Quran Chapter 96 - The Clinging Form - Forgetfulness of the Hereafter
A Meccan sura named after the term 'alaq in verse 2. The first five verses are known to be the first revelation of the Quran when the Prophet was instructed to read. The second part came later to show that man transgresses when he becomes self-satisfied (as exemplified by a specific individual, Abu Jahl).
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
1 Read! In the name of your Lord who created: 2 He created man [b] from a clinging form [a]. 3 Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One 4 who taught by [means of] the pen, 5 who taught man what he did not know.
6 But man exceeds all bounds 7 when he thinks he is self-sufficient: 8 [Prophet], all will return to your Lord. 9 Have you seen the man who forbids 10 [Our] servant to pray? 11 Have you seen whether he is rightly guided, 12 or encourages true piety? 13 Have you seen whether he denies the truth and turns away from it? 14 Does he not realize that God sees all? 15 No! If he does not stop, We shall drag him by his forehead [c] –– 16 his lying, sinful forehead. 17 Let him summon his comrades; 18 We shall summon the guards of Hell. 19 No! Do not obey him [Prophet]: bow down [d] in worship and draw close.
a. A stage in the development of a fetus (cf. 22: 5), i.e. embryo. 'Alaq can also mean anything that clings: a clot of blood, a leech, even a lump of mud. All these meanings involve the basic idea of clinging or sticking. Clinging indicates a state of total dependence in contrast with verse 7.
b. See note to 89: 15.
c. In Hell. Many translators give ‘forelock’ instead of ‘forehead’ (cf. 54: 48). His head is sinful, not his forelock.
d. Sujud is a position in the Muslim prayer with head, hands, knees, and toes on the ground, but not the rest of the body as in ‘prostration’.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.