Embryonic Development: Sheikh Abdul Muhsin Al Abbad

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Al Bukhari and Muslim collected a narration upon the authority of Abdullah ibn Masud wherin the Prophet-sallahu alayhi wa salaam- said:

“Surely the creation of each one of you is gathered in the wombs of his mother for forty days as a drop (of fluids). Subsequent to that he becomes a clot of blood for the same duration, and subsequent to that he becomes a chewed like bite sized morsel of flesh. Afterwards Allah sends an angel in order to breath the soul into it (the morsel of flesh) and commanded him with four matters, that being to write the (embryos) provisions, lifespan, actions, and (if it is to be) wretched or prosperous. I swear by Allah to whom which there is no deity in truth besides Him, indeed one of you may perform the actions of the people of paradise until there is nothing but an arms length between him and it, then that which is written overtakes him til he performs the actions of the people of the fire and as a result enters it. Likewise one of you may perform the actions of the people of the fire until there is nothing but an arms length between him and it, then that which is written overtakes him til he performs the actions of the people of paradise and as a result he enters it.”

Sheikh Abdul Muhsin Al Abbad elucidates the first part of the narration pertaining to embryonic development, he states:

Mentioned in this narration are the varying phases of man. The first is sperm which is a small amount of fluids. The second is a clot which is thick coagulated blood. The third is an embryo and it is a small amount of flesh the size of that which a diner chews (of food; meaning its bite sized). Allah mentions these three (phases) in His statement:

يأيُّها الناس إنْ كنْتم في ريبٍ من البعث فإنّا خلقناكم من ترابٍ ثمَّ من نطفةٍ ثمَّ من علقةٍ ثمَّ من مضغةٍ مخلقةٍ و غيرِ مخلَّقةٍ

“O’ Mankind! If you are in doubt about the resurrection, then certainly We created you from dust (Adam), then (in stages while in the womb) from fluids (sexual discharge), then from coagulated blood, then from a morsel of flesh shaped and unshaped…” [Al Hajj: 5]

The meaning of -shaped and unshaped- formed and unformed. In surah al muminoon verses 12-14 there’s a further (and much more replete) clarification with regards to the phases of man’s creation. Allah says: 

و لقد خلقْنا الإنسانَ من سلالةٍ من طين ٠ ثمَّ جعلْناه نطفةً في قرارٍ مكين ٠ ثمَّ خلقْنا النطفة علقةً فخلقنا العلقة مضغةً فخلقنا المضغة عظامًا فكسونا العظام لحمًا ثمّ أنشأناه خلقًا ءَاخر فتبارك الله أحسن الخالقين

“Indeed We created man from a (certain) strain of clay * Thereafter We made him a fluid (of sexual discharge, then placed) in a strong receptacle * Then We made the fluids into a clot, then We made the clot into a morsel of flesh, then We made the flesh out of the flesh bones, and then clothed the bones with flesh, and then We produce another (from it) another creation, so blessed is Allah the best of creators.”  

Also in the narration is what is subsequent to the three phases, which in total is 120 days, it being the breathing of the soul into the flesh, at this point he is alive and before that he was dead (inanimate). It is mentioned in the noble Quran that man has two lives and two deaths. Allah says:

قالوا ربنا أمتّنا اثنتين و أحيتنا اثنتين

“They will say; “Our Lord! You have caused us to die twice and have given us life twice…” [Al-Ghafir: 11]

The first death is before the blowing of the soul (the first 120 days in the womb), and the first life is from the blowing of the soul til the end of his lifespan (on earth). The second death is after his death til he is resurrected. This does not negate life in Al Barzakh (life in the grave that is a partition between the worldly life and resurrection) that which is firmly proven in the book and the sunnah. The second life is after resurrection and it is the eternal life without end. These varying conditions of man’s life are explained by Allah were He says:

و هو الذي أحياكم ثمّ يميتكم ثمّ يُحيكم إنَّ الإنسان لكَفورٌ

“He has given you life, then will cause you to die, and again will give you life. Indeed man is ungrateful.” [Al Hajj: 66] 

كيف تكفرون بالله و كنتم أمواتًا فأحياكم ثمَّ يميتكم ثمَّ يُحْييكم ثمَّ إليه ترجعون

“How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were dead and He gave you life, then you will die (again), and (again) He will grant you life and then to Him you will return.” [Al-Baqara: 28]

Consequently if he is born after the blowing of the soul (into the embryo) and then dies the legislative rulings concerning childbirth are applied. That being the washing of the child and praying over it, the conclusion of iddah, the woman being deemed mother of a child, and the mother being (in a state of) post natal (rulings pertaining to this state being applicable). But if there is a miscarriage before this then these rulings are not applicable (a miscarriage before 120 days is not viewed the same way as one after 120 days thus the rulings differ).

Translated by Najeeb Al Anjelesi

Source:  فتح القوي المتين في شرح الأربعين و تتمة الخمسين


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