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Sura al-'Alaq

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Sura al-'Alaq
al-Tin← →al-Qadr
سوره علق.jpg
Sura Number 96
Juz' 30
Revelation Number 1
Makki/Madani Makki
Verse Count 19
Word Count 72
Letter Count 288
This article is an introduction to the Sura al-'Alaq; to read its text see text:Sura al-'Alaq.

Sūra al-ʿAlaq or Sūra Iqraʾ (Arabic: سورة العلق) is the ninety-sixth sura. It is a Meccan sura of the Quran, located in juz' 30. The title of the sura is derived from its second verse, in which reference is made to the human creation from ʿalaq (clinging mass or congealed blood). The first five verses of the sura are said to be the first verses revealed to the Prophet (s).

In Sura al-ʿAlaq, God commands the Prophet (s) to read. According to exegetes, “reading” here refers to the reading of the Quran, not any reading whatsoever. The sura points to the human creation and development, talks about God’s blessings on humans, and notes that they are nevertheless ungrateful and rebellious. Sura al-ʿAlaq also points to an excruciating punishment for those who forbid people’s guidance and good deeds.

Sura al-ʿAlaq is one of the four suras with obligatory prostrations. These are known as “ʿAzaʾim al-Qurʾan.” On the virtue of the recitation of this sura, Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying that those who recite the sura “Iqraʾ bism rabbik” (Read in the name of your Lord) in a day or a night, and die on that day or night, then they would die as martyrs.


  • Naming

The sura is called Sura al-ʿAlaq, Sura Iqraʾ, or Sura Iqraʾ bism rabbik. “ʿAlaq” in the sense of congealed blood is derived from its second verse; “Iqraʾ” in the sense of “read” (imperative form) comes from its opening verse. The sura is also called “Qalam.”

  • Order and Place of Revelation

Sura al-ʿAlaq is a Meccan sura of the Quran. According to many exegetes, in the order of revelation, it was the first sura revealed to the Prophet (s), although according to Makarim Shirazi, some exegetes maintain that only its first five verses were the first verses revealed to the Prophet (s). In the present order of compilation, Sura al-ʿAlaq is the ninety-sixth sura, located in juzʾ 30.

  • Number of Verses and Other Features

Sura al-ʿAlaq has 19 verses, 72 words, and 288 letters. As to its size, it counts as one of mufassalat (suras with short verses) and is a small Quranic sura.

  • The Beginning of Quranic Revelation

According to Shi'a and Sunni exegetes, when the Prophet (s) was in Cave of Hira, Gabriel descended to him, and said, “O Muhammad! read!” The Prophet (s) said, “I cannot read.” Gabriel tightly embraced him and said once again: “read!” and the Prophet (s) repeated his reply. Gabriel did the same and then said, “Read in the name of your Lord who created…” (to the end of the five verses). He recited these and then went out of the Prophet’s sight. Exhausted upon receiving his first revelation, the Prophet (s) went home to Khadija (a), and said: “wrap me up in my mantle so that I take some rest.”

  • Sura of Prostration

Sura al-ʿAlaq is one of the four Quranic suras with obligatory prostrations. These suras are known as ʿAzaʾim al-Qurʾan. It is obligatory to prostrate upon hearing or reading the last verse of Sura al-ʿAlaq. There are particular rulings for such suras. For instance, it is forbidden to recite in one’s prayers as well as in states of menstruation and jinaba (impurity as a result of sexual intercourse).


Sura al-ʿAlaq involves the following themes:

  • It begins with ordering the Prophet (s) to read and recite.
  • It is concerned with the creation of humans, as great they are, from a worthless congealed blood or clinging mass.
  • It talks about ungrateful, rebellious people.
  • It points to an excruciating punishment of those who prevent people’s guidance and good deeds.
  • It finally orders to prostrate before God and get near Him.
Content of Sura al-'Alaq[1]
The Prophet's duties in calling people toward the Lord
The first duty: verses 1-5
Introduction of the Lord
The second duty: verses 6-19
Servitude toward God and refraining from
compliance with the rebellious
The first point: verses 1-2
God has created humans from congealed blood
The first point: verses 6-8
People's rebellion against God's commands
The second point: verses 3-5
God has taught humans whatever they needed to know
The second point: verses 9-14
The opposition of the rebellious
to the Prophet's monotheistic call
The third point: verses 15-18
Humility, the fate of opposing God
The fourth point: verse 19
The Prophet's duty with respect to the rebellious

The Meaning of “Reading” in Its First Verses

In the first revealed verses of the Quran, God commands the Prophet to read or recite. ʿAllama Tabatabaʾi believes that this is not an order to any reading whatsoever, rather to read the verses revealed by the angel of revelation. On this account, which is espoused by other exegetes as well, the imperative “read” means “read the Quran.” In Tafsir-i nimuna, Ayatollah Makarim Shirazi points out that some exegetes have appealed to the first verse of Sura al-ʿAlaq to establish that “Bism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim” (In the Name of Allah, the All-beneficent, the All-merciful) is part of each sura, since it commands reading the Quran in the name of the Lord, which implies that at the opening of each Quranic sura one is required to read “In the Name of Allah…” However, Makarim believes that this interpretation is unlikely. ʿAllama Tabatabaʾi holds that the verse does not imply the requirement of reciting “Bism Allah…”

Virtue and Effects

As for the virtue of Sura al-ʿAlaq, Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying that those who recite the sura “Iqraʾ bism rabbik” (Read in the name of your Lord) in a day or a night, and die on that day or night, then they would die as martyrs, and they would be resurrected martyrs, and they would be in line with martyrs, and on the day of resurrection, they would be like those who attended a jihad alongside the Prophet (s) with their swords. Moreover, the Prophet (s) is quoted as saying that he who recites Sura Iqraʾ is like someone who has recited all mufassalat. The effects mentioned for the recitation of this sura include immunity against drowning in the sea, safety in the face of disasters in journeys, and protection of one’s possessions from detriments and theft.


  1. Khamagar, Muhammad, Sakhtar-i suraha-yi Qur'an-i karim, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangi-yi Qur'an wa 'Itrat-i Nur al-Thaqalayn, Qom: Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.


  • The material for this article is mainly taken from سوره علق in Farsi WikiShia.
  • Abū l-Futūḥ al-Rāzī, Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī. Rawḍ al-Jinān wa Rawḥ al-Janān fī Tafsīr al-Qurʾān. Edited by Yāḥiqī wa Naṣiḥ . Mashhad: Āstān-i Quds-i Raḍawī, 1375 Sh.
  • Baḥrānī, Hāshim b. Sulaymān al-. Al-Burhān fī tafsīr al-Qurʾān.