By Ansar Al ‘Adl.
The allegation is as follows:
What was man created from? A blood clot [96:1-2], water [21:30, 24:45, 25:54], “sounding” (i.e. burned) clay [15:26], dust [3:59, 30:20, 35:11], nothing [19:67] and this is then denied in 52:35, earth [11:61], a drop of thickened fluid [16:4, 75:37]
The obvious explanation to this question is that these references describe different aspects or stages in man’s creation. This has always been the understanding of such verses.
We will give a brief explanation of each verse, while presenting them in chronological order.
Most of the references refer to two different aspects of creation: Original creation and Embryological development.
19:67 Does not man remember that We created him before, and he was nothing?
The phrase and he was nothing is the translation of the arabic wa lam yaku shay. Some confusion may have resulted because Yusuf Ali’s translation renders it as out of nothing, which is not very accurate at all. The phrase literally means, and he was nothing.
Hence, this verse states that human beings were nothing, and Allah brought us into existence. This is a tremendous favor bestowed upon us, that we may be thankful to Allah swt.
This is allegedly in contradiction to the following verse:
52:35 Were they created by nothing, or were they themselves the creators?
Ibn Kathir Ad-Damishqi (d.1372CE) has explained this verse as follows in his renowned Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-Azim:
Allah asks them, were they created without a maker or did they create themselves Neither is true. Allah is the One Who created them and brought them into existence after they were nothing.(Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Abridged, Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, 2000, vol. 9, p. 297)
Hence, this verse is not in contradiction to the previous verse at all, after closer examination. Even if we choose to translate verse 52:35 as “Were they created from nothing…” it would also be correct as Allah swt developed the human being from previously created substances.
20:55 Thereof (the earth) We created you, and into it We shall return you, and from it We shall bring you out once again
The original creation of Adam pbuh was from the dust of the earth.
30:20 Among His Signs is this, that He created you from dust; and then,- behold, ye are men scattered (far and wide)!
This dust was then mixed with water to produce what is mentioned in the following verse:
15:26 And indeed, We created man from dried (sounding) clay of altered mud [min hama’in masnoon]
An interesting commentary on these verses has been provided here:
Sheikh Muhammad Mutwalli Ash-Sha`rawi also comments:
If we take dust and add water to it, it will be mud. If it is left for some time, it will turn into clay. These are simply the stages of the creation of man. Man thus comes from dust, turned into clay after the addition of water. If we scrutinize this issue, we will find out that man, in his daily life, needs earth and depends on it in so many aspects. It is this earthy soil where we grow the plants upon which we live. Thus, preserving the materials of man depends on the source from which these materials are created.
Scientists have analyzed the human body and found that it is composed of 16 substances including oxygen and manganese. These elements are no more than the elements of the earth’s crust. This experiment was not meant for proving the credibility of the Qur’an; rather, it was solely for scientific research purposes.
In addition, death itself serves as a proof of creation. When we try to demolish a building, we follow the reverse order of building it; we start with the last floor. By the same token, since we have not eye-witnessed the creation of man, then we shall see how death occurs. Actually, we witness several deaths everyday. When man dies, his soul leaves his body, then the decline starts; his body becomes dry (which is similar to the stage of clay) and then decays and turns finally into dust which was his original substance. Life is given to man through the soul that is blown into his body. When the soul departs, man dies and starts his way back to his original form going through the stages of his first creation. Thus, death stands as a living proof for creation (SOURCE)
21:30…We made of water every living thing. Will they not then believe?
This verse explains that all living things are composed of water.
Dr. Zakir Naik has commented on the above verse by saying:
Only after advances have been made in science, do we now know that cytoplasm, the basic substance of the cell is made up of 80% water. Modern research has also revealed that most organisms consist of 50% to 90% water and that every living entity requires water for its existence. Was it possible 14 centuries ago for any human-being to guess that every living being was made of water? Moreover would such a guess be conceivable by a human being in the deserts of Arabia where there has always been scarcity of water? (SOURCE)
The following link also comments on this:
16:4 He has created man from a nutfah; and behold this same (man) becomes an open disputer!
Dr. Omar Abdul Rehman has explained this as follow:
Nutfah (The drop)
Al-Nutfah in Arabic means a drop or a small part of fluid and Nutfah in general describes a stage where the beginnings of a human being are found in this fluid (Ref: 6A, 12/6; 17/118; 19/120: 13A, 3/436: 15A, 17/116: 1C, 2/121: 7B, 3/116: 4D, 9/235-6: 5D, 6/258: 4A, 30/234: 7A, 4/336: 10A, 13/9: 12A, 4/288). Its real meaning can only be deduced from the text of Qur’an; evidently it is a comprehensive term and includes male and female gametes and part of their natural environments of fluid. It also includes zygote, morula and blastocyst till implantation in the uterus. This is illustrated by the following citation:
“was he not a drop or part of germinal fluid (Mani) emitted or programmed” (Surah Al- Qiyama, Ayah 37)
Here “Mani” means male or female germinal fluid (Ref: 1D, 5/276: 5D, 10/348:2D, 6/2497).
The Prophet’s Hadith confirms the fact that the offspring is created from part of the germinal fluids.
“Not from all the fluid is the offspring created”
(Sahih. Muslim: Kitab Al-Nekah, Bab Al-Azl)
It is also known that not all parts of the ejaculate are equally potent in the fertilisation process. “In the first portion of the ejaculate are the spermatozoa, epididymal fluids, and the secretions from the Cowper and prostate gland fluids. In the last portions of the ejaculate are the secretions of the seminal vesicles. Most spermatozoa appear in the first part of the ejaculate, which is made primarily of prostatic secretions. Thus spermatozoa in the initial portion of the ejaculate have better motility and survival than those in the later portions, which are chiefly vesicular in origin”. (SOURCE)
And concerning the verse:
96:2 Created man, out of a (mere) clot of an Alaqah
Dr. Omar Abdul Rehman states:
The ‘Alaqah stage
“Then (thumm) We made the drop into an ‘Alaqah”. (Surah Al-Mu ‘minun, Ayah 14)
In Arabic the word ‘Alaqah in fact has several meanings;
- something which clings or a suspended thing (Ref: 7B, 5/440: 1D, 4/125: 2D, 4/1529: 3D, 343: 4D, 10/267: 5D, 7/20)
- a leech-like structure (Ref: 9A, 3/242: 20A, 2/281: 7B, 5/139: 2D, 4/1529: 3D, 343: 4D, 10/267)
Amazingly each of these terms can be applied to the developing embryo with stunning precision. All of these terms encompassed by the word ‘Alaqah describe the appearance of the embryo as well as its relationship with the womb. From the discussion below it becomes clear that the embryo resembles a primitive multicellular organism which is attached to a host and feeding on its blood.
a) something which clings
Modern science informs us that once the egg has been fertilised in the Fallopian tube it undergoes successive divisions to form a ball like structure of 12-16 cells by the third day. This structure is called a blastocyst and it reaches the uterus in 4 to 5 days. The blastocyst then lies free in the uterine secretions for a further 2 days. About a week after fertilisation the blastocyst begins to attach and implant into the uterine wall. By the 11th to 12th day it is completely embedded in the uterine wall. At this stage chorionic villosities begin to develop like roots in the soil, these draw nourishment from the uterus necessary for the blastocyst’s growth. These formations cover the whole blastocyst and make it literally cling to the uterus. By the end of the second week implantation is complete. Inside the blastocyst the embryo is anchored to the wall of the chorionic cavity by a connecting stalk. Hence, these different ways of clinging and attachment seem to represent the most dominant features from day 7 to 21, and are perfectly described in the Qur’anic description by the word ‘Alaqah. For greater detail see S. Hussain (1986) ‘Al-‘Alaq: the mystery explored, Ark Journal, London, pp. 31-36.
b) a suspended thing
The 3 week old embryo inside the blastocyst which is embedded in the uterine wall is seen to be suspended in the chorionic cavity by means of the connecting stalk and is surrounded by the amniotic cavity and the yolk sac. Therefore, the term ‘Alaqah accurately describes the suspended embryo after it has been implanted.
c) a leech-like structure
The word ‘Alaqah can also be translated as ‘leech like structure’. The leech is a elongated pear shaped creature which thrives on blood sucking. At this stage of development the embryo from top view does bear a resemblance to a leech. This resemblance is even more marked if the 24 day old embryo is seen from the side. It is also interesting to note that the embryo is now dependent on the maternal blood for its nutrition and behaves very much like a leech!. (For greater detail see Moore, KL. ‘A scientists interpretation of references to embryology in the Qur’an.’ Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of US and Canada, 1986, 18:15, and Moore, KL. and Azzindani, AMA.: “The Developing Human, Clinically Orientated Embryology, With Islamic Additions”. 3rd Ed., Dar Al-Qiblah and WB Saunders).
In conclusion, whichever of the above terms are used to translate the word ‘Alaqah they are all stunningly accurate descriptions of the embryo at this stage in it’s development as confirmed by modern science.
There is a gap of a few days between the stages of implantation (Nutfah) and ‘Alaqah and this period is clearly explained by the above Ayah:
The word “Thumm” in Arabic is a conjunction indicating a time lag and the Ayah will, therefore, mean that after some time we created the “Nutfah” into ‘Alaqah. (SOURCE)
These explanations make it evident that each verse is describing different stages in the creation of man.
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