Quran Study: A Discussion on Surah Al Ikhlas
It means “The Purity”. It gets its name from the theme and subject matter, because it deals with only Tawheed in its pure and untouched form.
This is a Makki Surah, because it is short and speaks of Tawheed (the Oneness of Allah) and His attributes, which was the theme of early Makki Surahs. Another proof, presented by Maulana Maududi, of this Surah’s being one of the earliest Surahs to be revealed is that in the early times of Islam in Makkah Umayyah bin Khalaf, the master of Hadrat Bilal (RA), 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, it was never used in this form before, especially when speaking about Allah. This was later a war cry of the Muslims on the battlefield against the enemies of Islam.
Theme and Subject Matter:
The Kalimah, which all Muslims recite to become Muslim, says: “there is no god but Allah”, this is what the Surah is expanding on. The Quraysh were doing shirk. They believed in Allah, but also worshiped idols who they thought could send their “du’a” to Allah for them. They claimed that the idol gods were husbands and wives, had children and some even said that angels were the daughters of Allah. They would say that these gods ate and drank just like people.
“If you ask them who created them, they will surely say, ‘Allah’.” (The Noble Quran 43:87)
Then, there were the Christians who said they believed in Allah, but also thought that Isa (AS) was His son and the Jews who said that Allah came to earth in human form and also said that Ezra (AS) was Allah’s son.
“These people have made some of His servants to be part of Him. The fact is that man is manifestly ungrateful. ” (The Noble Quran 43:15 )
There were also other religions at the time, ones that believed that the sun, moon, stars and even fire were their gods (like Salman Al Farsi’s (RA) people in Persia, who would keep fires lit and would not let them go out, as they said they were gods). They worshiped objects created by Allah as their gods, because they wanted to be able to see Him, feel him and serve Him like a human being. Many of them took care of these gods like babies and didn’t even think about the fact that they had to be the ones to take care of them and make sure they were safe and okay. This Surah was revealed to address these problems and to let the people know that Allah is only One and that He does not have any partners or family and that He is not like anything in this universe and beyond and He doesn’t need anyone to help Him or keep Him alive, as He is Ever-Living. This was one of the Surah that the Quraysh got mad at when it was revealed, because it was going to stop their idol worship, beliefs of their fathers and their business in Makkah with all the idol worshipping pilgrims visiting the Kabah each year.
English Translation of Surah al-Ikhlas
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- Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One,
- Allah, the Eternal Refuge.
- He neither begets nor is born,
- Nor is there to Him any equivalent.”
(The Noble Quran 113:1-4)
Allah is saying in the 1st line that there is only one Allah and Allah says:
“That is because Allah is the Truth, and that what they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand.”
(The Noble Quran 31:30)
This ayah can explain this line in detail. Allah says that He is the One and only. There aren’t any partners with Him and He does not need anyone. He is the only one in the role of our Lord and He does not share this title or position with anyone. He is completely Unique and He is the only Truth .
Second ayah says that He is the Eternal Refuge. This can mean many things, but mainly it means that there can be nothing that can save us or forgive us or comfort us like Allah. He is always the One that we will turn to, we will ask forgiveness Of and Who we will return to when we die. This Dunya is just a place where we are visiting; Allah is our Real Home and Destination forever and ever, Insha’Allah. It also means that His Law, His Judgment and His Authority will always be the most Supreme and without it we will never succeed no matter how hard we try. Without Him and our submission to Him, we are nothing. We are dead and make ourselves lower than animals.
The third ayah says that He has NO FATHER, NO MOTHER, NO BROTHER, NO SISTER, NO WIFE, and NO SON AND NO DAUGHTER. He has no family. This also points to the Jews or Christians who have said that Allah has a son, like Isa (AS). This is not true and Allah is making sure we know that in this Ayah.
The last ayah says that nothing is the same as him. Nothing is like Him, so we can’t compare Him to anything or try to find something like Him in the heavens or the earth. It is not possible. Like we said, He is unique. There are some people, who tried to make themselves like Him and asked people to worship them like we worship Allah, but this cannot happen and Allah does not let them succeed. Like Firawn and Nimrud they tried all their life to become like Allah, faked miracles, made commands of their people and even tried to have people actually worship them, but it’s impossible and Allah destroyed them and their kingdoms. Allah even preserved the body of Firawn to show us what He does to people to try to be like Him or try to take His place in the hearts of people. Allah curses those people and wipes them out.
How it applies to the world today?
- This is the base of Tawheed. This is Tawheed in only four lines! If we ever slip up and need a quick reminder, this can help us to solve many problems. There were Sahabah who would begin reciting this in every salah, because they loved this Surah and because it benefits the people to keep them on the straight path. For example, if we look at so many people Grave worshipping in the Muslim world, we can see that this Surah can solve this in a few lines, Insha’Allah. Allah is One (Ahad), He is the Only one we should turn to, He does not have anyone over Him like a father and He does not have anyone under him like a son, and no one can ever be on the same level as Him. This would show us that He is the only one we should turn to, we do not need anyone in between us and Him. He is the One and Only who deserves our worship, praise and sujood.
- It is the base of dawah. Like if they say, “Who is Allah?”, you can easily bring this surah as evidence of Who Allah is and what the beliefs of Muslims should be according to Allah Himself in the Quran.
- The Muslim Ummah is in a state of disobeying Allah, they are not following the true message of Islam (the Quran and Sunnah), they do whatever they want and do shirk over the smallest things (i.e.: worshipping graves and going to holy men for blessings, wearing Taweed, giving more importance to things, places and people than Allah and His Law). This surah fits right on this case. But, it is strange the Muslims also get mad just like the Quraysh did when the Truth of this Surah is brought up. Muslims don’t want to know that they are doing something wrong and read the Quran with their own desires.
The conclusion is that we need to worship Allah only and don’t be like the Quraysh who denied the message of Allah. We don’t want to be like those who were destroyed by Allah (Like the people of Lut (AS), Nuh (AS), Saleh (AS), Hud (AS) and so on). We Muslims are following these people’s acts and the same punishment will come on us if we do not turn our lives around and follow the path of Allah.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in many Sahih Hadith, called Surah Al Ikhlas equal to “one third of the Quran”. He gave great importance to this Surah and told the Sahabah (RA) its significance in different ways so that they would recite it all the time and be reminded of true Tawheed constantly.
It’s no surprise that this is usually the easiest Surah for kids to memorize and remember. It rhymes and the lines are short. We always are making kids memorize nursery rhymes and songs, but this is so much better. I believe even a little kid, like a toddler, could memorize Surah Ikhlas and learn the meaning of it very easily. This would be better for them than all the Dunya knowledge put together…Just these few words, Alhamdulillah. I hope that after reading this, we will take this small, but powerful Surah, more seriously and help to eliminate Shirk from our Ummah once and for all, Insha’Allah.
“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 Allah with sincere faith, saying: `If you save us from this peril, we will become Your grateful servants.’ But when He delivers them, the same people begin to rebel on the earth against the Truth.” (The Noble Quran 10:22-23)