023.012► Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay);
023.013► ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ
023.013► Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed;
023.014► ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنْشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ
023.014► Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create![Al-Qur’ an-Surah Al-Mumenoon- 23:12-14]
In this verse Allah states that man is created from a small quantity of liquid which is placed in a place of rest, firmly fixed (well established or lodged) for which the Arabic word qaraarin makeen is used. The uterus is well protected from the posterior by the spinal column supported firmly by the back muscles. The embryo is further protected by the amniotic sac containing the amniotic fluid. Thus the foetus has a well protected dwelling place.
This small quantity of fluid is made into alaqah, meaning something which clings. It also means a leech-like substance. Both descriptions are scientifically acceptable as in the very early stages the foetus clings to the wall and also appears to resemble the leech in shape. It also behaves like a leech (blood sucker) and acquires its blood supply from the mother through the placenta.
The third meaning of the word alaqah is a blood clot. During this alaqah stage, which spans the third and fourth week of pregnancy, the blood clots within closed vessels. Hence the embryo acquires the appearance of a blood clot in addition to acquiring the appearance of a leech. Compare the readily available Qur’anic knowledge with Man’s struggle with scientific findings:
In 1677, Hamm and Leeuwenhoek were the first scientists to observe human sperm cells (spermatozoa) through a microscope. They thought that a sperm cell contained a miniature human being which grew in the uterus to form a newborn. This was known as the perforation theory. When scientists discovered that the ovum was bigger than the sperm, it was thought by scientists like De Graf and others that the foetus existed in a miniature form in the ovum. Later, in the 18th century, Maupertuis propagated the theory of biparental inheritance.
The alaqah is transformed into mudghah which means ‘something that is chewed (having teeth marks)’ and also something that is tacky and small which can be put in the mouth like gum. Both these explanations are scientifically correct. Prof. Keith Moore took a piece of plaster seal and made it into the size and shape of the early stage of foetus and chewed it between the teeth to make it into a mudghah. He compared this with the photographs of the early stage of foetus. The teeth marks resembled the ‘somites’ which is the early formation of the spinal column.
This mudghah is transformed into bones (izâm). The bones are clothed with intact flesh or muscles (lahm). Then Allah makes it into another creature. Prof. Marshall Johnson who is one of the leading scientists in the USA, and is the head of the Department of Anatomy and Director of the Daniel Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in the USA, was asked to comment on the verses of the Qur’an dealing with embryology. At first he said that the verses of the Qur’an describing the embryological stages cannot be a coincidence. It was probable that Muhammad (pbuh) had a powerful microscope. On being reminded that the Qur’an was revealed 1400 years ago, and microscopes were invented many centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Prof. Johnson laughed and admitted that the first microscope invented could not magnify more than 10 times and could not show a clear picture.
Later he said: “I see nothing here in conflict with the concept that Divine intervention was involved when Muhammad (pbuh) recited the Qur’an.”1
According to Dr. Keith Moore, the modern classification of embryonic development stages which is adopted throughout the world, is not easily comprehensible, since it identifies stages on a numerical basis i.e. stage 1, stage 2, etc. On the other hand, the divisions revealed in the Qur’an are based on distinct and easily identifiable forms or shapes, which the embryo passes through. These are based on different phases of pre-natal development
1 The reference for this statment is the video tape titled ‘This is the Truth’. For a copy of this video tape contact the Islamic Research Foundation.
and provide elegant scientific descriptions that are comprehensible and practical.
Embryological stages of human development have also been described in the following verses:
075.037► أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِنْ مَنِيٍّ يُمْنَى
075.037► Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)?
075.038► ثُمَّ كَانَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقَ فَسَوَّى
075.038► Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion.
075.039► فَجَعَلَ مِنْهُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالأنْثَى
075.039► And of him He made two sexes, male and female.[Al-Qur’an -Surah Al-Qiyama -82:7-8]