Do you see the water which you drink? Do you
bring it down from the cloud or do We?
question emphasizes our inability to fulfill one of
our oldest dreams: to control the rain. The fact is
we cannot make it rain unless a pre-existing cloud
is in the vicinity - and then only under the proper
conditions, and even then we are not assured of
success. The cloud should have different sized cloud
particles, a high rate of condensation from the
rising air, and good vertical development. If all of
these characteristics are present, then we MAY coax
some more rain out through cloud seeding and various
other techniques. However, modern meteorologists are
unsure of its effectiveness. Regardless, it is the
presence of the necessary preconditions which we
have no control over, and this ultimately stops us
from arbitrarily bringing down the water of any
cloud in the form of rain .
The following verse
describes a property of large rivers.
is He who has caused to mix freely the two great
bodies of water, this one pleasant-tasting and
sweet and this one salty and bitter, and He made
between them a barrier and a forbidding ban.
A description of the
estuaries of large rivers is supplied by the verse
above. These estuaries are relatively unusual
because the outgoing fresh water of the river does
not immediately mix with the salt water of the sea
into which the river empties. Instead, the fresh
water penetrates deep into the salt water body
before any mixing occurs, far from the mouth of the
river. Small rivers do not have this property. 
Finally, one more
reference to clouds.
And were they to see a piece of the sky falling
down, they would (only) say "Heaps of clouds!"
Another reference to
clouds but this time in the context of responding to
a challenge by an earlier peoples who ridiculed a
prophet by asking him to cause a piece of the sky to
fall on them, apparently thinking it to be a solid
cap around the earth. Allah refutes their challenge
here, declaring that they would only find a pile of
clouds, something all of us would understand today.
G. - On Human
Embryological and Fetal Development
The Quran has an
extensive amount of information on the growth of the
human embryo and fetus, especially the former.
Before presenting this information, it may be
helpful to provide a brief outline of human
development in the womb as modern science
understands it. 
egg is produced by the female, and is
subsequently placed in her Fallopian tubes.
The male cohabits
with the female, and a single sperm cell
fertilizes the egg.
The fertilized egg
retreats into the uterus, and attaches itself to
the uterine wall.
growth (roughly 3 months).
Fetal growth (6
We will examine some
of these stages in greater detail as the verses in
the Quran require. First, however, two verses which
give a general overview of human development:
...seeing that it is He (Allah) Who has created
you in stages...
And Allah created you from dust, then from a
The first verse is a
very general, yet accurate description of our
creation as coming in stages (see the six-step
outline above). The second verse puts some
perspective on the whole affair: how man originally
came from dust (Adam), and then from a drop.
There are at least
four specific details regarding human development in
the Quran which modern science has revealed only
within the last few centuries, and in some cases
only in this present century. The first concerns the
emission of semen:
Was he (man) not a drop of semen emitted?
In spite of the large
amount of liquid which can be produced by a man
during human intercourse, this verse emphasizes that
only a small drop of it is important.
The second important
detail in the Quran on human development is the
description of the fertilizing liquid (i.e. semen):
(man) is created from a gushing liquid.
created the human from a drop which is a
Then He (Allah) made his (Adam's) progeny from a
quintessence of a despised liquid.
The second and third
verses relate to the contents of semen. Modern
science has established that semen is in fact a
composition of different secretions which come from
four different glands during ejaculation: the
testicles, the seminal vesicles, the prostate gland,
and the urinary tract glands. The actual sperm cells
come from the testicles; the other three glands
produce no fertilizing agents. The Quran goes
farther than just informing us that semen is a
mixture of liquids. It tells us in [32:8] that only
the "quintessence" of the liquid is used (the
"despised" comes from the fact that semen is emitted
from the same place as urine, and thus may be
despicable in some people's sight). The Arabic word
for "quintessence" in this verse signifies
extracting the absolute best out of something. The
numbers tell the story: a normal ejaculation
involves about 3 ml of fluid containing between
120,000,000 and 150,000,000 sperm cells. Of these
cells, only one fertilizes the egg in the female,
and this is the point which [32:8] alludes to .
A third detail of
human development mentioned in the Quran concerns
the newly fertilized egg:
Was he (man) not a drop of semen emitted? Then
he did become something leech-like which
Recent observations of
the fertilized egg in the womb have revealed that
the egg literally implants itself into the uterine
wall. It "clings" in the strongest sense, and it
remains like so in the early stage of development.
On top of that, the developing organism acts as a
leech on the female host in the sense that it draws
its sustenance directly from its mother's body .
Finally, the Quran
gives a fascinating account of embryological
development (the first three months) in the
following verses (certain words have been
transliterated directly from the Arabic):
...We made the drop into an ALAQAH (leech-like
structure), and then We changed the ALAQAH into
a MUDGHAH (chewed-like substance), then We
changed the MUDGHAH into IDHAAM (bones,
skeleton), then We clothed the IDHAAM with LAHM
(flesh, muscles), then We caused him to grow and
come into being as another creation.
...We created you out of dust, then out of a
drop, then out of a MUDGHAH, partly formed and
Verse [23:14] divides
embryological development into four stages. The
first stage picks up right after fertilization
("drop"), and is characterized by an ALAQAH or
"leech-like structure" which describes how the egg
implants itself into the uterus (see above). The
second stage describes the embryo as evolving into a
MUDGHAH which means something which has been chewed
(especially a piece of meat), or which has the
appearance of having been chewed. This seemingly
crude description is in fact quite accurate: after
the fertilized egg lodges itself in the uterus, it
begins to receive its first nutrients and energy
from its mother. Consequently, it begins to grow
especially rapidly, and after a week or two it looks
like a ragged piece of meat to the naked eye. This
effect is enhanced by the development of small buds
and protrusions which will eventually grow into
complete organs and limbs.
The next two stages
described in verse [23:14] tell of bones being made
from the MUDGHAH, followed by the "clothing" of the
bones with flesh or muscles. If we follow the
progress of the embryo with our own eyes, we find
that after approximately four weeks, a process
called 'differentiation' begins, where groups of
cells within the embryo transform themselves to form
certain large organs. One of the earliest structures
to develop in this stage is the cartilaginous basis
of the human skeleton (in subsequent months, the
cartilage hardens or ossifies). It is followed soon
after by the appearance of a host of other organs
including muscles, ears, eyes, kidneys, heart, and
more. This maintains the order described in the
Quran. Verse [23:14] concludes with the growth of
the organism in the womb (and simple growth is the
primary characteristic of the fetal stage) followed
by its birth.
Verse [22:5] adds one
more interesting note on the embryo. In this verse,
the MUDGHAH is qualified with the phrase
formed and partly unformed."
As alluded to above,
our modern observations of embryological development
have revealed how different structures and organs
develop one after another through differentiation.
This gives rise to unusual situations where the
embryo is unevenly formed (i.e. lungs but no ears
for example). [11,16]
H. - On Cosmology
Of all the references
in the Quran to scientific matters, the most
numerous are on the creation and structure of the
universe and the earth. This area is singled out in
several verses like the one below as an example of
Allah's creative power:
Verily, in the heavens and the earth are signs
for those who believe.
For a much more
detailed exposition of the Quran and cosmology (and
science in general), interested readers should
consider reading M. Bucaille's book 'The Bible, The
Quran, and Science' . Below, a brief summary of
some of the more powerful verses.
First, a verse which
makes a small note regarding the age of mankind with
respect to the universe:
there not been over Man a long period of Time
when he was not yet a thing thought of?
The Arabic word for
"Time" in this verse is "Dahr" and it can mean
either all of eternity or simply a tremendously long
time. Modern science can help us understand this
verse better. The first appearance of humans on this
earth is estimated to have occurred on the order of
one million years ago. The age of the universe, on
the other hand, is estimated at roughly fifteen
billion years. If we normalize the age of the
universe to one day, then man would be less than six
The following verse
deals with the creation of the heavens and the
And We created the heavens and the earth and all
between them in six days, and nothing touched us
Notice the sharp
counterpoint to the Bible at the end of this verse
regarding whether Allah "rested" after the sixth day
from tiredness. However, a more subtle yet perhaps
vastly more important difference is brought out when
we look at the first verse in the Bible, Genesis
[1:1] In the beginning, God created the heavens
and the earth.
There is no mention of
"and all between them", as opposed to the Quran
(which refers to this in several verses, no less).
Modern science has just within this last century
discovered that much of the mass of the universe is
contained in the vast spaces between galaxies and
stars (ignoring for the moment the possibility of
'dark matter' which would only make a stronger
point). In spite of having only a single hydrogen
atom every few cubic meters on average (interstellar
material), the universe is so huge that the "empty"
space may account for more of the total universe's
mass than all the stars combined - at the very
least, it is a significant amount. Thus, it is an
important omission to leave out "all between" the
earth and the other stars and galaxies ("heavens").
As to the debate which
has wracked Christianity and Judaism for centuries
regarding the meaning of "six days", the word "days"
in classical Arabic has a secondary meaning of a
"very long time" or an "era" . The Quran,
however, presents a conclusive answer to this
question via the following three verses scattered
throughout the text:
And yet they ask you to hasten on the
Punishment! But Allah will not fail in His
promise. Verily a Day in the sight of your Lord
is like a thousand years of your reckoning.
(Allah) directs (all) affairs from the heavens
to the earth: in the end will (all affairs) go
up to Him on a Day the space whereof will be
(as) a thousand years of your reckoning.
angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a Day the
space whereof is (as) fifty thousand years.
It is clear from these
verses that a "day" in the Quran can easily have
different meanings in different contexts, and is
thus not constrained to mean a strict 24-hour
The next two verses
address certain details of creation.
Don't those who reject faith see that the
heavens and the earth were a single entity then
We ripped them apart?...
Moreover, He applied His design to the heavens,
while it was (yet) vapor,and He said to it and
to the earth, "Come (into being), willingly or
unwillingly." They said, "We do come in
foreshadows the modern cosmological theory known as
the Big Bang theory wherein all matter is presumed
to have originated from a violent explosion. Verse
[41:11] refers to a later stage in creation, one in
which a cosmologist would describe the universe as
filled with a nebulous gas undergoing a slow
coalescence into gross structures such as clusters,
galaxies, stars, and so on. The words of these two
verses may seem coarse and simplistic to the modern
eye, but this does not detract from their general
Then there are verses
that speak of the sun and the moon.
Blessed is He Who put in the heavens
constellations, and put in it a lamp and a
This verse emphasizes
the sun as a direct source of light ("lamp"),
whereas the moon is not given this title. Man has
long since established that the moon's light is
simply reflected sunlight.
sun and the moon follow precise courses.
The meaning of this
verse is obvious, and we have known the mathematical
description of these "courses" since Kepler and
Newton formulated them several centuries ago.
is He Who created the night and the day, and the
sun and the moon: all swim along, each in its
This verse supplements
the previous one: here, we learn that the sun and
moon follow "rounded courses." It is significant
that the Arabic word used here - "falak" - does not
mean circular course, just rounded. Kepler was the
first European astronomer to realize that the paths
of the planets and the moon are elliptical. It was
not until later, though, that astronomers also
realized that the sun has an orbit as well - around
the center of the Milky Way.
The Quran contains a
number of verses on the structure and contents of
the universe. There are too many to list here, but
the following three form an interesting sample:
And the heavens We did create with Our Hands,
and We do cause it to expand.
Flatly stating what
Einstein refused to believe at first, this verse
anticipates Hubble's discovery of the expanding
universe by approximately thirteen centuries. This
verse makes a very clear point that the expansion is
continuous (until the Day of Judgement, which is
guaranteed by Allah to come upon us unexpectedly).
And among His signs is the creation of the
heavens and the earth, and the living creatures
that He has scattered through both of them...
And He has subjected to you (man), from Him, all
that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in
that are signs indeed for those who reflect.
These two verses are
extremely interesting. Not only does the first one
very strongly imply the existence of living
creatures on other planets throughout the universe,
but the second tells us that the heavens are
"subject" to us. With a little imagination, we (or
perhaps our children) can begin dreaming of the
possibility of interstellar travel - and not just
confined to our own solar system!