Print

Sex Determination In Mankind As Inimitably Cited By The Qur'an

For ages past, people thought that the female ovum was responsible for determining the sex of the foetus.  Throughout the Middle Ages until the later decades of the eighteenth century,

several  diversified concepts on this subject originated based on unfounded speculations. The most fundamental belief was that all life initially came from the ovaries of the female, producing the egg. This belief was prevalent among all nations, the educated and illiterate fractions of the population.

Appraisal of current scientific knowledge indicates that human reproduction is established by a series of sequential processes which mankind shares with other mammalian organisms. The starting point of these developmental processes is the fertilization of the ovum which has detached itself from the female ovary. This fertilization is done by the male sperm (the spermatozoon). Two major processes take place before fertilization is established, namely, oogenesis in the females, and spermatogenesis in the male.

The  gonadal tissues of both the human male and female, similar to somatic tissues carry 23 pairs of chromosomes. The dividing cell of somatic tissues undergo division by a process  of mitosis to produce two daughter cells carrying exactly the same number of 23 pairs of chromosomes. The cells of gonadal tissues of both male and female divide by a process of meiosis (reduction division) to produce two daughter cells carrying only half the number of chromosomes of the mother stem cell, namely 23 single chromosomes. The processes of spermatogenesis and oogenesis in the male and female respectively result in  the production of male and female gametes each with 23 single chromosomes. After fertilization of the female gamete (ovum) by the male gamete (sperm), a fertilized zygote will result carrying 23 pairs of chromosomes, 23 single from the male sperm, and 23 single from the female ovum. The fertilized zygote will carry all the primordial characteristics of genetic code script transmitted from both male and female parents, including the character of sex determination.

The constitution of the female gonadal stem cell before division carries 22 pairs of chromosomes  plus 1 pair of sex chromosomes designated as an (XX) female character. After meitotic division, the resulting female gametes (ovum) as an ultimate result of oogenesis will always each contain 22 single autosomes plus 1 (X) sex chromosome, forming a total of 23 single chromosomes, (22 + X). On the other hand, the constitution of the male gonadal stem cell before division carries 22 pairs of autosomes plus 1 pair of sex chromosomes designated as an (XY) male character. After meiotic division, the resulting male gametes (sperms) as an ultimate result of spermatogenesis which contain either 22 single autosomes plus 1(X) sex chromosome, (22+X), or 22 single autosomes plus 1 (Y) sex chromosome, (22+Y).

The sex determination of the foetus will depend on the type of male gamete (sperm) that will fertilize the female gamete (ovum). If fertilization takes place by a sperm carrying (22+X) chromosomes, the fertilized zygote will constitute (22+X) fro, female ovum plus (22+X) from male sperm to give (44+XX) chromosomes, i.e., 23 pairs, and the resulting foetus will be a female. On the other hand, if fertilization takes place by a sperm carrying (22+Y) chromosomes, the fertilized zygote will constitute (22+X) from female ovum, plus (22+Y) from male sperm to give (44+XY) chromosomes, i.e., 23 pairs, and the resulting foetus will be a male.

According to this precise scientific information, it is very evident that the genetic constitution of the male gamete (sperm) is the single dominant factor that determines the sex of the foetus after fertilization of the female ovum. These fundamental scientific facts have been indicated with exact inferences in the text of the Glorious Qur'an. The meanings of the Qur'anic ayat (verses) on the subject of sex determination revealed fourteen centuries ago provide evidence and proof to support current scientific knowledge on the subject of sex determination. Scientific knowledge provides explanations and understanding of the subtle infallible axiomatic meanings inherent in the words of the Glorious Revelation of the Qur'an.

Several ayat (verses) of the Qur'an emphasize the concept that mankind was fashioned as a pair of male and female from a small quantity of sperm. This precise understanding is given in the following text:

            " Allah created you from dust, then from a sperm drop, then He made you in pairs (11)" {Surah Fatir (The Originator Of Creation), XXXV}.

Also, a similar concept is given in the following text:

          " Allah fashioned the two of a pair, the male and female, from a small quantity (of sperm) poured out (46)" {Surah Al-Najm (The Star), LIII}.

Another inference on the same subject of sex determination is given in:

" Was mankind not a small quantity of sperm poured out, then became something that clings, and was then fashioned in proportion, and made of it the male and female (39)" {Surah Al-Qiyamah (The Resurrection), LXXV}.

The Glorious Qur'an  denotes several times that the mankind (male and female) was fashioned from a small quantity (of sperm) poured out into a firm  secure lodging; "Qarar Makeen" being the exact words used in the Arabic text of the Qur'anic verses 13 & 14 of the Surah Al-Mu'minoun (The Believers). These statements of the Qur'an in their intricate complex phrasing are allegoric in their designation of the pertinent established scientific facts on the subject of sex determination. Although modern science partly contributes to the understanding and interpretation of Qur'anic axiomatic quintessence in all avenues on knowledge, however, the words of the Glorious Qur'an will remain as the nascent primal fundamental genesis of all knowledge. Qur'anic statements will serve as the terms of reference in relation to which all scientific data are to be compared.

The current scientific concepts of sex determination of the human foetus indicate that the male gamete (sperm), that will successfully fertilized the female gamete (ovum), is the only factor that determines the sex of the  foetus. The (X) chromosome carrying sperm will produce a female foetus, and the (Y) chromosome carrying sperm will produce a male foetus. This knowledge of Embryology explains, interprets, and conforms with the Qur'anic statements on the subject, which are clearly mentioned in several verses (ayat) of the Qur'anic text; the Divine Words of the Creator, the Transcendent Supreme Being.

The Words of the Glorious Qur'an as an expression of the Holy Revelation addressing  the whole human race are certainly awarded the special rank of guarantee of authenticity. It presents scientific issues which appear today to challenge the most recent scientific discoveries. More than fourteen centuries before our present time, at a period when whimsical beliefs prevailed, the Divine Revelation of the Glorious Qur'an came with knowledge , the verses it contains express in precise truth issues that man has taken centuries to discover. The current knowledge of science is only the surface, and the reality of the Divine Truth inherent in the words of the Glorious Qur'an are a million fathoms deep… The more mankind advances of creation are revealed and understood, and the words of the Holy Qur'an will prove themselves as the seeds of all knowledge.

***

Dr. Karem S. Ghoneim

Professor of Faculty of Science, Al-Azhar University

Cairo, EGYPT