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Does the Quran say that bones come before flesh in verse 23:14?


Allah says in verse 23:14, “…then we made bones(idham) from this lump and clothed the bones with flesh(laham)…” which some people say is a scientific error since bones and flesh form together simultaneously in an embryo. Can you please clarify this issue for me, is this verse really wrong?



Thank you for your question. The literary aspect of the Qur’an is something that is quite complex and the part of the verse dealing with the formation of flesh and bones can be interpreted in more that one way. That being the case certain scientific discovery would aid us in preferring one interpretation over another. As the embryo forms both flesh and bone is formed and the statement could be interpreted as a simultaneous forming. It can also refer to the later stages of the embryonic formation when bone formation actually occurs and is surrounded by developing flesh. The statement can also be to simply indicate the whole process of physical creation where bones are clothed with flesh, rather than being of any scientific import. Interpreting verses in the light of science is a relatively recent phenomenon, which started when modernist thinkers wanted to portray Islam and the Qur’an as a religion of science in order to deal with the scientific age. It is not that the Qur’an is devoid of information that can be scientifically useful, but that is by no means the main purpose of the Qur’an. Its literary style in relation to this aspect of human development is quite beautiful and marvellous, and the Qur’an is by no means wrong taking into account the various possible interpretations above.

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