"Verily the creation of everyone of you is brought together in the mother's womb as a drop of semen for forty days, then it becomes a clot for the same period, then it becomes a blob of flesh for the same period. Then the angel will be sent unto it to blow into it a spirit (rooh), and the angel is ordered (to carry out) four instructions: to write down his livelihood, the span of his life, his deeds, and either he is wretched or fortunate..." And so goes the first part of one of the most well-known hadeeth recorded by Imaam al-Bukhari and Imaam Muslim on the subject of Qadr (predestination).
The significance of this Hadeeth is that science has recently verified this process of embryo/fetus development.
That is, six weeks, roughly 40 days after fertilisation, the embryo is developed from zygote - sperm and ovary - to an embryo. Then in another 6 weeks, roughly another 40 days, it develops into a fetus (a clot); after which for about the same period, again roughly another 40 days, it develops into the recognisable human form (a blob of flesh).
Science has also verified that the fetus can think. Before 120 days the fetus does not think,
"The brain of the fetus appears to be electrically silent during the first six weeks of life. After this time, slowly activities of low intensity occurs. So although the brain is at least 'moving', it is not 'thinking' in any real sense." (The Thinking Fetus)
But after 120 days, when the spirit (rooh) enters the fetus, brain activities take place,
"The fetus becomes conscious sometime during the second trimester...There is ultrasound evidence that about 23 weeks (161 days) the fetus dreams. Dreaming is certainly an indication of the presence of the mental capabilities required for thought..." (The Thinking Foetus)
There are numerous other things which the fetus can do in this period. Such as expressing emotions (happiness, fear, disgust etc.) through it's facial expressions. It can show anxiety through the sucking of the thumb, assert itself and protest through kicking, and it develops memory.
One other important development during this stage is the ability to distinguish and recognise sounds. Experiments have been carried out that proved this:
When words were repeated by the mother to her fetus, after it is born, the baby will prefer,
- a story that has been read twice a day to it, when it was a fetus, to a new one.
- a newborn will recognize and copy its mother's words.
- when a theme music to a program was played, a newborn whose mother watched the show during pregnancy, will calm down.
What is significant about this is that babies can be taught some Surahs (chapters) from the Qur'aan while they were in their mother's womb.
Imagine if you were to read the Qur'aan everyday to your fetus, by the time it is born, inshaa' Allah, it will prefer the Qur'aan over other books and sounds. It will recognise the Qur'aan and try to copy it, and it will use the recitation of the Qur'aan to find solace. Is that not what we all want for ourselves, let alone for your child? Imagine your reward when you have bestowed, with Allah's Grace, this tremendous gift on your child. Your reward will be two-fold: one for you reciting the Qur'aan, the other for you and your child for having taught him the Qur'aan.
Even if you cannot read the whole Quran, whatever you can read, inshaa' Allah, will benefit the both of you. A few surahs twice a day will engender, Allah Willing, a love of the Quran in your child.
So the next time that you are pregnant, or if you are pregnant now, inshaa' Allah, instead of watching T.V. or listening to music, reach for the Qur'aan and start reciting.
'The Thinking Foetus', Better Parenting, Vol 1, No 1, pg, 22.