Friday, January 11, 2008

Historical background

Historical background

Since Aristotle had summed up the prevailing theories in his age relating to the creation of the embryo, controversy continued among the supporters of the theory of the full dwarf embryo existing in man’s sperm and those of the theory of the full dwarf embryo created out of the woman’s menstrual blood coagulation (thickening). Most of them believed that man was reduced into that sperm drop, and they drew a figure in which they imagined the embryo as a full creature in the sperm drop, which then grew up in the womb as a small tree. (Figure 1).

Figure 1 : The dwarf embryo as imagined by Leonardo da Vinci from the 15th century (on the left) and the sperm as miniature human being by Hartsoeker from the 17th century (on the right)

None of both groups could realize that man’s sperm and woman’s ovum participate in the creation of the embryo, as supported by the Italian Scientist “Spallanzani” in the year of 1775. In 1783, Van Beneden was able to confirm this statement, and thus the idea of the dwarf embryo had been discarded. During the years 1888 and 1909 Boveri proved that chromosomes when divided carry the different genetic characteristics. Morgan, in 1912, was able to determine the role of genes, existing in certain parts of chromosomes, in hereditary.

Therefore, it is clear that mankind did not realize that the embryo is created of a man’s sperm mingled with a woman’s ovum except in the 18th century, and only to be confirmed at the beginning of the 20th century.

On the other hand, the Holy Quran and the Prophetic speeches have confirmed in a very accurate scientific manner the creation of man from a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), as coined by the Quran, which says ;

Verily We created man from a drop of a mingled fluid-drop (nutfa amshaj), in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts), of hearing and sight.”
(Qur’an 76:2)

It has been agreed upon by commentators of the Holy Quran that “amshaj” means mingling, as man’s water mingles with that of the woman, and this is also what the Prophet confirmed in one of his speeches. Imam Ahmed indicated in his book “Al Musnad” that a Jew passed by the Prophet Mohammed while he was addressing his companions. Some people from Quarish said; “O Jew! This man proclaims that he is a prophet.” The Jew said: “ I will ask him of something no one knows except a prophet.” He asked the prophet; “ O Mohammed! What is man created from? The Prophet said; “O Jew! Man is created from both: man’s fluid (nutfa) and woman’s fluid.” The Jew said; “This is said by those prophets before you.” .

In the next few pages, the embryological developments as indicated in the Quranic verses will be discussed, while shedding light on the fixed scientific facts in each stage of development.

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