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What is the Origin of Man?

by Dr. Maurice Bucaille

 

Chapter 4: The Origin, Transformations and Reproduction of Man according to the Qur'an

Preliminary Notions of the Qur'anic Text, Its History and Contents

Those unaware of the position occupied by the Qur'an as compared with the Bible, or who remain ignorant of the circumstances in which the Qur'an was communicated to man will no doubt be astonished to find so much space devoted in this study to the Qur'anic text. Their amazement may be explained by the fact that most people in the West have been brought up on misconceptions concerning Islam and the Qur'an; for a large part of my life, I myself was one such person. Let me cite one or two specific examples to indicate the kind of inaccurate ideas generally current.

As I grew up, .I was always taught that `Mahomet' was the author of the Qur'an; I remember seeing French translations bearing this information. I was invariably told that the `author of the Qur'an' simply compiled, in a slightly different form, stories of sacred history taken from the Bible; the `author' was said to have added or removed certain passages, while setting forth the principles and rules of the religion he himself had founded. There are moreover Islamic scholars today in France whose duties include teaching and who express exactly these views, although perhaps in a more subtle form.

This description of the origins of the Qur'anic text, which is so out of touch with reality, might lead one immediately to assume that if there are scientific errors in the Bible, and then there must also be errors of this kind in the Qur'an! This is the natural conclusion to be drawn in such circumstances, but it is based on a misconception. We are well aware that at the time of Muhammad the Qur'anic Revelation took place between 610 and 632 A.D. scientific obscurantism prevailed, both in the Orient as well as in the West. In France, for example, this period corresponded roughly to the reign of King Dagobert, the last of the Merovingians. This approach to what was supposedly the Qur'anic text may on first sight seem logical, but when one examines the text with an informed and impartial eye, it becomes clear that this approach is not at all in keeping with reality. We shall see in a moment the truth of this statement, which is obvious from the texts.

Whenever there is textual proof of the existence in the Qur'an of statements that are in agreement with modern knowledge, but which in the Bible are related in a manner that is scientifically unacceptable, the stock response is that, during the period separating the two Scriptures, Arab scientists made discoveries in various disciplines which enabled them to arrive at these supposed adaptations. This approach takes no account whatsoever of the history of the sciences. The latter indicates that the great period of Islamic civilization, during which, as we know, science made considerable progress, came several centuries after the communication of the Qur'an to man. Furthermore, scientific history informs us that, as far as the subjects dealt with in this present book are concerned, no discoveries were made during the period separating the Bible from the Qur'an.

When this aspect of the Qur'an is mentioned in the West, however, we are likely to hear it said that while this may indeed be so, nowhere is this fact referred to in 'the translations of the Qur'an which we possess today, or in the prefaces and commentaries that accompany them.

This is a very judicious remark. Muslim and indeed non-Muslim translators who have produced a French version of the Qur'an are basically men of letters. More often than not, they mistranslate a passage because they do not possess the scientific knowledge required to understand its true meaning. The fact is, however, that in order to translate correctly, one must first understand what one is reading. A further point is that translators especially those mentioned above may have been influenced by notes provided by ancient commentators to explain the text. By force of tradition, such commentators often came to be regarded as highly authoritative, even though they had no scientific knowledge nor indeed had anybody else at the time. They were incapable of imagining that the texts might contain allusions to secular knowledge, and thus they could not devote attention to a specific passage by comparing it to other verses in the Qur'an dealing with the same subject a process that often provides the key to the meaning of a word or expression. From this results the fact that any passage in the Qur'an that gives rise to a comparison with modern secular knowledge is likely to be unreliably translated. Very often, the translations are peppered with inaccurate if not totally nonsensical statements. The only way to avoid committing such errors is to possess a scientific background and to study the Qur'anic text in the original language.

It was not until I had learnt Arabic and read the Qur'an in the original that I realized the precise meaning of certain verses. Only then did I make certain discoveries that were astounding. With my basic ideas on the Qur'an, which to begin with were inaccurate, just as those of most people in the West, I certainly did not expect to find in the text the statements that I in fact uncovered. With each new discovery, .l was beset with doubt lest I might be mistaken in my translation or perhaps have provided an interpretation rather than a true rendering of the Arabic text. Only after consultations with several specialists in linguistics and exegesis, both Muslim and non Muslim, was I convinced that a new concept might be formed from such a study: the compatibility between the statements in the Qur'an and the firmly established data of modern science with regard to subjects on which nobody at the time of Muhammad not even the Prophet himself could have had access to the knowledge we possess today. Since then, I have not found in the Qur'an any support given to the myths or superstitions present at the time the text was communicated to man. This is not the case for the Bible, whose authors expressed themselves in the language of their period.

In `La Bible,, le Coran et la Science' [The Bible, the Qur'an and Science], which first appeared in the original French in 1976 and which subsequently appeared in English in 1978, I set forth the main points of these findings. On November 9, 1976, I gave a lecture to the Academic de Medecine [French Academy of Medicine] in, which I explored the statements on the origins of man contained in the Qur'an; the title of the lecture was `Donnees physiologiques et embryologiques du Coran' [Physiological and Embryological Data in the Qur'an] [Published in <Bulletin de l'Academie Nationale de Medecine>, 160, 734-737, 1976]. I emphasized the fact that these data, which I shall summarize below, formed part of a much wider study. The following are some of the points, which arise from a reading of the Qur'an:

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A concept of the creation of the world which while different from the ideas contained in the Bible, is fully in keeping with today's general theories on the formation of the universe;
 

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Statements that are in perfect agreement with today's ideas concerning the movements and evolution of the heavenly bodies;
 

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A prediction of the conquest of space; notions concerning the water cycle in nature and the earth's relief, which were not proven correct until many centuries later.

All of these data are bound to amaze anyone who approaches them in an objective spirit. They add a much wider dimension to the problem studied in the present work. The basic point remains the same, however: we must surely be in the presence of facts which place a heavy strain on our natural propensity for explaining everything in materialistic terms, for the existence in the Qur'an of these scientific statements appears as a challenge to human explanation.

On the subject of man, as well as the other topics mentioned earlier, it is not possible to find any corresponding data in the Bible. Furthermore, the scientific errors contained in the Bible such as those describing man's first appearance on earth, which, as we have seen may be deduced from the genealogies that figure in Genesisare not to be found in the Qur'an. It is crucial to understand that such errors could not have been `edited out' of the Qur'an since the time they first became apparent: Well over a thousand years have elapsed since the most ancient manuscripts and today's texts of the Qur'an, but the texts are still absolutely identical. Thus, if Muhammad were the author of the Qur'an (a theory upheld by some people), it is difficult to see how he could have spotted the scientific errors in the Bible dealing with such a wide variety of subjects and have proceeded to eliminate every single one of them when he came to compose his own text on the same themes. Let us state once again; that no new scientific facts had been discovered since the time the Bible was written that might have helped eliminate such errors.

In view of the above, it is imperative to know the history of the texts, just as it is essential to our understanding of certain aspects of the Bible for us to be aware of the conditions in which it was written.

As we have noted earlier, experts in Biblical exegesis consider the books of the Old and New Testaments to be divinely inspired works. Let us now examine, however, the teachings of Muslim exegetes, who present the Qur'an in quite a different fashion.

When Muhammad was roughly forty years old, it was his custom to retire to a retreat just outside Mecca in order to meditate. It was here that he received a first, message from God via the Angel Gabriel, at a date that corresponds to 610 A.D. After a long period of silence, this first message was followed by successive revelations spread over some twenty years. During the Prophet's lifetime, they were both written down and recited by heart among his first followers. Similarly, the revelations were divided into suras (chapters) and collected together after the Prophet's death (in 632 A.D.) in a book: the Qur'an. The Book contains the Word of God, to the exclusion of any human additions. Manuscripts dating from the first century of Islam authenticate today's text, the other form of authentification being the recitation by heart of the Qur'an, a practice that has continued unbroken from the time of the Prophet down to the present day.

In contrast to the Bible, therefore, we are here presented with a text that is none other than the transcript of the Revelation itself; the only way it can be received and interpreted is literally. The purity of the revealed text has been greatly emphasized, and the uncorrupted nature of the Qur'an stems from the following factors

First, as stated above, fragments of the text were written down during the Prophet's lifetime; inscribed on tablets, parchments and other materials current at the time. The Qur'an itself refers to the fact that the text was set down in writing. W e find this in several suras dating from before and after the Hegira (Muhammad's departure from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D.) In addition to the transcription of the text, however, there was also the fact that it was learned by heart. The text of the Qur'an is much shorter than the Old Testament and slightly longer than the New Testament. Since it took twenty years for the Qur'an to be revealed, however, it was easy for the Prophet's followers to recite it by heart, sura by sura. This process of recitation afforded a considerable advantage as far as an uncorrupted text was concerned, for it provided. .a system of double checking at the time the definitive text was written down. This took place several years after the Prophet's death; first under the caliphate of Abu Bakr, his first successor, and later under the caliphate of Omar and in particular that of Uthman (644 to 655 A.D.) The latter ordered an extremely strict recension of the text, which involved checking it against the recited version.

After Muhammad's death, Islam rapidly expanded far beyond the limits of the area in which it was born. Soon, it included many peoples whose native language was not Arabic. Very strict steps were taken to ensure that the text of the Qur'an did not suffer from this expansion of Islam: Uthman sent copies of his entire recension to the principal centres of the vast Islamic empire. Some copies still exist today, in more or less complete form, in such places as Tashkent (U.S.S.R.) and Istanbul. Copies have also been discovered that date from the very first centuries after the Hegira; they are all identical, and all of them correspond to the earliest manuscripts. Today's editions of the Qur'an are all faithful reproductions of the original copies. In the case of the Qur'an, there are no instances of rewriting or corruptions of the text over the course of time.

If the origins of the Qur'an had been similar to those of the Bible; it would not be unreasonable to suppose that, the subjects it raised would be presented in the light of ideas influenced by certain opinions of the time, often derived from myth and superstition. If this were, the case, one might also assume that the text was full of statements reflecting varied traditions whose origins are often obscure. Furthermore, one might argue that there were untold opportunities for inaccurate assertions, based on such: sources, to find their way into the many and varied subjects briefly summarized above. In actual fact, however, we find nothing of the kind in the Qur'an.

But having said this, we should note that the Qur'an is a religious book par excellence. We should not use statements that have a bearing on secular knowledge as a pretext to go hunting after any expression of scientific laws. As stated earlier, all we should seek are reflections on natural phenomena; phrases occasioned by references to divine omnipotence and designed to emphasize that omnipotence in the eyes of mankind throughout the ages. The presence of such reflections in the Qur'an has become particularly significant in modern times, for their meaning is, clearly explained by the data of contemporary knowledge. This characteristic is specific to the Qur'an.

That does not mean to say, however, that the statements in the Qur'an especially, those concerning man may all of them be examined in the light of the findings of modern science. The creation of man as described in both the Bible and the Qur'an totally eludes scientific investigation of the event per se. Similarly, when the New Testament or the Qur'an informs us, that 'Jesus was not born of a father, in the biological sense of the term, we, cannot counter this Scriptural statement by saying that there is no example in the human species of an individual having been 'formed without receiving the paternal chromosomes that make up one half of its genetic inheritance: Science does not explain miracles; for by definition, miracles are inexplicable. Thus, when we read in both the Qur'an and the Bible that man was moulded from the ground, we are in fact learning a fundamental religious principle: Man returns from whence he came, for from the place where he is buried, he will rise again on the Day of Judgement.

Side by side with the main religious aspect of such reflections on mart, we find in the Qur'an statements on man tat refer to strictly material facts. They are quite amazing when one approaches them for the first time. For example, the Qur'an describes the origins of life in general and devotes a great deal of space to the morphological transformations undergone by man, repeatedly emphasizing the fact that God fashioned him as he willed. We likewise discover statements on human reproduction that are expressed in precise terms that lend themselves to comparison with the secular knowledge we today possess on the subject.

The many statements in the Qur'an that may thus be compared with modern knowledge are by no means easy to find. In preparing the study published in 1976, I was unable to draw on any previous works known in the West, for there were none. All I could refer to were a few works in Arabic dealing with themes treated in the Qur'an that were of interest to men of science there was, however, no overall study. Over and above this, research of this kind requires scientific knowledge covering many different disciplines. It is not easy, however, for Islamologists to acquire such knowledge, for they possess a mainly literary background. Indeed, such questions hardly seem to occupy a place in the field of classic Islamology, at least as far as the West is concerned. Only a scientist, thoroughly acquainted with Arabic literature, can draw comparisons between the Qur'anic text for which he must be able to read Arabic and the data supplied by modern knowledge.

There is another reason why such statements are not immediately apparent: Verses bearing on a single theme are scattered throughout the Qur'an. The Book is indeed a juxtaposition of reflections on a wide variety of subjects referred to one after the other and taken up again later on, often several times over. The data on a precise theme must therefore be collected from all over. the Book and brought together under a single heading. This requires many hours' work tracking down verses, in spite of the existence of thematic indexes provided by various translators, for such lists may perhaps be incomplete and indeed, in many cases, they often are.

In the present study, I have based my observations on facts and have presented the logical deductions necessarily to be drawn from them. This means that if I had not carried out this research, sooner or later, others would have performed it in my place. The study represents an innovation in the examination of a Holy Scripture, especially as far as readers in the West are concerned. Indeed, the latter are accustomed to separating texts which, when they approach them for the first time, seem to deal more with faith any faith than with reason; in their eyes, a study of the texts does not immediately suggest the need to refer to scientific data. As we have already seen in the case of the Bible, however, scientific data can indeed be included in an analysis of the text; the reader will quickly realize that. a textual examination of the Qur'an requires even greater recourse to scientific evidence. The reason for this is the large number of comparisons which must be made; for in this context, the Qur'an contains a wealth of statements, even on the subject of man, a topic that is fairly limited compared to the wide range of other themes dealt with in the Qur'an.

 

The Origin and Perpetuation of Life

One of the original features of the Qur'an that distinguishes it from the Bible is that, as mentioned above, in order to illustrate the repeated affirmations of divine omnipotence, the Book refers to a multitude of natural phenomena. In the case of a large number of these phenomena, it also provides a detailed description of the way they evolved, their causes and their effects; all of these details are worthy of attention. The statements on man contained in the Qur'an were among those, which struck me the most when I read the Book of the first time in the original Arabic. Only the original can cast light on the real meaning of statements, which are so often mistranslated, owing to the reasons cited above.

What makes these findings so important is that they refer to many notions which were not current at the time the Qur'an was communicated 'to man and which fourteen centuries later are evidently in perfect harmony with modern knowledge. In this context, there is absolutely no deed to look for the kind of bogus explanations that tend to crop up in certain publications, and even in histories of medicine, in which Muhammad is claimed to possess medical skills (just as the Qur'an is also said to contain medical `recipes, an idea that is totally inaccurate). [All the Qur'an contains are certain dictates concerning hygiene and dietary habits: personal cleanliness, dietary interdicts such as the prohibition of alcohol; a dictate such as the fast of Ramadhan also forms an obvious part of these rules. The mention of honey in the Qur'an does not include any indication of specific cases in which honey might prove beneficial to human health.]

The Origins of Life

The Qur'an provides a clear cut answer to the question: At what point did life begin? In this section, I shall set forth the verses of the Qur'an in which it is stated that the origins of life are aquatic. The first verse also refers to the formation of the universe:

-Sura 21, verse 30: - Transliteration

30 'a- wa- lam yara 'alladhena kafaro 'anna as- samaawaat wa- al- 'ard. kaanataa ratq(an) fa- fataqnaa -humaa wa- jacalnaa min al- maa' kull shay' h.ayy 'a- fa- laa yu'minon

"Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of water. Will they then not believe?"

The notion of `getting something out of something else' does not give rise to any doubts. The phrase can equally mean that every living thing was made of water (as its essential component) or that every living thing originated in water. The two possible meanings are strictly in accordance with scientific data. Life is in fact of aquatic origin, and water is the major component of all living cells. Without water, life is not possible. When the possibility of life on another planet is discussed, the first question is always: Is there a sufficient quantity of water to support life?

Modern data lead us to think that the oldest living beings probably belonged to the vegetable kingdom: Algae have been found that date from the pre Cambrian period, the time of the oldest known lands. Organisms belonging to the animal kingdom probably appeared slightly later: They too came from the sea.

The word translated here as `water' is in fact ma' [Readers requiring further information on the transliteration of the Arabic into Latin characters are advised to consult the chart that appears in The Bible, the Qur'an and Science (French Edition)], which means both water in the sky and water in the sea, or any kind of liquid. In the first meaning, water is the element necessary to all vegetal life:

- Sura 20, verse 53: - Transliteration

Wa-anzala mina-samaa-ee maa-an fa-akhrajna bihi azwajaa min-nabaatin shatta

"[God is the One who] sent water down from the sky and thereby We [This change in the grammatical structure of the phrase is a common feature in the Qur'an. God is first referred to indirectly, then the text relates His direct Words, for 'We' obviously means God.] brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other."

This is the first reference to a 'Pair' of vegetals; we shall have cause to return to this notion later.

In the second meaning, which refers to any kind of liquid, the word is used in its indeterminate form to designate the substance at the basis of the formation of all animal life:

- Sura 24, verse 45: Transliteration

Wa-Allahu khalaka kul-la daa-b-bati-m-ma-a-ee

"God created every animal from water."

As we shall see later on, the word may also be applied to seminal liquid [Secreted by the reproductive glands, seminal liquid contains the spermatozoa].

Thus the statements in the Qur'an on the origins of life, whether referring to life.in general, the element that gives birth to the plants in the soil, or the seed of animals, are all strictly in accordance with modern scientific data. None of the myths on the origins of life that abounded at the time the Qur'an was communicated to man are mentioned in the text.

The Perpetuation of Life

The Qur'an refers to many aspects of life in the animal and vegetable kingdoms. I have already described them in my previous work, published in 1976 (English edition 1978). In the present study, I should like to focus on the space given in the Qur'an to the theme of the perpetuation of life.

Generally speaking, the commentaries devoted to reproduction in the vegetable kingdom are, longer than those referring to animal reproduction; when it comes to human reproduction, however, there are many statements dealing with this theme, as we shall see.

It has been established that there are two methods of reproduction in the vegetable kingdom: sexual and asexual (for example, the multiplication of spores, or the process of taking cuttings, which is a special case of growth). It is noteworthy that the Qur'an refers to male and female parts of the vegecals

- Sura 20, verse 53: - Transliteration

Wa-anzala mina-samaa-ee maa-an fa-akhrajna bihi azwajaa min-nabaatin shatta

"[God is the One who] sent water down from the sky and thereby We brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other."

`One of a pair' is the translation of zawj (plural azwa'j) whose original meaning is that which, in the company of another, forms a pair.' The word may just as readily be applied to a married couple as to a pair of shoes.

-Sura 13, verse 3: - Transliteration

Wamin kul-li as-samarati ja-ala fiha zaw jayni asnayni

"Of all fruits [God] placed [on earth] two of a pair."

This statement implies the existence of male and female organs in all the various species of fruit. It is in perfect agreement with the data discovered at a much later period concerning the formation of fruit, for every type comes from vegetals possessing sexual organs (even if certain varieties, such as the banana, originate from non fertilized flowers).

By and large, sexual reproduction in the animal kingdom is given only brief treatment in the Qur'an. The exception to this is man, for as we shall see in the following chapter, the statements on this subject are numerous and detailed.

 

The Origin of Man and Transformations of the Human form over the Ages

Some of the verses of the Qur'an, which are to follow, do not contain anything but a deeply spiritual meaning. Others, it would seem to me, refer to transformations that appear to indicate changes in human morphology. The latter describe phenomena of a totally material kind, which occurred in different phases but always in the proper order. The supreme intervention of divine will is mentioned several times in these verses. It is seen to direct the transformations, which occur during a process that can only be described as an `evolution'. Here, the word is used to mean a series of modifications whose purpose is to arrive at a definitive form. Furthermore,. the accent is laid on the idea that God's omnipotence is manifest in the fact that He annihilated human populations to make way for new ones: These seem to me to constitute the main themes that arise from the collection of Qur'anic verses brought together in this chapter.

There can be no doubt that ancient commentators could not possibly have conceived of the idea that the human form might be transformed. They were willing, however, to admit that changes could indeed take place, and they acknowledged the existence of stages in the course of embryonic development a phenomenon commonly observed in all periods of history. It is only in our, own day, however, that modern knowledge allows us fully to understand the meaning of the verses in the Qur'an which refer to the successive phases of embryonic development within the uterus.

Indeed, we may today wonder whether the references in the Qur'an to the successive stages of human development may not, in some verses at least, go beyond mere embryonic growth to include the transformations of human morphology which took place over the ages: The existence of such changes has been formally proven by palaeontology, and the evidence is so overwhelming that it is pointless to question it.

The earliest commentators of the Qur'an could have no inkling of the discoveries that would be made centuries later. They could only view these particular verses in the context of the development of the embryo. There was no alternative at the time.

Then came the Darwinian `bombshell' which through the overt twisting of Darwin's theory by his early followers extrapolated the notion of an evolution that might be applied to man; even though the amplitude of the evolution had not yet been demonstrated in the animal's. In; Darwin's day, the theory was pushed to extremes, with researchers claiming to have proof that man was descended from the apes an idea that, even today, no respectable palaeontologist is able to demonstrate. There is obviously a very wide gap, however, between the concept of man's descent from the apes (a theory that is totally untenable), and the idea of transformations of the human form in the course of time (which has been fully proven). The confusion between the two reaches its height when they are merged together with very flimsy arguments under the banner of the word EVOLUTION. This unfortunate confusion has caused certain people wrongly to imagine that since the word is used in reference to man, it must mean that, ipso facto, man's origin may be traced to the apes.

It is crucial to be quite clear about the distinction between the two, otherwise there is a risk of misunderstanding the meaning to be ascribed to certain verses of the Qur'an that I am about to quote. There is not the slightest hint, in these verses, of evidence to support a materialistic theory of the origin of man that justifiably shocks Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

 

The Profound Spiritual Meaning of the Creation of Man from the Earth

As the following two verses indicate, man is presented in the Qur'an as a being that is intimately linked with the earth:

-Sura 71, verses 17 and 18 Transliteration: -

17 wa- 'allaah anbata -kum min al- 'ard. nabaat(an)

18 thumma yuced -kum fe -haa wa- yukhrij -kum ikhraaj(an)

"God has caused you to grow as a growth from the earth, and afterwards, He will make you return there, He will bring you forth again, a [new] forth bringing."

-Sura 20, verse 55: - Transliteration: -

The preceding verse mentioned the earth:

55 min -haa khalaqnaa -kum wa- fe -haa nuced -kum wa- min -haa nukhrij -kum taarah 'ukhraa

"From [the earth] We ['We' refers to God] fashioned you and into it We shall make you return and from it We shall bring you forth another time."

The spiritual aspect of man's provenance from the earth is emphasized by the fact that we shall return to the earth after death and also by the idea that God will bring us forth again on the Day of Judgement. As we have already seen, the Bible stresses this same spiritual meaning.

With regard to the above translation of Reference no 2, I should like to point out to my Arabic speaking and Arabist readers that in the West, the Arabic word khalaqa is usually translated by the verb `to create'. It is important to realize, however, that, as indicated in the excellent dictionary compiled by Kasimirski, the original meaning of the word was `to give a proportion to a thing, or to make it of a certain proportion or quantity'. For God (alone), the translation has been simplified by the use of the word `to create', i.e. to bring, into existence a thing, which did not formerly exist. In so doing, those who exclusively use the term `to create' refer only to the action; they fail to translate the idea of `proportion', which accompanies it. A more accurate rendering would perhaps be the verb `to fashion' or `to form in due proportion'. This would bring us nearer to the original meaning of the Arabic word. That is why I have opted to use the verb `to fashion' in most of my translations; with the implied sense of the primitive Arabic meaning.

 

The Components of the Ground and the formation of Man

The primary spiritual meaning of man's origin from the ground does not rule out the notion, which is present in the Qur'an, of what we would today call the chemical `components' of the human body, which are to be found in the ground [By 'components' or 'elements' (terms which are used to make the text easier to read), I am referring to matter which can be extracted from the ground and which does not decompose, i.e. the various atomic components which constitute molecules; all the elements which form part of the human body are present in lesser or greater quantities in the ground.]. In order to convey this notion nowadays acknowledged as scientifically accurate to the men alive when the Qur'an was revealed, terminology had to be used that was in keeping with the state of knowledge at the time. Man was formed from components contained in the ground. This idea emerges very clearly from numerous verses in which the formative elements are indicated by a variety of names

-Sura 11, verse 61: - Transliteration:

61 huwa ansha'a -kum min al- 'ard

"He [God] caused you to grow from the earth."

The idea of the earth (ard in Arabic) is reiterated in Sura 53, verse 32.

- Sura 22, verse 5 (In which God is speaking to man) Transliteration:

5 Faeen-naa khalaknaakum-min turaabin

"We fashioned you from soil."

Man's provenance from soil (turdb in Arabic) is repeated in sura 18, verse 37; sura 30, verse 20; sura 35, verse 11 and sura 40, verse 67.

-Sura 6, verse 2 Transliteration:

2 Huwal-lazi khalakakum min tyni

"[God] is the One who fashioned you from clay."

Clay (Tiyn in Arabic) is used in several verses to define the components from which man was constituted.

- Sura 32, verse 7 Transliteration:

7 Wabada-a khalaka-al-laee-n-nasani min tyni

"[God] began the creation of man from clay."

It is important to note at this point that the: Qur'an refers to the `beginning' of a creation from clay: This obviously implies that another stage is to follow.

- Sura 37, verse 11: Although it does not seem to provide any new data for the present study, the following quotation is given for the sake of completeness. The reference in the verse is to men. Transliteration:

In-na khalaknaa-hum min tyni-l-azibi

"We fashioned them from a sticky clay."

- Sura 55, verse 14 Transliteration:

Khalaka-linsana min sal-lasal-lin ka-l-fakh-khari

"[God] fashioned man from a clay, like pottery."

The image suggests that man was `modelled', as indicated in the verse that is to follow. We shall also find the idea of the `moulding' of man, the subject of the next sub section.

- Sura 15, verse 26 Transliteration:

Walakadan khalaknaa-laee nasaana min sulaalati-min tynin

"We have fashioned man from clay, from moulded mud."

The same idea is repeated in sura 15, verses 28-33.

- Sura 23, verse 12 Transliteration:

Walakadan khalaknaa-l insane min sulaalatin min tynin

"We fashioned man from the quintessence of a clay."

I have used the word `quintessence' to translate the Arabic term sulatat, which means `one thing extracted from another thing'. As we shall see later, the word appears in another passage of the Qur'an in which it is stated that man's descent derives from.that which is extracted from spermatic liquid; (it is known today that the active component of spermatic liquid is a unicellular organism called a `spermatozoon').

I imagine that the `quintessence of a clay' must refer to the various chemical components which constitute clay, extracted from water, which in terms of weight is its main element.

Water, which in the Qur'an is considered to be at the origin of all life, is mentioned as the essential element in the following verse.

- Sura 25, verse 54 Transliteration:

Wahuwal-lazi khalaka minalmaaee basharan fajaalahu nasaban wasihra

"[God] is the One . who fashioned a man from water and established relationship of lineage [by men] and kinship by women."

As elsewhere in the Qur'an, the `man' referred to is Adam.

Several verses allude to the creation of woman:

-Sura 4, verse 1 Transliteration:

Khalakaum-min nafsin wahidatin wakhalaka minha zavjahaa

"[God] is the One who fashioned you from a single person and from that [person] created his wife"

This verse is repeated in sura 7, verse 189 and sura 39, verse 6. The same subject is referred to in more or less the same terms in sura 30, verse 21 and sura 42, verse 11.

There can be no doubt that in these twelve references, much space is devoted to symbolical reflections on man's origins, including a clear indication of what will happen to him after his death, and containing allusions to the fact that man will return to earth in order to be brought forth again on the Day of Judgement. There would also seem, however, to be a reference to the chemical composition of the human body.

The Transformations of Man Over the Ages

In contrast to the above, the commentary suggested by the verses of the Qu'ran, which I shall quote below bears mainly on material notions. We are indeed in the presence here of genuine morphological transformations which take place in a harmonious and balanced fashion due to an organization, that is strictly planned, for the phenomena occur in successive phases. Thus the will of God, who rules eternally over the fate of human communities, is made manifest in all its power and splendour through these events.

The Qu'ran first speaks of a `creation'; but it goes on to describe a second stage in which God gave form to man. There can be no doubt that the creation and morphological organizations of man are seen as successive events.

-Sura 7, verse 11 in which God is speaking to man Transliteration:

Walakadan khalaknaakum sum-ma sawarnakum sum-ma kulnaa lilmala-ikati

"We created you and thereupon We gave you form; thereupon, We told the angels: Bow down to Adam."

Hence it is possible to discern three successive events, the first two of which are important to our study: God created man and thereupon gave him a form (Sawwara, in Arabic).

Elsewhere, it is stated that man's form will be harmonious:

- Sura 15, verses 28-29 Transliteration:

28 wa- 'idh qaala rabb -ka li- al- malaa'ikah 'inni -y khaaliq bashar(an) min s.als.aal min h.ama' masnon

29 fa- 'idhaa sawwaytu -hu wa- nafakhtu fe -hi min roh. -e fa- qaco la- -hu saajiden

"When thy Lord said to the angels: I am going to fashion a man from clay, from moulded mud; when I have harmoniously fashioned him and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down, prostrating yourself unto him."

The phrase `to fashion harmoniously' (sawway, in Arabic) is repeated in sura 38, verse 72.

Another verse describes how man's harmonious form is obtained through the presence of equilibrium and complexity of structure (the verb rakkaba in Arabic means `to make a thing from components):

-Sura 82, verses 7-8: - Transliteration:

7 'alladhe khalaqa -ka fa- sawwaa -ka fa- cadala -ka

8 fe 'ayy s.orah maa shaa'a rakkaba -ka

"[God] is the One. who created you, then fashioned you harmoniously and in due proportion; into whatsoever form He willed, He made you out of components."

Man was created in whatsoever form God willed. This is an extremely important point

-Sura 95, verse 4 in which God is speaking: - Transliteration:

4 la- qad khalaqnaa al- 'insaan fe ah.san taqwem

"We fashioned man according to the best organizational plan."

The Arabic word taqwiym means `to organize something in a planned way', implying therefore an order of progress that has been strictly defined in advance. It so happens that specialists in evolution, when describing the transformations that occur over the course of time, use that very expression: the organizational plan is surely very evident .from scientific studies of the subject.

In sura 95, from which the above verse is taken, the context is the creation of man in general with reference to the fact that once man has thus been given organized form by divine will, he sinks to a wretched condition (implying decrepitude in old age). The sura doesnot make any mention whatsoever of embryonic development; it simply describes the creation of human beings in general. In terms of structure, the organizational plan obviously refers to the human species as a whole.

-Sura 71, verse 14: - Transliteration: -

The interpretation I have given to this verse reflects the importance of context as a means of suggesting what a particular word may refer to:

14 wa- qad khalaqa -kum at.waar(an)

"[God] fashioned you in stages [or phases]."

The Arabic word translated here by `stages' or `phases' is aTwar (singular Tawr). This is the only verse in the Qur'an in which the word occurs in the plural. It is not possible to search elsewhere in the text to ascertain whether these `phases' or `stages' which quite obviously refer to man concern man's development in the uterus (which is what the earliest commentators thought, and what I myself supposed to be the case in my previous book), or whether they allude to the transformations that the human species has undergone in the course of time. It is a point worth pondering.

To arrive at an answer, it goes without saying that we must first take account of the subject as described in the Qur'an. Thus we note that sura 71, from which the above verse is taken, deals principally with signs of divine omnipotence and the power of God the Creator in general. The passage in the Qur'an which includes verse 14 (a passage that refers to Noah's sermon to his people) essentially dwells on God's mercy, His generosity in endowing man with His gifts, and His omnipotence in creating man, the heavens, the sun and the moon, and the earth. On the subject of the Creation, the Qur'an mentions the spiritual aspect of the creation of man from the earth.

At no point whatsoever in sura 71 is there mention of the development of the unborn infant, a feature which traditional commentators of long ago thought was suggested by the word `phases'. Although the word is not used anywhere else in the text, the Qur'an undoubtedly refers in detail in many other suras to these `phases' of embryonic development (see next chapter); nevertheless, there is no reference in this particular sura. We cannot, however, rule out the possibility that the passage of the Qur'an here under discussion may indeed have added the development in `phases' of the embryo in the uterus to the other subjects mentioned above: there is nothing to indicate that it should be excluded.

In fact, the development of the individual and that of the species to which it belongs conforms to the same determining factors over the course of time; those factors are the genes which play a decisive role in the grouping of the paternal and maternal inheritance at the initial stage of reproduction. Whether we choose to link these `phases' with the development of the individual or that of the species, the concept they express remains in perfect harmony with modern scientific data on the subject.

Having said this, the verses state sufficiently clearly that the human form undergoes transformations, so that even if we removed, the general meaning would not be affected.

The following two verses refer to the replacement of one human community by another.

-Sura 76, verse 28 in which God is alluding to men: - Transliteration:

28 nah.nu khalaqnaa -hum wa- shadadnaa 'asr -hum wa- 'idhaa shi'naa baddalnaa amthaal -hum tabdel(an)

" Verily, We created them and strengthened all of them. And when We willed, We replaced them completely by people who were of the same kind."

It is highly likely that the `strengthening' mentioned in the above verse refers to man's physical constitution.

-Sura 6, verse 133: - Transliteration:

133 'in yasha' yudhhib -kum wa- yastakhlif min bacdi -kum maa yashaa' ka-maa ansha'a -kum min dhurreyah qawm 'aakharen

" If [God] wills, He destroys you and in your place appoints whom He wills as successors, just as He brought you forth from the descendants of other peoples."

These two verses emphasize the disappearance of certain human communities and .their replacement by others, according to God's will, during the course of time.

Early commentators have above all seen in these verses a punishment inflicted by God on sinful communities. In general, it was the religious aspect that was primarily stressed. The material fact is there, however, and it is clearly expressed; it consists of the disappearance of various communities (whose size is not mentioned) and the replacement, at a certain period, of a particular human community by the descendants of other peoples.

To sum up, therefore, the human groups that have existed over the course of time may have varied in their morphology, but these modifications have proceeded according to an organizational plan ordained by God; communities disappeared and were replaced by other groups: That, in so many words, is what the Qur'an has to tell us on the subject. It is futile to seek discrepancies between the Qur'an and the data of palaeontology, or with the information allowing us to conceive of a creative evolution, for there are none.

 

Human Reproduction: Its effects upon Transformations in the Species

Having reached this stage in our examination of the answers provided by the Qur'an to the question `What is the Origin of Man?' we may perhaps be inclined to think that the subject has been exhausted. After all that have learned from the verses quoted in the preceding two chapters, it would indeed seem so: But. let us remember that in the case of one of these verses, we noted how useful it would be to continue our analysis in the light of 'the data in the Qur'an concerning human reproduction.

In actual fact, the Qur'anic statements dealing with this subject have a bearing on the question of the transformations that have taken place in human morphology over the ages. The latter are indeed governed by the genetic code, formed by the union of chromosomes received from the paternal and maternal reproductive cells. The genetic inheritance thus brought together determines, first in the embryo [Before the second month of Pregnancy] and then in the foetus [After the second month of Pregnancy], the possible appearance of morphological changes as compared with the father and mother. These modifications become definitive after the child is born and during its growth in childhood. At the very least, these modifications provide the child with a structural personality, which is unique

Apart from identical twins formed from a single ovule, no one human being is exactly the same as another. At the very most it is a matter of constitutional differences, which affect the species itself. It is therefore, the combined total of changes that take place over successive generations, which ultimately determines the morphological transformations that palaeontologists have noted in various human groups from past ages.

Consequently, we must review the main points on reproduction contained in the Qur'an. I shall therefore briefly summarize the detailed study of this question that appears in The Bible the Qur'an and Science.

For us to grasp the significance of what is to follow (especially with regard to the comparison between statements contained in the Holy Scriptures and the' data of science), we must bear in mind that the text was communicated to man in the seventh century A.D. Any human work composed at that period was bound to set forth inaccurate statements: Science had not yet developed, so it was inevitable that any reference to human reproduction would be riddled with notions culled from myth and superstition. How could it be otherwise, for in order to understand the complex mechanisms involved. in this process, man had to possess a knowledge of anatomy and the use of the microscope, and the basic sciences had to be born, paving the way for physiology, embryology and obstetrics?

Reminder of Certain Notions Concerning Human Reproduction

The intention here is not to put forward theories, but to advance ideas based on facts: Theories are by nature open to change; when approached from a theoretical angle, science is always in a state of flux: What is valid today may be disproved tomorrow. A suitable basis for comparison is therefore one, which rests on scientific data that are not open to change, having been firmly established and checked through experimentation, and having possibly even been effectively put into practice.

It is an established fact that human reproduction takes place in a sequence of processes, starting with the fertilization, in the Fallopian tube, of an ovule that has detached itself from the ovary half way through the menstrual cycle. The fertilizing agent is a cell taken from the male, the spermatozoon, tens of millions of which are contained in a single cubic centimetre of sperm. All that is required to ensure fertilization, however, is a single spermatozoon, in other words, an infinitely small quantity of spermatic liquid. The seminal liquid and the spermatozoa are produced by the testicles and temporarily stored in a system of canals and reservoirs. At the moment of sexual contact, they pass from their place of storage into the urinary tract, and on the way,, the liquid is enriched with further secretions that do not, however, contain fertilizing agents. These secretions will nevertheless exercise a considerable influence on fertilization by aiding the sperm to arrive at the point where the female ovule is fertilized. Thus spermatic liquid is a mixture: It contains seminal liquid and various additional secretions.

Once the ovule has been fertilized, it descends into the uterus via the Fallopian tube; even while it is descending, however, it has already begun to divide. Then it literally `implants' itself by insertion into the thickness of the mucosa and the muscles, once the placenta has been formed.

As soon as the embryo becomes visible to the naked eye, it appears as a very tiny mass of flesh devoid of any distinctive parts. There it develops, gradually acquiring a human shape after stages during which certain parts, such as the head, are considerably larger in volume than the rest of the body; these subsequently reduce, while the basic life sustaining structures form: the skeleton, surrounded by muscles, the nervous system, the circulatory system, the viscera, etc.

Statements Contained in the Qur'an

The brief summary above outlines the basic stages of development, which in the following pages, we shall compare with the statements contained in the Qur'an. To facilitate comprehension, the points raised in the Qur'an may be listed as follows

  1. the small volume of liquid required for fertilization;
     
  2. the complexity of the fertilizing liquid;
     
  3. the implantation of the fertilized egg;
     
  4. the evolution of the embryo.

 

The Small volume of Liquid required for Fertilization

-Sura 16, verse 4: - Transliteration:

4 khalaqa al- 'insaan min nut.fah fa- 'idhaa huwa khas.em muben

"[God] fashioned man from a small quantity [of sperm]."

This phrase occurs eleven times in 'the Qur'an. The Arabic word translated here as 'a small quantity, [of sperm]' is nuTfat. This is perhaps not the most ideal rendition, but there does not appear to be any single word in English that quite captures its full meaning. The word comes from the Arabic verb signifying `to dribble, to trickle'; its primary meaning refers to the trace of liquid left in the bottom of a bucket after the latter has been emptied; in other words a very small quantity of liquid, which is the second meaning of the word: a drop of water. In this particular instance, it is a small quantity of sperm, since the word is associated with the word `sperm' (maniyy in Arabic) in the following verse: -

-Sura 75, verse 37: - Transliteration:

37 'a- lam yakun nut.fah min maney yumnaa

"Was [man] not a small quantity of sperm which has been poured out?"

It is important to realize that the Qur'an states very clearly that the fertilizing capacity of the sperm does not depend on the volume of liquid `poured out'. The idea that a tiny quantity of liquid is perfectly effective is not immediately obvious. Those ignorant of the real facts concerning these phenomena would tend, indeed, to think the exact opposite. And yet, over one thousand years before the existence of spermatozoa was discovered in the early seventeenth century, the Qur'an expresses ideas that were proven correct, due to the discovery of the identity of the fertilizing agent, measurable in units of 1 / 1,000 of a millimetre. It is precisely the spermatozoon, present in the seminal liquid, that contains the D.N.A. tape; this in turn forms the vehicle for the genes provided by the father, which unite with the genes from the mother to form the genetic inheritance of the future individual.

The genes contained in the male reproductive cell constitute in conjunction with those of the female reproductive cell the factors which are to determine the many characteristics of the future human being. As we have seen earlier in this book, once chromatic reduction has taken place, the spermatozoa are carriers of genes that contain factors which dictate that the individual is to be either a male (hemichromosome Y) or female (hemichromosome X). If, of the innumerable spermatozoa that cluster around the edge of the ovule as possible fertilizing cells, the one which actually succeeds in fertilizing it contains a Y hemichromosome, the future child will be a boy; if the spermatozoon that penetrates the ovule contains an X hemichromosome, the child will be a girl. The individual's sex is therefore genetically determined at the actual moment of fertilization by the fertilizing agent,, in an infinitely small volume, and thereafter, the child's sexual characteristics remain set. The Qur'an contains the following statement on the subject (the reference is to man): -

-Sura 80, verse 19: - Transliteration:

19 min nut.fah khalaqa -hu fa- qaddara -hu

"From a small quantity of liquid, [God] fashioned him [in due proportion] and ordained his fate."

(I have translated the world Khalaqa according to its original meaning mentioned in the preceding chapter which is `to fashion in due proportion' or `to form', in preference. to the verb `to create'.)

We must surely admit that there is in this instance a striking conformity between the statements in the Qur'an concerning a fate ordained at this stage and our knowledge of the fact that it is the genetic inheritance received from the father, which determines the sex of the individual a point that was emphasized above.

 

The Complexity of the Fertilizing Liquid

This is a very precise concept, and it is clearly expressed in the following verse of the Qur'an

-Sura 76, verse, 2, in which God is speaking: - Transliteration:

2 'in(na) -naa khalaqnaa al- 'insaan min nut.fah amshaaj nabtale -hi fa- jacalnaa -hu samec(an) bas.er(an)

"Verily, We fashioned man from a small quantity of mingled liquids."

The term 'mingled liquids' corresponds to the Arabic word amchaj. Early commentators took this word to mean a male and a female liquid [If this were the case, the laws of grammar-an aspect of the Qur'anic text that is never at fault- would dictate that the word appear in the dual form, and not in the plural as it appears here.], just as if the female produced liquids that performed a role in reproduction: This interpretation is untenable. It is simply a reflection of the ideas current at the time the Qur'an was communicated to man, a period in which, quite naturally nothing was known of female physiology or embryology. This explains why early commentators believed in the existence of a liquid originating from the female, which took part in the process of fertilization. Opinions such as these, which are expressed by commentators who are undoubtedly most eminently qualified to speak of religious questions, unfortunately continue to exercise an influence on the interpretations given by today's experts concerning subjects of a different kind, namely the natural phenomena. We must therefore insist on the fact that the ovule from the female is not contained in a liquid such as sperm, and that the various secretions which do occur in the vagina and the uterine mucosa have absolutely nothing to do with the formation of 'a new individual as far as their actual substance is concerned.

The `mingled liquids' to which the Qur'an refers are specific to spermatic liquid whose complexity is thus suggested.

As we know, this liquid is composed of secretions from the following glands : the testicles, the seminal vesicles, the prostate and the glands annexed to the urinary tract.

This is, not all the Qur'an mentions: It also informs us that the male fertilizing agent is taken from spermatic liquid:

-Sura 32, verse 8: - Transliteration:

8 thumma ja_ala nasl -hu min sulaalah min maa' mahen

"[God] made his progeny from the quintessence of a despised liquid."

The adjective 'despised' (mahiyn in Arabic) should be applied not so much to the nature of the liquid itself; as to the fact that it is emitted through the outlet of the urinary tract by way of the canal used for passing urine.

As for the word `quintessence', we are again in the presence of the Arabic word suldlat, to which we referred earlier in the discussion of the formation of man, during the Creation, from the `quintessence' of clay. It alludes to a `thing that is extracted from another thing', as we noted above, and also to the `best part of a thing'. The concept expressed here inevitably makes us think of spermatozoon.

 

The Implantation of the Egg in the Female Genital Organs

The implantation of the fertilized ovule in the uterus is mentioned in numerous verses of the Qur'an: The Arabic word used. in this context is ealaq, the exact meaning of which is `something which clings', as in the following verses:

-Sura 75, verses 37 and 38: - Transliteration:

37 'a- lam yakun nut.fah min maney yumnaa

38 thumma kaana calaqah fa- khalaqa fa- sawwaa

"Was [man] not a small quantity. of sperm which has been poured out? After that, he was something which clings; then God fashioned him in due proportion and harmoniously."

It is an established fact that the fertilized ovule is implanted in the uterine mucosa on roughly the sixth day following fertilization, and anatomically speaking, the egg is indeed something, which clings.

The idea of `clinging' expresses the original meaning of the Arabic word ealaq. One of the derived meanings of the term is `blood clot', an interpretation that we still find in today's translations of the Qur'an. This totally inaccurate rendition was first given by commentators of long ago who invented their interpretation according to the derived sense of the word. For lack of knowledge at the time, they had no way of realizing that the original meaning of the word was perfectly adequate. Besides, when it comes to verses which have a bearing on modern knowledge, there, is a general rule which has never been found wrong: The oldest, most primitive meaning of a word is always the one which most clearly suggests a comparison with scientific discoveries, while derived meanings invariably lead to statements that are either inaccurate or just plain nonsensical.

 

The Evolution of the Embryo inside the Uterus

Once it has evolved beyond the stage characterized in the Qur'an by the simple word `something which clings', the embryo, so the Qur'an tells us, goes through a phase in which it literally looks like flesh (chewed flesh). As we know, it preserves this appearance until roughly the twentieth, day, when it then begins gradually to take on a human form. Osseous. Tissue and the bones appear in the embryo, which are subsequently, enveloped by the muscles. The idea is expressed in the Qur'an as follows:

-Sura 23, verse 14, in which God is speaking: - Transliteration:

14 thumma khalaqnaa an- nut.fah calaqah fa- khalaqnaa al- calaqah mud.ghah fa- khalaqnaa al- mud.ghah ciz.aam(an) fa- kasawnaa al- ciz.aam lah.m(an) thumma ansha'naa -hu khalq(an) 'aakhar fa- tabaaraka 'allaah ah.san al- khaaliqen

"We fashioned the thing which clings into a lump of chewed flesh and We fashioned the chewed flesh into bones and We clothed the bones with intact flesh."

The two types of flesh are given different names in the Qur'an:

The first 'chewed flesh' is called muDrat, while the second - intact flesh' is designated by the word laHm which indeed describes very accurately what muscle actually looks like.

The Qur'an also mentions the emergence of the senses and the viscera:

-Sura 32, verse 9: - Transliteration:

9 wa- ja_ala la- -kum as- samc wa- al- abs.aar wa- al- af'idah

"[God] appointed for you the sense of hearing, sight and the viscera."

The allusion in the Qur'an to the sexual organs must also be recalled, for the reference is particularly: precise, as the following verses show:

-Sura 53, verses 45 and 46: - Transliteration:

45 wa- 'anna -hu khalaqa az- zawjain adh- dhakar wa- al- 'unthaa

46 min nut.fah 'idhaa tumnaa

"[God] fashioned the two of a pair, the male and the female, from a small quantity [of sperm] when it is poured out."

As we have seen above, the Qur'an stresses the fact that only a very small quantity of spermatic liquid is required for fertilization.

The male fertilizing agent, the spermatozoon, contains the hemichromosome that is to determine the sex of the future individual

The decisive moment occurs when the spermatozoon penetrates the ovule, and thereafter the sex does not change. The verses quoted above state that the sex of the individual is determined by the small quantity of fertilizing liquid. It is this liquid which carries the spermatozoon containing the hemichromosome that determines the sexual features of the new human being. In this context, the text of the Qur'an and the data of modern embryology are strikingly similar.

All these statements agree with today's firmly established facts. But how could the men living at the time of Muhammad have known so many details of embryology? For these data were not discovered until a thousand years after the Qur'anic Revelation had taken place. The history of science leads us to conclude that there can be no human explanation for the existence of these verses in the Qur'an.

The Transformations of the Human Form Over the Ages and Embryonic Development

For those who are unfamiliar with embryology and genetics, it is not immediately obvious that each and every modification, which takes place within the individual, proceeds from changes that occur in the genes given to the new individual by the chromosomes inherited from its father and mother. As stated earlier, a division takes place in each genetic inheritance, which is followed by a unification of elements taken from each half. This quickly results in the beginnings of morphological changes during pregnancy, and hence of functional modifications which appear later on; thus transformations are continued after the birth of the infant, lasting through childhood growth, until the individual reaches adulthood and the transformations are fully completed.

Unless these concepts are properly understood, errors may occur in the ideas of those who are accustomed to thinking that the verses from the Qur'an quoted in this chapter concern only the development of the infant in the uterus, to the exclusion of the individual's subsequent morphological development. That is why it is crucial to include all the verses that refer to human reproduction in our study of the parts of the Qur'anic text, which as far as I can see deal with the transformations of the human form over the ages.

To clarify the issue, I shall give an example concerning a pathological transformation consisting of a congenital deficiency that is particularly common among human malformations: The case in question is mongolism. Discoveries have shown that the trebling of a chromosome that has been given the number 21, from which the deficiency derives the name `trisomy 21', causes it. It is today known that the cause lies in genes contained in this chromosome, and that the deficiency occurs with maximum frequency when the mother of the infant is over forty years old.

The disease is characterized by an infantile physical development and intelligence and certain specific morphological features which may not be very pronounced at birth, but later become very obvious. Thus the condition is recognized more or less early according to its degree of seriousness. Whatever the case, however, its basic characteristics are acquired during the first few weeks of life.

Morphological modifications of a different kind in humans follow the same pattern. The process begins during pregnancy and gradually becomes more and more pronounced until the individual reaches adulthood. Thus, over the successive generations separating the Australopithecus from modern man (which fall into units of 10,000), it is reasonable to suppose that slight modifications took place in each generation, which gradually accumulated until they produced transformations that gave birth to man as we know him today.

It is therefore impossible, as far as the final result is concerned, to separate the slight, concordant modifications that took place with each generation in the uterus from the overall transformations that occurred over a large number of generations. This explanation is necessary to an understanding of the way in which the concept is expressed in the Qur'an, in reference to the evolution of the embryo in the uterus, according to God's will, as stated quite clearly in the Qur'an.

 

 

 

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