Although there are more than 300 species of leeches it is only varieties of the hirudo medicinalis, or medicinal leech, that are used in hirudotherapy and administered to humans.
Sucking leech (Hirudo medicinalis) February 22, 2011
According toan articlein Al Jazeera:".. this freshwater parasite preys on large mammals and has 10 eyes and stomachs, six hearts, and a sucker equipped with three jaws. The jaws sport 90 teeth that can penetrate human skin within seconds and leave a bite that resembles a tiny Mercedes Benz logo."
While the bite is rather painful it also releases many proteins and enzymes that have beneficial effects.
According toYelena Titova, who heads a production laboratory at the world's largest leech farm at Udelnaya near Moscow, the bite releases drugs that stimulate blood circulation, metabolism, generation of blood cells, lower cholesterol, and aid people with heart conditions, glaucoma, diabetes and infertility. There may be some marketing hype in these claims but even theUS FDAsince 2004 has allowed the marketing of leeches as "medical devices" when it approved an application by a French company. Leeches were already widely used in the US and companies that raised and sold them have been allowed to continue doing so but a law passed in 1976 required new companies to receive approval from the FDA. The FDA reports that leeches are helpful in healing skin grafts by removing blood pooled under the skin after grafts. They also can restore lost circulation in blocked veins by removing pooled blood. Being classified as "medical devices" has probably contributed to a comeback of hirudotherapy in mainstream western medicine.
The use of leechesdates back to ancient times:Leeching, or hirudotherapy, was widely used in ancient Egypt, India and China since at least 1500 BC. The bloodsucking worm became such a ubiquitous staple of medieval European medicine that the very word "leech" originates from Anglo-Saxon "laece", or doctor. European doctors believed that leeching drains "bad blood" and helps balance patients' bodily fluids.
Hirudotherapy does not always work as in the notorious case ofLord Byronthe poet in 1824:On Apr. 9, while out riding, he was drenched to the skin by a sudden rainstorm and took chill. Within two hours he complained of fever and rheumatic pains. Though he opposed the use of leeches, he finally relented, and they took a pound of blood from his body. He became weaker, but he was bled twice more, fainting each time. His brain was inflamed, but doctors decided that strong stimulants, Peruvian bark and wine, were his only hope.
Who knows perhaps it was the Peruvian bark and wine that ultimately did him in. He fell asleep and did not wake up.
The three story laboratory in Udelnaya was built during the Stalin era It raises up to three million bloodsuckers annually. They hatch from fuzzy white cocoons and are fed on cow's blood, and are allowed to grow for about a year before being sold to health clinics. However, some are killed and powdered and turned into creams, shampoos, and lotions, some quite expensive.
Natalia Lepyoshkinasmiles as she displays a handful of leeches and says: "See how beautiful they are?" Here is animageof some of leeches at the farm. Lepyoshkina is one of about two dozen leech growers at the farm. She has worked there for 30 years and talks of the leeches as if they are her children: "We have to nurture them, nurse them, raise them like our own children."
Not all doctors are enthusiastic about the use of leeches.Doctor Yelena Malyshevawho has a very popular TV show on national Channel One claims that leech therapy is "outdated" and "miserable". Certainly in the west, the practice has been in declinecompared tothe 19th century or ancient Greece:In ancient Greece and 19th-century Europe, leeches were the predominant medical device for bloodletting, a procedure by which practitioners sought to help balance the body's "humors" (phlegm, blood and bile) by simply allowing the subject to bleed for a bit. Bloodletting was prescribed to treat a variety of conditions, from a black eye, headache and fever to obesity and melancholia, and in 1883, French medical professionals imported more than 40 million leeches for this purpose [sources: Rubin, Mestel].Nevertheless, as with many other traditional medical remedies, modern medicine is discovering that ancient practices and remedies do often have proven value.
Editor's Note: The video of leeches used in surgery is a bit bloody — especially after the 2-minute mark.
Leeches get a bad rap — but they might not deserve it.
Yes, they're creepy crawly blood-suckers. And they can instill an almost primal sense of disgust and revulsion. Humphrey Bogart's character in the 1951 filmThe African Queeneven went so far as to call them "filthy little devils."
But the humble leech is making a comeback. This critter is increasingly playing a key role as a sidekick for scientists and doctors, simply by being its bloodthirsty self.
Distant cousins of the earthworm, most leech species are parasites that feed on the blood of animals and humans alike. They are often found in freshwater and navigate either by swimming or inching themselves along, using two suckers — one at each end of their body — to anchor themselves. Most species range from about a quarter inch to three inches in length.
Upon reaching an unsuspecting host, a leech will surreptitiously attach itself and begin to feed. It uses a triangular set of three teeth to cut in, and secretes a suite of chemicals to thin the blood and numb the skin so its presence goes undetected.
Some leech species can also live on land, thriving in humid environments like the forests of southern Asia. Biologistsrecently reportedthat leeches in that region can provide a valuable snapshot of which animals are present in a particular area: The parasites carry their host's blood, and DNA, within their gut after each meal.
"They find things you don't find," saidMichael Tessler, a postdoctoral scholar at theAmerican Museum of Natural Historyin New York. As an added bonus (depending on your perspective), leeches are also attracted to humans as potential blood meals, he said. Thus, the creatures do not shy away from researchers, making sample collection quick and easy.
Tessler and several colleagues gathered 750 terrestrial leeches in the genusHaemadipsafrom Cambodia, Bangladesh and southern China. Then, they analyzed the DNA from each inch-long leech's meal to identify the unwitting blood donors. With this analysis, the scientists were able to identify wild and domestic animals common in those areas, including some species of concern for conservation.
The study also revealed a few surprises. Some leech meals had come from a few bird species, and one came from a bat. "Clearly these things get around," Tessler said.
Beyond their utility in field biology, leeches have an important role to play in a surgeon's medical kit.
The association between doctors and leeches dates back to the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks. According to Greek philosophers, illness was the result of an imbalance in bodily fluids, or humors. They believed that applying leeches to patients would help restore a proper balance. Leeches were widely used as a cure-all for an array of ailments, especially in medieval Europe.
These practices were relegated to the status of quackery by the advent of modern medicine in the 20th century as doctors developed new, more effective treatments. Nowadays, however, medical leeches are experiencing a renaissance as their bloodsucking ability is tuned to a more scientific purpose.
Leeches come in handy during reconstructive surgeries, such as those to reattach fingers, according to Dr. Rudolf Buntic, a hand surgeon and director of microsurgery forCalifornia Pacific Medical Centerin San Francisco. During such a procedure, surgeons repair small arteries that carry blood into the severed digit. However, the tiny veins that carry blood back out may be too damaged or too small to repair, leaving blood to stagnate in the finger.
That's whenHirudo medicinaliscomes in.
"The leech acts as a vein," said Buntic.
It draws stale blood out of the reattached finger as it feeds, allowing fresh, oxygenated blood to come in. Chemicals in the leech's saliva also help prevent blood clots from forming in the damaged tissue. Doctors apply fresh leeches over the course of about ten days. This provides enough time for new, tiny veins to regrow and create channels for blood to leave the patient's finger on its own, Buntic said.
Throughout the treatment, surgeons order leeches from the pharmacy, just as they would any other medicine.
If these little guys still give you the heebie-jeebies, don't worry: They probably won't be showing up at your local drugstore anytime soon, as they're primarily used in hospitals.
You might run into them in some research labs, however.David Weisblat, a biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, has been studying leech development and evolution for more than 40 years. He's recently started a project to learn more about leech behavior and neurobiology.
This involves placing the leeches onto a checkerboard of sorts, made of sandpaper. The squares alternate between rough and smooth grains. Many of the leeches, small snail-hunters in the genusHelobdella, have a strong preference for the smoother squares, moving in strictly diagonal patterns.
"It's like a little pawn on the chessboard that's gone crazy," Weisblat said.
Though leeches may have an unimpressive nervous system by vertebrate standards, they are still capable of using information from their environment to make decisions, said Weisblat. And figuring out how this process works is easier in a leech than in the nervous system of mice or rats. In understanding how leeches find their way around with so few neurons, we can begin to understand how the nervous system processes and encodes information, Weisblat said.
Capturing the way leeches sense and move through their environment could also one day translate to bioengineering applications, like designing small, exploratory robotics, said Weisblat. "Leeches can go on glass surfaces, crawling with their suckers, and exploring all sorts of different ways," he said.
"It's pretty amazing, when you think about how simple they are."
Emma Hiolskiis a freelance science journalist and intern with KQED'sDeep Look video series.Her work has appeared inScience, Chemical & Engineering NewsandThe San Jose Mercury News.You can find her on Twitter @EHiolski.
For thousands of years before modern science-based medicine became the norm, bloodletting, frequently by leeches, was considered something of a medical cure-all. The treatment’s persistence was at least partially attributable to the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates’ ‘four humours’ theory of disease, which held that illness was the result of an imbalance of the bodily fluids black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. With the rise of modern scientific medicine near the end of the 18th century, bloodletting leeches were relegated to the quack cabinet as doctors realised that the practice generally fixed very little, leaving patients weak and vulnerable from blood loss. But as this video from the science and nature documentary seriesDeep Lookshows (in occasionally graphic, ultra-HD detail that is, perhaps, not for the squeamish), medical leeches have made a surprising comeback in hospitals, especially during reconstructive surgeries. Learn more about this video at the KQED Sciencewebsite.
1. Will Leech Therapy help with my Medical Condition?
Leeches have been widely-used as a "panacea" treatment since ancient times. They are helpful in almost all diseases, conditions and symptoms. In rare cases, there are contra-indications against the use of medical leeches. But whatever your illness, it is worth while to try leech treatment as it is a natural remedy, a non-invasive therapy method, often times it can save you from having an operation and in some cases it saves lives.
2. How Many Hirudo Leeches do I need, to treat my Disease?
Leeches have been used since ancient times, not invented by us humans nor do we impart any innovation into their work. Leeches are the healers and the doctors and not man. This fact has proven itself over the span of centuries. For starters, we recommend placement of 10 leeches on targeted points of your body. This is done, so as not to overload the bloodstream with too much hirudin on the first session. After the first session of 10 medicinal Hirudo Leeches,, therapy should continue by placing medical leeches equal to your body weight in kilos, divided by ten, on a weekly basis. Over the course of several months, execute this leech therapy as described, will perform the job of healing and bloodletting and will have . Of course you can put many more depending on your situation and needs. The maximum that is admissible in one session is 40-50 leeches. Most modern trends in Hirudotherapy apply even groups of 50 to 60 leeches session in chronic and severe cases this number leeches are placed in designated locations disease or only in one place.
3. Where to apply Medical Leeches for each Illness?
This is the most difficult question in Hirudotherapy. Basically, there are acupuncture points in the body along the meridians for each separate entity. Meridians that govern the activities of the body. The energy that moves along the meridians and collected in acupuncture points is one that is stimulated by leeches' therapy. Treatment with leeches, body parts of their placement and other typical hirudotherapy specificities take a lifetime to learn and master. We have created alibrary of informative videosabout hirudotherapyin certain diseases.
4. I Wish to Order Hirudo Medicinalis Leeches. How do I find a Leech Seller?
Medical leeches can be paid for by Credit Card, Debit Card, PayPal or Bank Transfer. Leech orders are placed on a dispatch list and shipped twice a week to their worldwide destinations. The Hirudo leaches almost always arrive alive safe and sound. Leeches take 2-3 days to arrive to your address and they can survive up to 7 day trip and if properly packaged, leeches CAN live up to 10 days in shipping containers!
6. Can I Consult with a Specialist About my Disease and the Specifics of my Health Situation?
You canarrange a leech therapy consultation here. Experts are available to advise you on any specific and personal question you may have regarding how you feel and the symptoms of your condition. Leech Treatment consultations are a good way to start your hirudotherapy journey towards healing. Besides asking about your health and disease prevention, you may also consult with our specialist and question them about breeding & raising bloodsucking leeches in a small hirudotherapy farm or becoming a home-based leech breeder, as well as have the opportunity to learn and ask questions about how to keep leeches as pets.
7. Are Medicinal Leeches Used in Veterinary Medicine?
8. I Think I Need a Hirudotherapist to Apply my Leeches!
You can arrange a hirudotherapy appointment here and aleech consultation here. Treatment with leeches is very special activity that takes years to learn and master. It is an art in itself and is not for everyone. Many people feel confident that they themselves can implement leech treatment with the clinical bloodsuckers, whereas others need the services of a professional in this field. Although the price of a leech would triple, as treatment with leeches is a luxury that not everyone can afford, for certain patients Hirudotherapy is the only answer.
9. Leeches have been Extensively Used in Medicine.
The hospital systems worldwide orders approximately 20 000 HIrudo Medisinalis leeches, to treat surgery patients after operations. Leaches are used to drain the excess accumulated blood and lymphatic fluid after a surgery operation. Health systems the world over, serving patients have implemented the use of leeches in their methods of treatment protocols and in some countries they are prized as high as the top healers themselves. Our company receives leech orders for medical leeches worldwide. Should you delay your leech order even by single week, this may cost you the worsening of your health condition, which can lead to serious consequences.
10. Does it Hurt to get Bitten by a Leech?
Leech bites are not painful. Some compare him with a weak current, others with mosquito bites, third, feel that it mimics the feeling of tingling sensation with a small needle. Your clinical leech biting is not at all a painful sensation, some even find the feeling enjoyable. After the first few minutes, the sensation completely disappears, as the leech injects its hirudin into your bloodstream, along with its antiseptic pain relieving substances and leech saliva components.
11. How do You Care for Bloodsucking Hirudo Leeches?
Leeches are cared for relatively easily. The most important thing is their water needs to be changed weekly and they are not kept in a hot location or exposed to direct sunlight. Leeches kept in clean tap water will live to up to a year, unfed. The medicinal leech Hirudo Medicinalis feeds only on blood of mammals and does not "eat" anything else!
12. How Soon can I repeat My Leech Treatment?
Leeches can be reapplied as early as four days after the first treatment or as much as 25 days apart.
13. Can I Re-Use my Leeches?
Leeches are not known to transmit infectious or disease, because they do not have the back-valves that other insects have (such as mosquitoes & flies). Nevertheless, it is not advisable to use leeches on anybody else after the first therapy session. After the leech has digested its first portion of blood that it has sucked from you in approximately 3 to 6 months, depending on the size of the leech, it will be ready to suck again. In medicine, leeches are considered medical instruments and are killed, immediately following therapy. If you disagree with this treatment of live animals and find it an inhumaine treatment, you may choose to care for your leeches and raise them as house pets. Some people re-use and re-apply their leeches on themselves, as soon as they are ready to suck blood again.
14. Where do Your Leeches Come from? Are they Certified?
Our company has a contractual relationships with the most renowned European bio-farms for medicinal leeches. All of the bio-farm production that we stock is certified and thus suitable to be used in a clinical setting. Certificates belong to the bio-farm producers and are issued by that State in which the farm is based. Leech production certificates are proprietary documents and not usually available to the general public. Leeches.com is a worldwide distributor of medical-grade premium quality leeches.
15. How Long do Leeches Drink Blood?
Blood-sucking clinical leeches need approximately 20-45 minutes to drink all the blood they need for one meal. This is also the duration of a leech therapy session with a professional hirudotherapist. If the patient's blood circulation of the patient is slow and stagnant, hirudo leeches will take longer to finish the bloodsucking process. The leech needs additional 10-15 minutes to suck from such patients. Leeches fall alone by itself when filled with blood.
16. I am a Hirudoterapist and I run Leech Spa or Studio for Hirudotherapy. Can we Work together or Collaborate?
Our collaboration with leech therapy studios and spas dates back to 2013. We work alongside managers of cosmetic and hirudotherapy leech clinic and health leech spas to bring the best deals and specials for the establishment you run. We offer spa center owners and mangers to to take advantage of thespecial discount packageand wholesale prices. We also cooperate together on several consultancy levels to provide our the patients services and advice with regards to their leech therapy options. Our specialists provide a professional expertise and literature to the attention of the patient as well as a special discount to the spa patients.
We also provideFREE advertising space on Leeches.com for any Hirudotherapist, practicing from all over the world. We invite every leech healer of professional and non-professional standing, to advertise their services. Our advertising space is completely Free and all you need is to prepare a unique one-page summary of your experience with leeches, accompanied by a picture of yourself, your premises or your leeches and we will post your ad on Leeches.com for free.Contact us here to advertise hirudotherapy for free on Leeches.com
Leeches are making a medical comeback,at least in Russia. Seen as a cheaper option in an underfunded health system, leeches are sometimes used in place of expensive blood thinners or as a homeopathic cure for a variety of ailments. It seems backward, but leeches do have a long history in medical care dating back thousands of years.
In Europe, themedical leech’s heyday was the nineteenth century. Their use was so pervasive that France used 33 million leeches just in the year 1827. Sweden was a major European leech producer, but excessive exports coupled with a supply dip led to a severe domestic leech shortage in 1843. In the latter part of the century leeches were still widely available, often prescribed for specific conditions such as heart or liver inflammation. They were also offered over-the-counter at pharmacies.
Nineteenth century physicians got thebloodlettingidea from the widespread notion that diseases “counter- irritate” each other. For example, noting that vomiting and diarrhea often led to swift recovery from intestinal illness, they hypothesized that purging must cause some a counter-action that negates the original illness. As vomiting helpedupset stomachs, the theory went, then blood removal might help various other maladies. Over time localized leeches were seen as a superior option to cutting, especially in young or infirm patients.
Some precautions were required. The anticoagulants and vasodilators in leech saliva meant that uncontrolled bleeding was a potentially dangerous side effect. Many physicians avoided evening leeches for fear of uncontrolled bleeding all night long. Neck applications were particularly dangerous, as post-leech bleeding could be difficult to stop. Leeches were similarly not applied directly to sensitive areas such as the genitals, rectum, or tumors. Leeches applied inside the throat were attached to a string to prevent swallowing. Application to the eyelids, especially the underside, could lead to injury and was discouraged.
A leech could be induced to drop off a patient with a pinch of salt, or else would let go on its own when full. A leech could be reused by forcing it to regurgitate its blood meal, a process known as stripping.
Harvesting leeches was not for the faint of heart; many leech fishermen waded in murky waters using their own legs as bait. An even more horrifying method saw old horses driven into leech habitat, then withdrawn covered in the worms. The horses were not given sufficient recovery times between “fishing” trips and by the end of the season they were dead.
Believe it or not, medicinal leeches are still used today.They are especially helpful when veins are damagedand unable to properly drain blood from extremities—for example, in recently reattached amputations. Leeches can spread infections, so modern leeches are used only once. And just because they are large, bloodsucking, annelid worms with a checkered history in medicine, doesn’t mean leeches are always viewed with dread. Rather than being grossed out, some patients report becoming emotionally attached to their leeches.
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The Qur’ān is the holy book or scripture of Islam revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God through the Archangel Gabriel over a 23-year period from 610 to 632 CE. The language of the Qur’ān is Arabic; its style “is neither prose nor poetry, but a unique fusion of both.”1 The text is divided into 114 surahs or chapters with each chapter consisting of individual ayahs or verses. There are in total 6,348 verses in the Qur’ān.
The Qur’ān describes itself as a “Book of Guidance”2 and addresses its message to all humanity. The Qur’ān deals with many issues and topics such as wisdom, doctrine, worship and law. It provides guiding principles for society, human conduct and commerce. The Qur’ān also contains numerous references to natural phenomena such as astronomy, embryology and geology.
The word “Qur’ān” means “recitation” and the first verse of the Qur’ān to be revealed to the Prophet Muhammad was a command to read:
Read! In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from ‘alaq (clinging form). Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by [means of] the pen, who taught man what he did not know.
Surah Al-‘Alaq (The Clinging Form) 96:1-5
Alaq (علق) is a stage in the development of the embryo. The Qur’ān mentions that human development passes through a number of distinct stages.3 These stages are descriptive of the embryo’s external appearance and have been assigned the following names:
And We (God) created man4 from a quintessence (gentle extraction) of clay.
We then placed him as a nuṭfah (drop) in a place of settlement, firmly fixed (i.e. the womb). alaqah (clinging form), and then We changed the clinging form into a mudghah (chewed-like form), then We made out of that chewed-like form, ‘iẓām (skeleton, bones), then We clothed the bones with laḥm (muscles, flesh); then We (ansha’ nahu), caused him to grow and come into being and attain the definitive (human) form. Blessed be God, the Perfect creator.
Then you will surely die .and then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will be raised up again.
Surah Al-Mu’minoon (The Believers) 23: 12-16
Until recently these statements were not fully appreciated, since they referred to details in human development which were scientifically unknown in earlier times. The Qur’ān reminds the reader that it is God who created man and while human life consists of a number of stages, life will one day come to an end. All human beings will then be resurrected and it is on the Day of Resurrection that every individual will account for their lives and be justly rewarded or punished for their deeds.
1 Arberry (1998, p. x). 2 Qur’ān 2:185. 3 Qur’ān 39:6 and 71:14. 4 This is a reference to the creation of the first man Adam.
Figure 1 Timetable of human development during weeks 1 to 4 (day 1 to 28) (Modified from Moore and Persaud (2007)). The Qur’ānic term ʿalaqah may be used to refer to the embryo of between 15 to 26 days.
This paper focuses on the term alaqah, the second stage of human development according to the Qur’ān. The paper begins by defining the meaning of the term alaqah before going on to show how the different meanings of this term could be used to describe an embryo of between 15 to 26 days (Figure 1). Although the term alaqah is discussed in some detail, with particular emphasis on the outer appearance of the embryo and its internal structures, the reader should note that this paper is nevertheless limited in its scope and should not be considered as a complete exposition of the alaqah.
2. THE MEANING OF THE TERM ALAQAH
The Qur’ān mentions the term alaqah علقة as the second stage of human prenatal development. The word alaqah according to many linguistic Arabic dictionaries has several meanings. It is a derivative of alaqa which means attached and hanging to something Alaqah is a leech that li es in ponds and thri es on the blood of animals to which it attaches itself Additionally alaq is “the red blood in general” or “the thick clotted blood ”5 Alaqah also denotes “the wet blood ”6
5 Ibn Manẓūr, in Lisān al-‘Arab, Dār Ṣādir Beirut n d ol 10 pp 261-268; Al-Jawharī Aṣ-Ṣ ḥāḥ, vol. 4, p 1529; Ibn Fāris Mu‛j M qāyīs l-Lughah Dār al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah Iran n d ol 4 pp 125-128; Al-Fayrūzabādī Al-Qā ūs al-Muḥīṭ, vol. 3, p 275; and Al-Isfahanī Al-Muf ā , p 343. As cited in Zindani, Ahmed, Tobin, and Persaud (1994, p. .)68
6 Al-Biqā‛i, Naẓm ad-Durar fī Tanāsub al-Ᾱyāt was-Suwar, vol. 13, p 115; Ibn Al-Jawzī, Zād Al-Masīr fi ‘Ilm at-Tafsīr, ol 5 p 406; Al Khāzin Majmūah min at-Tafāsī , vol. 4, p 336; Al-Alusī, Rūḥ al-Ma‛ānī fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-‘Azīm was-Sab‛ al-Mathāni, vol. 30, p 180; Ash-Shawkānī, Fatḥ al-Qadīr al-Jāmi‛ Bayna Fannay ar-Riwāyah wad-Dirāyah min ‛Ilm at-Tafsīr, 3rd edition Dār al-Fikr, Beiruit, 1393 AH, 1973 CE, vol. 5, p 468; Al-Baḥr Al-Muḥīṭ; vol. 6, p 468;
3. DESCRIPTION OF ALAQAH AS “ATTACHED AND HANGING TO SOMETHING”
Figure 2 Diagram showing Ovulation, Fertilization, and Migration Down the Uterine Tube. A zygote forms when the sperm and egg unite. Cell division results in two-, four-, and eight-cell stages in the uterine tube. By 3 to 4 days, a tight ball of cells termed the morula is ready to enter the uterine cavity. Near the end of the first week, the morula becomes the fluid-filled blastocyst with an inner cell mass (embryoblast) and outer trophoblast. The blastocyst adheres to the uterus and sinks within it during implantation. (From Cochard, L. R., & Netter, F. H.: Netter’s Atlas of Human Embryology, Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2012).
Human development begins when a sperm fuses with the ovum to create a unique single cell called the zygote (Figure 2). The zygote contains all of the genetic information (DNA) needed to become a baby. The zygote travels down the fallopian tube toward the uterus. As it travels the cells of the zygote divide repeatedly to form a hollow ball of cells called a blastocyst. The blastocyst attaches to the endometrium or lining of the uterus on about the 6th day and continues to implant itself in the uterus wall with cells which eventually form the placenta. This process takes more than a week until cell differentiation7 occurs, developing the embryo and placenta from the blastocyst. The embryo is now attached to the primitive placenta is and hanging via the ‘connecting stalk’ that will eventually become the umbilical cord:
Day 12: The endodermal germ layer produces additional cells which form a new cavity, known as the secondary or definitive yolk sac. The extraembryonic coelom expands to form a large chorionic cavity, within which the embryo and the attached amniotic and yolk sac are suspended by the connecting stalk.8
By around 14 days the embryo (which is represented by the bilaminar embryonic disc) is attached to the placenta and is hanging or suspended in the chorionic cavity by the connecting stalk as we see in Figure 3 The Qur’ān describes this attachment as alaqah. This is in agreement with the meaning of the word alaqah as “attached and hanging to something”
and Al-Qurṭubī, Al-Jāmi‛ li-Aḥkām al-Qu ’ān, Dār Iḥyā at-Turāth al-‘Arabī Beirut n d vol. 10, p 119. As cited in Zindani et al. (1994, p. 68).
7 “As a result of a process called differentiation, the cells become specialized—for example, some become nerve cells, some become muscle cells, and some become skin cells. As this collection of cells takes form, they position themselves to reflect their eventual roles in the body ” Zerucha (2009, p. 10)
8 Saraga-Babic and Sapunar (n.d.). See also Allan and Kramer (2010, p. 27) and Drews (1995, p. 58).
4. DESCRIPTION OF ALAQAH AS A “BLOOD CLOT”
Figure 3 Photomicrographs of longitudinal sections of an implanted embryo at approximately 14 days. High-power view (Ã—95). The embryo is represented by the bilaminar embryonic disc composed of epiblast and hypoblast. (From Nishimura H [ed]: Atlas of Human Prenatal Histology. Tokyo, Igaku- Shoin, 1983). The embryo is now attached to the primitive placenta and is suspended or hanging via the ‘connecting stalk’.
Figure 4 Diagram of the embryonic cardiovascular system during the fourth week (approximately 26 days), viewed from the left side during the ʿalaqah stage. The external appearance of the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot, due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo and the chorion. The umbilical vein carries well- oxygenated blood and
nutrients chorionic embryo. arteries oxygenated blood and waste products from the embryo to the chorionic sac. (From Moore and Persaud (2007)).
Another meaning mentioned for alaqah in classical commentaries is “blood clot” or “similar to a blood clot”. The meaning of “a blood clot” accurately reflects the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs for at this stage blood forms in the blood vessels in the form of isolated islands. The blood, though fluid, does not circulate until the end of the third week. The heart joins with blood vessels in the embryo, connecting stalk, chorion, and umbilical vesicle to form a primitive cardiovascular system.
from the sac to the The umbilical
Figure 5 Embryo in the fourth week (about 22-24 days) shows the clear rudiments of brain and backbone. Its heart pumps blood to the liver and into the aorta. (A Child is Born, Lennart Nilsson, 1990, p. 79).
The meaning of “a blood clot” describes the most prominent internal structure that affects the external appearance, for in the ʿalaqah stage, blood forms in the blood vessels in the form of isolated islands. The vessels resemble coagulated blood since the blood is circulating very slowly.9
By the end of the third week the blood starts to circulate and the heart begins to beat at 22 to 23 days (Figure 4). Although the embryo’s blood is fluid10, it nevertheless takes on the appearance of a blood clot (see Figure 4 and Figure 5)11. These features incorporate the meanings of “a blood clot” and “wet blood” for alaqah as given above.
9 For animated video footage of the embryo at this stage see http://web.tt.se/lennart_nilsson_video/video9.html and http://web.tt.se/lennart_nilsson_video/video10.html (accessed 22 December 2013). Footage by Lennart Nilsson.
10 “The blood is kept from clotting by an anticoagulant produced by the chorion ” Sherwood and Learning (2011, p. 778) “It secretes some anticoagulant substance which prevents coagulation of blood in the intervillous space ” Daftary and Chakravarty (2011)
11 An implanted blastocyst would also resemble a blood clot: “Implantation begins at about the 6th to 7th day after fertilization. The part of the blastocyst projecting into the uterine cavity remains relatively thin. The syntrophoblast contains a proteolytic enzyme which causes destruction of the endometrial cells so that that the blastocyst sinks deeper and deeper into the uterine mucosa...The final deficiency in the endometrium is sealed off by a blood or fibrin clot, overlying the blastocyst. This cover is called the operculum. By about 10 to 12 days after fertilization, the blastocyst is completely encased in the endometrium and thus, implantation is complete.” Allan and Kramer (2010, p. 23).
5. THE DESCRIPTION OF ALAQAH AS A “LEECH”
5.1 Meaning of alaqah as a “Leech”
Scholars, linguists and dictionaries have all mentioned one of the meanings of alaqah as a leech. The fourteen century dictionary L sā l-‘A b states that “alaqah refers to a worm living in the water that sucks blood, the plural of which is alaq”12 and in the dictionary of l-Qā ūs l- Muḥīṭ alaq is “a small creature of water that sucks blood [a leech] ”13
The word alaqah also occurs in several languages related to Arabic. In Hebrew there is lûqā (or alukah)14, the generic name for any blood-sucking worm or leech. And in Aramaic ֲעלוּ ָקה and Syriac there are words with apparently similar meanings:
The first word ‘alûqāh is a typical hapax legomenon15, though it does occur in the post- Biblical literature in meanings apparently similar to an Aramaic and Syriac word.
The word ‘alûqāh or ‘alûqā in Aramaic and ‘alqā or ‘alûqā in Syriac, means a “leech” particularly the tiny variety which is swallowed when drinking water and which sucks blood inside the body. The Tal. Bab. [Babylonian Talmud] describes it as a dangerous affliction; therefore we should perhaps understand this word [in Proverbs 30:15] as the name for a disease, one of its symptoms being the swelling of the belly...
The word ‘alaq also exists in Arabic where it means “a clot of blood” and, as a verb, “to stick, cling, hang onto, etc.” hence ‘alaqah = leech. In Arabic, however, it essentially indicates the worm itself, and not necessarily the disease. The word is also known in Amharic and also in the dialect of Tigrē, as ‘alaqětě = leech.16
In Ad-Damīrī's Arabic zoological lexicon Hayāt al-Hayawān (The Life of the Animals, 1372 CE), there is an article on the leech alaq)17 and in Ibn Wahshīya’s Kitāb al-Sumūm (The Book on Poisons, c. 950 CE) there is the treatment for the one who has swallowed a leech alaq).18
In Qur’ānic translations, Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1934 CE) translates alaqah as a “leech-like clot”19, Saheeh International (1997 CE) has a “clinging substance” and “clinging clot”20 while Professor Abdul Haleem (2005 CE) has “clinging form ”21
12 Ibn Manẓūr, in Lisān al-‘Arab, Dār Ṣādir Beirut n d ol 10 pp 261-268; as cited in Zindani et al. (1994, p. 68) . The Lisān al-‘Arab (لسان العرب, “The Tongue of the Arabs”) was compiled by Ibn Manẓūr (1232-1311CE). It is a monumental work of immense importance that continues until the present day to be the major reference work for the Arabic language.
13 Al-Qā ūs l-Muḥīṭ, vol. 3, p 275 as cited in Zindani et al. (1994, p. 68). Al-Qā ūs l-Muḥīṭ (القاموس المحيط “The Surrounding Ocean”) by Al-Fayrūzabādī (1326-1414 CE) is another major reference work of classical Arabic.
14 “The leech (ֲעלוּ ָקה lûqā ) has two daughters: Gi e and Gi e ” Pro erbs 30:15 (ESV) Hebrew ֲעלוּ ָקה lûqā meaning a leech (Blue Letter Bible). Although the Hebrew word is translated leech in most versions of the Bible, there has been much dispute whether this is the proper meaning. Recourse is therefore had to the Arabic language. See Kaltner (1996, pp. 86-87).
15 “Words or forms of words that occur once only. There are about 1,500 of these in the Old Testament; but only 400 are, strictly, "hapax legomena"; i.e., are either absolutely new coinages of roots, or cannot be derived in their formation or in their specific meaning from other occurring stems.” Hirsch, Casanowicz, Jacobs, and Schloessinger (1906).
16 Gluck (1964, pp. 368-369) Gluck’s opinion of lûqā as used in Proverbs 30:15 is that it does not appear to have been used in the context of a leech and proposes the translation “erotic passion” but this interpretation cannot be supported by the Arabic sources, see Kaltner (1996, pp. 86-87).
17 K āb Ḥayā al-ḥayawān (The Book of the Lives of the Animals) finished in 1372 CE as mentioned in De Somogyi (1950, p. 42).
18 Ibn Wahshīya’s Book on Poisons c.950 CE. Known under various titles: Kitāb al-Shānāq fī al-Sumūm wa’al-tiryaq, Kitāb al-Sumūm wa’al-tiryāqāt, and al-Sumū wadaf‘ madārrhā. Levey (1966, p. 84).
19 Qur’ān 40:67. Ali (1938). 20 Qur’ān 96:2 and 75:38. Saheeh International (1997).
A popular ninth century Christian polemic against Islam charges that Muslims belie e that “God created man from a leech” based on the work of Nicetas of Byzantium. Nicetas, who wrote between 842 and 867 CE, had a copy of the Qur’ān in Greek translation which he made use of to identify the tenets of Islam. His Greek translation renders both alaq and alaqah as bdella (βδελλα) meaning “leech” 22
And in Qur’ānic commentaries, Aṣ-Ṣābūnī (b. 1930 CE) mentions a “leech-like clot”23 while Ibn Kathīr (b. 1302 CE) also mentions the meaning of “elongated like the shape of a leech ”24
Sikandar Hussain (1980 CE) in his essay l l-Alaq) gives one of the meanings of alaqah as a leech25 and Qu ’ : E cycl entry for alaq also mentions the same meanings:
The linguistic definition of alaq (singular alaqah) is ‘leech’, ‘medicinal leech’, ‘(coagulated) blood’, ‘blood clot’, or ‘the early stage of the embryo’.26
5.2 The Leech worm
Leeches are bloodsucking worms that belong to the classification phylum Annelida (which includes earthworms, leeches and bristleworms) and are in the subclass Hirudinea.27 The most distinguishing characteristic of Annelida is body segmentation and the body structure of the leech is composed of a series of modular, repeating segments:
[A]ll annelids are segmented. Segments, also called metameres, are structures that occur repeatedly along the body of the animal.28
Leeches have a fixed number of segments, usually 34. They have a small sucker at the anterior (front) end containing the mouth, and a large, often circular sucker at the posterior (rear) end. Leeches feed by ingesting blood through their anterior sucker. Leeches produce an enzyme in their saliva called hirudin, a powerful anticoagulant which prevents the host’s blood from clotting whilst the leech feeds. The Latin name for the well-known blood sucking leech is Hirudo medicinalis. Leeches were once widely used by physicians and barbers for bloodletting practices.
Despite their close association with medieval medicine, leeches today are used for a variety of medical purposes including providing useful treatments for arthritis, blood- clotting disorders, varicose veins and other circulatory disorders and are also used in modern plastic and reconstructive surgery.29
Also of interest to this study is the gut which is described as “a straight tube ”30
21 “[Alaq is a] stage in the development of a foetus (cf. 22: 5), i.e. embryo. Alaq can also mean anything that clings: a clot of blood, a leech, even a lump of mud. All these meanings involve the basic idea of clinging or sticking.” Abdel Haleem (2005, p. 428).
22 “Nicetas accuses the Qur’ān of teaching that man comes from a leech (Confutatio1, lines 90–92): (he says that man is created from a leech). The phrase is then picked up by
Zigabenos, who finds it absurd.. ” Simelidis (2011, pp. 900-902). 23 Aṣ-Ṣābūnī (1980 p 281). فصارت علقة حمراء على شكل العلقة مستطيلة :)242 Ibn Kathīr (1980 p 24 25 Hussain (1980, pp. 107-110). 26 Sahin (2006, p. 27). 27 Yeh (2002). 28 Yeh (2002). 29 Govedich and Bain (2005, p. 1). 30 "Annelid", Funk & Wagnalls New Encylopedia (1995).
5.3 External appearance of the embryo as a Leech
Figure 6 Drawings illustrating the similarities in appearance between a human embryo and a leech (ʿalaqah). A, shows a lateral view of an embryo (size 2.5-3.0mm) at days 24 to 25 during folding, showing the large forebrain and the ventral position of the heart (from Moore & Persaud: The Developing Human 8th Edition). B, shows a drawing of a leech. Note the leech-like appearance of the human embryo at this stage.
A leech seems to be an appropriate description of the early human embryo. The embryo clings to the endometrium or lining of the uterus (day 7) just as a leech clings to the skin.31 The embryo is attached to the wall of the chorion – the chorionic sac – which has chorionic villi which are attached to the lining of the uterus. The embryo is also surrounded by amniotic fluid just as the leech is surrounded by water.
If we take the literal meaning of “leech” for alaqah, we find that during the third week the embryo loses its round shape and elongates until it takes the shape of a leech. Figure 6 and Figure 7 clearly indicate that the shape of the embryo does in fact resemble a leech. Internally, the embryo acquires a primitive cardiovascular system and the embryo is now dependent upon the maternal blood for its nutrition like a leech which feeds on the blood of others.32
31 Moore (1986, pp. 15-16).
32 As we see in Figure 4 (page 4) the umbilical vein carries well-oxygenated blood and nutrients from the chorionic sac to the embryo. The arteries carry poorly oxygenated blood and waste products to the chorionic villi for transfer to the mother’s blood.
In The Human Body: The Incredible Journey from Birth to Death, Professor Lord Robert Winston33 also describes the embryo in a similar way. Lord Winston demonstrates how the embryo obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother which is similar to a leech which feeds on the blood of others (Figure 8):
33 Lord Winston is Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College, London. http://www.robertwinston.org.uk/.
This is Hirudo medicinalis, better known to you and me as a leech. It’s a parasite. It takes whatever it needs to live by sucking the blood of whatever it can latch onto; in this case that’s me! As it sucks my blood, it takes from it all that it needs to live, it literally lives off me and the whole of pregnancy is shaped by a similar kind of parasitic relationship. Unlike the leech, the developing embryo doesn’t suck the mother’s blood but it does raid her blood for the raw materials it needs to grow. From the word go both leech and embryo are out for themselves.34
And in Anatomy Demystified the early embryo is also described as worm-like in appearance which is nourished by the mother’s maternal blood supply:
By 24 days, a connecting stalk appears in the middle of the now worm-like body. The yolk sac hangs off to one side of this connecting stalk. Both attach to the primitive placenta (plah-SEN-tah), a “flat cake” (placent) of highly vascular (blood vessel-rich) tissue that nourishes the developing embryo and later, the fetus.35
It takes about a week from the beginning of implantation (day 6) for the connecting stalk to form (day 14 or 15) such that the embryo becomes “attached and hanging” It takes about 10 days for the notochord36 to begin development (day 16) in order for the embryo to take on the appearance of a leech.37 The word alaqah accurately describes and reflects the external appearance of the embryo during this stage of development.
34 Lord Winston in BBC Woldwide (1998). 35 Layman (2004, p. 366). 36 A rod-like column of cells. It is the first indication of the future vertebrae of the spinal column.
37 The embryo undergoes craniocaudal folding and lateral folding which changes the shape of the embryo from a two- dimensional disk to a three-dimensional cylinder.
5.4 A segmented body like a Leech
A leech’s body is organised into repeating units called segments which gives rise to a ringed appearance of the body hence the name “ringed worms ”38
The human embryo is also segmented just like a leech or worm as Professor Peter Nathanielsz describes in A Time to be Born: The Life of the Unborn Child:
By the end of the third week the embryo has undergone segmentation, rather like an earth worm, and now consists of zones like stacked circular tires. Each segment will give rise to a different part of the body's long axis. The repetition of structures in segments is best seen in the chest. There, each vertebra and the attached rib is produced from one embryonic segment.39
The segments of the embryo consist of somites (Figure 9), cell masses which develop into ribs, vertebrae and back muscles:
Somites are bilaterally paired blocks of mesoderm that give the embryo a segmented appearance... Somites begin to appear by day 20, and number 42-44 pairs by day 35. Beginning in week 4, each somite subdivides into three tissue masses: a sclerotome, which surrounds the neural tube and gives rise to bone tissue of the vertebral column; a myotome, which gives rise to muscles of the trunk; and a dermatome, which gives rise to the dermis of the skin and to its associated subcutaneous tissue.40
5.5 The gut like a “straight tube”
The third week is characterized by the development of the three germ layers followed by the formation of three important structures (the primitive streak, the notochord, and the neural tube).
During development, cells form three germ layers: the ectoderm is the outer most layer, the mesoderm is the middle layer, and the endoderm is the innermost layer.
38 Garwood and Campbell (2007).
39 Nathanielsz (1994, p. 22). Peter W. Nathanielsz is a Professor at the Laboratory for Pregnancy and Newborn Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA. “Professor Nathanielsz was amongst the handful of pioneers who assisted at the birth about thirty years ago of the new discipline of fetology and has remained at the forefront of what is now an enormous field. His laboratory has contributed many of the technical advances that now allow the most intimate details of fetal life to be examined with a precision equal to that of a cosmologists’ radio-telescope.” (ibid, vii).
40 Saladin (2007, p. 114).
Figure 9 Human embryos during the fourth week, approx. 21-25 days. Note the segments or somites and the leech-like appearance of the embryos. (From Larsen, William J., Human Embryology, 2nd ed., Churchill Livingstone, Inc., 1997, p. 75).
Figure 10 A diagrammatic representation showing the relative positions of the three germ layers and their derivatives. The enteron and coelom form the gut and body cavities, respectively. The ectoderm forms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as skin cells (epidermis). The mesoderm forms many essential organs, including bone, blood, heart, spleen, and kidneys. The endoderm forms the remaining organs, as well as the digestive and respiratory tracts. (From Ted Zerucha, Human Development, 1999, page 53).
These three germ layers give rise to all the tissues and organs of the embryo (Figure 10). These layers curl to form a tube-like structure which Anthony Smith, in The Human Body, also likens to a worm:
There are three layers much like a cake with filling in the middle. These three layers then curl to form a tube. The early embryo is like a worm, with a gut running from one end to the other, an outer covering also running from end to end and a central layer filling the space between the two.41
Ted Zerucha in Human Development also describes the gut of the embryo as a tube:
If one imagines what a cross section through a human body looks like in a very general sense, it would likely resemble something similar to that shown in [Figure 10]. Running through the body, along the anterior-posterior axis, is the gut. The gut is essentially a tube that runs from the mouth, through the digestive system, to the anus.42
The tube-like depiction of the embryo’s gut is not unlike that of an annelid as described in The Columbia Encyclopedia:
The digestive system of annelids consists of an unsegmented gut that runs through the middle of the body from the mouth, located on the underside of the head, to the anus, which is on the pygidium [the posterior terminal region]. 43
41 Smith (1998, p. 38). 42 Zerucha (2009, p. 52). 43 “Annelida” in The Columbia Encyclopedia (2008).
5.6 The head of the embryo resembles a Leech’s sucker
Figure 11 A, Coloured scanning electron micrograph of the head of an embryo at 22 days. (Footage by Lennart Nilsson)44 B, Coloured scanning electron micrograph of a freshwater leech’s rear sucker. (Photograph by Steve Gschmeissner)45
In Figure 11 A we see a scanning electron micrograph of an embryo with its head still open. As yet the embryo has no face, and we can see right into the brain. The heart is shown in red. Figure 11 B shows a scanning electron micrograph of the rear sucker of a leech. Note the similarity in appearance between the embryo’s head and the leech’s sucker Leeches have a small sucker at the front end containing the mouth, and a large, often circular sucker at the rear (Figure 12).
Figure 12 A, Photograph of the front sucker of a medicinal leech.46 B, Light micrograph of the rear sucker of a leech from Movile Cave, Romania.47
44 http://web.tt.se/lennart_nilsson_video/video22.html (accessed 28 August 2013). 45 Freshwater leech’s rear sucker. Photograph by Steve Gschmeissner
http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/366747/enlarge (accessed 28 August 2013). 46 Field Studies Council: http://www.lifeinfreshwater.org.uk/Species%20Pages/Leech%20sucker.jpg.html (accessed 28
August 2013). 47 Leech from Movile Cave, Romania. www.sciencephoto.com/media/406218/enlarge (accessed 28 August 2013).
5.7 Internal anatomical structure like a Leech
Figure 13 A, Ventral dissection showing the internal anatomical structure of a leech. (From J.G. Nicholls and D. Van Essen. The nervous system of the leech, 1974, Scientific American 230:38-48.) B, Dorsal view of a 13-somite embryo at approximately 24 days, actual size 3.0mm. (From Professor Hideo Nishimura, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan). Note the remarkable similarity in appearance between the human embryo and the internal structure of the leech.
If we examine the anatomy of the leech we find that the appearance of its internal structures is also similar to that of the human embryo:
Figure 13 A shows a photograph of dissected medicinal leech. Note how the body is made up of a series of repeating segments which resemble the somites in human embryos as seen in Figure 13 B above. The actual size of the embryo at this stage is just 3.0mm.
Figure 14 A–C shows photographs of embryos during the third and fourth weeks (approximately 22-26 days) where the internal organs can be observed through the skin. Figure 14 D shows two illustrations depicting the internal structures of a leech.
Note the remarkable similarity in appearance between the anatomy of the embryos and the leech. The word alaqah accurately describes and reflects the internal features of the embryo at this stage. Due to the small sizes of the embryos involved, scientists could not have recognised the detailed features of the alaqah stage as there were no microscopes or lenses available in the seventh century.
Figure 14 Dorsal views of embryos during the third and fourth weeks (about 22-26 days). A, Dorsal view of a 5-somite embryo, actual size 2.5mm. B, Dorsal view of an older eight-somite embryo, actual size 3.0mm. C, Dorsal view of a 13-somite embryo at approximately 24 days, actual size 3.0mm. (Photographs from Professor Hideo Nishimura, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.) D, The anatomical structure of the leech. (Illustrated by James Rawlins Johnson, A Treatise on the Medicinal Leech, London, 1816. (Rare – In process) UCLA Biomedical Library: History and Special Collection ns for the Sciences).
The Qur’ān mentions the term alaqah علقة as the second stage of human prenatal development. The word alaqah has several meanings. It is a derivative of alaqa which means attached and hanging to something. Alaqah is a leech that lives in ponds and thrives on the blood of animals to which it attaches itself. Additionally, alaq is “the red blood in general” or “the thick clotted blood ” Alaqah also denotes “the wet blood ”
This paper correlated the various lexical meanings of the term alaqah with the stages of human prenatal development. The term alaqah is found to be a comprehensive expression that accurately describes the primary external as well as internal features of the developing embryo of around 15 to 26 days. In this one word the general shape of the embryo and its internal anatomy as a leech are described, internal events such as the formation of blood and closed vessels are depicted, and the attachment of the embryo to the placenta is also brought to mind:
the embryo is attached to the placenta and is hanging or suspended in the chorionic cavity by the connecting stalk (Figure 3)
the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot, due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo and the chorion (Figure 4 and Figure 5)
the external shape of the embryo at 22-25 days resembles a leech (Figure 6 and Figure 7)
the embryo obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother (Figure 4) similar to the leech
which feeds on the blood of others (Figure 8)
the appearance of the internal anatomy of the leech resembles the anatomy of the embryo of 22-26 days (Figure 13 and Figure 14)
the embryo has a segmented body like a leech (Figure 9)
the early embryo further resembles a leech in that it has a tube-like gut running from one
end to the other (Figure 10)
The similarities between the embryo and leech are truly remarkable. The Qur’ānic term alaqah refers to the embryo when it is extremely small, measuring just 0.7–3.0mm in length. Due to the small sizes involved scientists could not have recognised the detailed features of the alaqah stage until the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th:
“Even as recently as the nineteen-thirties... the details of human conception and reproduction were largely a scientific mystery, an inaccessible series of poorly understood events that took place deep in a mother’s womb.”48
“It is remarkable how much the embryo of 23-24 days resembles a leech. As there were no microscopes or lenses available in the 7th century, doctors would not have known that the human embryo had this leech-like appearance. In the early part of the fourth week, the embryo is just visible to the unaided eye because it is smaller than a kernel of wheat.”49
The terminology used in the Qur’ān to describe human development during this stage is characterized by descriptiveness, accuracy and ease of comprehension. When one takes into
48 Edwards (1989, Forward). Nobel Prize winner Robert Edwards, who devised the fertility treatment IVF. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2010/edwards.html (accessed 12 January 2014).
49 Moore (1986, p. 16).
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