Keith Moore on Embryology in the Quran

February 18, 2008

A professor emeritus at the University of Toronto (School of Medicine), Keith Moore is the main author of Clinically Oriented Anatomy, which is the main textbook used for anatomy in medical schools across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.  Every medical student knows of Moore and his blue boxes.  Anyways, Dr. Keith Moore, after reading the Quran, accepted the oneness of Allah (SWT) and the prophethood of Muhammad (SAW).  Check out the following video (~30 seconds) where Keith Moore admits that Muhammad (SAW) was a messenger of God:


 Also, read the following article Dr. Keith Moore wrote about Embryology in the Quran more than twenty years ago!  It’s from: The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, Vol.18, Jan-June 1986, pp.15-16

A Scientist’s Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur’an

Keith L. Moore, Ph.D., F.I.A.C.
The Department of Anatomy, University of Toronto, Canada.
Address all correspondence to:
Keith L. Moore, Ph.D, F.I.A.C., Professor of Anatomy and Associate Dean Basic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M55 IAB, Canada ———————————————————-

Statements referring to human reproduction and development are scattered throughout the Qur’an. It is only recently that the scientific meaning of some of these verses has been appreciated fully. The long delay in interpreting these verses correctly resulted mainly from inaccurate translations and commentaries and from a lack of awareness of scientific knowledge.

Interest in explanations of the verses of the Qur’an is not new. People used to ask the prophet Muhammad all sorts of questions about the meaning of verses referring to human reproduction. The Apostle’s answers form the basis of the Hadith literature.

The translations(*) of the verses from the Qur’an which are interpreted in this paper were provided by Sheik Abdul Majid Zendani, a Professor of Islamic Studies in King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“He makes you in the wombs of your mothers in stages, one after another, in three veils of darkness.”

This statement is from Sura 39:6. We do not know when it was realized that human beings underwent development in the uterus (womb), but the first known illustration of a fetus in the uterus was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in the 15th century. In the 2nd century A.D., Galen described the placenta and fetal membranes in his book “On The Formation of the Foetus.” Consequently, doctors in the 7th century A.D. likely knew that the human embryo developed in the uterus. It is unlikely that they knew that it developed in stages, even though Aristotle had described the stages of development of the chick embryo in the 4th century B.C. The realization that the human embryo develops in stages was not discussed and illustrated until the 15th century.

After the microscope was discovered in the 17th century by Leeuwenhoek descriptions were made of the early stages of the chick embryo. The staging of human embryos was not described until the 20th century. Streeter (1941) developed the first system of staging which has now been replaced by a more accurate system proposed by O’Rahilly (1972).

“The three veils of darkness” may refer to: (l) the anterior abdominal wall; (2) the uterine wall; and (3) the amniochorionic membrane (Fig. 1). Although there are other interpretations of this statement, the one presented here seems the most logical from an embryological point of view.


Figure 1. Drawing of a sagittal section of a female’s abdomen and pelvis showing a fetus in utero. The “veils of darkness” are: (1) the anterior abdominal wall; (2) the uterine wall, and (3) the amniochorionic membrane.

“Then We placed him as a drop in a place of rest.”

This statement is from Sura 23:13. The drop or nutfah has been interpreted as the sperm or spermatozoon, but a more meaningful interpretation would be the zygote which divides to form a blastocyst which is implanted in the uterus (“a place of rest”). This interpretation is supported by another verse in the Qur’an which states that “a human being is created from a mixed drop.” The zygote forms by the union of a mixture of the sperm and the ovum (“The mixed drop”).

“Then We made the drop into a leech-like structure.”

This statement is from Sura 23:14. The word “alaqah” refers to a leech or bloodsucker. This is an appropriate description of the human embryo from days 7-24 when it clings to the endometrium of the uterus, in the same way that a leech clings to the skin. Just as the leech derives blood from the host, the human embryo derives blood from the decidua or pregnant endometrium. It is remarkable how much the embryo of 23-24 days resembles a leech (Fig. 2). As there were no microscopes or lenses available in the 7th century, doctors would not have known that the human embryo had this leech-like appearance. In the early part of the fourth week, the embryo is just visible to the unaided eye because it is smaller than a kernel of wheat.


Figure 2. Top, a drawing of a leech or bloodsucker. 
Below, a drawing of a 24 day-old human embryo. Note the leech-like appearance of the human embryo at this stage.

  Figure 3. Left, a plasticine model of the human embryo which has the appearance of chewed flesh.
Right, a drawing of a 28 day-old human embryo showing several bead-like somites which resemble the teeth marks in the model shown to the left.

“Then of that leech-like structure, We made a chewed lump.”

This statement is also from Sura 23:14. The Arabic word “mudghah” means “chewed substance or chewed lump.” Toward the end of the fourth week, the human embryo looks somewhat like a chewed lump of flesh (Fig. 3). The chewed appearance results from the somites which resemble teeth marks. The somites represent the beginnings or primordia of the vertebrae.

“Then We made out of the chewed lump, bones, and clothed the bones in flesh.”

This continuation of Sura 23:14 indicates that out of the chewed lump stage, bones and muscles form. This is in accordance with embryological development. First the bones form as cartilage models and then the muscles (flesh) develop around them from the somatic mesoderm.

“Then We developed out of it another creature.”

This next part of Sura 23:14 implies that the bones and muscles result in the formation of another creature. This may refer to the human-like embryo that forms by the end of the eighth week. At this stage it has distinctive human characteristics and possesses the primordia of all the internal and external organs and parts. After the eighth week, the human embryo is called a fetus. This may be the new creature to which the verse refers.

“And He gave you hearing and sight and feeling and understanding.”

This part of Sura 32:9 indicates that the special senses of hearing, seeing, and feeling develop in this order, which is true. The primordia of the internal ears appear before the beginning of the eyes, and the brain (the site of understanding) differentiates last.

“Then out of a piece of chewed flesh, partly formed and partly unformed.”

This part of Sura 22:5 seems to indicate that the embryo is composed of both differentiated and undifferentiated tissues. For example, when the cartilage bones are differentiated, the embryonic connective tissue or mesenchyme around them is undifferentiated. It later differentiates into the muscles and ligaments attached to the bones.

“And We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term.”

This next part of Sura 22:5 seems to imply that God determines which embryos will remain in the uterus until full term. It is well known that many embryos abort during the first month of development, and that only about 30% of zygotes that form, develop into fetuses that survive until birth. This verse has also been interpreted to mean that God determines whether the embryo will develop into a boy or girl.

The interpretation of the verses in the Qur’an referring to human development would not have been possible in the 7th century A.D., or even a hundred years ago. We can interpret them now because the science of modern Embryology affords us new understanding. Undoubtedly there are other verses in the Qur’an related to human development that will be understood in the future as our knowledge increases.  

Unfortunately, the figures from this article don’t show up on my blog, so you can see them at:



56 Responses to “Keith Moore on Embryology in the Quran”

  1. […] Keith Moore on Embryology in the Quran We can interpret them now because the science of modern Embryology affords us new understanding. Undoubtedly there are other verses in the Qur?an related to human development that will be understood in the future as our knowledge … […]

  2. hanif Says:


  3. Aroon Says:

    Its VERY dangerous to interpret religion in a scientific context, because what if the scientific understanding changes? DOes that mean the religion is wrong? This goes for ALL religions btw, not just Islam.

  4. loveProphet Says:

    Actually such scientific facts won’t change as they’re based on direct observation. So there is no threat.

  5. adnan Says:

    can I plz get the original artical. if someone has that article plz mail me. I really need that with all the diagrams.


  6. Faisal Says:

    The Quran is from Allah, the Lord of the Aalamin. Our understanding of the Quran can be wrong, but whatever is stated in the Quran can never be wrong. If the scientific understanding changes, and goes against the Quran, it would mean that the scientific understanding is wrong. The reason being that our Creator has said what is written in the Quran.

  7. faatih Says:

    Faisal is essentially right, but this doesn’t mean external proofs for the veracity of Islam as a divine religion cannot be used.

  8. kenzo Says:

    thats show that Islam is the only religion which is rite

  9. Omar Says:

    Indeed in it there is sign for the one who thinks & ponder & is in search of truth

  10. Mech Says:

    It is very disturbing to see such incredible devotion to a text that has caused so much death. Empathy, science, education, consideration, and understanding eachother will bring peace, not blind devotion.
    Understand why such books have been written… There are those that benefit from people thinking the way religious people do. It is a form of social control, shackling your minds, allowing others to easily control and predict your behavior.
    Jews, Christians, and Muslims have caused some of the most horrendous and horrible incidents in history, full of violence, death, and destruction.
    If you asked me, if you need something to believe in, I would turn to a faith that has caused the LEAST amount of suffering in the world. I have never heard of a violent, homicidal, suicidal, or genocidal Buddhist or Shintoist. Consider this before you condemn others or think of your text as right.

    • tp Says:

      Look at Sri Lanka where Buddhists have slaughtered tonnes of Tamils.

    • Anonymous Says:

      we can’t underestimate religion for people’s action”humans are responsible for make them self what they are”.why can’t you just go back to original text which is quran and you would never find any thing such as killing human being but quran rather speak about “if you killed any human being as though he/she has kiled whole of humanity and if you save any human being as though he/she has saved whole of humanity.In the end islam means “peace aqiured by submitting your will to almighty god”. so how could islam religion have any thing such as killing?

    • Anonymous Says:

      Sorry- all religions have produced violent followers who believe that God wants them to kill others in His name.Sorry too but the Koran does tell Muslims to kill.Of course it is evident that God never told anyone to write a book!
      They have all caused so much trouble and misery-God would never have done such a thing and He always knew everything humans would do,before they did it.If you say He didn’t know then He is not God.
      God,by definition knows everything.
      There would not be all this argument and debate if God had dictated a book in English!He would have known of course that English would be a world language.We are constantly being told that the Koran is difficult to understand and open to many interpretations.This confusion could have been easily avoided!

    • Shade Says:

      One sentence to guide further research: conflict in Sri Lanka between two fractions of Buddhism over the name of the island as per the ‘divine origin’ of it.

  11. Sam Says:


    Empathy, Science education consideration and understanding are the main reasons why the islamic caliphites or the islamic nation was one of the most advanced nations in history, Muslim scholars pioneered optics, medicine, philosophy, invented algebra and alogorithems the basis of modern day PC. pioneered the first use of anticeptics in operations and list goes on so please next time you make such baseless comments LEARN HISTORY FIRST. ever heard of Ibn Rushd his philosophy is what started the european awakening after the dark ages. there are university classes in modern day europe that teach his methods. your lack of history is a joke it shows your ignorance and your hate to the religion that is the fastest in the world in THE WEST none the less.

  12. marieham Says:

    this book doesn’t come from God cuz God is love and love can never order to kill…i just want to remind everyone how islam was spread “with a sword”no one can deny it and whoever says that this was to protect the islamic spreading i will ask how was christianity spreaded??simply with peace and love….A prophet who marries 9 is a prophet from God????can u just imagine a life of a man marrying 9!!!!i still wonder if islam believe that the jew,christianity come from God and that islam came to complete it…how could it be so different the old testimony and the new testimony work in harmony in the language,teachings and all the predictions of the old testimony were fulfiled in the new testimony after jesus came and was crossified for you and me !!!God is s near to us,God loves us although we are sinners to the extent that He himslef came to be a sacrifice so that we can live eternity with him….we are living in body and spirit to give glory to the Lord who will take us after we die to be with him…but paradise in islam describes a life full of earth’s temptations,we shall be eating,drinking and even mating what is different then??NO NO…..eternity is much beyond of that..God will cover our sin and let us be with Him for a life to praise him,bow down to him as a matter of sharing a love relationship because heloved us…i know i am not talking about what’s written!!but i wanted to highlight some stuff u just ignore…

    • jakkas Says:

      the problem is quran does not talk about pornography,but bible does(genesis 19 33 one of the several examples)
      quran does not talk about sword give me a reference where the word sword is mentioned as quran clearly says”[“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Taghut (evil) and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trust worthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. ” (Qur’an 2:256)]
      but bible mentioned sword 200 times.
      bible contradicts hundreadeds of times but quran does not.
      how can u call ur bible came from god.

  13. marieham,

    If you think Islam is violent, have you looked at history? More people were killed in the name of Christianity than other religion (example: see Crusades).

    Islam is not a violent religion. The verses in the Quran that talk about violence were revealed during the time of war. What did you want the verses to state? Of course, they told the Muslims to defend themselves and fight back.

    Thirdly, I invite you to worship the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and I hope you will leave the worship of the creation and your polytheistic beliefs.


  14. Fas Says:

    To marieham, you are right, Bible cannot be from GOd, as it killed more people ever. The Jews and Christians have spread the rumour that Islam was spread by the sword. What else can they say when it spread to Africa and Asia and Europe too. Islam was spread by its own practice. The sword was a last resort. In Islamic history there were very few battles compared to Christian history. Don’t tell me you don’t know how Christians killed Jews and Muslims in Spain? Read your history first and learn to be unbiased. Do you know who the Prophet Mohammed’s wives were? Mostly old widows who had no one to take care of them (with no one to take care of them). Only 1 or 2 were young. We can argue and defend all day, but I have a life to live. See you on the Day of Judgement. I am praying for you.

  15. Dr Samina Tariq Says:

    these many aya are only few of the facts written in quran. these relate to embryology there are loads about earths formation, its geography, the universe etc.

    • siham Says:

      I’m so glad to hear about dr keith moore and his researches .he also read the quoran and prophet’s life and sounnah . i haven’t finished reading the quoran yet!
      i hope i’ll read it all before my 20 years old and indestand all.I’m 16 years old .

      • Daniel Says:

        Anyways, Dr. Keith Moore, after reading the Quran, accepted the oneness of Allah (SWT) and the prophethood of Muhammad (SAW). Check out the following video (~30 seconds) where Keith Moore admits that Muhammad (SAW) was a messenger of
        god the creature .

  16. Adebimpe Hussein Says:

    It is obvious that Qur’an is really a divine book from the creator of heaven and earth i.e Allah. It contains uncountable facts that cannot be found in earlier divine revelations.

    This is because Qur’an is the last message and guidance to humanity given to the seal of prophethood (Muhammad) peace be upon him. The antagonists of islam should just tell us about any other divine book that presents clear knowledge about embryo, earth, moon, mountains, rain, etc and back their claims by modern days scientifical findings like Qur’an.

    If Dr. Keith Moore of University of Toronto and Dr. Leigh Simpson of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston U.S.A, whom are not muslims could confirmed the divinity of Holy Qur’an and prophethood of Muhammad, then whatever the antagonists and ignorants say about islam is a mere noise.

  17. Fathima Says:

    Thank you for this post which speaks one of the Amazing miracles of the Quran. Just a small suggestion – please make the fonts a bit larger and the contrast a bit more. Found it a bit hard to read!

  18. sarfaraz Says:

    Almighty God has sent his revelations and his messengers for every age and nation.But with the passage of time the holy scriptures got corrupted . For our age HE has sent prophet Mohammad PBUH as his last prophet and messenger.Almight God has revealed to us The Holy Quran as his last book. This book contains signs for each and every nation and age, so that people with understanding and intelligence, belonging to every age,till the day of resurrection, can easily identify the true guidance and revelation of Almighty God. Thats why we are able to find so many scientific signs in the Holy Quran today , which is a clear evidence that Quran is the word of Almighty God. A non corrupt mind can easily identify this. And Insha Allah we will find many more scietific signs in the times to come.


  19. aw Says:

    Khalakal insan min salsalin kal faqkhar.

  20. riaz Says:

    Allah subhanathalah has sent this message to our prophet {sal} peace be upon him… quran is not only for muslims its for all the human beings… allahu akbar

  21. shaam Says:

    Allah subhanathalah has sent this message to our prophet {sal} peace be upon him… quran is not only for muslims its for all the human beings… allahu akbar

  22. Assalaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa bara katuhuu!
    I’m a student studying in 12th and I’m just want to request you and Prof. Keith Moore to please put his book ‘The Developing Human’ latest edition on the internet for free access and downloads because we students aren’t able to afford such books if we want to read or study. May Allah help you and grant you the Paradise. Pray to Allah for me, my family and all the believers. Assalaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa bara katuhuu!

  23. Amin Says:

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

    Its not that Professor Moore confirmed the divinity of the Holy Quran instead He himself realized the fact. Holy Quran, Prophet Muhammed and Islam are the absolute fact and we dont need any confirmation for this. But of course it a great thing to see people accepting this fact. Its quite painful that a handful of so called Muslims are practicing chaos in the name of Islam which is strictly prohibited and at the same time Jews Christians and some others across the globe are actively involved in a negative propaganda about Islam. I invite the ladies & gentlemen of other religions to come and have a flavor of Islam, if you dont like it, dont see the truth in it, dont find it friendly and peaceful, options are open for you. If you people are true and know whom you do blame, if you have the courage for what you are, I invite you all to come forward and once just once read the Holy Quran comprehensively, everything will be clear.

    We dont hate anyone on the planet but ironically we are everyones best friend as we want you to be protected from the deadly fire in the pipeline waiting for its deservees




  24. Amin Says:

    We as Muslim have faith in Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all other divine messengers along with Prophet Muhammad (pbut).Allah used to send messengers regionally and his messages in parts but he completed his messages by sending Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam universally. The chapter of Prophet-hood has been closed with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). There were instances when there used to be two messengers in the same era in different locations but Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent for the entire human community.
    We have belief on Islam along with the original version Judaism and Christianity (since their concept have been changed in the course of time) but we dont follow others…Why. Because we are using the latest and updated version of Windows (windows 7) and we dont want to use Windows 98 but we dont say that windows 98 never existed or was fake technology. But we do say that windows vista has been imitated by apple with introduction of discrepancies in it. We as a Muslim, will even reject a Muslim cleric if he tries to implement something new to our original version of operating system and others are out of question.




  25. Dr. Ghulam Rasool Nahami Says:

    Muhammad (S)was indeed the greatest human who has walked on this earth. He is my HERO, I wish I had some of his qualities; although I try my best. He always is in my sight during day and often in my sleep.

  26. krezno Says:

    It’s Muhammad is a true leader. i prouds to followers.

  27. mina makki Says:

    hi dear friend

    Here me and my partners have a questionary which will survey the essential needs of
    muslim minorities.
    Can I ask you see the link below and answer to short questions please? All data you give
    will be kept.
    I am grateful!

  28. Derka Says:

    Dr. Moore is not a scientist, neither is Alfred Kroner or any of the other bribed asswipes who took Saudi money to read text off a paper. Learn to research. www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=8mCaMnCGmAU

  29. mo Says:

    haha typical atheist wait until everyone leave and post a message a month later.

    keith moore was known as the most famous and best embrology scientist in the world.

    therefore by logic he is a scientist lol


    As his promise,ALLAH shows the world his miracles through the true Christians admission.

  31. Surely,ALLAH’S promise is true. If some persons think that The professor is bribed,What about their bible reviewers are they bribed also because they admitted that bible has so many errors. So, if they are not narrow minded, they must admit professor Keith’s announcement of MUHAMMAD as a true prophet and the Quran is from GOD. So, don’t be delayed to embrace ISLAM. Otherwise, you will be a victim of hell-fire!!!!!!

  32. Allah's Slave Says:

    Beautiful message through science to the world… Not only professor Keith moore but many scientists of their respective fields analysed various verses of quran and acknowledges that Quran not only speaks about embryology but other scientific fields… After all Quran is not a science book but a divine relevation to show the REAL path to paradise..

  33. Mohammad Athar Says:

    Quran is not a book of SCIENCE but a book of SIGNS… but still more than 1000 verses speaks about sciens which are proved 100% authentic by the renowned scientists of their respective fields… nevertheless, Quran gives the message of TAWHEED i.e. oneness of GOD i.e. ALLAH…and warns to the day of RESURRECTION..

  34. Miah Says:

    Was al-Harith bin Kaladah the source of the Prophet’s medical knowledge? A new article at discusses this topic. Excellent read!

  35. islampapers Says:

    Please visit for articles on Embryology in the Qur’an.

  36. Please see for articles on Embryology in the Qur’an.

    See Was al-Harith bin Kaladah the source of the Prophet’s medical knowledge? A new article dealing with the plagiarism theory.

  37. wasi Says:

    ya salam ya ummaat-ul-muslima,allah hu akbar!ana ashhadualla ilaha illallah,wa ashhadu anna muhammadun abduhu wa rasulo

  38. Really it is a miracle of miracles the truy holy Quran

  39. keith moore on embryology in Quran

  40. Is it 3 years ago that this was started? And this still exists? After we have all learnt that Moore and the other guys in the al-Zindani video were just paid actors.
    After we have learnt that what Moore says is total, fabricated nonsense.
    After we have learnt that the description of embryology is not what happens in reality.
    Even someone like Hamza Tzortzis has abandoned Moore and is trying a linguistic approach, which is also wrong, but at least it’s something new.

  41. Zito Miah Says:

    New article: Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage

    Contains a *surprising* new discovery regarding the leech-like appearance of he embryo.

  42. islampapers Says:

    There is a new video on “Embryology in the Qur’an” by Keith Moore. This lecture was delivered at the University of Illinois, Chicago, USA in 1990.

  43. Anonymous Says:

    God bless you all….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: