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In this video clip presenter Professor Lord Robert Winston[1] has a blood sucking leech (‘alaqah) attached to his forearm. Professor Winston shows how the embryo obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech which feeds on the blood of others. 

“This is hirudo medicinalis, better known to you and me as a leech. It’s a parasite. It takes whatever it needs to live by sucking the blood of whatever it can latch onto; in this case that’s me! As it sucks my blood, it takes from it all that it needs to live, it literally lives off me and the whole of pregnancy is shaped by a similar kind of parasitic relationship. Unlike the leech, the developing embryo doesn’t suck the maternal blood but t does raid her blood for the raw materials it needs to grow. From the word go both leech and embryo are out for themselves.”

(From: The Human Body. The Incredible Journey from Birth to Death, © BBC Worldwide Ltd, 1998).

The Holy Qur’an (23:14) mentions the term alaqah علقة as the second stage of human prenatal development. One of the meanings of the word alaqah is a “leech”. It is said that the shape of the embryo at 22-25 days (just 3mm in length) closely resembles that of a leech. At this stage, the embryo obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech which feeds on the blood of others. For more details about this remarkable analogy, download the paper Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage.

NOTES

1. Lord Winston is Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, London. http://www.robertwinston.org.uk/

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