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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

96. The Clinging Forma A stage in the development of a foetus (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. (1 – 19)

A Meccan sura named after the term ‘alaq in verse 2. The first five verses are known to be the first revelation of the Qurʾan 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

1Read! In the name of your Lord who created: 2He created manb See note to 89: 15. from a clinging form. 3Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One 4who taught by [means of] the pen, 5who taught man what he did not know.

6But man exceeds all bounds 7when he thinks he is self-sufficient: 8[Prophet], all will return to your Lord. 9Have you seen the man who forbids 10[Our] servant to pray? 11Have you seen whether he is rightly guided, 12or encourages true piety? 13Have you seen whether he denies the truth and turns away from it? 14Does he not realize that God sees all? 15No! If he does not stop, We shall drag him by his foreheadc In Hell. Many translators give ‘forelock’ instead of ‘forehead’ (cf. 54: 48). His head is sinful, not his forelock.16his lying, sinful forehead. 17Let him summon his comrades; 18We shall summon the guards of Hell. 19No! Do not obey him [Prophet]: bow downd 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’. in worship and draw close.

Notes:

a A stage in the development of a foetus (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’.

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