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embryo with gills and tail

A Hadith says Mohammed’s personal physician and companion was trained in the medicine and embryology of Galen of Pergamon

Yemeni cleric/herbalist sheikh Abdul-Majeed A. Zindani provided false hadith and Quran translations to Canadian embryology professor Keith L. Moore, duping Dr. Moore and several other Canadian and American non-Muslim embryologists into believing that the Quran and hadiths revealed modern scientific facts about embryology. The incident began around 1982, when Saudis paid several embryologists to give lectures at an embryology conference in Saudi Arabia.

The gullible Professor Moore, who does not know the Arabic language, was misled by a translation provided to him by Zindani. Moore then said “This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a messenger of God or Allah”. Some Muslim websites falsely reported that Moore converted to Islam.

Zindani was a liar who deliberately mistranslated the clot stage followed by the clinging substance stage of human embryos in Quran verse 23:14 to make them match chewed substance and leech-like illustrations 5-3A and 5-10 of the 24 to 25 day stage of embryos in the 1982 3rd edition of Dr. Keith L. Moore’s “The Developing Human” embryology textbook.
[The 1983 Saudi Arabian printing  (for use in Muslim countries only) of the 3rd edition, financed by Osama bin Laden, adds Quran commentary probably written by Zindani.]
Starting in 1997, at least ten Quran translators have copied from Zindani, some of them incorrectly changing “looking like a chewed substance” to “bite sized”. [Actually, the embryo is not bite-sized but only 4mm (one-sixth of an inch) long at that stage with indentations that look like teeth marks on a wad of chewing gum.]
Another controversy in this verse is that the Arabic says that bones are clothed in flesh at a stage following the stage of an embryo when the bones are formed, implying that all bones are created before any muscles are attached to any bones. Actually, different bones begin on different days of development, and the bones and muscle then together grow in size.  Some translators made the Quran match science facts by deliberately mistranslating the verse to ignore the Arabic prefix “fa”,  which means “then”, to misinterpret the verse to mean bones and muscles are created in the same stage of an embryo.
Dr. Moore defended the “clothed in the following stage” traditional interpretation of Quran verse 23:14 by mentioning the scientific fact that although different bones first appear at different days of development, each bone has a microscopic stage of about 24 hours with no flesh, followed by a stage of bone and flesh growing together. See 4:44 of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dwCCjRdA2c
Dr. Keith L. Moore was for a couple of years a popular speaker at meetings of the Muslim Students’ Association, and he said he was convinced that Mohammed was a messenger of God. Dr. Moore did not become a Muslim. On page 36 of Moore’s short book “Human Development As Described In Quran and Sunnah”, Dr. Moore wrote “In comparing a leech to the embryo at the alaqah stage, we find similarity between the two”.
In the 1988 4th edition of the textbook, (Dr. Moore was getting old, and may not have had control over the differences between the 3rd and 4th editions) someone removed all mention of leech or chewed substance.
In 2002, Dr. Moore declined to be interviewed by Daniel Golden of the Wall Street Journal, stating “it’s been ten or eleven years since I was involved in the Qur’an”.
Another gullible medical school professor duped by Zindani was Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson of Baylor Medical College, who later admitted to Daniel Golden that he had made some comments that now sound “silly and embarrassing”.

At a lecture about embryology he gave in  Saudi Arabia, Prof. Marshall Johnson was asked about Zindani’s translation of Quran verses about embryology. Johnson replied that the similarity [of Zindani’s interpretation] of the Quran to modern embryology could not be a coincidence, and that the prophet Muhammad must have used a microscope.

The prophet Mohammed could have learned what is mentioned in the Quran about stages of development of the embryo from his Christian physician companion Harith Ibn Kalada, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nafi_ibn_al-Harith
who had taught at the Jundishapur medical school, where the medicine of Galen of Pergamon was taught. Galen of Pergamon had written about the stages of development of the embryo.

Nuri & Hoque in their footnote to Quran verse 23.14 made 2 comments about embryology that do not exist in the Arabic words. First they mentioned that the sperm fertilizes the ovum (which is true but not in the Quran). Then they wrote about human bones growing without being covered in muscle (which is in the Quran but untrue) and then becoming covered in muscle at a later stage (which is also in the Quran but untrue). Then they added that bone and muscle embryology is different in animals than in humans (false) and implied that bone and muscles grow larger together in animals (true, but not in the Quran).


The Quran implies that an embryo begins with sperm, but makes no mention of the woman’s egg. Therefore claims on Muslim websites that the Quran reveals the contribution of an X chromosome from the female are false.


Image by Moini, via openclipart

Image credit https://openclipart.org/detail/248385/embryo

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