Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yusuf Ali’s explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s explanation of this Chapter.
Laleh Bakhtiar’s explanation of this Chapter.
'The Clinging (Relationship)’
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
“THERE IS no doubt that the first five verses of this surah represent the very beginning of the revelation of the Qur'an. Although the exact date cannot be established with certainty, all authorities agree, in that these five verses were revealed in the last third of the month of Ramadan, thirteen years before the hijrah (corresponding to July or August, 610, of the Christian era). Muhammad was then forty years old.
Verses 6-19 of this surah are of somewhat later date i.”
Regular Readers will remember the importance of this Chapter in that it holds the very first verses ever revealed to the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him... verses which introduce and command him/ us to uphold the dynamic of 'iqra.'
PLEASE recall this all-important term before continuing (put 'six components' in 'Search').
PAGE 597 Arabic Qur’an
- The first-ever verses to be revealed were the following:“IQRA! Read/ Recite/ Peruse' by (invoking) the attributeof your Lord-Sustainer Who created (ii).He created the Cognizant Humanfrom 'Alaq/ a Clinging/ Relationship.'IQRA! Read/ Recite/ Peruse'and your Lord is the Most Magnanimous.He Who 'defined/ taught' by Differentiation.'Defined for/ Taught' the Cognizant Humanthat which he did not know.”
Tradition not only tells us that these were the first verses revealed, but it also tells us the story of its revelation. We have two similar stories, with both citing the Prophet, peace upon him, as responding to the Angel who commanded him three times 'Iqra!' by saying (as is commonly explained) that he 'cannot read': “Maa aqra'/ Maa ana biqaari” meaning “I don't read/ I am not a Reader.” Interestingly, the word “Maa” could either be a negative adverb as in “not,” or a pronoun as in “what,” which would then transform the statement into a question. This means that his response “Maa aqra” could have been asking: “What should I read/ recite/ peruse?”
Both seem plausible, but when we recall the definition of the word 'iqra' we realize that he was probably not questioning the command, but rather:
Understanding the meaning of the word (loaded with its many components), he must have been apprehensive of the burden being put on his shoulders. Here was something he was supposed to undertake, gather, carry, witness, and eventually disseminate to others.... a huge burden which only became bearable when he was assured that he would be doing so 'by the Attribute of his Lord Who Created,' with God's help.
Then Verses 3- 4 continue to reassure the Listener, commanding him -again- that he should 'iqra'... adding that his Lord is The Most Eminent and Magnanimous, who 'demarcated' (everything) by the 'qalam/ differentiation' (iii). Here we think of everything in creation, each distinguished from the other by distinctive features. Then comes Verse 5, which is specific for us, telling us that God had 'defined for/ taught' the Cognizant Human (specifically, and no one else) 'taught him that which he did not know.' Here again, a grade of differentiation for Cognizant Humans, ABOVE that of all other creatures.
- The command 'Iqra' cannot be explained by one word. It is about processing and disseminating information; it is the all-important dynamic which got us into our research project.When the 'Insaan/ Cognizant Human' activates the dynamic of 'iqra, he consciously becomes part of the construct of RaHmaan> Quraan> Insaan, and becomes receptive to both His Creator and to the Qur'an (we spoke of this in HQ 55: 1-4, where we learnt that Al RaHmaan is Our Lord/Sustainer Who creatediv).In this verse, it is interesting to note that the Insaan/ Cognizant Human alone is specified as being created of 'alaq.'Doesn't this makes certain explanations (such as ‘clot of blood' / 'that which clings in the uterus') unlikely... since there has to be in this description something differentiating humans from all other mammals?! Put 'alaq clot' in Search to see this verse as an excellent example of how Qur'anic interpretation has changed with time, dependent on people's knowledge.In fact, most interpretations of this verse have been contextually and linguistically inaccurate. Note that the 'Cognizant' Human alone was created from ‘alaq,' NOT the physical ‘human specie’/ ‘Bashar.’ It is about our cognizant selves, and NOT our physical selves, and since it is specific to Cognizance, it can be none other than the ‘quickening’ of God’s ‘spirit’ (نفخ فيه من روحه...) which rendered the ‘bashar’ into ‘insaan.’ Put ‘insaan bashar’ in ‘Search this Site.’THAT is the specific 'relationship' we have had with God from the moment we were created, whether we'd noticed it or not. (‘Alaq’ علق) is the clinging relationship WHICH TIES US COGNIZANT HUMANS to God and shall reel us back to Him upon the death of our physical bodies.
- After these Verses 1-5 had given us all this important information, Verses 6-7 tell us of human nature.Indeed, the Cognizant Human does 'yaTghaa/ transgress.' When he beholds/ attains it (knowledge) he becomes (arrogantly) self-sufficient.The word 'istaghnaa/ self-sufficient استغنى' is a negative human-trait in the Qur'an, showing one's feelings of superiority to others. It seems that, by nature, we are prone to excess. When we succeed in obtaining what others don't have, we convince ourselves that we need nothing and no one, and go on to commit further excesses and transgressions. Everything is a 'power-tool' to Transgressors, especially what is 'sacred' to others and can be used to overpower them.This Chapter is about Information Processing, and that is why it warns us indirectly regarding the misuse of Knowledge. Verse 8 asserts to each of us, that to our Lord is The Return!
- Verses 9-14 speak to Prophet Muhammad/ the listener's observation of a certain aggressive type, asking the rhetorical question three times “Have you seen the one who....?” In this indirect way we are told of this unpleasant person's actions of forbidding a worshipper from prayer/ connection, and his belying (the Message) and turning away (from it).The rhetorical question then asks: Does he not know that God observes (him)?
- Verses 15- 18 hold dire warning for this person, in that if he does NOT cease what he is doing, God shall take him forcefully by the forelock, the 'lying, wrong-doing' forelock/ naaSiyah, challenging him to call upon whomever he wishes (for none can help him), while God calls upon the 'Shovers/ Zabaaniyahv' (believed to be 'angels of punishment' who shove wrong-doers into the Fire).
- Regular Readers probably remember the word 'naaSiyah' (put 'forelock' in 'Search') which appears 4 times in the Qur'an. 'NaaSiyah/ forelock' stands for the area at the center of our forehead, and the fact that it is called 'lying and wrong-doing' is VERY interesting in this context!The human brain contains the following main lobes:The Frontal lobe, the Occipital lobe, the Temporal lobe, and the Parietal lobe.The Pre-Frontal Cortex, lying directly behind the forehead, represents the bigger part of the frontal lobe. It influences initiative and judgment and is responsible for forming that person’s character (and for fabricating lies)... which is why this verse is said to hold another 'Scientific Marvel' of the Qur'an.
- The final verse commands the listener NOT to obey such a person, but rather, to prostrate and draw close (to God).This concept of drawing closer to God by prostrating to Him is well-known. In HQ 56: 37 we notice that the Deviant can approach us from any of our four sides, but never from above or below. Both directions are our pathways to God, related to prostration and supplication, and other aspects we do not fully understand.Some say that with our foreheads to the ground, we release all negativity into the earth. Others say that their studies have proven that, of all the body postures which increase alpha waves, prostration is most prominent.At any rate, it is only when the body is in sync with consciousness that the Cognizant Human can begin to achieve his highest potential.Our 34 daily prostrations are excellent practice, but we can do much better when we realize their importance and plan to make the best use of them.And so ends this VERY IMPORTANT Chapter, which deserves to be read and reread... IQRA!
Peace unto all!
As reported by Muhammad Asad:
“At that period of his life "solitude became dear unto him, and he used to withdraw into seclusion in a cave of Mount Hira [near Mecca] and there apply himself to ardent devotions" consisting of long vigils and prayers (Bukhari). One night, the Angel of Revelation suddenly appeared to him and said, "Read!" Muhammad at first thought that he was expected to read actual script, which, being unlettered, he was unable to do; and so he answered, "I cannot read" - whereupon, in his own words, the angel "seized me and pressed me to himself until all strength went out of me; then he released me and said, 'Read!' I answered, 'I cannot read....' Then he seized me again and pressed me to himself until all strength went out of me; then he released me and said, 'Read!' - to which I [again] answered, 'I cannot read....' Then he seized me and pressed me to himself a third time; then he released me and said, 'Read in the name of thy Sustainer, who has created - created man out of a germ-cell! Read - for thy Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One...'": and so Muhammad understood, in sudden illumination, that he was called upon to "read", that is, to receive and understand, God's message to man. The above excerpts are quoted from the third Tradition of the section Bad' al- Wahy, which forms the introductory chapter of Bukhari's Sahih; almost identical versions of this Tradition are found in two other places in Bukhari as well as in Muslim, Nasa'i and Tirmidhi.”
Most Believers can recite Chapter 92 by heart: ‘Iqra bissmi Rabbilkallathee khalaq..’ which begins with a direct command to the Messenger to: ‘IQRA ‘read/ recite/ peruse,’ invoking the attribute/ name of your Lord who created.’ Although we might feel confident that the Messenger, peace upon him, had done just that, HE WAS NEVER REPORTED to have read the Qur’an with the invocation: ‘In the name of my Lord/Sustainer who created.’
What does this mean?
Does it mean that HE had not obeyed the direct command regarding his Qur’anic reading, or does it mean that OUR information today, is lacking?
Of course, it is OUR information today, which is lacking!
The Messenger HAD indeed obeyed this command, and had also relayed it to the Believers,who understood it.
We, by rote, continue to do what they did, without realizing that we are fulfilling that command.
How is that?
Think: Don’t we always begin reading/ perusing Qur’an with the invocation: ‘Bismil-Lah al-Rahmaan al-Raheem’?
Yes, dear Reader. ‘Al Rahmaan’ IS: Our Lord/Sustainer who created’ !!
The root verb ‘qalama’ (according to our 1030 year old Lexicon), is ‘to smoothen, set straight, arrange by filing,’ and ‘Qalam’ is something filed, formed by filing, into a pencil, reed, stick, column (see Etymology below), yet Qur’anic context shows us that this term is about how our brain ‘files’ and records the differences between one entity and another to facilitate recognition and reference! Indeed, all creatures learn and mark out everything around them by ‘qalam,’ as is indicated in HQ 96: 1-4. We see children differentiate colors, shapes, and sounds by ‘qalam,’ and we know how well animals and birds identify different scents, shapes, sounds,vibrations, electro-magnetic signals... all by ‘qalam.’
Note: Even today, to ‘file’ one’s nails in Arabic is: ‘taqleem’ al athafer!
It is interesting to see how Arabic diacritics/ tanween was incorporated into the Latin word:
“COLUMN: from Latin columna from columen."
The -en ending is none other than
قلمٌ - قلمٍ - قلماً ‘Columen’ is ‘qalam,’ its final consonant diacritized, the ‘tanween’ indicating subject, object, object of preposition.
‘Al Rahmaan’ is not only our ‘Source,’ but He is ‘Our Sustainer (Rabb) who created/ ربنا الذي خلق[ii]’… who brings everything together FOR US, from inception to completion…. preparing, then rearing and fostering, and finally giving each of us our due. It is He who created us (and no one else) from ‘alaq/ relationship’ WITH HIM; no one else has this distinction.
زبن: أصلٌ واحدٌ يدلُّ على الدّفع. يقال ناقة زَبُون، إذا زَبَنَتْ حالبَها. والحرب تزبِنُ النّاسَ، إذا صَدَمتهم. وحربٌ زَبُون. ورجلٌ ذو زَبُّونةٍ، إذا كان مانعاً لجانبِه دَفُوعاً عن نفسه
ويقال فيه زَبُّونَةٌ، أي كِبر، ولا يكونُ كذا إلاّ وهو دافعٌ عن نفسه. والزَّبانِيَةُ سُمُّوا بذلك، لأنّهم يدفعون أهلَ النار إلى النار. فأمَّا المُزابَنَة فبيع الثمر في رؤوس النّخل، وهو الذي جاء الحديث بالنَّهي عنه. وقال أهل العلم: إنّه مما يكون بعد ذلك من النِّزاع والمدافَعة.