Overview - Surah 96: al-`Alaq (The Clinging Substance)

Surah Introduction

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The first five Ayat are among the first that were revealed to the Prophet (saw), aged forty, in the cave of Hira, Makkah.  Then the rest of the Surah was revealed when the message was presented to the people of Makkah and they began threatening the Prophet. The Surah speaks about the humble beginning of human beings, but the high position that they can receive if they follow the message of Allah.

The Surah takes its name after the second Ayat, خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ "Created man from a clinging substance." [96:2].

There are 19 Ayat in this Surah. 


Total Ayat19
Total Words *72
Root Words *36
Unique Root Words *0
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 1st (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 1st-3rd year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam ,Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam ,Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda.,Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia,2nd Migration to Abyssinia,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3,Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey,1st Pledge of Aqabah,2nd Pledge of Aqabah,,Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah,Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr,Battle of Uhud,,Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah,Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
No Prophets names are mentioned in this Surah
Surah Index
Angels, Hell, Humankind (creation of) , Knowledge, Knowledge (literacy) , Knowledge (obligation upon man to obtain and impart) , Literacy, Pen, Prayer, Prayer (prostration)

Central Theme

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Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Surah al-Alaq [96] was the first revelation which occured on the 'Night of Power and Decree' in Ramadhan. Surah al-Qadr [97] is about the 'Night of Power.'

The Virtues of the Surah

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  • Aishah [ra] said, "The first [revelation] to descend was Iqra......" [Hakim]

Special Features of the Surah

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Important key and unique words of the Surah

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Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Period of Revelation

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This Surah has two parts: the first part consists of v. 1-5, and the second of v. 6-19. About the first part, a great majority of the Islamic scholars are in agreement that it forms the very first Revelation to be sent down to the Prophet. In this regard, the hadith from the Prophets wife (A’isha), 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 A’isha has narrated the full story of the beginning of revelation as she herself heard it from the Messenger of God. 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 Qur’an to be revealed to the Prophet. The second part was sent down afterwards when the Prophet began to perform the prescribed Prayer in the precincts of the Ka’bah and his arch enemy (Abu Jahl) tried to prevent him from this with threats.

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • The very first revelation 'Iqra bismi Rabbi kal-ladhi khalaq-Ma lam y'alam' (Read in the name of your Lord Who created what he did not know)."
  • Read in the name of Allah, Who created man and taught him by the pen.
  • Those who forbid others from the worship of Allah will be dragged to hell by their forelock.

Tafsir Zone

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Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories… Login to enter your comments

Miscellaneous Issues

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Scientific References

Frontal Lobe of the Brain

كَلَّا لَئِن لَّمْ يَنتَهِ لَنَسْفَعًا بِالنَّاصِيَةِ  نَاصِيَةٍ كَاذِبَةٍ خَاطِئَةٍ "No! If he does not desist, We will surely drag him by the forelock - A lying, sinning forelock." (96:15-16)

Shaykh Zindani writes, “The holy Qur’ān describes the front of the head being lying and sinful. God says, “a lying sinful nasiyah (front of the head).” Since the front of the head does not speak, how can it be described as being lying? It does not commit sins. How is it then said to be sinful?

Professor Muhammad Yusuf Sukkar dispelled my perplexity while he was talking to me about the function of the brain. He said: “The function of the portion of the brain that lies in the front of the human head is to control the human behaviour.” I said: “I have found it.” He said: “what have you found?” I said: “The interpretation of the saying of God, "a lying sinful nasiyah.” He said: “Let me consult my books and references.”

After having done so, he, confirming what he had said, added: “When a person intends to tell a lie, the decision is made in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the front of the head. If he wants to commit a sin, the decision is made there, too.” Then I discussed the subject with a number of specialized scholars, among whom was Keith L. Moore, who stated that the front of the head is responsible for judging and for directing human behaviour. The working organs of the body (e.g. the limbs) are but tools to carry out the decision made in the front of the head.

The anatomical structure of the upper region of the forehead shows that it consists of one of the bones of the skull, called the fronted bone, which protects one of the lobes of the brain called the frontal lobe, which contains several neural centers in various locations and with various functions.The prefrontal cortex constitutes the bulk of the frontal lobe of the brain, and its function is involved in the making of one’s personality. It is also considered as a superior center among the centers of concentration, thinking and memory. It plays a significant role in the person’s emotion and it is somehow concerned with initiative and discrimination.

The cortex is situated directly behind the forehead; it is hidden deep in the front of the head. Thus the prefrontal cortex directs some of the human behaviour that reflects one’s personality, with respect to being truthful, lying, right, wrong…etc. It also distinguishes between these virtues and vices and urges one to take the initiative whether with good or evil intent. In a joint research on the scientific miracle of “nasiyah” by Keith L. Moore and me, presented in an international conference held in Cairo in 1980, Keith L. Moore did not talk about the function of the frontal lobe of the human brain only, but talked about the function of the ‘nasiyah’ [frontal lobes] in the brains of various animals. Demonstrating pictures of the fronted lobes of a number of animals, he said: “The comparative anatomical study of human and animal brains shows that the nasiyah has the same function: It is the center of control and guidance in both man and animals that have brains.”

External Links

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