This is an early paper by Dr. Keith L. Moore published in 1982. Some of his interpretations have evolved since then. See his later works: A Scientist’s Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur’an (1986) and Dr. Keith Moore at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA (1990)
The paper is from Arabization and Medical Education, pp. 51-58. Proceedings from the Seventh Saudi Medical Conference, King Faisal University, May 3-6 1982.
Keith L. Moore
Keith L. Moore, Ph.D., F.I.A.C.
Professor of Anatomy and Chairman of the Department, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Human beings have always been interested in where they came from and how they developed before birth. We know from the earliest records that primitive peoples realized that the birth of a baby was the sequel to sexual union or intercourse. However, for many centuries the idea about human prenatal development were based on speculation and mysticism. The absence of knowledge about embryological processes and the dominating influence of superstition resulted in a non-scientific approach to human development.
As far was we know, Aristotle wrote the first embryology book in the 4th century BC. In it he recorded some observations on comparative embryology, especially on the general progress of the developing chick. He promoted, however, the incorrect idea that the human embryo developed from a formless mass that resulted from the union of the semen with the menstrual blood.
Scientific knowledge of embryology did not progress significantly for nearly 2000 years. It was not until the close of the 17th century, when the microscope was developed, that the early stages of human development could be effectively studied. After it was possible to examine cells under the microscope, it was reasoned in the 18th century that development resulted from the growth and differentiation of embryonic cells.
Almost a year ago I was consulted about the meaning of certain verses in the Qur’an and some sayings in the Hadiths which referred to human reproduction and embryological development. Continue reading