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الاثنين، 10 يونيو، 2013

The Clot a Lump

الاثنين, يونيو 10, 2013
The Clot a Lump

“…then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh,”
 (Surat Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 14)
                           
                                           By: Dr. / Zaghloul El-Naggar

These miraculous words appear at the beginning of SuratAl-Mu'minun.  This Surah was revealed in Makkah and has a total of 118 ayahs excluding the basmallah (invocation of the name of Allah (SWT)).  The Surah was named as such due to the fact that it refers to the believers and describes some of their characteristics, which Allah (SWT) approves of and asks from His servants.

Tenets of faith in the Surah:

  1. Faith in Allah (SWT), His angels, books, Messengers, the day of judgement and in jannah (paradise) and hell.  Moreover, one should believe that only the believers, whom the Surah describes, will enter jannah.
  2. Complete belief and certainty that Allah (SWT) created man from soil.  He has prearranged the consecutive stages of development through which the embryo goes through inside the womb until it reaches its final and complete form.  The Surah also describes how believers firmly believe that life will be followed by death, after which one will be resurrected to be judged and rewarded with either eternal life in jannah or hellfire.  This is all because man was not created without purpose and will surely return to the Creator.
  3. Belief that Allah (SWT) is the Creator of the seven heavens, seven earths and all that is in or on them.  He (SWT) is the one who sends rain from the skyand has allowed us to live on this earth.  He (SWT) is able to take it all away if He so wishes.  Furthermore, Allah is the Creator of all the plants and living beings, and is the All-Knowing.
  4. Surrendering to the oneness of the message received from the heavens.  This involves believing in the brotherhood between the Prophets and Messengers who were all involved in the same da’wa (missionary activity) that called for people to believe in the Oneness of the Creator (SWT), i.e. that He has no partner, child nor competitor.  Allah (SWT) also distinguishes in the Surah between His attributes and those of His creation, and emphasizes that He (SWT) is Incomparable.  þ
  5. The firm belief that Allah (SWT) knows all that is seen and unseen, is the Best of Providers, is the One who blesses us with life and takes it away from us, and is the Lord of the throne.  Associating partners with Allah (SWT) is disbelieving, and disbelievers eventually will loose.
  6. Belief that, once dead, there is no returning until the Day of Judgment. During this period, those who have died are in a state of barzakh (a state that acts a barrier between death and resurrection) where they await the blowing of the trumpet.  After the first blow, all those on earth will die, and after the second, all the dead will be brought back to life.
  7. Firm belief that the successful ones are those whose scales will be heavy on the Day of Judgment (with good deeds), and that those whose scales are light will be sent to eternal hellfire.
þ
Signs of creation in Surat Al-Mu’minun:

  1. Reference to the creation of man from soil (an extract of clay).
  2. A thorough description of the stages of development of the fetus, starting from a nutfah (mixed drops of the male and female sexual discharge), to an ‘alaqa (clot of blood), to a mudgha (lump of flesh) and finally, to bones encompassed by flesh.  The end result is another human being.  This was revealed at a time when it was thought that a new-born started its development as a miniature version of itself as a result of either a drop of maternal menstrual blood or paternal semen.  It was believed that size was the only difference between the first day of the fetus’ existence and the day of birth.  We now know that the change in the length of the fetus that occurs from one stage to another is of only a few millimeters, and sometimes of even a fraction of a millimeter.  The fact that the Holy Qur’an accurately describes these stages of development, without the availability of modern technology or any form of imaging devices at the time of revelation, is a clear sign of the miraculous nature of the Qur’an.
  3. The mentioning of the seven heavens.  This is an unseen fact that modern science cannot establish due to the vastness of the universe, its seemingly infinite dimensions, and its ongoing expansion to which only Allah (SWT) knows the end.
  4. A reference to the sending of rain from the sky, as decreed by Allah (SWT), to be stored inside the earth.  This was the first indication that rain is the origin of the water found in the earth’s crust; a fact discovered by scientist at the end of the 18th century, more than eleven centuries after the revelation of the Holy Qur’an.  It is evident that these conclusions were based on the Islamic heritage that was translated into Latin and Greek.
  5. An established link between the sending of rain from the sky and the growth of plants from the soil, the formation of gardens of date palms and vines, as well as the growth of other fruitful trees and harvests.
  6. A description of the olive tree and its production of oil and seasoning for us to eat, especially the olive trees grow on Mount At-Tour (in Sinai Peninsula). þ
  7. A reference to the creation of cattle and its importance, which only could be noticed by those who contemplate.  Cattle are of great use to us.  Along with several other things, cattle produce milk, provide us with meat and provide us with a means of terrestrial transportation, just like boats provide us with a means of transportation on water.
  8. The precedence of hearing senses over those of sight and intellect or comprehension.  Recent observations in newborns have shown that, in fact, hearing precedes any of the other senses.
  9. Reference to the changes in the day and night indicate the assertion of the spherical shape of the earth, its rotation around its axis and its orbit around the sun.
  10. Mentioning a number of Prophets and Messengers and giving an accurate account of the fate of their people.  Historical and archeological studies of some of these peoples have confirmed what was mentioned in the Qur’an. Among these Prophets are Nuh (Noah), Musa (Moses), Harun (Aaron) and Isa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary).
    Each of these ten points needs to be separately addressed in detail; therefore, I will choose one of these points to discuss.  I will elaborate on the second point, which is that concerning the clot mentioned in the ayah that can be translated as,
“Then We made the Nutfah into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh,” (Surat Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 14).

Linguistic evidence in the Glorious Qur’an

The word mudgha was mentioned three times in the Qur’an; once in the fifth ayah of Surat Al-Hajj, and twice in the 14th ayah of Surat Al-Mu’minun.  The word in Arabic means a lump of incompletely developed flesh of a size big enough to be chewed. This is why Allah (SWT) named the stage following the clotting of the blood as such. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “...then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones,”(Surat Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 14).

Allah (SWT) also said what can be translated as, “O mankind! If you are in doubt about the Resurrection, then verily We have created you (i.e. Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah (mixed drops of male and female sexual discharge i.e. the offspring of Adam), then from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood) then from a little lump of flesh - some formed and some unformed (as in the case of miscarriage)” (Surat Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage):5).

The Arabic word mudgha and its derivatives provide a great deal of detail about that specific stage of development. The derived word mudagha is what remains in the mouth after chewing, whereas the word madighan refers to the mandible (jawbones) needed for the mastication of food or for aiding the process. Additionally, the word mudgha also means what has been chewed, refers to something that teeth have chewed and left visible marks on; marks that change in the process of chewing due to the repetitive act. 
The scientific evidence in the Glorious Qur’an

Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, “And indeed We created man (Adam) out of an extract of clay (water and earth). 12.  Thereafter We made him (the offspring of Adam) as a Nutfah (mixed drops of the male and female sexual discharge and lodged it) in a safe lodging (womb of the woman). 13.   Then We made the Nutfah into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allâh, the Best of creators. 14.” (Surat Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 12-14).
These three ayahs portray the consecutive stages of development of the fetus in the most intricate detail, even though the fetus in these stages is no more than a few millimeters long or even a fraction of a millimeter long.  Providing such precise detail for these stages without the availability of any sort of modern imaging and magnification techniques is in itself proof of the existence of Allah (SWT) and the authenticity of the revelation and the prophecy of Muhammad (Pbuh).
 
Moreover, there is a linguistic miracle in these ayahs (verses) as much as it is scientific. The Arabic terminology used provides very specific and comprehensive descriptions.  Such terminology includes: nutfah, ‘alaqa, mudgha (formed and unformed), as well as the description of the creation of bones which become clothed with flesh; a point from which the fetus continues to develop.

Two conjunctions are used throughout the three ayahs in this Surah; when used in context, they give specific detail about the time sequence of the stages mentioned.  Since the first two stages (extract of clay and nutfah) are separated by a time interval and spatial distance, they are linked by the conjunction thumma (thereafter) when mentioned.  In Arabic, this conjunction is used with two consecutive events separated by a certain interval whether in terms of distance, time or rank.  This conjunction is also used to link the second and third stages (nutfah and ‘alaqa) due to the interval separating them.  On the other hand, no substantial time lag is associated with the conversion of the ‘alaqa into a mudgha; thus, a different Arabic conjunction, fa (then), is used.  This conjunction indicates order and immediate succession, along with association.
Embryologists have discovered that during the first two weeks of the life of an embryo, the blastula, which is the outcome of the cleavage of the zygote, is implanted in the wall of the uterus.  This process begins six to seven days after conception.  The blastula adheres via the sticky trophoblastic external layer (also known as syncytiotrophoblast), and eventually develops into the umbilical cord; hence, the beginning of another phase. 

This new phase is that of the development of the ‘alaqa; an event that takes place between the 15th day and the 25th of the fetus’ life.  The ‘alaqa consists mainly of two main layers.  The external cells are a multinucleated syncytium of fused trophoblast cells that infiltrate the surface epithelium of the uterine wall (syncytiotrophoblast). The mass of inner cells is what the embryo develops from. This is organized into two cellular layers of which the external (the epiblast) becomes the lining of the amniotic cavity and the internal (the hypoblast) becomes the lining of the brain and the rest of the embryo.

The mass of inner cells is initially round-shaped but becomes more rectangular (more pear-shaped) by the end of the second week.  Fifteen days after conception, a very delicate line, known as the primitive streak, appears on the amniotic surface of the epiblast.  Allah (SWT) has created from this rapidly dividing primitive streak a group of cells, which change their shape and orientation in preparation to leave the epiblast layer and become mesoderm cells (a new layer between the internal hypoblast and external epiblast layers).  This process continues until the end of the third week of the fetus’ life. 

At this point, somites begin to appear, of which all organs and systems develop. One to four somites develop by the end of the third week, after which a gradual increase in the number of somites follows.  By the end of the 25th day of the fetus’ life there are 17 to 20 somites.

The transitory stage between the 20th day and the 25th reflects the description in the Qur’an, which defines these stages as a change from an ‘alaqa to a mudgha. This stage marks the beginning of the formation of the organs.  The stage described as mudgha takes place between the 26th day of the fetus’ life and the 42nd.  By the end of the third week, the primitive streak begins to retract until it completely disappears by the fourth.
The swelling at the rear end of the primitive streak occurs where the epiblast cells sink in to form the notochord and mesoderm, known as the primitive node.  This is the site from which the external layer of cells, known as the epiblast, grows towards the cranial end of the embryo.  Furthermore, the primitive streak encourages the fast growth and the recurrent splitting which lead to the development of all systems.  One of the first systems to develop is the nervous system, after which the primitive streak becomes part of the spinal cord and can barely be seen.
Abu-Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (Pbuh) as saying what can be translated as, “The earth would consume every son of Adam except his coccyx bone (tailbone) from which his body would be reconstituted (on the Day of Resurrection).”[1] In another Hadith, Abu-Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (Pbuh) as saying what can be translated as, “Between the two bowings of the trumpet (there would be an interval of forty).” They said, “Abu-Huraira, do you mean 40 days?”  He said, “I cannot say anything.” They said, “Do you mean 40 months?”  He said, “I cannot say anything.”  They said, “Do you mean 40 years?” He said, “I cannot say anything. Then (in the day of judgment) Allah would cause the water to descend from the sky and they (people) will sprout from the tail bone or the coccyx bone (like a plant from its seed), which is the only part of the human being body that will not decay nor deteriorate after his death. “
We have mentioned Prophet Muhammad’s (Pbuh) reference to the spinal cord in a previous article, and elaborated on the fact that mentioning this point 13 centuries prior to modern science was a miracle in itself.  The somites reach a total of 42-45 pairs starting from the cranial (front) to the caudal end.  As soon as they have all developed, they begin to differentiate forming the scelerotome (forms vertebral bodies, arches and ribs), myotome (forms muscles) and dermatome (contributes to skin).  These divisions are what distinguish the different stages of development, and can be observed by studying the external features of the fetus.  The age of the fetus can be determined by studying the number of somites that develop between the end of the third week and the end of the fifth.  During the sixth and seventh weeks, these somites begin to develop into bone and muscle.  However, the skeletal structure is completely formed by the end of the seventh week and the muscular by the eighth.

The linguistic miracle of the Qur’an becomes more apparent here. It refers to the stages of development between the fourth week and the sixth as mudgha.  It is stunning to note that during this interval, the fetus’ length goes from 4 millimeters to 13 millimeters,þ which is the average size of a piece of meat that can be chewed (as explained earlier).
Just as a lump of meat can be chewed leaving imprints on it, the rapid development of the fetal lump of flesh or mudgha results in apparent changes in features and openings where some parts are depressed, folded or protruded.
During the same stage, mudgha, the fetus changes in a number of ways.  The nervous system develops from a neural groove to a neural canal.  This neural canal develops in the head’s region to form the three sections of the brain; the forebrain, middle brain and hindbrain.

Moreover, the curvature of the head starts to develop as well as the mouth opening.  Subsequently, the eyes develop as an extension of the forebrain, followed by the development of the ocular system and the olfactory system.  The umbilical cord then appears, after which an s-shaped tube develops from the primitive heart tube to eventually form the four chambers of the heart (the two atria and two ventricles).  As the fetal blood circulation forms it connects to the maternal circulation.

Furthermore, the digestive system begins developing during this stage, and the nodes from which the liver and pancreas will develop appear.  Eventually, the respiratory system begins to develop, originating from the bronchial airways, and so do the tubes from which the urinary tract system will develop.
The somites that, as described, are part of the stage defined as mudgha in the Qur’an, split into two groups during the fourth week.  They then start developing during the fifth and sixth weeks into the following:
  1. A frontal part that develops fibrous tissues, cartilage (chondrification) and bones (ossification).  Each pair of somites in this region develops a pair of longitudinal ridges called neural folds, which fuse along the midline to form the neural tube.  The vertebral bodies eventually grow from the cranial end of the embryo to form the brainstem followed by eight cervical, twelve thoracic, five lumbar and six sacral vertebrae.  Additionally, eight to ten spinal segments fuse to form the tube through which the spinal cord passes.
  2. A caudal region that begins to develop once the primary spinal segments begin to appear.  Cells then begin to break away and come together as a thin layer just under the ectoderm to form the dermis and hypodermis. There is a further layer, the myotome, which will eventually form the muscles. Chondrification (formation of cartilage) commences in the fifth and sixth weeks, even though the skeletal structure does not completely develop until week seven.  Similarly, the muscles begin to encompass the bones during the sixth and seventh weeks, and the process is completed by the eighth week. These facts explain why Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an what can be translated as,   “And indeed We created man (Adam) out of an extract of clay (water and earth). 12.  Thereafter We made him (the offspring of Adam) as a Nutfah (mixed drops of the male and female sexual discharge and lodged it) in a safe lodging (womb of the woman). 13.   Then We made the Nutfah into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So Blessed is Allâh, the Best of creators. 14.” (Surat Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 12-14).
The thorough Qur’anic statement about the creation of man was made at a time when it was widely thought that we were created either from a drop of maternal menstrual blood or from paternal semen.  However, the Qur’an held the truth ten centuries before any scientific evidence was available to prove it.  This is the Qur’an revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), who was illiterate and was sent to a people of whom most were illiterate as well.

All praise be to Allah (SWT) who revealed the Holy Qur’an to the seal of His Prophets and Messengers, and has vowed to protect every single word in its original language (Arabic).  He (SWT) has done so for the past fourteen centuries and will continue to do so until the Day of Judgment, so that it remains a testament for everyone on this earth until then. 

All praise to Allah (SWT) who has sent to us the seal of the Prophets and Messengers (SAWS) with this final and only religion Allah (SWT) will accept from His servants.  Our peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad who has conveyed the message, fulfilled what he has been entrusted with, advised man and jinn and fought for the sake of Allah (SWT) until his death.  On behalf of us and all of the Muslims, we ask Allah to reward him with the best and highest rewards. Finally, all praise and thanks to Allah (SWT), the Lord of all the worlds.
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