The Quran on Human Embryonic Development
In the Holy Quran, Allah speaks about the stages of man’s
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)... 1
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 two2
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
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 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.)
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 stage4
(see figure 4). Also during this stage, the blood in the embryo does not
circulate until the end of the third week.5
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.)
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 teeth marks in a chewed substance.”6
(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 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.
How could Muhammad SAW 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 SAW).
They mistakenly thought that the sperm cell contained a miniature preformed
human being that grew when it was deposited in the female genital tract.7
Professor Emeritus Keith L. Moore8
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 Allah, 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
(To view the RealPlayer video of this
comment click here ).
Consequently, Professor Moore was asked the following
question: “Does this mean that you believe that the Quran
is the word of Allah?” He replied: “I find no difficulty in accepting this.”10
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 SAW 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 SAW 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 Allah. He could not have
known such details because he was an illiterate man with absolutely no
(View the RealPlayer video of this
(1) Please note that what is the
meaning in english of the quran in this web site is only a translation of the
meaning of the Quran. It is not the Quran itself, which is in Arabic.
(2) The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 8.
(3) Human Development as Described
in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, p. 36.
(4) Human Development as Described
in the Quran and Sunnah, Moore and others, pp. 37-38.
(5) The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 65.
(6) The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 8.
(7) The Developing Human, Moore and
Persaud, 5th ed., p. 9.
(8) Note: The occupations of all the
scientists mentioned in this web site were last updated in 1997.
(9) The reference for this saying is
This is the Truth (videotape). For a copy of this videotape, please visit
(10) This is the Truth
(11) This is the Truth
(videotape). For a copy, see footnote no. 9.