The Qur’an was revealed 600 years before the Muslim scientist Ibn Nafees described the circulation of the blood and 1,000 years before William Harwey brought this understanding to the Western world. Roughly thirteen centuries before it was known what happens in the intestines to ensure that organs are nourished by the process of digestive absorption, a verse in the Qur’an described the source of the constituents of milk, in conformity with these notions. To understand the Qur’anic verse concerning the above concepts, it is important to know that chemical reactions occur in the intestines and that, from there, substances extracted from food pass into the blood stream via a complex system; sometimes by way of the liver, depending on their chemical nature. The blood transports them to all the organs of the body, among which are the milk-producing mammary glands. In simple terms, certain substances from the contents of the intestines enter into the vessels of the intestinal wall itself, and these substances are transported by the blood stream to the various organs. This physiological concept must be fully appreciated if we wish to understand the following verses of the Qur’an:
“And verily in cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of what is inside their bodies, coming from a conjunction between the contents of the intestine and the blood, a milk pure and pleasant for those who drink it.”[Al-Qur’an 16:66]
“And in cattle (too) ye have an instructive example: from within their bodies We produce (milk) for you to drink; there are, in them, (besides), numerous (other) benefits for you; and of their (meat) ye eat.”[Al-Qur’an 23:21]
We have instructed man concerning his parents. Bearing him caused his mother great debility and the period of his weaning was two years: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. I am your final destination.” [Surah Luqman 31:14]
Mother’s milk is an unmatched mixture that is created by God as both an excellent food-source for the newborn baby, and a substance that increases its resistance to diseases. The balance of the nutriments in mother’s milk is at ideal levels, and the milk is in the ideal form for the baby’s as yet immature body. At the same time, mother’s milk is also very rich in nutrients which accelerate the growth of brain cells and the development of the nervous system. Even artificial baby food produced by today’s technology cannot substitute for this miraculous source of nutrition.
The list of advantages to the baby provided by mother’s milk is being added to every day. Research has shown that babies fed mother’s milk are particularly protected against infections concerning the respiratory and digestive systems. That is because the antibodies in mother’s milk provide a direct defense against infection. Other anti-infection properties of mother’s milk are that it provides a hospitable environment for “good” bacteria called “normal flora” and constitutes a barrier to harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites. Furthermore, it has also been established that there are factors in mother’s milk which order the immune system against infectious diseases and allow it to function properly.
[Source: “High-Risk Newborn-The Benefits of Mother’s Own Milk”, University of Utah Health Sciences Center]
Since mother’s milk has been specially designed it is the most easily digestible food for babies. Despite being nutritionally very rich, it is easily digested by the baby’s sensitive digestive system. Since the baby thus expends less energy on digestion it is able to use that energy for other bodily functions, growth and organ development.
The milk of mothers who have had premature babies contains higher levels of fat, protein, sodium, chloride and iron to meet the baby’s needs. Indeed, it has been established that the functions of the eye develop better in premature babies fed on mother’s milk, and that they perform better in intelligence tests, as well as a great many other advantages.
Another new scientific discovery regarding mother’s milk is that it is most beneficial to the baby for two years. This important information discovered by science only recently was revealed to us by God in the verse “… his weaning was two years…” 1400 years ago.