Suratul Alaq : 1-5

1. Read! In the Name of Your Lord, who has created (all that exists),
2. has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood).
3. Read! and Your Lord is the Most Generous,
4. who has taught (the writing) by the pen [the first person to write was Prophet Idrees (Enoch)],
5. has taught man that which He knew not.

First revelation : Knowledge

As we all know, this first verses are the first verse being sent down to Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam.

And it starts off with a command “Read”.

“The very first command issued by God in the Qur’an to humanity says: “Read!”

Subhanallah! Allah is precise in His words and nothing is done in random. It is not a coincident that Allah sends down the first revelation commanding us to read. To seek knowledge.

This should be taken seriously. There is no time that we should waste and no time to be complacent. No knowledge (except haram ones) are useless. I urge you my children to take all lessons seriously be it in formal classes or informal everyday life. Rush to seek knowledge and often make this du’a.

‘O Allaah, I ask You for knowledge which is beneficial and sustenance which is good, and deeds which are acceptable.’ 

It is out of Allah’s generosity that Allah taught man the things that he did not know. Then Allah honoured him by giving him knowledge.

Adam alaihi salam was taught the name of things

Allah stated the virtue of Adam above the angels, because He taught Adam, rather than them, the names of everything. This occurred after they prostrated to him.

Al Baqarah 2: 31-33

31. and He taught Adam All the names (of everything) , Then He showed them to the angels and said, “Tell Me the names of These if You are truthful.”32. they (angels) said: “Glory be to you, we have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Verily, it is you, the All-Knower, the All-Wise.”33. He said: “O Adam! Inform them of their names,” and when He had informed them of their names, He said: “Did I not tell You that I know the Ghaib (unseen) In the heavens and the earth, and I know what You reveal and what You have been concealing?”

Ad-Dahhak said that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah;

﴿وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا﴾

(And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)) “Meaning, the names that people use, such as human, animal, sky, earth, land, sea, horse, donkey, and so forth, including the names of the other species.” Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir reported that `Asim bin Kulayb narrated from Sa`id bin Ma`bad that Ibn `Abbas was questioned,

﴿وَعَلَّمَ ءَادَمَ الأَسْمَآءَ كُلَّهَا﴾

(And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)) “Did Allah teach him the names of the plate and the pot” He said, “Yes, and even the terms for breaking wind!”

Allah taught Adam the names of everything, their proper names, the names of their characteristics, and what they do, just as Ibn `Abbas stated about the terms for passing gas.

Knowledge sometimes is in the mind, sometimes on the tongue, and sometimes in writing with the fingers. Thus, it may be intellectual, spoken and written. And while the last (written) necessitates the first two (intellectual and spoken), the reverse is not true. For this reason Allah says,

﴿اقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ الاٌّكْرَمُ – الَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِالْقَلَمِ – عَلَّمَ الإِنسَـنَ مَا لَمْ يَعْلَمْ ﴾

(Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous. Who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not.)

وَرَبُّكَ الاٌّكْرَمُ
Your Lord the Most Generous. Allah has many attributes and extremely generous is one of it. Because of this, He taught man knowledge, “who taught by means of the pen; taught man what he did not know,” Allah took him out of his mother’s womb not knowing anything, gave him the faculties of hearing and seeing, gave him a heart, and made easy the route to learning for him. He taught him the Qur’an and wisdom, and He taught him the use of the pen through which these sciences are preserved and duties and rights are precisely recorded.

There is a narration that states, “Record knowledge by writing.” There is also a saying which states, “Whoever acts according to what he knows, Allah will make him inherit knowledge that he did not know.”

Thus, it is important for us to always write down what we learn. This is part of learning.

If Muslims had internalized this core message of Islam to any degree, wouldn’t education be the highest priority in the lives of Muslims? And wouldn’t Muslim societies be models of educational attainment and excellence today?

 ‘Alaq

These Ayat inform of the beginning of man’s creation from a dangling clot.

What does this mean?

Literally the Arabic word alaq/ alaqah has 3 meanings:
i. leech
ii. suspended thing
iii. blood clot

1. “In comparing a leech to the embryo at the alaqah stage, we find similarity between the two.” [The Developing Human p.8].
“Also, the embryo as this stage obtains nourishment from the blood of the mother, similar to the leech which feeds on the blood of others.” [Human Development as Described in Quran and Sunnah p.36].

2. The second meaning of the word alaqah is ‘suspended thing’. The suspension of the embryo, during the alaqah stage, in the womb of the mother very appropriately fits this description.

3. The third meaning of the word alaqah is ‘blood clot’. We find that the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs during the alaqah stage is similar to that of a blood clot. This is due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo during this stage. Also during this stage the blood in the embryo does not circulate until the end of the third week. So the embryo at this stage is like a clot of blood.

By examining a diagram of the primitive cardiovascular system in an embryo during the alaqah stage we would notice the external appearance of the embryo and its sacs is similar to that of a blood clot due to the presence of relatively large amounts of blood present in the embryo [The Developing Human, p. 65]

So the three meanings of the word alaqah correspond accurately to the descriptions of the embryo at the alaqah stage.

1. Tafsir Ibn KathirReference

2. http://scienceislam.com/quran_human_embryonic_development.php

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