Manifestations of Allah as the All-Merciful and Most Merciful in the Creation of Human Beings
Of 200-300 million sperm, only as few as 1,000 actually reach the egg.
Allah, Who created the universe from nothing, endowed humanity with the abilities to think, decide, and choose. For this reason, believers look at the incomparable creation of the universe by our Lord of endless mercy, contemplating in amazement His peerless artistry. Everything they learn allows them to deepen their intellect and increase their knowledge of the straight path. The universe's creation, Earth's delicate balances, the flawless provision of all that is needed to sustain life allow people to better understand Allah's eternal power and might. But there is also another miracle that pervades each person's life at every moment: one's own physical body.
Every aspect of the human body contains great wonders. For example, the operation of every one of its trillions of cells and extraordinary internal systems contain obvious proofs that enable people to grasp more deeply the name of Allah as the All-Merciful and Most Merciful. The only thing that they need to do is to think in more detail about how He causes life to be sustained. The process of birth alone is enough to amaze anyone.
To summarize: The body of each man and woman is formed by combining two different and completely independent but mutually compatible elements: a man's sperm and a woman's egg, both of which are formed apart from each person's will and control. They do not even know that they are being formed. In the Qur'an, the Lord says:
A fertilized egg starts its journey through the fallopian tube and grows quickly. After four days, it becomes a 64-celled embryo; five to six days later, the embryo attaches itself to the uterine wall.
1. The fallopian tube
We created you, so why do you not confirm the truth? Have you thought about the sperm that you ejaculate? Is it you who create it, or are We the Creator? (Surat al-Waqi'a, 57-59)
These two elements have been created to be compatible with each other. Their creation, union, and subsequent development into a human being are great miracles. The sperm produced in the testes, at the average rate of 1,000 per second, have a special structure, as if they knew the nature of their journey on their way from the male body to the female eggs. Each sperm is composed of a head, a neck, and a tail. The tail enables it to swim like a fish toward the mother's womb. The head, which contains a section of the baby's genetic code, is covered with a special armored covering that recognizes the entrance to the mother's womb, the extremely acidic environment of which protects the mother from germs. Allah knows this acid exists because He created it. Also, it is obvious that He covered the sperm with its protective coat of armor. It is not only the millions of sperm that are injected from the male into the uterus; there is also a mixture of various fluids. Allah shows us this truth in the Qur'an:
Has humanity ever known a point of time when it was not something remembered? We created humanity from a mingled drop to test it, and We made him hearing and seeing. ((Surat al-Insan, 1-2)
Sperm have a difficult journey on their way to the woman's uterus. No matter how hard they defend themselves, hardly more that 1,000 of the 200-300 million sperm will reach the egg. While the sperm is designed to be compatible with the egg, the egg becomes mature in a different environment.
An egg formed in the ovary is first released into the abdominal cavity, where it is immediately caught by arms on the ends of the fallopian tubes. It then begins to move up the fallopian tube, aided by the movement of the hairs located inside it. The egg is about half the size of a grain of salt.
The egg and the sperm meet in the fallopian tube, where the egg secretes a fluid so that the sperm can find it. All of these operations happen under Allah's protection and thus perform their functions perfectly. The egg and the sperm act as if they were conscious beings. However, when we say that the egg secretes a fluid, we are not talking about a person or a conscious being. This small mass of protein has no power to decide anything. Moreover, the fact that it produces and secretes a sperm-attracting chemical compound is clear evidence of Allah's endless power, knowledge, and incomparable creation. Allah has created the female and made reproductive systems as mutually compatible in every detail. This miraculous creation goes on for nine months, until a child is born. Every second of this extraordinary process is amazing. For example, when the sperm approaches the egg to fertilize it, the egg decides to secrete a fluid that will break down the sperm's protective armor. As a result, corrosive enzyme sacks produced for the egg appear on the sperm's head. When it approaches the egg, these enzymes pierce its membrane so that the sperm can enter.
A great contest ensues among the sperm trying to enter the egg and only one sperm succeeds to fertilize the egg. Only one sperm can enter the electrical field that surrounds the egg, after which the egg's negative charge (-) becomes positive (+). As a result, the egg now has the same charge as the remaining sperm outside and so begins to repel them. In other words, the electrical charge of these two elements, which were formed differently and independently of each other, is compatible. Finally, the male DNA in the sperm combines with the female DNA in the egg to produce a new foreign cell in the mother's uterus. After this fertilization process, an extraordinary nine-month adventure begins, during which the baby will develop fully under the protection of Allah's endless mercy.
When the sperm and the egg unite, the baby's first basic characteristics are formed. A single cell (a zygote) divides without tearing and multiplies until it forms a piece of flesh. But a zygote cannot grow in an open space, and so it attaches itself to the uterine wall by means of extensions resembling a plant's roots in the soil. This enables it to obtain whatever it needs from its mother's body to develop. Now that it is firmly attached in the womb, the zygote begins to develop. The mother's womb is full of amniotic fluid, which surrounds the zygote and keeps the embryo safe from external trauma while it grows. The baby remains in safety for nine months because of Allah's endless compassion and protection. Allah reveals this truth to us in the Qur'an: "Did We not create you from a base fluid, then place it in a secure repository?" (Surat al-Mursalat, 20-21) .
The fertilized egg cell (zygote) divides into two, four, and later eight cells and continues to grow quickly. In order to grow, it needs a rich supply of nutrients. The placenta ensures the exchange of nutrients, oxygen, and other materials between the mother and the baby, selects the nutrients and oxygen required for the tissues to form, transports them to the baby, and sends waste materials to the mother's body. This unique order in human body is only one of the manifestations of the All-Merciful Allah.
1. Second Month
As time passes, the fetus begins to change from what resembles a mass of gelatin to a small body with hard bones that will enable it to stand upright. And the cells, which first had the same structure, begin to differentiate into those that form eye cells sensitive to light, nerve cells able to perceive heat, cold, pain, and sound waves. As a result of these and many other amazing processes, the embryo completes its development and is born in a form that is 100 million times larger than its original size and 6 billion times heavier. Certainly, no one has the power to create another human being or any material thing.
The bones of a new-born's skull were created to move over one another. The baby loses these openings at 18 months.
It is Allah Who creates all these wonderful systems and all the details of their various stages of development:
Then [We] formed the drop into an blood clot, the blood clot into a lump, formed the lump into bones, and clothed the bones in flesh. Then [We] brought it into being as another creature. Blessed be Allah, the Best of Creators! (Surat al-Muminun, 14)
Cell division is a miraculous process. In order for a cell to divide and multiply, it must first make a copy of itself that, over time, becomes a series that will eventually produce millions of copies of the same cell. But this process is even more complex than it seems, because at one stage these copies must differentiate themselves and take on a totally new structure so that they can produce tissues, organ systems, and a person's nose, hands, eyelids, and kidneys. They multiply as much as required and then stop at just the right time. Nerve cells develop extensions that allow them to transmit electrical signals. Cells located in the joints assume a globular shape that is resistant to pressure.
At first, the hands are a mass of cells. Over time, fingers begin to form. This happens exactly as a sculptor shapes a mass of stone into a statue. Our hands are a very important part of our life, and are only one of countless examples of Allah's mercy.
Bone cells are formed in the embryonic stage and look like ordinary cells; however, without any apparent reason, they begin to store calcium in order to develop a very hard structure that is extremely strong and carry a lot of weight throughout their lives. When they are broken, they can repair themselves. Compared to an equally resilient material, they are very light (due to internal cavities), flexible, and resilient. The fact that cells stop multiplying at just the right time is a clear sign that they are under the control of Allah, Whose generosity and compassion encompasses all people.
Each cell's membrane seems to know how to decide, remember, and evaluate, for it ensures the connection between neighboring cells and delicately controls the access to and the exit from them. Therefore, it is considered the cell's brain. When we observe this membrane with an electron microscope, we notice that it resembles a two-sided wall with capillaries that permit access material to move in and out from the cell, as well as receptors that allow it to know the external environment. These are located on the wall of the cell and meticulously control entrance to and exit from the cell. The membrane's first duty is to surround the cell's organelles and keep them together. In order to ensure that the organelles function without interruption, it provides the required material from outside. In doing this, the cell membrane takes in only the amount of material that the cell needs. In addition, it locates harmful waste material in the cell and immediately ejects it. The function of the cell membrane is vital; it does not accept the slightest mistake. Any mistake or miscalculation, no matter how small, could destroy the cell. Allah makes the cell membrane, which is formed from fat and protein molecules, perform these miraculous functions and prepares this extraordinary system to sustain human life.
1. Toward the aorta
The heart is a vital organ. As shown in the illustration, it starts to grow from the union of two arteries. Allah, with His supreme intelligence, made special valve systems of unconscious cells, thereby creating a pump to carry blood to every part of the body.
While the fetus is developing in the mother's womb, each of its millions of cells must find the place where it belongs. For this purpose, they must engage in what is known as cell migration. During this journey, timing is just as important as locating the right place, for an error no larger than one one-hundredth of a centimeter or one one-hundredth of a second could cause, for example, a foot to grow from the head or an ear from the chest. But system functions so perfectly that such errors never occur. Cells travel to their place in the embryo over a special road. When they arrive at their destination, they recognize it for what is and remain there. That is, millions of cells know beforehand the right road to their destination and, moreover, they decide to start out on their journey and to stop when they arrive at the place where they are going. And so stomach cells are not confused with liver cells, and wonderfully functioning internal organs, arms, legs, and all bodily organs combine to form a mass of flesh that slowly take on a human form. In the Qur'an Allah says:
We created you from dust, then from a drop of sperm [and an egg], then from a clot of blood, then from a lump of flesh, formed yet unformed, so We may make things clear to you. (Surat al-Hajj, 5)
During all of these processes, there is no confusion or disorder. The migrating cells and the cells that they will eventually combine with recognize one another. For example, scientists have observed some of the millions of neurons (nerve cells) that go up the nervous system to locate their counterparts and form a bond with them, in a marvelous example of engineering, to form each organ's structure and shape.
For example, brain cells establish about 120 trillion electrical connections so that they can communicate among themselves. It is not difficult to imagine what a single error or short circuit in this extraordinarily complex electrical web would do to the entire organ.
We have explained that trillions of cells work in harmony with one another finding their counterparts without error according to a calculated plan. But cells cannot think, plan, or find their destination on their own, so how do they always reach their appointed place? Obviously, there must be a power that makes all of these things possible and controls them: the endless might of Allah, the Lord of the universe. In His mercy, He makes cells from nothing and inspires each one to go to its proper destination without any mistake, loss of direction, or confusion about its counterpart. Human beings out of Allah's endless mercy and their lives are sustained as long as they live by His protection.
A problem with the growth hormone's secretion can cause dwarfism or gigantism.
The nourishment of the new baby that comes from a sperm is a miracle in itself. Infants are nourished by their mother's milk, which is produced and begins to flow without any participation on her part. Its compounds contain all that an infant needs, and therefore is a wonderful source of nourishment. Besides it contains the kind of material that increases both the infant's and the mother's resistance to illness. Doctors are united in their opinion that artificial milk should only be used when the mother's milk is insufficient and that the child should be fed with it, especially during the first months. Amazingly, the components found in mother's milk change according to the baby's stage of development. The number of calories and the balance of nutrients vary according to whether the baby was born early or on time. If the baby were premature, the milk's fat and protein is much higher than if it were born on time, because a premature baby needs more calories. The baby's immune system, composed of antibodies and defense cells, are already prepared in the mother's milk. In fact, they are like a standing army that defends a foreign body to which they do not belong against its enemies. This is a great miracle. But how does the mother's body seem to know when the baby will be born and start producing milk accordingly? It is evident that the mother's body does not make this decision. Clearly, Allah has protected the baby in a secure place for nine months and continues to do so after its birth. This is only one manifestation of His mercy toward human beings.
Mother's milk also contains anti-bacterial qualities. Bacteria enter and destroy ordinary milk left at room temperature within six hours. But this does not happen to mother's milk. In addition, it prevents any hardening in the baby's blood vessels and can be digested quickly. Nutrition experts know that no formula is as beneficial as mother's milk. Allah creates mother's milk and the baby that needs it, for He feeds all beings from the moment of their birth.
An infant's skull bones are very soft and may even rub against each other, however slightly. Such elasticity prevents its head from being damaged during birth. If the bones were hard, they might crack when coming out of the mother's womb or even break, causing great damage to the baby's brain.
Allah has created human beings according to a particular order. With our extraordinary systems, we are one of the most marvelously complex creatures in nature. The human body is a mass of flesh and bones weighing approximately 60-70 kilograms (132-154 pounds). Our flesh is one of the most non-resilient materials in nature, for it will putrefy in a few hours if left out in the cold and rot within a day or two, producing an unendurable stench. The human body is composed mainly of this corruptible material. But because the circulating blood nourishes it and the skin protects it form alien bacteria, it can be kept from spoiling and rotting for 70-80 years. This is Allah's protection of human beings. Without this divine protection, we would not survive for even one moment.
It is a wonderful proof of Allah's mercy and compassion that a fetus grows proportionately in the mother's womb. Every organ has its own predetermined size and develops at just the right time, thereby avoiding overdevelopment and underdevelopment. Hands, feet, ears, eyes, and other pairs must take shape at the same time, and their development must end at the same time so that they will be the same size at the end. At the same time, the organs must develop symmetrically because the cells ensure the right timing. At the same time, the parts develop symmetrically because the cells act equally to ensure the right timing. We can understand how vital it is that organs develop at the same time if we think of what would happen in the opposite case. Suppose that body parts grew at different rates and were independent of each other. If a baby's skull did not expand enough, its brain would be crushed and death would come quickly.
The hormone and the nervous systems ensure the coordination of the body's cells. When we view these systems, we understand that a human being has no control whatsoever on his own body, but it is Allah Who is the true controller of our bodies.
Or, if the skin developed more slowly than body's frame, the rapidly growing skeleton and limbs would stretch and tear it as they developed. Apart from a very strange looking appearance, the baby could not survive. We could give many more examples, from the harmonious development of the cell membrane and cell organelles to the balanced growth of the skeleton and the internal organs. The only reason why these things exist and why we are born as fully-formed human beings is that Allah, in His mercy and compassion, protects us. And yet some people continue to think that the brain, cells, or blood gives a person life. However, unconscious cells cannot give life. Only Allah, Who created us from nothing, can do this, for He is Al-Muhyi (Life-Giver): In Surah Yunus Allah reveals as follows: "He gives life and causes to die, and you will be returned to Him." (Surah Yunus, 56). It is only Allah Who creates a creature from nothing and orders the conditions of this world in order to give it life and sustain it. In nine months, Allah creates a seeing and hearing human being from nothing and endows it with life. It is clear that an egg and a sperm could not produce these miraculous stages in the formation of a living being. The egg and sperm seem to unite and produce life only when Allah wills them to do so.
The body's hormone system is very important, for it and the nervous system ensure coordination among the body's cells. When we examine these systems, we understand that only Allah, their rightful owner, controls them. We can walk and talk, and our hands can perform various tasks. But deep inside this body there are thousands of chemical and physical events that occur apart from the person's knowledge and will. For example, we cannot determine the length of our height or the size of our organs. Under Allah's inspiration, the growth hormone secreted by the pituitary gland determines these things. Growth occurs in two ways: Some cells increase their volume. Some cells divide and multiply. The growth hormone affects all the cells of the body. Every cell understands the message sent from the pituitary gland. If it must grow, it grows; if it must divide and multiply, it does so. For example, even though a new-born baby's heart is about one-sixteenth the size of an adult heart, both hearts have the same number of cells. The growth hormone affects each cell during the development process.
Every cell develops as much as the growth hormone tells it to. Thus, the infant's heart grows and turns into an adult's heart. Other cells, such as those belonging to the muscles and bones, divide and multiply, again due to the growth hormone's instructions. This is a miraculous process, because the chickpea-sized pituitary gland controls all of the body's cells and ensures their growth either by increasing their bulk or dividing. This wonderful order shows the perfection in Allah's creation. Cells contained in one small area make sure that trillions of cells divide and grow in an ordered way. However, these cells cannot see the human body from the outside, or know how much it must grow, or at what stage it must stop growing. Bereft of all knowledge, sight, and consciousness, they nevertheless produce the growth hormone, stop the growth at the appropriate time, and control both the organ's growth and this hormone's secretion at every stage. Allah has created such a perfect system that growth and the secretion of this hormone are controlled at every stage. And this shows once again the power and the knowledge at every point in the creation of the human body and makes us think more profoundly about the limitless kindness of our Lord. Faced with such facts, how can we not ponder His limitless kindness and try to draw closer to Him?
It is a great miracle that the growth hormone affects each cell, for much confusion would arise if only some cells obeyed it. For example, what would happen if the heart cells obeyed but the cells in the rib cage refused to divide and multiply? The growing heart would be squeezed in the still-small rib cage, and the person would die. Or, if the nose bone grew and the skin did not stretch, the bone would tear through the skin. The harmonious growth of all muscles, bones, skin, and other organs is perfectly ensured when each cell obeys the growth hormone. The growth hormone tells the cartilage to grow on the ends of the bones, thus giving each new-born a template. If the cartilage does not grow, neither does the baby. Its cells direct the bone to lengthen, but how do these cells know that the bone must be told to do so? If this bone grew sideways, it would tear the skin and break through it. But each cell's nucleus carries the most appropriate plan, and so bones grow by lengthening. This is only one of the millions of miracles that Allah has created in the development of the human body.
Another miracle related to the growth hormone is the timing and amount of its secretion. This hormone is secreted in just the right amount, but in a greater amount while the person is growing. This is a wonderful miracle, because if this were not the case people would either be dwarfs or giants. Thus, a special system regulates the amount of growth hormone secreted. Thanks to this system, when there is too much growth hormone in the blood, its secretion is slowed down. So, how do cells know how much growth hormone is required in the blood? How can they measure how much of it is in the blood and decide what to do? This secretion also continues in adults. But if adults continued to grow and their limbs continued to lengthen, they would become giants. However, the cells cease to divide and multiply when a person reaches a certain height. Scientists still do not know why this happens. All they know is that the cells are somehow programmed to end this activity at a certain time. A person should consider the power that created this flawless system: Almighty Allah, Who orders and ensures what He wills, down to the smallest detail.
Your cells ensure that your hands, eyes, and nose have the proper shape. Your cells begin their work while you are still in your mother's womb, forming you better than any plastic surgeon. They make your organs without any excess or deficiency. For example, they calculate the number, length, and shape of your fingers. They do this for your whole body. For example, your eye alone has 40 parts, all of which must grow in proportion, have sound connections among themselves, and be in their proper places for your eye to function properly.
When the embryo is four weeks old, two cavities form on either side of its head. At six weeks, its cells begin to work according to a wonderful plan. Some cells make the cornea, some make the pupil, and others make the lens. When each cell finishes building its particular area, it stops. Each cell makes a different part, and all of them gradually combine. No other stratum is formed in the pupil's place, and everything is in its own place. This process lasts for months, and the result is a beautiful and functional pair of eyes. Each cell that makes up the embryo is aware of the body's general plan. Indeed, they produce parts with different characteristics, just as if they had agreed beforehand on what they would do. Allah created this wonderful plan encoded in cells, inspires them to carry out their tasks, and ensures its perfect implementation:
He forms you in the womb however He wills. There is no deity but Him, the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surah Al 'Imran, 6)
He is Allah – the Creator, the Maker, the Giver of Form. To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Everything in the heavens and Earth glorifies Him. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (Surat al-Hashr, 24)
Was it not a drop of ejaculated sperm, then a blood-clot that He created and shaped? (Surat al-Qiyama, 37-38)