When Does The Human Life Begin In The Theistic Worldview?

The Human reproductive process is very wasteful, discarding about 30% of all fertilised eggs naturally. All of these eggs that go down the toilets every day represent a vast proportion of cells that could have developed into humans, but nature just unceremoniously discards them.

This begs the question; can we consider these fertilised eggs discarded from the body humans? If so, at what point did they become human - at the instant of fertilisation, 10 minutes after, 1 week after, 1 month after etc?

Why would a loving god design a process that eliminates about 30% of his potential loving children?

Check out the following article from the New Scientist Gillian Bentley


Source: The NewScientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120456.100-forum--doing-what-comes-naturally.html

Gillian Bentley is a Royal Society research fellow in the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

WOMEN'S fertility has been hitting the national news in the past few weeks as a storm of debate and moral outrage has descended on reproductive clinicians and their patients. The first story concerned the law requiring fertility clinics to destroy unclaimed frozen human embryos after five years of storage. This was followed by two stories about a woman's right to selectively abort fetuses in a multiple pregnancy.

But while the media debates the sanctity of embryonic life, women lose fertilised eggs through spontaneous abortion, or miscarriage, every single day. And they are lost in vastly greater number than those embryos lost through either intentional thawing or elective abortions.

Normal human reproductive processes might appear extraordinarily wasteful since they involve discarding embryos and fetuses at rates that would alarm the least conscientious of objectors debating the morality of abortion and reproductive technologies. These physiological processes are, however, the result of long-term evolution designed to optimise the production of viable offspring. Surely most of our conscious human reproductive decisions, whether storing frozen embryos or selective abortions, have the same end in mind?

Despite our burgeoning numbers, human reproduction is a random process requiring an excess of gamete and embryo production. In the fragile biological endeavour to produce a viable fetus, eggs and embryos are lost every day on a scale that staggers the imagination. Even before birth humans are endowed with copious, even profligate, amounts of gametes.

So, at about the twentieth week of gestation, a female fetus has as many as 7 million potential eggs in her ovaries, but these begin to die off naturally through a process called atresia. At birth there are only about 2 million of these incipient eggs left, and at puberty between 300 000 and 400 000. (Among Western women, only about 300 to 400 of these eggs are ever ovulated and an average 2.2 children born.) These astounding numbers represent about one egg lost per woman every four minutes. The greatest loss of eggs, then, takes place even before a woman is born. Of course, males also lose sperm cells at phenomenal rates: roughly 1000-plus sperm per second are produced from puberty onwards and millions of sperm either go to waste after expulsion or remain in the testes until they die. The reason for this apparent excess is that humans are a relatively infertile species compared with most other mammals. At best, only 20 per cent of couples will conceive in any given month of trying.

On top of this at least 30 per cent of all fertilised eggs are miscarried before they implant in the uterus. In such cases, most women would not have realised they were pregnant, even though the embryo may have reached around 100 cells, well beyond the four-cell legal maximum permitted for frozen embryos. Beyond these early spontaneous abortions, about 15 per cent of all clinically recognised pregnancies end in miscarriage, or fetal resorption in some cases. For women over 35, rates increase to 20 per cent and are even higher among older women.

The majority of these miscarriages occur during the first three months of a pregnancy, the same period during which most elective abortions are carried out. Many of the early spontaneous abortions occur either because of chromosomal abnormalities, or inadequate hormonal support; the embryo would therefore never survive the gestation period. Frozen embryos have even lower chances of survival. Only about 2 per cent of these when thawed are sufficiently viable to produce a live birth. A small proportion of miscarriages occur during the second and third trimesters. Prior to the advent of modern technology, most of the fetuses would not have survived.

Successful reproduction, as well as the capacity to shut down reproductive function when necessary, evolved through the body's ability to take account of human health and energy reserves, factors that have long ceased to be the only reasons for limiting our reproductive potential. Nowadays, we weigh our potential to raise children in socioeconomic terms, such as the likelihood of support from a partner, the size of our salaries and long-term employment prospects—signals which our bodies are ill-equipped to read.

Instead, the decisions we make about contraception, elective abortions, infanticide (in some cultures), and reproductive technologies have superimposed themselves on our evolutionary make-up, together with all their emotional baggage. So legal rulings, such as whether unclaimed frozen embryos should be destroyed, continue the long social evolution by which conscious human decisions about the limits of human reproduction are being called upon to replace what were formerly unconscious decisions made at a physiological level.

The current furore does, however, remind us that society remains unable to deal with the moral responsibility of these conscious decisions despite the fact that major reproductive losses occur naturally every day. Yet these losses are not perceived as immoral or unjust. We generally accept them as part of a natural process.

Why can't we view our conscious decisions in this light? How will we deal with developments that further tax the limits of our moral horizons? We may, for example, soon harvest the eggs of fetal ovaries to help infertile women produce children. Indeed, it's uncertain that we will ever completely resolve the ethical arguments surrounding these new technologies given the diversity of human thought. But our own physiology provides an instructive example of just how we might do so.

Gillian Bentley is a Royal Society research fellow in the Department of Biological Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Source: The NewScientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15120456.100-forum--doing-what-comes-naturally.html

15 answers

@Huxley: There is nothing about me that makes me look like a slave. If there is a slavish look, Olabowale does not have it. Finally your bluffing was called and all of a sudden, you know that it is an empty rhetoric, a sham.

From the Q/ur'a/n you see that God Almighty discusses the period when the hearing mechanism begins to develop. Life must have began at that point and not after. It could be earlier when the heart begins to beat.


That is the wrong question, if I may. There really is no such thing as life beginning in a christian, agnostic, atheist, theistic worldview. Life just begins at some point, period - independent of what impressions we impose upon the event. So my question (in the subject of this thread) was a bit of a bluff-call.

The important question is: when can one be considered to be a sentient being?. I think this is a scientific question rather than a supernatural or theological or metaphysical one. Scientist are hard at work investigating these issues and the outcome of such research is apt to inform other areas of human discuss including human rights, philosophy, theology etc.

BTW, the word [b]"worship" [/b]does not exist in the lexicon of rationalist who are guide by reason rather than faith. So do not project this slavish word into the worldview of the rationalist.


And by the way, Huxley, when does human begin in the world of agnostics and atheists? Let me quote brother Frizy: Dont worship your intellect!


@Huxley: I read Qu/r'a/n. In arabic. I do not have to waste my energy when something is a ready made as a response to your inquiry. It will be foolish for me, if fufu meal is already set on the table waiting for me, and then to insist that i have to make mine from scratch.

This is the condition here. Don't forget that I did not google what I am very familiar aout. I truly belief it. Its you who have huge problem and my responsibility is to give you not just the medicine for it, but to give you the cure. You know better than that.


Waste of time and space. You admit that you have simply googled and cut&paste. Does that make you any different from me who has not read it?


@Huxley:Since you are so lazy to read, that is your assignment. You want to bash believers, yet you fail to read what is truth. You want the truth? You can handle the truth. lol.

All of these are just the summary of the creation of mankind. Read, mister man.



The miracle of human creation in the holy Qu/ran is one of many other medical miracles . Having reviewed previous detailed statements of Quranic verses and scientific analysis of the embryonal stages, it is evident that these Qur/anic verses give an accurate description of the main stages the embryo encounters during creation and formation until delivery.  It is noticed that these changes coincide with the remarks of modern embryology, and truly expresses the external phenomena of changes that result from the internal changes.  The Qu/ranic descriptions contain expressions comprehensible to people of different backgrounds, whereas the current expressions in embryology used for the description of these stages do not identify the distinguished characteristics of the embryo in each stage, as numerical coding is used without reference to any description. This proves the wonderful miraculous nature of the Qu/ran, which cannot be revealed except from the comprehensive knowledge of the Omniscient. These facts were confirmed by the embryologist  Professor Keith Moore  and also other non Moslem scientists.

In the age where Quran was revealed, with the description of human creation expressed in very accurate terms that fit with the modern rules of science, and with the confirmation  that the creation and development of embryo are fulfilled on stages, as Allah says;

( مَّا لَكُمْ لَا تَرْجُونَ لِلَّهِ وَقَارًا .وَقَدْ خَلَقَكُمْ أَطْوَارًا )( نوح)

“What is the matter with you, that ye are not conscious of Allah’s majesty,- Seeing that it is He that has created you in diverse stages" (71: 13-14)

Non- Mo/slem scientists at that time believed that man was created from menstrual blood. In so far as the 17th century, they believed that the embryo was fully created from man’s sperm, and then it grew after entering the uterus. Thus they perceived man as a seed reduced wholly in that small drop of sperm.  The idea remained as such until the 18th century when microscopes proved that sperm and ovum are both necessary for pregnancy.  This was  discovered so many centuries after it had been revealed by the Holy Qu/ran.  This shows that the Qu/ran is the word of a Will that knows the creation of man down to its slightest detail. This Will is Allah, the creator of man, Who says;

( وَقُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ سَيُرِيكُمْ آيَاتِهِ فَتَعْرِفُونَهَا) (النمل: 93)

“And say: ‘Praise be to A/lla.h, Who will soon show you His signs, so that ye shall know them’ " (27: 93) , and Who also says;

( سنريهم آياتنا في الآفاق و في أنفسهم حتى يتبين لهم أنه الحق ) ( فصلت 53)

“Soon will We show them our signs in the furthest horizons, and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth” (41: 53). Verily says the Almighty Allah.



1- The Holy Qu/ra/n.

2- The Developing Human ( Prof. Keith Moor & Prof. T. Persaud)  Edition 6 – 1998

3- Clinical Anatomy . By Richard Snell ( 3ed edition) published in 1986 - Little, Brown

4- A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Quran (Prof. Keith Moor) Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, 1986: vol.18, Page 15-16

5- Human Development as Described in the Qur'an and Sunnah, By : Keith L. Moore ; E. Marshall Johnson ; T.V.N  Persaud, ; Gerald C. Goeringer ;

   Abdul-Majeed  Zindani, ; and Mustafa A Ahmed , 1992, ISBN 0-9627236-1-4.  Collection of papers that were originally presented  in the First International  

   Conference on Scientific Signs of the Qur'an and Sunnah, held in Islamabad, Pakistan, 1987.

6- Islamic Medicine On-Line ( Dr.Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal)   http://www.islamicmedicine.org

7- Video presentations of :

  Professor Emeritus Keith Moore, Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology and the former Associate Dean of Basic Sciences at the Faculty of Medicine

     at the University of Toronto, Canada.  Clip 1   Clip 2   Clip 3

  Prof. E. Marshall Johnson,  Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, and Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute,

     Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.   Clip 1   Clip 2

  Dr. G.C. Goeringer, Course Director and Associate Professor of Medical Embryology at the Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine,

     Georgetown University, Washington, D.C, USA.   Clip 1

  Dr. T.V.N. Persaud, Professor of Anatomy and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.   Clip 1

My finding is from just googling when does human life began in pregnancy in the Q/ura/n.


What the hell are you doing? WHo do you think will read all of this? Can't you just answer the simple question or provide a synopsis of what you just posted? C'mon be reallistic


The stage of Nash’ah (developing) and viability

Scientific facts:

By the end of the 8th week, a new stage starts where important processes occur. The rate of developing accelerates compared with the previous one. The embryo transforms into another creature, as the sizes of head, body and limbs start to be balanced and regular between the 9th and 12th week. At the 10th week, external genital organs appear, and the skeleton develops structure from soft cartilaginous to hard calcic bones at the 12th week (Figure 16-a). Limbs and fingers are distinguished at the same week. The gender of the embryo is manifest with the clear appearance of Instruments.

The weight of the embryo increases noticeably. Voluntary and involuntary muscles develop, and voluntary movements start in this stage. In the 16th week (112 days) the foetus can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault (Figure 16-b).

(Fig. 16 -a) The 12th week ( around 84 days)

the embryonic shape appears with sizes of head, body and limbs

well formed, and fingers distinguished.

(Nash’ah ‘formation of another creature’ )

(Fig. 16 -b) The 16th week ( 112 days) : 13 cm tall embryo .

eyebrows, eyelashes and fine hair appear.

The foetus can grasp with his hands, kick, or even somersault.

here the unborn baby is sucking his thumb !

In this stage the organs and the systems become well prepared to function. The foetus is ready for life outside the womb starting from the 22nd week to the 26th week (i.e., after the completion of the 6th month of gestation), when the respiratory system is ready to function and the nervous system is able to adjust the temperature of foetus body.

The first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light.

In this stage, no new system or organs are formed, and the uterus provides food and suitable environment for the foetus to thrive until the stage of labour.

Reflections on Quranic verses :

This stage starts after the stage of clothing the bones with lahm (muscles and flesh), i.e., at the beginning of the 9th week, taking a period of almost 3 weeks. This is indicated with the use of conjunctive article (thumma) then, which denotes a time break between clothing with lahm and developing into another creature: He the Almighty says;

(فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَر فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ) (المؤمنون: 14)

“And clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create ” (23: 14).

After the development of the cartilaginous skeleton, clothing it with muscles, and the head and the limbs are distinguished, the embryo changes into a human creature well differentiated from other creatures.

During this stage, some important processes occur in the development of the embryo, which are clearly described in the Holy Quran and can be summarized as follows:

1- Nash’ah (developing) which is clearly noticed in the accelerated rate of growth at the 9th week compared with the previous stages.

2- Khalqan Akhar (another creature): this description coincides with the first one and indicates that the embryo has changed in the nash’ah stage into another creature, i.e., the foetus. Limbs and external organs begin to appear, and fingers and external Instruments are distinguished. Allah the Almighty says;

( هوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاء لاَ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ) آل عمران 6

“He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He pleases. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (3:6)

Here is an exquisite remark. Allah says in Surat Al Zumar;

( يَخْلُقُكُمْ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ خَلْقًا مِن بَعْدِ خَلْقٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ ثَلَاثٍ) (الزمر6 )

“He creates you in the wombs of your mothers in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.” (39:6), thus indicating the continuation of the embryonic development and the change from one stage into another, as explained earlier. Embryologists have confirmed that the foetus is surrounded, during the stages of development, with three membranes:

1- The amnion membrane which contains a fluid encompassing the foetus to make it in a state of swimming, thus protecting it from trauma that the uterus encounters, and facilitates the foetus movements for re-position smoothly during labour. (Figure 17)

2- The chorion membrane.

3- The decidua membrane.

Some scholars interpreted the three veils of darkness with the amniotic membrane surrounding the uterus, wall of uterus, and abdomen wall (Figure 18). Yet, Allah knows best.

Fig. 17 : Membranes

surrounding the foetus

(press on photo for enlargement)

Fig. 18 : Three layers

protect the foetus

As we have mentioned before, the foetus becomes ready for life outside the womb after completion of the 6th month. It is noticed that the Quranic statement indicates in Surat Ahqaf that the stage of conception and incubation takes 30 months;

( وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلاثُونَ شَهْرًا ) (الأحقاف: 15)

“The bearing of him (the child) and the weaning of him is thirty months ” (46: 15),

whereas in Surat Luqman, it is indicated that the period of incubation is 24 months;

( وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ) (لقمان: 14)

“And in two years was his weaning.” (31: 14).

With a simple calculation, we deduce that the quranic statement decides that the least period of conception is 6 months as mentioned earlier, being a scientific fact, and before the 22nd week, in which this stage starts, the foetus is delivered abortus (not able to survive) in most cases. Praise be to Allah is the Omniscient.

It is very interesting to mention that the first sense to develop in a developing human embryo is hearing. The foetus can hear sounds after the 24th week. Subsequently, the sense of sight is developed and by the 28th week, the retina becomes sensitive to light. Consider the following three Quranic verses related to the development of the senses in the embryo

" وَجَعَلَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَة " (السجدة 9)

َAnd HE gave You (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (And understanding) - 32:9

" إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا " (الإنسان 2)

Verily We created man from a drop of a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight - 76:2

" وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنْشَأَ لَكُمُ السَّمْعَ وَالْأَبْصَارَ وَالْأَفْئِدَةَ قَلِيلًا مَا تَشْكُرُونَ " (المؤمنون 78)

It is HE WHO has created For you (the faculties of) Hearing, sight, feeling And understanding: little thanks It is ye give! - 23:78

In all these three verses the sense of hearing is mentioned before the sense of sight. Thus the Quranic description matches with the discoveries in modern embryology that the sense of hearing is develops before the sense of sight


The stage of muscles (clothing with flesh)

This stage is characterized with muscles encircling and tightly surrounding the bones. With the completion of clothing the bones with lahm (muscles and flesh), the human image starts to be more clear, as human parts are appropriately connected. After completion of myogenesis (muscle formation), the embryo can start to move.

This stage, which starts at the end of the 7th week (Figure 14) and ends at the end of the 8th week (Figure 15), is considered as the end of the stage of takhaloq (formation). Embryologists termed the end of the 8th week as the end of the embryology stage followed by the foetus stage which coincides with the Nash’ah (developing) stage as Quran stated. Allah says;

( فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ) (المؤمنون: 14)

“And clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create.” (23: 14)

Fig. 14 : Day 48 Fig. 15 : Day 56

Until very recently, embryologists assumed that the bones and muscles in an embryo developed at the same time. For this reason, for a long time, some people claimed that these verses conflicted with science. Yet, advanced microscopic research conducted by virtue of new technological developments has revealed that the revelation of the Quran is word for word correct. These observations at the microscopic level showed that the development inside the mother's womb takes place in just the way it is described in the verses. First, the cartilage tissue of the embryo ossifies. Then muscular cells that are selected from amongst the tissue around the bones come together and wrap around the bones


The Stage of bones

Scientific facts:

During the 6th week, the cartilaginous skeleton starts to spread in the body (Figure 12). Yet, we do not see the human image features except at the beginning of the 7th week (Figure 13), where the shape of the embryo takes the look of the skeleton. Transformation from the mudgha form to the beginning of the skeleton form occurs in a very short period of time at the end of the 6th week and the beginning of the 7th week. This stage is characterized with the appearance of the skeleton which gives the embryo the human image.

Fig. 12 : Day 42

Fig. 13 : Day 44

Reflection on Quran and Sunnah :

The term of “izam” (bones), coined by Quran, accurately expresses this stage in the life of the embryo, which includes the external appearance and is considered the most important change in the internal structure, with its associated new relations among body organs and regularity of embryo shape. This stage is clearly distinguished from the preceding stage of mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh). Allah says;

( فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ) (المؤمنون: 14)

“then We made out of that mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh) bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create.” (23: 14) .

Bone formation is a notable process in this stage, as embryo is transformed from the image of mudgha which has no features of human image to the beginning of the skeleton image in a very short period of no more than few days at the end of the 6th week ; therefore, the quranic verse uses the Arabic conjunctive article (fa) instead of (thumma) to indicate quick sequence of events.

This skeleton gives the embryo the image of a human being after being clothed with lahm (muscles). The two eyes and the two lips then appear, and the head is differentiated from the trunk and the limbs. This is in accordance with the Prophet’s (PBUH) saying in "Sahih Muslim"; “When 42 nights have passed over the conception , Allah sends an angel to it, who shapes it (into human form) and makes its ears, eyes, skin, muscles and bones. Then he says; ` O Lord, is it male or female?`, and your Lord decides what He wishes and the angel records it.”

After 42 nights (6 weeks), the embryo begins to take the human image with the appearance of cartilaginous skeleton, then the external genitals begin to appear later on (the 10th week). In the 7th week (Figure 13) the human image gets clearer with the start of the spread of skeleton. This week represents (between 40 and 45 days) the demarcation line between mudgha and human image.

So, it is well proved that the Quran's words are very well contrived and scientifically accurate, as they are composed by Allah Who has perfected everything .

The stage of muscles (clothing with flesh)


Al Mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh)

Scientific facts:

The embryo is transformed from the stage of alaqa to the beginning of the stage of mudgha on the 24th day to the 26th day, which is a very brief period if compared with the period of the nutfa changing to alaqa.

This stage starts with the appearance of somites on the 24th or 25th day on top of the embryonic scapula, and then gradually appear at the embryo’s buttock. On the 28th day the embryo is formed of several bulges, with grooves in between, thus giving the embryo the image of a chewed gum. The embryo turns and rolls in the cavity of the uterus during this stage which ends by the end of the 6th week.

It is noteworthy that the stage of mudgha starts with the growth and increase of cells in a large number. The mudgha looks like a piece of meat which has no distinguished structure, then after a few days, the second stage starts, called the stage of formation (takhaloq), where some organs begin to appear, such as the eyes, tongue and the lips , but human distinguishing features do not appear except at the end of the 8th week. Limbs bulges (hands and legs) also appear in this stage.

In the 5th week the heart starts beating and the embryo has already developed its placenta and amniotic sac.

The placenta is burrowing into the uterine wall to access oxygen and nutrients from the mother's bloodstream.

Figure (11) embryo (by microscopic and illustrative images) on the day 26.

Note the resemblance with the image of a chewed gum underneath.

Reflections on Quran and Sunnah :

Mudgha in Arabic means the material chewed by teeth. This gives an accurate description of the embryonic stage as the embryo shape looks like a chewed material which constantly changes, with the appearance of somites bulges. The differences in these somites look like the “teeth imprints” over bread bite. The embryo turns and rolls in the cavity of the uterus as a piece of chewed material in the mouth.

The stage of mudgha comes after the stage of alaqa. This coincides with the Holy verse:

(فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً) (المؤمنون: 14)

“And of that clot We made a (foetus) lump.” (23: 14). Of the characteristics of mudgha is that it elongates and changes shape when chewed. This is exactly what occurs to the embryo in this stage. As we mentioned before, the mudgha has an early form before the creation and formation of organs and another form following the formation of organs. The Quranic verse states:

( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّنَ الْبَعْثِ فَإِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ ثُمَّ مِنْ عَلَقَةٍ ثُمَّ مِن مُّضْغَةٍ مُّخَلَّقَةٍ وَغَيْرِ مُخَلَّقَةٍ لِّنُبَيِّنَ لَكُمْ وَنُقِرُّ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ مَا نَشَاء إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى) ( الحج 5)

“O mankind! If ye have a doubt about the Recreation (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a chewed-like lump of flesh, formed and unformed, in order that We may manifest (Our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term.” (22: 5) .

Thus, there are two types of mudgha: formed and unformed. The formed one is the embryo itself which starts forming into different organs with specific functions and the unformed one is the placenta which starts developing in the 5th week (around day 35) of the mudgha stage . And Allah knows best !

The mudgha stage ends at the 6th week (i.e. 40 days). Imam Muslim narrated in his “Sahih” on the authority of Abdullah Bin Masoud that he said; “Allah's prophet - Mohammad (PBUH) - the truthful and trustworthy, told us;

"The creation of each one of you is composed in the mother‘s womb in forty days, in that (creation) it turns into such a clot, then in that turns into such a mudgha and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter). Then the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you (or a man) may do deeds of the people of the Fire till there is only a cubit or an arm-breadth distance between him and the Fire, but then that writing (which Allah has ordered the angel to write) precedes, and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it; and a man may do the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it."

Who told the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) all these facts? Did he have anatomy and measurement tools, or microscopes to tell us the characteristics of an embryo no more than 1cm tall? It is He Allah (Who told him), the Only One, the Subduer.


Al Alaqa ( Leech-like clot)

Scientific facts:

The stage of Alaqa starts on the 15th day and ends on the 23rd or 24th day, after which the embryo is gradually developed and looks like a leech, which lives in ponds (Figure 4). Alaqa hangs to the lining of the uterus by the umbilical cord. Blood is then formed in the vessels at the shape of closed islands, and is not circulated in blood vessels, thus having the image of clotted blood.

Although it is in the nature of human body to expel any external matter, the uterus does not reject the alaqa implanted in its lining despite the fact that half of the alaqa components and genes are from an external source (the father). This is because the region of syncytial cells in alaqa have no antigens.

(Figure 4: Alaqa on the 23rd day)

It is noteworthy that the primitive streak is created at first on the day 14th or 15th, in which the primitive node appears (Figure 5). Out of this primitive streak, stem cells are composed, as well as the sources of the main tissues of Mesoderm, Ectoderm and Endoderm, which will form the different organs and tissues of the body as seen in (Figure 6) . At the end of the 3rd week, the primitive streak shrinks and the remnant stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining of stem cells in this region. This explains why some tumors in the coccygeal region which is called Teratoma (Figure 7) can contain different tissues (muscles, skin, cartilage, bones and teeth as well), contrary to the tumors that exist in different regions and take its toll on one definite tissue.

Figure 5: The primitive streak shrinks at the end of the 3rd week with its remaining that stays at the end of the spine

(press on photo for enlargement)

Figure 6: Stem cells form different body tissues

(press on photo for enlargement)

Figure 7 : Teratoma in the coccygeal region at the end of the spine

(press on photo for enlargement)

Reflections and comments on related Quranic verses and Sunnah:

Transformation process from nutfa to alaqa takes more than 10 days till the zygote clings to the primitive placenta by way of a connecting stalk which later becomes the umbilical cord. Therefore, the Quranic statement uses the conjunction article (thumma) in Arabic, indicating sequence of events with time delay and not using (fa) which also means "then" but indicates rapid progression without any delay. Quran states:

(ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً) (سورة المؤمنون14)

“then of that fluid-drop (nutfa) We created a leech-like clot" (23:14) .

Alaqa, in Arabic, has several meanings:

1- A leech that lives in ponds and sucks the blood of other creatures.

2- A thing attached or clings to something else.

3- Clotted or coagulated blood.

Figure 8 : illustration of embryo (at top)

that looks like a leech (at bottom)

Figure 9: embryo clinging to the lining of

uterus through the umbilical cord.

Figure 10: closed blood vessels net causing

the embryo to look as a clotted blood.

All these meanings fit exactly with the reality of the human embryo after being implanted in the lining of uterus (endometrium), as the embryo looks like a leech, as shown in Figure 8, while clinging to the endometrium through the umbilical cord (Figure 9), blood vessels initiated in the form of closed islands giving it the image of a clotted blood (Figure 10).

A quick transformation then occurs from alaqa to mudgha within two days (day 24 to day 26). Therefore, the Quran describes this rapid change with the use of the conjunctive article (fa) (i.e., then) in Arabic, to indicate rapid progression of transformation :

(فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً) (المؤمنون: 14)

“then We changed the Alaqa (leech-like clot) into a Mudgha (chewed-like lump) ” (23: 14).

So even the use of different conjunctive articles has miraculous indications, reflecting the difference in embryonic stages.

Thus, the stage of alaqa is the second stage of embryonic stages, and is mentioned in the Quran in several verses. He the Almighty says;

(أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِنْ مَنِيٍّ يُمْنَى . ثُمَّ كَانَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقَ فَسَوَّى . فَجَعَلَ مِنْهُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالأُنثَى) (القيامة: 37-39)

“Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.”(75: 37-39),

And in a surah called al-alaq, i.e., a leech-like clot, Allah says;

( خلق الإنسان من علق ) (العلق 2)

“ (We) Created man, out of a leech-like clot.” (96: 2).

Further to the point of primitive streak, it is the first to be created in embryo, and out of which, stem cells are composed, as well as the different organs and tissues; and at the end of the 3rd week, it shrinks, and its remaining stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining stem cells in this region. This explains and coincides with the speech of the Prophet (PBUH) which was narrated by Abu Huraira in Ahmad’s book “Al Musnad”:

“All of the son of Adam decays, and is eaten by dust except for the coccyx, of which man is created and in which man is re-built.”

So, cells which form the tissues and the organs of man are placed in coccyx and out of which man is re-created. Verily said the Prophet of Allah .

Here a very important question arises: why did the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) raise such a scientific issue at a time no one was aware of, and how had he acquired such knowledge if he was not bound up with inspiration and taught by the creator of heaven and earth? The answer is that Allah the Almighty knows with His encompassing knowledge that man will come to know one day the embryonic stages of development, and will know the role of the primitive streak, so He inspired prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to speak out such a fact to be a witness on the genuineness of his prophethood and message, that fits every time and age.


Embryology and Human Creation between Quran & Science

Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal

August 2004

Acknowledgement : I would like to acknowledge the great help that Mr. M A H Madi * provided into the English translation of this article.

لقراءة المقالة باللغة العربية ، من فضلك اضغط هنا

Historical background

The Sperm

Al Alaqa (Leech-like clot)

Al Mudgha (chewed-like lump of flesh)

The Stage of bones

The stage of muscles

The stage of Nash’ah (developing) and viability

The stage of labour



Historical background

Since Aristotle had summed up the prevailing theories in his age relating to the creation of the embryo, controversy continued among the supporters of the theory of the full dwarf embryo existing in man’s sperm and those of the theory of the full dwarf embryo created out of the woman’s menstrual blood coagulation (thickening). Most of them believed that man was reduced into that sperm drop, and they drew a figure in which they imagined the embryo as a full creature in the sperm drop, which then grew up in the womb as a small tree. (Figure 1).

Figure 1 : The dwarf embryo as imagined by Leonardo da Vinci from the 15th century (on the left)

and the sperm as miniature human being by Hartsoeker from the 17th century (on the right)

None of both groups could realize that man’s sperm and woman’s ovum participate in the creation of the embryo, as supported by the Italian Scientist “Spallanzani” in the year of 1775. In 1783, Van Beneden was able to confirm this statement, and thus the idea of the dwarf embryo had been discarded. During the years 1888 and 1909 Boveri proved that chromosomes when divided carry the different genetic characteristics. Morgan, in 1912, was able to determine the role of genes, existing in certain parts of chromosomes, in hereditary.

Therefore, it is clear that mankind did not realize that the embryo is created of a man’s sperm mingled with a woman’s ovum except in the 18th century, and only to be confirmed at the beginning of the 20th century.

On the other hand, the Holy Quran and the Prophetic speeches have confirmed in a very accurate scientific manner the creation of man from a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), as coined by the Quran, which says ;

( إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَانَ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا) (الإنسان:2)

“Verily We created man from a drop of a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight.” (76:2).

It has been agreed upon by commentators of the Holy Qur/an that “amshaj” means mingling, as man’s water mingles with that of the woman, and this is also what the Prophet (peace be upon him) confirmed in one of his speeches. Imam Ahmed indicated in his book “Al Musnad” that a Jew passed by the Prophet Moha/mmed (PBUH) while he was addressing his companions. Some people from Quarish said; “O Jew! This man proclaims that he is a prophet.” The Jew said: “ I will ask him of something no one knows except a prophet.” He asked the prophet (PBUH); “ O Moha/mmed! What is man created from? The Prophet (PBUH) said; “O Jew! Man is created from both: man’s fluid (nutfa) and woman’s fluid.” The Jew said; “This is said by those prophets before you.” .

In the next few pages, the embryological developments as indicated in the Qur/anic verses will be discussed, while shedding light on the fixed scientific facts in each stage of development.

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