Meaning and Tafseer of Surah Al-Ikhlaas

Table of Contents

بِسْمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ

Say: “He is Allaah, (the) Unique.”

قُلْ

“Say:..” This chapter describing Allaah begins with a command to the Messenger of Allaah صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ to convey the contents of the chapter to the pagans who asked him to tell them about his God’s lineage.

According to Ibn al-Qayyim, it is also affirmation of the Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
position of being only a conveyer, a messenger, one only speaking what he was commanded to say.He had no control over the revelation with regard to its content or to its time or place of revelation.

هُوَ

He…” The description begins by referring to God using the third person singular pronoun “he” as is found in the Bible and other religious texts. With the rise of feminism in the 20th century, the question of God’s gender became an issue and attempts were made to rewrite the Bible free from “gender-bias”. Muslims did not fall into this trap because the Arabic Qur’aanic text could not be changed.

In the case of the Christian Bible, according to researchers, there are over 5,000 manuscripts of the Gospels, no two agreeing with each other in all details. Thus, the Gospels are taught in the translations and not in their original languages.

The Qur’aan, on the other hand, has remained unchanged over the past 1,400 years and all manuscripts agree on a single text. Muslim scholars clarified that God was neither male nor female. The neuter pronoun “it” was not used because it does not exist in Arabic or Hebrew.

In Arabic everything, whether living and non-living, is  either referred to using male or female pronouns and adjectives. God communicated His final message in Arabic and chose the male pronoun over the female pronoun because males have always led society, with very few historical exceptions, and they represent authority. 

اللَّهُ

Allaah,” “Allaah” is the name of the Lord, the Exalted. It is said that it is the Greatest Name of Allaah, because it is referred to when describing Allaah by His various Attributes.

For example:

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۖ هُوَ الرَّحْمَٰنُ الرَّحِيمُ

“He is Allaah, besides whom none has the right to be worshipped, the All Knower of the unseen and the seen. He is the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Surah Al-Hashr 59:22

هُوَ اللَّهُ الَّذِي لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْمَلِكُ الْقُدُّوسُ السَّلَامُ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْمُهَيْمِنُ الْعَزِيزُ الْجَبَّارُ الْمُتَكَبِّرُ ۚ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ

“He is Allaah besides whom none has the right to be worshipped, the King, the Holy, the One Free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures, the All-Mighty, the Compeller, the Supreme. Glory be to Allaah! He is above all that they associate as partners with Him.

Surah Al-Hashr 59:23

هُوَ اللَّهُ الْخَالِقُ الْبَارِئُ الْمُصَوِّرُ ۖ لَهُ الْأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ يُسَبِّحُ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

“He is Allaah, the Creator, the Inventor of all things, the Bestower of forms. To Him belong the Best Names. All that is in the heavens and the earth glorify Him. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”

Surah Al-Hashr 59:23

Thus, Allaah mentioned several of His other Names as Attributes for His Name Allaah. It is a proper name denoting the true God who exists necessarily, by Himself, comprising all the attributes of perfection. Some lexicologists held that it was a contraction of al-Ilaah (the God) for ease of pronunciation.

أَحَدٌ

The Uniquely One.” As a title, Al-Ahad is only applicable to Allaah and it signifies, He who has always been one and alone; or the indivisible; or He who has no other to share in His Lordship, nor in His Essence, nor in His Attributes.

Though both the terms ahad and waahid mean basically “one”, there is a subtle difference between the two in usage and meaning. For example, one would not say: rajulun ahadun (meaning: one man) but one says: rajulun waahidun. 

Furthermore, when one says: maa fil-bayti ahadun (there is no one in the house) it absolutely negates the possibility of anyone being present. However, if one says: maa fil-bayti waahidun (there is not one in the house), a clarification can be added bal ithnayn (but two) as it does not necessarily negate absolutely.

When one uses the term “one” with regard to any aspect of creation, it does not negate the possibility of other similar ones existing, whether in the past, present or in the future. On the other hand, when the term “one” is used in regard to God, it means one like which there is no other.

This first verse represents Allaah’s Own Affirmation of His Unique Monotheism, His inimitable Unity. Thus, the first verse is, first and foremost, a command to the Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
and whoever reads or recites the verse to affirm Allaah’s Unique Unity.

Secondly, if a person says qul huwAllaahu ahad he has affirmed Allaah’s unity using Allaah’s Own Words. The greatest possible way to affirm the Divine Unique Unity.

Having understood Allaah’s Unique Unity, one should understand how Allaah is to be worshipped in the light of that Unity.

Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned that for every one of Allaah’s Attributes there is a particular act of worship caused and necessitated by that particular Attribute.Therefore, the aspect of the basic Islamic creed known as Tawheed Al-Asmaa wa-Sifaat is realized by maintaining Allaah’s Uniqueness in all acts of worship associated with Him.

Thus, the question often directed to Muslims by idolaters, as to how they are able to worship God without seeing Him or a representation of Him, addresses the violation of Allaah’s Uniqueness. If He can be visualized in terms of His creation, He is no longer unique. If He becomes incarnate as Christians believe regarding Jesus and Hindus believe regarding god-men called avatars, He is no longer unique.

Also, He is worshipped without intermediaries since the belief in intermediaries reduces God to the level of His creation. All form of intermediaries are rejected in Islaamic belief. Whether they are idols, as the pagan Makkans did with believing that the idols would bring them closer to God, as the Almighty said: 

وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِنْ دُونِهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ مَا نَعْبُدُهُمْ إِلَّا لِيُقَرِّبُونَا إِلَى اللَّهِ زُلْفَىٰ

"Those who take gods besides Him (say): ‘We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allaah."

Surah Az-Zumar 39:3

Or whether they are saints, angels or even Prophet Muhammad صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ, intermediation is fundamentally rejected by the Qur’aan and the Sunnah (way) of the Prophet صَلَّىٰ ٱللَّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ
as understood by his companions and the righteous generations which followed them.

The Trinitarian belief of Christians wherein God is likened to an egg comprised of three parts (shell, white and yolk), or water existing in three states (liquid, solid and gas), or a tree possessing three elements (roots, trunk, and branches) violates Allaah’s Unique Unity.

Consequently, Allaah is to be worshipped through His Attributes and not through His creation in any way shape or form. The case of worship in the direction of the Ka‘bah has to be clarified, as it is sometimes equated with the worship of idols, or as some Hindus believe, it contains one of their idols called Siva-lingam.

That is why Allaah stated regarding the direction of prayer: 

وَلِلَّهِ الْمَشْرِقُ وَالْمَغْرِبُ ۚ فَأَيْنَمَا تُوَلُّوا فَثَمَّ وَجْهُ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ

“The east and west belong to Allaah, so wherever you turn you face Allaah.”

Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 115

Furthermore, it is well known in the Sharee‘ah that you may face any direction during prayer if you cannot determine the direction of the Ka‘bah.