Sura Insan (Human) No. 76 (verses 1-4)





1. Has there not been over Man a long period of Time when he was a thing not worth mentioning?

2. Surely We created Man from a drop of mingled semen, in order to try him: so We gave him hearing and sight.

3. Surely We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (is up to him) .

4. We have prepared Chains, Yokes and a Blazing Fire for the Rejecters.


We transformed the lowly mixture of sperm (and egg) into Man, then We made all the faculties of guidance available to him.

Though most of the details in this Sura are about Resurrection and the Blessings of Heaven, there is, at the beginning of the Sura, some discussion on the creation of Man. It becomes understood that if one takes note of the creation then one may be able to act cautiously in anticipation of the Resurrection.

The question is asked, " Has there not been over Man a long period of Time when he was a thing not worth mentioning?" The answer, undoubtedly, is in the affirmative.

For a long time the tiny essential particles of his being were scattered in different places. They could have been in the soil, among the tiny droplets of water in the seas, or in the atmosphere. In fact, each of these three environments was so vast that the particles were lost within them and were so small as not to be worthy of mention.

Does the term 'Man', in the first verse, refer to all the members of mankind or does it only refer to 'Adam'? The next verse continues: " Surely we created 'Man' from a drop of mingled semen..." so, we can say this is a clear indication that it is referring to all of mankind; {since it is a known fact that this is definitely how Man reproduces. and not by any other means. It is not a condition of coming into existence only for Adam.}

However, some commentators believe that the term 'Man', in the first verse, refers to 'Adam' and that 'Man', in the second verse, indicates 'mankind' as a whole. However, this seems to be a contradiction in thought and does not appear to be probable.

In the following sentence, "...he was considered a thing not worth mentioning?" , there are various ideas put forth on this issue and one of them is that when Man was but mingled sperm (and egg) , he was not worthy of mention, however, later when the entity possessed the higher stage of development it became a worthy being.

[It has been narrated from Imam Baqir (p.b.u.h.) . the fifth Imam, that Man's existence was known to Allah', even though he was not mentioned as being a worthy entity until Allah created him in the physical form.] (1)

Other interpretations indicate that the term 'Man', in this verse, means 'learned people' who were not recognized at first, but subsequently became so, after having obtained their knowledge. They were, then, mentioned everywhere, among all people, while they were alive and even after their death.

Now, we come to the process of the second stage which is the creation of Man and his becoming worthy of mention. The verse says, "Surely We created Man from a drop of mingled semen, in order to try him:so We gave him hearing and sight." The term /amshaj/ is the plural form of /mashaj/ or /mashij/ which means 'mingled' or 'mixed'. The creating of Man from 'mingled semen' probably refers to the mixture of sperm and egg and their unification, or (1) Majma'-al-Bayan, vol. 10. p. 406.

it could refer to the various talents possessed by man through heritage; which exists in the genes, DNA, and Chromosomes that are in every sperm and egg. Or, perhaps it refers to a combination of all of the aforementioned cases. If so, the last idea is the most complete and suitable.

It may be possible that the term 'mingled' refers to the process of development, upon unification of sperm and egg; which leads the mixture to develop into a foetus and then into Man. With the term /nabtalih/"We try him...", we can understand that Man deserves the honor of duty, undertaking, responsibility, examination and trial, which is one of the greatest divine blessings Allah has gifted to Man.

Since duty and examination are not possible unless there is awareness; hence, hearing and sight are given to Man. This fact is mentioned at the end of the verse; making it clear for us that the former cannot exist without the latter.

Some commentators have also suggested that the intention for the examination is the process of developing the sperm to foetus and, then, to a complete Man. However, upon careful examination of the phrase "We try him..." and "Man", the first interpretation seems more suitable.

By accepting this definition, we can understand that the origin in all of the conception of 'Man' is in his sensational understanding. In other words, sensational understanding is the basis of all rationalities. Most Islamic philosophers support this idea and Aristotle, the famous Greek philosopher, approved of the idea, as well.

Since, in the duty and examination of 'Man', two more factors are required, that is, 'guidance' and 'free-will' are added to understanding; the next verse insists, then, that "Surely We guided him to the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (is up to him) ."

Guidance, it can be said, has a broad meaning containing the following three branches: divine guidance, natural guidance and religious guidance. This verse, of course, mostly intends to convey the third branch, i.e. 'religious guidance'.


Since Allah has created Man with a special goal in mind: 'examination and development' , He has prepared the necessary faculties for these fulfilments in his being. This can be considered 'divine guidance'.

Thereupon, He has made Man naturally eager to follow the Way and with the help of his natural inclinations, has shown him its direction. This can be considered natural guidance'.

Further, He has given a mission to some heavenly leaders and great prophets in order for them to train Man, show him the right direction and teach him the clear religious laws; so that he may perform his duty correctly. This can be considered 'religious guidance'. These three kinds of guidance, of course, are for all members of mankind; without any exception.

On the whole, this verse indicates three points which are important for the destiny in the life of Man: 'duty', 'guidance' and 'free-will'; all of which are both interdependent and complementary to each other. By the way, there will be no room for the case of fatalism to exist when it says: " Surely We guided him to the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (is up to him) ."

The terms /shakiran/ 'grateful' and /kafuran/ 'ungrateful' are the most fitting, here, because those who obey Allah and assume to follow His guidance are thankful, but those who disobey and do not follow the direction are sinners gone astray.

No one can be completely thankful for Allah's blessings, but those who repay this favor with ingratitude are the worst. They have neither appreciation for Allah guidance nor the many ways that He has provided this guidance; which are always available. (In Arabic, there is only one term used for those who are 'ungrateful' and for the 'unbelievers': /kafur/.The same is noted in Mufradat by Raqib) .

In the next verse, there is a short, but meaningful point that relates to the fate of those who are ungrateful; it says: "We have prepared Chains, Yokes and a Blazing Fire for the Rejecters.

The sense derived from the term /a'tadna/, " We have prepared... is, an emphasis on the existence of punishment; which is unavoidable for the rejecters. We know that preparation is for common people who are limited in their abilities and must make prior arrangements for their supplies, so that when they are in need they are sure that they will have everything ready. This is not true when speaking of Allah because whenever JI Wills something to "Be" , it will be done at once and preparation is meaningless. However, to show the certainty of the existence of punishment for the rejecters, He insists that there is a means for the punishment; it is ready-made and there is no doubt about it.

Further along in the sentence, we see that /salasil/ 'chains' is the plural form of /silsilah/ which, here, means: 1.) A flexible series of jointed links or rings usually of some kind of metal. 2.) That which binds, as a prisoner held in chains. The term /aqlal/ 'yokes' is the plural form of 'qul' 'yoke' which means: a wooden frame or bar with loops or bows at either end, used for harnessing together a pair of oxen, etc. Here, 'yoke', is a heavy iron ring held on the neck or hands and is fastened with a chain.

On the whole, chains, yokes and blazing fire, which are mentioned in this verse, indicate a great harmful punishment for the rejecters. This sense is also pointed out in several other verses of the Qur'an. They denote both captivity and torture as punishment.

Man's using his free-will for following after his lusts during his lifetime, in this world, will be the reason for that pain in the next life. In fact, that 'blazing fire' that man will encounter later, is the incarnation of the fire he, himself, has made by his evil deeds in this world.


We know that the human zygote is an entity formed by the unification of the male sperm and the female egg. The sperm, itself, its combination with the egg and the different steps of fetal development into Man is a great marvel in human existence. Some of the mysteries have been uncovered in the study of embryology, but there are some further areas yet to be discovered. A few of the above mentioned wonders are as follows:

1. Sperm: Floating in the semen of men is a very microscopic creature that has a head, neck and moving tail. (And what a miracle it is!: The tail propels it through the inhospitable environment, inside the vagina, on its journey to fertilize the egg. The environment of the vagina is very acidic and there are only a certain number of days in a month in which the platens are vertical, in the female secretions, so that the spermatozoa can travel the distance without hindrance. At other times the platens are in a hodge-podge array and this makes it virtually impossible for the sperm to move in a straight line. Also, some of the spermatozoa may be deformed and unable, themselves, to make the journey.)

Every time a man has an ejaculation, he discharges, in the seminal fluid, an average of 70 million sperm per milliliter or 100 million spermatozoa or more--this is equal to the population of several countries, but only one of them, most usually, succeeds in entering the ovum so that fertilization can take place. (1) This number is very large because, as mentioned above, many of the spermatozoa will be destroyed on their long and arduous journey.

2. Egg: The wonderful characteristic of the egg is that it allows one sperm to enter it. (However, on rare occasions more than one sperm enters resulting in 'identical' twins or more than one egg is released from the ovum sac resulting in 'fraternal' twins) . Also, within the egg the miraculous cell division process takes place.

3. Uterus: The uterus is a muscular organ and serves as a place for reception, retention, and nutrition of the conceptus, which it expels during labor. It resembles a flattened pear in shape and the size varies depending on the age of the female. The remarkable ability of the cervix to dilate results from dissociation of collagen. The blood supply of the uterus is derived principally from the uterine and ovarian arteries.

4. Amnionic Fluid: The foetus is in a thick, essentially colorless, fluid in a sac called the 'placenta'. This fluid protects the foetus against the (1) Williams Obstetrics, 15th Edition, p. 87.

mother's various quick, sharp movements or any other violent disturbances. Moreover, it regulates the foetal temperature, so that the changes in the outside temperature cannot easily effect it. The most interesting point is that, most generally, the fluid keeps the foetus in a weightless state, which is very efficient and prevents limb stress.

5. Placenta and Cord: The foetus receives nourishment through the placenta and umbilical cord. The mothers' blood is accompanied by food materials and oxygen that arrives at the placenta and after a refining process goes to the foetus' heart through the umbilical cord and then moves through its body.

6. Conception: After fertilization, the mature ovum becomes a zygote, which then undergoes segmentation. Some biological scientists believe that the ovum carries positive electric charges and the sperm has negative electric charges, then they attract each other. However, when the sperms enter the ovum, the charge is changed to a negative charge. In so doing, the other sperms in the surrounding area will be repelled.

Other scientists maintain that when the sperm enters the egg, some chemicals will be released causing the remaining spermatozoa to move away. Whichever the case may be, in a couple of days the zygote attaches itself to the wall of the uterine cavity. From there, if there are no complications in the growth and development process, a new being will enter this world.

From the beginning of the fourth month, the foetus is capable of respiratory movement sufficiently intense to move amnionic fluid in and out of the respiratory tract. (1) Air-breathing is initiated by the rapid replacement of bronchial and alveolar fluid by air. (2)

(1) Williams Obstetrics, 15th Edition, p. 158.

(2) Williams Obstetrics, 15th Edition, p. 385.