Who are we in the Koran

Sura 23 verses 12-14The creation of man from a blood clot

"And verily, we created man out of a substance of clay. Then we put him as a drop of seed in a safe resting place. Then we formed the drop into a blood clot; then we formed the blood clot into a lump of flesh; then we formed the lump of flesh into bones ; then we clothed the bones with flesh; then we evolved it into another creation. "

The Qur'anic verses about the creation of man are in the context of one of the central teachings that Mohammed brought to his social environment. It was the idea of ​​physical resurrection at the end of the world. Linked to this was the idea that on this day all people will be accountable for their deeds.

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In no way were these ideas that were completely new to Mohammed's environment. Again and again the Koran presupposes the existence of religious groups such as Jews, Christians or others who have quite comparable views.

The criticism of the idea of ​​physical resurrection had never ceased, however, certainly also within the respective religious traditions. In essence, she kept aiming at the same question: How is that supposed to work if the body does crumble after death?

The answer that the Koran gives in the quoted passages is ultimately the reference to God's omnipotence: "God can do that!" At the beginning of the world God was able to create Adam out of earthen matter and he lets every person emerge from a drop. Of course, he can then also let the body rise again on Judgment Day! That’s the conviction.

Similar statements as in the quoted verses can be read in sura 22 verse 5. If one looks at the passages immediately before and after the two Koran passages, the eschatological connection becomes abundantly clear. Both times the talk is of the end of the world and both times the audience is asked to change their behavior. In the Koran there are further examples in which this complex of topics is linked with the motif of the origin of human life in the womb.

Nowhere else, however, is the picture of prenatal life so differentiated as in verses 23: 12 to 14 and 22: 5. Here we speak of a process in several stages, which mainly goes through drops, blood clots and lumps of flesh. Sura 22 verse 5 describes the lump of meat as "partly formed" and "partly unshaped".

The Koran uses a concept of prenatal development that goes back to ancient Greek medicine. Obviously, this is assumed to be known by the audience.

In this respect, too, the Koran can be clearly positioned in the great theological debates of its time. In them, concepts of ancient Greek medicine were, so to speak, illustratively related to core theological statements.

In addition to the obvious similarities between the two passages, there are also differences. While Sura 22: 5 speaks very explicitly of life both before and after birth, the verses quoted at the beginning only speak explicitly of the unborn. Then it goes on to say: "Then we developed it into another creation".

What was meant by this? The birth? The resurrection? In the first centuries of interpretation of the Koran, different answers were discussed here. In the end, the interpretation that the individual animation of the embryo is meant has largely prevailed. This idea can also be found explicitly in the traditional sayings of Muhammad.