Our Lord says: “We created all living things from water”, but there are creatures which are not made of water?

The Details of the Question

While there is “asexual reproduction”, which means there are some creatures that can be reproduced by mitotic division without sperm and ova, why does Allah say “We created all living things from water.” What is the explanation of the contradiction between science and the verse? In a couple of verses in the Qur'an, our Lord states that He created all living things from water. However, I do not know if you are aware but some living beings form by asexual reproduction, without fertilization. Examples are: reproduction by budding, reproductive division, reproduction by spores, regeneration, parthenogenesis and vegetative reproduction. In these ways of reproduction, sperm and ovum never unite because asexual reproduction is a way of mitotic division; so, there is no need for the union of sperm and ovum. This union is only needed for sexual reproduction because it is a type of meiosis. We know the Qur'an never contradicts science, but it looks as if there is a kind of contradiction here Because Allah says in the Quran that He created all living things from water and some wise scholars claim water here means sperm, semen or spermatic fluid but as I have said there is no need for them in mitotic division. To sum up, there are living things that are not made of water but our Lord says He created every living thing from water. What is the explanation of this state, which looks like a contradiction?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Verses of the Qur'an cannot be understood fully by looking only at the translation of the original inscription; it can also lead to misunderstandings. Therefore, tafsir (commentary) is needed related to such issues.

Otherwise, the decree “teachings of science and teachings of the Qur'an do not comply with each other” would mean taking the easy way out.

There are two options when it seems that science and the Qur'an contradict: Either the conclusion of science is erratic, or the judgement of the Qur'an needs tafsir.

The Qur'an’s statement of the creation of living things from water contains deeper meanings inside.

1. One meaning of it is related to the cells and tissues.

If we think of the creation in terms of cells and tissues, the statement is true.

While naming or defining something, the composition of the matter or being is considered. If the composition consists of more than one element, it is named with the element that forms most of it. 

For instance, if some soil that is made of sand and clay consists of more than 50% of sand, it is named sandy clayey soil.

Similarly, when living organisms are considered both in terms of cells and tissues and organs, we see that they contain a high proportion of water.

For instance, 60% of the body of an adult human is water. This rate is between 70 and 75% in children.

A similar proportion is present in plants. 80 to 95% of cells in plants consist of water. The proportion of water in vegetables like lettuce, carrot and beet is higher: 85 to 95%.

2. Another meaning of the verses stating that living beings are created from water may be pointing out the fact that the basic construction of living beings is in the compounds and nature of water.

For instance, one group of chemical compounds is named as carbohydrates. Hydrate means water. The reason why that compound is named as carbohydrate is that the rate of hydrogen and oxygen in that compound is the same as the rate of hydrogen and oxygen in water. Therefore, the general formula of carbohydrates is shown as follows:  


3. Another meaning of the verses stating that living beings were created from water may be as follows: Hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which constitute water,  are the mostly found basic elements in the structure of living beings.

The importance of hydrogen and oxygen atoms in all chemical compounds in terms of quantity and existence is great.   

These two elements are found both in the organic substances and in the composition of inorganic substances; they exist in great rates.

It can definitely not be said that the tasks and properties of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which have been assigned a duty in the formation of water, are limited to the.

We do not know the nature and structure of matter in detail. In the future it may be shown that they have more tasks and meanings.

When they are all considered, it is understood that the statements of the verses of the Qur'an are true and that they contain very wide meanings.

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