One of the life-changing stages in a woman’s life is pregnancy and the birth of a child. Throughout the 9 months, a world of wonders and miracles shape in a woman’s body. But what can we learn about pregnancy in Quran?
The Noble Book of Allah discusses the formation of a fetus and other relevant issues in 41 surahs and 76 verses. Through the verses on pregnancy in the Quran, God wants us to look carefully at His signs, then take a step back and observe the larger picture and see His power and Wisdom in the creation of the universe and His power in once again reviving everything on the Day of Qiyamah.
What the Quran says about pregnancy
Pregnancy in the Quran is the topic of 41 chapters of the Muslim’s divine book. The issues discussed are:
- Preconception and the influential factors (17:64)
- The development of the fetus from preconception to full development (23:12-14)
- Acknowledging the hardships of pregnancy (31:14)
- Moment of birth (19:23)
Factors influencing a child before pregnancy in the Quran
Many caring parents start the process of their child’s upbringing from the 9 months of pregnancy onwards. Smarter parents start it from even before conception by observing how they earn money, what they eat, do, and say.
The Noble Quran mentions how Satan can become partners with human beings and share in their wealth and offspring. This point in Surah Isra:
وَشَارِكْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ
and share with them in wealth and children 1
According to a narration, what is earned through Haram money is what is shared with Satan. This shared possession is with the man until the time of his intercourse with his wife. His child will be the shared result of the man and Satan. 2
An indication of a partner of Satan is he who has no fear of saying what he pleases, or what others say about him, also one who uses bad language and backbites. 3 Haram food has a quick and deep impact on the soul of mankind. It is strange how we all care so much about the calories, nutrients, appearance, and quality of our food yet ignore the spiritual quality of it.
Surahs best to be recited during pregnancy in the Quran
There are many Surahs which are advised to be read and listened to during pregnancy:
- Surah Hujurat
The Messenger of Allah (S) advises the recitation of surah Hujurat as it helps in preventing miscarriages during pregnancy.
- Surah Qadr (97)
- Surah Mulk (67)
- Surah Tawhid (112)
- Surah Al Imran (3)
- Reciting Ayatul Kursi, (2:255) every day
- Surah Dahr (76)
- Surah Qadr (97)
- Surah Nasr (110)
- Surah ‘Asr (103)
- Surah Inshiqaq (84) and Zariyat (51) for easy delivery
Hardships of pregnancy in the Quran
We read of the hardships a woman experiences through her pregnancy in the Quran in Surah Luqman where all people, Muslim and non-Muslim are advised regarding their parents, particularly their mothers.
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ ﴿14﴾
We have enjoined man concerning his parents: His mother carried him through weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years. Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is the return. 4
In the Islamic teachings, children are to acknowledge the efforts put by their parents, especially their mothers and to show their gratitude towards God and their parents.
What the Quran says about the fetus
Since the creation of mankind on the face of planet earth, he has been interested in the secrets and details of surrounding events, one of which is the process of formation and development of a child in the womb of its mother.
Embryology is a modern science which has evolved with the invention of microscopes in the 17th century. The development of the human fetus in stages became the focus of researchers at a later time. Fascinatingly, God talks of the stages of pregnancy in the Quran at a time when there was no technology advancement and microscopes.
When you look at the different phases of pregnancy in the Quran, you are filled with awe and astonishment. Three verses of surah Muminun beautifully describe the journey of the fetus:
1. The original creation of humankind from clay
وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ مِنْ سُلَالَةٍ مِنْ طِينٍ
Certainly We created man from an extract of clay. 5
The word creation (Khalq) means that in order to make something, you take the right measurement of every ingredient.
Imagine that a complicated creature like a human being is created from clay where God carefully designed the ingredients and then chose the right amount of each and made the human being. That is why at the end of verse 14 of chapter Muminun, the verse on the stages of pregnancy in the Quran, God applauds and praises Himself as He is the best of creators.
2. Fertilization and implantation of the seminal drop
ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَكِينٍ
Then We made him a drop of [seminal] fluid [lodged] in a secure abode. 6
At the very outset of pregnancy in the Quran, God makes sure that this new creation is lodged in a secure place.
3. This drop of fluid turns into a mass clinging in the uterus through the umbilical cord
ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً
Then We created the drop of fluid as a clinging mass.
4. The embryo turns into a fleshy tissue
فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً
Then We created the clinging mass as a fleshy tissue.
5. The formation of bones in the fetus by the end of 5th week after conception
فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا
Then We created the fleshy tissue as bones.
6. In the 7th and 8th weeks, the bones are covered with flesh
فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا
Then We clothed the bones with flesh.
7. Pregnancy in the Quran: The soul is blown into the fetus
Up until this point of explaining the different stages of pregnancy in the Quran, the material and physical aspect of the formation of a human being is the issue of discussion. From this point on, a new chapter starts in one’s life. This is when a spiritual dimension is introduced in the issue of pregnancy in the Quran.
ثُمَّ أَنْشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ
Then We produced him as [yet] another creature. 7
Elsewhere in the Quran, God tells us of how He made our progeny from a base fluid 8, proportioned him, and then blew into him His soul.
ثُمَّ سَوَّاهُ وَنَفَخَ فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِهِ
He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit. 9
What will the baby look like?
All expectant women wonder what their child will look like once it is born. God the Almighty answers this concern:
هُوَ الَّذِي يُصَوِّرُكُمْ فِي الْأَرْحَامِ كَيْفَ يَشَاءُ ۚ
He it is Who shapes you in the wombs as He likes; 10
The same God who shapes the fetus in the womb and provides its safety, security and nutrition, has designed a comprehensive program for the life of that human by sending prophets and divine books and determining divine laws for the happiness of that human in this world and the next.
The duration of pregnancy in the Quran
Allah (SWT) mentions that He only knows the exact duration of every female’s term of pregnancy in the Quran. He knows exactly if a fetus will be aborted or not, if the baby will come before or after the due date. Moreover, only He knows whether what a female is carrying is healthy or not or if it’s a male or female:
اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَحْمِلُ كُلُّ أُنْثَىٰ وَمَا تَغِيضُ الْأَرْحَامُ وَمَا تَزْدَادُ ۖ وَكُلُّ شَيْءٍ عِنْدَهُ بِمِقْدَارٍ
Allah knows what every female carries [in her womb], and what the wombs reduce and what they increase, and everything is by [precise] measure with Him. 11
Praying during pregnancy in the Quran
Pregnancy is a period when the parents get more directly involved with the marvels of the creation of a human being and is a chance to get closer to their Lord and supplicate for a healthy child who would become the joy of their eyes. We read in the surah Araf,
فَلَمَّا أَثْقَلَتْ دَعَوَا اللَّهَ رَبَّهُمَا لَئِنْ آتَيْتَنَا صَالِحًا لَنَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الشَّاكِرِينَ
When she had grown heavy, they both invoked Allah, their Lord: ‘If You give us a healthy [child], we will be surely grateful.’ 12
Preterm pregnancy in the Quran
The Quran talks about preterm babies who are born in the 6th month of pregnancy and remain alive.
وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ
the bearing of him and the weaning of him was thirty months 13
Elsewhere, the quran mentions two years as the weaning period of a child. So it’s a simple calculation.
Pregnancy + weaning = 30 months
X + 24 months = 30 months
X = 6 months.
Giving birth in the Quran
The time of giving birth is definitely one of the hardest yet sweetest moments in a woman’s life. This stage of pregnancy in the Quran has been pictured in the case of Lady Maryam.
فَأَجَاءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَىٰ جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ قَالَتْ يَا لَيْتَنِي مِتُّ قَبْلَ هَٰذَا وَكُنْتُ نَسْيًا مَنْسِيًّا
The birth pangs brought her to the trunk of a date palm. She said, ‘I wish I had died before this and become a forgotten thing, beyond recall.’ 14
The birth bangs were so strong that she stopped by a tree trunk and prayed she had died long before this moment.
The beautiful point about Islamic teachings is that all these hardships and efforts are seen and appreciated by Almighty God and mothers hold a unique position in the eyes of God. No wonder that Prophet Muhammad (S) says in a hadith, ‘Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.’
Question about pregnancy in the Quran: At which stage of pregnancy is the sex of the baby determined?
Answer: At the time of conception.
There is a beautiful verse with regards to the sex of the child which states:
وَأَنَّهُ خَلَقَ الزَّوْجَيْنِ الذَّكَرَ وَالْأُنْثَىٰ مِنْ نُطْفَةٍ إِذَا تُمْنَىٰ
that it is He who created the mates, the male and the female, from a drop of [seminal] fluid when emitted. 15
There are a number of points in this verse on pregnancy in the Quran:
- God is the one with the power of creation
- He creates the male and the female, with quite distinct qualities from a drop of fluid
- This pair is needed for the continuation of the human species
- At the time of conception (When the seminal fluid is emitted in the woman’s uterus) the sex of the baby is determined
What does the Quran say about human development from fetus to adulthood?
In Surah Hajj verse 5, God mentions the process of the formation and life stages of a human being to show an instance of His power and provide a strong proof for the occurrence of Qiyamah. Just as God creates us from dust and to dust we return, we shall once again be brought back to life, this time an everlasting one.
God makes a beautiful comparison between pregnancy in the Quran and the life stages of a human being after birth with nature in the same verse.
وَتَرَى الْأَرْضَ هَامِدَةً فَإِذَا أَنْزَلْنَا عَلَيْهَا الْمَاءَ اهْتَزَّتْ وَرَبَتْ وَأَنْبَتَتْ مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ بَهِيجٍ
And you see the earth torpid, yet when We send down water upon it, it stirs and swells, and grows every delightful kind [of plant]. 16
The story of the universe with all its diversities and different species follows a unique order and a special kind of unity is vivid. Shouldn’t that serve as a divine sign for us?
Does Allah mean womb?
No, Allah does not mean the womb. But there is a connection between the word womb (Rahem) and the attributes of Allah, al-Rahman and al-Rahim.
Al-Rahman means God’s mercy encompasses all, believers and non-believers. Al-Rahim means that God’s special mercy is for the believers.
وَكَانَ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَحِيمًا
He is most merciful to the faithful. 17
Now the word womb is ‘Rahem’ in the Arabic language meaning a place filled with mercy and compassion. A tiny sperm enters it, and gradually, joined with the egg, they make up a beautiful human being.
Is contraception Haram in Islam?
No, contraception is not haram in Islam. According to Sayyid Sistani, a woman is allowed to use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy, if it does not harm her health in a serious manner, irrespective of whether or not the husband has agreed to it. 18
Often we get too entangled in life and become so busy with life events that lose touch with the reality and the purpose behind creation. Pregnancy in the Quran has been mentioned as one of the signs of God’s wisdom, knowledge, and power.
سَنُرِيهِمْ آيَاتِنَا فِي الْآفَاقِ وَفِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ ۗ أَوَلَمْ يَكْفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ
Soon We shall show them Our signs in the horizons and in their own souls until it becomes clear to them that He is the Real. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness to all things? 19
God is a witness to all that we do, so we ought to fear Him and act based on piety and modesty.
- The Quran, 17:64 (Qarai).
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 101, p. 136.
- Tafsir of Nur al-Thaqalain.
- The Quran, 31:14 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 23:12 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 23:12 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 23:12-14 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 32:8.
- The Quran, 32:9 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 3:6 (Shakir).
- The Quran, 13:8 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 7:189 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 46:15 (Shakir).
- The Quran, 19:23 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 53:45-46 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 22:5 (Qarai).
- The Quran, 33:43 (Qarai).
- Ayatollah Sistani
- The Quran, 41:53 (Qarai).