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The classical Islamic sources concern themselves with the subject of human reproduction. Topically these references serve as illustrations of Allah's might power, that he can bring forth life from seemingly unliving elements. Socially reproduction is understood as a duty incumbent upon the good believer/Muslim and reproduction is seen as a gift from Allah, and in keeping with the bible (Genesis 1:28) a duty for all of mankind. Analytically these references evince a knowledge of Embryology that is clearly gleaned from contemporaneously available Greek and Jewish sources: the importance of semen in reproduction is understood, though its role reflects Greek and Talmudic notions. The existence of the ovum is unknown and the whole process, its location and various stages are clearly not understood and only guessed at. Despite modern claims of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an's understanding of the science of embryology, nothing in either the Qur'an or the hadith hints at an understanding of the science of embryology which was at all more advanced than the pre-scientific, flawed understanding of local cultures.
Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.
He has created man from a sperm-drop; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer!
His companion said to him, in the course of the argument with him: "Dost thou deny Him Who created thee out of dust, then out of a sperm-drop, then fashioned thee into a man?
O mankind! if ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust
, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes...
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 (foetus) 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!
And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised:
And Allah did create you from dust; then from a sperm-drop; then He made you in pairs. And no female conceives, or lays down (her load), but with His knowledge. Nor is a man long-lived granted length of days, nor is a part cut off from his life, but is in a Decree (ordained). All this is easy to Allah.
Doth not man see that it is We Who created him from sperm? yet behold! he (stands forth) as an open adversary!
It is He Who has created you from dust then from a sperm-drop, then from a leech-like clot; then does he get you out (into the light) as a child: then lets you (grow and) reach your age of full strength; then lets you become old,- though of you there are some who die before;- and lets you reach a Term appointed; in order that ye may learn wisdom.
That He did create in pairs,- male and female, From a seed when lodged (in its place);
Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)? Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female. Has not He, (the same), the power to give life to the dead?
Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight.
Have We not created you from a fluid (held) despicable?-
Now let man but think from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted- Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs
Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mus'ud:
“Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(The matter of the Creation of) a human being is put together in the womb of the mother in forty days, and then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period, and then a piece of flesh for a similar period
Narrated Abdullah: Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(as regards your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for an other forty days, and then a piece of flesh for an other forty days
. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his deeds, time of his death, means of his livelihood, and whether he will be wretched or blessed (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into his body. So a man may do deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) Fire, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and so he starts doing deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and enters Paradise. Similarly, a person may do deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and he starts doing deeds of the people of the (Hell) Fire and enters the (Hell) Fire."
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Allah has appointed an angel in the womb, and the angel says, 'O Lord! A drop of discharge (i.e. of semen), O Lord! a clot, O Lord! a piece of flesh.' And then, if Allah wishes to complete the child's creation, the angel will say. 'O Lord! A male or a female?
O Lord! wretched or blessed (in religion)? What will his livelihood be? What will his age be?' The angel writes all this while the child is in the womb of its mother."
Narrated 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle, the truthful and truly-inspired, said, "Each one of you collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and then turns into a clot for an equal period (of forty days) and turns into a piece of flesh for a similar period (of forty days)
and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed (in the Hereafter). Then the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you (or a man) may do deeds of the people of the Fire till there is only a cubit or an arm-breadth distance between him and the Fire, but then that writing (which Allah has ordered the angel to write) precedes, and he does the deeds of the people of Paradise and enters it; and a man may do the deeds of the people of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the people of the Fire and enters it."
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
“The Prophet said, "Allah puts an angel in charge of the uterus and the angel says, 'O Lord, (it is) semen! O Lord, (it is now) a clot! O Lord, (it is now) a piece of flesh.' And then, if Allah wishes to complete its creation, the angel asks, 'O Lord, (will it be) a male or a female?
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud: Allah's Apostle the true and truly inspired, narrated to us, "The creation of everyone of you starts with the process of collecting the material for his body within forty days and forty nights in the womb of his mother. Then he becomes a clot of thick blood for a similar period (40 days) and then he becomes like a piece of flesh for a similar period
. Then an angel is sent to him (by Allah) and the angel is allowed (ordered) to write four things; his livelihood, his (date of) death, his deeds, and whether he will be a wretched one or a blessed one (in the Hereafter) and then the soul is breathed into him. So one of you may do (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise so much that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Paradise but then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) and (ultimately) enters Hell (Fire); and one of you may do (evil) deeds characteristic of the people of Hell (Fire) so much so that there is nothing except a cubit between him and Hell (Fire), then what has been written for him decides his behavior and he starts doing (good) deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and ultimately) enters Paradise." (See Hadith No. 430, Vol. 4)
Abdullah (b. Mas'ud) reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) who is the most truthful (of the human beings) and his being truthful (is a fact) said: Verily your creation is on this wise. The constituents of one of you are collected for forty days in his mother's womb in the form of blood, after which it becomes a clot of blood in another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh
and forty days later Allah sends His angel to it with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds, his fortune and misfortune. By Him, besides Whom there is no god, that one amongst you acts like the people deserving Paradise until between him and Paradise there remains but the distance of a cubit, when suddenly the writing of destiny overcomes him and he begins to act like the denizens of Hell and thus enters Hell, and another one acts in the way of the denizens of Hell, until there remains between him and Hell a distance of a cubit that the writing of destiny overcomes him and then he begins to act like the people of Paradise and enters Paradise.
This hadith has been reported on the authority of A'mash with the same chain of transmitters and in the hadith transmitted on the authority of Waki' (the words are):" The creation of any one of you is like this that (semen) is collected in the womb of the mother for forty nights," and in the hadith transmitted on the authority of Shu'ba (the words are):" Forty nights and forty days." And in the hadith transmitted on the authority of Jarir and 'Isa (the words are):" Forty days."
Anas b. Malik reported directly from Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) that he said: Allah, the Exlated and Glorious, has appointed an angel as the caretaker of the womb, and he would say: My Lord, it is now a drop of semen; my Lord, It is now a clot of blood; my Lord, it has now become a lump of flesh, and when Allah decides to give it a final shape, the angel says: My Lord, would it be male or female
or would he be an evil or a good person? What about his livelihood and his age? And it is all written as he is in the womb of his mother.
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Allah will say to the person who will have the minimum punishment in the Fire on the Day of Resurrection, 'If you had things equal to whatever is on the earth, would you ransom yourself (from the punishment) with it?' He will reply, Yes. Allah will say, 'I asked you a much easier thing than this while you were in the backbone of Adam
, that is, not to worship others besides Me, but you refused and insisted to worship others besides Me."'
Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "Allah will say to that person of the (Hell) Fire who will receive the least punishment, 'If you had everything on the earth, would you give it as a ransom to free yourself (i.e. save yourself from this Fire)?' He will say, 'Yes.' Then Allah will say, 'While you were in the backbone of Adam
, I asked you much less than this, i.e. not to worship others besides Me, but you insisted on worshipping others besides me.' "
Narrated Anas: When 'Abdullah bin Salam heard the arrival of the Prophet at Medina, he came to him and said, "I am going to ask you about three things which nobody knows except a prophet: What is the first portent of the Hour? What will be the first meal taken by the people of Paradise? Why does a child resemble its father, and why does it resemble its maternal uncle" Allah's Apostle said, "Gabriel has just now told me of their answers." 'Abdullah said, "He (i.e. Gabriel), from amongst all the angels, is the enemy of the Jews." Allah's Apostle said, "The first portent of the Hour will be a fire that will bring together the people from the east to the west; the first meal of the people of Paradise will be Extra-lobe (caudate lobe) of fish-liver. As for the resemblance of the child to its parents: If a man has sexual intercourse with his wife and gets discharge first, the child will resemble the father, and if the woman gets discharge first, the child will resemble her.
" On that 'Abdullah bin Salam said, "I testify that you are the Apostle of Allah."
Narrated Zainab bint Um Salama: Um Sulaim said, "O Allah's Apostle! Verily Allah is not shy of (telling you) the truth. Is it essential for a woman to take a bath after she had a wet dream (nocturnal sexual discharge)?" He said, "Yes, if she notices discharge. On that Um Salama laughed and said, "Does a woman get a (nocturnal sexual) discharge?" He said, "How then does (her) son resemble her (his mother)?
Thauban, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him), said: ... He (the Jew) said: I have come to ask you about a thing which no one amongst the people on the earth knows except an apostle or one or two men besides him. He (the Holy Prophet) said: Would it benefit you if I tell you that? He (the Jew) said: I would lend ears to that. He then said: I have come to ask you about the child. He (the Holy Prophet) said: The reproductive substance of man is white and that of woman yellow, and when they have sexual intercourse and the male's substance prevails upon the female's substance, it is the male child that is created by Allah's Decree, and when the substance of the female prevails upon the substance contributed by the male, a female child is formed by the Decree of Allah
. The Jew said: What you have said is true; verily you are an Apostle. He then returned and went away. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: He asked me about such and such things of which I have had no knowledge till Allah gave me that.
This tradition has been narrated by Mu'awyia b. Salim with the same chain of transmitters except for the words: I was sitting beside the Messenger of Allah" and some other minor alterations.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "Once Solomon, son of David said, '(By Allah) Tonight I will have sexual intercourse with one hundred (or ninety-nine) women each of whom will give birth to a knight who will fight in Allah's Cause.' On that a (i.e. if Allah wills) but he did not say, Allah willing.' Therefore only one of those women conceived and gave birth to a half-man. By Him in Whose Hands Muhammad's life is, if he had said, "Allah willing', (he would have begotten sons) all of whom would have been knights striving in Allah's Cause
Narrated Abu Huraira: "A bedouin came to Allah's Apostle and said, "My wife has delivered a black child."
The Prophet said to him, "Have you camels?" He replied, "Yes." The Prophet said, "What color are they?" He replied, "They are red." The Prophet further asked, "Are any of them gray in color?" He replied, "Yes." The Prophet asked him, "Whence did that grayness come?" He said, "I think it descended from the camel's ancestors." Then the Prophet said (to him), "Therefore, this child of yours has most probably inherited the color from his ancestors
(He is created from a water gushing forth.) meaning, the sexual fluid that comes out bursting forth from the man and the woman. Thus, the child is produced from both of them by the permission of Allah. Due to this Allah says,
(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) meaning, the backbone (or loins) of the man and the ribs of the woman, which is referring to her chest. Shabib bin Bishr reported from `Ikrimah who narrated from Ibn `Abbas that he said,
(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) "The backbone of the man and the ribs of the woman. It (the fluid) is yellow and fine in texture. The child will not be born except from both of them (i.e., their sexual fluids)." Concerning Allah's statement,
(Verily, He is Able to bring him back (to life)!)
This means that He is able to return this man that is created from fluid gushed forth. In other words, He is able to repeat his creation and resurrect him to the final abode. This is clearly possible, because whoever is able to begin the creation then he surely is able to repeat it. Indeed Allah has mentioned this proof in more than one place in the Qur'an.
So let man consider, by way of reflection, from what he was created, from what thing: the response is: He was created from a gushing fluid, gushing forth from the man and the woman
into the womb,
Surah 86 Ayah 5-6
Tafsir al-Jalalayn, trans. Feras Hamza, Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought