Al-ʻAlaq (Arabic: العلق, "The Clot" or "The Clinging Thing"), is the 96th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an. It is composed of 19 verses (āyāt), and traditionally believed to have been the first revelation to Muhammad in Mecca at a cave Hira located at Mountain Jabal al-Nour. It is traditionally understood the first five ayats (1-5) of Surah Alaq were revealed, however this is not the first fully complete Surah to be revealed and was actually revealed in 3 parts. It is sometimes also known as Sūrat Iqrā (سورة إقرا, "Read").
The meaning of 'alaq
The linguistic definition of ʻalaq علق (singular ʻalaqah علقة) is "leech", "medicinal leech", "coagulated blood", "blood clot", or "the early stage of the embryo". ʻAlaq is also a derivative of ʻalaqa which means "attached and hanging to something." Professor Abdul Haleem mentions that "ʻalaq” 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."
The term ʻalaqah is the second stage of human prenatal development (sura Al-Mu’minoon 23: 12-14) which "descriptively encompasses the primary external and internal features" of the early embryo. The term ʻalaqah also occurs in several languages related to Arabic. In Hebrew there is עֲלוּקָה alûqāh (or alukah), the generic name for any blood-sucking worm or leech, and in Aramaic and Syriac there are words with apparently similar meanings.
Period of revelation
This sura has two parts: the first consists of vv. 1-5, and the second of vv. 6-19. The majority of Islamic scholars agreed that the first part forms the first revelation to be sent down to Muhammad in 610. In this regard, the Hadith from Aisha, which Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari, Muslim and other traditionists have related with several chains of authorities, is one of the most authentic Hadith on the subject. In it Aisha narrates the full story of the beginning of revelation as she herself heard it from Muhammad. Besides, Ibn Abbas, Abu Musa al-Ashari and a group of the Companions also are reported to have stated that these were the very first verses of the Quran to be revealed to Muhammad.
The second part was revealed later, when Muhammad began to perform the prescribed prayer in the precincts of the Kaaba, and Abu Jahl tried to prevent him from this with threats.
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