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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Learning from Surah of Al-Quran: Surah al-'Alaq (96: The Clot/Read)

The first 5 verses of this Surah were the first revelation of the Quran. The Angel Jibra'il came to the Prophet Muhammad saw when he was on a spiritual retreat in a cave outside of Makkah, at the age of 40. The angel commanded him to read, and the Prophet s.a.w answered that he did not know how to read. Then the angel squeezed him and said again,'Read!', and the Prophet s.a.w again answered that he did not how to read. Finally, when the Angel Jibra'il squeezed him very hard and ordered him for the third time to read, the Prophet asked,' What shall I read?', and Jibra'il answered,'Read in the name of your Lord...' It seemed to the Prophet that these words were etched in his memory. The angel went out of the cave, and the Prophet Muhammad saw his shape fill the entire horizon He then told him,' I am the Angel Jibra'il and you, Muhammad, are the Messenger of Allah'. This beautiful story can be read in more detail in books of sirah.

The second part of the surah was revealted after the beloved Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was threatened by one of his main enemies, Abu Jahl. Before the Prophet even began to preach Islam openly, he went to the Ka'abah and prayed as Allah had taught him. The people of the Quraysh were curious, as they could that this new practice meant that he must have adopted some new religion. Abu Jahl, rather than waiting to ask what the prayer was all about, immediately began to ridicule the Prophet s.a.w and said that if he caught him with his face on the ground, he would step on his neck and rub his face in the dust! When the Prophet s.a.w heard about his remak he said:'If he did that, the angels would grab him right then and there.' (Hadith recorded by Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasa'i and others)

One of the most important lessons to be learned from this surah is the high value attached to reading and knowledge in Islam. In the days before Islam (jahiliyyah - days of ignorance) most people did not know how to read. Learning was a privillege for the rich upper classes or the priests. The command to read was the first revelation the Prophet received (Iqra' means to read outloud); later, when the Muslims were forced to fight to defend themselves, he freed any captive who could teach 10 Muslims to read. Islam is the first religion to encourage all of its followers to read, and study and learn as much as they can. At a time when women of almost all religions and cultures were not allowed to study, the Prophet s.a.w said:' The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim, male and female.'

Because early Muslims considered that learning was a way to worship Allah and earn His pleasure, they began to discover, invent and create many, many new things which changed human life on earth in every area: science, medicine, engineering, architecture, art, government and more. The first universities and public hospitals in the world were established by Muslims more than a thousand years ago, free for everyone who needed them. The story of the early Muslims and their achievements may be discovered in specialized history books, it is excitig ad full of surprises!

Why is knowledge so important? Knowledge feeds our minds and spirits, just as food feeds our bodies. The human ability to learn is one of Allah's great mercies to us, and one of the ways He has honoured us above the rest of His creatures. From the thrill of first learning how to walk or talk or tie your shoelaces, we continue to learn every day of our lives until we die. Knowledge is a comfort to the believer, a source of wisdom and guidance and a means to happiness.

Allah says in this surah that He teaches us 'by the pen' what we did not know. The most important knowledge is that which we can learn from the Quran and other religious writings on how to live; after religious knowledge, in importance comes any knowledge which is helpful for ourselves and others in society, animals, and the earth we are guardians (Khalifah)of. Knowledge is unlimited; it never ends. In the words of the Quran:'Above every knower there is One All-Knowing' (Yusuf 12:76) and Allah is the Knower of all. We should ask, as Allah has taught us, 'O Lord, increase me in knowledge' (Ta Ha 20:114)

- Surah Makki(19 verses)
- This surah contains As-Sajadah

Surah al-'Alaq (96: The Clot/Read!)

In the name of Allah, the Kindest and Most Merciful One..

1. Read! In the name of your Lord Who created;
2. created man from a (tiny) clot, clinging (to its mother) 
3. Read! And your Lord is Most Generous,
4. Who taught by the pen,
5. taught man what he did not know.
6. No, but truly, man is arrogant;
7. he thinks that he needs no help (from Allah).
8. Surely the return (of all things) is to Allah.
9. Have you seen the one who prevents
10. a servant (of Allah) from praying?
11. Have you seen if he is following guidance,
12. or encourages righteousness?
13. Have you seen if he denies (the truth) and turns away?
14. Does he not know that Allah sees?
15. No, surely, if he does not stop We will grab him by his forelock;
16. a lying, sinful forelock;
17. Then, let him call his friends and protectors (as if they could help!)
18. We will call the angels of punishment (to deal with him!)
19. No! Do not obey him! But prostrate yourself and come nearer (to Allah).

ii) , go to Surah al- 'Alaq
iv) The Meanings of the Noble Quran with explanatory notes(pg 1181) by Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (Maktaba Ma'ariful Quran - Quranic Studies Publishers, Karachi, Pakistan)

 Video recitation by Mishary Rashed al Efasy at -->

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