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  Sura 96 of the Quran  
The Clot

Arabic text · English translation

Classification Meccan
Alternate titles (Ar.) سورة إقرا (Sūrat Iqrā)
Other names The Embryo, The Clinging Form, The Clinging-Clot, The Clot, The Germ-Cell, Read
Position Juzʼ 30
No. of verses 19
Egyptian Calligraphy of the first lines of Sura al-Alaq

Sūrat al-ʻAlaq (Arabic: سورة 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 Iqrā (سورة إقرا, "Read").

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 sura has two parts: the first part consists of vv. 1-5, and the second of vv. 6-19. The majority of islamic scholars agreed that the first part forms the first revelation to be sent down to prophet Muhammad in 610. In this regard, the Hadith from Aisha, which Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari, Muslim and other traditionists have related with several chains of authorities, is one of the most authentic Hadith on the subject. In it Aisha narrates 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.[citation needed]

The second part was revealed later, when Muhammad began to perform the prescribed prayer in the precincts of the Kaaba, and Abu Jahl tried to prevent him from this with threats.[citation needed]

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 related by 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 or human appears 65 times in the Qur'an, applying to both sexes of mankind, a generic ‘man’.[7]

The concept of a divinity telling a human to speak is found in many cultures, and parallels have been drawn between Muhammad's experience and that recounted by Beda Venerabilis in what is called "Caedmon's Hymn".[8][9]

Verses 6-19[edit]

The remainder of the sura, 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-satisfied, 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.[10]


  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.
  5. ^ Blue Letter Bible. Dictionary and Word Search for ‘aluwqah (Strong's 5936) from
  6. ^ Kareem, E. (2012). "Embryology in the Qur’an: The ‘Alaqah Stage" (page 6),
  7. ^ Haleem, M. A.. The Qur'an: a new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  8. ^ von See, Klaus (1983). "Caedmon und Muhammed". Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur. 112 (4): 225–233. 
  9. ^ Thundy, Z. P. (1989). "The Qur'an: Source or Analogue of Bede's Caedmon Story?". Islamic Culture. 63 (3): 105–110. 
  10. ^ Haleem, M. A.. The Qur'an: a new translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

External links[edit]

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