Issue 122 » June 15, 2001 -




Surah al-'Alaq

The Blood Clots (96)

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful


In the name of your Lord who created, 

created man from a clot of blood.



And your Lord is the most Bounteous, 

Who has taught the use of the pen, 

has taught man that which he knew not."


  • It is universally agreed that these verses (ayaat) comprise the very first Qur'anic revelation. They were sent through the Angel Jibrail to a young, truthful and gentle man named Muhammad in the desert land of Arabia 1422 years ago. This sudden encounter with the divine left him in a state of shock at the terrifying power he had just witnessed but also in overwhelming wonderous awe of what it may signify     

  • We have all read the stroy many times in our books; either those of the Prophet's biography or those explaining the meaning of the Qur'an. But we either read it casually or gave it little thought and continue on with our readings. Yet this is an event which has such an important bearing on the life of humanity that it would be no exaggeration to describe it as the greatest in the entire history of existence.

The true nature & significance of this event

  • Allah - the Great, the Almighty, the Supreme, the God of the universe - out of His benevolence, Divine care and Infinite love, has turned to that creation of His which is called "man", and which takes its abode in a hardly visible corner of the universe called "Earth". And He has honoured this species of creation by choosing one of its numbers to be the recipient of His Divine light and the guardian of His wisdom.

  • For man, this event signifies that Allah has bestowed on him an honour the greatness of which he can hardly ever appreciate and for which he can never show enough gratitude not even if he spends all his life in devotion and prostration. This honor is that Allah has taken notice and care of him, established contact with him and chosen one of the human race as His messenger to reveal to him His words so that the earth, man's abode, has become the recipient of these Divine words, which the whole universe echoes with submission and devotion.

Impact on human history and consciousness

  • When this great event took place the people who recognised its true nature and adapted their lives accordingly enjoyed Allah's protection and manifest care. They looked up to Him directly for guidance in all their affairs of life, no matter how insignificant. They lived and moved under His constant supervision.

  • The period which followed the event was certainly remarkable: twenty-three years of direct contact between the human race and the Highest Society. The true nature of this period cannot be recognised except by those who lived in that period and went through its experience, witnessed its start and its end, relished the sweet flavour of that contact and felt the Divine hand guiding them along the road. 

  • The distance which separates us from that reality is too great to be defined by any measure of length this world has known. It is a distance in the world of conscience incomparable to any distance in the material world, not even when we think of the gaps separating the stars or galaxies. It is a gap that separates the earth and the Heaven; a gap between human desires and Divine revelation as sources from which concepts and values are derived; a gap between Ignorance and Islam, the human and the Divine.

The revolution continues today

  • The impact of that period has been in evidence in the life of humanity ever since its beginning up to this moment, and it will remain in evidence until the day when Allah inherits the earth and all that walks on it. 

  • Man was reborn when he started to derive his values from Heaven rather than earth and his laws from the Divine revelation instead of his own desires. The course of history underwent a change the like of which has never been experienced before or since that event, the commencement of revelation, was the point at which the roads crossed. 

  • Clear and permanent guidelines were established which cannot be changed by the passage of time or effaced by events. Human conscience developed a concept of existence, human life and its values unsurpassed in comprehensiveness, clarity and purity of all worldly considerations as well as its realism and practicability in human society. 

  • The foundations of this Divine code have been firmly established in the world and its various aspects and essential standards have been made clear, "so that he who perishes may perish after having received a clear sign and he who lives may live after having received a clear sign. " (Al-Qur'an 8:42)

The beginning of revelation was a unique event at a unique moment marking the end of one era and the start of another. It is the demarcation line in the history of mankind, not merely in the history of a certain nation or a particular generation. It has been recorded by the universe and echoed in all its corners. It has also been recorded in the conscience of man which today needs to be guided by what Allah has revealed and never to lose sight of it. It needs to remember that this event was a rebirth of humanity which can take place only once in history.

[compiled from "Fi Zilaal il-Qur'an" (In the Shade of the Qur'an) by Imam Sayyid Qutb, 

entire commentary of 30th part of Qur'an available for online reading from http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/tafsir/syed_qutb/index.htm

Quotes to ponder over

Imam Hassan al-Basri (rahimahullah) used to say:


        "People of earlier times believed the Holy Qura'n to be the commandment of Allah,     they contemplated over it throughout the night and acted upon it during the day. Whereas today you excercise particular care to pronounce its words and vowels correctly, but do not take it as the commandment (hukm) of Allah, and do not contemplate over it."


[a generous contribution by Sr. Uzma Shaheen]