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Did the Prophet Muhammad Plagiarise Ancient Greek Embryology?

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Pre-release version 0.5 – February 2011

Commentators assert that the quranic view on human development was plagiarised from ancient Greek (Hellenic) embryology. They specifically claim that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ plagiarised the works of the ancient Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle, and the 2nd century physician and philosopher Galen. To respond to this accusation, this section will articulate the mainstream Islamic scholarly position that the Prophet ﷺ did not plagiarise or borrow ideas from Hellenic medicine.

Does similarity imply plagiarism?

To address the contention that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ borrowed or plagiarised Hellenic views on embryology, the philosophical implications of inferring plagiarism from similarity must be discussed. If there is a similarity between two things X and Y, to make the inference that X copied Y or Y copied X would require some form of evidence. Otherwise, the argument will be fallacious as it will commit the fallacy of argumentum ad ignoratiam, in other words, arguing from ignorance. Take the following example into consideration: there are two patent applications that have arrived at the patent office in the UK. The patent officer examines both applications and they appear to have a similar design for a particular product. Can the patent officer claim plagiarism? No. To justify this claim the patent officer would require a practical link establishing a connection between both authors of the patents in question. In absence of a practical link, the assertion that they copied each other is speculative and untenable. This also applies to the assertion that the Prophet ﷺ plagiarised Hellenic embryology.

In light of above, practical links establishing a valid connection between the Qur’an and Hellenic embryology must be specific and direct. Non-direct evidence, such as an assumed popularised culture of Hellenic embryology, is not enough to prove borrowing or plagiarism. An inference made from such an assumption is weak unless all other possible explanations have been shown to be wrong or explained as improbable. For example, historians claim that there was some cultural exchange between the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. Evidence to support such a claim includes trade routes, the practice of cupping and cauterisation. However, from this evidence, can the inference that the Prophet ﷺ borrowed Hellenic views on embryology be made? The structure of the argument can be presented in the following way:

1. There were some cultural exchanges between Arabs and Greeks

2. The Prophet ﷺ was an Arab

3. Therefore the Prophet ﷺ plagiarised Hellenic views on embryology

In light of the above, how does the conclusion (point 3) logically follow? For the commentators to claim that the Prophet ﷺ plagiarised Hellenic embryology based on the above argument is unwarranted. This is due to the fact they have assumed some hidden premises. These premises include:

a. The Prophet ﷺ learned Hellenic embryology from someone who studied Greek medicine.

b. Hellenic medicine was known, adopted and utilised by Arabian (or Arabic speaking) society in the early 7th century.

c. The Prophet ﷺ was a liar, as He claimed the Qur’an to be the word of God and not the borrowed knowledge of Hellenic embryology.

d. Hellenic and quranic views on embryology are similar.

These premises will be addressed below to provide a strong case against the plagiarism thesis.

Did the Prophet learn Hellenic medicine from someone who studied Greek medicine?

According to the various biographies of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the only person who may have studied Greek medicine and came into direct contact with the Prophet ﷺ was the physician al-Harith bin Kalada. Bin Kalada was born in the middle of the 6th century in the tribe of Banu Thaqif in Ta’if. Some historians maintain that he received his medical education at the Jundishapur medical school where he learnt the teachings of Aristotle and Galen.[1] According to these historians:

The major link between Islamic and Greek medicine must be sought in late Sasanian medicine, especially in the School of Jundishapur rather than that of Alexandria. At the time of the rise of Islam, Jundishapur was at its prime. It was the most important medical centre of its time, combining the Greek, Indian and Iranian medical traditions in a cosmopolitan atmosphere which prepared the ground for Islamic medicine.[2]

Following this narrative, some historians and commentators believe the Prophet ﷺ plagiarised Aristotelian and Galenic accounts of the developing human embryo via bin Kalada, and sought medical advice from him.[3] This is unfounded for various reasons:

1. Claiming the Prophet ﷺ sought medical advice from bin Kalada neither implies nor stipulates the fact that he copied bin Kalada’s apparent knowledge of Hellenic embryology. The onus of proof is on the one who is making the claim. From a historical perspective, there is no direct and explicit evidence that indicates the Prophet ﷺ manufactured his views on embryology via bin Kalada.1. It is generally believed that bin Kalada graduated from the Persian medical school at Jundishapur. However, the existence of such a school has recently been questioned by a number of leading historians. For instance, the historian David C. Lindberg in his book, The Beginnings of Western Science, highlights the legendary status of the school:

“An influential mythology has developed around Nestorian activity in the city of Gondeshapur [Jundishapur] in south-western Persia. According to the often-repeated legend, the Nestorians turned Gondeshapur into a major intellectual center by the sixth century, establishing what some enthusiasts have chosen to call a university, where instruction in all of the Greek disciplines could be obtained. It is alleged that Gondeshapur had a medical school, with a curriculum based on Alexandrian textbooks, and a hospital modeled on Byzantine hospitals, which kept the realm supplied with physicians trained in Greek medicine. Of greatest importance, Gondeshapur is held to have played a critical role in the translation of Greek scholarship into Near Eastern languages and, indeed, to have been the single most important channel by which Greek science passed to the Arabs. Recent research has revealed a considerably less dramatic reality. We have no persuasive evidence for the existence of a medical school or a hospital at Gondeshapur, although, there seems to have been a theological school and perhaps an attached infirmary. No doubt Gondeshapur was the scene of serious intellectual endeavour and a certain amount of medical practice —it supplied a string of physicians for the Abbasid court at Baghdad beginning in the eighth century— but it is doubtful that it ever became a major center of medical education or of translating activity. If the story of Gondeshapur is unreliable in its details, the lesson it was meant to teach is nonetheless valid.”[4]

Roy Porter, a social historian of medicine, raises the contention if whether a medical school actually existed there. Porter in his book, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity, writes:

“Jundishapur was certainly a meeting place for Arab, Greek, Syriac and Jewish intellectuals, but there is no evidence that any medical academy existed there. Only in the early ninth century did Arab–Islamic learned medicine take shape.”[5]

According to the academic medic and historian Plinio Prioreschi, there appears to be no evidence of a major medical school in either the 6th or 7th century. In his book, A History of Medicine, he brings to light that there are no Persian sources that substantiate the claim that Jundishapur played a significant role in the history of medicine.[6] It is also interesting to note,  that from the 5th to the 7th century, Jundishapur does not seem to have any other students that can be authenticated historically. This raises an important question: how is it that such a noted and reputable ancient academic institution has no known students?

2. Historians such as Manfred Ullman and Franz Rosenthal are skeptical about the material referring to bin Kalada. They refer to him as a legendary figure,[7] which has literary allusions to characters of fictitious creation. Professor Gerald Hawting, in his essay, The Development of the Biography of al-Harith ibn Kalada and the Relationship between Medicine and Islam, writes:

“In these latter sources, the information about al-Harith is fragmentary, references to his profession as a doctor are not consistent and, where they occur, tend to be incidental, and there seems to be little information about the nature of his medicine or detail about his life.”[8]

From this perspective, using unreliable or inconclusive historical narratives concerning bin Kalada’s “profession as a doctor”, serve to weaken the argument that the Prophet ﷺ copied the 7th century physician.

3. There are historical reports stating that bin Kalada converted to Islam and was considered a companion of the Prophet ﷺ. Ethnographer and linguist, William Brice in his book An Historical Atlas of Islam, writes:

“He was converted to Islam and had acquired the status of one of the Prophet’s Companions.”[9]

Lecturer and novelist, Abubakr Asadullah expresses a similar position:

“According to nearly all traditional sources, the first known Arab physician was al-Harith ibn Kalada, a graduate of Jundishapur and a Jewish convert to Islam, a contemporary of Prophet Mohammad.”[10]

In light of this, the Prophet ﷺ copying bin Kalada is highly improbable as it is irrational to assert that an educated physician would convert to Islam, and follow the Prophet’s ﷺ message, had he known or suspected the Prophet ﷺ of copying his work on embryology. However, it must be noted that there is uncertainty as to whether bin Kalada embraced Islam and reports relating to his conversion are not authentic.[11]

4. The traditional sources that elaborate on bin Kalada also convey information relating to the Prophet ﷺ, including his miracles and the supernatural eloquence of the quranic discourse. One of these sources is Ta’rikh al-Rusul wa’l-Muluk.It underlines various aspects of the life and character of the Prophet ﷺ including his truthfulness. Since this source is used for sound historical information, insight, and as a point of reference on bin Kalada, reason necessitates that it also be viewed as reliable with regard to its discussion on the unquestionable integrity of the Prophet ﷺ. Therefore, to accept the historical sources that elaborate on bin Kalada would be tantamount to agreeing that Prophet ﷺ was truthful, thereby undermining any claim of copying and plagiarism.

5. Bin Kalada was from al-Ta’if, a town which came into contact with Islam only in the 8th year of the Islamic calendar, and it was during this period that Islamic historical sources first mention the physician. Therefore, it would be impossible to suggest the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ copied bin Kalada’s views on the developing human, because chapter 23 of the Qur’an and its verses referring to embryology had already been revealed by the time bin Kalada met the Prophet ﷺ.[13]

6. The link between bin Kalada and the Hellenic tradition is doubted by historians. Gerald Hawting explains that due to the scientific tradition in the Golden Age, historians and biographers of the time sought links to established institutions such as Jundishapur, to associate Islam with the science of the day:

“In this context… [Hawting sees]… a motive for the elaboration of the links of al-Harith ibn Kalada with Persia and its Hellenistic tradition.”[14]

7. Even if the historical reports concerning bin Kalada’s role as a physician are assumed to be accurate and valid, his medical practice raises serious doubt as to whether he learned or adopted Hellenic medicine. Historians and relevant reports concerning bin Kalada clearly describe his approach and practice of medicine as folkloric and of the Bedouin type. For instance, in one report when bin Kalada treated Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, the treatment that bin Kalada prescribed was a drink mixture made up of dates, grain and fat. This treatment is reflective of the medical ideas and treatments of the Prophet ﷺ and not of Hellenic medicine.[15]

In view of the above discussion, whether bin Kalada had any formal link to Galenic and Aristotelian views on the development of the human embryo remains inconclusive, and so adopting the plagiarism thesis via bin Kalada does not carry much weight. Additionally, the historical narratives concerning bin Kalada are conflicting, speculative, doubtful and untenable. Therefore, to use bin Kalada as a valid link connecting the Prophet ﷺ and Hellenic medicine is baseless. For a lengthy discussion on this topic, please refer to Khalid al-Khazaraji’s and Elias Kareem’s essay, Was al-Harith bin Kaladah the Source of the Prophet’s Medical Knowledge.[16]

Hellenic medicine was known, adopted and utilised by Arabian (or Arabic speaking) society in the early 7th century

Commentators assert that Hellenic embryology was common in early 7th century Arabic speaking society. This view is based on the assertion that there were cultural exchanges between the Greeks, Romans and Arabs. Cultural exchanges did occur, and its beginnings predate the advent of Islam, however it doesn’t logically follow that it included Hellenic views on embryology, or that Hellenic medicine was popularised and disseminated throughout the region. To maintain such a claim is untenable, as it would imply that there is historical evidence to show that Hellenic embryology was transferred or learned via these cultural exchanges. The following points comprehensively highlight that Hellenic embryology was not transferred or learned via Greco-Arab cultural exchanges:

1. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ could not have acquired knowledge of Hellenic embryology via written works.

The first major translations of Hellenic embryology into Arabic began at least 150 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As Roy Porter in his book, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present, writes:

“Only in the early ninth century did Arab-Islamic learned medicine take shape. The first phase of this revival lay in a major translation movement, arising during the reign of Harun al-Rashid (r. 786-809) and gaining impetus in the caliphate of his son, al-Ma’mun r.813-33). It was stimulated by a socioeconomic atmosphere favourable to the pursuit of scholarship, a perceived need among both Muslims and Christians for access in Arabic to ancient medicine, and the ready availability for the relevant arts.[17]

“Crucial in this ‘age of translations’ was the establishment in Baghdad, capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasid caliphs, of the Bayt al-Hikma (832), a centre where scholars assembled texts and translated into Arabic a broad range of non-Islamic works. The initial translation work was dominated by Christians, thanks to their skills in Greek and Syriac. The main figure was Hunayn ibn Ishaq (d. 873), later known in the West asJohannitius, a Nestorian Christian from the southern Iraqi town of al-Hira…With his pupils, he translated 129 works of Galen into Arabic (and others into Syriac), providing the Arabic world with more Galenic texts than survive today in Greek.”[18]

According to the historian of medicine Donald Campbell, the earliest possible translation of Greek medicine was done at least 50 years after the death of the Prophet ﷺ  by the Syrian Jew Maserjawaihi:

“John the Grammarian and Aaron the Presbyter, who was also an Alexandrian, lived at the time of Mohamet (c. 622). Aaron compiled thirty books in Syriac, the material for which was derived chiefly from the Greek; these books were called the Pandects of Aaron and were said to have been translated into Arabic c. 683 by the Syrian Jew Maserjawaihi; this is of interest as it is the first definite attempt at the transmutation of the medicine of the Greeks into that of the Arabians.”[19]

A Note on the 6th Century Syriac and Latin Translations

Other possible means of knowledge transfer would include non-Arabic texts, such as the Syriac and Latin translations of Galen’s books. However, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ did not know Syriac or Latin, therefore this is option is implausible. Also, the Prophet ﷺ could have not been taught Hellenic embryology via some who had learned via these translations, as there is no evidence that he came into direct contact with anyone who had studied Greek medicine, as highlighted in the above discussion on al-Harith bin Kalada.

Significantly, historians maintain that there is no evidence of any acquisition of Hellenic medical knowledge before the beginning of the eighth century, and that it was only through double-translation, from Greek into Syriac, and from Syriac into Arabic, that the Arabs first became acquainted with the works of the Greeks. The historian John Meyendorff, in his paper Byzantine Views of Islam, highlights the points raised above:

“Until the end of the Umayyad period, these Syrian or Coptic Christians were the chief, and practically the only, spokesmen for the Christian faith in the Caliphate. And it was through the intermediary of these communities – and often by means of a double translation, from Greek into Syriac, and from Syriac into Arabic – that the Arabs first became acquainted with the works of Aristotle, Plato, Galien, Hippocrates, and Plotinus.”[20]

Since the first Arabic translations of Hellenic medicine appeared at least 50 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the view that he somehow had access to the Syriac translations is unfounded, because it was through these double translations that the Arabs first became acquainted with Hellenic medicine.

Further separating the Prophet ﷺ and the Syriac and Latin translations is the lack of any positive or cogent answers to the following questions:

a. If the knowledge contained in these translations informed common knowledge then why are there no oral or written reports concerning knowledge of Hellenic embryology? (See The Prophet Muhammad could not have acquired Hellenic embryology from 7th century Arabian common knowledge.)  

b. Why are the quranic verses that elaborate on the developing human dissimilar to Hellenic embryology? (see Are Hellenic and quranic views on embryology similar?)

c. The historical evidence strongly suggests that Hellenic embryology was not known in early 7th century Arabic speaking society. In this context, the contention assumes the Prophet ﷺ was the only person who came into contact with the Syriac or Latin translations. This inevitable conclusion is irrational and conspiratorial, especially in a 7th century Arabian context, because many people would travel to regions where Syriac and Latin was spoken. Therefore, to claim the Prophet ﷺ was the only one who somehow gained knowledge via these translations, even though Hellenic embryology was not common knowledge (see point 3 below The Prophet Muhammad could not have acquired Hellenic embryology from 7th century Arabian common knowledge below), raises far more problems than it solves.

2.The Prophet Muhammad could not have been influenced by popular medical practice with a supposedly Hellenic flavour.

There is no direct historical evidence indicating that Hellenic medical practices were utilised or known in early 7th century Arabic speaking society, as Roy Porter highlights, “only in the early ninth century did Arab-Islamic learned medicine take shape.” Supporting this view, Donald Campbell explains that Arab physicians were brought into high repute by the early part of the 8th century as a result of studying Greek medicine.[21]

Further distancing Hellenic medical practice from early 7th century Arabic speaking society, Ibn Khaldun classifies popularised medicine during the 7th century as Arab folk medicine:

“Civilized Bedouins have a kind of medicine which is mainly based upon individual experience. They inherit its use from the shaykhs and old women of the tribe. Some of it may occasionally be correct. However, that kind of medicine is not based upon any   natural norm or upon any conformity (of the treatment) to temper the humors. Much of this sort of medicine existed among the Arabs. They had well-known physicians, such as al-Harith b. Kaladah and others. The medicine mentioned in religious tradition is of the (Bedouin) type.”[22]

Supporting Ibn Khaldun’s views, the  historian of medicine, Plinio Prioreschi, confirms that 7th century Arabian popularised medicine, did not reflect Hellenistic medicine:

“From the pre-Islamic to the early Islamic period, there were no significant changes in the practice of medicine…In these documents we find that such medicine continued   to be practiced for some time, Camel urine and milk were common remedies, various vegetable products (e.g. henna, olive oil) and other animal products (e.g. sheep fat, honey) were also considered effective.[23]

The historian Vivian Nutton in her essay, The Rise of Medicine, explains how the Arabs had their own distinct medicine which further supports the claim that the Arabs did not utilise or adopt Hellenic medicine until after the death of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.

“The Arab conquests of the seventh century crafted a new political order onto a basically Christian, Syriac-speaking society. Although the Arabs had their own medicine, based on herbs and chants, they were not numerous enough to impose it on their new subjects.”[24]

A contention against this position maintains that early 7th century Arabs had practices of cupping, which was a Hellenic practice, and therefore Hellenic medical practices were transferred from the Greeks to the Arabs. There is no direct evidence to justify this claim, just because some medical practices were similar, it doesn’t imply that they exchanged this practice. One can argue that it could have been the Chinese, as they also practiced cupping. Even if some of these practices were as a result of direct cultural exchanges, it doesn’t logically follow that Hellenic views on embryology were also transferred. Knowledge of Hellenic embryology and emulating medical practice are not the same. Where medical practices may be adopted, as they are not complicated, details about the development of a human embryo would require education, usually at an academic institution. This is proved by the fact that by 531 CE, in Alexandria, Hellenic texts “formed the basis for the Alexandrian medical curriculum”.[25] In light of this, there is no substantial historical evidence that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ interacted with anyone who learned Hellenic embryology from a medical academic institution.

3. The Prophet Muhammad could not have acquired Hellenic embryology from 7th century Arabian common knowledge.

An interesting view adopted by various commentators includes highlighting the difference between practice and knowledge. For instance, a culture X may have knowledge of medical practices Y yet continue to practice their own medicine. Modern African cultures are good examples to substantiate this view. For instance, there are some cultures in Africa that are aware of germ theory and the use of anti-biotics, but still persist on the practice of witch craft and magic.In similar light, society in early 7th century Arabia could have had knowledge of Hellenic embryology but practiced its own distinct Bedouin medicine. However, there is a striking difference between the two situations. There is evidence to show that African cultures have knowledge of germ theory and western medicine, but there is no evidence to show that early 7th century Arabian society had knowledge of Hellenic embryology, and to assert such a view would be to argue from ignorance. Even if the assertion is taken seriously, more questions arise that undermine the argument. For example, why is there no evidence to show that there was knowledge of Hellenic embryology, and why are there no pre-Islamic traditions that indicate an early 7th century knowledge of the science?

Continuing with the above questions, an understanding of the Arab’s well developed oral traditions serve as a means to dismantle the assertion that Hellenic medicine was known, popularised, adopted and utilised during the life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The Arabs had made poetry and the transmissions of oral traditions as the means to transfer knowledge, such as stories of the famous pre-Islamic wars, ethics and current affairs. In light of this, there is no evidence of any oral tradition elaborating or even briefly mentioning Hellenic views on embryology, Muhammad Salim Khan in his book, Islamic Medicine, explains this significant point:

“The pre-Islamic Arabs were familiar with the working of the major internal organs, although only in general. Surgical knowledge and practices were limited to cauterisation, branding and cupping. The care of the sick was the responsibility of the women. There is no evidence of any oral or written treatise on any aspect of medicine. There was use of folk medicine, which has interesting connections with magic. It is also interesting to note that pre-Islamic Arabia had contacts with ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia and India, where medicine was highly developed, but there is no material to suggest that is was adopted or utilised by ancient Arabs. This is particularly surprising in view of the fact that the ancient Arabs were well developed in their poetry.[27]

Was the Prophet Muhammad a liar?

Early historical sources on the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ life illustrate and emphasise the integrity of his character. He was not a liar and to assert as much is indefensible. The presumption that he plagiarised Hellenic embryology, while maintaining the Qur’an to be the word of God, is inconceivable. The reasons for this abound, for instance he was known even by the enemies to his message as the “Trustworthy”.[28]

Further proof of the Prophet’s ﷺ reliability and credibility is enforced and substantiated by the fact that a liar usually lies for some worldly gain, but the Prophet ﷺ rejected all worldly aspirations, and suffered tremendously for his message.[29] He rejected the riches and power he was offered to stop promulgating his message. Significantly, he was persecuted for his beliefs; boycotted and exiled from his beloved city – Makkah; starved of food; and stoned by children to the point where his blood drenched his legs. His wife passed away and his beloved companions were tortured and persecuted.[30] The psychological profile of the Prophet ﷺ was obviously incongruent with a liar, and to maintain that he was  dishonest is tantamount of making bold claims without any evidence. The late Emeritus Professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies W. Montgomery Watt in, Muhammad at Mecca, explores this:

“His readiness to undergo persecution for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as a leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves.”[31]

It was the Prophet’s ﷺ truthfulness that was a key aspect of his success on both political and religious levels. Without his trustworthiness, which was an integral part of his moral behaviour, he could not have achieved so much in a relatively short space of time. This view is addressed by the historians Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley in, History of the Saracen Empire:

“The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force.”[32]

Absence of Evidence is not Evidence of Absence

Critics argue that the discussion thus far points towards an absence of evidence, and an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This criticism brings to light that even if there is no evidence to claim that Hellenic embryology was common knowledge, and that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ could not have learnt Hellenic medicine from the physicians of the time, it still does not prove that knowledge of Hellenic embryology was absent from early 7th century Arabic speaking society. As ever, this understanding of the above discussion is flawed. The discussion so far has presented a strong case showing that Hellenic embryology did not form part of early 7th century Arabian society’s common knowledge. If it was common, it would most likely to have been recorded in the oral traditions, the written treatises, the medical practices and the historical narratives of the time.  For these reasons, the claim that Hellenic embryology was common knowledge is highly unlikely. Therefore, to prolong the assertion that Hellenic embryology was common knowledge even though it is highly likely it wasn’t, is almost irrational and conspiratorial.

Are Hellenic and quranic views on embryology similar?

Key Terms

Below is a linguistic breakdown of the relevant key terms used in the Qur’an to describe the development of the human embryo. An understanding of these will be required to understand this section.

“We created man from an essence of clay, then We placed him as a drop of fluid (nutfah) in a safe place. Then We made that drop of fluid into a clinging form (ᶜalaqah), and then We made that form into a lump of flesh (mudghah), and We made that lump into bones, and We clothed those bones with flesh, and later We made him into other forms. Glory be to God the best of creators.”[33]

Drop of Fluid: nutfah

This word has various meanings. For instance:

1. By looking at the Arabic language, it can mean a dribble, a trickle, a drop or semen.[34] Nutfah can also mean a singular entity which is a part of a bigger group of its kind, as suggested by the classical dictionary Lisan Al-Arab, which explains “a single drop of water remaining in an emptied bucket”.[35]

2. According to Prophetic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ explained the nutfah as a combination of substances “from a male nutfah and from a female nutfah”.[36]

3. The Qur’an further clarifies that that the nutfah is a single entity or a drop from a larger group of its kind by stating that the nutfah comes from semen, maniyyin in Arabic.

“Had he not been a sperm (nutfah) from a semen (maniyyin) emitted?”[37]

This perspective on nutfah highlights how the intended use of this word is not to portray the meaning of semen but rather that it is a substance from semen, which supports the view that it is a single substance from a larger group of its kind. The classical exegete Ibn Kathir comments on this verse and clarifies that the nutfah is a substance from semen, he states:

“meaning, was not man a weak drop of nutfah from a despised fluid known as semen.[38]

4. Explaining its view on the word nutfah, the Qur’an in another verse elucidates how the human being is made from an extract of a liquid disdained (semen).

“Then He made his posterity out of the extract (sulaalah) of a liquid disdained.”[39]

As previously discussed, the word sulaalah means an extract, something drawn out or the most subtle, purest and essential constituent. The above meanings and explications bring to light that the intended use of the word nutfah is a drop of a single extract, containing a specific substance like an egg or sperm, from the male semen and the female equivalent. Therefore, the word nutfah is not just another synonym for semen.

5. The companion of the Prophet Muhammad, and the quranic exegete, Ibn Abbas mentions that the nutfah is:

“from a weak drop of the water/fluid of man and woman.”[40]

Ibn Abbas’ explanation seems to elude to the fact that the nutfah is just a fluid. Therefore, some commentators assert that this illustrates the word nutfah is a synonym for the word semen. This assertion lacks a holistic understanding, in other words it fails to take into account the other quranic verses and the Prophetic traditions referring to the nutfah. In the Prophetic traditions, when describing semen in context of its appearance and form, the words mani and maniyyan are used. This is consistent throughout various Prophetic traditions that can be found in the collections of Muslim, Nisai, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud and Bukhari. For example, in the book of Taharah (purification) in the collection of Sunan at-Tirmidhi, Aisha (the wife of the Prophet ﷺ) narrates that she washed maniyyan from the Prophet’s ﷺ garments.[41] If the whole corpus of exegetical material is used to form an accurate perspective on the word nutfah, Ibn Abbas’ statement should be taken in the context of the nutfah being a specific drop of fluid from the semen and not the semen itself. This is because the Prophetic traditions use of the words mani and nutfah in different contexts, and therefore clearly differentiate between the two terms, further highlighting they are not synonyms. Additionally, the quranic verses pertaining to the word nutfah clearly mention that the nutfah is from the semen, and not the semen itself, and that it is an extract of semen.

In light of the above, the word nutfah can mean a  drop of a single extract coming from the semen (and the female equivalent), containing essential substances like a sperm or egg. The word nutfah can also mean a single sperm from a collection of millions of sperms contained in semen, or a single drop of fluid containing a female egg, or a single egg from a group of many other eggs in the Ovaries.

6. In addition to the above, the Qur’an mentions another meaning for the word nutfah by describing it as a combination of mingled (al-amshaj) substances: “We created man from a drop (nutfah) of mingled fluid.”[42]

This verse, from a grammatical perspective, portrays an image of the nutfah as an entity made up of a combination of substances coming from the mother and the father. The word al-amshaj (mingled) is a plural adjective and it is used here with the singular noun nutfah. Grammatically, this highlights the verse’s concept of nutfah as being a single entity or drop produced by a combination of substances.

A Clinging form: ᶜalaqah

This word carries various meanings including: to hang, to be suspended, to be dangled, to stick, to cling, to cleave and to adhere. It can also mean to catch, to get caught, to be affixed or subjoined.[43] Other connotations of the word ᶜalaqah include a leech-like substance, having the resemblance of a worm; or being of a ‘creeping’ disposition inclined to the sucking of blood. Finally, its meaning includes clay that clings to the hand, blood in a general sense and thick, clotted blood – because of its clinging together.[44]

A Lump of Flesh: mudghah

This term means to chew, mastication, chewing, to be chewed, and a small piece of meat.[45] [46] It also describes the embryo after it passes to another stage and becomes flesh.[47] Other meanings include something that teeth have chewed and left visible marks on; and marks that change in the process of chewing due to the repetitive act.[48]  The mudghah stage is elaborated on further, elsewhere in the Qur’an:

“then from a fleshy lump (mudghah), formed and unformed.”[49]

The Arabic word used here for ‘formed’ is mukhallqah which can also mean ‘shaped’ or ‘moulded’.[50]

1. Aristotle and the Qur’an

The accusation that the Qur’an is similar to Aristotelian views on human embryology is untenable for various reasons:

Firstly, Aristotle believed only the male produces fluid responsible for the development of the embryo (the genetic material). He supposes the male semen to be the active form and the female ovum as providing only the passive element for fertilization; an idea contradictory to modern embryology. In fact, Aristotle was of the opinion that semen mixed with women’s menstrual blood, coagulating to form the embryo. Aristotelian accounts of human development are evidently incongruous with both the Qur’an and modern embryology, as illustrated in his own writings:

“…the female, though it does not contribute any semen to generation… contributes something, viz., the substance constituting the menstrual fluid… [I]f the male is the active partner, the one which originates the movement, and the female qua female is the passive one, surely what the female contributes to the semen of the male will be not semen but material. And this is in fact what we find happening; for the natural substance of the menstrual fluid is to be classed as prime matter.”[51]

Classical exegetes of the Qur’an convey the disagreement between Aristotelian accounts of human development and the quranic narrative. The Qur’an describes the nutfah as a mingled substance from both the male and the female, not just the male (see Drop of fluid: nuftah). It also stresses both the male and female as being responsible for the child’s genetic makeup. Ibn al-Qayyim, the 14th century jurist and commentator of the Qur’an, uses various Prophetic traditions to emphasise the fact that male semen alone is not responsible for generating a child.[52] Ibn al-Qayyim theorizes that if women do not have a type of semen, then their children would not look like them. The male semen alone does not generate a child because conception only occurs upon the mixture of male sperm with another equivalent (ovum) from the female.[53] Furthermore, assertions of plagiarism are futile as the words used in the Qur’an are unlike Aristotle’s choice of words; the Qur’an is scientifically accurate and Aristotle is not. Aristotle’s discredited supposition (of menstrual blood being involved in the process of fertilisation) is further contrasted with the Qur’an and its use of the word nutfah, which is not the word for menstrual blood in Arabic. The word for menstrual blood in Arabic is hayd.sup>[54]

Secondly, Aristotelian views on human development include that male embryos are generated on the left side of the womb, and female embryos on the right side of the womb.[55] This is a concept that the Qur’an does not mention.

Thirdly, Aristotle held the belief that the upper body is formed before the lower body:

Now the upper portion of the body is the first to be marked off in the course of the embryo’s formation; the lower portion receives its growth as time goes on.[56]

Again, this idea does not exist in the Qur’an.

A contention to the above response includes the assertion that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ plagiarised the following passage from the Greek Philosopher Aristotle:

Round about the bones, and attached to them by thin fibrous brands, grow fleshy parts, for the sake of which the bones exist.[57]

This seems to correlate with the quranic statement, “then we clothed the bones with flesh”.

In response to this, an interesting and significant perspective can be taken considering the similarities between both statements. Rather than negate the authenticity of the Qur’an, it serves to dismantle the claims that the Prophet ﷺ copied Aristotle. What is primarily brought to mind is the question of how, if the Prophet ﷺ is supposed to have taken from Aristotle’s work, is it the Qur’an only contains the correct information and refused to include Aristotle’s incorrect information?

In exploring the above questions, further problems with the plagiarism thesis are brought to light, which inevitably prove the credibility and authenticity of the Qur’an. For instance, how could the Prophet ﷺ take the correct information from Aristotle, and at the same time, reject the incorrect information? Also, how could the Prophet ﷺ include other aspects of the developing human embryo, which are not mentioned in Aristotelian literature, but yet correspond with modern embryology? The only rational answer to this question is to assert that the Qur’an is a book that affirms the reality of human development, even though it is a 7th century text. To oppose this would be tantamount of claiming that the Prophet ﷺ knew what was correct, understood what was incorrect and had knowledge that transcended the early 7th century understanding of human development.

2. Galen and the Qur’an

To substantiate the view that the Qur’anic accounts of the developing human are similar to Hellenic embryology, commentators have attempted to compare the quranic stages of human development with Galenic views on the developing human. However, upon analysing Galen’s writings, bringing it in contrast to the various and extensive meanings of the nuftah, ᶜalaqah and mudghah stages, various differences are made distinct.

1st Stage

In his book, On Semen, Galen states:

“But let us take the account back again to the first conformation of the animal, and in order to make our account orderly and clear, let us divide the creation of the foetus   overall into four periods of time. The first is that in which. as is seen both in abortions and in dissection, the form of the semen prevails. At this time, Hippocrates too, the all-marvellous, does not yet call the conformation of the animal a foetus; as we heard just now in the case of semen voided in the sixth day, he still calls it semen.”[58]

Galen clearly states that his views are as a result of dissections and abortions, and then goes on to explain that the first stage of human development is in the “form of σπέρματος”. The word σπέρματος in the Greek language means sperm[59], however this understanding of the word was only realised in the 17th century[60]. In the 2nd century, which was the period of Galen’s writings, the word σπέρματος meant semen. So from a Galenic perspective this stage is merely describing what can be seen with the naked eye, which is a semen like substance. This raises a significant contention; if the Qur’an was a summary of Galenic views on embryology then the Arabic word that should have been used to represent this understanding is mani or maniyyan. As previously discussed, the reason for this is that in the Prophetic traditions, when describing semen in context of its appearance and form, the words mani and maniyyan are used. These words are consistently used throughout the Prophetic traditions.

Further widening the gap between Galenic and quranic terminology is the use of the word maniyyan elsewhere in the Qur’an. The Qur’an mentions the word maniyyin (the genitive case of maniyyan) in the context of the physical form and appearance of an emitted substance. Also, this word is used in conjunction with the word nutfah which clearly shows how the two words are not referring to the same context, because the nutfah, according to the Qur’an, comes from the maniyyin (semen):

Had he not been a sperm (nutfah) from a semen (maniyyin) emitted?[61]

As previously explored (see Drop of fluid: nutfah), this perspective on nutfah highlights how the intended use of this word is not to portray the meaning of semen but rather that it is a drop or a substance from semen. Also, in another verse the Qur’an explains how the human being is made from an extract of a liquid disdained (semen).[62] As previously explained, the word sulaalah means an extract, something drawn out or the most subtle, purest and essential constituent. These explanations bring to light that the intended use of the word nutfah is not as a synonym for semen, rather it is a drop of a single extract coming from the semen (and the female equivalent), containing essential substances like a sperm or egg. Even if the view that nutfah is just a drop of semen, the context of the Prophet traditions and the Qur’an clearly show that nutfah is used for the process of the developing human and fertilization, and mani or maniyyan is used in the context of the physical form of the emitted substance. Nevertheless, the quranic view of the word nutfah still highlights that the nutfah is different from mani, because the Qur’an mentions that it is a drop of semen of which is an extract. This indicates that the nutfah is a pure, subtle or essential part of the semen, and not the whole semen itself.

It is worth noting that Galen adopted the view that the semen came from blood. Galen writes:

“An artery and a vein are observed to go to each of the testicles, not in a straight path, as they do all other parts, but twisting first in many shapes, like grape tendrils or ivy…   And in these many twists that they make before reaching the testicles you can see the blood gradually growing white. And finally, when the vessel has now reached the testicle, the substance of the semen is clearly visible in it…but they generated it from blood, which spent a great deal of time in them; for this is the use of the twisting. And as they altered the quality of the blood they changed it to semen.”[63]

Galen also asserts that the semen from both the male and female mix with menstrual blood. In his book On Semen, he dedicates a whole section on disagreeing with Aristotle’s position that the male semen mixes with the female menstrual blood, and articulates a case for the mother contributing semen as well as the menstrual blood to form the fetus.[64] Galen concludes that the formation of the fetus arises from the mixing of the two semens, from the mother and the father, plus menstrual blood.[65]

These concepts are not mentioned in the Qur’an, which further widens the gap between Galen and the Divine book. However, some commentators assert that the nutfah and alaqah stages are a summary of Galen’s above inaccuracies. Their main point is that the Qur’an mentions fa khalaqna nutfata alaqan, which means “And then we created the drop into a clinging form”. They propose that the words fa khalaqna can mean to mix or to combine, and therefore are a representation of the Galenic idea of semen mixing with blood, since nutfah can mean semen and alaqah can mean blood in a general sense. This assertion displays a clear misunderstanding of the Arabic language. The Qur’an mentions that the nutfah and the alaqah stages are distinct, and that each stage is made into another stage. This is understood by the use of the key word: khalaqna, which means “we made it become”[66], indicating that each stage is different and separate from one another. Also, the key word khalaqna does not mean to mix or to combine, so the assertion that the Qur’an borrowed this knowledge is false because the Qur’an clearly mentions distinct stages as opposed to the Galenic understanding of the semen and blood mixing to create the next stage.

In light of the above, if chapter 23 of the Qur’an was just a summary of Galenic embryology why did it not use the Arabic word for semen (maniyyan) to refer to σπέρματος, since this Greek word was also used in the context of the physical form and appearance of the fluid? Significantly, why does the Qur’an refer to the nutfah as being a special part or extract of semen (maniyyan), which clearly indicates that they are not the same thing or referring to the same context? The use of the two words clearly shows that there are two different meanings being portrayed. The different choice of words to describe sexual emissions, fluids and cells in varying contexts further highlights that the Qur’an, and by extension the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, did not plagiarise Galenic embryology, because if they did, then maniyyan and nutfah would be referring to the same substance. Also, why did the Qur’an not mention that the nutfah came from blood, like the Galenic view? Why did the Qur’an not mention that the nutfah combined with menstrual blood to create the next stage? These questions clearly distance the Qur’an and the Prophet ﷺ from the accusation that they borrowed Galenic views on embryology. Therefore, once the original context and language of the source-texts in question are analysed, it can be concluded that they are not identical or even suspiciously similar.

2nd Stage

“But when it has been filled with blood, and heart, brain and liver are still unarticulated and unshaped yet have by now a certain solidarity and considerable size, this is the second period; the substance of the foetus has the form of flesh and no longer the form of semen. Accordingly you would find that Hippocrates too no longer calls such a form semen but, as was said, foetus…”[67]

Another significant contention concerns Galen’s second stage that refers to the embryo as being filled with blood. The key Greek words used are πληρωθη which means filled[68] and αίματος meaning blood[69]. If the Qur’an borrowed Galenic views on the developing human embryo, the words that should have been used are ملأت (mal-at) which means the manner in which something is filled[70], and دم (dam) which means blood[71]. However, the word ᶜalaqah is used in the Qur’an (see A clinging form: ᶜalaqah). This word in the context of blood can mean blood in a general sense, and a clot of blood due to its sticking together.[72] Conversely, the word ᶜalaqah alone would not represent the Galenic stage here, because its meanings do not encapsulate the word “filled” and its use to mean blood clot would be misplaced as the word for blood clot in Greek is not αίματος rather it is θρόμβος.[73] Even if commentators assert that the use of the word ᶜalaqah as a blood clot, in this context, is satisfactory, an explanation is required to reconcile the fact that it only means blood clot in the sense that it clings. This is made clear in Lane’s Arabic-English Lexicon as it explains that the word ᶜalaqah is a blood clot “because of its clinging together”[74], rather than its physical appearance. Therefore, using the Arabic words ملأت and دم would have been more appropriate, because Galen specifically refers to “filled with blood” and not just blood. This whole discussion has to be understood in the context of the primary meaning for the word ᶜalaqah, which is not blood or blood clot but rather to hang or to be suspended. For that reason, the claim that the Qur’an reflects Galenic embryology is weak and unsubstantiated.

The plagiarism thesis is further dismantled if a more contextual understanding of Galenic embryology is taken into consideration. At this second stage, Galen uses the word σαρκοειδής, meaning fleshy,[75] to refer to the appearance of the embryo. This undermines the claim that the quranic stages are similar to Galen, because words that can mean fleshy in Arabic, such as mudhgah and lahm, are used to describe later stages. However, Galen mentions this stage as a fleshy substance filled with blood. The word in the Qur’an to describe this stage doesn’t encompass such a meaning, because ᶜalaqah, if we assume it to mean blood or blood clot, does not encompass a fleshy substance filled with blood. To illustrate this further, imagine someone had to summarise the following statement into Arabic: a blood filled substance that is fleshy – what words must they use to best represent the meaning of the statement? An array of words from the Arabic classical language would be used like the words mentioned above, but ᶜalaqah would not be one of them.

3rd Stage

The third period follows on this, when, as was said, it is possible to see the three ruling parts clearly and a kind of outline, a silhouette, as it were, of all the other parts. You will see the conformation of the three ruling parts more clearly, that of the parts of the stomach more dimly, and much more still, that of the limbs. Later on they form ‘twigs’, as Hippocrates expressed it, indicating by the term their similarity to branches.[76]

As explored, the Qur’an mentions mudghah as a chewed-like substance and a small piece of flesh (see A lump of flesh: mudghah). In contrast, Galen discusses the “conformation” of “the three ruling parts”, “silhouettes” and “twigs”, which is most likely in reference to limb bone formation. He details these three ruling parts as being more visible than the stomach and the limbs. However, the Qur’an makes no mention of this, and its mention of limb formation comes at the next stage. It is both implausible and impractical, therefore, to suggest the Qur’an copied the works of Galen as the it does not include any of the descriptions provided by Galen at this stage. Also, the word mudghah would have been appropriately used as a summary of the ancient Greek word  ἐμβρύειον[77], which means the flesh of an embryo, however Galen did not use this word. The following hypothetical scenario highlights the absurdity of asserting similarity between the quranic and Galenic descriptions of this stage: if someone had become acquainted with Galenic embryology and had to summarise his third stage, would the word mudghah accurately encompass the meaning of “the three ruling parts”, “silhouettes” and “limbs”? The answer is no. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that there is no mention of flesh, a small piece of meat or something that has been bitten in the original Greek of Galen’s writings describing this stage. A conservative approach to the above question would at least conclude that there was a serious misreading or misunderstanding of the text. Even if that were the case, it would still highlight that Galenic and quranic terms are dissimilar, and it would raise the need for evidence to establish a misreading or misunderstanding. In light of the evidence provided in this section, it is extremely unlikely that there was any common knowledge of Hellenic embryology, written or oral, in early 7th century Arabia.

Early Greek translations of the Qur’an

9th century Greek translations of the Qur’an undermine the view that Galenic and quranic embryology are similar. Early Greek translations of the Qur’an clearly show how the quranic terms used to described the development of the human embryo are not the same as Galenic terms. For instance, Niketas of Byzantium, who was one of the most influential Byzantine theologians who wrote against Islam, comments on 9th century translations of the Qur’an.[78] Concerning the word ᶜalaqah, Niketas maintains that the quranic usage of the word implies that man was created from a leech:

“He says that man was created from a leech [βδἑλλης].”[79]

The key word that Niketas refers to in the Greek translation is βδἑλλης, which means leech.[80] In view of the fact that the early Greek translation of the Qur’an does not use Galenic terminology to understand the text, and that the early Greek understanding of ᶜalaqah meant leech, strengthens the argument against the contention that Galenic and quranic views on embryology are similar. This is further supported by the fact that Niketas’ writings and commentary on the Qur’an are polemic in nature.[81] Niketas wanted to undermine Islam, and attempted to do so by refuting the quranic discourse.[82] This brings to light a question which weakens the plagiariation thesis. If quranic and Galenic views on embryology were similar, why did not Niketas expose the similarity to show that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ borrowed Hellenic views on embryology? The absence of Niketas’ attempt to link quranic views on embryology with Hellenic medicine, clearly shows how an early Greek understanding of the Qur’an was not perceived to be the result of borrowed Hellenic medical knowledge. It is also interesting to note that Niketas’ work on the Qur’an was used as a reference for anti-Islamic polemics for over 500 years,[83] which highlights that the plagiarism thesis is a relatively modern  innovation in the field of anti-Islamic polemics, and brings to light the fact its allegations are based on misunderstandings of the culture of the time, including a superficial understanding of the Greek and Arabic language.

Other historical documents that can be traced back to the Byzantine period are anathemas recorded during Muslim conversions to Christianity. For example, the following ritual was used during conversions to Christianity:

“I anathematize Muhammad’s teaching about the creation of man, where he says that man was created from dust and a drop of fluid [σταγόνος] and leeches [βδἑλλων] and chewed-like substance [μασήματος].”[84]

The key words used here are σταγόνος which means a drop[85], βδἑλλων which means leech[86], and μασήματος which means something that has been chewed[87]. This clearly indicates that an early Greek understanding of the Qur’an does not correspond to Galenic views on embryology. This is due to the fact that Galen never used the Greek words mentioned above.

A key disagreement to the above argument involves commentators asserting that the 9th century Greek translation is inaccurate. Although a legitimate contention, it is incorrect. The 9th century translation seems to be a high quality translation, as the historian Christian Hogel writes:

Whoever produced the translation (and more than one person may well have been involved in the process), it should be stressed that, despite the mentioned linguistic features that may seem to point to a humble origin, it is actually of high quality. The person (or persons) completing the task knew Arabic and Greek well, and a high degree of precision and consistency was aimed at and normally achieved.[88]

This view is also supported by the academic historian Christos Simelidis, he writes:

“The ninth-century Greek translation of the Qur’an, although not without mistakes, is generally accurate, and evidently the translator consulted both lexicographical and exegetical material.”[89]

The similarities between Galenic embryology and the Qur’an

A contention to the above analysis, is the fact that there are still some similarities between Galenic embryology and the quranic narrative. These similarities include the fact that both the Qur’an and Galenic views understood that semen came from both the mother and the father. In response to this, it must be noted that in light of the above evidence, this contention is irrational. To assert that the Qur’an borrowed Galenic embryology in light of the striking differences discussed above, is tantamount to claiming that evolution and creationism are similar because they address the same field of science. Many questions are raised that belittle this contention, such as: how could have the Qur’an, and by extension the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, have known what was right, dismissed what was wrong and ensured that the whole quranic narrative on the development of the human embryo was congruent with reality?

Medieval Arabic Medical Texts and Galenic Stages

In light of the above discussion, critics argue that medieval Arabic medical texts appreciated the agreement between the Qur’an and Galen, and these texts adopted some quranic terms to describe Galenic stages. These texts include Ibn Sina’s Kitab al-Qanun fi al-Tibb and ibn Abbas’ Kamil al-Sina’a al-Tibbiyya. In response to this criticism there are a few points to consider. Firstly, Galenic medicine was perceived to be the science of the time, therefore it is obvious that a believing Scientist would want to marry scientific “truths” with Divine truths. Secondly, claiming an agreement between the Qur’an and Galen does not mean that they do agree. This is merely an opinion of a Muslim scientist or medic who is driven by the desire to reconcile the science of the day with his belief in the Qur’an. If these medics and scientists were alive today, they would have probably dissociated the Qur’an from inaccurate Galenic embryology. Thirdly, the analysis above has provided a strong case against the claim that the Qur’an’s and Galen’s views on the developing human embryo are similar. Fourthly, if quranic and Galenic embryology are in agreement then how did the Qur’an, and by extension the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, not include the inaccurate descriptions and ideas provided by Galen? How did the Prophet ﷺ know that semen being formed from blood was inaccurate? How did he know that semen does not mix with blood to form the embryo, and, why do many of the Arabic terms used in the Qur’an not capture the meaning of the Greek terms used by Galen? Answers to these questions dismiss the criticism of similarity and plagiarism based on medieval Arabic medical texts mentioning an agreement between Galen and the Qur’an.

References

[1] M. Z. Siddiqi. Studies in Arabic and Persian Medical Literature. Calcutta University. 1959, pages 6 – 7.

[2] H. Bailey (ed). Cambridge History of Iran, vol 4. Cambridge University Press  1975 page 414.

[3] A. A. Khairallah. Outline of Arabic Contributions to Medicine. American Press, Beirut. 1946, page 22.

[4] David C. Lindberg. The Beginnings of Western Science. University Of Chicago Press. 1992, pages, 164-165.

[5] Roy Porter. The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity. Fontana Press.1999, page, 94.

[6] Plinio Prioreschi. A History of Medicine. 2nd ed. Omaha: Horatius press. Vol. IV, 2001, pages 369 – 372.

[7] M. Ullman. Die Medizin im Islam. Leiden ad Cologne. 1970, pages 19-20; F. Rosenthal, apud his translation of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddima, II, 373.

[8] The Islamic World: From Classic to Modern Times. Edited, C. E. Bosworth et al. Darwin. 1991,  page 129.

[9] William Charles Brice. An Historical Atlas of Islam. Brill. 1981, page 355.

[10] Abubakr Asadulla. Islam vs. West: Fact or Fiction? A Brief Historical, Political, Theological, Philosophical, and Psychological Perspective. iUniverse. 2009 , page 76.

[11] See Ibn Athir’s Usud al-Ghabah fi Ma’rifat as-Sahabah.

[12] Tabari. Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, ed. M. J. Goeje et al. (Leiden,  1879-1901), I, 2127-28, page 1116.

[13] This chapter is a Meccan which means that the verses were revealed before the migration (hijrah) to Medina. The conquest of Ta’if occurred after hijrah. The Qur’an: A New Translation. Oxford University Press. 2005, page 215.

[14] The Islamic World: From Classic to Modern Times. Edited, C. E. Bosworth et al. Darwin. 1991, page 137.

[15] ibn al-Athir. Usud al-Ghabah fin Ma’rifat as-Shahabah. Vol. 1. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr. 1993, page 469.

[16] http://islampapers.com/2011/10/02/was-al-harith-the-source-of-the-prophets-medical-knowledge retrieved 3 October 2011, 08:46.

[17] Roy Porter. The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present. Fontana Press. 1999. Page 94.

[18] Ibid, page 95.

[19] Donald Campbell. Arabian Medicine and its Influence on the Middle Ages. Vol. 1. Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & co. 1926, page 47.

[20] John Meyyendorff. Byzantine Views of Islam. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 18, 1964. page 115.

[21] Ibid, page 59.

[22] al-Muqqadimah Ibn Khald n.d. The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (Franz Rosenthal, Trans.). London: Routledge & K. Paul.1958, p. 150).

[23] A History of Medicine. 2nd ed. Omaha: Horatius press. Vol. IV, 2001, pages 205 – 206.

[24] In the Rise of Medicine by Vivian Nutton in The Cambridge History of Medicine. Edited by Roy Porter. Cambridge University Press. 2006, page 57.

[25] Ibid.

[26] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4705201.stmretrieved 21 December 2011, 17:44.

[27] Islamic Medicine. Muhammad Salim Khan. Routledge & Kegal Paul. 1986, page 6.

[28] Martin Lings. Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources. 2nd Revised Edition. The Islamic Texts Society. 1983, page 34.

[29] Ibid, page 52.

[30] Ibid, pages 53 – 79.

[31] W. Montgomery Watt. Muhammad at Mecca. Oxford. 1953, page 52.

[32] Edward Gibbon and Simon Oakley. History of the Saracen Empire. London, 1870.

[33] M.A.S Abdel Haleem. The Qur’an: A New Translation. Oxford University Press. 2005, page 215. Chapter 23 Verses 12 – 14.

[34] Hans Wehr.  A Dictionary of Modern Arabic. Edited by J Milton Cowan. 3rd Edition. 1976, page 974.

[35] Lisan Al-Arab dictionary, Book 5, page 725.

[36] Musnad Ahmad, Vol. 1, page 465.

[37] http://quran.com/75/37 retrieved 27 December 2011, 16:23.

[38] Tafsir Ibn Kathir.

[39] http://quran.com/32/8″>http://quran.com/32/8retrieved 27 December 2011, 16:23.

[40] Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas.

[41] Sunan at-tirmidhi Chapter no: 1, Taharah (Purification) Hadith no: 117 Narrated / Authority Of: Aisha that she washed maniyyan from the Prophet’s (SAW) garments. [Muslim 289, Nisai 294, Ibn e Majah 536, Abu Dawud 373, Bukhari 230.

[42] The Qur’an: A New Translation. Oxford University Press. 2005, page 401.Chapter 76 Verse 2.

[43] Hans Wehr, page 634

[44] An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968.  Volume 5, page 2134.

[45] Hans Wehr, page 912.

[46] An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968.  Vol. 8, page 3021.

[47] Ibid, Vol. 5 page 2134.

[48] http://www.elnaggarzr.com/en/main.php?id=94 retrieved 8 September 2011, 23:07.

[49] Muhammad Mohar Ali. A Word for Word Meaning of the Qur’an. Volume II. JIMAS. 2003, page 1044.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Aristotle. Generation of Animals.English trans. A. L. Peck, Heinemann. 1942 edition, page 111, 729a.

[52] Ibn al-Qayyim, 1994.al-Tibyan fi Aqsam al-Qur’an, ed. Fu’ad Ahmad Zamrli. Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi.

[53] Ibid.

[54] An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968. Vol. 2 p 687.

[55] Aristotle. Generation of Animals. Translated by A. L. Peck. Heinemann. 1942 edition.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Aristotle. On the Parts of Animals. Translated by William Ogle. New York: Garland Pub. 1987, page 40.

[58] Corpus Medicorum Graecorum: Galeni de Semine (Galen: On Semen) (Greek text with English trans. Phillip de Lacy, AkademicVerlag, 1992) section I:9:1-10 pp. 92-95, 101.

[59] Henry Liddell and Robert Scott. Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 1414.

[60] http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/leeuwenhoek.html retrieved 1 December 2011, 13:23.

[61] http://www.quran.com/75/37 retrieved 1 December 2011, 14:25.

[62] http://quran.com/32/8 retrieved 1 December 2011, 14:27.

[63] Corpus Medicorum Graecorum: Galeni de Semine (Galen: On Semen) pages, 107 – 109.

[64] Ibid, pages 162 – 167.

[65] Ibid, page 50.

[66] Tafsir al-Jalalayn. Chapter 23 Verse 14.

[67] Corpus Medicorum Graecorum: Galeni de Semine (Galen: On Semen) pages 92 – 95.

[68] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 1227.

[69] Ibid, page 36.

[70] An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968. Vol. 7 page, 2730.

[71] Ibid, Vol. 3 page, 917.

[72] Ibid, Vol. 5 page 2134.

[73] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 683.

[74] An Arabic-English Lexicon. Librairie Du Liban. 1968. Vol. 5, page 2134.

[75] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 1375.

[76] Corpus Medicorum Graecorum: Galeni de Semine (Galen: On Semen) (Greek text with English trans. Phillip de Lacy, AkademicVerlag, 1992) section I:9:1-10, pages 92-95.

[77] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 460.

[78] Christian Hogel. Una traduccion griega anonima temprana del Coran. Los fragmentos de la Refutatio de Nicetas de Bizancio y la Abjuratio anonima [An early anonymous Greek translation of the Qur’ān: The fragments from Niketas Byzantios’ Refutatio and the anonymous Abjuratio]. Collectanea Christiana Orientalia 7. 2010, pages 66 and 72.

[79] Christos Simelidis. The Byzantine Understanding of the Qur’anic Term al-Samad and the Greek Translation of the Qur’an. Speculum 86, 2011, page 901.

[80] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 280.

[81] Una traduccion griega anonima temprana del Coran. Los fragmentos de la Refutatio de Nicetas de Bizancio y la Abjuratio. Collectanea Christiana Orientalia 7. 2010, page 66.

[82] Byzantine Views of Islam. Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 18, 1964. page 120.

[83] Kees Versteegh. Greek Translations of the Qur’an in Christian Polemics (9th Century A.D), page 55. An online source can be found here http://menadoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de/dmg/periodical/pageview/135604 retrieved 1 February 2012, 11:34.

[84] The Byzantine Understanding of the Qur’anic Term al-Samad and the Greek Translation of the Qur’an. Speculum 86, 2011, page 901.

[85] Greek-English Lexicon. 7th Edition. Harper and Brothers. 1883, page 1418.

[86] Ibid, page 280.

[87] Ibid, page 923.

[88] Una traduccion griega anonima temprana del Coran. Los fragmentos de la Refutatio de Nicetas de Bizancio y la Abjuratio. Collectanea Christiana Orientalia 7. 2010, page 70.

[89] The Byzantine Understanding of the Qur’anic Term al-Samad and the Greek Translation of the Qur’an. Speculum 86, 2011, page 912.