How does creation take place in the womb according to the Quran and the Sunnah?

The Answer

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5.1.2-Creation in the Womb according to the Quran and the Sunnah

In many places, the Quran attracts attention to creation from different aspects in many places and gives detailed information about the stages the fetus undergoes in the womb.

In many places, the Quran attracts attention to creation from different aspects in many places and gives detailed information about the stages the fetus undergoes in the womb. The verses in the chapter of al-Mu’minun mention Hz. Adam’s creation from clay, the phases of the fetus in the womb, the events of death and resurrection together and describe where man comes from and how, and where he goes as follows:

“Man We did create from a quintessence (of clay); Then We placed him as (a drop of) sperm in a place of rest, firmly fixed; Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (fetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create! After that, at length ye will die. Again, on the Day of Judgment, will ye be raised up.”1

Many hadiths are narrated related to the creation of man and the stages he undergoes in the womb.The hadith reported by Abdullah b. Mas’ud is like an interpretation of the verse that gives detailed information about creation:2

     “The creation of each one of you is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days; then, he becomes a clot of thick blood (alaqah), and then he becomes a piece of flesh (mudghah). Then, Allah sends an angel and he is ordered to write four things: the livelihood (rizq), date of death (ajal), deeds of this creature and whether he will be a person of Paradise or Hell. Then, spirit is blown into him.3

The beginning of the creation of man is mentioned in the hadith above; in addition, the stages the fetus undergoes in the womb and the time of the blowing into the spirit are stated.

Whether the phrase“forty days”repeated three times in the hadith means one thing happening after the other or within the other, and whether the word thumma/then means after the time or after the deed are issues related to ijtihad.

In addition, what is meant with the term “the beginning of man’s life”, whether fertilization, creation of the nervous system, the formation of voluntary movements or the blowing of the spirit, caused the formation of different views. Accordingly, the majority accepted the time when the egg was fertilized with the sperm and settled in the uterus as the beginning of man’s life; the other scholars accept it as the end of the fourth month and the beginning of the fifth month,4 one hundred and twenty days after fertilization, eighty-fourth day, three months, twelve weeks and more than a month.5

The beginning of life in the fetus and the blowing of the spirit into it are different events. Therefore, life continues in cells for a while after death.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) mentions only the beginning of fertilization in another hadith:

“When forty-two nights pass after the semen gets into the womb, Allah sends the angel and gives it the shape. Then, He creates its sense of hearing, sense of sight, its skin, its flesh, its bones.6

When those two hadiths are evaluated together, the following fact appears: The first hadith states that the spirit is blown at the end of the third period, that is, one hundred twenty days after the fetus, and the second one states that organs are created on the forty-second day.7

      Both the verses and hadiths related to creationand medical data support the view of the majority. As a matter of fact, it is stated in the second hadith that many stages of creation are completed on the forty-second day; only the blowing of the spirit is not mentioned.8

Accordingly, the blowing of the spirit and the creation of man are different from each other.

When the hadith is evaluated in the context of the duties of the angels, it is possible to understand the second hadith by attributing it to the first one. Accordingly, the word “nutfah” in the second hadith is used instead of the word “mudghah”. When this determination is considered, the meaning is as follows: when forty-two days passes after the mudhgah, that is, when the fetus completes the three periods of forty days consisting of nutfah, alaqah and mudghah; Allah sends another angel (an angel other than the one responsible for the affairs in the womb) to the nutfah that is converted into mudghah and gives it the full shape of a full human being.9

The summary of the issue is as follows: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used the word “nutfah” which is the first stage of the three periods of forty days and meant “mughah”, which isthe last one.

      According to what is understood from verses and hadiths, the development of the fetus takes place in two areas. The first one is the material development that can be perceived. In this area, the states of creation that occur one after the other in the body are seen.

The second is a development that is attributed to the growing body but that cannot be perceived; abilities like life, reasoning, will and meditation occur with it. This second development begins when the spirit is blown into the body.10

The stages of the fetus mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah do not differ very much from the data obtained by modern medicine after long researches.

Thus, the beginning of life in the fetus and the blowing of the spirit into it are different events. Therefore, life continues in cells for a while after death.11

The stages of the fetus mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah do not differ very much from the data obtained by modern medicine after long researches. As a matter of fact, Professor Keith Leon Moore, from Anatomy Department of the University of Toronto, states that the classification made by the Quran related to stages the fetus undergoes in the mother’s womb is superior and more accurate than the descriptions and classifications made by the embryologists in the 20th century.12

Accordingly, if there are a few differences between modern medicine and the Quran regarding the issue, this indicates that modern medicine will attain the facts informed by the Quran many centuries ago with the new discoveries.

1.al-Mu’minun, 12-14. Many tafsir scholars of the Companions and Tabiun like Ibn Abbas, Sha’bi, Abul-Aliya, Dahhak and Ibn Zayd state that what is meant by ‘then we developed out of it another creature’in the verse is the blowing into the spirit, which takes place after the completion of creation. See AbuJa’far Muhammad Ibn Jarirat-Tabari, Jamiul-Bayan an Ta’wilil-Quran, Darus-Salam, Beirut, 2007, VII, 5910.
2.al-Mu’minun, 12-14.
3.Bukhari, Qadar, 1; Bad’ul-Khalq, 6; Anbiya, 2; Tawhid, 28; Muslim, Qadar, 1; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 17; Tirmidhi, Qadar, 4.
4.A period of 130 days is meant.
5.Wafa Ghunaymi, ad-Dawabidush-Shar’iyyalil-Mumarasatit-Tibbiyyatil-Mutaalliqabil-Mar’a, Darus-Sumay’i, Riyad, 2009, 266.
6.Muslim, Qadar 1.
7.Muhammad al-Amin b. Abdullah al-Harari, al-Kawkabul-Wahhajwar-Ravdul-Bahhaj fi Sharhi Sahihil-Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, Darul-Minhaj, Jeddah, 2009, XXIV, 517-8.
8.Muslim, Qadar 1.
9.al-Harari, al-Kawkabul-Wahhaj war-Ravdul-Bahhaj fi Sharhi Sahihil-Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, Darul-Minhaj, Jeddah, 2009., XXIV, 517-8.
10.Musfir b. Ali b. Muhammad al-Qahtani, Ijhazul-Janinil-Mushawwahwa Hukmuhu fish-Shariatil-Islamiyya, Majallatush-Sharia wad-Dirasatil-Islamiyya, Kuwayt, year: 18, Issue. 54, 2003, 166.
11.Ahmad Shawqi Ibrahim, Mata Badat Hayatul-Insan, 76;Ghunaymi, ibid, 272.
12.al-Qahtani, ibid, 166.

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