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.
Mafsilin is a genitive form and mafsilan is an accusative form of the word mafsil.
Here is another hadith where mafsil refers to joints:
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."
And Lane's lexicon also refers to the term as joints:
There is also a similar word mufassal (مُفَصَّل), which refers to certain suras:
It has a similar meaning to joint. The suras have many breaks ("joints") in them.
This word however seems to rather refer to bones. Online Arabic dictionary almaany says:
bone of digit - phalanax- a bone of finger or toe
According to Lane's lexicon it means camel bone:
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?
This word is clear. It definitely means bones. This word is used in many other hadiths and also in the Qur'an.
So it is quite possible that Muhammad meant bones.
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.'"
Scientifically, it is generally accepted and well known that adults have 206 bones. 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.
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
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:
Throat and Neck 6
Spine and Pelvis 76
Hands, Arms and Fingers 64
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:
|1||Fronto Parietal Joint (Coronal Suture)||1|
|2||Fronto –Ethmoid Joint||1|
|3||Fronto Maxillary Joints||2|
|6||Frontosphenoid (Lesser Wing) Joint||1|
|9||Interparietal Joint (Sagittal Suture)||1|
|11||Tempro-Spenoid Joints (Greater Wing)||2|
|13||Tempro-Sphenoid Joints (Greater Wing)||2|
|14||Tempro-Zygomatic Joints (Zygomatic Arch)||2|
|16||Inter Ossicular Joints||4|
|23||Maxillo-Sphenoid Joints (Pterygoid Process)||2|
|24||Maxillo-Conchal Joints (Inferior Choncha)||2|
|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|
|34||Joint Between Horizontal Plates Of Palatine Bones||1|
|3. Vertebral Column And Pelvis||76|
|4. Upper Limbs||64|
|1||Sternoclavicular Joint||1x2= 2|
|2||Acromioclavicular Joint||1x2= 2|
|5||Superior Radio-Ulnar Joint||1x2=2|
|6||Inferior Radio-Ulnar Joint||1x2=2|
|9||Mid Carpal Joint||1x2=2|
|5. Thoracic Cage||66|
|1||Manubrio Sternal Joint||1|
|5||Costo-Vertebral Joints||12x2= 24|
|6. Lower Limbs||62|
|4||Superior Tibio-Fibular Joint||1x2=2|
|5||Inferior Tibuo Fibular Joint||1x2=2|
|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.
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:
Critics suggest that 850 years was ample time for the faulty Chinese information to be received even in iron-age Arabia.
- Mammal anatomy : an illustrated guide. New York: Marshall Cavendish. 2010. p. 129. ISBN 9780761478829.
- 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.