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Qur'anic Science

The Embryological Terms Used In the Holy Quran and Hadith

The embryological terms as presented in the Holy Quran substantiated by the Prophet Mohammad's (peace be upon him) sayings will be explained here.

It is quite revealing that we find that the Holy Quran has clearly explained the stages of formation of the human embryo, in a way that was never known before the 19th and 20th centuries.

The stages of human development in the "Womb" as expressed in the Holy Quran fall into the following:

1. NUTFAH -- Literally meaning "a drop of fluid". In the Quran it is used in three different but interwoven connotations, viz:

I. Male Nutfah
II. The female Nutfah (clearly explained in the Hadith)
III. The mingled Nutfah from both male and female Nutfahs intermingled and completely mixed in each other...expressed in the Quran as "Nutfatul Amshaq".

2. THE ALAKAH -- Literally meaning "Something that clings and adheres" to the womb, viz: clearly describing the implantation stage.

3. THE MODGHA -- Literally meaning "a piece of flesh that has been chewed". The Quran depicts this stage as if it was a piece of flesh or food that has been chewed and the indentation marks of the teeth are clearly seen on this "Modgha".

This "Modgha" fits well in the "Somite stage" in the science of Embryology. The Modgha is further divided in the Holy Quran into:

I. Modgha Mokhalaga
II. Modgha non-Mokhalaga

The exegesis of Mokhalaga and non-Mokhalaga point to the

a.) Formation of organs at this stage (Mokhalaga)
b.) Abortions occurring at this stage (non-Mokhalaga)
c.) Differentiations which starts in non-Mokhalaga and continues through the whole life.

In Embryology this is the stage of "Organogenesis" and the zenith of differentiation of the cells.

The timing of this stage is prophesied by the "Hadith" of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) which is stated at 40-45 days after fertilization.


The Quran clearly states that the "Modgha" is transformed into bone and the bones are covered by flesh (muscles). This concept is clearly found in embryology of today where the somite differentiates into:

a.) Sclerotome from which the skeletal system is formed.
b.) Myotome from which the muscular system is formed.

The skeletal system precedes the muscular system in appearance. The "bone" once formed is enwrapped by flesh (muscle).


The human embryo in stages from the simple to the more complex is a completely new development in human knowledge, which was first put down by Wolff in 1839.

The Holy Quran, the Hadith and the exegesis of those who made Tafsir since the time of Ibn Abbas, the Prophet's cousin, all outline this concept--13 centuries before the subject was scientifically investigated.


All living creatures have a limited life span. The mechanism, by which God had endowed these creatures to remain on earth, is by reproduction, in which new generations of the same species are produced.

The presence of the two sexes may be occult or manifest; they may be separate in two individuals or combined in one.

In most multicellular organisms, the sexes are separate in two distinct individuals, the male and the female.

The sex cells are called gametes; the male sex cells are the Spermatozoa; the female sex cell is the ovum (egg). The organs which produce the gametes are called the gonads. The male gonads are the testes; the female gonads are the ovaries. The unified cell resulting from the union of the male Spermatozoon and the female ovum is called the zygote. The process of union is called fertilization. The zygote contains half its content from the mother i.e. the ovum, and the other half from the father i.e. the Spermatozoon (sperm). Thus the new individual inherits many of its characteristics from both its parents and their ancestors.

There is an interplay between the hereditary factors and the environmental factors, which complicates the matter further. In itself the hereditary factors are not simple. Some of the characteristics are dominant and some are recessive. In dominant characteristics only one gene either from the father or mother, if present, is sufficient to show in the new born; while in recessive characteristics, only when genes from both the mother and father are donated to the offspring that it may appear or become expressed.

These laws of heredity were first described by Mendel (1), an Austrian monk, in 1866 in his article "Experiments with Plant Hybrids".

They were completely ignored until Morgan (2) in 1912 discovered the chromosomes and their role in heredity (28 years after the death of Mendel).

The basic laws of Mendel were the corner-stone on which the science of Genetics was later on built.

Things were found much more complicated than the simple laws of Mendel predicted. However they remain the basic laws to understand genetics.

It is quite astonishing to find the Quran and sayings (Hadith) of the Prophet Mohammad have discussed the subject of reproduction and Genetics.

We will try to correlate many of the Quranic verses and sayings of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) with what we know in the light of modern science and medicine of the twentieth century.

Here we will mention a few of the verses that mention parity and reproduction.

"And of everything We have created pairs, that you consider thoughtfully." (Quran 51:49)

"Of every kind of plant He created two sexes." (Quran 13:3)

"God has made for you mates (and companions) of your own nature." (Quran 16:72)

"And He out of that semen made both sexes the male and the female." (Quran 75:39)

"And He created both male and female from a drop of liquid that has been ejaculated." (Quran 53:45)

"Glory to God Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, and in human kind. And other things of which they have no knowledge." (Quran 36:36)

"He created pairs in all things." (Quran 43:12)

"And among His signs, He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them. And He put love and mercy between your hearts. Verify in that are signs for those who reflect." (Quran 30:21)

The above mentioned verses of the Quran speak of the astonishing fact in which everything is found in pairs down from the atom, where the negative electron is complemented by the positive proton, involving every living and non-living things. The male lives with the female and gonads are in pairs. The chromosomes themselves are found in pairs. The spermatozoa are two types.

a) Those carrying the Y or male chromosome.
b) Those carrying the X or female chromosome.

The human being is formed by the union of both male gamete (sperm) and female gamete (ovum), forming a union-cell called zygote. The zygote is the Quranic "Nutfatulamshaq" which forms from the mingling and mixing of the male Nutfah and female Nutfah. This will be explained fully in the chapter on Nutfah. The Prophet Mohammad tells a Jew that man is created from both the male Nutfah (sperm) and the female Nutfah (ovum).

He also speaks of the genetic factors and tells an Arab that once the Nutfah is inside the womb (Uterus) God brings forth its genetic relation with its ancestors up to Adam. He tells another Bedouin Arab who complained that his wife delivered a black boy while neither of the parents were black, that the boy could have inherited this color from his ancestors.

Many such extraordinary revelations are found in the Holy Quran and the Prophet Mohammad's (Peace be upon him) sayings (Hadith).


1) Mendel, Encyclopedia Britannica Vol II/898-899, 15th Edition 1982.
2) Leslie Arey, Developmental Anatomy, 7th Edition, P6.
3) Ibn Jarir Al Tabari and Ibn Abi Hatim.
4) Narrated by Al Bukhari, Muslim, Al Nisayi, Al Termzi, Ibn Maja, Abu Da'ood, Ahmed Ibn Hanbal and Al Dar Qotni.


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

August 1993
Safar 1414
Reminder to
Our Readers
Letters to the Editor
The Charge of
the Sword
Alcohol - The
Deadly Disease
Cook's Corner
The Kid's Corner
Women in Islam
Why I Embraced Islam
Miracles of the Qur'an
Qur'anic Science
Stories of the Sahabah
Sayings of the Prophet
Death - Are
you Ready?
Book Review