Sura 96

The first revelation given to the prophet of the Quran were the following five verses from Sura 96, The Embryo ( Al-‘Alaq / الـعلق ).

[96:1] Read, in the name of your Lord, who created. [96:2] He created man from an embryo. [96:3] Read, and your Lord, Most Exalted. [96:4] Teaches by means of the pen. [96:5] He teaches man what he never knew.

(١) ٱقْرَأْ بِٱسْمِ رَبِّكَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ (٢) خَلَقَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ (٣) ٱقْرَأْ وَرَبُّكَ ٱلْأَكْرَمُ (٤) ٱلَّذِى عَلَّمَ بِٱلْقَلَمِ *(٥) عَلَّمَ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ مَالَمْ يَعْلَمْ

These five verses contain 19 words and 76 (19x4) letters.

This Sura has 19 verses.

[96:6] Indeed, the human transgresses. [96:7] When he becomes rich. [96:8] To your Lord is the ultimate destiny. [96:9] Have you seen the one who enjoins. [96:10] Others from praying? [96:11] Is it not better for him to follow the guidance? [96:12] Or advocate righteousness? [96:13] If he disbelieves and turns away. [96:14] Does he not realize that GOD sees? [96:15] Indeed, unless he refrains, we will take him by the forelock. [96:16] A forelock that is disbelieving and sinful. [96:17] Let him then call on his helpers. [96:18] We will call the guardians of Hell. [96:19] You shall not obey him; you shall fall prostrate and draw nearer.

(٦) كَلَّآ إِنَّ ٱلْإِنسَٰنَ لَيَطْغَىٰٓ (٧) أَن رَّءَاهُ ٱسْتَغْنَىٰٓ (٨) إِنَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ ٱلرُّجْعَىٰٓ (٩) أَرَءَيْتَ ٱلَّذِى يَنْهَىٰ (١٠) عَبْدًا إِذَا صَلَّىٰٓ (١١) أَرَءَيْتَ إِن كَانَ عَلَى ٱلْهُدَىٰٓ (٩٦:١٢) أَوْ أَمَرَ بِٱلتَّقْوَىٰٓ (١٣) أَرَءَيْتَ إِن كَذَّبَ وَتَوَلَّىٰٓ (١٤) أَلَمْ يَعْلَم بِأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَرَىٰ (١٥) كَلَّا لَئِن لَّمْ يَنتَهِ لَنَسْفَعًۢا بِٱلنَّاصِيَةِ (١٦) نَاصِيَةٍ كَٰذِبَةٍ خَاطِئَةٍ (١٧) فَلْيَدْعُ نَادِيَهُۥ (١٨) سَنَدْعُ ٱلزَّبَانِيَةَ (١٩) كَلَّا لَا تُطِعْهُ وَٱسْجُدْ وَٱقْتَرِب

From verse 1 to the last verse 19 of Sura 96, there are 285 letters (19x15).

Additionally, Sura 96 sits on top of the last 19 Suras of the Quran.

Note about مَالَمْ (ma-lam) in verse 96:5.

There is a debate about whether the expression مَالَمْ (ma-lam) should be counted as a single word or two words. This expression occurs 16 times in the Quran: 2:236, 3:151, 4:113, 6:6, 6:81, 6:110, 7:33, 18:68, 18:78, 18:82, 19:43, 22:71, 39:47, 42:21, 48:27, and 96:5.

In this analysis, we counted مَالَمْ (ma-lam) as a single word, and this is not out of line with the Quranic text, as both مَا (ma) and لَمْ (lam) are used as part of compound words in the Quran.

For the use of لَمْ (lam) we see this word most notably used in the compound word "awalam" ( أَوَلَمْ ), which would be translated as "Or did not." This word is used in 2:260, 7:100, 7:184, 7:185, 13:41, 14:44, 15:70, 16:48, 17:99, and 20:133.

Additionally, the word مَا (ma) is commonly used as part of a compound word. For instance, the word مِمَّا (miima), which occurs some 123 times in the Quran, is a compound of مِنْ مَا (miin ma). Additionally, below are examples from the verses of the Quran where this occurs.

One would think that we can just look at old manuscripts of the Quran to settle this dispute, except there are two problems with this approach. Firstly, the letters alif ( ا ) and lam ( ل ) do not connect in the word malam ( مَالَمْ ) because alif only connects to letters from the right. This means that the only determination will depend on the spacing between these two letters, except the oldest manuscripts of the Quran do not treat spacing like it is treated today in typed script.

In these older manuscripts, oftentimes, one will find part of the word in one line and the remainder of the word in the other line or have the spacing between the letters of a single word just as spaced out as the spacing between two distinct words. Therefore, trying to determine if malam ( مَالَمْ ) should be one word or two based on the spacing alone in the old manuscripts is not a feasible approach. For instance, the two manuscripts below is from the year 1203 and 1198, yet one cannot determine from the spacing alone if this should be treated as a single word or two.

Below is another manuscript dated around the 800s. Not only do we see that the spacing between the individual letters for a select word is just as wide as two separate words, but also that several words will start in one line and continue in the following line. This shows that spacing is not an indicator for distinguishing if a word should be treated as one or two.

That stated, can we go to other sources to see if these two words are ever treated as a single word?

The first example comes from a slide from Ahmad Deedat from a talk he gave discussing Code 19, and it is clear when he says, "One must be blind not to see this," as he shows the 19-word count of Sura 96 verses 1-5.

That said, we use the mathematical findings as stated above regarding Sura 96 as confirmation that the word ma-lam ( مَالَمْ ) should be treated as a single word.

For more examples of ma-lam as a single word in dictionaries and other sources, please check out the following article.

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