EMBRYONIC STAGES

“Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; 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 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 qararin makin 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. In 1677, Hamm and Leeuwenhoek were the first scientists to observe human sperm cells (spermatozoa) using 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 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 ‘Mudgha’. 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 (izam). The bones are clothed with intact flesh or muscles (lahm). Then Allah makes it into another creature.

Prof. Marshall Johnson is one of the leading scientists in US, and is the head of the Department of Anatomy and Director of the Daniel Institute at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in US. He was asked to comment on the verses of the Qur’an dealing with embryology. He said that the verses of the Qur’an describing the embryological stages cannot be a coincidence. He said it was probable that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had a powerful microscope. On being reminded that the Qur’an was revealed 1,400 years ago, and microscopes were invented centuries after the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), 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 (peace be upon him) recited the Qur’an.”

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 I, stage II, etc. 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 prenatal development and provide elegant scientific descriptions that are comprehensible and practical.

Similar embryological stages of human development have been described in the following verses:

“Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a clinging clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.” [Al-Qur’an 75:37-39]

“Him Who created thee, fashioned thee in due proportion, and gave thee a just bias; in whatever form He wills, does He put thee together.” [Al-Qur’an 82:7-8]

 

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