Embryology in the Qur’an – Correlation Studies with Modern Embryology

𝐄𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐐𝐮𝐫’𝐚𝐧 – 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐒𝐭𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐞𝐬 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐌𝐨𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐧 𝐄𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar



Dr. Keith L. Moore is an internationally recognized leader in the teaching of human anatomy and embryology. He has revolutionized the field of medicine for more than 60 years through his innovative research. His investigation in the causes of birth defects led to major advances in how physicians screen for and diagnose several genetic conditions.[1]

Dr. Moore is a professor emeritus in the Division of Anatomy within the Department of Surgery’s Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Toronto, Canada.[2] He has contributed to numerous publications and texts, which include The Developing Human, in its ninth edition, and Before We are Born, which is in its eighth edition.

In 2007 Professor Moore became the first recipient of the Henry Gray/Elsevier Distinguished Educator Award, The American Association of Anatomists’ (AAA) highest award for human anatomy education[3]:

[Professor Keith Moore is] the first recipient of the Henry Gray/Elsevier Distinguished Educator Award, AAA’s highest award for human anatomy education. The nominator said “Keith is an individual of nearly legendary status among anatomists around the world…He has had a monumental impact on anatomical education, not only at a national but also at an international level.”

The Chair of the Award Committee who presented the award said “His books were like a breath of fresh air for faculty and students alike. Structures and developmental processes were no longer viewed in isolation from practical application, things to be memorized to exceedingly fine detail, but were presented within a clinical context— that became the famous blue boxes— and taught to a level of detail useful for clinical practice— His contribution to anatomy education around the world has been profound and continuous, and will be an enduring legacy.

And most recently in 2012 Dr. Moore received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal – a commemorative medal to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from The Ohio State University in recognition of his lifetime of achievements in the field of anatomy and on the advancement of medicine.

March 2012: Dr. Keith L. Moore (Professor Emeritus of Surgery and former Chair of Anatomy of the University of Toronto) was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from The Ohio State University in recognition of his lifetime of achievements in the field of anatomy and on the advancement of medicine. Celebrated for more than 60 years of teaching, Dr. Moore has lectured across the world to faculties and students on topics including anatomy, embryology and genetics.

Correlation Studies with the Qur’an

In 1983 a special edition of Dr. Moore’s popular textbook The Developing Human[4] was published[5]:

There is an Islamic edition… it’s really an English edition of my book with Islamic additions. My publisher [Saunders] agreed to allow King Abdulazziz University to print this special edition but it cannot be sold because they don’t want it sold in competition to the regular English edition… You can’t purchase it as I understand it in a regular bookstore, but if you need it for your Muslim libraries you can purchase this. That was the arrangement that was made with my publisher.

In the Foreword to the The Developing Human with Islamic Additions, Moore explains that he assisted Sheikh Abdulmajeed Azzindani of King Abdulazziz University (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) in the preparation of the text[6]:

It has been a real pleasure for me to assist Sheikh Abdulmajeed Azzindani with the preparation of this Islamic Edition of my textbook of embryology. The text is the same as the original, except that numerous references to statements in the Qur’an and Sunnah about embryology have been added.

The textbook is the same as the original, retaining the same ISBN number, except that references to statements in the Qur’an and Hadith (Sunnah) were added.

The Developing Human with Islamic Additions

In 1980 Dr. Moore was invited to Saudi Arabia to lecture on anatomy and embryology at King Abdulaziz University.[7] While he was there, Moore was approached by the Embryology Committee of King Abdulaziz University for his assistance in interpreting certain verses in the Qur’an and some sayings in the Hadiths which referred to human reproduction and embryological development. Moore was amazed at the scientific accuracy of some of the statements which were made in the 7th century AD [8]:

For the past three years, I have worked with the Embryology Committee of King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, helping them interpret the many statements in the Qur’an and Sunnah referring to human reproduction and prenatal development. At first I was astonished by the accuracy of the statements that were recorded in the 7th century AD, before the science of embryology was established.

The Embryology Committee presented and published several papers with Moore and others co-authoring a number of papers.

In the comparative study, each Qur’anic verse and text of the Hadith were thoroughly researched in Qur’anic Interpretations, the most reliable books of Hadith and more than five Classical Arabic language references for the meanings of the words. The interpretations were then discussed with a number of contemporary Muslims scholars.[9]

Furthermore, interviews and discussions were also held with a number of internationally eminent embryologists, obstetricians and gynaecologists.[10] This was the Committee’s means of ascertaining the religious as well as the scientific aspects of the study.

During that time[11] Moore himself consulted a number of embryologists for their opinions[12]:

…I was invited to Saudi Arabia to lecture on embryology at King Abdulazziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia… and while I was there, at my suggestion, invited Dr. [T.V.N] Persaud and Dr. [E. Marshall] Johnson to come to Saudi Arabia. And they [the Embryology Committee] asked them the same questions, and I purposefully didn’t tell them my interpretations, I wanted them to give their own. So they did and their answers were similar to mine…

E. Marshall Johnson

E. Marshall Johnson

Dr. [E. Marshall] Johnson is one of the most outstanding embryologist and teratologist in the United States. We didn’t just pick anyone, I picked the best.

And in Canada, Dr. [TVN] Persaud at the University of Manitoba, where I spent twenty years, is also an outstanding embryologist who has three doctors degrees… so I picked the very best.

Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards, CBE, FRS

Sir Robert Geoffrey Edwards, CBE, FRS

And then, when I started thinking about other embryologists around the world, we brought in Dr. [Robert] Edwards from Cambridge [world-renowned for his early work on in vitro fertilization]… so we invited him to Saudi Arabia and again he was asked the same questions and they [the Embryology Committee] got essentially the same answers.… [and] one of my colleagues in Kyoto, Japan.…he didn’t go to Saudi Arabia, [and] he has been consulted and so on.

So we have consulted embryologists around the world for their opinions on these statements in the Qur’an, and it’s clear from what Dr. Persaud has said and from all of our work in this area that these statements are correct.

The study of the Qur’an and Hadith has revealed a new system for the classification of the stages of the developing embryo based on easily understood actions and changes in shape. In a relatively few Qur’anic verses is contained a rather comprehensive description of human development.

No such distinct and complete record of human development, such as classification, terminology, and description existed before the Qur’an. In most, if not all instances, this description antedates by many centuries the recording of the various stages of human embryonic and fetal development recorded in the traditional scientific literature.

One of the scientists working with the Embryology Committee was Dr. T.V.N. Persaud [13] who, in addition to being a Professor of Anatomy, and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of Manitoba, Canada is also the author of Early History of Human Anatomy – From Antiquity to the Beginning of the Modern Era [14] and the highly acclaimed A History of Anatomy: The Post-Vesalian Era [15]. Dr. Persaud also taught The History of Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Manitoba. [16]

Dr. Persaud points out that his collaboration along with other scientists was to provide an interpretation of the Islamic texts based on current scientific understanding [17]:

T.V.N Persaud M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., FRCPath. (Lond).

T.V.N Persaud M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., FRCPath. (Lond).

Never once [did] any of us [scientists]… and I in particular, when presented with one of the surahs or hadith have attempted to say whether this is correct or wrong, to prove that is so. I think to do so would be very arrogant on our part, very, very, arrogant.

What we have done is we have looked at these statements when they were first presented to us at their face value and examined them, and think of them in terms of our limited knowledge of how things are as revealed by the progress of science. We have interpreted, we have examined but never have we once tried to prove that they are right or wrong, that would, as I said, that would be the limits of arrogance.

The second point is, and I think that this is an extremely important point: we give an impression as if we meet with Islamic scholars or they meet with us, and this has happened on many occasions over the past few years, and it’s as if it’s an informal chat over a cup of coffee. But this has never been like that. In fact it is the most gruelling experience for anyone like ourselves.

I go and meet and it [the meeting] goes on for days and nights until I don’t think we ever get to sleep until the early hours of the morning. Every hour is being used to dissect, analyse, to think… it becomes for someone not accustomed to that, a bit of a frustrating experience but I suppose this is how it is… [a] tiring experience not frustrating, [a] tiring experience.

But the Islamic scholars are scholars, they understand more about these things, they can interpret, they can read the Qur’an, the Hadith and their interpretation and we only rely on that and never to prove or refute. To say the Qur’an is correct, that would be, as I said again, and I must state this, this would be the limits of arrogance to try to do a thing like that. All we’ve been doing is examining and thinking about it and we’re still doing that.

There are those who would thus have us believe that Moore et al embarked on a three year project without once consulting specialists in linguistics, exegesis, embryology and the history of medicine.


“Embryology in the Qur’an by Keith L. Moore (1990).” http://youtu.be/upa4BSH7ua4 (accessed 11 March 2012).

Moore, Keith L. The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1982.

———. Highlights of Human Embryology in the Koran and Hadith in Arabization and Medical Education, pp. 51-58. Proceedings from the Seventh Saudi Medical Conference, King Faisal University, May 3-6, 1982.

———. A Scientist’s Interpretation of References to Embryology in the Qur’an. Journal of the Islamic Medical Association, 18, 15-16, 1986.

Moore, Keith L., and Abdul-Majeed A. Zindani. The Developing Human with Islamic Additions. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders with Dar al-Qiblah for Islamic Literature, Jeddah, 1983, 1982.

Muslim Students Association, Canada. “Embryology in the Qur’an with Drs. Persaud, Moore and Johnson (1988).” http://youtu.be/ZJRRhfk5xUI (accessed 11 March 2012).

Persaud, T. V. N. Early History of Human Anatomy: From Antiquity to the Beginning of the Modern Era. Springfield, Ill., U.S.A.: Thomas, 1984.

———. A History of Anatomy: The Post-Vesalian Era. Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 1997.

The Miraculous Saying of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH): The drop of semen after 40 forty-two nights

[1] “Elsevier Authors: Keith L. Moore” http://elsevierauthors.com/keithmoore/ (accessed 25 January 2013).

[2] Keith L. Moore, MSc, PhD, FIAC, FRSM, FAAA, Professor Emeritus, Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Former Professor and Head, Department of Anatomy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Former Professor and Chairman, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

[3] “Keith Moore: My 60 years as a Clinical Anatomist” http://www.anatomy.org/content/keith-l-moore (accessed 11 March 2012)

[4] Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human : Clinically Oriented Embryology, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Saunders, 1982).

[5] “Embryology in the Qur’an by Keith L. Moore (1990),” http://youtu.be/upa4BSH7ua4?t=1h10m24s (accessed 11 March 2012).

[6] Keith L. Moore and Abdul-Majeed A. Zindani, The Developing Human with Islamic Additions, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: Saunders with Dar al-Qiblah for Islamic Literature, Jeddah, 1983, 1982). page viii insert c.

[7] “As a classically trained anatomist and dedicated teacher, I have taught anatomy and embryology for 60 years and have traveled around the world (Australia, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey) to give anatomy and embryology lectures on the clinical correlates of anatomy and embryology.” http://www.anatomy.org/content/keith-l-moore (accessed 5 January 2014).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Such as: Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin BazSheikh Abdul-Razzaq ‘AfifiShiekh Sayed Sabid, Chairman, Dept. of Postgraduate Studies, University of UmmulQura, Makkah Al Mukarramah and author of well known works in the Islamic world. Shiekh Manna ‘ Al-Qattan, Chairman, Dept. of Postgraduate studies, Iman Mohammad ibn Saud Islamic University; Shiekh Mohammad Mutwalli Al-Sha’rawi, a well known scholar in the spread of Islam; Sheikh Mohammad Abu-Shahbah, a well known scholar of Hadith; Shiekh Abdul-Fattah Abu-Ghuddah, from Imam Mohammad Ibn Saudi Islamic University, Riyadh and others. (ibid., viii e.)

[10] Such as: E. Marshall Johnson, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, and Director of the Daniel Baugh Institute, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. T.V.N. Persaud, Professor of Anatomy, and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Joe Leigh Simpson, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA. Gerald C. Goeringer, Professor and Co-ordinator of Medical Embryology in the Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine, Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA. Tejatat Tejasen, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anatomy and is the former Dean of the faculty of Medicine, University of Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai, Thailand. E.S.E. Hafez, Professor of Gynecology, Obstetrics and Reproductive Physiology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA. G.F.B. Shumacher, Professor, Dept. Obstetrics and Gyencology, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Shegeo Ogawa, Professor and Chairman, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kawasaky Medical School, Japan and others. (ibid., viii f)

[11] Moore’s collaboration with the Embryology Committee spanned an entire decade. See “Embryology in the Qur’an by Keith L. Moore (1990)”, http://youtu.be/upa4BSH7ua4 (accessed 11 March 2012).

[12] Muslim Students Association, “Embryology in the Qur’an with Drs. Persaud, Moore and Johnson (1988)”, http://youtu.be/ZJRRhfk5xUI?t=37m32s (accessed 11 March 2012).

[13] T. V. N. Persaud is currently Professor Emeritus and Former Head, Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Science; Professor of Pediatrics and Child Health; Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; Professor of Anatomy and Embryology, St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies. Academic awards and honours: Carveth Scientific Award of the Canadian Association of Pathologists, 1974. Rh-Institute Award (Health Sciences) of the University of Manitoba for “outstanding contributions to scholarship and research”, 1975. 

Dr. & Mrs. H.H. Saunderson Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Manitoba, 1985. The J.C.B. Grant Award, Canadian Association of Anatomists, 1991. Honorary Senior Stick, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba, 1998-99. Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, Government of Canada, 2003.

”For significant contribution to the nation, the community and fellow Canadians”. Honored Member, American Association of Clinical Anatomists, 2008. Fellow, American Association of Anatomists, 2010. Henry Gray/Elsevier Distinguished Educator Award, American Association of Anatomists, 2010. http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/medicine/units/anatomy/1618.html (accessed 25 January 2013).

[14] T. V. N. Persaud, Early History of Human Anatomy: from Antiquity to the Beginning of the Modern Era (Springfield, Ill., U.S.A.: Thomas, 1984).

[15] A History of Anatomy: The Post-Vesalian Era (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C Thomas Publisher, 1997).

[16] The History of Medicine is taught and studied in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Manitoba. Faculty from several Departments form an interdisciplinary group, in teaching and scholarly work. http://www.umanitoba.ca/faculties/medicine/history/histfac.html (Archive from 8 August 1997)

[17] Muslim Students Association, “Embryology in the Qur’an with Drs. Persaud, Moore and Johnson (1988)”, http://youtu.be/ZJRRhfk5xUI?t=1h3m20s (accessed 11 March 2012).

Forward by Keith L. Moore to The Developing Human with Islamic Additions.