The Birth of a Human Being
Many diverse subjects are mentioned in the Qur'an
in the course of inviting people to believe. Sometimes the heavens,
sometimes animals, and sometimes plants are shown as evidence
to man by God. In many of the verses, people are called upon
to turn their attention to 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 Qur'an, 56:57-59)
The creation of man, and the miraculous aspect of
this, is stressed in many other verses. Some items of information
within these verses are so detailed that it is impossible for
anyone living in the 7th century to have known them. Some 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.
People living when the Qur'an was revealed, to be
sure, knew that the basic substance of birth was related to
the semen of the male emitted during sexual intercourse. And
the fact that the baby was born after a nine-month period was
obviously an observable event not calling for any further investigation.
However, the items of information just quoted were far above
the level of learning of the people living at that time. These
were verified by 20th century science.
Now, let us go over them one by one.
A Drop of Semen
During sexual intercourse, 250 million sperms are
emitted from the male at a time. The sperms undertake an arduous
journey in the mother's body until they make it to the ovum.
Only a thousand out of 250 million sperms 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 essence of man is not the whole semen, but
only a small part of it. This is explained in the Qur'an:
"Does man reckon he will be left uncontrolled
(without purpose)? Was he not once a drop of ejected semen?"
(The Qur'an, 75:36-37)
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 statement announces a fact
only discovered by modern science is evidence that the statement
is divine in origin.
||In 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".
The Mixture in the Semen
The fluid called semen, which contains the sperms,
does not consist of sperms alone. On the contrary, it is made
up of a mixture of different fluids. These fluids have different
functions, such as containing the sugar necessary for providing
energy for the sperms, neutralising the acids at the entrance
of the uterus, and creating a slippery environment for the easy
movement of the sperms.
Interestingly enough, 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."
(The Qur'an, 76:2)
another verse, 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."
(The Qur'an, 32:7-8)
The Arabic word "sulala", translated as
"extract", means the essential or best part of something.
By either implication, it means "part of a whole".
This shows that the Qur'an is the word of a Will that knows
the creation of man down to its slightest detail. This Will
is God, the Creator of man.
The Sex of the Baby
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."
(The Qur'an, 53:45-46)
||In the Qur'an, it is said that masculinity or femininity
are created out of "a drop of semen which has been
ejected". However, 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 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 process.
|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 includes
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 God.
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.
The 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 genetics
in the 20th century. Indeed, in many cultures, it was believed
that a baby's sex was determined by the female's body. That
was why women were blamed when they gave birth to girls.
Thirteen 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 coming from men.
The ALAQ Clinging to the Uterus
If we keep on examining the facts announced to us
in the Qur'an about the formation of human beings, we again
encounter some very important scientific miracles.
|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
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 start to reproduce 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
just like roots that are firmly fixed to the earth by their
tendrils. Through this bond, the embryo can obtain the substances
essential to its development from the mother's body.(16)
Here, at this point, a very significant miracle of
the Qur'an is revealed. While referring to the embryo developing
in the mother's womb, God uses the word "alaq" in
"Recite: In the name of your Lord Who
created man from alaq. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous."
(The Qur'an, 96:1-3)
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
Certainly, the use of such an appropriate word for
the embryo developing in the mother's womb, proves once again
that the Qur'an is a revelation from God, the Lord of all the
The wrapping of muscles over the bones
Another important aspect of the information given
in the verses of the Qur'an is the developmental stages of a
human being in the mother's womb. It is stated in the verses
that in the mother's womb, the bones develop first, and then
the muscles form which wrap around them.
"(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 God, the Best of Creators!"
(The Qur'an, 23:14)
|The bones of the baby completing its development
in the mother's womb are clothed with flesh during one particular
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. 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 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 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.
This event is described in a scientific publication
titled Developing Human in the following words:
During the seventh week, the
skeleton begins to spread throughout the body and the bones
take their familiar shapes. At the end of the seventh week and
during the eighth week the muscles take their positions around
the bone forms.(17)
||Many stages of a baby's development
in the mother's womb are related in the Qur'an. As described
in verse 14 of Sura Muminun, the cartilage of the embryo
in the mother's womb ossifies first. Then these bones are
covered with muscle cells. God describes this development
with the verse: "…(We then) formed the lump into bones
and clothed the bones in flesh"
In short, man's developmental stages as described
in the Qur'an are in perfect harmony with the findings of modern
Three Stages of the Baby in the Womb
In the Qur'an, it is related that man is created
in a three-stage process in the mother's womb.
"... He creates you stage by stage in
your mothers' wombs in a threefold darkness. That is God, your
Lord. Sovereignty is His. There is no god but Him. So what has
made you deviate?"
(The Qur'an, 39:6)
As will be understood, it is pointed
out in this verse that a human being is created in the mother's
womb in three distinct stages. Indeed, modern biology has 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 faculties 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."(18)
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 organise themselves
in three layers.
- Embryonic Stage
The second phase lasts for five and a half weeks, during which
the baby is called an "embryo". In this stage, the
basic organs and systems of the body start to appear from the
- Fetal stage
From this stage on, 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 just 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.
|In the verse 6 of Sura Zumar, it is pointed
out that man is created in the mother's womb in three distinct
stages. Indeed, modern embryology has revealed that the
baby's embryological development takes place in three distinct
regions in the mother's womb.
Information on the development in the mother's womb
became available only after observations with modern devices.
Yet, just like many other scientific facts, these pieces of
information are imparted in the verses of the Qur'an in a miraculous
way. 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 not
the word of man, but the word of God.