In the Holy Quran, God speaks about the stages
of man’s embryonic development:
“We created man from an extract of clay.
Then We made him as a drop in a place of settlement, firmly fixed. Then We
made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot),
then We made the alaqah into a mudghah (chewed substance)…” (Quran
Literally, the Arabic word alaqah has
three meanings: (1) leech, (2) suspended thing, and (3) blood clot.
In comparing a leech to an embryo in the alaqah
stage, we find similarity between the two
as we can see in figure 1. Also, the embryo at this stage obtains nourishment
from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of
Figure 1: Drawings illustrating the similarities in
appearance between a leech and a human embryo at the alaqah stage.
(Leech drawing from Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah,
Moore and others, p. 37, modified from Integrated Principles of Zoology,
Hickman and others. Embryo drawing from The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 73.)
The second meaning of the word alaqah is
“suspended thing.” This is what we can see in figures 2 and 3, the suspension
of the embryo, during the alaqah stage, in the womb of the mother.
Figure 2: We can see in this diagram the suspension
of an embryo during the alaqah stage in the womb (uterus) of the mother.
(The Developing Human, Moore and Persaud, 5th ed., p. 66.)
Figure 3: In this photomicrograph, we can see the
suspension of an embryo (marked B) during the alaqah stage (about 15
days old) in the womb of the mother. The actual size of the embryo is about
0.6 mm. (The Developing Human, Moore, 3rd ed., p. 66, from Histology, Leeson
The third meaning of the word alaqah is
“blood clot.” We find that the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs
during the alaqah stage is similar to that of a blood clot. This is due
to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo
during this stage (see figure
4). Also during this stage, the blood in the embryo does not circulate until
the end of the third week. Thus, the
embryo at this stage is like a clot of blood.
Figure 4: Diagram of the primitive cardiovascular
system in an embryo during the alaqah stage. The external appearance of
the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot, due to the presence
of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo. (The Developing
Human, Moore, 5th ed., p. 65.)
So the three meanings of the word alaqah
correspond accurately to the descriptions of the embryo at the alaqah
The next stage mentioned in the verse is the
mudghah stage. The Arabic word mudghah means “chewed substance.” If one were
to take a piece of gum and chew it in his or her mouth and then compare it with
an embryo at the mudghah stage, we would conclude that the embryo at the
mudghah stage acquires the appearance of a chewed substance. This is because
of the somites at the back of the embryo that “somewhat resemble teethmarks in
a chewed substance.” (see figures
5 and 6).
Figure 5: Photograph of an embryo at the mudghah
stage (28 days old). The embryo at this stage acquires the appearance of a
chewed substance, because the somites at the back of the embryo somewhat
resemble teeth marks in a chewed substance. The actual size of the embryo is 4
mm. (The Developing Human, Moore and Persaud, 5th ed., p. 82, from Professor
Hideo Nishimura, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.)
Figure 6: When comparing the appearance of an embryo
at the mudghah stage with a piece of gum that has been chewed, we find
similarity between the two.
of an embryo at the mudghah stage. We can see here the somites at the back of
the embryo that look like teeth marks. (The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 79.)
B) Photograph of a piece of gum that has been
How could Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings
of God be upon him, have possibly known all this 1400 years ago, when
scientists have only recently discovered this using advanced equipment and
powerful microscopes which did not exist at that time? Hamm and Leeuwenhoek
were the first scientists to observe human sperm cells (spermatozoa) using an
improved microscope in 1677 (more than 1000 years after Muhammad). They
mistakenly thought that the sperm cell contained a miniature preformed human
being that grew when it was deposited in the female genital tract.
Professor Emeritus Keith L. Moore
is one of the world’s most prominent scientists in the fields of anatomy and
embryology and is the author of the book entitled The Developing Human, which
has been translated into eight languages. This book is a scientific reference
work and was chosen by a special committee in the United States as the best
book authored by one person. Dr. Keith Moore is Professor Emeritus of Anatomy
and Cell Biology at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. There, he was Associate Dean of Basic Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine and for 8 years
was the Chairman of the Department of Anatomy. In 1984, he received the most
distinguished award presented in the field of anatomy in Canada, the J.C.B. Grant Award from the Canadian Association of Anatomists. He has
directed many international associations, such as the Canadian and American
Association of Anatomists and the Council of the Union of Biological Sciences.
In 1981, during the Seventh Medical Conference
in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, Professor Moore said: “It has been a great pleasure
for me to help clarify statements in the Quran about human development. It is
clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, because
almost all of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later.
This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God.”
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Consequently, Professor Moore was asked the
following question: “Does this mean that you believe that the Quran is the word
of God?” He replied: “I find no difficulty in accepting this.”
During one conference, Professor Moore stated:
“....Because the staging of human embryos is complex, owing to the continuous
process of change during development, it is proposed that a new system of
classification could be developed using the terms mentioned in the Quran and
Sunnah (what Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, said,
did, or approved of). The proposed system is simple, comprehensive, and
conforms with present embryological knowledge. The intensive studies of the
Quran and hadeeth (reliably transmitted reports by the Prophet Muhammad’s
companions of what he said, did, or approved of) in the last four years have
revealed a system for classifying human embryos that is amazing since it was
recorded in the seventh century A.D. Although Aristotle, the founder of the
science of embryology, realized that chick embryos developed in stages from his
studies of hen’s eggs in the fourth century B.C., he did not give any details
about these stages. As far as it is known from the history of embryology,
little was known about the staging and classification of human embryos until
the twentieth century. For this reason, the descriptions of the human embryo
in the Quran cannot be based on scientific knowledge in the seventh century.
The only reasonable conclusion is: these descriptions were revealed to Muhammad
from God. He could not have known such details because he was an illiterate
man with absolutely no scientific training.”
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