Embryology in the Qur'an

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Photo of Human Embryo (7 weeks)

The concept of Embryology in the Quran claims that a scientifically accurate account of embryological development is available in the Quran. The Quran is considered by believers, to be Islam's holy book and the verbatim word of Allah (God).[1][2] Apologists, Sheikhs, and the larger Muslim community regard the mention of embryological stages in the Quran to be a scientific miracle of Islam and evidence of claims to its divinity. However, critics claim the verses to be plagiarized and flawed summaries from Greek scientists which had been available at the time.

The interpretations of these verses began in earnest when books were published by non-Muslim medical experts Dr. Keith Moore (alongside his co-author Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, a Wahhabi cleric) and Dr. Maurice Bucaille.[3] The article titled, "A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Quran" does not claim to verify the scientific accuracy or significance of the Quranic claims. Instead it aims to be a comparative analysis to modern medicine.[3] However, some critics believe Moore was only paying lip service to his hosts and investors, as he worked with the Embryology Committee of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah.[4] It is important to also note that Moore's article also cites the similarities to the work of Greek scientist Galen, who wrote extensively on embryology roughly 500 years before Islam.[3] The praise in Moore's article of Islamic claims have been repeated in talks by Dr. Zakir Naik, Harun Yahya, and other apologists. Critics, like Dr. P.Z. Myers, believe the Quranic verses that mention embryology are incomparable and unacceptable to scientific standards.[5]

Many have written about the remarkable similarities between Quranic embryology and that taught by Galen. He was a highly influential Greek physician (b. 130 CE), whose works were studied in Syria and Egypt during Muhammad's time[6]. Some of the most obvious links with Galen (and also with the Talmud) are in statements about the nutfah stage of embryology in the Quran, and even more so in the hadith. See the article Greek and Jewish Ideas about Reproduction in the Quran and Hadith for the compelling evidence. Striking similarities exist between the other Quranic embryo stages and Galen too. However, while interesting and very probable, these influences cannot be proven for the Quran, and it is in any case unnecessary when exposing the weaknesses in the Quranic descriptions. Thus this article will concentrate solely on showing that Quranic embryology is incorrect, and that Islamic websites and public figures make false, illogical or unproven assertions in its defence.

Terms used in Quran

The Quran is written in Classical/Quranic Arabic, as such not all terms are easily translatable from Modern Standard Arabic.[7] For clarification purposes:

  1. Nutfah - drop of semen[8]
  2. Alaqah - leech and certain creatures that cling and suck blood, or blood, thick blood or clotted blood[9]
  3. Mudghah - bite-sized morsel of flesh, shaped and without shape[10]
  4. 'Itham - bones, especially of the limbs[11]
  5. 'Itham - clothed[12]
  6. Lahm - flesh[13]

Scientific Accuracy

Empirical cycle - A.D. de Groot

A number of verses collectively demonstrate a belief that the earliest, nutfah stage of development is made of semen, perhaps mixed with a female fluid, which is placed in the womb for a known term, and where it undergoes various stages of development (as also taught by Galen and in the Jewish Talmud). See this article for the most comprehensive explanation and evidence. Futhermore, there is no sign that the author of the Quran was aware of the female egg (ovum).

In reality, a single sperm cell penetrates and fuses with the female ovum. This fertilised egg, called a zygote, is then pushed down the fallopian tube for a few days. On the way, cell division begins, and this multi-celled cluster, now called a blastocyst, implants in the uterus (womb).

The embryo is then congealed blood. All the classical tafsirs (commentaries) understood the meaning of 'alaqah to be blood or congealed blood, and clotted blood is a definition of the word in classical Arabic dictionaries. Regardless of alternative meanings for this arabic word, it would be very foolish even to use a word whose main definitions include an explicit biological meaning (clotted blood) in a description of a biological process (embryology) if that meaning was not the one you intended. The choice of word now causes a well justified suspicion of inaccuracy, and for centuries misled people into thinking that the embryo is at one stage congealed blood (an actual embryo is at no point blood or a clot of blood). Similarly, for the same reason it would also be foolish to use this word while intending blood clot as a mere visual analogy.

Bones are formed before being clothed with flesh. In fact cartilage models of the bones start to form at the same time as and in parallel with surrounding muscles, and this cartilage is literally replaced with bone.

The author of the Quran imagined a sequence of stages, which when examined without the false definitions and arbitrary assumptions made by apologists, clearly has no resemblance to the actual development process of a child in the womb. Someone with a modern, scientific knowledge of embryology can instead marvel at the exquisite complexity that results from a process of co-ordinated cell differentiation and signalling, encoded in our genetic instruction set by millions of years of evolution.

Relevant Quotations

Verily We created man from a product of wet earth [sulalatin min teenin سُلَٰلَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ]; Then placed him as a drop (of seed) [nutfatan نُطْفَةً] in a safe lodging [qararin makeenin قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ]; Then fashioned We the drop a clot ['alaqatan عَلَقَةً], then fashioned We the clot a little lump [mudghatan مُضْغَةً], then fashioned We the little lump bones ['ithaman عِظَٰمًا], then clothed [kasawna كَسَوْنَا] the bones with flesh [lahman لَحْمًا], and then produced it as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators!
Pickthall:Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay [teenin طِينٍ]; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid;
Yusuf Ali:We created man from sounding clay [salsalin صَلْصَٰلٍ], from mud [hamain حَمَإٍ] molded into shape;
O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust [turabin تُرَابٍ], then from a drop of seed [nutfatin نُّطْفَةٍ], then from a clot [alaqatin عَلَقَةٍ], then from a little lump of flesh [mudghatin مُّضْغَةٍ] shapely and shapeless [mukhallaqatin waghayri mukhallaqatin مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ], that We may make (it) clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dieth (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammad) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind (of growth).
He it is Who created you from dust [turabin تُرَابٍ], then from a drop (of seed) [nutfatin نُّطْفَةٍ] then from a clot [alaqatin عَلَقَةٍ], then bringeth you forth as a child, then (ordaineth) that ye attain full strength and afterward that ye become old men - though some among you die before - and that ye reach an appointed term, that haply ye may understand.

Apologetic Arguments

The Formation of Bone and Clothing with Flesh

Bone and Muscle Formation According to Medical Science

In order to compare with science the Quranic statement that Allah makes the lump of flesh bones ('ithaman[11]) and then clothes (fa-kasawna[12]) the bones with flesh (lahman[13]), first we should see what science has discovered about the process of bone and muscle formation. Here is a brief description for both of them, without any detail on the relative timing of parallel processes. The section that follows afterwards contains numerous cited scientific sources stating the timing of these processes. Finally we will compare this with the Quran.

Mesoderm is the middle of the three layers of the early embryo. Some of the mesoderm cells (paraxial mesoderm) form a series of blocks called somites either side of the neural tube (this tube will eventually form the spinal cord and brain). These somites will differentiate into sclerotome and myotome, which form the cartilage 'models' (or 'templates') and become connective tissues (including muscles) respectively of the future axial skeleton (i.e. everything except the limbs, shoulders and pelvis). The myotome differentiates and migrates as the sclerotome is condensing into mesenchyme, which will produce cartilage. Each process occurs segmentally down the somites in a cranio-caudal sequence (head to tail).

Another area of mesoderm (lateral plate mesoderm) proliferates especially quickly in certain positions to form the limb buds. There, mesenchyme cells condense into distinct masses within the limb buds. These mesenchyme cells differentiate into chondrocytes, which secrete the cartilage matrix and are embedded in it. Thus cartilage models of the future limb bones gradually form (chondrification). Once the cartilage models have formed and while they are still growing, the cartilage is literally replaced with actual bone by osteoblasts (ossification) working outwards from centres of the cartilage models. Osteoclasts remove the remnants of the mineralized cartilage. Ossification also starts in the axial skeleton some time after it has begun in the limbs, except for the upper and lower jaw, which start to ossify slightly earlier.

Meanwhile, the process of limb muscle formation begins as soon as the limb buds appear. Myoblast cells migrate from somites to populate the limb buds. They aggregate into distinct masses, differentiating and fusing into muscle fibres, as the condensing mesenchyme starts to chondrify, and before the resulting cartilage models begin to ossify.

The Timing of These Processes

Here is the scientific evidence for the contemporaneous development of cartilage/bone and muscles.

A very detailed account of musculo-skeletal development in the human limb by clinical-geneticist Robert Jan Galjaard can be read online.[14] It details that muscle precursor cells migrate from the somites into the limb buds (ca. day 26), well before the condensing core of mesenchyme has started to chondrify into cartilage bone models in the upper part of the upper limb (ca. day 37), followed by the lower part (ca. day 41). The myoblasts have grouped into distinct masses by this stage and are differentiating into muscle fibres. The upper limbs later start to ossify (ca. day 54). Chondrification of mesenchyme, the grouping of myogenic masses, and ossification all occur in a proximal-distal order (upper to lower part of each limb). The digits of the hands only start to chondrify ca. day 51.

Professor Peter Law confirms that myoblasts are found in the limb buds day 26.[15]

Myoblasts have aggregated into ventral and dorsal masses in the upper limb by day 36 and the start of chondrification.[16]

A detailed account by Walker and Miranda, including useful diagrams, explains that after day 35, the premuscle regions of the limb containing myoblasts and fibroblasts become distinct, and by day 45 have started to fuse together to become myotubes (which form muscle fibres). With axial musculo-skeletal development, myotomes have migrated (these form axial muscle) and sclerotomes have started to condense into mesenchyme (which will form cartilage) in the 5th week.[17]

According to Rugh, Building blocks are present for 40 pairs of muscles, which are located from the base of the skull to the bottom of the spinal column by day 28[18] (these are the myotomes of the somites). Muscles appear in the pelvis day 31[19]. Movement of the muscles is being controlled by the nervous system by the 6th week [20]. All of the muscle blocks have appeared by day 36 after conception[21].

In the 10th edition (2016) of the Developing Human, Keith Moore says that ossification of the long bones begins in the 8th week, starting with the upper limbs, followed by the lower limbs and pelvis[22] (which concurs with Galjaard cited above).

It is apparent from the above that muscle masses have started to form around the mesenchyme condensations around the same time as they begin to chondrify into cartilage models of the limb bones, and long before they have even begun to ossify. Similarly, the process of muscle and cartilage formation begins at the same time for the axoskeleton. Muscles and cartilage, and bone that replaces it, continue their formation in parallel with each other.

Problems With The Quranic Description

Firstly, proponents of Quranic embryology have to explain why the author of the Quran was incorrect in their description and mentioned not cartilage (ghudhroof)[23]) but only bone ('itham)[11], which starts to form well after muscles.

Secondly, muscle and bone (or their precursors) develop contemporaneously, although the parallel processes start when muscle begins developing around condensations of mesenchyme that have only just begun to diffentiate into cartilage. Therefore, there is no scientific basis for the Quranic claim of a stage in which bone is later covered with flesh after its own formation. The prefix fa before kasawna means "and then", indicating an uninterrupted sequence.[24]

Even if we were to accept that the Quran was only referring to precursor cartilage models of the bones and not bone itself, even though it used the Arabic word for bone ('itham), and not cartilage (ghurdoof), the embryology is still wrong as shown above. Even if, with further and unjustifiable generosity, we suppose that the Quran means only the very beginning of the formation of the cartilage (chondrification) before they are in any sense complete shapes and the beginning of the formation of muscles, even this happens at the same stage (around day 41). Going back earlier still, it can even be pointed out that the precursors of muscles (myoblasts) and precursors to the cartilage (mesenchyme) are present in the limb bud as soon as it arises.

Of course, the natural reading of verse 23:14 is that the bones have some sort of meaningful shape, and can meaningfully be called bones. This is certainly not the case when the condensed mesenchyme has merely started to produce cartilage. Furthermore, the natural reading of verse 23:14 is that all the bones have some meaningful presence worthy of the label 'bones' before Allah clothes them with flesh. As noted in the evidence above, fingers only start to even chondrify after muscle formation is already well underway in the upper part of the limbs.

We have more evidence that 23:14 refers to things already recognisable as bones being clothed with muscles or flesh elsewhere in the Quran. Verse 2:259 uses the same Arabic words as does 23:14 for 'bones', 'clothed' and 'flesh' to describe the resurrection of a donkey which had been dead for 100 years. The main embryology passages, such as verse 22:5 (see quote above) suggests that embryological development has similarities with resurrection.[25]

The 'Alaqah Stage

The concensus in the tafsirs for the embryology verses was that 'alaqah meant blood. In numerous tafsirs it is variously described as blood (al dam الدم), congealed blood (al dam al jamid الدم الجامد), or simply, red 'alaqah ('alaqah hamra علقة حمراء). Nevertheless, in modern times some Muslims, especially those who know that this contradicts the biological reality, have tried to reinterpret the word using some of the other dictionary definitions for 'alaqah or 'alaq. Each of these alternatives is problematic, as indeed is the mere fact that 'alaqah has clotted blood[9] as one of its main meanings.

Clinging Thing

Those who claim that 'alaqah is used in the sense of a clinging thing in the Quran should consider that the embryo does not cease to be attached to the uterine wall when the musculo-skeletal system begins to develop around the 5th week. Yet the Quranic stages appear to describe a transition between a succession of states. Moreover it would be self-evident from aborted fetuses that at some stage the embryo becomes attached to something.

Hanging / Suspended

Also flawed is a related claim, that 'alaqah is used here in its meaning of a suspended, or hanging thing, because the early embryo is floating in amniotic fluid, and is attached via a connecting stalk to the uterine wall in which it is buried. The problem is that not all embryos hang downwards below their connecting stalk. Rather it depends where in the uterus implantation occurs. The uterus lies fairly horizontal at this time, so depending on the side of the uterus implantation occurs, the early embryo can also be above its stalk, as this diagram[26] of twins at 4 weeks demonstrates :

Fraternal twins in womb-4 weeks.jpg

Various studies of placentas and ultrasound scans have found that between 26% and 53% of implantations occur on the anterior (frontal) wall of the uterus (like the lower twin in the diagram).[27] Clearly apologists should expect better of the Quran's author than to say that as early embryos, humans are "hanging things" when such a description is untrue for a significant percentage of the population, not even a general rule.

This scientific inaccuracy should be considered before even raising the doubts above concerning the suitability of the word 'alaqah to describe embryos that are on the posterior wall, and thus below their connecting stalks. For it is highly doubtful that 'alaqah in the sense of “hanging” would be a good way to describe the embryo in relation to the connecting stalk. Lane’s lexicon strongly indicates that 'alaq is not just the thing which is hung, but the entire apparatus or vertical rope by which means it is suspended, or even just the rope itself, giving the example of a suspended bucket in a well.[28] The stalk evidently has a certain amount of stiffness and does not hang vertically under gravity like a bucket in a well.


Apologists who are fond of leech metaphors should consider that unlike a leech, which simply sucks blood from its host, the embryo circulates and exchanges blood and waste products with its mother.[29] Furthermore, a leech attaches itself directly to the surface of its host. In contrast, the blastocyst stage embryo implants into the uterine wall (endometrium) by means of an outer cell layer surrounding it, called the syncytiotrophoblast. It is the syncytiotrophoblast which invades the endometrium, burying the entire embryo within the wall (unlike a leech), establishes a circulatory connection, and will later form the outer layer of the placenta.

A leech has many characteristics such as size, behaviour, shape, color, appearance. Why would the author use 'alaqah intending such a metaphorical meaning when his listeners could not be expected to know in what respect the analogy applies? It is no more than a Texan Sharpshooter fallacy[30], typical of Islamic miracle claims, to choose one characteristic - shape - which in their eyes, to a very and arbitrarily limited degree, has a similarity with that of an embryo, and draw any conclusions, particularly as the early embryo passes through a wide range of shapes and they are both biological organisms. Moreover, such apologetics have to conveniently ignore the embryo's yolk sac, which gradually becomes incorporated into its developing gut, when depicting the embryo.

Congealed Blood

Given that one of the meanings of 'alaqah is congealed blood, which was also the understanding given in numerous tafsirs, it would be most unwise to use such a word with a specific biological meaning to describe a biological process (embryology) if that meaning was not the intention. For the same reason it would be foolish even to use clotted blood merely as a visual metaphor. A perfect author would avoid arousing any such suspicion of inaccurate biology with his choice of words.

The Mudghah Stage

The word mudghah meant a bite sized morsel of meat suitable for chewing[10]. Islamic websites frequently claim, without citing any evidence, that it means a piece of meat that has actually been chewed, or even that has teeth marks on it. They do this, quite laughably, so that they can invite the reader to admire the supposed similarities between an image of the somites of an embryo next to a piece of chewing gum with a row or two of teeth marks. The problems with this ridiculous argument, which highlights the poverty of Islamic apologetics, include:

  1. They are using a false definition of the word mudghah, as mentioned above.
  2. It is a lot easier to leave neat teeth marks in chewing gum than on a piece of meat.
  3. Somites (bilateral rows of blocks of cells that will migrate and develop into segments of the body) are protrusions, but teeth marks are indentations.

Verse Qur'an 22:5 (quoted above) mentions that the mudghah is formed and without form. Given that this stage appears before the 'itham (bones) stage, such a 'clarification' gives no additional information whatsoever. Such vagueness of description is typical of an author who is merely pretending to have true knowledge.

The Beginning of the Fetal Stage

Proponents of Quranic embryology also claim that it correctly denotes the start of the Fetal stage by referring to the creation of ‘another creation’ after the 'itham/lahm stage (bone clothed with flesh), which supposedly occurs at week eight.[31]

Original Creation from Dust / Clay / Mud

Confusion is sometimes caused by statements about dust (tubarin تُرَابٍ), mud (hamain حَمَإٍ), clay (teenin طِينٍ), or sounding clay (salsalin صَلْصَٰلٍ) in the Quranic embryology verses. Clarification is provided in Quran that this refers to the creation of Adam only, and that the subsequent statements relate to the development of humans since then.[32] This was also the opinion of classical scholars such as ibn Kathir.

The word translated “seed” in Pickthall’s translation is nasl, which means progeny (i.e. descendants).[33]

These verses clearly state that the first man was made from clay (min مِّنْ means 'from' or 'of'), and that clay was a building material, that was moulded and shaped, and not a catalytic compound, as some apologetics claim in an attempt to link the Quran with one theory about the origin of all life on Earth.

While again not strictly related to embryology, another claim on some Islamic websites is that clay and humans have similar compositions. The Chambers Dictionary of Science and Technology defines clay as, "a fine textured, sedimentary, or residual deposit. It consists of hydrated silicates of aluminum mixed with various impurities". The essential elements in clay are thus silicon, aluminum, hydrogen and oxygen. Silicon and Aluminum have extremely limited, if any, roles to play in the maintenance of life.[34] Other human-required elements (such as nitrogen, sodium etc) are only found in trace amounts in clay and can be regarded as contaminants. There is no similarity between the compositions of clay and humans.

The Nutfah (Semen) Stage and the Missing Female Ovum

The first stage of Quranic embryology is the nutfah stage. The word nutfah[8] literally meant a small amount of liquid, and was a euphemism for semen. The Lisan al Arab dictionary of classical Arabic gives these definitions as "a little amount" usually of water remaining at the end of a container, but can also be referred to semen.[35] An example of nutfah usage can be found in a pre-Islamic poem where it is used to mean “the small quantity of wine that remained in a wineskin”.[36]

Verses 80:18-19, and 77:20-22 together with 23:13 strongly imply that it is semen that is stored in the womb and developed into the embryo, as confirmed in the hadiths and previously believed by the Jews and Greeks.[37][38][31]

Verses 77:20-21 closely parallel 23:13 quoted below, which too says "We placed it (jaAAalnahu) in a safe abode (qararin makeen)", and uses the word nutfah instead of maa' maheenin ('water distained' - maa' was another euphemism for semen). The 'hu' ending to jaAAalnahu can mean him or it, and probably means the former in 23:13 ('We placed him'). However, 77:20 uses the 2nd person "you", so the latter meaning, 'it' is clearly intended in the next verse, in reference to the liquid ('We placed it').[31]

The Quran doesn't explicitly explains how and if the female parent contributes genetic material. It is an assumption by apologists that 'nutfatun amshajin' (amshajin means mixed[39]).

The term ‘nutfatun amshaajin’ in verse 76:2[40] refers to the sperm-menstrual blood union of Aristotle and the ancient Indian embryologists, or the two semens hypothesis of Hippocrates and Galen, or even the readily observed mingling of semen and vaginal discharge during sexual intercourse. In other words, the fact the Quran does not explicitly state that ‘nutfatun amshaajin’ contains the ovum, together with the existence of other possible explanations, means that it is illogical to assume the former and not the latter.

The insistence that it explains the former is pure conjecture devoid of evidence, and constitutes the logical fallacy of equivocation, and its adoption is merely wishful thinking or 'reinterpretation after the fact.’

Some critics argue that in fact, the Quran itself provides the evidence of its doctrinal omission or rejection of the role of the ovum in procreation, for verse 2:223 states that wives are tilth. This is saying they are like the earth, which contributes nutrients only, receiving the seed from the male.[41]

Gender Determination

Some claim that verses 35:11 and 53:45-46 show knowledge that gender is determined by sperm cells (which contain either an x or y chromosome to go with the x chromosome of the female ovum).[42]

However, in Verses 75:37-39 the Quran states that gender is determined after the 'alaqah stage. Both 53:45 and 75:39 use the exact same phrase as 35:11 which makes this claim.[43][44]

If 53:45 is taken literally as indicating 'when' gender is determined, it would still be inaccurate, because millions of sperm are emitted, some with an x chromosome, some with a y chromosome. Gender is determined not when the semen is emitted, but when the egg is fertilized by one of the sperm cells, which can take anything from half an hour to 12 hours for the first of them to reach the egg, and then more time for one of the many that arrive to successfully penetrate it.

It should be noted that the evidence is unanimous that nutfah means a small quantity of fluid, a euphemism for semen – there is no indication of sperm cells within the fluid.

Furthermore, there are hadith even more explicit than Quran 75:37-39 which say that gender is decided after the 'mudghah stage:[45]

Others interpret 75:39 to mean that the external genitalia and gonads are formed after the 'alaqah stage. This is a more plausible interpretation, but still problematic. For the gender of the child has already been determined genetically at the moment of conception as stated above.

Intersex People

Furthermore, not everyone is simply a male with XY sex chromosomes, or a female with XX sex chromosomes. A small minority are called w:intersex due to certain types of genetic or phenotypic sex variations, including:[46]

  • Those who are 46, XY intersex. The person has the chromosomes of a man, but the external genitals are incompletely formed, ambiguous, or clearly female.
  • Those who are 46, XX intersex. The person has the chromosomes of a woman, the ovaries of a woman, but external (outside) genitals that appear male.
  • True Gonadal intersex (formerly called True Hermaphroditism). Such people have both male and female gonads (ovaries and testes), and may have ambiguous external genitalia.
  • Other genetic configurations include XXX, and XXY (1 in 1000 people)[47]. These people have no discrepancy between their gonads and external genitalia, but there may be problems with sex hormone levels, and overall sexual development.

According to Leonard Sax, when the term intersex is "restricted to those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female", around 0.018% of the population are intersex. This definition excludes Klinefelter syndrome and many other variations.[48]

Fetus is in Three Layers of darkness

The word butun (بطن)[49] means belly/abdomen/midriff, though some translators like to use the more specific word "womb". Tafsirs interpreted the "three darknesses" as the placenta, womb (uterus) and belly. There are in fact many more layers in the human body such as the endometrium, myometrium, perimetrium, peritoneum, besides the cervix uteri, corpus uteri, abdomen (with walls), and placenta (with layers). The idea of three membranes around the fetus (chorion, allantois, and amnion) was taught by the highly influential Greek physician, Galen. Perhaps the Quranic author is simply repeating this idea, which applies only to the embryonic membranes.

The allantois is a sac-like structure which becomes part of the umbilical cord, hardly a 'a darkness' for the embryo. The other two membranes, the chorion and amnion, together form the amniotic sac, which is quite thin and transparent.

The Least Period of Conception

Another claim is that the Quran correctly states that the least period of conception is 6 months. This claim is based on two Quranic verses.[50][51]

Dr. Omar Abdul Rehman claims that ‘the two texts taken together leave only six months (22 weeks i.e., five and half Gregorian months are equal to about six lunar months. of pregnancy).’ Here, Dr. Abdul Rehman’s sleight of hand to fit 22 weeks into six lunar months is ludicrous as each lunar month consists of four weeks, while five and a half Gregorian months consist of about 23.8 weeks.

Dr. Al-Ghazal also claims that according to ‘scientific facts’ the least period of conception is 22 weeks.

Even assuming the arbitrary claim by Drs Al-Ghazal and Abdul Rehman of 22 weeks, being the ‘most cases’ scenario (which is false according to medical statistics – see below), one is left with the conclusion that the Quran is still in error as six lunar months is 24 weeks, not 22 weeks.

This two-week difference is very important to the development and survivability of the fetus. Hence, it should not be summarily dismissed and rounded to the nearest month. If anything, it should be rounded to five lunar months, not six.

Regardless, the claim of six lunar months or 22 weeks as the least period of conception or ‘minimum period for fetal viability’ is unsupported by modern medical science.

Thus, it can be seen that the minimum period of fetal viability has changed, at least in recent history. It was never 22 weeks or 6 lunar months prior to the era of modern medicine, being likely to have been at least 30 weeks. Now, it has shrunk to only 19 weeks in countries with advanced pediatric medicine. We would suggest the minimum period of fetal viability in many third-world countries would still be around 30 weeks. Thus, Quranic embryology's proposition of the least period of conception is false.

The End of Cell Differentiation

Some proponents of Quranic embryology state that the mudghah stage, which is described in one verse, "partly formed and partly unformed" or "shaped and shapeless" refers to the incomplete cell differentiation observed in this stage.[52]

However, this claim does not have any scientific basis. The mudghah stage occurs before the 'itham (bones) stage, so it must occur before week six, when the progeny is still in the “embryo” stage. However, modern embryologists know that cell differentiation occurs well before the ‘mudghah’ stage and well into the “fetal” stage. Hence the Quranic embryology claim must be incorrect.

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See Also

External Links


  1. Lambert, Gray (2013). The Leaders Are Coming!. WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781449760137.
  2. Roy H. Williams; Michael R. Drew (2012). Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. Vanguard Press. p. 143. ISBN 9781593157067.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an Keith L. Moore, Ph.D., F.I.A.C.
  4. Keith L. Moore and Abdul-Majeed A. Zindani, The Developing Human with Islamic Additions, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Saunders with Dar al-Qiblah for Islamic Literature, Jeddah, 1983, 1982). page viii insert c.
  5. Islamic embryology: overblown balderdash Dr. P.Z. Myers
  6. Marshall Clagett, “Greek Science in Antiquity”, pp.180-181, New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1955; Dover, 2001
  7. "Phonetic and Phonological Aspects of Arabic Emphatics and Gutturals". University of Wisconsin–Madison. Bin-Muqbil, Musaed (2006).
  8. 8.0 8.1 نُطْفَةً nutfah - Lane's Lexicon Suppliment, page 3034
  9. 9.0 9.1 عَلَقَةً alaqah - Lane's Lexicon Volume 5, page 2134
  10. 10.0 10.1 مُضْغَةً mudghah - Lane's Lexicon Suppliment, page 3021
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 عِظَٰمًا 'itham - Lane's Lexicon Volume 5, page 2087
  12. 12.0 12.1 كسو kasawa - Lane's Lexicon Suppliment, page 3000
  13. 13.0 13.1 لَحْمًا lahm - Lane's Lexicon Suppliment, page 3008 and page 3009
  14. Galjaard, R.J.H. Mapping Studies of Congenital Limb Anomalies. Ablasserdam: Haveka, B.V., 2003, page 16 webcitation archive link
  15. Law, Peter et al., Pioneering Human Myoblast Genome Therapy as a Platform Technology of Regenerative Medicine. In: Stem Cell Therapy. Erik Greer (Editor). Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2006. Page 3.
  16. Sivakumar, B. et. al. Congenital Hand Differences in Farhadieh, R. et. al. (ed.) Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: Approaches and Techniques, Chichester: Wiley, 2015, p.660 Google books preview
  17. Walker, U. A., and Miranda, A. F. Muscle Metabolism in the Fetus and Neonate in Cowett, R. M. (ed.) Principles of Perinatal-Neonatal Metabolism, 2nd Edition, Volume 1, New York: Springer, 1998, pp.642-643 Google Books preview
  18. Conception to Birth Roberts Rugh, Ph.D., Landrum B. Shettles, Ph.D., M.D. Harper & Row, (New York), 1971, p.35
  19. ibid. p.43
  20. ibid. p.34
  21. ibid. p.46
  22. Keith L. Moore, Ph..D., FIAC, FRSM T.V.N. Persaud, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., FRCPath W.B., The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, , 10th Edition, Philadelphia: Elseiver, 2016, p. p.349 Google Books preview
  23. غضروف ghudhroof, alternatively spelt غرضوف ghurdoof - Lane's Lexicon Volume 6, page 2248
  24. فَ fa - Lane's Lexicon Volume 6, page 2322
  25. O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make (it) clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dieth (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammad) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind (of growth) Qur'an 22:5
  26. Fraternal twins in the womb -- 4 weeks - BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board, June 1, 2013
  27. Benirschke, K. & Kaufmann, B. 2000. Pathology of the Human Placenta. 4th Edition. Springer-Verlag, New York. Page 399 - 400
  28. علق 'alaq - Lane's Lexicon Volume 5, page 2134
  29. Barry Mitchell & Ram Sharma 2009. Embryology: An Illustrated Colour Text. Second Edition. Churchill Livingstone ElSevier. Page 10-11
  30. "The Texas sharpshooter fallacy is an informal fallacy in which pieces of information that have no relationship to one another are called out for their similarities, and that similarity is used for claiming the existence of a pattern. This fallacy is the philosophical/rhetorical application of the multiple comparisons problem (in statistics) and apophenia (in cognitive psychology). It is related to the clustering illusion, which refers to the tendency in human cognition to interpret patterns where none actually exist. The name comes from a joke about a Texan who fires some shots at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the biggest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter.", "Texas sharpshooter fallacy", Wikipedia, accessed August 13, 2013 (archived), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_sharpshooter_fallacy 
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 Then placed him [jaAAalnahu جَعَلْنَٰهُ] as a drop (of seed) [nutfatan نُطْفَةً] in a safe lodging [qararin makeenin قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ]; Qur'an 23:13
  32. Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay [teenin طِينٍ]; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; Qur'an 32:7-8
  33. نسل nasl - Lane’s Lexicon Suppliment, page 3032
  34. Fenchel, Tom 2003. The origin and Early Evolution of Life. Oxford University Press. Page 27.
  35. A little water; a little water remaining in a waterskin; a little water remaining in a bucket; pure water, a little or a lot; the water of the man; semen is called nutfah for its small amount Lisan al Arab
  36. Irfan Shahid, “Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century. Volume 2, Part 2”, p.145, Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 2009
  37. From what thing [shayinشَىْءٍ] doth He create him? From a drop of seed [nutfatin نُّطْفَةٍ]. He createth him and proportioneth him Qur'an 80:18-19
  38. Did We not create you from a base fluid [ma-in maheenin مَّآءٍ مَّهِينٍ]? Which We laid up [jaAAalnahu جَعَلْنَٰهُ] in a safe abode [qararin makeenin قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ], For a period (of gestation), determined (according to need)? Qur'an 77:20-22
  39. أَمْشَاج Amshajan - [1] Volume 7 Page 2717
  40. '''Yusuf Ali:''' Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm [nutfatin amshajin نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ], in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight. Qur'an 76:2
  41. Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad). Qur'an 2:223
  42. Allah created you from dust [tubarin تُرَابٍ], then from a little fluid [nutfatin نُّطْفَةٍ], then He made you pairs [azwajan أَزْوَٰجًا](the male and female). No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge. And no-one groweth old who groweth old, nor is aught lessened of his life, but it is recorded in a Book, Lo! that is easy for Allah. Qur'an 35:11
  43. And that He createth the two spouses, the male and the female [alzzawjayni alththakara waalontha ٱلزَّوْجَيْنِ ٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلْأُنثَىٰ], From a drop (of seed) when it is poured forth [nutfatin itha tumna نُّطْفَةٍ إِذَا تُمْنَىٰ]; Qur'an 53:45-46
  44. Was he not a drop [nutfatan نُطْفَةً] of fluid [manayin مَّنِىٍّ] which gushed forth [yumna يُمْنَىٰ]? Then he became a clot [alaqatan عَلَقَةً]; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned And made of him a pair, the male and female [alzzawjayni alththakara waalontha ٱلزَّوْجَيْنِ ٱلذَّكَرَ وَٱلْأُنثَىٰ]. Qur'an 75:37-39
  45. Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "At every womb Allah appoints an angel who says, 'O Lord! A drop of semen, O Lord! A clot. O Lord! A little lump of flesh." Then if Allah wishes (to complete) its creation, the angel asks, (O Lord!) Will it be a male or female, a wretched or a blessed, and how much will his provision be? And what will his age be?' So all that is written while the child is still in the mother's womb." Sahih Bukhari 1:6:315
  46. Medline plus - Intersex
  47. "How common is intersex? | Intersex Society of North America", Isna.org, http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency. 
  48. Sax, L., How common is intersex? a response to Anne Fausto-Sterling Journal of Sex Research, volume 39, issue 3, pp.174–178 (2002) doi 10.1080/00224490209552139 pmid 12476264
  49. بطن butun - [Lane's Lexicon Volume 1, page 220
  50. And We have commended unto man kindness toward parents. His mother beareth him with reluctance, and bringeth him forth with reluctance, and the bearing of him and the weaning of him is thirty months, till, when he attaineth full strength and reacheth forty years, he saith: My Lord! Arouse me that I may give thanks for the favour wherewith Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and that I may do right acceptable unto Thee. And be gracious unto me In the matter of my seed. Lo! I have turned unto Thee repentant, and lo! I am of those who surrender (unto Thee). Qur'an 46:15
  51. And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents. His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying. Qur'an 31:14
  52. O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, … Qur'an 22:05