The Quran on Human Embryonic Development

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, 23:12-14)

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 others.

Figure 1

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.)  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Figure 2 (Click here to enlarge)

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 and Leeson.)

Figure 3

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.)  (Click on the image to enlarge it.)


Figure 4 (Click here to enlarge)

So the three meanings of the word alaqah correspond accurately to the descriptions of the embryo at the alaqah stage.

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 5

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.
A) Drawing 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 chewed.
(Click on the image to enlarge it.)


Figure 6 (Click here to enlarge)

How could Muhammad  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.”  (To view the RealPlayer video of this comment click here Video Clip).

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  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.”  (View the RealPlayer video of this comment Video Clip).

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About [defenderben]

"We will soon show them Our signs in the Universe and INSIDE THEIR SELVES, until it will become quite clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient as regards your Lord that He is a witness over all things?" ~ (The Noble Qur'an, 41:53)
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8 Responses to The Quran on Human Embryonic Development

  1. EXCUSE ME, but DO YOU HONESTLY THINK and BELIEVE that a HUMAN EMBRYO LOOKS LIKE a LEECH?

    Oh, YOU are BASING YOUR BELIEF on a MERE DRAWING of a HUMAN EMBRYO (FIGURE 1) ABOVE.

    YOU have an ACTUAL IMAGE of a HUMAN EMBRYO at FIGURE 5 and an ILLUSTRATION of ONE at FIGURE 6. DO YOU SEE THEM as REMOTELY RESEMBLING a LEECH?

    CLEARLY, YOU BELIEVE an ILLUSION.

    REAL IMAGES of a HUMAN EMBRYO DISPROVES your CLAIM of a MIRACLE in the QURAN.

    HUMAN EMBRYOS DO NOT LOOK LIKE a LEECH.

    As to the “CHEWED THING,” A SIMPLE LOOK at the IMAGES of the HUMAN EMBRYO and the GUM (FIGURE 6) DO NOT RESEMBLE EACH OTHER.

    LOOK at the IMAGE of the EMBRYO and the GUM,

    1. DO YOU SEE A HEAD on the GUM?

    NO.

    2. DO YOU SEE a FOREBRAIN PORMINENCE on the GUM?

    NO.

    3. DO YOU SEE a TAIL on the GUM?

    NO.

    4. DO YOU SEE a HYOID ARCH on the GUM?

    NO.

    YOU ARE JUST IMAGINING THINGS if YOU SAY that the GUM LOOKS LIKE the EMBRYO.

    WHY DO YOU NEED to DELUDE YOURSELF JUST TO IMAGINE that there is any “MIRACLE” in QURAN 23:12-14?

  2. CENON SAID: EXCUSE ME, but DO YOU HONESTLY THINK and BELIEVE that a HUMAN EMBRYO LOOKS LIKE a LEECH?

    MY REPLY: EXCUSE ME (TOO), DID I SAY THAT a HUMAN EMBRYO “VISUALLY” “LOOKS LIKE” a LEECH?

    “The embryo at this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others.” (Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, p. 36.)

    Since your question is STILL more on a question than a STATEMENT, the used of “LEECH” there as a description is because “”The embryo at this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others.” (Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, p. 36.) and NOT VISUALLY LOOKING LIKE A LEECH.

    X-X-X

    CENON SAID: Oh, YOU are BASING YOUR BELIEF on a MERE DRAWING of a HUMAN EMBRYO (FIGURE 1) ABOVE.

    YOU have an ACTUAL IMAGE of a HUMAN EMBRYO at FIGURE 5 and an ILLUSTRATION of ONE at FIGURE 6. DO YOU SEE THEM as REMOTELY RESEMBLING a LEECH?

    My REPLY: See how liar are you? I’m not basing my belief on drawing(S).

    X-X-X

    CENON SAID: CLEARLY, YOU BELIEVE an ILLUSION.

    As to the “CHEWED THING,” A SIMPLE LOOK at the IMAGES of the HUMAN EMBRYO and the GUM (FIGURE 6) DO NOT RESEMBLE EACH OTHER.

    LOOK at the IMAGE of the EMBRYO and the GUM,

    1. DO YOU SEE A HEAD on the GUM?

    NO.

    2. DO YOU SEE a FOREBRAIN PORMINENCE on the GUM?

    NO.

    3. DO YOU SEE a TAIL on the GUM?

    NO.

    4. DO YOU SEE a HYOID ARCH on the GUM?

    NO.

    YOU ARE JUST IMAGINING THINGS if YOU SAY that the GUM LOOKS LIKE the EMBRYO.

    WHY DO YOU NEED to DELUDE YOURSELF JUST TO IMAGINE that there is any “MIRACLE” in QURAN 23:12-14?

    My REPLY:

    What is said is “. . . 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.”

    It explains some appearances as perceive by a person, not the entire molding. We have a different perception, Cenon.

    And believing on “How old was Ahaziah when he began to rule over Jerusalem,

    Twenty-two (2 Kings 8:26) or
    Forty-two (2 Chronicles 22:2)?” do not contradict? Why, do you have impaired vision now that you seems to cannot see exactly that 22 is not 42?

    The comparison of leech to the embryo at alaqah stage is WITH RESPECT TO WHERE EACH GET NOURISHMENT.

    The comparison of the “chewed gum” to the embryo at alaqah stage is WITH RESPECT TO THE APPEARANCE OF SOMITES AT THE BACK WHICH RESEMBLES LIKE A TEETHMARK.

    • DEFENDERBEN SAID:
      MY REPLY: EXCUSE ME (TOO), DID I SAY THAT a HUMAN EMBRYO “VISUALLY” “LOOKS LIKE” a LEECH?

      CENON BIBE:
      YOU WERE NOT THE ONE who MADE the ARTICLE ABOVE, RIGHT? So, PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE YOURSELF in the ISSUE.
      .
      The ARTICLE that you POSTED ABOVE said, “In comparing a leech to an embryo in the alaqah stage, we find similarity between the two as we can see in figure 1.
      .
      SEE? The SIMILARITY referred to in the ARTICLE pertains to VISUAL LIKENESS.
      .
      I’M SORRY if I DESTROYED this CLAIM but SUCH IS THE TRUTH.
      .
      YOUR REACTION further POINTS to the FACT that I AM RIGHT and YOUR “PROOF” of a QURANIC MIRACLE is WRONG.

      .
      .
      +++
      .
      DEFENDERBEN SAID:
      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 others.

      “The embryo at this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others.” (Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, p. 36.)
      .
      .
      CENON BIBE:
      Please NOTICE that the mention of the embryo supposedly obtaining nourishment from the blood of the mother is ONLY AN AFTERTHOUGHT. IT WAS NOT the MAIN PROPOSITION.
      .
      The MAIN PROPOSITION is that the EMBRYO and the LEECH are “SIMILAR” in APPEARANCE. And of course, WE ALREADY KNOW that such a CLAIM is ERRONEOUS.
      .
      Therefore, THERE IS NOT MIRACLE THERE.
      .
      .
      Now, IS THE EMBRYO SIMILAR to a LEECH in HOW IT GETS NOURISHMENT?
      .
      NO.
      .
      MOST LEECHES are BLOOD SUCKERS. THEY TAKE IN BLOOD.
      .
      EMBRYOS DO NOT SUCK BLOOD. THEY ALSO DO NOT SUCK IN BLOOD but are SUPPLIED with NOURISHMENT.
      .
      SEE the MAIN DIFFERENCE?
      .
      *** LEECH = TAKES BLOOD, EMBRYO = RECEIVES NOURISHMENT

      .
      ONE (LEECH) is a TAKER. The OTHER (EMBRYO) is a RECEIVER.
      .
      NO COMPARISON THERE.
      .
      THERE is NO MIRACLE THERE.
      .
      +++

      DEFENDERBEN SAID:
      Since your question is STILL more on a question than a STATEMENT, the used of “LEECH” there as a description is because “”The embryo at this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech, which feeds on the blood of others.” (Human Development as Described in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, p. 36.) and NOT VISUALLY LOOKING LIKE A LEECH.
      .
      .
      CENON BIBE:
      I’M SORRY, BEN, but THAT IS ONLY YOUR EXCUSE. THAT is NOT the CLAIM of QURAN 23:14.
      .
      What QURAN 23:14 said (according to your post) “We made the drop into an alaqah (leech, suspended thing, and blood clot).”
      .
      SEE it says, the “DROP” was MADE INTO an ALAQAH (LEECH, according to your “miracle”).
      .
      NOTICE the term “DROP”. IT TALKS of APPEARANCES. So, by implication, this reference to “ALAQAH” refers to the APPEARANCE of a “LEECH,” which WE ALREADY KNOW is WRONG.
      .
      Besides, I ALREADY COMPARED HOW a LEECH and an EMBRYO ACT. THE LEECH is a TAKER (BLOOD SUCKER) while the EMBRYO is a RECEIVER of NOURISHMENT (NOT BLOOD).
      .
      So, WHERE IS THE MIRACLE?
      .
      NO MIRACLE.

  3. Zito Miah says:

    Mr Ceon Bibe Jr: The embryo does have a remarkable resemblence to a leech. This is no “illusion”.

    See read and the comment on the following paper
    Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage
    http://islampapers.com/2012/02/09/alaqah/

  4. Zito Miah says:

    Cenon Bibe Jr: You say that “HUMAN EMBRYOS DO NOT LOOK LIKE a LEECH”

    I am sorry but you are most certainly mistaken. Please see the following paper on my blog site called “Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage”
    http://islampapers.com/2012/02/09/alaqah/

    I would be most interested in your comments on the above paper.

    • Thanks for the link.

      I browsed it and I noticed the COMPARISON between the LEECH and the EMBRYO.

      Did you also notice that the COMPARISON was made between the INTERNAL IMAGE of a LEECH and an EXTERNAL IMAGE of an EMBRYO?

      SHOULDN’T the COMPARISON BE BETWEEN TWO EXTERNAL FEATURES?

      I FIND it SUSPICIOUS that COMPARISONS are NOT ON SIMILAR ASPECTS.
      .
      Anyway, I WILL TRY to READ the PAPER and COMMENT on IT.

  5. @Zito Miah, if Cenon Bibe Jr will go there, just be patient because he’s kind of person who understand age 22 is just equal to age 42. And do not be surprise of his logic. He is a Catholic priest. 😀

    • Zito Miah, MAY I SUGGEST YOU READ MY OTHER POSTS in THIS BLOG, so that YOU WILL SEE and COMPARE HOW I and BEN DISCUSS MATTERS. Perhaps YOU WILL SEE WHO BEN is ACTUALLY REFERRING TO.

      THANKS.

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