Saturday, August 13, 2011

Explanation of Sūrah Al-Ikhlās,

Explanation of Sūrah Al-Ikhlās (Purity of Faith)

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-`ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.


Al-Ikhlas is not merely the name of this Surah but also the title of its contents, for it deals exclusively with Tawhid. The other Surahs of the Qur’an generally have been designated after a word occurring in them, but in this Surah the word Ikhlas has occurred nowhere. It has been given this name in view of its meaning and subject matter. 

Whoever understands it and believes in its teaching, will get rid of shirik (polytheism) completely. 

Period of Revelation

Whether it is a Makki or a Madani Surah is disputed, and the difference of opinion has been caused by the traditions which have been related concerning the occasion of its revelation. We give them below ad seriatim:
  1. `Abdullah bin Mas`ud (radiyallāhu`anhu) has reported that the Quraish said to the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam): “Tell us of the ancestry of your Lord.” Thereupon this Surah was sent down.” (Tabarāni).
  2. Abul `Aliyah has related on the authority of Ubayy bin Ka`ab (radiyallāhu`anhu) that the polytheists said to the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam): “Tell us of your Lord’s ancestry.” Thereupon Allāh sent down this Surah. (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Abi Harim, Ibn Jarir, Tirmidzi, Bukhari in At-Tarikh, Ibn Al-Mundhir, Hakim, Baihaqi). Tirmidzi has related a tradition on the same theme from Abul `Aliyah, which does not contain any reference to Ubayy bin Ka`ab, and has declared it to be more authentic.
  3. Jabir bin `Abdullah (radiyallāhu`anhu) has stated that a bedouin (according to other traditions, some people) said to the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam): “Tell us of your Lord’s ancestry.” Thereupon Allāh sent down this Surah. (Abu Yala, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Al-Mundhir, Tabarāni in Al-Awsat, Baihaqi, Abu Nua`im in Al-Hilyah).
  4. Ikrimah has related a tradition form Ibn Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu), saying that a group of the Jews, including Ka`ab bin Ashraf, Huyayy bin Akhtab and other, came before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) and said: “O Muhammad (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), tell us of the attributes of your Lord, who has sent you as a Prophet.” Thereupon Allāh sent down this Surah. (Ibn Abi Hatim, Ibn Adi, Baihaqi in Al-Asma was-Sifat).
In addition to these, some other traditions also have been cited by Ibn Taimiyyali in his commentary of Surah Al-Ikhlas, which are as follows;
  1. Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu`anhu) has stated that some Jews of Khaiber came before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) and they said: “O Abul Qasim, Allāh created the angels from light, Adam from rotten clay, Iblis from the flame of fire, the sky from smoke, and the earth from the foam of water. Now tell us about your Lord (of what He is made).” The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) did not give any reply to this question. Then Gabriel came and he said: “O Muhammad, say to them: Huwa Allāhu Ahad.”
  2. Amir Bin At-Tufail (radiyallāhu`anhu) said to the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam): “O Muhammad, what do you call us to?”The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) replied: “To Allāh.” Amir said, “Then, tells us of what He is made, whether of gold, silver, or iron?” Thereupon this surah was sent down.
  3. Dahhak, Qatadah and Muqatil have stated that some Jewish rabbis came before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), and they said: “O Muhammad, tell us what is your Lord like, so that we may believe in you. Allāh in the Torah has sent down His description. Kindly tell us of what He is made, what is His sex, whether He is made of gold, copper, brass, iron, or silver, and whether He eats and drinks. Also tell us from whom He has inherited the world, and who will inherit it after Him.” Thereupon Allāh sent down this Surah.
  4. Ibn `Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu) has reported that a deputation of the Christians of Najran along with seven priests visited the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), and they said: “O Muhammad, tell us what is your Lord like and of what substance He is made.”The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) replied, “My Lord is not made from any substance. He is unique and exalted above everything.” Thereupon Allāh sent down this Surah.
These traditions show that different people on different occasions had questioned the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) about the essence and nature of the God to Whose service and worship he invited the people, and on every occasion he recited by Allāh's command this very Surah in response. First of all, the pagans of Quraish asked him this question in Makkah, and in reply this Surah was sent down. Then, at Madinah, sometimes the Christians, and sometimes the other people of Arabia, asked him questions of this nature, and every time Allāh inspired him to recite this very Surah in answer to them. In each of these traditions, it has been said that this Surah was revealed on this or that occasion. From this one should not form the impression that all these traditions are mutually contradictory. The fact is that whenever there existed with the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam)  a verse or a Surah previously revealed in respect of a particular question or matter, and later the same question was presented before him, Allāh inspired him to recite the same verse or Surah to the people as it contained the answer to their question. The reporters of Hadith describe the same thing, saying: When such and such a question or matter was presented before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam), such and such a verse or Surah was revealed. This has also been described as repetition of revelation, i. e. the revelation of a verse or Surah several times. 

Thus, the fact is that this Surah is Makki, rather in view of its subject matter a Surah revealed in the earliest period at Makkah, when detailed verses of the Qur’an dealing with the essence and attributes of Allāh Almighty had not yet been revealed, and the people hearing, the Prophet's invitation to Allāh, wanted to know what was his Lord like to whose worship and service he was calling them. Another proof of this Surah's being one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed is that when in Makkah Umayyah bin Khalaf, the master of Bilal bin Rabab(radiyallāhu`anhu), made him lie down on burning sand and placed a heavy stone on his chest, Bilal used to cry “Ahad, Ahad!” This word was derived from this very Surah. 

Theme and Subject Matter

A little consideration of the traditions regarding the occasion of the revelation of this Surah, shows what were the religious concepts of the world at the time the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) began to preach the message of Tawhid. The idolatrous polytheists were worshiping gods made of wood, stone, gold, silver and other substances. These gods had a form, shape and body. The gods and goddesses were descended from each other. No goddess was without a husband and no god without a wife. They stood in need of food and drink and their devotees arranged these for them. A large number of the polytheists believed that God assumed human form and there were some people who descended from Him. Although the Christians claimed to believe in One God, yet their God also had at least a son, and besides the Father and Son, the Holy Ghost also had the honor of being an associate in Godhead: so much so that God had a mother and a mother-in-law too. The Jews also claimed to believe in One God, but their God too was not without physical, material and other human qualities and characteristics. He went for a stroll, appeared in human form, wrestled with a servant of His, and was father of a son, Ezra. Besides these religious communities, the Zoroastrians were fire worshipers, and the Sabeans star worshipers. Under such conditions when the people were invited to believe in Allāh, the One Who has no associate, it was inevitable that questions arose in the minds as to what kind of a God it was, Who was one and Only Lord and invitation to believe in Whom was being given at the expense of all other gods and deities. It is a miracle of the Qur’an that in a few words briefly it answered all the questions and presented such a clear concept of the Being of Allāh as destroyed all polytheistic concepts, without leaving any room for the ascription of any of the human qualities to His Being. 

Merit and Importance

That is why the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) held this Surah in great esteem, and he made the Muslims realize its importance in different ways so that they recited it frequently and disseminated it among the people. For it states the foremost and fundamental doctrine of Islam (viz. Tawhid) in four such brief sentences as are immediately impressed on human memory and can be read and recited easily. There are a great number of the traditions of Hadith, which show that the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) on different occasions and in different ways told the people that this Surah is equivalent to one third the Qur’an. Several ahadith on this subject have been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud; Nasā`ie, Tirmidzi, Ibn Mājah, Musnad Ahmad, Tabarāni and other books, on the authority of: Abu Sa`id Khudri, Abu Hurairah, Abu Ayyub Ansari, Abu Ad-Darda, Muadz bin Jabal, Jabir bin `Abdullah, Ubayy bin Ka`ab, Umm Kulthum bint Uqbah bin Abi Muait, Ibn Umar, Ibn Mas`ud, Qatadah bin an-Nu’man, Anas Ibn Mālik, and Abu Mas`ud (radiyallāhu`anhum). 

The commentators have given many explanations of the Prophet's saying. But in our opinion it simply means that the religion presented by the Qur’an is based on three doctrines: Tawhid, Prophethood and the Hereafter. This Surah teaches Tawhid, pure and undefiled. Therefore, the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) regarded it as, equal to one-third of the Qur’an. 

A tradition on the authority of `Aishah (radiyallāhu`anha) has been related in Bukhari, Muslim and other collections of the Ahadith, saying that the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) sent a man as leader of an expedition. During the journey he concluded his recitation of the Qur`an in every Solāt with Qul Huwa-Allāhu Ahad. On their return him companions mentioned this before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam). He said: “Ask him why he did so.” When the man was asked, he replied: “In this Surah the attributes of the Merciful God have been stated; therefore, I love to recite it again and again.” When the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) heard this reply, he (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) said to the people: “Inform him that Allāh holds him in great love and esteem.”
A similar incident has been related in Bukhari, on the authority of Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu`anhu). Anas (radiyallāhu`anhu) says: “A man from among the Ansar led the Solāt in the Quba Mosque. His practice was that in every raka`ah he first recited this Surah and then would join another Surah to it. The people objected to it and said to him:”Don't you think that Surah Ikhlas is by itself enough? Why do you join another Surah to it? You should either recite only this surah, or should leave it and recite some other Surah. He said: “I cannot leave it, I would rather give up leadership in the Solāt, if you so desired.” The people did not approve that another man be appointed leader instead of him. At last, the matter was brought before the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam). He asked the man, “What prevents you from conceding what your companions desire? What makes you recite this particular Surah in every raka`ah?” The man replied: “I have great love for it.” The Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) remarked: “Your love for this Surah has earned you entry into Paradise.”

In the name of Allāh, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Say:1 “He is Allāh,2 the One and Only.3
Allāh is Independent of all and all are dependent on Him.4
Neither has He an offspring nor is He the offspring of anyone.5
And none is equal with Him in rank.”6

[1-4] Say:1 “He is Allāh,2 the One and Only.3 Allāh is Independent of all and all are dependent on Him.4 Neither has He an offspring nor is He the offspring of anyone.5 And none is equal with Him in rank.”6

1 The first addressee of this Command is the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) himself for it was he who was asked: “Who is your Lord and what is He like?” Again it was he who was commanded to answer the question in the following words. But after him every believer is its addressee. He too should say what the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) had been commanded to say.  

2 That is, “My Lord to Whom you want to be introduced is none but Allāh.” This is the first answer to the questions, and it means: “I have not introduced a new lord who I want you to worship beside all other gods, but it is the same Being you know by the name of Allāh.” “Allāh” was not an unfamiliar word for the Arabs. They had been using this very word for the Creator of the universe since the earliest times, and they did not apply this word to any of their other gods. For the other gods they used the word ilah. Then their beliefs about Allāh had become fully manifest at the time Abrahah invaded Makkah. At that time there existed 360 idols of gods (ilahs) in and around the Ka`bah, but the polytheists forsaking all of them had invoked only Allāh for protection. In other words, they knew in their hearts of hearts that no ilah could help them on that critical occasion except Allāh. The Ka`bah also was called Bait-Allāh by them and not Bait-ilahs after their self-made gods. At many places in the Qur’an the polytheistic Arabian belief about Allāh has been expressed, thus:
  • In Surah Az-Zukhruf it has been said: “If you ask them who created them, they will surely say, 'Allāh'.” (v. 87)
  • In Surah Al-`Ankabuut: “If you ask them, `Who has created the earth and the heavens and Who has subjected the moon and the sun?' they will surely say: Allāh ... And if you ask them, `Who sent down rainwater from the sky and hthereby raised the dead earth back to Iife?' they will surely say: `Allāh'.” (vv. 61-63)
  •  In Surah Al-Mu'minun: “Say to them, `Tell me, if you know, who’s the earth is and all who dwell in it?' They will say, `Allāh's'... say to them, `To Whom do the seven heavens and the Glorious Throne belong?' They will say, `To Allāh'... Say to them, `Tell me, if you know, Whose is the sovereignty over everything? And Who is that Being Who gives protection while none else can give protection against Him?' They will surely reply, `This power belongs to Allāh'.” (vv. 8489).
  • In Surah Yunus: “Ask them: Who provides for you from the heavens and the earth? Who has power over the faculties of hearing and sight? Who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living? Who directs the system of the universe? They will surely reply, `Allāh'.” (v. 31)
  • Again in Surah Yunus at another place: “When you set sails in ships, rejoicing over a fair breeze, then all of a sudden a strong wind begins to rage against the passengers and waves begin to surge upon them from every side and they realize that they have been encircled by the tempest. At that time they pray to Allāh with sincere faith, saying: `If thou deliverest us from this peril, we will become Thy grateful servants.' But when He delivers them, the same people begin to rebel on the earth against the Truth.” (w. 22-23)
  • he same thing has been reiterated in Surah Bani Isra'il, thus: “When a misfortune befalls you on the sea, all of those whom you invoke for help tail you but He (is there to help you), yet when He brings you safe to land, you turn away from Him.” (v. 67)
Keeping these verses in view, let us consider that when the people asked: “Who is your Lord and what is He like to Whose service and worship you call us?” the answer given was “Huwa Allāh: He is Allāh.” This answer by itself gives the meaning: “My Lord is He Whom you yourself acknowledge as your own as well as the whole world's Creator, its Master, Sustainer and Administrator, and He Whom you invoke for help at critical times beside all other deities, and I invite you to His service alone.” This answer comprehends all the perfect and excellent attributes of Allāh. Therefore, it is not at all conceivable that the Creator of the universe, its Administrator and Disposer of its affairs, Sustainer of all the creatures living in it, and the Helper of the servants in times of hardship, would not be living, hearing and seeing, that He would not be an All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Merciful and All-Kind Sovereign.  

3The scholars have explained the sentence Huwa-Allāh Ahad syntactically, but in our opinion its explanation which perfectly corresponds to the context is that Huwa is the subject and Allāhu its predicate, and Ahad-un its second predicate. According to this parsing the sentence means: “He (about Whom you are questioning me) is Allāh, is One and only one. Another meaning also can be, and according to language rules it is not wrong either: “He is Allāh, the One.” 

Here, the first thing to be understood is the unusual use of ahad in this sentence. Usually this word is either used in the possessive case as yaum ul-ahad (first day of the week), or to indicate total negative as Ma ja a a-ni ahad-un (No one has come to me), or in common questions like Hal `indaka ahad-un (Is there anyone with you?), or in conditional clauses like Inja'a-ka ahad-un (If someone comes to you), or in counting as ahad, ithnain, ahad ashar (one, two, eleven). Apart from these uses, there is no precedent in the pre-Qur’anic Arabic that the mere word ahad might have been used as an adjective for a person or thing. After the revelation of the Qur’an this word has been used only for the Being of Allāh, and for no one else. This extraordinary use by itself shows that being single, unique and matchless is a fundamental attribute of Allāh; no one else in the world is qualified with this quality: He is One, He has no equal.

Then, keeping in view the questions that the polytheists and the followers of earlier scriptures asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) about his Lord, let us see how they were answered with ahad-un after Huwa-Allāh. 

First, it means: “He alone is the Sustainer: no one else has any share or part in providence. and since He alone can be the Itch (Deity) Who is Master and Sustainer, therefore, no one else is His associate in Divinity either.” 

Secondly, it also means “He alone is the Creator of the universe: no one else is His associate in this work of creation. He alone is the Master of the universe, the Disposer and Administrator of its system, the Sustainer , of His creatures, Helper and Rescuer in times of hardship; no one else has any share or pan whatever in the works of Godhead, which as you yourselves acknowledge, are works of Allāh. 

Thirdly since they had also asked the questions: of what is your Lord made? What is His ancestry? What is his sex? From whom has He inherited the world and who will inherit it after Him? - all these questions have been answered with one word ahad for Allāh. It means:
  • He alone has been, and will be, God for ever; neither was there a God before Him, nor there be any after Him;
  • there is no race of gods to which He may belong as a member: He is God, one and single, and none is homogeneous with Him;
  • His being is not merely One (wahid) but ahad, in which there is no tinge of plurality in any way.

He is not a compound being, which may be analyzable or divisible. which may have a form and shape, which may be residing somewhere, or may contain or include something, which may have a color, which may have some limbs, which may have a direction, and which may be variable or changeable in any way. Free from every kind of plurality He alone is a Being Who is “Ahad” in every aspect. (Here, one should fully understand that the word “wahid” is used in Arabic just like the word “one” in English. A collection consisting of great pluralities is collectively called “wahid or one”, as one man, one nation, one country, one world, even one universe, and every separate part of a collection is also called one. But the word “Ahad” is not used for anyone except Allāh. That is why wherever in the Qur’an the word wahid has been used for Allāh, He has been called “Ilah Wahid (one Deity)”, or “Allāh-ul-Wahid-al-Qahhar (One Allāh Who is Omnipotent)”, and nowhere just wahid, for this word ' is also used for the things which contain pluralities of different kinds in their being. On the contrary, for Allāh and only for Allāh the word Ahad has been used absolutely, for He alone is the Being Who exists without any plurality in any way, Whose Oneness is perfect in every way.  

4The word used in the original is “samad” of which the root is “smd”. A look at the derivatives in Arabic from this root will show how comprehensive and vast this word is in meaning. (Lexical discussion of the meanings of the derivatives is omitted). 

On the basis of these lexical meanings the explanations of the word “as-Samad” in the verse “Allāh-us-Samad”, which have been reported from the Companions, their immediate successors and the later scholars are given below:
  • `AIi. `Ikrimah and Ka`ab Ahbar: “Samad is he who has no superior.”
  • `Abdullah bin Mas`ud, `Abdullah bin `Abbas and Abu Wail Shaqiq bin Salamah: “The chieftain whose chieftaincy is perfect and of the most extraordinary kind.”
  • Another view of Ibn `Abbas (radiyallāhu`anhu): “Samad is he to whom the people turn when afflicted with a calamity.” Still another view of his: “The chieftain who in his chieftaincy, in his nobility and glory, in his clemency and forbearance, in his knowledge and wisdom is perfect.”
  • Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu`anhu): “He who is independent of all and all others are dependent upon him.”
  •  Other views of Ikrimah: “He from whom nothing ever has come out, nor normally comes out:” “Who neither eats nor drinks.” Views containing the same meaning have been related from Sha'bi and Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Kurazi also.
  • Suddi: “the one to whom the people turn for obtaining the things they need and for help in hardships. “
  • Sa`id bin Jubair: “He who is perfect in all his attributes and works.”
  • Rabi' bin Jubair: “He who is immune from every calamity.”
  • Muqatil bin Hayyan: “He who is faultless.”
  • Ibn Kaysan: “He who is exclusive in his attributes.”
  • Hasan Basri and Qatadah: “He who is ever-living and immortal.”
  • Similar views have been related from Mujahid, Ma'mar and Murrat al-Hamadani also.
  • Munat Al-Hamadani's another view is : “he who decides whatever he wills and does whatever he wills, without there being anyone to revise his judgment and decision.”
  • Ibrahim Nakha`ie: “He to whom the people turn for fulfillment of their desires.”
  • Abu Bakar Al-Anbari “There is no difference of opinion among the lexicographers that samad is the chief who has no superior and to whom the people turn for fulfillment of their desires and needs and in connection with other affairs.” Similar to it is the view of Az-Zajjjaj, who says “Samad is he in whom leadership has been perfected, and to whom one turns for fulfillment of one's needs and desires.” 

Now, let us consider why “Allāhu-Ahad” has been said in the first sentence and why “Allāh-us-Samad” in this sentence. About the word ahad we have explained above that it is exclusively used for Allāh, and for none else. That is why it has been used as “ahad”, in the indefinite sense. But since the word “samad” is used for creatures also, “Allāh-us-Samad” has been said instead of “Allāh Samad”, which signifies that real and true “Samad” is Allāh alone. If a creature is “samad” in one sense, it may not be “samad” in some other sense, for it is mortal, not immortal; it is analyzable and divisible, is compound, its parts can scatter away any time; some creatures are dependent upon it, and upon others it is dependent; its chieftaincy is relative and not absolute; it is superior to certain things and certain other things are superior to it; it can fulfill some desires of some creatures but it is not in the power of any creature to fulfill all the desires of all the creatures, On the contrary, “Allāh” is perfect in His attributes of “Samad” in every respect; the whole world is dependent upon Him in its needs, but He is, not dependent upon needs; everything in the world turns to Him, consciously or unconsciously, for its survival and for fulfillment of the needs of everyone; He is immortal and Ever-living; He sustains others and is not sustained by anyone; He is Single and Unique, not compound so as to be analyzable and divisible; His sovereignty prevails over entire universe and He is Supreme in every sense. Therefore, He is not only “Samad” but “As-Samad”, i e. the Only and One Being Who is wholly and perfectly qualified with the attribute of “samad” in the true sense. 

Then, since He is As-Samad, it is necessary that He should be Unique, One and Only, for such a being can only be One, which is not dependent upon anyone and upon whom everyone else may be dependent; two or more beings cannot be self-sufficient and fulfiller of the needs of all. Furthermore, His being As-samad also requires that He alone should be the Deity, none else, for no sensible person would worship and serve the one who had no power and authority to fulfill the needs of others.

5 The polytheists in every age have adopted the concept that like men, gods also belong to a species, which has many members and they also get married, beget and are begotten. They did not even regard Allāh, Lord of the universe, as supreme and above this concept of ignorance, and even proposed children for Him. Thus, the Arabian belief as stated in the Qur’an was that they regarded the angels as daughters of Allāh. The Prophetic communities too could not remain immune from this creed of paganism. They too adopted the creed of holding one saintly person or another as son of God. Two kinds of concepts have always been mixed up in these debasing superstitions. Some people thought that those, whom they regarded as Allāh's children, were descended from him in the natural way and some others claimed that the one, whom they called son of God, had been adopted by Allāh Himself as a son. Although they could not dare call anyone as, God forbid, father of God, obviously human mind cannot remain immune against such a concept that God too should be regarded as a son of somebody when it is conceived that He is not tree from sex and procreation and that He too, like man, is the kind of being which begets children and needs to adopt a son in case it is childless, That is why one of the questions asked of the Prophet (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) was: what is the ancestry of Allāh? And another was: from who has He inherited the world and who will inherit it after Him? 

If these assumptions of ignorance are analyzed, it becomes obvious that they logically necessitate the assumption of some other things as well.

First, that God should not be One, but there should be a species of Gods, and its members should be associates in the attributes, acts and powers of Divinity. This not only follows from assuming God begetting children but also from assuming that He has adopted someone as a son. for the adopted son of somebody can inevitably be of his own kind. And when, God forbid, he is of the same kind as God, it cannot be denied that he too possesses attributes of Godhead. 

Second, those children cannot be conceived unless the male and the female combine and some substance from the father and the mother unite to take the shape of child. Therefore, the assumption that God begets children necessitates that He should, God forbid, be a material and physical entity, should have a wife of His own species, and some substance also should issue from His body. 

Third, that wherever there is sex and procreation, it is there because individuals are mortal and for the survival of their species it is inevitable that they should beget children to perpetuate the race. Thus, the assumption that God begets children also necessitates that He should, God forbid, He be mortal, and immorality should belong to the species of Gods, not to God Himself. Furthermore, it also necessitates that like all mortal individuals, God also, God forbid, should have a beginning and an end. For the individuals of the species whose survival depends upon sex and procreation neither exist since eternity nor will exist till eternity. 

Fourth, that the object of adopting someone as a son is that a childless person needs a helper in his lifetime and an heir after his death. Therefore, the supposition that Allāh has adopted a son inevitably amounts to ascribing all those weaknesses to His sublime Being which characterize mortal man. 

Although all these assumptions are destroyed as soon as Allāh is called and described as “Ahad” and “As-Samad”, yet when it is said: “Neither has He an offspring nor is He the offspring of another”, there remains no room for any ambiguity in this regard. Then, since these concepts are the most potent factors of polytheism with regard to Divine Being, Allāh has refuted them clearly and absolutely not only in Surah Al-Ikhlas but has also reiterated this theme at different places in different ways so that the people may understand the truth fully. For example let us consider the following verses:
  • “Allāh is only One Deity: He is tar too exalted that He should have a son: whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth belongs to Him.” (An-Nisa': 171)
  • “Note it well: they, in fact, invent a falsehood when they say, `Allāh has children'. They are utter liars,” (As-Saaffat: 151-152)
  • “They have invented a hood-relationship between Allāh and the angels, whereas the angels know full well that these people will be brought up (as culprits)” (As-Saaffat: 158)
  • “These people have made some of His servants to be part of Him. The fact is that man is manifestly ungrateful”. (Az-Zukhruf: l 5)
  • “Yet the people have set up the Jinn as partners with Allāh, whereas He is their Creator; they have also invented for Him sons and daughters without having any knowledge, whereas He is absolutely free from and exalted far above the things they say. He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth: how should He have a son, when He has no consort? He has created each and every thing.” (Al An`am: 100-102)
  • “They say: the Merciful has offspring. Glory be to Allāh! They (whom they describe as His offspring) are His mere servants who have been honored.” (AI-Anbiya: 26)
  • “They remarked: Allāh has taken a son to himself. Allāh is AII-pure: He is Self Sufficient He is the Owner of everything that is in the heavens and the earth. Have you any authority for what you say? What, do you ascribe to Allāh that of which you have no knowledge?” (Yunus: 68)
  •  “And (O Prophet,) say: praise is for Allāh Who has begotten no son nor has any partner in His Kingdom nor is helpless to need any supporter.” (Bani Isra'il:111)
  • “Allāh has no offspring, and there is no other deity as a partner with Him.” (Al-Mu'minun: 91) 

In these verses the belief of the people who ascribe real and adopted children to Allāh, has been refuted from every aspect, and its being a false belief has also been proved by argument. These and many other Qur’anic verses on the same theme explain Surah Al-Ikhlas fully well.  

6 The word kufu' as used in the original means an example, a similar thing, the one equal in rank and position. In the matter of marriage, kufu' means that the boy and the girl should match each other socially. Thus, the verse means that there is no one in the entire universe, nor ever was, nor ever can be, who is similar to Allāh, or equal in rank with Him, or resembling Him in His attributes, works and powers in any degree whatever.

[Tafhim al-Qur’an by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi]

The Epilogue

Sūrah Al-Ikhlās means: The Chapter of Purity, Sincerity, and Unity of Allāh. It is equal to one third of the Qur’an.  Whatever the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam) brought with him, which alone is real. It is obligatory to obey it and forbidden to deviate from it as it is the Straight Path which has no curves.

The Straight Path is only one and whoever deviates from it strays onto the wrong path, innovation and injustice. Almighty Allāh commands in the Qur’an: “And [moreover] this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way…” [Al-An`am, 6:153] The Straight Path is that of the Ummah (Muslim Nation) which lies in between two extremes. Hence, we supplicate in every raka`ah (unit of solāh) with what means: “Guide us to the Straight Path” [Al-Fātihah, 1:6] that Allāh may guide, support and help us to obey Him and keep us steadfast on His Path. This is the Path of those who were favoured by Allāh: the Prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous, and these are the finest possible company.

The Concept of Tawhīd (Unity of Allāh Almighty) has been explained in Sūrah Al-Ikhlās by separating and purging it from Shirik (associating others with Almighty Allāh in worship). Imām Ahmad (Rahimahullāh) narrated that Ubayy Ibn Ka`ab (radiyallāhu`anhu) stated that the polytheists once asked the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) saying: “O Muhammad! Tell us about the genealogy of your Lord” whereupon Allāh revealed this chapter.

It was narrated inauthentic hadiths, that this chapter is equal to one third of the Qur’an. The substance of the statement of Ibn `Abbās (radiyallāhu`anhu) is that the Qur’an consists of three fundamental objectives:
  • Commands and prohibitions which contain laws and practical ways. These form the subject matter of the science of Fiqh (jurisprudence) and Ethics.
  • Narratives which include the stories of the Prophets and Messengers of (Sallallāhu`alayhi wasallam)  and their communities, the punishments and disasters which befell those who resisted and denied the Messengers of Allāh, and also the promises, rewards, warnings and types of doom that come from Allāh.
  •  Knowledge of Tawhīd and the description of those matters which relate to the Names of Almighty Allāh and His Attributes, which to have faith in is obligatory upon the servant of Allāh (i.e. each Muslim). This has precedence over the first two.
Sūrah Al-Ikhlās contains the third objective and a general description of it. Thus, it is proper to say that it is equal to one third of the Qur’an. This chapter contains, comprehensively, the knowledge of Tawhīd and its principles, which form the essence of the belief in Almighty Allāh. Allāh's command: “Say: 'He is Allāh, [who is] One” [Al-Ikhlas 112:1] negates partnership with Him in every sense, whether it concerns His Self, His Attributes or His Actions. It also demonstrates the distinctiveness of Allāh in His Perfection, Magnificence and Majesty. The word Al-Ahad (the One) is not used in affirmation for anyone besides Allāh, since Ahad is more emphatic than Wāhid.

Ibn `Abbās (radiyallāhu`anhu) explained the verse: “Allāh, the Eternal Refuge” [Al-Ikhlas 112:2] as: “The Chief who is the finest in His Nobility, the Great One who is the finest in His greatness, the Tolerant One who is finest in His toleration, the Omnipotent who is the finest in His omnipotence, the All Knowing who is the finest in His knowledge, and the Self who is perfect in all types of nobility and greatness - that Self is only Allāh - the most Revered and the most Powerful, to whom all creatures turn for all their needs and actions. He alone has these qualities for they do not apply to anyone but Him. No one is equal to Him and no one is like Him.”

Affirmation in His Oneness negates all forms of polytheism and similitude. Affirmation of all the meanings of As-Samad (the Eternal Refuge) includes all the noble Names and the most exalted Attributes. This is the Tawhīd of Affirmation.

The Tawhīd of Purity is in the verse: “He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” [Al-Ikhlas, 112:3-4] This statement can also be understood from the general statement: “Say: 'He is Allāh, [who is] One.” [Al-Ikhlas 112:1] Nothing came out of Him nor did He come out of anything. He has no equal, no likeness and no similarity.

The concept of Tawhīd dominates this chapter. The affirmation of Oneness for the Lord is in total and absolute contradiction to all forms of polytheism. His character of being: “Allāh, the Eternal Refuge” [Al-Ikhlas 112:2] proves all His Attributes: that He cannot suffer from any defect, that He has no father or son, which is an implication of Him being in no need, and that all is in need of Him, as well as negation of any equal, which includes negation of similarity, resemblance and likeness. This chapter includes all of these matters and is, therefore, rightly deserving of being called equal to a third of the Qur`ān.

Abu Sa`id al-Khudri (radiyallāhu`anhu) narrated that: “A man heard another man reading Surah Al-Ikhlas (Surah 112) and repeating it. The following day he mentioned it to the Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam), thinking it was of a little importance. The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: “By whom my soul is in His Hand”, this Surah Al-Ikhlas is equal to a third of the Qur’an”. [Recorded by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud; Nasa`ie, Tirmidzi, Ibn Mājah, Musnad Ahmad, Tabarāni and others]

In a narration from Uqbah Bin `Āmir (radiyallāhu`anhu) who said: “The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) ordered him to recite the three last Surah of the Qur`an after every Solāh.” [Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidzi and Nasa`ie; Sheikh al-Albāni and al-Arnaūd graded this Hadith as sound]

The Prophet (Sallallāhu `alayhi wasallam) said: Recite Surah al-Ikhlas and two last Surahs of the Qur’an (Surah Al-Falaq and Surah Al-Nās), in the morning and evening three times, and it will suffice you for everything.” [Recorded by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Tirmidzi and Nasā`ie]

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

Surah Al Ikhlas (The Purity)

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