96. Iqraa

Syed Abu-Ala' Maududi's Chapter Introductions to the Quran


The Sura is so entitled after the word alaq in the second verse.

Period of Revelation

This Sura has two parts: the first part consists of vv. 1-5 and the second of vv. 6-19. About the first part a great majority of the Islamic scholars are agreed that it forms the very first Revelation to be sent downn to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be Allah's peace and blessings). In this regard the Hadith from Hadrat Aishah which Imam Ahmad Bukhari Muslim and other traditionists have related with several chains of authorities is one of the most authentic Ahadith on the subject. In it Hadrat Aishah has narrated the full story of the beginning of revelation as she herself heard it from the Holy Messenger of Allah. 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 the Holy Prophet. The second part was sent down afterwards when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) began to perform the prescribed Prayer in the precincts of the Kabahand Abu Jahl tried to prevent him from this with threats.

Beginning of Revelation

The traditionists have related on the strength of their respective authorities the story of the beginning of revelation from Iman Az- -Zuhri who had it from Hadrat Urwah bin Zubair who had it from Hadrat Aishah his aunt. She states that revelations to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) began in the form of true (according to other traditions good) visions. Whichever vision he saw it seemed as though he saw it in broad daylight. Afterwards solitude became dear to him and he would go to the Cave of Hira to engage in worship there for several days and nights (Hadrat Aishah has used the word tahannuth which Imam Zuhri has explained as ta'abbud: devotional exercises. This was some kind of worship which he performed for until then he had not been taught the method of performing the Prayer by Allah). He would take provisions with him and stay there for several days then would return to Hadrat Khadijah who would again provide for him for a few more days. One day when he was in the Cave of Hira Revelation came down to him unexpectedly and the Angel said to him: "Read". After this Hadrat Aishah reports the words of the Holy Prophet himself to the effect I said: I cannot read! There upon the Angel took me and pressed me until I could bear it no more. Then he left me and said: Read. I said: I cannot read! He pressed me a second time until I could bear it no more. Then he left me and said: Read. I again said: I cannot read! He pressed me for the third time until I could bear it no more. Then he left me and said: Iqra bismi Rabbi kal- ladhi khalaqa: (Read in the name of your Lord Who created) till he reached ma lam ya lam (what he did not know). Hadrat Aishah says: "Then the Holy Messenger (upon whom be peace) returned home to Hadrat Khadijah trembling with fear and said to her: `Cover me cover me' and he was covered. When terror left him he said: `O KhadIjah what has happened to me?' Then he narrated to her whatever had happened and said: `I fear for my life'. She said; `No never! Be of good cheer. By God never will God debase you: you treat the kindred well you speak the truth (one tradition adds: you restore what is entrusted to you) you bear the burden of the helpless you help the poor you entertain the guests and you cooperate in good works.' Then she took him to Waraqah bin Naufal who was her cousin. He had become a Christian in pre- Islamic days wrote the Gospel in Arabic and Hebrew and had become very old and blind. Hadrat Khadijah said: `Brother listen to the son of your brother.' Waraqah said to the Holy Prophet: `What have you seen nephew?' The Holy Prophet described what he had seen. Waraqah said; `This is the same Namus (the Angel of Revelation) which Allah had sent down to Moses. Would that I were a young man during your Prophethood! Would that I were alive when your tribe would expel you!' The Holy Prophet said: `Will they expel me?' Waraqah said; `Yes never has it so happened that a person brought what you have brought and was not treated as an enemy. If I live till then I would help you with all the power at my command.' But not very long after this Waraqah died." This narritive is explicit that even until a moment before the coming Angel the Holy Messenger of Allah intimately aware of his life his Affairs and dealings. When he also heard of his experiencc she did not regard it as an evil suggestion but immediately said that it was the Namus who had descended on Moses (peace be upon him). This meant that even according to him the Holy Prophet was such a sublime person that there was nothing surprising in his being elevated to the office of Prophethood. Occasion of Revelation of vv. 6-19 This second part of thee Sura was revealed when the Holy Messenger of Allah began to perform the Prayer in the Islamic way in the Ka'bahand Abu Jahl threatened and tried to prevent him from this. It so happened that after his appointment to Prophethood even before he could start preaching Islam openly

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