View Printable Version :: Email to a Friend
Sūrah Ikhlas
Qur'anic Exegesis
Amin Ahsan Islahi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Central Theme

The very name of this sūrah reveals its central theme. It is called Ikhlaas which is precisely what the sūrah is all about. Ikhlaas means to profess faith in God's being or his attributes or in the essential requisites of his attributes in a way that eliminates any trace of associating others with him. As far as accepting God is concerned the world has always acknowledged the existence of a superior being. In fact this acceptance must be regarded as a self-evident requirement of human nature. We are all aware that Satan has always remained an eternal enemy of Tawhīd (oneness of God). He has persisted to deceive man in this matter so that true belief in God should become a nominal affair. To illuminate the essentials of Tawhīd God sent forth a long series of prophets. Unfortunately, man continued to squander this initiative with remarkable consistency. It was for the sake of Tawhīd that the prophet Abraham migrated from his people and established the abode of his children in a barren stretch of land---where they could truly worship God and also remain shielded from the onslaughts of an idolatorous environment. Quite ironically, his own progeny gradually converted the centre of Tawhīd (Bait-ullah) built by himself into a temple of idols, as has been mentioned in the Quran. The prejudice of their self-carved idols became so intense that they began to vehemently argue with God and His last Prophet (sws) that until and unless the status of their idols is accepted, they would not acknowledge the rights of God. It was as a result of this outrageous attitude that our Prophet (sws) proclaimed his acquittal from them. This acquittal meant that he had fulfilled the responsibility of delivering the truth to them, after which they had to accept faith or face death.

Period of Revelation

The proclamation of acquittal was solely meant for the Quraysh and the idolators of Mecca. Various tribes of the people of the Book also existed in Arab. Although they were the recipients of holy books, Satan had inveigled them too into horrible forms of polytheism. They had considerable influence in Medina and its whereabouts, and the Arabs had always openly acclaimed their superiority in religious affairs.

As long as the Prophet(pbuh) was in Mecca, his opposition remained clandestine but it turned into open hostility after he had migrated to Medina. The people of the Book vainly reckoned that since they were the recipients of Holy Books the Quran would definitely regard their beliefs and deeds as superior to those of the idolators. But the Quran made it very clear to them that as far as their beliefs and deeds were concerned, they were a disgrace to mankind. The Christians, particularly, were impelled into open antagonism like the Jews by the criticism of the Quran on their forms of polytheism. A united opposition front was thereby created as the Jews, the Christians and the idolators became allies against the Islamic forces. The situation called for a comprehensive explication of the meaning of Ikhlaas that should completely eliminate any shred of polytheism, and as a result of which the people of the Book and the idolators should have no doubt about the actual truth. It was in these circumstances that this sūrah was revealed in Medina. Although a group of scholars believes that its revelation took place in Mecca, but the comprehensive nature of the sūrah, as will be explained later, testifies that it was revealed in Medina, when the enmity of the people of the Book, especially, the Christians had become very evident.

Contextual Relationship

This sūrah is preceded by Sūrah Lahab in which the destruction of the biggest foe of Islam has been depicted; an indication that time is ripe for the proclamation of the essence of Tawhīd once again in this land, for which Abraham had built the House of God. Hence, in this sūrah, the basic Islamic teaching of Tawhīd has been forcefully asserted. Prior to Sūrah Lahab the glad tidings of the victory of the Islamic forces have been given in Sūrah Nasar.

Our Prophet's struggle, as we all very well know, against his enemies had nothing to do with wordly gains, rather it had the purpose behind it of establishing the Kingdom of God in the pagan Arab society, and in banishing all forms of polytheism. Consequently, every aspect of Tawhīd has been highlighted in this sūrah. The Quran actually ends with it because the last pair of sūrahs which succeed it are in fact more like two sentinels guarding this treasure of Tawhīd.

Relation to the Overall Arrangement

The overall arrangement of the Quran is such that the beginning and the end are correlated. The end of the Quran converges to the topic by which it commences---Tawhīd and Ikhlaas. Sūrah Faatiha and Sūrah Ikhlaas, the beginning and the end of the Quran distinctly bring out the reality that the concept of Tawhīd encompasses all our beliefs. It has been mentioned in Sūrah Faatiha that God is the sole Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds and the master of the Day of Judgement, and as such all our thanksgivings must return to him. This is the essence of Tawhīd. Now again in this final sūrah this essence has been affirmed in another manner. Here, the attributes that wipe out any trace of polythsism are explained positively as well as negatively, which actually forms the basis of the study of Tawhīd. Moreover, it should also be kept in mind that the sūrahs which constitute this last group are fundamental to the study of Islam.

Meaning of the Sūrah

Say, that God, is one and alone. He is along with everyone. He neither begets nor has He been begotten; and there is none like Him.

Explanation of the Sūrah

Qul hu wallaahu ahad.

(Say, that God, is one and alone.)  (1)

The word qul is a command that means to proclaim, declare, and openly announce something so that every person becomes fully aware of it and there remains no ambiguity about it, leaving no room for further arguments.

The need for such a declaration only arises when after a long period of dialogue and debate it has become clear that the truth has been fully disclosed, and the people are now indulging in debate only to prolong and complicate matters. In such cases it is better to say whatever one has to in a stern and decisive manner so that the implied people become aware that everything about the subject has been said; no more time would be wasted upon the issue and it is equally unlikely that any change in stance shall occur.

The word huwa in my opinion is the pronoun of the fact (dhameer-ushaan), which is used when the implied meaning is so clearly understood between the speaker and to whom it is addressed that the mind instinctively jumps to its connotation.

After the advent of Islam the concepts of God's being and his attributes were hot subjects of debate. Such was the dominance of these issues that the other Islamic beliefs of Prophethood and Life in the Hereafter were only partially discussed. The question of Tawhīd was the most important. The Quraish had made it their own as well as their forefathers' point of prestige and were in no way willing to bear the defamation of their deities nor of their forefathers' who had worshiped them. The Quran in many places has cited instances that whenever the concept of Tawhīd was brought up infront of them they would fume with rage and would get ready to pounce upon the preachers of this concept. On one hand was this vanity and ego of the Quraish and on the other was the resoluteness of the Quran and the Prophet(pbuh) that there shall be no compromise whatsoever between monotheism and polytheism.

As long as this debate continued with the Quraish no confusion arose about God's being or his attributes. They had adopted idolatory hecause it was their ancestoral religion. They did not indulge in the `holy' art of fabricating excessively needless distinctions in reasoning to support their beliefs, simply because they were illiterate. In Medina, however, as soon as the people of the Book became ivolved in this debate, a new dimension was added to the affair. Inspite of being the recipients of Holy Books they had become incriminated with outrageous forms of polytheism. The only difference was that they had invented a whole system of philosophy to support their beliefs. In this regard, the weird Christian mythology, in particular, was a fantastic production, unrivalled as far as the complications and confusions it had created. The Quran challenged all of them and exposed their heresies upon them. Some among them accepted faith while others who did not do so were intellectually defeated by the Quran to the extent that the Arabs were no longer awed by their religious superiority.

The new situation called for the revelation of a sūrah that would root out all traces of polytheism of both the mushrikeen and the people of the Book, and would also put a complete halt to Satan's incursions in the concept of Tawhīd. Needless to say that it must be both concise and comprehensive to enable everyone to learn and cherish its contents. As a result, this sūrah comprising four very short verses was revealed. The profound meanings it encompasses prompted many scholars to regard it as being a third of the Quran. A little contemplation shows that there is no exaggeration in this fact. The message of the Quran can be divided into three distinct topics: Tawhīd (monotheism), Risaalat (prophethood) and Ma'aad (life in the Hereafter)---which means that Tawhīd occupies one third of the Quranic content that is scattered in various sūrahs. Its core has been epitomized in this comprehensive sūrah. In other words, the gist of the Quranic arguments by which it refutes polytheism has been concisely stated here.

One thing that should be kept in mind is that this sūrah was not necessarily revealed because someone had inquired from the Prophet(pbuh) about the attributes of God; but as indeed we have indicated before, the very circumstances in which the question of Tawhīd had become a burning topic were enough to cause its revelation. Hu wallaah means `the God about whom you are debating and arguing has these attributes; hear them from me.....', after which these attributes are stated. Suffice to say that to reform heretical beliefs only a correct knowledge of these attributes is all that is required after which the path to appreciate other attributes of God is opened.

The word Allah is a noun used for the personal name of God and the mushrikeen of Arab always regarded it so. The Quran ascribes all virtuous and gracious attributes of God to this noun. The verse says that God is Ahad. The linguists clearly differentiate between Ahad and Waahid. Ahad means someone in whose being none can be associated, and Waahid means someone in whose attributes none can be associated.

Probably this is the reason why the word Ahad has never been used as an attribute other than that of God. This attribute also necessitates that He has no kins and relations, and at the same time warrants His sovreignity. It also follows from this that God is uncreated and has always existed, and that everything else has been created and brought into existence. Naturally, someone who is foremost out of His own accord should always exist because if at one time He never was, then it cannot be said of him that He always existed. Summing up the discussion, two things must necessarily be accepted: Firstly, God has always existed, and secondly, everything except Him is His creation. These are the two necessary outcomes of His uniqueness and aboveness from all needs as well as from His creation, and to deny both of these would be against sense and reason.

Allahus Samad.

(He is along with everyone.)  (2)

By the word samad is actually meant a large rock behind which refuge is sought from an enemy attack. It is because of this root meaning that it is also used for the leader of a nation, who is a resort and a refuge for his people. In many holy scriptures particularly in the Psalms of David, God has been called a rock, and has also been addressed as the rock of help1.

The attribute Samad is mentioned after Ahad to explain and designate the meanings of Ahad, just as the attribute Hameed (worthy of all praise) is always mentioned immediately after the attribute, Ghanee (free of all needs) in the Quran. The attribute, Ghanee might create a misconception that since God is free of all needs and is above His creation no relationship can be secured with Him. This can cause the people to worship other deities as a means to obtain His nearness. The attribute Hameed is stated immediately afterwards for the reason that this misconception should not even originate. It clarifies that although He is above and beyond His creation, yet He is the fountainhead of all praises and thanksgivings. As such everyone should turn to Him and directly seek Him, and never turn to others in despair.

Due to exactly the same reasons the attribute Samad has been mentioned immediately after the attribute Ahad. It serves to caution and prod someone who might become overwhelmed with the concept of God's uniqueness and aboveness from all, and regard Him as an aloof and an unconcerned Creator. This might subsequently lead him to worship other beings as a means to procure the nearness of the Almighty. This can never happen if the implications of Samad are properly understood. There is no doubt that God is free of all needs and above and beyond His creation, yet at the same time He provides and sustains them, hears and answers their calls of distress and fulfils their physical and spiritual needs. He is a rock behind which refuge can be sought---a haven and sancturay for all.

It would be appropriate to mention here the cause which has so often led a nation astray as regards its religious beliefs and opened for it the way to polytheism. This has been invariably due to the fact that they did not strike a balance between certain complementary pairs of attributes of God. An acute bias towards one of them often made them to completely overlook the moderations and stipulations warranted by its pair. The Jews and the Christians, in particular, can be cited as examples in this regard.

Lam yalid wa lam yoo lad.

(He neither begets nor has He been begotten.)  (3)

The word Ahad also implies this meaning as pointed out before. Matters which may cause gross misconceptions are stressed more than once in the Quran in various styles so that the true concept becomes so evident that no one can have an excuse to deny it. So, the whole issue has been restated here in this verse in another way. We must bear in mind that the Arabs also had a mythology of their own which was very similar in detail to the Greek and Hindu mythologies. The mushrikeen regarded the angels to be the daughters of God. The Jews although were the recipients of Torah yet they regarded Uzair as the son of God. The Christians had established the Trinity of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost. Their prejudice for Trinity took them so far that at one time their priests, at whose hands people accepted Christianity, made their converts to curse the God whose attributes have been spelled out in this sūrah. Indeed the anger and the venom they had for this sūrah was because the concept of Tawhīd expressed in it had made a direct hit upon their beliefs. Considering it, neither could God be regarded as a father or a son nor anyone His mother.

Historically, the Quran was the first to kindle the light of Tawhīd in this world in such a profound manner. This fact is now being acknowledged even by people who at one time were confined in the shackles of national and religious prejudices, and were in no way willing to come out and face the reality. The Christians who once cursed the God whose attributes have been mentioned in this sūrah, have now people among them who openly acclaim that the Quran was the foremost in enlightening the world with  the true concept of Tawhīd in such a profound manner.

Wa lam yakunlahu qufuwan ahad.

(And there is none like Him.)  (4)

kufuwun means `equal, like, peer, match, similar'. This verse means that He has no parallel or equal. He is the Creator and all other things are His creation. Everyone has needs while He has none. All need Him while He needs none. Everyone is mortal while He is the only immortal.

Summary of the Sūrah

Summing up, the message of the sūrah lies in the concept of Tawhīd it brings out by mention of certain complementary pairs of attributes of God. The essence of which is that God has always existed and will always exist; He was when there was nothing and will remain when everything ceases to be; He is complete and entire in His being and is above all needs; everyone needs Him while He needs none; He is a refuge for all and on Him everyone depends; He brings everything into existence and by His orders everything is destroyed; He is father to none nor has He a father; He is the Creator and the Cherisher of all and fashions and sustains everything; nothing is from His substance and being; He has no peer or equal and indeed all are His servants and slaves.

(Translated from Islahi's "Taddabur-i-Quran")






1. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer." (Psalms:18)

For Questions on Islam, please use our

Replica Handbags Bottega Veneta fake Bvlgari fake Celine fake Christian Dior fake Gucci fake Gucci Bag fake Gucci Wallet fake Gucci Shoes fake Gucci Belt fake Hermes fake Loewe fake Louis Vuitton fake Louis Vuitton Belt fake Louis Vuitton Calf Leather fake Louis Vuitton Damier Azur Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Ebene Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Graphite Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Damier Infini Leather fake Louis Vuitton Damier Quilt lamb fake Louis Vuitton Embossed Calfskin fake Louis Vuitton Epi fake Louis Vuitton Game On Monogram Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Jewellery fake Louis Vuitton Key Holder fake Louis Vuitton Mahina Leather fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Denim fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Eclipse Canvas fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Empreinte fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Seal fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Shadow fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis fake Louis Vuitton Monogram Watercolor fake Louis Vuitton New Wave fake Louis Vuitton Shoes fake Louis Vuitton Since 1854 fake Louis Vuitton Strap fake Louis Vuitton Taiga Leahter fake Louis Vuitton Taurillon leather fake Louis Vuitton Transformed Game On canvas fake Louis Vuitton Utah Calfskin fake Louis Vuitton X Supreme fake Mulberry fake Prada fake YSL fake