, USA.  
 Clip 1

   Dr. T.V.N. Persaud, Professor of Anatomy and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.   Clip 1


* Mr. Mohammed Abdul Hamid Madi ( senior translator in the Royal Commission Medical Center - Yanbu -  Saudi Arabia ) Some of his work was published on line .