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Summary of 10.19 "The Quran and Modern Sciences VII - Human Reproduction I"

In the first part of the program we just continued our discussion of the animal kingdom and the programing of the nervous system of birds.  There were also some brief discussions of the formation of milk in animals and how God refers to it as something that comes from the junction of the intestine and the blood which we analyzed from the physiological standpoint which was not known at the time of the revelation of the Quran.  Then we started the discussion of human reproduction.  The most striking point is not only does the Quran not mention any of the erroneous myths that existed at the time of its revelation or for hundreds of years after but it mentioned things that were discovered recently, almost 1000 years after the revelation of the Quran.  We discussed some of the backgrounds of the myths, some of which continued through the 17th, 18th and even 19th century.  The Quran which was revealed in the 7th century made reference to the human being created out of the liquid which was produced between the spinal column and the ribs.  We analyzed this by looking at the formation of the ovaries and testicles in the initial stages of development and how they continue throughout life to get their blood supply from the area between the spinal column and the ribs.


10.20   The Quran and Modern Sciences VII - Human Reproduction II

Host:  What does the Quran say about the functions of the reproductive organs and how does modern science help us understand it?

Jamal Badawi:

The Quran frequently repeats the word rahm and its derivatives, which means womb.  Womb is not just mentioned in the Quran as a physiological phenomena or organ but it is mentioned as a symbol of motherhood, blood relationship and a cause for respect and reverence.  One of the most fascinating citation is (4:1) called Al Nissa or Women “O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.”  This reverence and respect of motherhood through the womb extends to commonalities in being brother, sister or relatives.  In the mention of the womb as a reproductive organ the Quran says (13:8) “Allah doth know what every female (womb) doth bear, by how much the wombs decrease or increase. Every single thing is before His sight, in (due) proportion.”

The original Arabic word that describes the changes in the womb are tagheet and tazdad according to Hasanain Makhlook in the Dictionary of the Terms of the Quran says that tagheet means to degrease or drop and tazdad means to increase.  The translation of decrease and increase reflects more closely the Arabic words used in the passage.  The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about the increase and decrease of the womb is during pregnancy.  Why did the Quran specifically point out the uterus to refer to the increase and decrease in size.  Only the uterus from among all organs is capable of a phenomenal increase in its weight.  For example the uterus weighs about 50 grams before pregnancy and towards the end of pregnancy it can weigh as much as 1000 grams.  This is 20X its original weight.  Furthermore the womb carries nearly 5000 grams  almost 5K, 3500 grams is the average weight of a baby, 1000 grams of amniotic fluid and 500 grams of placenta.  However, it appears that this passage in the Quran not only refers to pregnancy but also to other changes that take place in the uterus which were only discovered recently.


Host:  What are the other changes that the Quran seems to be referring to?

Jamal Badawi:

The verse starts by saying that Allah knows what every female bears.  If we translate this as pregnancy it would not be accurate because there are many females who never get pregnant, there are females who never get married, there are many females who are barren and so word “bears” here doesn’t only refer to having children in terms of pregnancy but can also refer to other things that they bear within their body.  The word every female makes this a more general statement.  If one continues in the very same passage Allay says that Allah knows how the womb increase or decrease.  This seams to indicate that the increase and decrease in the womb is common to all females which is beyond pregnancy.  How does this relate to our understanding now in modern science?  During the life of the female the uterus goes through lots of changes, for example when the female is just a little baby the uterus is thin and tender as the girl reaches adolescence the uterus becomes stronger, composed of three layers and its thickness becomes greater.  After the woman becomes fully mature and after the period of menopause we find that the uterus becomes smaller.  The wall of the uterus immediately after menstruation is about half a millimeter and as the uterus begins to prepare for a fertilized ovum we notice that the thickness of the wall increases until it reaches a maximum of about 5 millimeter which is 10 times as much and if there is no ovum to be fertilized it starts declining and the body releases the extra lining in the form of dark blood.  Both of these changes in the uterus in the different stages of development of the female or the changes that happen every month in mature female were definitely not known at the time of the revelation of the Quran and for many centuries afterwards.


Host:  What is the role of man in human reproduction?

Jamal Badawi:

The most important contribution of the male in the process in the process of human reproduction is the contribution of the sperm which is what actually fertilizes the ovum and carries the hereditary characteristics of the father.  These sperms are produced in the testicle.  If we look at the testicle we will see a large number of coiled tubes in which sperm is produced.  We would be surprised to note that the length of those tubes if measured come out to half a kilometer.  Sperm are basically elongated cells that have heads and long tails which helps them travel towards the ovum.  The size of one sperm is about 5/1000th of a millimeter.  So if we have 200 of them side by side they would equal one millimeter.  It is shown that in any tiny drop of semen there are millions and millions of sperm.  Each ejection is estimated to have between 200-300 million sperm is released and it is amazing to note that it is only one that is needed to fertilize the ovum.  The Quran refers to semen and ties it to the contribution of the female.  This is amazing when up till the 17th century many scientists believed that the baby existed in miniature form in the ovum and some said in the sperm.  The Quran actually makes reference to both of these contributions being responsible for the production of the baby.


Host:  What does the Quran say that the contribution of the male is and how it is connected with the female’s contribution?

Jamal Badawi:

When the Quran speaks of the semen that comes from the male it describes it in (76:2) “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm.”  Dr. Bucaille interpreted this particular passage to refer to semen.  He says semen doesn’t only constitute of sperm but that the sperm is just one component and that there are a number of other secretions especially those that are secreted from the cooper glands and from the prostate.  In a sense there are different components that constitute the fluid.  I don’t think this is a complete interpretation, but it is not wrong.  Dr. Albar says that many of the old commentators on the Quran interpreted the word anshag or mingle to mean the mingling between the male and the female.  I think this has a strong basis because one saying Prophet Muhammad as narrated in Ahmad said that one Jew came to ask Prophet (PBUH) how the child is created and the Prophet responded min ma’ arajul wa ma’ almara’ which means from the fluid of the man and the fluid of the woman.  This is a reference to the contribution of the sperm from the male and the ovum from the female which is something that was not known till the late part of the 19th century.  Host:  Can you explain what is meant by the woman’s fluid?

One can take it to be symbolic of the ovum but according Dr. Albar it refers to something even deeper than that, something that we have only recently understood even after the development of equipment and means of photographing inside of the female body in regards to ovulation as well as fertilization.  Every month small follicles (they cary the ovum) which are inside the ovaries move to the edge of the ovary and rupture (in a cavity with liquid that is called the anterum).  When it ruptures the ovum is ejected along with the liquid which existed inside the follicle.  Albar describes the liquid as an agent that helps with the initial movement of the ovum.  After this process the ovum moves to the fallopian tubes which contain cilia which help move the ovum through the tubes.  In one saying of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) he made reference to the color yellow as it relates to the woman’s contribution.  In a Hadith in Muslim he says that the man’s liquid is white and that the woman’s liquid is yellow.  The question here is what the significance of the color yellow as it relates to ovulation.


Host:  How does fertilization take place?

Jamal Badawi:

When the ovum comes out it moves to the fallopian tube and waits to be fertilized.  The ovum is very tiny at 1/5th of a millimeter.  If the male unites with the female at this time the ejected sperm start to race through the uterus trying to reach the ovum that is in the fallopian tubes.  Once the ovum is in the fallopian tubes a large number of sperm collect around it trying to enter the ovum and fertilize it.  Sperm look like a missiles as the head compares to the capsule which carries the nuclease, the most important thing in the cell, the neck contains material which helps convert sugar into energy and as such helps the sperm in its movement and with its pointed head it tries to pierce and enter the ovum.  After the sperm enters the ovum with its head it begins the fertilization process.  In the process of fertilization the ovum behaves like a cherished lady and the sperms act like pursuing males.


Host:  Can you give more details about this?

Jamal Badawi:

Dr. Albar makes a beautiful analogy about this.  He describes says that sperm is formed outside of the body, because the testicles are on the outside, some explains that this as being because on the outside the temperature of the body is 35 degrees and on the inside it is 37 degrees.  The 2 degree difference are essential for providing the proper temperature for sperm to be produced.  By comparison the ovum is formed deep inside the woman’s body.  When the ovum comes out it comes out like a queen and the technical term for it is corona radiata which means radiating crown.  So the egg comes out like a queen with a crown on it and doesn’t move by itself but the follicle carry it by gently moving the ovum into the tube just as the bride is carried on the day of her wedding.  Then the ovum waits for fertilization.  We see how millions of sperm race in order to reach and fertilize the ovum.  Even with hundreds of sperm around the ovum not anyone is admitted and many of them die in the process of waiting to get in which is a means for softening the walls so that when the chosen sperm comes they are able to enter and once it enters no other sperm can enter.  So in a sense the ovum opens her heart to the sperm and the sperm opens his heart to the ovum.  This is not a totally romantic description because this is literally what happens.  The heart of the ovum is the nucleus and the heart of the sperm is the nucleus which mix with each other and the chromosomes intermingle which determines the sex of the fetus which then begins the process of the process of cell division which results in the human being.  This is an interesting analogy of the behavior of both cells.


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