Friday, 23 December 2016

The Quran Says that Sperm is Created from between the Backbone and Ribs. Is it true?

The Quran Says that Sperm is Created from between the Backbone and Ribs. Is it true?

Understanding Verse 86:7 According to the Prophet’s Disciples, the Salaf, and the Classical Scholars


A Christian man named David Wood is claiming that the Quran says that semen is created from between the male’s backbone and his ribs. Modern science, however, tells us that semen comes from the testicles. David Wood is claiming that this proves that Prophet Muhammad was a false prophet. He, along with others, are making fun of the Prophet for not knowing where semen comes from.

The verse that David Wood cites is as follows:
Now let man but think From what he is created! He is created from A drop emitted—Proceedings from between the backbone (sulb) and the ribs (tara’ib). (Quran, 86:5-7)
Can you please clarify this issue?

Answer by Dr. Ibn al-Hashimi:

In the Name of Allah, the Most Glorious, the Most Beneficent.

I was asked by brother Bassam Zawadi to answer your question. He hoped that due to my medical background, I would be able to properly address your concern. However, the truth of the matter is that I did not even need a medical education to answer your question; rather, all that I needed was a bit of common sense. Insha-Allah, I will address your question in full detail, leaving no doubt in the matter.

Before I begin, I’d like to thank brother Bassam, and give a quick plug for his website, It’s an excellent website and a great resource for the English-speaking Muslims of the world. May God reward the tireless efforts of brother Bassam, who day in and day out combats the rising tide of Islamaphobia, which threatens peace and stability on this earth.

I’d also like to thank Shaykh Salman al-Oudah of, one of the greatest scholars of our time. This reply would not have been possible without him. May God reward him. 

The translation used by Mr. David Wood is horribly inaccurate. The correct translation of ‘sulb’ is not backbone, nor does the word ‘tara’ib’ indicate the man’s ribs. Let us review the verse in question:

So let man consider from what he is created. He is created from an emitted fluid that issued from between the sulb and the tara’ib. (86:5-7)
Mr. Wood has understood the verse to mean that both ‘sulb’ and ‘tara’ib’ refer to the male. In other words, the fluid emitted refers to the semen, and it comes out from in between the sulb and the tara’ib. However, the truth of the matter is that the word ‘tarai’b’—according to the Arabic—is actually referring to a female body part. Much like the English word ‘penis’ can only be ascribed to a male, the word ‘tara’ib’ can only be applied to a female. 
This is not apologetic modernism or revisionism; the classical works of Quranic commentary throughout the last 1400 years confirm this view categorically. In other words, the sulb belongs to the male, and the tara’ib belongs to the female. This is the view of the Muslims since the last fourteen hundred years, and there is consensus (ijma) on this matter, since the time of the Sahabah (the Prophet’s disciples) until today.

Shaykh `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî of writes:
The phrase “mâ’ dâfiq” (emitted fluid) is not restricted in meaning to sperm but is used in Arabic for both the sperm and the egg. Ibn Kathîr, in his commentary on this verse, writes: “It emanates from the man and the woman, and with Allah’s permission, the child comes forth as a product of both.”

…The words translated as “backbone” (sulb) and “ribs” (tarâ’ib) are not understood in Arabic to belong to the same person. Arabs understand the “sulb” to refer to a part of the male body and the “tarâ’ib” to a part of the female. Ibn Kathîr states: “It refers to the ‘sulb’ of the man and the ‘tarâ’ib’ of the woman…” He then quotes this interpretation on the authority of the Prophet’s companion Ibn `Abbâs. This same understanding is given in all the major classical works of Qur’anic commentary.
Many non-Arabs misinterpret this verse because they think that sulb and tara’ib refer to different body parts of the male. In reality, tara’ib is feminine, and refers to the female’s body part. For fourteen hundred years, all of the scholars have held this belief, and not a single classical scholar has ever differed on this point. The reason is that the Arabic makes it clear that tara’ib refers to a feminine body part, and not a male one. 

Lane’s Lexicon says:
Tara’ib: … most of the authors on strange words affirm decidedly that it (tara’ib) is peculiar to women. (Lane’s Lexicon, p.301) 
All of the major commentaries of the Quran confirm that the tara’ib is peculiar to women. Ibn Katheer writes in his tafseer (commentary) of the Quran:

It (fluid) emanates from the man and the woman, and with Allah’s permission, the child comes forth as a product of both. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer)

Tafseer al-Jalalayn says:
Issuing from between the sulb, of the man, and the tara’ib, of the woman. (Tafseer Al-Jalalayn)
Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafseer Ibn Abbas says:
That issued from between the sulb of the man and the tara’ib of a woman.
(Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafseer Ibn Abbas)

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