Embryology in the Qur'an

According to Prof. Keith Moore, an anatomist at Toronto, Canada who wrote an embryology textbook widely used in medical schools around the world, when he first read what the Qur'an had to say about the development of the human embryo he was "astonished by the accuracy of the statements that were recorded in the 7th century AD, before the science of embryology was established".1 Much has subsequently been written in an attempt to demonstrate that the Qur'an, God's ultimate revelation contains statements about how humans develop which could not possibly have been known at the time that it was revealed to Muhammed. If this is indeed true, then it implies that the Qur'an must have had a divine author. It is the intention of this paper to examine what exactly was known of the human embryo at the time of Muhammed in order to see whether any of the beliefs expressed in the Qur'an were true or indeed well known before this time.

The origins of life according to the Qur'an

There are at least 60 verses which deal explicitly with human reproduction and development, but these are scattered throughout the Qur'an and many of the themes are repeated over and over again, as is common to much of the book. A useful place to begin would be the material out of which we are created. One would expect the Qur'an to be unambiguous about such an important matter, but the verses listed show just how much uncertainty there appears to be in our origins. Note that except where indicated the translation used is the modified translation of Yusuf Ali.

Could it be from earth?

Or dry clay (Arabic Salsaal)?

Did we come from nothing?

No, we did not!

Did we come from mud?

Or water?

Could it be dust?

Perhaps we arose from the dead or from one person?

To resolve the considerable ambiguity about what exactly we are made of, it has been suggested that all of the above are complimentary accounts, in the same way that a loaf of bread could be said to be made of dough, flour, carbohydrate or molecules. But this evades the issue. The metaphorical description of God making man out of the dust of the earth is ancient and predates the Qur'an by thousands of years; it is found in the Bible in Genesis 2:7. This appears to be in direct scientific conflict with those who maintain that God created life out of the oceans.

The drop of fluid or semen

In a number of places we are informed that man is created from a drop of fluid (semen):

Could this have been known to sixth-century Muslims at the time of Muhammed? That procreation involves the emission of a drop of fluid is well known from the earliest days of civilization. In Genesis 38:9 the Bible tells us that Onan "spilled his semen on the ground to keep from producing offspring for his brother". The verses listed which describe the origin of life as a drop of emitted fluid are therefore nothing more than a direct observation as to what is released in the act of sexual intercourse. We hardly need to rely upon divine inspiration to inform us of this fact.

Sura 86:6 is interesting since it claims that during the act of sexual intercourse before which a man is created, the "gushing fluid" or semen issues from between the loins and ribs. Semen is apparently coming out of the area around the kidneys and back, which is a real problem for we know that the testicles are the site of sperm production (although the ancient Greeks were not so convinced. Aristotle for example believed that they functioned as weights to keep the seminal passages open during sexual intercourse2).

The Greek physician Hippocrates and his followers taught in the fifth century B.C. that semen comes from all the fluid in the body, diffusing from the brain in the spinal marrow, before passing through the kidneys and via the testicles into the penis.3 There is absolutely no substance to this teaching today, but it was well-known in Muhammed's day, and explains why the Qur'an contains such an erroneous statement.

Of course it could be argued against this that the reference to coming from the loins is merely a metaphorical figure of speech, as found in sura 7:172 "when thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants" or 4:23 "prohibited to you (for marriage) are ... wives of your sons proceeding from your loins". But if so then it has to be accepted that this is a common usage for Middle Eastern cultures4; in the Torah God promises Jacob that "kings shall come out of your loins (chalats)" (Gen 35:11). Later in the Bible a promise is made to David's "son that shall come forth out of your loins" (I Kings 8:19) and in the New Testament Peter refers to the same person as "one from the fruit of his loins" (Greek osphus). However, these are examples of a metaphorical use of the word "loins" (Arabic sulb). Sura 86:6 is clearly talking about the physical act of intercourse; gushing fluid and ribs (tar a'ib) are both very physical and in the context of this verse they clearly refer to the site of semen production as wrongly taught by Hippocrates. Thus we have the first example of an incorrect ancient Greek idea re-emerging in the Qur'an.

The development of the embryo

Sura 22:5 says "We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then from a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed ... and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes." Sura 23:13-14 repeats this idea by saying God "placed him as (a drop of) sperm (nutfah) in a place of rest, firmly fixed; then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood (alaqa); then out of that clot We made a (foetus) lump (mugdah), then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature." 75:38 also says man becomes an alaqa and 96:2 says we came from alaq.

We have to ask what the precise meaning of these words is in order to know whether the verses contain important scientific statements that have only recently been discovered, as Moore and others claim. Elsewhere (16:4, 18:37, 23:13, 35:11, 53:46, 75:37, 76:2, 80:19) nutfah is used when describing the fluid which gushes out during sexual intercourse and this cannot be anything other than semen.

It is more difficult to understand what alaqa means, and many different suggestions have been made: clot (Pickthall, Maulana Muhammed Ali, Muhammed Zafrulla Khan, Hamidullah), small lump of blood (Kasimirski), leech-like clot (Yusuf Ali), and "leech, suspended thing or blood clot" (Moore, op.cit). It is debatable just how closely an embryo of 24 days' gestation resembles a leech, for in side view the developing umbilicus (genetically part of the embryo) is almost as big as the "leech-shaped" part into which a human is formed and the developing placenta is much larger than the foetus. It is claimed that the ancients would not have been able to see an embryo about 3mm long and describe it as leech-like, but Aristotle correctly described the function of the umbilical cord, by which the embryo "clings" to the uterus wall in the fourth century B.C.5 It is impossible to believe the suggestion of Bachir Torki6 that alaq in 96:2 means links, referring to the gene code of DNA, as this makes a nonsense out of other verses where the word is used, such as 22:5 ("we made you from a drop of sperm, then from that a gene code, then from that a little lump of flesh....").

To establish a definition for alaqa we might take a look at the Qamus el Muheet, one of the most important Arabic dictionaries ever compiled, by Muhammed Ibn-Yaqub al-Firuzabadi (AD 1329-1415).7 He says that alaqa has the same meaning as a clot of blood. However in 96:2 the word alaq is used, which is both a collective plural and a verbal noun. The latter form conveys the sense of man being created from clinging material or possibly clay, which is consistent with the creation of Adam in the Bible from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) and some of the other Qur'anic verses listed above. However, the translators of the Qur'an have all translated alaq as "clot" as opposed to "clinging" in 96:2 because the use of the singular alaqa elsewhere forces them to use "clot" here too, despite the attraction for the meaning "clinging" or leech-like which is a little more scientifically accurate.

Another source are the early commentators, including Ibn Kathir who writes that when the drop of water (nutfah) settles in the womb it stays there for forty days and then becomes a red clot (alaqa), staying there for another forty days before turning to mugdah, a piece of flesh without shape or form, then it begins to take on a shape and form. Both ar-Razi and as-Suyuti8 claimed that the dust referred both to Adam's creation and to the man's discharge; nutfah referred to the water from the male and alaqa is a solidified piece of blood clot. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya wrote that "the foetus is a living or dead babe animal which is sometimes found in the womb of a slaughtered animal, and its blood is congested".9 Another great physician, Ibn al-Quff wrote some 13 out of 60 chapters from "On Health Preservation" about embryology and pregnancy. He included a further stage of development one week after conception, the foam stage or raghwah. Up to 16 days the embryo was alaqa (clot) and after 27 to 30 days the clot turns into a lump of meat, mugdah.10 These dates must be regarded as very approximate but are nevertheless a major improvement on what one of the most reliable Hadiths says about foetal development, as we shall see later.

Razi describes the mugdah as being a little piece of meat the size of what a man can chew. The idea that mugdah means chewed flesh is a later, and less accurate translation of the word, but the idea has persisted because it is claimed that the somites from which the backbone and other trunk structures develop bear a passing resemblance to teeth marks implanted in plastercine. It must be said that not only is this an imaginative interpretation however, but besides, it is incorrect for Moore to claim that the mugdah, bearing teeth marks, occurs at 26-27 days since at that point the embryo is a mere 4mm long. One would have to wait around 8 weeks before the embryo was the size of chewed flesh (a mouthful being 20-30mm wide), which is what mugdah really means. And the following Hadith claims that the mugdah stage occurs between days 80 and 120, by which time the foetus is considerably larger than a lump of flesh the size of which a man can chew, and looks very human and totally unlike meat.

In a Hadith spoken from the mouth of Muhammed himself and transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim, the drop of sperm remains in the womb for 40 days, then becomes a clot for a further 40 days, then a lump of flesh for 40 days.11 It has been shown that human sperm can only survive inside a woman's reproductive tract for a maximum of 7 days; at 80 days the embryo has very definitely acquired the shape of a human being and looks nothing like either a clot or a mouthful of flesh. If Muhammed made such glaring errors when teaching about the embryo one begins to wonder how reliable everything else is which he taught.

Some possible explanations

Aristotle believed that humans originated from the action of male semen upon female menstrual blood12 which leaves us with something of a dilemma. If we translate alaqa as "clot" it means that the Qur'an is completely wrong about human development, since there is absolutely no stage during which the embryo consists of a clot. The only situation in which an embryo might appear like a clot is during a miscarriage, in which case the clotted blood which is seen to emerge (much of which comes from the mother incidentally) is solidified and by definition no longer alive. So if ever an embryo appeared like a clot it would never develop any further into a human; it would be a dead mass of bloody miscarrying flesh.

So when the Qur'an says alaqa then either it is referring to what is easily observed when any woman has a miscarriage (and since Muhammed had several wives it is entirely likely that he would be very familiar with miscarriages), in which case it refers to something which is not actually an embryo (since much of what makes up a miscarriage is maternal blood) and which is directly observable; or perhaps it is referring to Aristotle's false belief that the embryo originated from the combination of male sperm and female menstrual blood. Moore avoids the problem altogether by translating alaqa as a leech, since he knows that there is no stage in development when the embryo is a clot, but as we have seen, this is only to justify his personal belief that an embryo of 24-25 days is a suspended or clinging leech-like alaqa and one at 26-27 days is a mugdah with teeth-marks. In addition, if the alaqa is translated "leech" simply because it appears to be clinging to the uterus wall, does this mean that the foetus only clings to the uterus wall for a few days? Obviously it remains attached for the entire nine months of gestation.

There are other problems with Moore's interpretation too. Not least is that Muhammed claimed that the dates were 40-80 days and 80-120 days of gestation respectively, rather than 24-25 days and 26-27 days. Prof. Moore cannot have his cake and eat it. It also begs the question as to why, if the Qur'an really is giving us a highly precise scientific account of human development, it only mentions two stages, alaqa and mugdah, when between fertilization and day 28 for example Moore lists no fewer than 13 stages in the inside front cover of his book. Why does the Qur'an say nothing about these stages? The reality is that the more ambiguous the meaning of the Arabic terms, as we have already seen, the less convincingly can they be said to be highly precise scientific terms.

However, the most convincing explanation, and the most worrying for those who maintain that the Qur'an is God's eternal Word, untampered with and free from any human interference, is that the Qur'an is using the enormously influential Greek physician Galen's teaching that the second stage of foetal development is a vascular mass, in which case not only is the Qur'an wrong, but it also plagiarises ancient Greek literature!

The account of the different stages in embryology as described by the Qur'an, ar-Razi and al-Quff is identical to that taught by Galen, writing in around AD 150 in Pergamum (Bergama in modern Turkey). Galen taught that the embryo developed in four stages13, 14, the first being geniture, an unformed white conceptus like semen, the second a bloody vascularised foetus with brain, liver and heart, the third was when other features were mapped out but unformed, and the fourth, puer, was when all the organs were well formed and joints were freely moveable. Basim Musallam concludes "The stages of development which the Qur'an and Hadith established for believers agreed perfectly with Galen's scientific account. ... There is no doubt that medieval thought appreciated this agreement between the Qur'an and Galen, for Arabic science employed the same Qur'anic terms to describe the Galenic stages".15

Stages of development - a modern idea?

It has been said that the idea of the embryo developing through stages is a modern one, and that the Qur'an is anticipating modern embryology by depicting differing stages. However many ancient writers besides Galen taught that humans developed in different stages. For example in the Jewish Talmud we learn that the embryo has six stages of development. Samuel ha-Yehudi was a 2nd century Jewish physician, and one of many with an interest in embryology.16 The embryo was called peri habbetten (fruit of the body) and develops as

  1. golem (formless, rolled-up thing);
  2. shefir meruqqam (embroidered foetus);
  3. 'ubbar (something carried);
  4. walad (child);
  5. walad shel qayama (noble child) and
  6. ben she-kallu kladashaw (child whose months have been completed).

Yet with the benefit of modern science we now know that the formation of a human being is a seamless continuation from conception to birth, hence so much confusion about abortion and embryo research. For if we develop as a continuous process it is impossible to draw hard-and-fast boundaries about when life starts. This makes a nonsense of the Qur'anic verse which says (71:14) "When He created you by (divers) stages".

More examples of borrowing from ancient Greek writers

If we look at what the ancient Greeks taught we can clearly see that all the other references to embryology in the Qur'an and Hadith can also be traced directly back to them. For example there is a Hadith in which Muhammed is questioned about why a group of red camels have a grey camel among them, and it is due to a hidden trait. But Aristotle noticed that babies who were born that looked unlike either of their parents would often take on the appearance of their grandparents17, so that the characteristic skipped a generation, being what we now know as recessive. He also tells us of a woman from Elis who took a black husband and although their daughter was not black, their daughter's daughter was black, demonstrating a gene which skipped a generation in exactly the same way as Muhammed described.18

Another Hadith says "If a male's fluid prevails upon the female's substance, the child will be a male by Allah's decree, and when the substance of the female prevails upon the substance contributed by the male, a female child is formed".19 This is not refering to dominant and recessive genes at all, as certain Muslims have claimed, but simply the incorrect belief of Hippocrates that both men and women produce both male and female sperm, and the resulting sex of the child is determined by which sex sperm overwhelms the other in strength or quantity:

"... both partners alike contain both male and female sperm (the male being stronger than the female must originate from a stronger sperm). Here is a further point: if (a) both partners produce a stronger sperm then a male is the result, whereas if (b) they produce a weak form, then a female is the result. But if (c) one partner produces one kind of sperm, and the other another then the resultant sex is determined by whichever sperm prevails in quantity. For suppose that the weak sperm is much greater in quantity than the stronger sperm: then the stronger sperm is overwhelmed and, being mixed with weak, results in a female. If on the contrary the strong sperm is greater in quantity than the weak, and the weak is overwhelmed, it results in a male".20

Earlier in the same Hadith Muhammed says that the reproductive substance of men is white and that of women is yellow. This sounds very much like the content, white and yellow, that is found inside developing chick-eggs, and which Aristotle was known to dissect.21

Later in the same Hadith an angel is apparently sent by Allah to shape the embryo and ask what sex it is going to be. Notwithstanding that sex is actually determined at the moment of conception according to whether the first cell has two X chromosomes (female) or an X and Y chromosome (male) and that there is some ambiguity about the age in days of the embryo when the angel appears (Hudhaifa b. Usaid reported that Muhammed said 40 or perhaps 50 days, not 42, and Abu Tufail maintains that Muhammed said to Hudhaifa b. Usaid that sperm resided in the womb for 40 days), Hippocrates taught that it took 30 days for the male genitals to form and 42 for the female embryo.22 No wonder the angel has to wait this length of time before it learns the child's sex. In fact, prior to 7 weeks of gestation the ovaries and testes appear identical and the external genitalia only start to diverge around 9 weeks.

In sura 23:14 we read that Allah fashioned bones out of the mugdah and covered the bones with flesh. Yet in Moore's textbook and other embryological books we learn that bone and muscle develop simultaneously out of the same mesodermal tissue from 20 days onwards23, with no attempt being made to reconcile the discrepancy.

Sura 39:6 says that God made us in stages in threefold darkness. There have been many interpretations of this verse, including that of as-Suyuti who said that there were three membranes surrounding the foetus, one to carry nutrients to it, another to absorb its urine, and the third to absorb other waste products. Elsewhere it has been suggested that they are the abdominal wall, the uterine wall and the amniotic sac in which the foetus sits. This is entirely observable, as Hippocrates described dissecting pregnant dogs to find puppies sitting in the amniotic sac inside the uterus.24 And a rather macabre practice of Queen Cleopatra was to rip open the wombs of her pregnant slavegirls in order to see their foetuses, according to both Rabbinic traditions and Plinius.25

It is said that sura 80:20 describes how easy Allah has made it for delivery of the infant, but this contradicts sura 46:15 ("his mother beareth him with reluctance and bringeth him forth with reluctance"). In fact 80:19 is talking about man's origins from a drop of sperm, and 80:21 about his death and burial, so it is entirely logical that 80:20 refers not to the process of parturition (giving birth) but to the whole of man's life being made easy for him by God. In the context this makes a lot more sense, does not contradict 46:15 and does not go against the weight of obstetrical evidence that makes giving birth one of the most dangerous things a woman can do in her life. (In Mozambique, childbirth is the seventh most common cause of death in women, and worldwide a woman dies in labour every 53 seconds.) The Biblical teaching that women give birth with much pain (Genesis 3:16) is far more realistic.

Sura 33:4 says that Allah has not put two hearts into any man. Yet duplication of the heart has been admitted, albeit with reluctance by Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire and celebrated anatomists including Littre, Meckel, Colomb, Panum, Behr, Paullini, Rhodius, Winslow and Zacutus Lusitanus.26

In other places the Qur'an contains commands which have been claimed to be fantastically advanced and sensible, when in fact they were known and followed by far more ancient civilizations. In sura 2:222, Allah tells Muhammed that menstruation is an illness and men must not have sexual intercourse with their wives until they are cleansed from their periods. Yet 2000 years earlier Moses received the command not to have sexual intercourse during a woman's period (Torah: Leviticus 18:19) but this was very definitely not for health reasons, but for religious, ceremonial reasons. Having sex during one's period is hardly likely to cause male infertility, endometriosis and fallopian tube damage, as has been claimed by some Muslims with no scientific evidence, even if it might be unpleasant for the couple. But perhaps more importantly menstruation is not an illness; indeed the shedding of the endometrial layer of the uterus helps to prevent uterine cancer. Progesterone has to be included in hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) in post-menopausal women to induce an artificial menstruation every month to prevent a build-up of endometrium which could become cancerous!

But could Muhammed have known these things?

It is one thing for the ancient Greeks to be teaching all this, but can we be sure that the material was familiar to the Arabs of Muhammed's day? Given that so much of what the Qur'an says is based upon Galen's beliefs, it is particularly significant that some 26 books of his work were translated into Syriac as early as the sixth century AD by Sergios of Resh' Aina (Ra's al-Ain). Sergios was a Christian priest who studied medicine in Alexandria and worked in Mesopotania, dying in AD 532.27 After the fall of Alexandria in AD 642 knowledge of Greek medicine spread throughout the Arab world. In the 9th century Hunain Ibn Ishaq made perhaps the definitive Arabic translation of Hippocrates and Galen28, and al-Kindi wrote over twenty medical treatises, including one specifically on Hippocrates.

Indeed, the writers of the Arabic medical literature acknowledge as their sources the major Greek and Indian medical traditions. For example, one of the earliest Arabic compendiums of medicine is Ali at-Tabari's "Paradise of Wisdom"29, written by a Christian convert to Islam in about 850 at Samarra in Mesopotania. In it he said that he was following the rules set down by Hippocrates and Aristotle regarding how to write his treatise. It contains 360 chapters, and the fourth Discourse, beginning at chapter 325 is entitled "From the Summaries of Indian Books". Chapter 330, from Sushrata, "The Genesis of the Embryo and of the Members" claims that the embryo results from mixing of sperm and menstrual blood (viz-a-viz Aristotle!) and describes various constituents of the embryo. The medical historian Arthur Meyer summed up the whole of the Arabic embryological tradition when he said that at-Tabari "depended largely upon Greek sources, which would seem to imply that he could obtain little from the Arabs. Moreover, since Aristotelian and Galenical teaching survived side by side for over a thousand years without a known Arabic counterpart, it is doubtful if the latter existed".30

An extraordinary passage from the writings of the medieval philosopher Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (died in AD 1350) shows how heavily the later Arabic writers depended upon the Greek doctors; in one continuous discourse31 the words of Hippocrates explain the Qur'an and Hadith, and the latter are used to explain Hippocrates. For example:

"Hippocrates said ... 'some membranes are formed at the beginning, others after the second month, and others in the third month ...' That is why God says, 'He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, by one formation after another in three darknesses'. Since each of these membranes has its own darkness, when God mentioned the stages of creation and transformation from one state to another, He also mentioned the darknesses of the membranes. Most commentators explain: 'it is the darkness of the belly, and the darkness of the womb, and the darkness of the placenta' ... Hippocrates said, 'The ears are opened, and the eyes, which are filled with a clear liquid.' The Prophet used to say, 'I worship Him Who made my face and formed it, and opened my hearing and eyesight' etc. etc.".32

Here is someone writing a medical account who includes Hippocrates (bold type), the Qur'an, Hadith and commentaries on them (italics) and his own thoughts (normal type) in one and the same paragraph. Of course the intelligentsia of Muhammed's time were familiar with both Greek and Indian medicine.

Other embryologists were known but added nothing new to Galen, for example Abu Ali-al-Hasan ibn 'Abdallah ibn Sina (AD 980-1037) who wrote a Canon Medicinae. Clement of Alexandria included familiar information and believed that the embryo was formed through the combination of semen and menstrual blood. Lactantius of Nicomedia in AD 325 opened eggs at varying stages of development.

It seems that not even Prof. Moore is sufficiently convinced by the scientific "facts" in the Qur'an to risk his reputation as a highly respected professor of anatomy in the medical establishment. The Islamic edition of his textbook is not even available in the British Library or the US Library of Congress, let alone other medical libraries in Western countries33, presumably because he is aware that not only do the Islamic contributions to it contradict known science, but they also contradict what he himself has written in the standard version of his textbook. And ironically in the bibliography for the first chapter, "A history of embryology", in both the standard and Islamic versions he refers to Needham's important work on the history of embryology.34 Needham however is unimpressed with the Arabic claims of embryology and after writing over 60 pages about ancient Greek, Indian and Egyptian embryology he dismisses the entire Arabic tradition in less than one page, concluding that "Arabic science, so justly famed for its successes in certain fields such as optics and astronomy, was not of great help to embryology". After listing some of the verses in the Qur'an about embryology he dismisses them as merely "a seventh-century echo of Aristotle and the Ayer-veda"35, in other words a mixture of Greek and ancient Indian teachings.

In conclusion then there is not a single statement contained in the Qur'an relating to modern embryology that is not either scientifically incorrect or which was well known through direct observation by the ancient Greek and Indian physicians many centuries before the Qur'an was written. Far from proving the alleged divine credentials of the Qur'an, its embryological statements actually provide further convincing evidence for its human origins.


1. Keith L. Moore (Saunders, 1982), The Developing Human, 3rd edition with Islamic Additions, p. viiic
2. Aristotle (English trans. A. L. Peck, Heinemann, 1953), Generation of Animals, 717b
3. Hippocratic Writings (Penguin Classics, 1983), p. 317-8
4. W. Campbell (Middle East Resources, 1986), The Qur'an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, pp. 181-182
5. Aristotle, op. cit., 740a
6. B. Torki (1979), L'Islam Religion de la Science, p. 178
7. Al Munjid fil Lugha wala'aam (Dar Al Mashreq sarl, Lebanon, 1987)
8. As-Suyuti, trans. Elgood (Ta-Ha, 1994) As-Suyuti's Medicine of the Prophet, p. 184ff
9. Iman Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (English trans. Mahammad Al-Akili, Pearl, 1993) Natural Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet, p.284
10. Sami K. Hamarneh (Cairo, 1974), The Physician, Therapist and Surgeon Ibn al-Quff. p. 105
11. al-Bukhari, 8.593; Muslim Kitab an-Nikah MCII
12. Aristotle, op. cit., 729a
13. Corpus Medicorum Graecorum: Galeni de Semine (Galen: On Semen) (English trans. Phillip de Lacy, Akademic Verlag, 1992) section I:9:1-10 pp. 92-95
14. A. W. Meyer (Stanford, 1939), The Rise of Embryology, p27
15. B. Musallam (Cambridge, 1983), Sex and Society in Islam. p. 54
16. J. Needham (Cambridge, 2nd edition 1959), A History of Embryology, p. 77
17. Aristotle, op. cit., 767b, 769a
18. Aristotle, op. cit., 722a
19. Sahih Muslim CXXV (entitled "The characteristic of the male reproductive substance and the female reproductive substance, and that the offspring is produced by the contribution of both")
20. Hippocrates, op. cit., pp. 320-1
21. J. Needham, op. cit., p. 53
22. Hippocrates, op. cit., p. 329
23. K. L. Moore, op. cit., pp. 56, 63, chapters 15 and 16
24. Hippocrates, op. cit., p. 345
25. B. Palmer (ed.) (Paternoster Press, 1986), Medicine and the Christian Mind, p. 19
26. G. M. Gould, W. L. Pyle (Julian Press, 1896), Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine
27. G. Sarton, (Williams and Wilkins, 1927), Introduction to the History of Science, vol I, pp. 423-424
28. M. Meyerhof (1926), New light on Hunain Ibn Ishaq and his period, Isis, vol 8, pp. 685-724
29. M. Meyerhof (1931) Ali at-Tabari's "Paradise of Wisdom", one of the oldest Arabic Compendiums of Medicine, Isis, vol 16, pp. 6-54
30. A. W. Meyer, op cit, p. 27
31. Ibn Qayyin (Damascus, 1971), Tuhfat: Tuhfat al mawdud bi ahkam al-mawlud, pp. 254-291
32. B. Musallam, op. cit., p. 56
33. This information is accurate as of November 1996. Obviously this "oversight" could be easily rectified by Muslim efforts in reaction to this paper. But at the time of writing, some 14 years after the publication of the "edition with Islamic additions", this book is not listed in these library catalogues.
34. K. L. Moore, op.cit p. 12
35. J. Needham, op. cit., p. 82

The author is a practising medical doctor in the United Kingdom and would be pleased to hear your responses at

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