In the Quran the subject of human reproduction leads to a multitude of statements which constitute a challenge to the embryologist seeking a human explanation to them. It was only after the birth of the basic sciences which were to contribute to our knowledge of biology, and especially after the invention of the microscope, that man was able to understand such statements. It was impossible for a man living in the seventh century to have expressed such ideas. There is nothing to indicate that, at this time, men in the Middle East and Arabia knew anything more about this subject than men living in Europe or anywhere else. Today, there are many Muslims with a thorough knowledge of the Quran and natural sciences who have clearly recognised the comparisons to be made between the verses of the Quran dealing with reproduction and human knowledge. I shall always remember the comment of an eighteen year old Muslim, brought up in Saudi Arabia, replying to a reference to the question of reproduction as described in the Quran. Pointing to it, he said, But this book provides us with all the essential information on the subject. When I was at school they used the Quran to explain to me how children were born; your books on sex education are a bit late on the scene!

It is on this point in particular, that a comparison between the beliefs current at the time of the Quran, that were full of superstitions and myths, and the contents of the Quran and modern data, leaves us amazed at the degree of concordance between the latter and the absence of any reference in the Quran to the mistaken ideas that were prevalant at the time.

Let us now isolate, from all these verses, precise ideas concerning the complexity of the fertilizing liquid and the fact that an infinitely small quantity is required to ensure fertilization, its quintessence- if I may so translate the Arabic word Sulala. The implantation of the egg in the female genital organ is perfectly described in several verses by the word Falaq, which is also the title of the chapter in which it appears:

Allah fashioned man from something which clings (96:2)

I do not think there is any reasonable translation of the word Falaq other than to use its original sense.

The evolution of the embryo inside the maternal uterus is only briefly described, but the description is accurate, because the simple words referring to it correspond exactly to fundamental stages in growth. This is what we read in a verse from the chapter The Believers (23:14).

We fashioned the thing which clings into a chewed lump of flesh and We fashioned the chewed flesh into bones and We clothed the bones with intact flesh. Then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the Perfect Creator.

The term chewed flesh (mudgha) corresponds exactly to the appearance of the embryo at a certain stage in its development. It is known that the bones develop inside this mass and that they are then covered with muscle. This is the meaning of the term intact flesh (Lahm). The embryo passes through a stage where some parts are in proportion with what is later to become the individual. Maybe this is the meaning of a verse in the chapter, The Pilgrimage (22:5) which reads as follows:

We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then We fashioned him into something which clings into a little lump of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed.

Next, we have a reference to the appearance of the senses and viscerae in the chapter The Prostration (32:9).

(Allah) appointed for you the senses of hearing, sight and viscerae.

Nothing here contradicts todays data and, furthermore, none of the mistaken ideas of the time has crept into the Quran.

Released by: Mulla Mujaheedali Sheriff

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