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السبت، 15 يونيو، 2013

Embryo Life Cycle in Mother's Womb

السبت, يونيو 15, 2013
Embryo Life Cycle in Mother's Womb

By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar
'Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (A.S.) narrated, " The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) who is the truthful, the one believed by the people, said to us:
"Verily, each of you is gathered together (the components of his creation) in his mother's womb for forty days, in the form of a drop of fluid (Nutfah). Then it is a clinging object ('Alaqah) for a similar (period). Thereafter, it is a lump looking like it has been chewed (Mudghah) for a similar (period). The angel is then sent to him and breathes into him the spirit. He is also commanded to issue four decrees: to record his sustenance, his life span, his deeds and (whether he will be) unhappy (by entering Hell) or happy (by entering Paradise). I swear by Allah, other than Whom there is no God, certainly one of you will definitely perform the deeds of the people of Paradise except for an arm's length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Hell and enter it. And, certainly, one of you will definitely perform the acts of the people of the Hell until there is not between him and Hell except an arm's length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Paradise and enter it."   
The narration of Muslim on the authority of Ibn Mas'ud (A.S.), "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) who is truthful, the believed, said to us:
"Verily, each of you is gathered together in his mother's womb for forty days. Then it is therein a clinging object ('Alaqah) during this period. Therefore, it is therein a lump looking like it has been chewed (Mudghah) in this period. The angel is then sent to him and breathes into him the spirit. He is also commanded to issue four decrees: to record his sustenance, his life span, his deeds and (whether he will be) unhappy (by entering Hell) or happy (by entering Paradise). I swear by Allah, other than Whom there is no God, certainly one of you will definitely perform the deeds of the people of Paradise except for an arm's length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Hell and enter it. And, certainly, one of you will definitely perform the acts of the people of the Hell until there is not between him and Hell except an arm's length and then what has been recorded will overtake him and he shall perform the deeds of the people of Paradise and enter it."
The Explanation of the Hadith
This hadith indicates that the fetus goes through three stages: Nutfah (a drop or a small amount of water, but here it is interpreted as the zygote), 'Alaqah (a leech-like structure or bloodsucker) and Mudghah (chewed substance or chewed lump). These stages take 40 days after the fertilization of the ovum.
The Mudghah does not take the shape of a human in any sense. It starts to gradually change into the human shape and the fifth days following its creation, i.e. the period between the 40th to 45th days after fertilization. On the 45th day, the major body organs and skeleton are distinctly formed and cell division continues afterwards.
The term Nutfah in general means little amount of water, equivalent to almost a drop. In embryology, this drop refers to the sperm or the ovum. However, in the hadith, the Nutfah refers to the zygote or the fertilized ovum, which is called in the Qur'an "Nutfah Amshaj" (mixed drop) formed by the union of the sperm and the ovum.
The "Nutfah Amshaj" continues to grow through cell division, until the morula (a globular solid mass) is formed four days after conception. On the 5th day, the morula is divided in two halves, forming what is called the blastocyst. On the 6thday, the Nutfah reaches the final stage of its growth, when it is completely embedded in the uterine wall. Its length reaches up to 0.5 to 0.68 mm. Then the 'Alaqah (clot of blood) begins to be gradually formed. By the end of the second week, the embryo inside the blastocyst clings to the endometrium of the uterus, in the same way that a water leech clings to the skin of the host. Just as the leech derives blood from the host, the human embryo (inside the blastocyst) derives blood from the pregnant endometrium.
This stage takes about a week for the blastocyst to anchor itself completely to the wall of the chorionic cavity by a connecting stalk, which later forms the umbilical cord. The embryo at this stage is almost two weeks old, and the length of the 'Alaqah is between 1.5-3 mm. The umbilical cord takes about 10 days to grow (from day 6 to 16 after conception). The embryo acquires the full shape of a leech after three weeks from conception. The leech has a deep neural groove, with the appearance of some small nubbins on the sides of the body and the forehead also starts to be prominent.
By the 24th or the 25th day, the stage of 'Alaqah ends. After two days, the 'Alaqah starts to change into the Mudghah. One somite appears first, then the number increases between 40-45 somites. They give the shape of the Mudghah, which resembles a chewed piece of flesh. This stage ends by the 6th week of gestation. The fetus, at this stage, is almost 1 cm long.
Starting from the 7th week, bones begin to be formed. At this stage, the fetus length varies between 14 mm to 20 mm. Its body straightens up and the nidus of his fingers appears.
In the 8th week, the stage of muscle formation starts. The fetus is a bout 2 to 3 cm long.
From the 9th week to the 38th week of gestation, the last stage of creation starts. This stage gives the fetus a human appearance. The bones are covered with muscles, the muscles covered with skin and each part of the body starts to have a distinct shape. The rate of growth is slow at the beginning. After the 12th week, the rate of the fetus formation speeds up clearly until the moment of birth.
The hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) indicates that the first three stages from the Nutfah to the Mudghah take about 40 days, which is proved by modern scientific facts. Some hadith scholars understood that this period takes about 120 days (40 days each), but this is contradicted by another hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) where he says:
"When forty two nights have passed over the Nutfah, Allah sends an Angel to it, who shapes it and makes its ears, eyes, skin, flesh, and bones."
Studies in embryology proved that these stages of the formation of bones, skin, ears etc. start only by the end of the 6th week of gestation, i.e. 42 nights, which proves the truthfulness of the Prophet's hadith. The misunderstanding came from the expression "similar (period)". Some thought that it means each stage takes 40 days to be complete. However, looking at the other narrations, we understand that "a similar period" refers to the gathering of the components of creation, which includes the three stages mentioned in the hadith.
We still need to ask ourselves, how did the Prophet (PBUH) tell us in such accurate expressions about these stages which do not exceed 10 mm in size, something that is beyond the estimation of man at this period of time, when nobody could ever see what is going on inside the womb during various stages of pregnancy?   

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