The Qur’an is the Book that brought humanity from the pre-scientific age to the age of rationality. The very first Book, which invited mankind to observe and contemplate the phenomena of nature, which we experience in ourselves and in the continuum surrounding us with our five senses of perception. The Qur’an said, “Verily in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alteration of night and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of use to mankind, and the water (rain) which Allah sends down from the sky and makes the earth alive therewith after its death and the moving (living) creatures of all kinds that he has scattered therein, and in the veering of the winds and the clouds which are held between sky and the earth are indeed signs for people of understanding.” (Qur’an, 2:164)
All these phenomena of nature contain the signs of God the Unique for the people to believe in His divine Omnipotence.
But the revelation of the Qur’an dates back to the 7th century of the Christian Era. This age is known as the age of ignorance. God intended to take out the benighted humanity to enlightenment, from ignorance to knowledge, from unawareness to intelligence. He sent the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a great blessing for humanity. The teachings of the Messengers before him were lost. The divine books, Torah, Psalms of David, and the Gospel were irretrievably lost. They were written four to five hundred years after their revelation. These Books contained only hearsay evidence of past events.
The very first revelation to the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to invite humanity to knowledge. “He Who taught man that which he knew not.”(Qur’an, 96:5). Literal translation. Arabic ‘Allama’ is in past tense meaning taught. Some have translated it into present perfect that, in many views, is not correct.
In that very revelation, the Qur’an disclosed a scientific fact as to the creation of man and said: “Read in the name of your Lord Who created, Who created man from something that clings.” (Qur’an, 96:1,2). Literal translation. Arabic word ‘Khalaq’ past tense meaning created, the word ‘Alaq’ means that clings. (Arabic-English, Lanes Lexicon). There are other verses that explain the stages of the embryo, I quote here a few of them:
“We created man from drops of mixed semen (sexual discharge of man and woman), in order to try him: so we made him hearer and seer.” (Qur’an, 76:2) “Then He made his offspring from semen of despised water (male and female sexual discharge).” (Qur’an, 32:8)
The beauty of the description in the Quranic verses is that modern science could not add any such fact relating to the processing of embryos in the womb which the Qur’an does not mention.
Before we discuss the science of the formation and development of the embryo, it may be noted that the views of Aristotle (384-322 BC) were predominant before the revelation of the Qur’an. He was of the view that the actual creation and formation of the embryo was from the menstrual blood. To him, the process resembled the curdling of milk into cheese.
In the first quarter of the 7th century (C.E.) the Qur’an brushed off the views of Aristotle telling that Allah created man from drops of mingled liquids of both male and female as referred to above. Ibn Kathir, while discussing the Arabic word ‘Amshaj (mingled liquids) said, “The root word is ‘Mashaja’ which means to mix and ‘Masheej’ means something mixed with another. Elias Modern Dictionary Arabic-English gave the meaning of ‘Masheej’ as gamete. Ibn Abbas explaining the verse said, “It means the semen of man and woman intermingled and then it passes through various stages. Allah said, “He created you in different stages.” (Qur’an, 71:14)
However, Europe remained stuck to the baseless notions of Aristotle until Redi in 1668 dealt a blow to his theory, and Pasteur in 1864 wrote the final obituary to the doctrine of spontaneous creation. Later, Van Banden in 1883 proved that both male and female participate equally in the formation of human zygote.
Thus what was said by the Prophet (peace be upon him) disclosing the Qur’anic fact was finally upheld by the scientists after about 1300 years of the ignorance of science regarding the creation of man. The Qur’an said, “Was he not a Nutfah (drops of sperm) which gushed forth.” Al-Mawrid Arabic-English, A. Yusuf Ali; (Qur’an, 75:37)
It is also now proved that the total semen ejaculated contains an average of 200 to 300 million spermatozoa, only one out of these huge numbers fertilizes the ovum to form the zygote, which grows into a fetus.
The Arabic word Nutfah translated as sperm is singular, thus we can safely say that Nutfah is that spermatozoa that cause fertilization. Arabic words ‘Nutfah Amshaj’ further establish the meaning that male spermatozoa with female cells cause fertilization to form zygote. This fertilization stage is described in the word ‘Alaq’ as something that clings in the uterus (womb).
The Qur’an describes the next stage as ‘Mudgha’ in the verse 23:14. It literally means chewed lump (Al-Mawrid Arabic-English). That is a mass of flesh having teeth marks on it. In the early 7th century, no one in the world could know this stage of embryos’ development. Only in the 20th century, gynecologists could observe it, and they call it a somite stage. After this stage there comes another stage as told by the Qur’an. “Then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh.” Literal translation (Qur’an, 32:14)
It was impossible for a man living in the early 7th century to have come up with such facts, so it is foolish to say that Muhammad (peace be upon him) wrote the Qur’an. One has to admit that this is the Book of God the Unique (Allah). He in His very first revelation to His Prophet (peace be upon him) described the creation of man by fertilization ‘Alaq,’ i.e. by clinging of the male and female cells to each other.
Certainly, the Qur’an taught the man things which he doesn’t know.
– By Ahmad Wahaj Al-Siddiqui