see also genetics, GESTATION, MOORE, KEITH L.,.
Ar. "zuhur" is translated as loins, meaning "back". The Qur'an refers to the loins as the seat of procreative strength.
Other translations have backbone instead of loins.
''Since the verse is speaking of the moment of adult reproduction it can't be talking about the time of embryonic development. Moreover, since ``sulb'' is being used in conjunction with ``gushing fluid'', which can only be physical; and ``tara'ib'' which is another physical word for chest or thorax or ribs, it can't be euphemistic. Therefore, we are left with the very real problem that the semen is coming from the back or kidney area and not the testicles.
Dr. Bucaille, as a physician recognizes this problem only too well, so he wiggles and squirms (as he accuses the Christian commentators of doing) and finally after quoting the verse as we have seen it translated above says, ``This would seem more to be an interpretation than a translation. It is hardly comprehensible''. This is the second time he has called the Qur'an obscure or hardly comprehensible when there was a problem.'' (William Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, Section 4.II.B, Middle East Resources 1992).
Keith Moore believes that this refers to (a) the anterior andominal wall, (b) the uterine wall and (c) the amniochrionic membrane (Keith L. Moore, A Scientist's Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur'an, The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, vol 18, Jan-Jun 1986, pp. 15-16). Moore mentions that there are other interpretations, but does not discuss them at all.
"drop" (Ar. "nutfah"), Moore interprets as the zygote.
"The stages of development which the Quran and hadith established for the believers agreed perfectly with Galen's scientific account. Galen spoke of four periods in the formation of the embryo: (1) seminal matter; (2) as a bloody form (...) (3) the foetus acquires flesh and solidity (...) and .. (4) all the organs attain their full perfection..
... Arabic science employed the same Quranic terms to describe the Galenic stages ....." (Musallam, "Sex and Society in Islam", Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization, ISBN 0 521 24874 4, p. 54)
In response, Campbell says:
''In the very beginning, the first few hours or even a few days, the merged ovum and sperm ARE free floating in the tube between the ovary and the uterus. During the migration towards the uterus, quite a substantial and important time of its development, which is the time of its highest reletive growth, it is a "non-clinging" state, it will finally come to rest at some spot of the uterine wall and become a "clinging thing".
How could the Qur'an get it so wrong? Only two possibilities and it chose the wrong one. The Qur'an seemingly is talking about the origin of human beings. So, one should assume it is talking about its very start. But no, it skips the real beginning and then talks in very general terms about something everybody could have come up with by just a little thinking. I fail to see the miracle in the insight of "clinging" [if that was indeed the intended meaning and not the scientifically completely wrong "clot of blood".]
Had the Qur'an chosen to speak about the early "free floating" phase, something that is not visible to the eye, then I might have been impressed. But the Qur'an only states the obvious and that is not striking me in the least miraculous.'' (see this webpage for more treatment)
Moore says that Ar. "alaqah" refers to a leech or bloodsucker. But, other translators, Yusuf Ali, Pickthall, Maulana, Masson, Muhammad Khan, Hamidullah all translate as clot. Kasimirski translates as blood. "Alaqah", however, does not refer to the zygote, the union of the sperm and the ovum.
Ar. "mudghah" means chewed substance or chewed lump.
this gives the impression that bones are formed first followed by flesh. However, this is not the case, as both are formed at the same time. At the end of the 8th week, there are only a few centers of ossification, but the fetus already has some muscular movement. (see Campbell)
''In a personal letter dated 8/1/87 from Dr. T.W. Sadler, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Anatomy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514, and author of Langman's Medical Embryology Dr. Sadler states, ``At the 8th week post fertilization, the ribs would be cartilaginous and muscles would be present. Also at this time ossification would begin near the angle of the rib and would spread along the shaft until it reached the costal cartilage by the 4th month. Muscles would be capable of some movement at 8 weeks, but by 10-12 weeks this capacity would be much better developed.''
Therefore, even if we accept that the somite stage of the 4th week could equal the ``chewed meat'', the muscles are there several weeks before there are calcified bones rather than being added around previously formed bones as the Qur'an implies. The problems are far from being solved.'' (William Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, Section 4.II.B, Middle East Resources 1992).
Moore says that "this may refer to the human-like embryo that forms by the end of the eighth week... after the eighth week, the human embryo is called a fetus. This may be the new creature to which the verse refers."
Moore says that it is in this order.
Moore says that this indicates that the embryo is composed of both differentiation and undifferentiated tissues.
This, however, is a plain observation of chewed-liked substance.
Moore says this refers to God determing which embryos remain in the uterus until full term. He notes the fact that only about 30% of the zygotes develop into fetuses that survive until birth.Campbells says:
Aristotle believed that a male contributes the principle of organization whereas a female contributes only matter. The degree to which the material contribuation from mother resists formation determines the likeness with the mother. Galen (1st century A.D.) disagrees with Aristotle and argues that the female semen, just like the male semen, contributes both to the matter and the form of the fetus. This idea had been around at least 500 years before the time of Muhammad. (Musallam, "Sex and Society in Islam", chap 3, Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization, ISBN 0 521 24874 4., quoted by Miland Saraph, email@example.com, archived at http://www.answering-islam.org/Quran/Science/embryology.html)
"This Hadith is reported according to Abi `Abd-ar-rahman `Abdallah ibn Mas`ud, may God be pleased with him, who said: The Apostle of God, may God bless him and grant him salvation, spoke to us and he is truthful and worthy of belief: The creation of any one of you is accomplished in various stages in the abdomen of your mother; 40 days a drop of sperm; then he will be (`alaqa) a clot for the same period, then chewed meat for the same period; then the angel will be sent to him and he will blow into him the spirit (soul) and he will order four words (about the future) by writing: his monetary fortune, and his length of life, and his actions, and whether he is to be damned or happy in the hereafter. And I swear by God Whom there is no other God except Him: it could be that one of you will do acts as the people of heaven until there remains only one arms length between him and it (heaven), and the writing (of his future) will overtake him and he will do the acts of the people of the fire and he will enter it. And it could be that one of you will do acts of the people of the fire until there remains only one arms length between him and it, and the writing (of his future) will overtake him and he will do the acts of the people of heaven and he will enter it." (Campbell's translation) (Transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim)
"We have here a Hadith which is reported to be from the mouth of Muhammad; attested to by the best authorities - Bukhari and Muslim; included in a special collection of Hadiths by a specialist in Hadiths; which has gross scientific errors.
"The drop of sperm remains a drop of sperm 40 days, then an "`alaqa" 40 days for a total of 80 days, then "chewed meat" for 40 days for a total of 120 days. Modern gynecological studies have shown that sperm remain alive less than a week inside the female genital tract, and that at 70 days organ differentiation and maturation are well advanced, except for the brain and bones. This Hadith says that it doesn't even become "chewed meat" until 80 days, a clear error. Dr. Bucaille also mentions this Hadith and concludes,
"This description of embryonic evolution does not agree with modern data."
However this Hadith does not really help us in our study of the meaning of the word `alaqa, because it does not bring a new context. We cannot tell whether it means "clot" or "link" or "a thing which clings", anymore than we could by the same usage in the Qur'an. But it clearly shows something of what men believed only 200 years away from Muhammad, and it raises severe theological problems in relation to all the Hadith. (William Campbell, The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, Section 4.II.B, Middle East Resources 1992).
The topic of "Qur'an and Embryology" is discussed in detail in the section Qur'an and Science providing links to the various Muslim claims and scientific evaluations of these claims.
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