What is Islam's teaching on reproduction?

Islam's teaching on reproduction reflects an inaccurate understanding of the facts influenced by 7th-century beliefs. Since Muhammad was not inspired, his teachings reveal those mistakes. Let's take a look at some of the things taught by him regarding how a person is physically formed.

Where is sperm formed?

  • Surah 86:5-7, "Now let man but think from what he is created! 6 He is created from a drop emitted 7 Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs."

We see an obvious problem here. The man's seed proceeds from between his backbone and his ribs. This is the area of the chest. Sometimes Muslims will say that the drop emitted is in reference to the testicles which are in the lower abdominal area during the formation of the fetus. However, notice that the text says "a drop emitted". A drop is a small liquid portion. This is obviously something that only happens during sexual intercourse and cannot refer to a fetus in the womb.  Muhammad got it wrong.

Pregnancy, clot, a morsel of flesh

Pregnancy was described by Muhammad in an interesting way.

  • Quran 22:5, "O mankind! If ye have a doubt about the Resurrection, (consider) that We created you out of dust, then out of sperm, then out of a leech-like clot, then out of a morsel of flesh, partly formed and partly unformed, in order that We may manifest (our power) to you; and We cause whom We will to rest in the wombs for an appointed term, then do We bring you out as babes, then (foster you) that ye may reach your age of full strength; and some of you are called to die, and some are sent back to the feeblest old age, so that they know nothing after having known (much), and (further), thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).

As you can see from the Quran, the order of formation in the womb is a leech-like clot that forms and becomes a morsel of flesh. Now, some Muslims will say that man was first created out of dust(Adam) and then through the act of sexual intercourse sperm is the beginning pregnancy. But it is in this pregnancy that a clot becomes a morsel of flesh.  Let's look further at what Muhammad taught.

40 Day Periods, clot, piece of flesh

The Hadith is a compilation of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad. Within that record, Muhammad taught that human development occurs in stages of 40 days each.

  • "Allah's Apostle, the true and truly inspired said, "(as regards your creation), every one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for the first forty days, and then he becomes a clot for another forty days, and then a piece of flesh for an other forty days. Then Allah sends an angel to write four words: He writes his deeds, time of his death, means of his livelihood, and whether he will be wretched or blessed (in religion). Then the soul is breathed into his body. So a man may do deeds characteristic of the people of the (Hell) Fire, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and so he starts doing deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise and enters Paradise. Similarly, a person may do deeds characteristic of the people of Paradise, so much so that there is only the distance of a cubit between him and it, and then what has been written (by the angel) surpasses, and he starts doing deeds of the people of the (Hell) Fire and enters the (Hell) Fire." (Bukhari, Hadith, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 549: Narrated Abdullah:)

So, according to Muhammad, the stages of human development in the womb are as follows:

  1. Collected in the womb for 40 days (0 - 6 weeks, 1.5 months)
  2. Then becomes a clot for 40 days (80 days total, 6 - 12 weeks, 1.5 - 3 months)
  3. Then becomes flesh for 40 days (120 days total, 12 - 18 weeks, 3 - 5 monthsHuman embryo at six weeks)
  4. Then the soul is breathed into the body

Muhammad got it wrong.  From 40 - 80 days (apprx. 6 to 12 weeks), the embryo is not a clot.  A clot is mass of blood, a coagulated liquid, a nondescript mass.1 At 12 weeks the fetus is 2.5 inches long, has feet, a face, fingernails, and can suck its thumb.2  Is that a clot?  Obviously not.  Again, Muhammad was wrong.

Who will the child look like?

What the child will look like is explained by Muhammad in the Hadith. Note, that there is a male discharge and also a female discharge.  I don't know what the female discharge is supposed to be during sexual intercourse as is portrayed by Muhammad.

  • "...As for the resemblance of the child to its parents: If a man has sexual intercourse with his wife and gets discharge first, the child will resemble the father, and if the woman gets discharge first, the child will resemble her."  (Hadith, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 546: Narrated Anas).

It's a bit difficult to interpret with the female discharges supposed to be. But we know that genetics is what causes a child to look like the parents, sometimes more like the father than the mother. It is not determined by who has a discharge first. Yet again, Muhammad got it wrong.


A man's semen is produced from the chest area which is between the backbone in the ribs (Surah 86:5-7). During sexual intercourse, it is mingled with the discharge of a woman and whoever discharges his first is who the baby will resemble. During the embryonic development, the fetus goes through different stages where it is collected for 40 days and then for 40 more days is a clot. 

It doesn't take much to realize that Islam is not inspired and Muhammad failed to get the facts right about human development. He was not inspired.

  • 1. http://beta.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/clot
  • 2. http://www.baby2see.com/development/week12.html

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.