Responses to "It is Truth"

Chapter 4

Stages of the Creation of Man (B)

This chapter begins with the usual parading of the "miracle" of the Qur'an along with a great deal of adulation heaped upon Professor Moore. So much so that it brings to mind a quote from the American economist, and African-American scholar Thomas Sowell

"Citation of an eminent 'authority' does not constitute a valid proof, technique, or even a convincing argument. We all have the ability to think for ourselves [I hope], and evaluate propositions based on their merits and available evidence rather than relying on oracles."

Let us see what Prof. Moore has to say.

"It is cited in the Qur'an, the Holy Book of the Muslims, that human beings are produced from a mixture of secretions from the male and the female."

No, the Qur'an ONLY mentions the male's semen:

Woe to man! What has made him reject Allah? From what stuff has He created him? From a sperm-drop: He has created him, and then molded him in due proportion. (Qur'an 80:17-19)

This is scientifically incorrect. We are formed when a sperm and egg unite! Why does male semen get all of the credit in the Qur'an? After all, we can see semen, but we cannot see the ovum. Since the Qur'an tells us about semen (or rather the "sperm drop"), which we can see, but says nothing about the egg, we would conclude that this is a simple human observation - certainly not a scientific miracle! In any event, an ovum is NOT a secretion!

"Several references are made to the creation of a human being from a sperm drop, and it is also suggested that the resulting organism settles in the woman like a seed, six days after its beginning."

Just where does the Qur'an say that the blastocyst settles in the womb on the sixth day? It would appear that Prof. Moore is adding words to the Qur'an?

The Qur'an also states that the sperm drop develops - into a clot of congealed blood. (An implanted blastocyst or spontaneously aborted conceptus would resemble a blood clot.)

An implanted blastocyst does NOT resemble a clot of blood. A miscarrying conceptus does resemble a clot, but this however is observable to the naked eye. In such a case the blood is mostly from the mother and not the embryo.

Reference is also made to the leech-like appearance of the embryo. The embryo is not unlike a leech, or bloodsucker, in appearance. The embryo is also said to resemble - a chewed piece of substance - like gum or wood. (Somites somewhat resemble the teeth marks in a chewed substance.

The embryo is said to be like a leech because it is clinging to the wall of the uterus. However, Prof. Moore says that it is the leech stage for just 2 days. To the best of our knowledge the embryo continues to "cling" to the uterus for the full nine months of pregnancy.

The developing embryo was considered to be human at 40 to 42 days and no longer resemble an animal embryo at this stage.

Actually, the embryo is human at conception. After all, has a human embryo ever matured into anything other than a human being?

The Qur'an also states that the embryo develops with - three veils of darkness. This probably refers to (1) the maternal anterior abdominal wall, (2) the uterine wall, and (3) the amniochorionic membrane. (see Fig. 4.4) Space does not permit discussion of several other interesting references to human prenatal development that appear in the Qur'an.

There is nothing about this idea that is not observable to the naked eye. For many centuries before Muhammed people had known about the different layers in which the developing human was encased.

This is what Dr. Moore has written in his book, praise be to Allah, and which is now being distributed throughout the world. Scientific knowledge has made it incumbent upon Professor Moore to mention this in his book.

Really? Is it the standard edition of his book, which contains a mere half column in the first chapter to Islamic embryology, and only states (without a hint of a reference) that the Qur'an infers that the six day zygote is deposited in the uterus? Or is it the "Developing Human - with Islamic Additions", which had such a limited circulation that not even the publishers seemed to be aware of its existence when I asked them about it?

He has concluded that the modern classification of embryonic development stages, which is adopted throughout the world, is not easy or comprehensive. It does not contribute to the understanding of the embryonic stages of development because those stages are on a numerical basis, that is, stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, etc. The divisions that have been revealed in the Qur'an do not depend on a numerical system. Rather they are based on the distinct and easily identifiable forms or shapes which the embryo passes through.

Well, it is interesting, if that is the case, that the Qur'an only mentions two stages of human development (after sperm has been disregarded). In the front cover of his textbook "The Developing Human" Prof. Moore lists no fewer than 17 stages in the first 42 days. Why then does the Qur'an only "descibe" two of these stages, if indeed it is even describing any of them?

The Qur'an identifies the stages of pre-natal development as follows: Nutfah, which means "a drop" or "small amount of water"; `alaqah which means a "leech-like structure"; mudghah, which means a "chewed-like structure"; `idhaam, which means "bones" or "skeletons"; kisaa ul idham bil-laham, which means the clothing of bones with flesh or muscle, and al-nash'a which means "the formation of distinct fetus". Professor Moore has recognized that these Qur'anic divisions are actually based on the different phases of pre-natal development. He has noted that these divisions provide elegant scientific descriptions that are comprehensible and practical.

In Professor Moore's textbook however we read that bone and muscle develop simultaneously out of the same mesodermal tissue from days 20 to 23! (Keith L. Moore (Saunders, 1982), The Developing Human, 3rd edition with Islamic Additions, pp. 56, 63, chapters 15 and 16) Why doesn't Dr Moore attempt to explain this discrepancy between his book and the Qur'an?

Because the staging of human embryo is complex, owing to the continuous process of change during development, it is proposed that a new system of classification could be developed using the terms mentioned in the Qur'an and Sunnah. The proposed system is simple, comprehensive, and conforms with present embryological knowledge.

This is deeply worrying. Everything that we learned in our embryology classes at medical school is now useless! According to the Qur'an, our embryogeny includes:

Days 1 - 40 : (nutfah) we are nothing more than semen;

Days 41-80 : (alaqa) we are a blood clot;

Days 81 - 120 : (mugadh) we are a piece of "chewed flesh" (lit. "a morsel of flesh").

Gender, according to Sahih Muslim Book 32, Number 6392, is determined between days 40 and 50, not at conception!

Why doesn't Professor Moore revise his book based on what he believes to be the "truth" from the Qur'an? Clearly, modern science CANNOT accept the "embryology" of the Qur'an!

In one of the conferences he attended, Professor Moore stated the following: The embryo develops in the mother's womb or uterus protected by three veils, or layers, as shown in this next slide. (A) represents the anterior abdominal wall, (B) the uterine wall, and the (C) the amniochorionic membrane.

The anatomical features described here are something that is observable. Long before Muhammad, the Greek physician Hippocrates dissected pregnant dogs and described how the puppies were sitting in the amniotic sac inside the uterus. (Hippocratic Writings (Penguin Classics, 1983), p. 345)

The intensive studies of the Qur'an and Ahadeeth in the last four years have revealed a system of classifying human embryos that is amazing since it was recorded in the seventh century A.D. Although Aristotle, the founder of the science of embryology, realized that chick embryos developed in stages from his studies of hens' eggs in the fourth century B.C., he did not give any details about these stages. As far as it is known from the history of embryology, little was known about staging and classification of human embryos until the twentieth century. For this reason, the descriptions of the human embryo in the Qur'an cannot be based on scientific knowledge in the seventh century. The only reasonable conclusion is that these descriptions were revealed to Muhammad from Allah. He could not have known such details because he was an unlettered man with absolutely no scientific training.

With apologies for the repetition, Galen formulated his theory of four stages of development in AD 150, long before Muhammad. His stages, which are very similar to what Muhammad tells us in the Qur'an, were:

  1. Geniture - an unformed white conceptus like semen (similar to nutfah)
  2. A bloody vascularised foetus with brain, liver and heart (similar to alaqa)
  3. Other features were mapped out but unformed (similar to mudghah)
  4. Puer - all the organs were well formed and joints were freely moveable

  5. (Source: A. W. Meyer (Stanford, 1939) The Rise of Embryology, p. 27)

Some Muslim scholars agree. In his book Sex and Society in Islam Basim Musallam 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, for Arabic science employed the same Qur'anic terms to describe the Galenic stages." (B. Musallam (Cambridge, 1983), Sex and Society in Islam, p. 54)

Professor Moore said that he has inserted the appropriate references at the appropriate places in a specialized scientific book. However, he would invite us to make some Islamic additions, citing all the relevant Qur'anic verses and the prophetic ahadeeth, and highlighting their various miraculous aspects, to be incorporated at appropriate places in the book. This was done, and consequently, Professor Moore wrote an introduction to these Islamic additions and the result was this one which you see here before you. On each page that includes facts about the science of embryology, we have cited the Qur'anic verses and Prophetic Ahadeeth which prove the inimitability of the Qur'an and Sunnah. What we are witnessing today is Islam moving to new grounds within fair and unbiased human minds.

I have to question Dr Moore's concern for the truth. We have seen that Professor Moore's book "The Developing Human", 3rd edition, has two different editions: the "Standard" edition which is used in the West, and the "Islamic" edition which is used in some foreign schools. Comparing the two editions, it does not seem that Dr. Moore is sufficiently convinced by the scientific "facts" in the Qu'ran to risk his reputation as a leading scientist. The Islamic edition (also in the 3rd edition) of his textbook is not even available in the British Library or the US Library of Congress, let alone medical libraries in Western countries, presumably because he is aware that not only do the Islamic contributions to it contradict known science, but they also contradict what he himself has written in the standard version of his textbook. Perhaps Dr. Moore's desire to sell his textbooks overseas is greater than his desire to seek the scientific truth?

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