The Quran erroneously claims that semen issues forth from around the kidney area of man:

So let man consider from what he is created. He is created from a gushing fluid That issued from between the loins and ribs. S. 86:5-7 Pickthall

The late Dr. William F. Campbell explained why this is an egregious blunder as he responded to the deliberate misinterpretation of this text by Dr. Maurice Bucaille in his attempt to make the Quran fit with modern scientific discoveries:

The third and biggest problem, though, is that, unlike the Bible, the Qur’an uses the word “sulb” for loins in a verse which won’t allow a euphemistic interpretation. In the Early Meccan Sura of the Night-visitant (Al-Tariq) 86:5-7, it reads,

“Now let man think from what he is created! He is created from a gushing fluid that issues from between the loins (sulb) and ribs (tara’ib).”

Here we find that Man is made from a “gushing fluid that issues from the adult father during the “now” of the reproductive act, from a specific physical place “between the loins and the ribs.” (other translations have backbone instead of loins)

Since the verse is speaking of the moment of adult reproduction it can’t be talking about the time of embryonic development. Moreover, since “sulb” is being used in conjunction with “gushing fluid”, which can only be physical; and “tara’ib” which is another physical word for chest or thorax or ribs, it can’t be euphemistic. Therefore, we are left with the very real problem that the semen is coming from the back or kidney area and not the testicles.

Dr. Bucaille, as a physician recognizes this problem only too well, so he wiggles and squirms (as he accuses the Christian commentators of doing) and finally after quoting the verse as we have seen it translated above says, “This would seem more to be an interpretation than a translation. It is hardly comprehensible“.[4] This is the second time he has called the Qur’an obscure or hardly comprehensible when there was a problem.

Therefore, let us look at the translations which I have been consulting. Those made by Muslims are:

Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Egyptian, 1946 with a preface from 1938
“He is created from a drop emitted—proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.”

Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, English, 1977 (translation probably 1940)
“He is created from a gushing fluid that issued from between the loins and ribs.”

Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Pakistani, 1971
“He is created from a fluid poured forth, which issues forth from between the loins and the breastbones.”

Muhammad Hamidullah, French, 1981 (10th Edition, completely revised)
“Il a été créé d’une giclée d’eau sortie d’entre lombes et côtes.”
He was created from a spurt of water coming out between the loins and ribs.

Made by a non-Muslim: D. Masson, French 1967
“Il a été créé d’une goutte d’eau répandue sortie d’entre les lombes et les côtes.”
He was created from a drop of spread out water coming out between the loins and the ribs.

That these five translations are exactly equal is perfectly obvious to every reader even if he does not know French or the original Arabic.

Dr. Bucaille’s Translation

What would Dr. Bucaille like to suggest? He writes, “Two verses in the Qur’an deal with sexual relations themselves…When translations and explanatory commentaries are consulted however, one is struck by the divergences between them. I have pondered for a long time on the translation of such verses (In plain English that means there is “an improbability or a contradiction, prudishly called a `difficulty'”),[6] and am indebted to Doctor A. K. Giraud, Former Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Beirut, for the following:

`(Man was fashioned from a liquid poured out. It issued (as a result) of the conjunction of the sexual area of the man and the sexual area of the woman.’

“The sexual area of the man is indicated in the text of the Qur’an by the word sulb (singular). The sexual areas of the woman are designated in the Qur’an by the word tara’ib (plural).

“This is the translation which appears to be most satisfactory.”[7]

When compared, however, with the five translations quoted above, it is clear that Dr. Bucaille’s suggestion is not a translation, nor even a paraphrase. It is an “explanation” and “interpretation” which rests on the following basic assumptions:

a.   That the word “sulb” can stand for the male sexual area. Though no examples of such a usage from the 1st century of Islam have been given.

b.   That the phrase “(as a result) of the conjunction” can be found in the two Arabic words “min bain” which literally mean “from between”.

c.   That the word “tara’ib” can mean “the sexual areas of the woman”.

This last word occurs exactly one time in the Qur’an and you cannot establish a meaning with one usage. The dictionaries of Wehr, Abdel-Nour, and Kasimirski mention (a)the chest, (b)the upper part of the chest between the breasts and the clavicles, and (c)the ribs, and Abdel-Nour includes (d)the euphemistic extension to the breasts. It can also include the neck up to the chin and speak poetically of the area for a woman’s necklace.

No dictionary includes the female genital area, and Dr. Bucaille has given no examples from literature to support his idea. He seems to be fulfilling his own complaint against others. He is trying “to camouflage (his problems) with dialectical acrobatics” @-@.[8] (Campbell, The Qur’an and the Bible in the Light of History and Science, SECTION FOUR: Science and Revelation, II. No Scientific Problems (Errors?!?) in the Qur’an, B. Anatomy, Embryology and Genetics)

Consulting the classical Muslim commentators doesn’t help the situation, but actually makes the problem even worse.

The Islamic commentaries claim that man is created from the fluid which is emitted by both the man and women, thereby presupposing women have semen much like men do which contributes to the formation of a human being!

issuing from between the loins of the man and the breast-bones of the woman. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn; bold emphasis mine)

(That issued from between the loins) of a man (and ribs) the ribs of a woman.

(Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs; bold emphasis mine)

He is created from a water gushing forth.) meaning, the sexual fluid that comes out bursting forth from the man and the woman. Thus, the child is produced from both of them by the permission of Allah. Due to this Allah says…

(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) meaning, the backbone (or loins) of the man and the ribs of the woman, which is referring to her chest. Shabib bin Bishr reported from `Ikrimah who narrated from Ibn `Abbas that he said…

(Proceeding from between the backbone and the ribs.) “The backbone of the man and the ribs of the woman. It (the fluid) is yellow and fine in texture. The child will not be born except from both of them (i.e., their sexual fluids).” Concerning Allah’s statement…

(Verily, He is Able to bring him back (to life)!) This means that He is able to return this man that is created from fluid gushed forth. In other words, He is able to repeat his creation and resurrect him to the final abode. This is clearly possible, because whoever is able to begin the creation then he surely is able to repeat it. Indeed Allah has mentioned this proof in more than one place in the Qur’an. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir; bold emphasis mine)

Muhammad himself is reported to have taught that women’s semen/sperm is thin and yellow, and even believed that a child’s physical characteristics were determined by whether the man or the woman reached sexual climax first!

It was narrated that Anas said: “The Messenger of Allah said: ‘The man’s water is thick and white, and the woman’s water is thin and yellow. Whichever of them comes first, the child will resemble (that parent).’”

Grade: SAHIH (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 200

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 201 (Sunan an-Nasa’i, The Book of Purification; emphasis mine)

It was narrated from Anas that: Umm Sulaim asked the Messenger of Allah about a woman who sees in her dream something like that which a man sees. The Messenger of Allah said: “If she sees that and has a discharge, then let her perform a bath.” Umm Salamah said: “O Messenger of Allah, does that really happen?” He said: “Yes, the water of the man is thick and white and the water of a woman is thin and yellow. Whichever of them comes first or predominates, the child will resemble (that parent).”

Grade: SAHIH (Darussalam)

English reference: Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadith 601

Arabic reference: Book 1, Hadith 64 (Sunan Ibn Majah, The Book of Ablution and Its Sunnah; emphasis mine)

There you have it, folks.

According to Allah and his messenger Muhammad, a child is formed when the semen of the man and woman come together, and its physical features depend on whoever has an orgasm first. I.e., if the man climaxes before the woman, then the child will look like him. However, if the woman has her orgasm before the man climaxes then the child will resemble her.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Islamic genetics and embryology!


Allah and his Messenger Fail A Scientific Test


  1. Funnily enough, those hadiths about the cause of resemblance, and a bunch of other hadiths about the semen stage of reproduction are strongly reflecting both the Talmud and the work of the 2nd century Greek physician Galen, whose ideas were prevalent for centuries. Even the Quran shows his influence in an error concerning the first stage of reproduction noticed for the first time in the following article (as well as the hadith connections).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s