360 Joints Miracle

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The 360 joints (or bones) miracle refers to a claim in the hadith, or Islamic supplementary scripture, which implies that Muhammad knew more about the anatomy of the human body than was understood in his time. This claim has been heralded as a miracle by some believers and Islamic apologists. Critics disagree with the miracle pointing out evidence that humans have fewer bones and joints than described.


Mafsil (مفصل)

Mafsilin is a genitive form and mafsilan is an accusative form of the word mafsil.

Here is another hadith where mafsil refers to joints:

وعن أسماء بنت يزيد رضي الله عنها قالت‏:‏ كان كم قميص رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى الرصغ، ‏(‏‏(‏رواه أبو داود، والترمذي، وقال‏:‏ حديث حسن‏)‏‏)‏‏.‏

The English translation says: "Asma' bint Yazid (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The sleeves of the shirt of Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) reached his wrists (الرصغ)."

In Arabic it also explains the word الرصف (wrist): "‏ - "هو المفصل بين الكف والساعد‏.‏"It is a joint (المفصل, al-mafsil) between the palm and forearm."

Riyad as-Salihin 1:519 [1]

And Lane's lexicon also refers to the term as joints:

مَفْصِل any place of meeting [or juncture, as being a place of separation,] of two bones of the body and limbs or members;
Lane's lexicon p. 2407 (root فصل)

There is also a similar word mufassal (مُفَصَّل), which refers to certain suras:

Narrated Abu Wail: We went to `Abdullah in the morning and a man said, "Yesterday I recited all the Mufassal Suras." On that `Abdullah said, "That is very quick, and we have the (Prophet's) recitation, and I remember very well the recitation of those Suras which the Prophet (ﷺ) used to recite, and they were eighteen Suras from the Mufassal, and two Suras from the Suras that start with Ha Mim.

It has a similar meaning to joint. The suras have many breaks ("joints") in them.

Al-Mufassal refers to the short soorahs of the Qur’aan which have many breaks between them, in which the Basmalah (“Bismillah al-Rahmaan al-Raheem”) appears. They are called mufassal (divided) because a lot of breaks appear in them.
Islam Q&A [2]

Sulaama (سلامى)

This word however seems to rather refer to bones. Online Arabic dictionary almaany says:


bone of digit - phalanax

- a bone of finger or toe
almaany.com سلامى [3]

According to Lane's lexicon it means camel bone:

سلامى, a noun of the fem. gender, (Msb,) A certain bone that is in the فرسن [q. v., here meaning foot] of the camel.
Lane's Lexicon, p. 1416 (root سلم)

So now it is not clear. Did he mean joints or bones or both or did he consider them to be the same thing?

Here it is also worth noting that this word is from the same root as the word Islam (إسلام). Muslim apologists like to claim that Islam is a religion of peace just because the word salaam (سلام), meaning peace in Arabic, shares the same root with the word Islam. Now does it mean that Islam is a religion of bones/joints, when we consider that sulaama is derived from the same root سلم as Islam?

'Azm (عظم)

This word is clear. It definitely means bones. This word is used in many other hadiths and also in the Qur'an.

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that A'isha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to say, "Breaking the bone (عَظْمِ) of a Muslim when he is dead is like breaking it when he is alive." She meant if done in wrong action.
Muwatta Malik, Book 16, Hadith 45 and many others [4]
What! when we are rotten bones (عِظَٰمًا)?
Quran 79:11 and many others [5]

So it is quite possible that Muhammad meant bones.

Relevant Quotations

'A'isha reported Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

Every one of the children of Adam has been created with three hundred and sixty joints (مَفْصِلٍ, mafsilin); so he who declares the Glory of Allah, praises Allah, declares Allah to be One, Glorifies Allah, and seeks forgiveness from Allah, and removes stone, or thorn, or bone from people's path, and enjoins what is good and forbids from evil, to the number of those three hundred and sixty joints (or bones?) (السُّلاَمَى, as-sulaama), will walk that day having saved himself from the Fire.

Abu Taubah said: "Perhaps he said: 'Will reach the evening.'"
Narrated Abu Buraydah: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: A human being has three hundred and sixty joints (مَفْصِلاً, mafsilan) for each of which he must give alms. The people asked him: Who is capable of doing this ? He replied: It may be mucus in the mosque which you bury, and something which you remove from the road; but if you do not find such, two rak'ahs in the forenoon will be sufficient for you.
Narrated Abu Wail: We went to `Abdullah in the morning and a man said, "Yesterday I recited all the Mufassal Suras." On that `Abdullah said, "That is very quick, and we have the (Prophet's) recitation, and I remember very well the recitation of those Suras which the Prophet (ﷺ) used to recite, and they were eighteen Suras from the Mufassal, and two Suras from the Suras that start with Ha Mim.

Ibn 'Abbas said, "There are 360 joints (سُلاَمَى، أَوْ عَظْمٍ، أَوْ مَفْصِلٍ, sulaama aw 'azmin aw mafsilin) and each of them owes sadaqa every single day. Every good word is sadaqa. A man's helping his brother is sadaqa. A drink of water which he gives is sadaqa. Removing something harmful from the road is sadaqa."
Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 422 (Sahih)[6]

Bone count

Scientifically, it is generally accepted and well known that adults have 206 bones.[7][8] So if as recorded in the hadith Muhammad meant 360 bones, then he was wrong. New born babies have more bones than the average adult, but this only goes up to 270 bones.

Joints count

There doesn't seem to be a consensus on the number of joints in human body. This seems to be because it depends on the exact definition of what a joint is.

360 joints from 206 bones

If we had 3 bones, then the maximum possible number of joints would be 3 (making a triangle). If we had 4 bones the maximum would be 4. And so on. So the number of bones limits the possible number of joints. We would expect that the number of joints would be smaller than the number of bones (and in non-Muslim joint counts it often is), considering that some bones have only 1 joint and not 2. And if there are more than two bones in a joint, then it makes the number of joints (per bone) even smaller. Some argue that tendon connections should also count as joints.

Scientific literature counts

Most of the ~150 bone joints in the human body are freely movable diarthroses (Fig. 8.25). There are ball and socket joints, saddle joints, ~40 hinge joints,870 and pivot joints. In the diarthrodial joint, two or more bones are united by an encircling band of fibrous tissue called the articular or fibrous capsule. The articular capsule is lined with synovial membrane, and the apposed ends of bone are covered by a layer of hyaline cartilage, called articular cartilage. The fibrous capsule is reinforced and strengthened by ligament cords woven into it. Joint cavities sometimes extend into pouches or recesses or communicating bursae, and the shape of the sac changes with motion, as in the knee joint.
Where two bones meet a joint is formed. A bone is too hard to move; it is impossible to bend bone! Bones can, however, change position at a joint. To allow this to happen muscles are attached to the bones. There are 100 joints in the human body and 639 different muscles.
A joint is a junction where two bones meet in a way that permits each to move in relation to the other. Altogether there are 68 joints in the human body.

There are many different counts ranging from 68 to 240. So even if Muhammad meant 360 joints this wouldn't make sense.

Islamic literature counts

Counts given from Muslim sources are, for some reason, always 360.

For example here is a quoted table from an article by Ishani Chatterjee Shukla:

Part of the Body - Number of Joints

Skull 86
Throat and Neck 6
Thorax 66
Spine and Pelvis 76
Hands, Arms and Fingers 64

Legs, Feet and Toes 62

The author of the article does not add these numbers. Possibly because they overlap - joints in the neck overlap with joints in the spine, and joints in the thorax as well. But apologists chose to add these numbers and they got 360. Although the author of the article estimates the total number of joints to be around 230. If it was so simple to add these numbers.

Muslim list of joints

This is also a common list found on the internet[9]:

Num. Name Count
1. Skull 86
1 Fronto Parietal Joint (Coronal Suture) 1
2 Fronto –Ethmoid Joint 1
3 Fronto Maxillary Joints 2
4 Frontozygomatic Joints 2
5 Frontonasal Joint 1
6 Frontosphenoid (Lesser Wing) Joint 1
7 Fronto-Lacrimal Joints 2
8 Parietooccipital Joint 1
9 Interparietal Joint (Sagittal Suture) 1
10 Tempro-Parietal Joints 2
11 Tempro-Spenoid Joints (Greater Wing) 2
12 Occipito-Temporal Joints 2
13 Tempro-Sphenoid Joints (Greater Wing) 2
14 Tempro-Zygomatic Joints (Zygomatic Arch) 2
15 Tempro-Mandibular Joints 2
16 Inter Ossicular Joints 4
17 Intermaxillary Joint 1
18 Zygomatico-Maxillary Joint 2
19 Maxillo-Palatine Joint 1
20 Nazomaxillary Joints 2
21 Maxillo-Ethmoid Joints 2
22 Maxillo-Lacrimal Joints 2
23 Maxillo-Sphenoid Joints (Pterygoid Process) 2
24 Maxillo-Conchal Joints (Inferior Choncha) 2
25 Dental Gomphosis 32
26 Spheno-Ethmoidal Joint 1
27 Vermo-Spenoid Joint (Pterygoid Process) 1
28 Palato-Sphenoid Joints (Pterygoid Process) 2
29 Zygomatico-Sphenoid Joint (Greater Wing) 2
30 Vermo-Ethmoidal Joint (Perpindicular Plate) 1
31 Lacrimo-Ethmoidal Joint (Labyrinth) 2
32 Joint Between Vomer And Hard Palate 1
33 Internasal Joint 1
34 Joint Between Horizontal Plates Of Palatine Bones 1
2. Larynex 6
1 Cricothyroid Joints 2
2 Cricoarytenoid Joints 2
3 Arytenoi-Corniculate Joints 2
3. Vertebral Column And Pelvis 76
1 Atlanto-Occipital Joints 2
2 Intervertebral Joints 69
3 Lubosacral Joints 3
4 Sacro-Coccygeal Joint 1
5 Symphysis Pubis 1
4. Upper Limbs 64
1 Sternoclavicular Joint 1x2= 2
2 Acromioclavicular Joint 1x2= 2
3 Sholder Joint 1x2=2
4 Elbo Joint 1x2=2
5 Superior Radio-Ulnar Joint 1x2=2
6 Inferior Radio-Ulnar Joint 1x2=2
7 Wrist Joint 1x2=2
8 Intercarpal Joints 6x2=12
9 Mid Carpal Joint 1x2=2
10 Carpometacarpal Joints 4x2=8
11 Metacarpophalangeal Joints 5x2=10
12 Interphalangeal Joints 9x2=18
5. Thoracic Cage 66
1 Manubrio Sternal Joint 1
2 Xiphisternal Joint 1
3 Sternocostal Joints 14
4 Interchondral Joints 6
5 Costo-Vertebral Joints 12x2= 24
6 Costo-Transverse Joints 10x2=20
6. Lower Limbs 62
1 Sacroiliac Joint 1x2=2
2 Hip Joint 1x2=2
3 Knee Joint 1x2=2
4 Superior Tibio-Fibular Joint 1x2=2
5 Inferior Tibuo Fibular Joint 1x2=2
6 Ankle Joint 1x2=2
7 Intertarsal Joints 7x2=14
8 Tarsometatarsal Joints 4x2=8
9 Metatarsophalangeal Joints 5x2=10
10 Interphalangeal Joints 9x2=18
Total count (86+6+76+64+66+62) 360

The names of some of these proposed joints seem to be made up. For example, searching "Arytenoi-Corniculate Joints" yields only pages of Muslim websites talking about this joint miracle and no scientific article or anatomic text referring to this joint.

Muhammad's source

The information about 360 joints is not a part of the Quran. That means that even if Muhammad was a prophet, the information was not a part of god's message. If Muhammad didn't get this information from god, then he must have borrowed or heard it from someone.

We know that ancient China believed in 360 joints:

Human beings have 360 joints, nine body openings, and five yin and six yang systems of function. In the flesh tightness is desirable; in the blood vessels (hsueh mai) free flow is desirable; in the sinews and bones solidity is desirable; in the operations of the heart and mind harmony is desirable; in the essential ch'i regular motion is desirable. When [these desiderata] are realized, illness has nowhere to abide, and there is nothing from which pathology can develop. When illness lasts and pathology develops, it is because the essential ch'i has become static. ...
Springs and Autumns of Lü Pu-wei (Lü shih ch'un-ch'iu, ca. 239 B.C.)

Critics suggest that 850 years was ample time for the faulty Chinese information to be received even in iron-age Arabia.

See Also


  1. https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/519
  2. https://islamqa.info/en/143301
  3. www.almaany.com/en/dict/ar-en/سلامى/
  4. https://sunnah.com/search/?q=%D8%B9%D8%B8%D9%85
  5. http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=EZm
  6. https://sunnah.com/adab/24/4
  7. https://www.etmc.org/trivia/many-bones-human-body/
  8. Mammal anatomy : an illustrated guide. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 129. ISBN 9780761478829.
  9. http://www.trauma.org/index.php/community/list/url/http:list.ftech.net/pipermail/trauma-list/2009-April/042192.html Or just Google for "Arytenoi-Corniculate Joints" with brackets, because only Muslims believe it exists.