Surah 96:1-5: Al-Alaq, or The Clot

"Al-Anfal (60)" by Mahmoud Helmy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

  1. Call out words! in the name of your Lord, He-Who-Created–
  2. He created man, from a blood-clot:
  3. Call out words! And your Lord is the most generous,–
  4. He Who taught by (the use of) the pen,–
  5. Taught man that which he knew not.
  1.  I use the phrase “call out words!” for the word that can either be rendered “read!” or “recite!”  This is a pre-literate (though not alliterate) society, which meant that all reading was done aloud, and this activity was not clearly distinguished from declaiming something that is memorized.  A recitation of a poem or a reading of a poem is the exact same activity from the perspective of the listener.

The resources for this surah are very long, likely the longest of any, because a great deal of background work has to be done to establish the pagan environment in which Muhammad received his supernatural visitation.  Future resources will generally be much shorter.


Muhammad in the Cave of Hira

Jibril presses Muhammad

The Power introduces himself by name

Why did Jibril say that man comes from a clot?

The god that taught writing

What comes next:

Khadija’s cousin Waraqah speaks to Muhammad

Related pages:

Was the angel Jibril (Gabriel) or Israfil?

What does the name Allah mean?

Clarifying the chronology of the early Wahy (Inspiration/Relevation)