Al-Alaq

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  Sura 96 of the Quran  
سورة العلق
Sūrat al-ʿAlaq
The Clot

Arabic text · English translation


Classification Meccan
Other names (Eng.) The Clinging Form, The Clinging-Clot, The Clot, The Germ-Cell, Read
Position Juz' 30
Structure 19 verses
Egyptian Calligraphy of the first lines of Sura al-Alaq

Sūrat al-ʿAlaq (العلق "The Clot"), is the 96th sura or chapter of the Qur'an. It is composed of 19 Ayat (verses or "signs"), and is traditionally believed to have been revealed at Mecca at cave Hira. It is sometimes also known as Sūrat al-Iqrā (إقرا, "Read").

The first five verses of this sura are believed by nearly all sources, to be the first verses of the Qur'an to be revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The Meaning of 'Alaq[edit]

The linguistic definition of ′alaq علق (singular 'alaqah علقة) is "leech", "medicinal leech", "coagulated blood", "blood clot", or "the early stage of the embryo".[1] ′Alaq is also a derivative of 'alaqa which means "attached and hanging to something." [2] Professor Abdul Haleem mentions that "′alaq can also mean anything that clings: a clot of blood, a leech, even a lump of mud. All these meanings involve the basic idea of clinging or sticking."[3]

The term ′alaqah is the second stage of human prenatal development (sura Al-Mu’minoon 23: 12-14) which "descriptively encompasses the primary external and internal features" of the early embryo.[4] The term ′alaqah also occurs in several languages related to Arabic. In Hebrew there is עֲלוּקָה alûqāh (or alukah), the generic name for any blood-sucking worm or leech,[5] and in Aramaic and Syriac there are words with apparently similar meanings.[6]

Period of Revelation[edit]

This Surah has two parts: the first part consists of vv. 1-5, and the second of vv. 6-19. About the first part a great majority of the Islamic scholars are agreed that it forms the first revelation to be sent down to prophet Muhammad. In this regard, the Hadith from Aishah, which Imam Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, and other traditionists have related with several chains of authorities, is one of the most authentic Hadith on the subject. In it Aishah(R) has narrated the full story of the beginning of revelation as she herself heard it from Muhammad. Besides, Ibn Abbas, Abu Musa al-Ashari and a group of the Companions also are reported to have stated that these were the very first verses of the Quran to be revealed to Muhammad. The second part was sent down afterwards when Muhammad began to perform the prescribed prayer in the precincts of the Kabah and Abu Jahl tried to prevent him from this with threats.

The First Revelation: Verses 1-5[edit]

The first five verses of this sura are believed by nearly all sources, both traditional and modern, to be the first verses of the Qur'an to be revealed to Muhammad. A few commentators disagree with this account, claiming that the first revelation was the beginning of surat al-Muddaththir or surat al-Fatiha, but theirs is a minority position. Moreover, the term ‘Insan’ which is translated to man appears 65 times in the Qur'an and it applies to both gender of the human kind, a generic ‘man’.[7]

Verses 6-19[edit]

The remainder of the surah, revealed later, questions the morality and beliefs of mankind, who "thinks himself self-sufficient", unaware that all things will return to their Lord. Once man becomes self-satisfies, he has the tendency to transgress. The text continues, addressing the impiety of "the man who forbids Our servant to pray". These later lines are thought to date from the time when Muhammad began to pray the salat in the Kaaba. Abu Jahl attempted to interrupt the prayer by trampling on Muhammad's neck while he was prostrated. "Does he not realize that God sees all?"

The Qur'an commands Muhammad (and by inference all believers) to continue the prayer regardless, as those who persecute the faithful are unaware that God sees what they do.

The translated words ‘bow down’ in verse 19 comes from the word ‘Sujud’ which refers to the position in Muslim prayer where the head, hands, knees, and toes are on the ground.[8]

Translation[edit]

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

96:1 Read! In the name of your Lord who created:

96:2 He created man from a clinging form.

96:3 Read! Your Lord Is the Most Bountiful One

96:4 who taught by pen,

96:5 who taught man what he did not know.

96:6 But man exceeds all bounds

96:7 when he thinks he is self-sufficient:

96:8 [Prophet], all will return to your Lord.

96:9 Have you noticed the man who forbids,

96:10 [Our] servant to pray?

96:11 Have you noticed whether he is rightly guided,

96:12 or encourages true piety?

96:13 Have you noticed if he denies the truth and turns away from it?

96:14 Does he not realize that God sees all?

96:15 No! If he does not stop, We shall drag him by his forelock -

96:16 A lying, sinful forelock.

96:17 Let him summon his comrades;

96:18 We shall summon the guards of Hell

96:19 No! Do not obey him [Prophet]: bow down in worship and draw close.[9]

.............................................................................

In this surah, God presents a concise but compelling argument: Man is a creature of wonder, beginning with its development from a biomass (or Alaq), who has been granted the gift of sentience by God. Then, as a being, Man divides into two distinct groups: those who recognize their cosmic condition, seek divine guidance (by 'reading' God's word), and bow to God's will (symbolized by 'prostration'); and those who, even in the face of these apparent wonders of Man's condition, consider the Human to be an 'independent' entity, answerable to no transcendent authority, and even more contentiously, take it upon themselves to prevent the first class of man from following God's Word and submitting to Him.

God then states that the first type of Man, the believer, is the righteous one, and that the second class is both in error and is in fact a "lying and sinful" creature. The sura concludes with God's warning to the denier that the "guards of Hell" await, and that such men should cease from denying the believer the right to worship unmolested by them. The sura's last verse are words of encouragement to the believer to "not yield" to the threats of unbelievers but to continue in persistence in obeying God, and a promise of nearness to God for such a believer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sahin, H. (2006). "Alaq". In O. Leaman (Ed.), The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia: Routledge
  2. ^ Hussain, S. (1980). The Clot (al-‘Alaq). The Islamic Quarterly, Vol. 24, no. 3-4, pp. 107-110.
  3. ^ Abdel Haleem, M. A. (2005). The Qurʾan. New York: Oxford University Press
  4. ^ Kareem, E. (2012). Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage. http://islampapers.com/2012/02/09/alaqah
  5. ^ Blue Letter Bible. Dictionary and Word Search for ‘aluwqah (Strong's 5936) from http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5936&t=ESV
  6. ^ Kareem, E. (2012). "Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage" (page 6), http://islampapers.com/2012/02/09/alaqah
  7. ^ Haleem, M. A.. The Qur'an: a new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  8. ^ Haleem, M. A.. The Qur'an: a new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  9. ^ Haleem, M. A.. The Qur'an: a new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

External links[edit]

Other Information[edit]

Previous sura:
At-Tin
Sura 96 Next sura:
Al-Qadr
Arabic text

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