THE BIRTH OF A HUMAN BEING
Many diverse subjects are mentioned in the Qur'an while also inviting
people to believe. Sometimes the heavens, sometimes animals, and
sometimes plants are mentioned as evidence of Allah's existence.
In many of these verses, people are called upon to consider their
own creation. They are often reminded how man came into the world,
which stages he has passed through, and what his essence is:
It is We Who have created you. Why, then, do
you not accept the truth? Have you ever considered that [seed]
which you emit? Is it you who create it? Or are We the Creator?
The miracle of man's creation is emphasised in many verses. Some
of the information within these verses is so detailed that it was
impossible for anyone living in the 7th century to have known it.
Examples of these are as follows:
1. Man is not created from the entire semen, but only a very small
portion of it (sperm).
2. It is the male that determines the sex of the baby.
3. The human embryo adheres to the mother's uterus like a leech.
4. The embryo develops in three dark regions in the uterus.
The items of information just quoted were far above the level of
learning of the people living at that time. The discovery of these
facts could only become possible by the technology attained in the
Now, let us examine these items one at a time.
A Drop of Semen
the picture to the left, we see semen ejected into the uterus.
Only very few sperms out of 250 million sperms emitted from
the male can make it to the ovum. The sperm that will fertilise
the egg is the only one out of a thousand sperms that have
managed to survive.
The fact that man is
made not from the entire semen—but only a small part
of it—is related in the Qur'an with the expression,
"a drop of ejected semen."
Sperm undertake a journey into the mother's body until they reach
the ovum. Only a thousand out of 250 million sperm succeed in reaching
the ovum. At the end of this five-minute race, the ovum, half the
size of a grain of salt, will let only one of the sperms in. That
is, the substance of man is not the whole semen, but only a small
part of it. This is explained in the Surat al-Qiyama as follows:
Does man reckon he will be left uncontrolled
[without purpose]? Was he not once a drop of ejected semen? (Qur'an,
As we have seen, the Qur'an informs us that man is made not from
the entire semen, but only a small part of it. That the particular
emphasis in this verse announces a fact only discovered by modern
science is evidence that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah.
The Mixture in the Semen
In the Qur'an, it is said that masculinity or femininity
are created out of "a drop of semen which has been
ejected." Until fairly recently, it was believed that
a baby's sex was determined by the mother's cells. Science
only discovered this information given in the Qur'an in
the 20th century. This and many other similar details about
the creation of man were stated in the Qur'an centuries
The fluid referred to as semen, which contains the sperm, does
not consist of sperm alone. On the contrary, it is made up of a
mixture of different fluids. Seminal fluid is a collection of substances
secreted from the testicles, the seminal vesicles, the prostate
gland and glands linked to the urinary tract. A detailed analysis
of this fluid shows that it consists of a great many separate substances,
such as citric acid, prostaglandin, flavin, ascorbic acid, ergothioneine,
cholesterol, phospholipids, fibrinolysin, zinc, phosphatase acid,
phosphase, hyaluronidase and sperm. These fluids exercise different
functions, such as containing the sugar necessary for providing
energy for the sperm, neutralizing the acids at the entrance of
the uterus, and providing a slippery substance for the easy movement
of the sperm.
When semen is mentioned in the Qur'an, this fact, which was discovered
by modern science, is also referred to, and semen is defined as
a mixed fluid:
We created man from a mingled drop to test him,
and We made him hearing and seeing. (Qur'an, 76:2)
In other verses, semen is again referred to as a mixture, and it
is stressed that man is created from the "extract" of this mixture:
He Who has created all things in the best possible
way. He commenced the creation of man from clay; then He made
his progeny from an extract of discarded fluid. (Qur'an, 32:7-8)
The Arabic word "sulala," translated as "extract," means the essential
or best part of something. By either meaning, it refers to "part
of a whole." This shows that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah, Who
knows the creation of man to its minute details.
The Sex of the Child
Until fairly recently, it was thought that a baby's sex was determined
by the mother's cells. Or at least, it was believed that the sex
was determined by the male and female cells together. But, we are
given different information in the Qur'an, where it is stated that
masculinity or femininity is created out of "a drop of sperm which
has been ejected."
He has created both sexes, male and female from
a drop of semen which has been ejected. (Qur'an, 53:45-46)
Was he not a drop of ejaculated sperm, then a
blood-clot which He created and shaped, making from it both sexes,
male and female? (Qur'an, 75:37-39)
The developing disciplines of genetics and molecular biology have
scientifically validated the accuracy of this information given
by the Qur'an. It is now understood that sex is determined by the
sperm cells from the male, and that the female has no role in this
The Y chromosome carries characteristics
of masculinity, while the X chromosome carries those of
femininity. In the mother's egg, there is only the X chromosome,
which determines female characteristics. In the semen from
the father, there are sperms that include either X or Y
chromosomes. Therefore, the sex of the baby depends on whether
the sperm fertilising the egg contains an X or Y chromosome.
In other words, as stated in the verse, the factor determining
the sex of the baby is the semen, which comes from the father.
This knowledge, which could not have been known at the time
when the Qur'an was revealed, is evidence to the fact that
the Qur'an is the Word of Allah.
Chromosomes are the main elements in determining sex. Two of the
46 chromosomes that determine the structure of a human being are
identified as the sex chromosomes. These two chromosomes are called
"XY" in males, and "XX" in females, because the shapes of the chromosomes
resemble these letters. The Y chromosome carries the genes that
code for masculinity, while the X chromosome carries the genes that
code for femininity.
formation of a new human being begins with the cross combination
of one of these chromosomes, which exist in males and females in
pairs. In females, both components of the sex cell, which divides
into two during ovulation, carry X chromosomes. The sex cell of
a male, on the other hand, produces two different kinds of sperm,
one that contains X chromosomes and the other Y chromosomes. If
an X chromosome from the female unites with a sperm that contains
an X chromosome, then the baby is female. If it unites with the
sperm that contains a Y chromosome, the baby is male.
In other words, a baby's sex is determined by which chromosome
from the male unites with the female's ovum.
None of this was known until the discovery of genes in the 20th
century. Indeed, in many cultures, it was believed that a baby's
sex was determined by the female. That was why women were blamed
when they gave birth to girls.
Fourteen centuries before human genes were discovered, however,
the Qur'an revealed information that denies this superstition, and
referred to the origin of sex lying not with women, but with the
semen deriving from men.
The " Alaq" Clinging to the Uterus
In the first phase of its development, the baby in the mother's
womb is in the form of a zygote, which clings to the uterus
in order to take nourishment from the mother's blood. In
the picture above is a zygote, which looks like a piece
of flesh. This formation, which has been discovered by modern
embryology, was miraculously stated in the Qur'an 14 centuries
ago with the word "alaq," which means
"a thing that clings to some place" and is used
to describe leeches that cling to a body to suck blood.
If we continue to examine the facts announced to us in the Qur'an,
about the formation of human beings, we again encounter some very
important scientific truth.
When the sperm of the male unites with the ovum of the female,
the essence of the baby to be born is formed. This single cell,
known as a "zygote" in biology, will instantly begin reproducing
by dividing, and eventually become a "piece of flesh," called an
embryo. This, of course, can only be seen by human beings with the
aid of a microscope.
The embryo, however, does not spend its developmental
period in a void. It clings to the uterus, with something like roots
that is firmly fixed to the earth by its tendrils. Through this
bond, the embryo can obtain the substances essential to its development
from the mother's body.85
Here, an important miracle of the Qur'an is revealed. While referring
to the embryo developing in the mother's womb, Allah uses the word
"alaq" in the Qur'an:
Recite: In the name of your Lord Who created
man from alaq. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous. (Qur'an,
The meaning of the word "alaq" in Arabic is "a thing that
clings to some place." The word is literally used to describe leeches
that cling to a body to suck blood.
Certainly, the use of such a specific word for the embryo developing
in the mother's womb, proves once again that the Qur'an is the Word
of Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.
The Wrapping of Muscles over the Bones
Another important item of information provided in the verses of
the Qur'an is the developmental stages of a human being in the mother's
womb. It is stated in these verses that in the mother's womb, the
bones develop first, and then the muscles form which wrap around
[We] then formed the drop into a clot and formed
the clot into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed
the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another
creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Qur'an, 23:14)
The bones of the baby completing its development in the
mother's womb are clothed with flesh during one particular
stage exactly as stated in the Qur’an.
Embryology is the branch of science that studies the development
of the embryo in the mother's womb. Until very recently, embryologists
assumed that the bones and muscles in an embryo developed at the
same time. Yet, advanced microscopic research conducted by virtue
of new technological developments has revealed that the revelation
of the Qur'an 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 these 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.
This event is described in a scientific publication titled Developing
Human in the following words:
� [T]he shape of the skeleton determines the
general appearance of the embryo in the bones stage during the
7th week; muscles do not develop at the same time but
their development follows soon after. The muscles take their positions
around the bones throughout the body and therefore clothe the
bones. Thus, the muscles take their well known forms and structures�
The stage of clothing with muscle occurs during the 8th
In short, developmental stages of man, as described in the Qur'an,
are in perfect harmony with the findings of modern embryology.
Many stages of a baby's development in the mother's womb
are related in the Qur'an. As described in Surat al-Muminun
14, the cartilage of the embryo in the mother's womb ossifies
first. Then these bones are covered with muscle cells. Allah
describes this development with the verse: "…
[We then] formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones
Three Dark Stages of the Baby in the Womb
In the Qur'an, it is related that man is created through a three-stage
process in the mother's womb.
... He creates you stage by stage in your mothers'
wombs in threefold darkness. That is Allah, your Lord. Sovereignty
is His. There is no god but Him. So what has made you deviate?
The expression "fee thulumatin thalathin," translated
into English as "a threefold darkness," indicates three dark regions
involved during the development of the embryo. These are:
The darkness of the abdomen
The darkness of the womb
The darkness of the placenta
As we have seen, modern biology has revealed that the embryological
development of the baby takes place in the manner revealed in the
verse, in three dark regions. Moreover, advances in the science
of embryology show that these regions consist of three layers each.
The lateral abdominal wall comprises three layers:
the external oblique, the internal oblique, and transverses abdominis
Similarly, the wall of the womb also consists
of three layers: the epimetrium, the myometrium and the endometrium.88
Similarly again, the placenta surrounding the
embryo also consists of three layers: the amnion (the internal
membrane around the fetus), the chorion (the middle amnion
layer) and the decidua (outer amnion layer.)89
It is also pointed out in this verse that a human being is created
in the mother's womb in three distinct stages.
modern biology has also revealed that the baby's embryological development
takes place in three distinct regions in the mother's womb. Today,
in all the embryology textbooks studied in departments of medicine,
this subject is taken as an element of basic knowledge. For instance,
in Basic Human Embryology, a fundamental reference text
in the field of embryology, this fact is stated as follows:
The life in the uterus has three stages: pre-embryonic;
first two and a half weeks, embryonic; until the end of the eight
week, and fetal; from the eight week to labor.90
These phases refer to the different developmental stages of a baby.
In brief, the main characteristics of these developmental stages
are as follows:
- Pre-embryonic Stage
In this first phase, the zygote grows by division, and when it
becomes a cell cluster, it buries itself in the wall of the uterus.
While they continue growing, the cells organize themselves in three
- Embryonic Stage
The second phase lasts for five and a half weeks, during which
the baby is referred to as an "embryo." During this stage, the basic
organs and systems of the body start to appear from the cell layers.
- Foetal Stage
From this stage onward, the embryo is called a "foetus." This phase
begins at the eighth week of gestation, and lasts until the moment
of birth. The distinctive characteristic of this stage is that the
foetus looks much like a human being, with its face, hands and feet.
Although it is only 3 cm long initially, all of its organs have
become apparent. This phase lasts for about 30 weeks, and development
continues until the week of delivery.
Information on the development in the mother's womb became available
only after observations with modern devices. Yet, just like many
other scientific facts, in a miraculous way, Allah draws our attention
to these items of information in the verses of the Qur'an. The fact
that such detailed and accurate information was given in the Qur'an
at a time when people had scarce information on medical matters
is clear evidence that the Qur'an is the Word of Allah.
In Surat az-Zumar 6, it is pointed out
that man is created in the mother's womb in three distinct
regions. Indeed, modern embryology has revealed that the
baby's embryological development takes place in three distinct
regions in the mother's womb.
85. Keith L. Moore,
et al., Human Development as Described in the Qur'an and Sunnah
(Makkah: Commission on Scientific Signs of the Qur'an and Sunnah,
86. Keith L. Moore, Developing Human, 3rd ed. (W. B. Saunders Company:
87. http://anatomy.med.unsw.edu.au/cbl/embryo/Notes/git4.htm; and
89. Kazi, 130 Evident Miracles in the Qur'an, 84.
90. Williams P., Basic Human Embryology, 3rd ed., 1984, 64.