Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim
In the Name of Allah, the Most Glorious, the Most Beneficent.
One of many criticisms leveled against the Qur’an in order to discount it’s credibility is the miracle of embrology detailed in the Qur’an. Most of which, in closer examination one will find that these alleged “mistakes” in the Qur’an are little more than innaccurate interpretations or deficient understanding of linguistics.
The Blood Clot Dispute
Modern scientists do not agree with the interpretation that one of the embryological stages of development is a “blood clot”. This is derived from a translation of the Qur’an which describes the fetus as a blood clot. This literal translation is not acceptable to scientists in regards to embrology.
Maurice Bucaille wrote,
“This observation implies how great the importance of an association between linguistic and scientific knowledge is when it comes to grasping the meaning Qur’anic statements on reproduction.”
Concerning the verse,
“Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: ” [Surat Al-Alaq, 96:2]
Maurice Bucaille further explains,
“‘Something which clings’ is the translation of the word ‘alaq. It is the original meaning of the word. A meaning derived from it, which one should guard: man has never passed through the stage of this term, ‘adhesion’ which is equally inappropriate. The original sense of ‘something which clings’ corresponds exactly to today’s firmly established reality.”
So from this point, one can see the complication is purely from a linguistical perspective. Arabic words can often have more than one meaning connected to them which may vary according to the context by which they are presented. So it is imperative that we give careful consideration to the context when applying a particular meaning to an arabic word in the Qur’an.
The Fluid Argument
This originates from an interpretation made by many orientalists that the Qur’an suggests the sperm is created between the backbone and ribs. Furthermore there are such disputers as the christian David Wood who claim that based on this argument, he alleges it proves the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam to be a false prophet.
Regarding the verse,
“Now let man but think From what he is created! He is created from A drop emitted—Proceedings from between the backbone (sulb) and the ribs (tara’ib).”
[Surat At-Tariq, 86:5-7]
Dr. Ibn al-Hashimi wrote in rebuttal of this claim,
“Mr. Wood has understood the verse to mean that both ‘sulb’ and ‘tara’ib’ refer to the male. In other words, the fluid emitted refers to the semen, and it comes out from in between the sulb and the tara’ib. However, the truth of the matter is that the word ‘tarai’b’—according to the Arabic—is actually referring to a female body part. Much like the English word ‘penis’ can only be ascribed to a male, the word ‘tara’ib’ can only be applied to a female.
This is not apologetic modernism or revisionism; the classical works of Quranic commentary throughout the last 1400 years confirm this view categorically. In other words, the sulb belongs to the male, and the tara’ib belongs to the female. This is the view of the Muslims since the last fourteen hundred years, and there is consensus (ijma) on this matter, since the time of the Sahabah (the Prophet’s disciples) until today.
Many non-Arabs misinterpret this verse because they think that sulb and tara’ib refer to different body parts of the male. In reality, tara’ib is feminine, and refers to the female’s body part. For fourteen hundred years, all of the scholars have held this belief, and not a single classical scholar has ever differed on this point. The reason is that the Arabic makes it clear that tara’ib refers to a feminine body part, and not a male one.”
Shaykh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî of IslamToday.com writes:
“The phrase “mâ’ dâfiq” (emitted fluid) is not restricted in meaning to sperm but is used in Arabic for both the sperm and the egg. Ibn Kathîr, in his commentary on this verse, writes: “It emanates from the man and the woman, and with Allah’s permission, the child comes forth as a product of both.”
…The words translated as “backbone” (sulb) and “ribs” (tarâ’ib) are not understood in Arabic to belong to the same person. Arabs understand the “sulb” to refer to a part of the male body and the “tarâ’ib” to a part of the female. Ibn Kathîr states: “It refers to the ‘sulb’ of the man and the ‘tarâ’ib’ of the woman…” He then quotes this interpretation on the authority of the Prophet’s companion Ibn `Abbâs. This same understanding is given in all the major classical works of Qur’anic commentary.”
This meaning is further supported in Lane’s Lexicon;
“Tara’ib: … most of the authors on strange words affirm decidedly that it (tara’ib) is peculiar to women.”
All of the major commentaries of the Quran confirm that the tara’ib is peculiar to women.
⦁ Ibn Katheer writes in his tafseer (commentary) of the Quran:
“It (fluid) emanates from the man and the woman, and with Allah’s permission, the child comes forth as a product of both. “
⦁ Tafseer al-Jalalayn says:
“Issuing from between the sulb, of the man, and the tara’ib, of the woman. “
⦁ Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafseer Ibn Abbas says:
“That issued from between the sulb of the man and the tara’ib of a woman. “
From the aforementioned evidences we can see that this argument also is an issue of linguistic interpretation. When erroneously attempting to apply this interpretation to the anatomy of a man only, it simply does not work. However when we consider the nature of the linguistics and properly apply it’s interpretation to the anatomy of a woman, then we can once again begin to see that this verse is perfect in it’s representation of the human anatomy with regards to embryology in it’s reference to the womb of a woman.
References: The Noble Qur’an, The Bible The Qur’an And Science, Maurice Bucaille, Dr. Ibn al-Hashimi article from http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com, Additional credits to Shaykh Salman al-Oudah of http://www.IslamToday.com and Bassam Zawadi of http://www.call-to-monothiesm.com, Lane’s Lexicon, pgs.301, Tafseers; Ibn Katheer, al-Jalalayn, and Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafseer Ibn Abbas