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Embryology of the Qur'an

A few years ago, a group of men collected all of the verses in the Qur'an which discuss embryology - the growth of the human being in the womb. They said, "Here is what the Qur'an says. Is it the truth?" In essence, they took the advice of the Qur'an: "Ask the men who know." They chose, as it happened, a non-Muslim who is a professor of embryology at the University of Toronto. His name is Keith Moore, and he is the author of textbooks on embryology - a world expert on the subject. They invited him to Riyadh and said, "This is what the Qur'an says about your subject. Is it true? What can you tell us?"

While he was in Riyadh, they gave him all the help that he needed in translation and all of the co-operation for which he asked. And he was so surprised at what he found that he changed his textbooks. In fact, in the second edition of one of his books, called Before We Are Born... in the section about the history of embryology, he included some material that was not in the first edition because of what he found in the Qur'an was ahead of its time and that those who believe in the Qur'an know what other people do not know.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Keith Moore for a television presentation, and we talked a great deal about this - it was illustrated by slides and so on. He mentioned that some of the things that the Qur'an states about the growth of the human being were not known until thirty years ago. In fact, he said that one item in particular - the Qur'an's description of the human being as a "leech-like clot" ('alaqah) at one stage (Surahs al-Hajj 22:5; al-Mu'minun 23:14; and Ghafir 40:67) - was new to him; but when he checked on it, he found that it was true, and so he added it to his book. He said, "I never thought of that before," and he went to the zoology department and asked for a picture of a leech. When he found that it looked just like the human embryo, he decided to include both pictures in one of his textbooks.

Although the aforementioned example of man researching information contained in the Qur'an deals with a non-Muslim, it is still valid because he is one of those who is knowledgeable in the subject being researched. Had some layman claimed that what the Qur'an says about embryology is true, then one would not necessarily have to accept his word. However, because of the high position, respect, and esteem man gives scholars, one naturally assumes that if they research a subject and arrive at a conclusion based on that research, then the conclusion is valid.

Skeptic's Reaction

Dr. Moore also wrote a book on clinical embryology, and when he presented this information in Toronto, it caused quite a stir throughout Canada. It was on the front pages of some of the newspapers across Canada, and some of the headlines were quite funny. For instance, one headline read: "SURPRISING THING FOUND IN ANCIENT PRAYER BOOK!" It seems obvious from this example that people do not clearly understand what it is all about. As a matter of fact, one newspaper reporter asked Professor Moore, "Don't you think that maybe the Arabs might have known about these things - the description of the embryo, its appearance and how it changes and grows? Maybe they were not scientists, maybe they did some crude dissections on their own - carved up people and examined these things." The professor immediately pointed out to him that he [i.e., the reporter] had missed a very important point - all of the slides of the embryo that had been shown and that had been projected in the film had come from pictures taken through a microscope. He said, "It does not matter if someone had tried to discover embryology fourteen centuries ago. They could not have seen it!"

All of the descriptions in the Qur'an of the appearance of the embryo are of the item when it is still too small to see with the eye; therefore, one needs a microscope to see it. Since such a device had only been around for little more than two hundred years, Dr. Moore taunted, "Maybe fourteen centuries ago someone secretly had a microscope and did this research, making no mistakes anywhere. Then he somehow taught Mohammed (pbuh&hf) and convinced him to put this information in his book. Then he destroyed his equipment and kept it a secret forever. Do you believe that? You really should not unless you bring some proof because it is such a ridiculous theory." In fact, when he was asked, "How do you explain this information in the Qur'an?" Dr. Moore's reply was, "It could only have been divinely revealed!"

Geology

One of Professor Moore's colleagues, Marshall Johnson, deals extensively with geology at the University of Toronto. He became very interested in the fact that the Qur'an's statements about embryology are accurate, and so he asked Muslims to collect everything contained in the Qur'an which deals with his speciality. Again people were very surprised at the findings. Since there are a vast number subjects discussed in the Qur'an, it would certainly require a large amount of time to exhaust each subject. It suffices for the purpose of this discussion to state that the Qur'an makes very clear and concise statements about various subjects while simultaneously advising the reader to verify the authenticity of these statements with research by scholars in those subjects. And as illustrated by the previous examples of embryology and geology, the Qur'an has clearly emerged authentic.

You Did Not Know This Before!

Undoubtedly, there is an attitude in the Qur'an which is not found anywhere else. It is interesting how when the Qur'an provides information, it often tells the reader, "You did not know this before." Indeed, there is no scripture that exists which makes that claim. All of the other ancient writings and scriptures that people have do give a lot of information, but they always state where the information came from.

For example, when the Bible discusses ancient history, it states that this king lived here, this one fought in a certain battle, another one had so may sons, etc. Yet it always stipulates that if you want more information, then you should read the book of so and so because that is where the information came from. In contrast to this concept, the Qur'an provides the reader with information and states that this information is something new. Of course, there always exists the advice to research the information provided and verify its authenticity. It is interesting that such a concept was never challenged by non-Muslims fourteen centuries ago. Indeed, the Makkans who hated the Muslims, and time and time again they heard such revelations claiming to bring new information; yet, they never spoke up and said, "This is not new. We know where Mohammed got this information. We learned this at school." They could never challenge its authenticity because it really was new!

Adopted from the book: "The Amazing Qur'an" by: "Gary Miller"

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