Al Alaqa ( Leech-like clot)
The stage of Alaqa starts on the 15th day and ends on the 23rd or 24th day, after which the embryo is gradually developed and looks like a leech, which lives in ponds (Figure 1).
Alaqa hangs to the lining of the uterus by the umbilical cord. Blood is then formed in the vessels at the shape of closed islands, and is not circulated in blood vessels, thus having the image of clotted blood.
Although it is in the nature of human body to expel any external matter, the uterus does not reject the alaqa implanted in its lining despite the fact that half of the alaqa components and genes are from an external source (the father). This is because the region of syncytial cells in alaqa has no antigens.
It is noteworthy that the primitive streak is created at first on the day 14th or 15th, in which the primitive node appears (Figure 2). Out of this primitive streak, stem cells are composed, as well as the sources of the main tissues of Mesoderm, Ectoderm and Endoderm, which will form the different organs and tissues of the body as seen in (Figure 3). At the end of the 3rd week, the primitive streak shrinks and the remnant stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining of stem cells in this region. This explains why some tumors in the coccygeal region which is called Teratoma (Figure 4) can contain different tissues (muscles, skin, cartilage, bones and teeth as well), contrary to the tumors that exist in different regions and take its toll on one definite tissue.
Reflections and comments on related Quranic verses and Sunnah:
Transformation process from nutfa to alaqa takes more than 10 days till the zygote clings to the primitive placenta by way of a connecting stalk which later becomes the umbilical cord. Therefore, the Quranic statement uses the conjunction article (thumma) in Arabic, indicating sequence of events with time delay and not using (fa) which also means "then" but indicates rapid progression without any delay. Quran states:
(ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً) (سورة المؤمنون14)
“then of that fluid-drop (nutfa) We created a leech-like clot" (Quran 23:14) .
Alaqa, in Arabic, has several meanings:
1. A leech that lives in ponds and sucks the blood of other creatures.
2. A thing attached or clings to something else.
3. Clotted or coagulated blood.
All these meanings fit exactly with the reality of the human embryo after being implanted in the lining of uterus (endometrium), as the embryo looks like a leech, as shown in (Figure 5), while clinging to the endometrium through the umbilical cord (Figure 6), blood vessels initiated in the form of closed islands giving it the image of a clotted blood (Figure 7)
A quick transformation then occurs from alaqa to mudgha within two days (day 24 to day 26). Therefore, the Quran describes this rapid change with the use of the conjunctive article (fa) (i.e., then) in Arabic, to indicate rapid progression of transformation :
(فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً) (المؤمنون: 14)
“then We changed the Alaqa (leech-like clot) into a Mudgha (chewed-like lump) ” (Quran 23: 14).
So even the use of different conjunctive articles has miraculous indications, reflecting the difference in embryonic stages.
Thus, the stage of alaqa is the second stage of embryonic stages, and is mentioned in the Quran in several verses. He the Almighty says;
(أَلَمْ يَكُ نُطْفَةً مِنْ مَنِيٍّ يُمْنَى . ثُمَّ كَانَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقَ فَسَوَّى . فَجَعَلَ مِنْهُ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالأُنثَى) (القيامة: 37-39)
“Was he not a drop of sperm emitted (in lowly form)? Then did he become a leech-like clot; then did (Allah) make and fashion (him) in due proportion. And of him He made two sexes, male and female.”(Quran 75: 37-39).
And in a surah called al-alaq, i.e., a leech-like clot, Allah says;
( خلق الإنسان من علق ) (العلق 2)
“ (We) Created man, out of a leech-like clot.” (Quran 96: 2).
Further to the point of primitive streak, it is the first to be created in embryo, and out of which, stem cells are composed, as well as the different organs and tissues; and at the end of the 3rd week, it shrinks, and its remaining stays in the sacrococcygeal region at the end of the spine, maintaining the remaining stem cells in this region. This explains and coincides with the speech of the Prophet (PBUH) which was narrated by Abu Huraira in Ahmad’s book “Al Musnad”:
“All of the son of Adam decays, and is eaten by dust except for the coccyx, of which man is created and in which man is re-built.”
So, cells which form the tissues and the organs of man are placed in coccyx and out of which man is re-created. Verily said the Prophet of Allah .
Here a very important question arises: why did the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) raise such a scientific issue at a time no one was aware of, and how had he acquired such knowledge if he was not bound up with inspiration and taught by the creator of heaven and earth? The answer is that Allah the Almighty knows with His encompassing knowledge that man will come to know one day the embryonic stages of development, and will know the role of the primitive streak, so He inspired prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to speak out such a fact to be a witness on the genuineness of his prophethood and message, that fits every time and age.
By: Dr. Sharif Kaf Al-Ghazal