Statements Contained in the Qur’an
The brief summary above outlines the basic stages of development, which in the following pages, we shall compare with the statements contained in the Qur’an. To facilitate comprehension, the points raised in the Qur’an may be listed as follows:
1. the small volume of liquid required for fertilization;
2. the complexity of the fertilizing liquid;
3. the implantation of the fertilized egg;
4. the evolution of the embryo.
The Small volume of Liquid required for Fertilization
-Sura 16, verse 4:
“[God] fashioned man from a small quantity [of sperm].”
This phrase occurs eleven times in ‘the Qur’an. The Arabic word translated here as a small quantity, [of sperm] is nuTfat. This is perhaps not the most ideal rendition, but there does not appear to be any single word in English that quite captures its full meaning. The word comes from the Arabic verb signifying `to dribble, to trickle’; its primary meaning refers to the trace of liquid left in the bottom of a bucket after the latter has been emptied; in other words a very small quantity of liquid, which is the second meaning of the word: a drop of water. In this particular instance, it is a small quantity of sperm, since the word is associated with the word `sperm’ (maniyy in Arabic) in the following verse:
-Sura 75, verse 37 :
“Was [man] not a small quantity of sperm which has been poured out?”
It is important to realize that the Qur’an states very clearly that the fertilizing capacity of the sperm does not depend on the volume of liquid `poured out’. The idea that a tiny quantity of liquid is perfectly effective is not immediately obvious. Those ignorant of the real facts concerning these phenomena would tend, indeed, to think the exact opposite. And yet, over one thousand years before the existence of spermatozoa was discovered in the early seventeenth century, the Qur’an expresses ideas that were proven correct, due to the discovery of the identity of the fertilizing agent, measurable in units of 1 / 1,000 of a millimeter. It is precisely the spermatozoon, present in the seminal liquid, which contains the D.N.A. tape; this in turn forms the vehicle for the genes provided by the father, which unite with the genes from the mother to form the genetic inheritance of the future individual.
The genes contained in the male reproductive cell constitute in conjunction with those of the female reproductive cell the factors which are to determine the many characteristics of the future human being. As we have seen earlier in this book, once chromatic reduction has taken place, the spermatozoa are carriers of genes that contain factors which dictate that the individual is to be either a male (hemichromosome Y) or female (hemichromosome X). If, of the innumerable spermatozoa that cluster around the edge of the ovule as possible fertilizing cells, the one which actually succeeds in fertilizing it contains a Y hemichromosome, the future child will be a boy; if the spermatozoon that penetrates the ovule contains an X hemichromosome, the child will be a girl. The individual’s sex is therefore genetically determined at the actual moment of fertilization by the fertilizing agent,, in an infinitely small volume, and thereafter, the child’s sexual characteristics remain set. The Qur’an contains the following statement on the subject (the reference is to man):
-Sura 80, verse 19:
“From a small quantity of liquid, [God] fashioned him [in due proportion] and ordained his fate.”
(I have translated the world Khalaqa according to its original meaning mentioned in the preceding chapter which is `to fashion in due proportion’ or `to form’, in preference. to the verb `to create’.)
We must surely admit that there is in this instance a striking conformity between the statements in the Qur’an concerning a fate ordained at this stage and our knowledge of the fact that it is the genetic inheritance received from the father, which determines the sex of the individual a point that was emphasized above.