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Islamic version of Embryology
Muslims try to claim that Quran is a divine masterpiece because it revealed great scientific information about everything including about embryology centuries ago by Muhammad . We here analyze this claim base on several historical evidences.
[A]We start with Quran verse 23:13″ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ ” Mohsin Khan: Thereafter We made him (the offspring of Adam) as a Nutfah (mixed drops of the male and female sexual discharge) (and lodged it) in a safe lodging (womb of the woman).
the word “Nutfah” (نُطْفَةً) can be translated to “semen”,or at a push,”germinal fluid”,but the problem with using this word is that it was a term used as early as “Hippocrates of Kos”( 460 – 370 BC) .[ Hippocratic Writings (Penguin Classics, 1983) p. 320 )]THEN if there is any credit here it goes to him not Muhammad !!!! . Even Hippocrates has more details in his writings that apparently Muhammad was not aware of !!!
[B]Quran 23:14 ” ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنْشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ ” Mohsin Khan:Then We made the Nutfah into a clot(a piece of thick coagulated blood),then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.
More details come from Ibn Kathir ( ابن كثير‎ ) ,according to him “nutfah”( نُطْفَةً ) after forty days become a red clot “alaqa”(عَلَقَةً), and another forty days it becomes “mudghah” ( مُضْغَةَ ), a piece of flesh without shape or form. Finally it began to take on a shape and form. The Problem with this so called scientific explanation here is that there is no stage in development when the embryo is a clot [ “alaqa”(عَلَقَةً) ] !! Quran call it “clot” because it just looks like a clot but it is not really a clot!!! Calling it “clot” is just interpretation of a primitive man of what he saw. Probably if at that time Microscope existed and Muhammad could see the sperm under microscope that look like worm he would claim that man came from worm !!! As we see in Quran (96:2) the word “alaqa” (عَلَقَةً) has been translated to “clot” ,” congealed blood ” , ” thickened blood “, and even “blood-clot” !!!! [Arberry / Dr. Munir Munshey / Muhammad Taqi Usmani / Muhammad Sarwar/Aisha Bewley/Wahiduddin Khan/Hasan Al-Fatih Qaribullah /Muhammad Ahmed – Samira /Hasan Al-Fatih Qaribullah and many more ].
A further problem with this view is that sometimes “alaqa” is translated to “leech”( K. L. Moore, (Saunders, 1998) The Developing Human, 6th edition, p.10 / and Dr.Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri / Dr. Kamal Omar/Ali Bakhtiari Nejad / etc…) because it appears to be like a clinging leech to the uterus wall. Of course this has been rejected by science because foetus is not attached to the uterus wall for a few days but Obviously it remains attached for the entire nine months of gestation.If we believe that translation of “alaqa” to”leech” (as Dr Moore and some scholars suggest) is correct that is another proof of ignorance and stupidity of a primitive , nomadic desert man of what he saw! plus Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. has correctly described the detailed function of the umbilical cord, by which the embryo “clings” to the uterus wall(Aristotle, op. cit., 740a ) the details that Muhammad was never was aware of!!![one more time credit goes to Aristotle not to Muhammad!!!].
so far in Islamic science “blood clot” and “leech” became stages of embryology!!!!
[C]” then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh[Mudghah مُضْغَةً ], then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh”.As we see Quran does not give any details on different stages, though there are some hadith that shed light on Quranic verses,here is one major Sahih hadith from a credible source:
=()al-Bukhari Book of Divine Will (Qadar) #593/al-Bukhari 6594/Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 8, Book 77, Hadith 593/ Sahih al-Bukhari Vol. 8, Book of Divine Will (Qadar), Hadith 593
Narrated ‘Abdullah: “Allah’s Apostle, the truthful and truly-inspired, said,”Each one of you collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and then turns into a clot for an equal period (of forty days) and turns into a piece of flesh for a similar period (of forty days) 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.”
Muhammed claims that the “mudghah” stage occurs between days 80 and 120 :the drop of sperm remains in the womb for 40 days, then becomes a clot for a further 40 days, then a lump of flesh for 40 days .One more time Muhammad proved his scientific view contradicts science and it is nothing but baseless fabrication of a primitive desert man !!!! It has been shown that human sperm can only survive inside a woman’s reproductive tract for a maximum of 7 days; at 80 days the embryo has very definitely acquired the shape of a human being and looks nothing like either a clot or a lump of flesh as Muhammad claims.!!!

[D]and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best of creators.

“Galen” version of Embryology
[Aelius Galenus(Galen)129 AD- 200 or 216 AD]
Creation of fetus according to Galen goes through 4 stages:
STAGE 1 : Fetus in this stage up to six days still is called semen that is what Quran call it Nutfah( نُطْفَةً ) . Hippocrates(Greek physician who laid the foundations of scientific medicine by freeing medical study from the constraints of philosophical speculation and superstition. ) also does not yet call the conformation of fetus( as we know now the case of semen voided in the sixth day.
STAGE 2:When it is filled with blood and practically is blood clot Quran call it Alaqa (عَلَقَة).Though in this stage heart, brain and liver are still unshaped, yet by now it is more solid and has a considerable size, the substance of the fetus has the form of flesh and no longer the form of semen. At this stage Hippocrates call it fetus (no more semen).
STAGE 3 : In this stage most likely conformation of the three ruling parts and other parts outline clearly can be seen and Quran call it Mudghah(مُضْغَةً ). Very tiny limbs are called “twigs” by Hippocrates because of similarity to the branches .
STAGE 4 :The fourth and final stage is when all the parts in the limbs are differentiated; that is when Hippocrates does not call it embryo any more,it is already a child that moves and is fully formed , at this stage Quran call it a new creation ( الْخَالِقِينَ أَحْسَنُ ).
For the first time striking similarity between the Galenic and the Quranic stages was noticed by Ibn-Qayyim al-Jawziyya [ابن قيم الجوزية 691 AH–751 AH, astronomer,chemist, doctor ,did extensive works pertaining to human behavior and ethics , and some writing on”Medicine of the Prophet”(طب نبوي),he owned primitive equipments of the doctors] and some other early Muslim doctors.Even Basim Musallam, as Director of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies in Cambridge, U.K. concludes:”The stages of development which the Qur’an and Hadith established for believers agreed perfectly with Galen’s scientific account … There is no doubt that medieval thought appreciated this agreement between the Qur’an and Galen, now we have to see where and how the Galen theory linked to Quranic terms and description of the Galenic stages:
As early as the sixth century AD 26 books of Galen’s work were translated into Syriac by Sergios of Resh’ Aina (Ra’s al-Ain رأس العين ) and his lack of details of development of fetus can be seen in Quranic verses( 22:5 and 23:13-14)as well.[ Sergios was one of the Christian priests who studied medicine in Alexandria and worked in Mesopotamia, dying in Constantinople in about AD 532 ].He was of Nestorian Christians who translated the Greek medical writings and books into Syriac. When Nestorians were persecuted and they moved to Persia,they translated many Greek medical books and scriptures and founded many great schools such as medical school of Jundishapur (جنديشاپور) in Persia ( AD 555 by Anusharwan Sasani انوشیروان ساسانی ).After him some Muslim scholars started translation of many medical books from Greek into Arabic for example” Hunain Ibn Ishaq “(حُنَيْن بن إسحق العِبَادي) made Arabic translation of Hippocrates and Galen,and “al-Kindi”( يعقوب بن إسحاق الكندي )wrote over twenty medical books,including one specifically on Hippocrates.(M. Meyerhof (1926) New light on Hunain Ibn Ishaq and his period, Isis, vol 8, pp. 685-724/H. Bailey, op. cit., p. 415/E. G. Browne, op. cit., p. 24-26).
The major link between Islamic and Greek medicine goes back to the School of Jundishapur that was the most important medical center of the time(with cosmopolitan atmosphere combining the Persian,Greek and Indianmedical works ) and that was the ground for Islamic medicine. According to Muslim medical historians such as” Ibn Abi Usaybia”( ابن أبي أصيبعة ) and “al-Qifti” ( جمال الدين القفطي ), one of the most celebrated early graduate of Jundishapur was a doctor named” al Harith ibn Kalada”( الحارث بن كلدة ), the oldest known Arab physician and a companion of Muhammad and even Mohammed actually sought medical advice from him(Dols, Michael W.(1983).”The Leper in Medieval Islamic Society”. Medieval Academy of America 58 (4): 891–916. JSTOR 2853789 / Shahid, Irfan (2010). Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, Part 2. Harvard University Press. p.179. ISBN 0884023478) .Later on Haris settled in Mecca and became the most famous physician of the Arabs of the desert. Undoubtedly he influenced greatly so called scientefic view of Muhammad. It is not clear that if he ever became Muslim , yet this did not prevent Muhammad from consulting his friend .
According to ” Cyril Lloyd Elgood” M.D., F.R.C.P., honorary physician to the king of Persia (Shah) (1893-1970) “adding new words to quran by writers of Quran is nothing new that happened before”.(While Mohammed was dictating verse 23:14 to ” Abdallāh ibn Saʿd ibn Abī Sarḥ ” ( عبدالله بن سعد بن أبي السرح ) he carried out and add some of his own words to Ayat and since Muhammad did not catch it he disbelieved Islam and became apostate[ Ibn Ishaq, p. 550 / 818 ] ).
Then now we know where was the sources of scientific embryological development in Quran.Though the theory of Galen scientifically is not accepted still IF there is any credit in it that goes to Mr.Galen not Muhammad.!!!

Author Name is Option.
Ex Muslim MSL

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