Embryonic Stages of Development

Dr. ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Al-Muslih

Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

{What is wrong with you that you do not exalt Allaah (as due). While He has formed you in stages?}

(Quran, 71:13-14)

Scientific Analysis

English physician William Harvey (1578-1657) concluded in 1651 that embryos were nothing but uterine excretions. In the year 1672, Dutch anatomist Regnier de Graaf (1641-1673) uncovered vesicles in the ovaries. These came to be known as “Graafian follicles”. He concluded that embryos were not actually excreted from the uterus, but instead from the ovaries.

In 1677, Dutch scientists Stephen Hamm (ca. 17c) and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) revealed a spermatozoon for the first time in human history. However, they did not realize its true role in reproduction. Rather, they thought that the sperm (or later ovum) contained a fully formed—but miniature—person that will grow inside the womb, i.e. without a multiple stage formation. Italian Catholic priest and scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799), who agreed with this theory (called preformation), affirmed the importance of spermatozoa for procreation through his experiments on dogs.

In 1827, about 150 years after the discovery of spermatozoa, Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876)—Estonian-Russian biologist—was the first to observe an ovum inside a canine ovarian follicle.

In 1839, Schleiden and Schwann confirmed that the human body consists of basic living structural units and their byproducts. These units came to be known as cells. Thereafter, it became easy to truly understand man's multiple stages of formation. He came from a single fertilized cell, which resulted from the union between a sperm and an egg.

The Miracle

This noble verse indicates that man is not created all of a sudden, as was the prevalent belief in the West during the century before last and since the time of Aristotle. Rather, it happens during stages of set proportion and includes everyone regardless of racial or generational variance.

The history of embryology testifies to the stumbling of brilliant minds regarding the formation of humans. At the same time, the Noble Quran proclaims—since the seventh century—that man was not made all of a sudden, but rather in proportioned stages, like the construction of a building based on a previous design.

Coincidence cannot explain these proportioned stages, which instead indicate wisdom, intention, capability, comprehensive knowledge, and innovative creation. All of this comes from Allaah. The unity of preparation and planning and the constancy of these stages, regardless of race or generation, clearly point to the oneness of the great creator.

Aristotle's theory that the fetus is formed from menstrual blood continued until the seventeenth century, when the microscopic world was discovered; yet scientists still thought formation was complete without stages.




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