Dr. Keith Moore of the University of Toronto was amazed to find that many modern discoveries in the field of embryology must have been known to the author of the Qur'an, for these facts are either hinted at or stated explicitly in the Qur'an. This is particularly significant because the Qur'an claims to be the verbatim word of God. How could these facts have been known to any human being living in the 7th century. The presence of these in the Qur'an is proof enough that the Qur'an did not come from the mind of any human but must have been revealed from God whose knowledge is perfect and who therefore, knew what scientists will discover in the 20th century.

Dr. Moore is not the only scientist to have discussed the Qur'anic verses we will look at in this article. But the fact that he is not a Muslim puts what he has to say in a different light. No one can accuse him of inventing things to defend Islam. His findings will have to be taken seriously by any seeker of truth. In what follows we shall draw from his article entitled "Highlights of Human Embryology in the Koran and the Hadith" which was presented at the Seventh Saudi Medical Meeting at King Faisal University on May 3-6, 1982. At the time, Dr. Moore was Professor of Anatomy and Chairman of the Department, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto.

In tracing the history of ideas in the field of embryology, Dr. Moore observed that the absence of knowledge in this field and the "dominating influence of superstition resulted in a non-scientific approach to human development." He noted, for instance, that while Aristotle made some contributions to the study of embryology, he also promoted "the incorrect idea that the human embryo developed from a formless mass that resulted from the union of semen with menstrual blood."

Knowledge in this field could not progress significantly until the microscope was discovered in the 17th century. "After it was possible to examine cells under the microscope, it was reasoned in the 18th century that development resulted from growth and differentiation of embryonic cells."

In view of the above, after Dr. Moore had the opportunity to study certain statements in the Qur'an and statements of the Prophet (on whom be peace) in the Hadith literature, he remarked "I was amazed at the scientific accuracy of these statements which were made in the 7th century A.D."

"The staging of human embryos was not proposed until the 1940's, and the stages used nowadays were not adopted worldwide until a few years ago."

It is reasonable to interpret the three veils of darkness mentioned in the Koran as: (a) the mother's abdominal amniochorionic membrane composed of the fused amnion and chorion. These three anatomical layers protect the embryo from external injury."

Referring to (23: 12-16) And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, Then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place, Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators. Then after that you will most surely die. Then surely on the day of resurrection you shall be raised. in the Qur'an, Dr. Keith Moore says:

"This verse from the Koran states that God made you from a drop and then changed the drop into a leech-like structure which soon changed into a chewed like substance that then took the shape of bone and was clothed with flesh."

                                                 Embryo at 7-mm development stage
To illustrate his point about the accuracy of the Qur'an, Dr. Moore lined up a picture of a leech and a picture of a human embryo at 24 days old to show the striking similarity between the two. Similarly, he compared the human embryo at 28 days with a plasticine model of the embryo with teeth marks deliberately impressed on it and found the two to be quite Similar.

Dr. Moore then turns his attention to the mention in the Qur'an (75:37) Was he not a small seed in the seminal elements, that humans are created from a nutfa, a tiny drop of fluid, which gushed forth, and that God made the progeny of men from "an extraction of despised fluid Then He made his progeny of an extract, of water held in light estimation.(32:8)." He also refers to a hadith which says: "Not from all secretions is the child made." Then he comments:

"It is well established that only a few hundred of the several million sperms in the semen are able to pass through the uterus and surround the ovum in the uterine tube."

Surah (76:2) Surely We have created man from a small life-germ uniting (itself): We mean to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing. says that a human being is created from a mixed drop. Dr. Moore comments:

                                        Embryo development at the end of fourth week

"The mixed drop mentioned in the Koran could refer to the mixture of small quantity of sperms with the oocyte and its associated follicular fluid. There are the other references in the Koran to the origin of man from a small quantity of 'mingled fluids', undoubtedly the male and female sexual secretions. As we know a secondary oocyte is expelled from the ovary during a process known as ovulation. The oocyte and the follicular fluid pass into the uterine tube, where, if coitus has occurred, they are mixed with several hundred sperms. The resulting mixture (drop) composed of the ovum and the penetrating sperm, becomes the zygote of primordium of the embryo."

Whereas the Qur'an had already mentioned this truth in the 7th century, Dr. Moore noted that one thousand years later; as late as the 17th century, scientists held on to two misconceptions. Some believed that a tiny human being is contained in the sperm. Other believed that it was contained in the ovum, and in either case the tiny human just simply grew larger. Both of these ideas were proved wrong by the scientist Spallanzani in the 18th century when he "showed experimentally that both male and female sex products were necessary for the initiation of development."

Turning to a new subject, Dr. Moore refers to Surah (80:18-19) Of what thing did He create him? Of a small seed; He created him, then He made him according to a measure, and comments: "This verse from the Koran states that from this drop He(God) created him and soon planned his future characteristics and features."

Then he explained his amazement:

"The idea that development results from a genetic plan contained in the chromosomes of the zygote was not discovered until the end of 19th century. The verse from the Koran clearly implies that the nutfa contains the plan or blueprint for the future characteristics and features of the developing human being."

Then he mentions Surah (53:45-46) And that He created pairs, the male and the female From the small seed when it is adapted and says: "This verse states that either a male or a female will be created from the nutfa and that the sex of the embryo is determined at the beginning." This piece of information in the Qur'an is way ahead of its time. "The realization that sex was determined at fertilization was established about 60 years ago when the sex chromosomes were discovered," he says.

                                        Embryo development at the end of eight week

There is more to marvel at. Dr. Moore explains that the blastocyst (the early embryo) implants in the uterus about 10 days after fertilization. Then he compares this knowledge with what he finds in the Qur'an. "An understanding of the implantation process of the human blastocyst is also implied in the Koran." Here Dr. Moore refers to Surah (2:223) Your wives are a tilth for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers. where the act of sex is compared with cultivation. He says: "A tilth refers to the cultivation of land and the comparison of implantation of the blastocyst to the planting of a seed is a very appropriate one. Just as soil covers the seed, the uterine epithelium covers the implanted blastocyst. The blastocyst soon develops chrionic villi for acquiring nourishment from the maternal blood. Similarly the embryo formed from the seed develops roots for acquiring nourishment from the soil."

                                                   Fetal development at the end of tenth week

Looking again at Surah (23: 12-16), And certainly We created man of an extract of clay, Then We made him a small seed in a firm resting-place, Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators. Then after that you will most surely die. Then surely on the day of resurrection you shall be raised. Dr. Moore points out that the article thumma (meaning furthermore) "indicates that there is a lag or gap between the nutfa with modern scientific knowledge? Remarkably! Says Dr. Moore: "It is well established that there is a lag or delay in the development of the embryo during the implantation...The agreement between the lag or gap in the development mentioned in the Koran and the slow rate of change occurring during the second and third weeks is amazing. These details of human development were not described until about 40 years ago."

                                       Fetal development at the beginning of four months

Moving to Surah (22:5) O people! if you are in doubt about the raising, then surely We created you from dust, then from a small seed, then from a clot, then from a lump of flesh, complete in make and incomplete, that We may make clear to you; and We cause what We please to stay in the wombs till an appointed time, then We bring you forth as babies, then that you may attain your maturity; and of you is he who is caused to die, and of you is he who is brought back to the worst part of life, so that after having knowledge he does not know anything; and you see the earth sterile land, but when We send down on it the water, it stirs and swells and brings forth of every kind a beautiful herbage. Dr. Moore says: "this verse states that you are created from a chewed lump which is differentiated and undifferentiated." Then he says: "It is well established that the brain and the heart are only partially differentiated at the end of the fourth week when the embryo resembles a chewed substance."

The sequence of stages mentioned in Surah (23:14) Then We made the seed a clot, then We made the clot a lump of flesh, then We made (in) the lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, then We caused it to grow into another creation, so blessed be Allah, the best of the creators. is strikingly accurate. "This verse states that out of the chewed lump, bones are made which are clothed with muscles." Dr. Moore relates the conclusion of modern science: "After the chewed-like appearance, bones develop which are soon clothed with muscles."

                                     Diagram of a developing embryo and supporting structures

A hadith too is found to be remarkably accurate. The hadith states that God sends an angel to the developing child "to create its hearing, vision, skin, flesh and bones." "The ears and the eyes begin to form in the fourth week", says Dr. Moore, "and are clearly visible at six weeks, 42 days after the zygote or nutfa forms. Noting that in the hadith the angel asks God whether the child is male or female, Dr. Moore points out that the sex of the child is not distinguishable at this stage. Males and fema1es look alike at this stage and become clearly distinguishable only in the 12th week. This he has clearly documented with the help of a diagram culled from his book the Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 3rd edn., 1982.

                                                                 Fetal development at six months

Finally, Dr. Moore concludes: "The agreement I have found between statements in the Koran and sayings in the Hadith may help to close the gap between science and religion which has existed for so many years."

All of this go to show that the Qur'an could not have been the product of the mind of Muhammad (on whom be peace) or any other human being living in the 7th century. How could he access information that will not be discovered until the 18th-2Oth century? How could he or anyone else study the human embryo in its very early stages without using a microscope? Impossible. But then the Qur'an must be from God as it claims. The Qur'an says that you and every human being should consider this book with care. Had it been from anyone other than God, you would have found much discrepancy in it. (Surah 4:82) Do they not then meditate on the Quran? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy.


Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a.s.) on the development of a Human being

"The embryo in the world is adjusted, though it is confined within three distinct kinds of coverings- the outer wall, the womb and the placenta. This is a time when the embryo can neither manage its nutrition nor ward off any harm from itself. The menstrual flow is diverted to serve him as a nutriment, just as water carries nutriments to the plants, so this process goes on till such time as its constitution is perfected, its skin over its body gets tough enough to stand the atmosphere and its eyes get the capacity to stand light. When all this gets accomplished, its mother gets labor pangs, which shake her severely, culminating in the birth of the infant. With the birth of the infant, the menstrual flow... is diverted to its mother's breasts. Its taste is altered, so is its color... it becomes a nutriment of the first order...till such time as his body remains delicate, his organs and bowels soft and weak. As he begins to move about and requires tougher nutriment to build up a stronger constitution, his molars appear to masticate food to facilitate digestion. He carries on such nutriment till puberty... Who then created man from nothingness and Who becomes the architect of his worth? Who is ever vigilant to supply his needs from time to time..."

Finally, we may note that the Qur'an is not a Science textbook. Its purpose is not to teach us science, but to teach us guidance the guidance that will lead us to everlasting life in Paradise which Allah has prepared for those who believe in Him and do right. You can be one of those. The evidence is before you, and the decision is yours.
The Scientific Accuracy of Embryology in the Quran Amazes University of Toronto Professor