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Surat al-'Alaq, Iqra, or al-Qalam ("The Clot", "Read", or "The Pen") is the 96th sura of the Qur'an. Its first five verses are believed to be the first verses of the Qur'an to be revealed to Muhammad, as he sat in the cave of Mount Hira on Laylat al-Qadr (it is thus a Makkan sura.) The date is uncertain, but was most probably Monday 21 Ramadan , ie August 10, 610 CE. According to tradition - notably, a hadith of Aishah - Gabriel came and told him Iqra! ("Read!"). He replied "I am not a reader" (ie, I am illiterate). Gabriel again said Iqra!, and Muhammad gave the same answer. Finally, he said:

  1. Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth,
  2. Createth man from a clot.
  3. Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous,
  4. Who teacheth by the pen,
  5. Teacheth man that which he knew not. (Pickthall translation)

After this, he disappeared, and the Prophet, shaken and trembling, returned home to his wife Khadija, and told her "Cover me, cover me... What has happened to me?" and told her what had happened, adding "I fear for my life". She comforted him, assuring him that God would never debase him, because of his good works, and sought the advice of her aged Christian cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal , who, upon hearing the sura, saw in him the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, describing it as the namus which was sent to Moses. Some Muslims regard this as a specific fulfillment of Isaiah 29:11-18[1] .

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.

The remainder of the sura, beginning "Hast thou seen him who dissuadeth a slave when he prayeth?" was revealed later, when Muhammad began to perform salat in the Kaaba and Abu Jahl attempted to prevent him by threatening to trample his neck.

Preceded by:
Sura 96 Followed by:


  • - Iqra
Last updated: 02-08-2005 13:41:14
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12