Surah Ikhlas (Sincerity) is the 2nd of the 4 Quls and is generally recited three times to gain the reward of reciting the whole of the Qur’an. Other names for surah Ikhlas include surah Ahad and surah Tawheed but 20 names are mentioned in Tafsir Kabeer. Surah Ikhlas is the 112th surah of the Qur’an and consists of 4 verses made up of 15 (47 letters). The surah was revealed either in Makkah or Madinah.
Benefits of Surah Ikhlas
It has been narrated from the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said that whoever reads surah Ikhlas it is as if he has read a third of the Qur’an. The scholars say that is due to what is contained in this noble surah from the meanings, sciences and knowledge. There are three fundamental sciences in the Qur’an and these are knowledge of oneness (beliefs), rulings (jurisprudence) and narratives. This surah is inclusive of divine oneness and from this perspective, it is like one third of the Qur’an. So, whoever reads it once is rewarded for reading a third of the Qur’an and Allah knows best.
By reciting the three Quls (surah Ikhlas, surah Falaq and surah Nas) three times a Muslim will be protected throughout the day and during the afternoon. These verses will suffice him for his needs, too.
Hadith on surah Ikhlas
- Mother of believers, Aisha J said that the Prophet ﷺ appointed a companion to lead an army expedition. Whenever he led the prayer, he would end each cycle of prayer with surah Ikhlas. On the army’s return, the people complained to the Prophet ﷺ about this. The Prophet ﷺ asked them to find out why he used to do such a thing. The companion explained, “(I did so because) it describes Allah and so I love reciting it.” The Prophet ﷺ commented, “Tell him that Allah also loves him.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
- Abu Hurayra I narrates, ‘The Prophet ﷺ ordered the companions to gather around for he was about to recite a third of the Qur’an. The people gathered and the Prophet ﷺ came out of his house, recited surah Ikhlas and went back in. The people remained seated and waiting but then began commenting to one another that they were expecting the Prophet ﷺ to recite a third of the Qur’an, yet he had only recited surah Ikhlas. The Prophet then returned and explained, “Know well that Surah Ikhlas is equivalent to a third of the Qur’an.” (Muslim, Tirmidhi).
- Abu Saeed Khudri I, ‘A man overheard his neighbour repeatedly reciting Surah Ikhlas and complained to the Prophet ﷺ about it the next morning, implying he was being lazy and doing something easy, but the Prophet ﷺ said, “By the One in whose Hand is my life, this surah is equivalent to a third of the Qur’an.” (Bukhari).
Reason why Surah Ikhlas was revealed
Scholars differ on whether the surah was revealed in Makkah or Madinah, or twice in each city. However, in all cases, the narrations relate to the Prophet ﷺ being asked about Allah. In the case of narrations that state is was a Makkan surah, the questioner was either a polytheist, or from the Quraysh or a bedouin. Whereas the narrations that claim that the surah was revealed in Madinah say that it was a question from the Christians or Jews. In Dhiya al-Qur’an it is stated that Ibn Abbas narrates ‘a delegation of Christians from Najran came and asked the Prophet ﷺ, “Describe your lord to us, is he made from pearls, gold or silver?” The Prophet ﷺ replied, “My Lord is not made from these things, He is the one who made all these things.’” Then this surah was revealed.
Say, “It is God, unique,
- Thomas Cleary
As mentioned previously for surah Kafirun, Qul is for the confirmation of the prophethood of the Messenger of Allah and it is interesting that it occurs in this surah which is predominantly about the oneness of Allah. Qul also denotes that one can only be a true believer of Tawheed if it is as a result of learning from the Prophet ﷺ. One would not be considered to have imaan if they believe in Tawheed without reference to the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ is commanded to say to the polytheists that the lord he worships and who he calls others to worship is one and only and there is absolutely categorically no partner, no resemblance and no equal for him. Neither in his entity or his attributes and nor in his actions. He, majestic and sublime is one and only. Not like what the Christians believe in the three: the father, the son and the holy spirit and not like what the polytheists believe in numerous gods.
By saying He is Allah, we learn that the name Allah has some meaning for it is being used to define or identify God. Consequently, all Muslim legal jurists are agreed that no other being is allowed to have the name Allah. Some boys are named using one of Allah’s other names that describe His attributes, such as Malik, Ghafoor, Raheem, usually with the prefix Abd (which means servant of) for reasons of etiquette, but no one is allowed the name Allah alone.
Ahad means He is one, single and unique in every way. This implies a number of matters: it means that He is one single being, without any parts; He is not a compound or mixture of two or more beings. He is unique for He has no peer; there is nothing like Him and no one can give another example of Him.
Elsewhere in the Qur’an, Allah has established decisive proofs for his oneness and there are many, and the clearest of them are four:
- Afaman yakhluqu kamala yakhluqu (surah Nahl, verse 17). Translated as “is the one who creates not like the one who does not create” which is a proof of Allah’s creating and making it exist. So, when it is proven that Allah is the creator of all existing things, it is not correct to that anything else can be a partner to him, as he is the creator of them.
- Law kaana fihimaa aalihatun illallah lafasadata (surah Anbiya, verse 22). Translated as “if there were to be other gods beside Allah in them (heaven and earth) then they would have been corrupted. This is a proof for perfection and creation.
- La kaana ma’ahu aalihatun kama yaquluna idhalabtagu ila dhil arshi sabeela (surah Isra verse 42). Translated as “if there were other gods besides him, as they say, then surely would have found a way to challenge the owner of the throne” is a proof of his subjection and his over-powering of everything.
- Ma attakhadhallahu miwaladin wa ma kana ma’ahu min ilaahin idhaladhahaba kullu ilaahin bima khalaqa wa la’alaa ba’duhum ala (surah Muminun verse 91). Translated as “Allah never took a son and there were no gods with him. (If there had been) then each god would have taken what he had created, and one of them would overpower the other”. This is a proof against any conflict and one being over another.
These are clear evidence that support Allah being one, which is the first line of surah Ikhlas, a surah from the 4 Quls.
“God the eternal,
- Thomas Cleary
There are many interpretations of the name “Samad” with an overall understanding of oneness and being free of anything, as the chief who is sought in time of accidents and need. Others have also stated it is the one who is called upon in every need, the king who can give anything he is asked for, the one who has no faults or suffers no problems.
Further interpretations include, the one who will remain after everything has finished; he will never perish; who is independent of everything; and who has no needs whatsoever in matters such as eating or drinking. The one whose condition the mind cannot fathom or the one who knows everything, for only he who knows can fulfil everyone’s needs. He is majestic and mighty, and He is sought to fulfil everyone’s need all the time.
All the above interpretations are necessary attributes of the ultimate purpose, aim or final goal (maqsood) for the ultimate maqsood cannot have any weakness, or be dependent, requiring food and drink etc.
“not begetting or begotten,
- Thomas Cleary
The first part of this ayat is he does not give birth: Lam ya lid. For him not taking offspring is from his attributes of perfection, transcendence from all deficiencies. One reason humans have children is implicitly a sign of their weakness, as it acknowledges the fact that they are finite and perishable and will one day become weak and come to an end, thereby needing offspring to support and continue their work. Divinity has no fear of weakness or ending so it has no such need for offspring. Having offspring is the specific characteristic of perishable and limited beings.
In this verse is a refutation for all those that claimed that Allah had offspring such as the Jews who said Uzayr was the son of Allah and Christians who claimed that for Jesus and the polytheists of Makkah who said that angels are the daughters of Allah. Offspring cannot come about without having a spouse, a partner and Allah is free from that.
Offspring share some of their parent’s characteristics, but since, as mentioned in the first verse, there is nothing similar to Allah and He is unique, so having offspring is incompatible with the concept of divinity.
The second part of this ayat states “Lam yu lad” namely, he was not born from a mother or father and that everything that is born is contingent, i.e., began to exist, and Allah is pre-eternal so it is not correct that he was born or that there was someone who gave birth to him. It would mean that the one that is born is dependent on the one giving birth and this is impossible for the one who is pre-eternal, as he is self-sufficient and independent from anyone that would give birth.
This verse negates from Allah incorporating lineage from types of angles, and He is the first, there is no beginning for His existence, and He is eternal, He who was when there was nothing.
Chronologically, one is first born and then one has offspring but, in this verse, offspring is first negated and then being begotten. The possible explanation given for this is that most prominent false ideologies claimed God had offspring whilst very few, if any, claimed he was begotten. Tafseer Qurtubi mentions Ibn Abbas I stated that beget means He did not give birth miraculously like Syeda Maryam P did and He was not born miraculously like Syeduna Isa S. Negating that the miracles observed with Maryam and Isa were not linked to divinity.
“not having any equal.”
- Thomas Cleary
This ayat negates that there anything similar to Him, majestic and sublime is He. There is no peer, an example or anything of that sort in his entity, attributes or actions. A more common ayat that is quoted to elaborate on this is Laysa ka mithlihi shayun wa huwa samiul baseer (surah Shura verse 11) which is translated as “there is nothing like him and he is the all-hearing and all-seeing”.
This noble surah is composed of 4 ayats is succinct and inimitable containing description of Allah’s attributes of majesty and loftiness and transcendency from deficiency and incapacity:
- The first ayat establishes his oneness.
- The second ayat establishes his perfection and negates deficiency.
- The third ayat establishes his pre-eternality and negates offspring.
- The fourth ayat establishes his greatness and majesty and negates any peers or opposites