Tafseer of Surah Alaq

بِسۡمِ اللّٰہِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِیۡمِ

اِقۡرَاۡ بِاسۡمِ رَبِّکَ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ ۚ﴿۱﴾ خَلَقَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ ۚ﴿۲﴾ اِقۡرَاۡ وَ رَبُّکَ الۡاَکۡرَمُ ۙ﴿۳﴾ الَّذِیۡ عَلَّمَ بِالۡقَلَمِ ۙ﴿۴﴾ عَلَّمَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مَا لَمۡ  یَعۡلَمۡ ؕ﴿۵﴾   کَلَّاۤ  اِنَّ  الۡاِنۡسَانَ  لَیَطۡغٰۤی ۙ﴿۶﴾  اَنۡ  رَّاٰہُ  اسۡتَغۡنٰی ﴿ؕ۷﴾  اِنَّ  اِلٰی رَبِّکَ  الرُّجۡعٰی ؕ﴿۸﴾ اَرَءَیۡتَ الَّذِیۡ یَنۡہٰی ۙ﴿۹﴾عَبۡدًا اِذَا صَلّٰی ﴿ؕ۱۰﴾  اَرَءَیۡتَ  اِنۡ کَانَ عَلَی الۡہُدٰۤی ﴿ۙ۱۱﴾ اَوۡ  اَمَرَ  بِالتَّقۡوٰی ﴿ؕ۱۲﴾ اَرَءَیۡتَ  اِنۡ کَذَّبَ وَ تَوَلّٰی ﴿ؕ۱۳﴾ اَلَمۡ یَعۡلَمۡ بِاَنَّ اللّٰہَ یَرٰی ﴿ؕ۱۴﴾ کَلَّا لَئِنۡ لَّمۡ یَنۡتَہِ ۬ۙ  لَنَسۡفَعًۢا بِالنَّاصِیَۃِ ﴿ۙ۱۵﴾ نَاصِیَۃٍ کَاذِبَۃٍ خَاطِئَۃٍ ﴿ۚ۱۶﴾ فَلۡیَدۡعُ نَادِیَہٗ ﴿ۙ۱۷﴾ سَنَدۡعُ  الزَّبَانِیَۃَ ﴿ۙ۱۸﴾  کَلَّا ؕ لَا تُطِعۡہُ وَ اسۡجُدۡ وَ اقۡتَرِبۡ ﴿٪ٛ۱۹﴾

Recite in the name of your Rabb who has created (everything). He has created man from a clot of blood. Recite, and your Rabb is Most Gracious. He who has taught (man) by the means of the pen. He taught man that which he knew not. In fact, man has transgressed all bounds, because he considers himself to be independent. Indeed to your Rabb is the return. Have you seen the one (Abu Jahl) who forbids, the servant (Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)) when he stands in salaah? You tell me that if he (the servant – Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)) is upon guidance, or commands with piety (then how can Abu Jahl stop him)? You tell me that if he (Abu Jahl) rejects and turns away – does he not realise that Allah Ta‘ala is watching? No, if he (Abu Jahl) does not desist (from his wrong), We will drag him by the forelock, a lying sinful forelock! Then let him call his council, and We will call on Our special force (of angels). No! Don’t ever obey him (O Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)), and bow down in sajdah and draw close (to Allah Ta‘ala).

اِقۡرَاۡ بِاسۡمِ رَبِّکَ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ ۚ﴿۱﴾ خَلَقَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ ۚ﴿۲﴾ اِقۡرَاۡ وَ رَبُّکَ الۡاَکۡرَمُ ۙ﴿۳﴾ الَّذِیۡ عَلَّمَ بِالۡقَلَمِ ۙ﴿۴﴾ عَلَّمَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مَا لَمۡ  یَعۡلَمۡ ؕ﴿۵﴾

Recite in the name of your Rabb who has created (everything). He has created man from a clot of blood. Recite, and your Rabb is Most Gracious. He who has taught (man) by the means of the pen. He taught man that which he knew not.

From the entire Qur’aan Majeed, these five verses were the first verses to be revealed. The series of wahi (revelation) commenced with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) being shown true dreams. Whatever he used to see in his dream at night, he would see it materialize into reality and transpire before his sight as clear as the light of dawn.

Thereafter, he found pleasure in secluding himself in the cave of Hira on Jabal-e-Noor. He would take provisions with him and remain in solitude in the cave, engaging in the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala for lengthy periods. At times, he would remain engaged in the remembrance of Allah Ta‘ala in the cave for ten days, at times for twenty days, and at times, the period would even extend to a month.

Once, while remaining in seclusion in the cave, Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) appeared before him and said, “Iqra! (Recite!)”. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) answered, “ما أنا بقارئ (I cannot recite)”. Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) then embraced him and tightened the embrace to the point where he began to feel pain. He then released him and instructed him again to recite. Hazrat Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied for the second time that he could not recite. Then, Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) embraced him for the second time and pressed him to his chest. He thereafter released him and said “Iqra!”

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied for the third time that he was unable to recite. Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) embraced him for the third time and then recited these five verses. It was at this time that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was blessed with nubuwwah (prophethood).

After this first encounter with Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam), Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) returned home and was in a state of worry and concern regarding how he would fulfil the mission of prophethood. He related the entire incident of meeting Hazrat Jibreel (‘alaihis salaam) to Hazrat Khadijah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) and expressed his concern to her. Hazrat Khadijah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) comforted him and reassured him that Allah’s Ta‘ala divine help is with him on account of the noble qualities and praiseworthy attributes that he possessed.

She said to him: “Nay! Accept the glad tidings (of Allah Ta‘ala). By Allah! Allah Ta‘ala will never ever disgrace you, for by Allah, you are the one who maintains good ties with your family, you always speak the truth, you carry the burden of the one in difficulty, you earn for the one who does not possess wealth, you extend hospitality to your guests and you always assist those who are afflicted with natural disasters and calamities.” (Saheeh Bukhaari #4953)

With the consolement of Hazrat Khadijah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) felt comforted and relieved. Hazrat Khadijah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was the first person to embrace Islam at the hands of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).

اِقۡرَاۡ بِاسۡمِ رَبِّکَ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَ ۚ﴿۱﴾ خَلَقَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مِنۡ عَلَقٍ ۚ﴿۲﴾

Recite in the name of your Rabb who has created (everything). He has created man from a clot of blood.

In the beginning of this surah, Allah Ta‘ala commands Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) to commence his recitation by taking the name of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, when we recite the Qur’aan Majeed, we should commence by reciting “Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem”.

In these verses, Allah Ta‘ala has introduced man to Himself and informed him that He is the Creator of everything. Allah Ta‘ala has also reminded man of his low origin and beginning. The origin of man is a filthy clot of blood, but Allah Ta‘ala has blessed him with the best of forms and beautiful faculties, and given him the potential and capacity to progress until he surpasses even the angels in piety.

اِقۡرَاۡ وَ رَبُّکَ الۡاَکۡرَمُ ۙ﴿۳﴾

Recite, and your Rabb is Most Gracious.

In this verse, Allah Ta‘ala gives the command of reciting for the second time, together with mentioning that He is Most Gracious. In this, Allah Ta‘ala indicates that it is only through His grace that one will be able to recite the Qur’aan and remember Him.

الَّذِیۡ عَلَّمَ بِالۡقَلَمِ ۙ﴿۴﴾ عَلَّمَ الۡاِنۡسَانَ مَا لَمۡ  یَعۡلَمۡ

He who has taught (man) by the means of the pen. He taught man that which he knew not.

Allah Ta‘ala has taught man the use of the pen through which he will be able to progress in deen and reach Allah Ta‘ala. However, just as Allah Ta‘ala has taught man via the medium of the pen, He can also teach man without the pen. Hence, Allah Ta‘ala has blessed man with various faculties of sight, hearing and understanding through which he acquires knowledge and reaches correct conclusions.

کَلَّاۤ  اِنَّ  الۡاِنۡسَانَ  لَیَطۡغٰۤی ۙ﴿۶﴾  اَنۡ  رَّاٰہُ  اسۡتَغۡنٰی ﴿ؕ۷﴾

In fact, man has transgressed all bounds, because he considers himself to be independent.

Despite Allah Ta‘ala blessing man with various faculties through which he gains understanding, he forgets that Allah Ta‘ala is the Being who is responsible for blessing him with all the favours that he enjoys. He begins to attribute all achievements that he enjoys towards his personal effort and totally forgets Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, he leads a life in conformity to his whims and desires and transgresses all bounds.

In this manner, Allah Ta‘ala explains that the main cause for man transgressing all bounds and disobeying Allah Ta‘ala is that man considers himself to be independent. He feels that when he has the wealth and the power, then why should he listen to anybody? As long as man remembers his weak and humble beginning and he does not lose sight of the grace of Allah Ta‘ala upon him, he will remain upon the path of guidance and obedience.

The person who Allah Ta‘ala refers to in this verse, who regards himself as independent and has transgressed all bounds, is Abu Jahl. Despite Allah Ta‘ala blessing him with wealth, influence, honour and respect, he disobeyed Allah Ta‘ala and attributed all his achievements towards his personal effort. Despite being from the family of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he rejected Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)’s nubuwwah and worked against Islam. It was solely on account of his pride and ego that he did not wish to submit before Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), and thereby transgressed all bounds.

اِنَّ  اِلٰی رَبِّکَ  الرُّجۡعٰی ؕ﴿۸﴾

Indeed to your Rabb is the return.

In this verse, Allah Ta‘ala reminds man that one day, he will pass away and will have to return to Allah Ta‘ala. Inevitably, he will have to depart from this worldly abode and return to the everlasting abode of the Hereafter where he will have to give an account for his deeds. As long as man keeps the Hereafter in mind and fears the reckoning of the Hereafter, he will remain on the right path.

اَرَءَیۡتَ الَّذِیۡ یَنۡہٰی ۙ﴿۹﴾عَبۡدًا اِذَا صَلّٰی ﴿ؕ۱۰﴾  اَرَءَیۡتَ  اِنۡ کَانَ عَلَی الۡہُدٰۤی ﴿ۙ۱۱﴾ اَوۡ  اَمَرَ  بِالتَّقۡوٰی ﴿ؕ۱۲﴾ اَرَءَیۡتَ  اِنۡ کَذَّبَ وَ تَوَلّٰی ﴿ؕ۱۳﴾ اَلَمۡ یَعۡلَمۡ بِاَنَّ اللّٰہَ یَرٰی ﴿ؕ۱۴﴾

Have you seen the one (Abu Jahl) who forbids, the servant (Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)) when he stands in salaah? You tell me that if he (the servant – Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)) is upon guidance, or commands with piety (then how can Abu Jahl stop him)? You tell me that if he (Abu Jahl) rejects and turns away – does he not realise that Allah Ta’ala is watching?

In these verses, Allah Ta‘ala praises Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and declares that he is upon the path of guidance, commanding people with righteousness and taqwa.

As for Abu Jahl, then Allah Ta‘ala severely condemns him for denying the truth, turning away from Islam and preventing Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) from worshipping Allah Ta‘ala.  Allah Ta‘ala explains  that when he would see Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) performing salaah, he would be angered and would make an effort to prevent Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) from performing salaah before Allah Ta‘ala.

On one occasion, Abu Jahl had seen Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) performing salaah in the Haram. He became extremely angry and said to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “Did I not warn you to not perform salaah? If I see you performing salaah again, I will trample your neck!”

Hence, Allah Ta‘ala assures Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that He will not allow Abu Jahl to reach Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and carry out his sinister intention as Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is in the divine protection of Allah Ta‘ala.

Allah Ta‘ala says, “does he (Abu Jahl) not realise that Allah Ta’ala is watching him?” In this is an indication that Allah Ta‘ala will deal with Abu Jahl accordingly and punish him.

کَلَّا لَئِنۡ لَّمۡ یَنۡتَہِ ۬ۙ  لَنَسۡفَعًۢا بِالنَّاصِیَۃِ ﴿ۙ۱۵﴾ نَاصِیَۃٍ کَاذِبَۃٍ خَاطِئَۃٍ ﴿ۚ۱۶﴾ فَلۡیَدۡعُ نَادِیَہٗ ﴿ۙ۱۷﴾ سَنَدۡعُ  الزَّبَانِیَۃَ ﴿ۙ۱۸﴾  کَلَّا ؕ لَا تُطِعۡہُ وَ اسۡجُدۡ وَ اقۡتَرِبۡ ﴿٪ٛ۱۹﴾

No, if he (Abu Jahl) does not desist (from his wrong), We will drag him by the forelock, a lying sinful forelock! Then let him call his council, and We will call on Our special force (of angels). No! Don’t ever obey him, and bow down (to Allah Ta‘ala) in sajdah and draw close (to Him).

Abu Jahl was puffed up with pride and boastfulness on account of his wealth and leadership. He felt that he had the support of his people, and whenever he will call them, they will be at his beck and call to fulfil his command. Hence, in these verses, Allah Ta‘ala warns Abu Jahl of the severe punishment of the Hearafter if he prevents Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) from performing salaah. Allah Ta‘ala says, “He must beware, for if he does not desist, We will drag him by the forelock, a lying sinful forelock. Then let him call his council (if he wishes), and We will call on Our special force of angels.” In other words, Our angels will destroy him and assist Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) against him. If he ever intends to stop Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) from our worship, then our angels will break him into pieces.

It is reported that on one occasion, while Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was in sajdah, Abu Jahl proceeded towards him with the sinister intention of trampling his blessed neck. However, as he came close, he suddenly turned back in fear. When his people asked him the reason for turning back, whereas he had vowed to trample the neck of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), he said, “As I approached, I saw a trench of fire and I saw some flying objects therein.” Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said that those were the angels, and had he only stepped forward, they would have broken him into pieces.

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