Another important item of information provided in the verses of the Qur’an is the developmental stages of a human being in the mother’s womb. It is stated in these verses that in the mother’s womb, the bones develop first, and then the muscles form which wrap around them.
023.014► ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنْشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ [We] then formed the drop into an embryo and formed the embryo into a lump and formed the lump into bones and clothed the bones in flesh; and then brought him into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Qur’an, Al-Mumenoon -23:14)
Embryology is the branch of science that studies the development of the embryo in the mother’s womb. Until very recently, embryologists assumed that the bones and muscles in an embryo developed at the same time. Yet, advanced microscopic research conducted by virtue of new technological developments has revealed that the revelation of the Qur’an is word for word correct.
These observations at the microscopic level showed that the development inside the mother’s womb takes place in just the way it is described in these verses. First, the cartilage tissue of the embryo ossifies. Then, muscular cells that are selected from amongst the tissue around the bones come together and wrap around the bones.
This event is described in a scientific publication titled Developing Human in the following words:
… [T]he shape of the skeleton determines the general appearance of the embryo in the bones stage during the 7th week; muscles do not develop at the same time but their development follows soon after. The muscles take their positions around the bones throughout the body and therefore clothe the bones. Thus, the muscles take their well known forms and structures… The stage of clothing with muscle occurs during the 8th week…
In short, developmental stages of man, as described in the Qur’an, are in perfect harmony with the findings of modern embryology.
In the Qur’an, it is related that man is created through a three-stage process in the mother’s womb.
039.006► خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ ثُمَّ جَعَلَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَأَنْزَلَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الأنْعَامِ ثَمَانِيَةَ أَزْوَاجٍ يَخْلُقُكُمْ فِي بُطُونِ أُمَّهَاتِكُمْ خَلْقًا مِنْ بَعْدِ خَلْقٍ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ ثَلاثٍ ذَلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ لَهُ الْمُلْكُ لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ فَأَنَّى تُصْرَفُونَ … He creates you stage by stage in your mothers’ wombs in threefold darkness. That is Allah, your Lord. Sovereignty is His. There is no deity but Him. So what has made you deviate? (Qur’an, Az-Zumar- 39:6)
The expression “fee thulumaatin thalaathin,” translated into English as “a threefold darkness,” indicates three dark regions involved during the development of the embryo. These are:
a) The darkness of the abdomen
b) The darkness of the womb
c) The darkness of the placenta
As we have seen, modern biology has revealed that the embryological development of the baby takes place in the manner revealed in the verse, in three dark regions. Moreover, advances in the science of embryology show that these regions consist of three layers each.
The lateral abdominal wall comprises three layers: the external oblique, the internal oblique, and transverses abdominis muscles.91
Similarly, the wall of the womb also consists of three layers: the epimetrium, the myometrium and the endometrium.92
Similarly again, the placenta surrounding the embryo also consists of three layers: the amnion (the internal membrane around the foetus), the chorion (the middle amnion layer) and the decidua (outer amnion layer.)93
It is also pointed out in this verse that a human being is created in the mother’s womb in three distinct stages.
Indeed, modern biology has also revealed that the baby’s embryological development takes place in three distinct regions in the mother’s womb. Today, in all the embryology textbooks studied in departments of medicine, this subject is taken as an element of basic knowledge. For instance, in Basic Human Embryology, a fundamental reference text in the field of embryology, this fact is stated as follows:
The life in the uterus has three stages: pre-embryonic; first two and a half weeks, embryonic; until the end of the eight week, and fetal; from the eight week to labor.94
These phases refer to the different developmental stages of a baby. In brief, the main characteristics of these developmental stages are as follows:
- Pre-embryonic Stage
In this first phase, the zygote grows by division, and when it becomes a cell cluster, it buries itself in the wall of the uterus. While they continue growing, the cells organize themselves in three layers.
- Embryonic Stage
The second phase lasts for five and a half weeks, during which the baby is referred to as an “embryo.” During this stage, the basic organs and systems of the body start to appear from the cell layers. - Foetal Stage
From this stage onward, the embryo is called a “foetus.” This phase begins at the eighth week of gestation, and lasts until the moment of birth. The distinctive characteristic of this stage is that the foetus looks much like a human being, with its face, hands and feet. Although it is only 3 cm (1.18 inch) long initially, all of its organs have become apparent. This phase lasts for about 30 weeks, and development continues until the week of delivery.
Information on the development in the mother’s womb became available only after observations with modern devices. Yet, just like many other scientific facts, in a miraculous way, Allah draws our attention to these items of information in the verses of the Qur’an. The fact that such detailed and accurate information was given in the Qur’an at a time when people had scarce information on medical matters is clear evidence that the Qur’an is the word of Allah. (See Harun Yahya, The Miracle of Human Creation, Goodword Books, New Delhi, 2003)