Wednesday 1 August 2018

The Holy Qur'an (Summary): Chapter 96 Sūrat al-ʻAlaq ( The Clinging Clot )

Sūrat al-ʻAlaq is one of the most important chapters of the Holy Qur'an, for its initial five verses are the first ever revelation

Before commenting on the text of Sūrat al-ʻAlaq, please read the English translation of the Sūrat al-ʻAlaq to understand its plain meaning / translation :
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
  1. Recite in the name of your Lord Who created
  2. Created man from a clot of congealed blood
  3. Recite: and your Lord is Most Generous
  4. Who taught by the pen
  5. Taught man what he did not know
  6. Nay, surely man transgresses,
  7. For he believes himself to be self-sufficient
  8. Surely to your Lord is your return
  9. Did you see him who forbids
  10. A servant (of Allah) when he prays?
  11. Did you consider: what if he is on the Right Way,
  12. and enjoins piety?
  13. Did you consider: what if he gives the lie (to the Truth) and turns away (from it)?
  14. Does he not know that Allah sees everything?
  15. No indeed; if he does not desist, We shall drag him by the forelock;
  16. by the lying forelock steeped in sin.
  17. So let him summon his helpmates;
  18. We too shall summon the guards of Hell.
  19. No, not at all. Never obey him. But prostrate yourself and become nigh (to your Lord).*
*  The translated words ‘prostrate’ 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. [2] Therefore anyone reading this Surah, should prostrate after reading the 19th verse.

The revelation of first five verses of Sūrat al-ʻAlaq is the first ever revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to mark the begging of his prophet hood. A detail on this has already been covered in one of our earlier posts "The dawn of prophet-hood." These verses were revealed through Angel Jibraeel (Gabriel) to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the cave of Hira, outside the city of Makkah, where the latter used to go and pray to a divine power he thought created the universe.

Thus the first five verses were an introduction of Allah to a prophet in making as to who your Lord is: Who created the universe, and created man from the congealed blood. The same gracious Lord who taught the man by the pen and taught him what he did not know

Here a point to be noted is that more than 1,400 years ago, the knowledge of science then did not know how a fetus is developed inside the womb. This knowledge came many centralities later. So those who criticize Islam and allege that Qur'an is written by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) makes them chew their own words as here in the very second verse of the earliest revelation by Allah, man is told that he was Created man from a clot of congealed blood and says that it is Allah who taught him what he did not know.

The second portion of verses from 6-19 were revealed sometimes later and indicate towards an incident attributed to animosity of Abu Jahl, a leading pagan of Makkah, whose outburst was phenomenal when he came to know that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was preaching a new religion claiming monotheism instead of polytheism. He therefore threatened th Prophet of dire consequences if he did not stop praying to his One God. But the Prophet of Allah persisted and when one day he saw the Prophet of Allah praying openly in the precinct of Ka,bah, he got infuriated and gathered a crowd and asked: “Is Muhammad setting his face on the ground in front of you (praying)?” When they replied in affirmative he said: “by the gods Al-Lat and Al-Uzza, if I ever catch him in that act of worship (salah), I will set my foot on his neck and rub his face in the dust.” [3]

The verses 9-18 thus amply highlight Allah's reaction to Abu Jahl's vow and warn him of severe consequences: Did you see him who forbids servant (of Allah) when he prays? Did you consider: what if he is on the Right Way,and enjoins piety? Did you consider: what if he gives the lie (to the Truth) and turns away (from it)? Does he not know that Allah sees everything? No indeed; if he does not desist, We shall drag him by the forelock; by the lying forelock steeped in sin. So let him summon his helpmates; We too shall summon the guards of Hell.

One day Abu Jahl when he saw Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) he stepped forward, motioned to put his foot on his neck, but then became frightened and left. When asked about it later, he said that he had seen a vision of a ditch right in front of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), filled with fire and a monster with fiery wings. After Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) heard about the remark, he said: “if he would have come near me, the angels would have struck him down and torn him into pieces.” [3]

سَنَدۡعُ الزَّبَانِيَةَ ۙ‏ (We too shall summon the guards of Hell.)

As per one of the explanation of the 18th verse of the Surah, the word zabaniyah is used for the police in Arabic idiom, and zaban actually means to push away. The kings too kept armed attendants who would push out the one with whom the king was annoyed and angry. Therefore, what Allah means is: Let him call his supporters; We too shall summon Our Police, i.e. the angels of torment, to deal with him and his supporters. [2]

For all the affection shown by Allah to His beloved Prophet (s), in the last verse Allah thus asks the Prophet (s) to pray and prostrate in front of Allah for a believer is nearest to Allah when he is in the state of "Sajdah" (prostration). It has been attributed to Abu Hurairah who said that that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this verse, he performed a Sajdah of recital.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-ʻAlaq with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand)

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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