Surah Al-Ikhaas is a Makki (Meccan) surah having four verses. As its name indicates, this Surah deals about the Unity of Allah, and His Oneness. In its just four verses, this Surah describes monotheism completely. Al-Ikhlaas is not merely the name of this Surah but also the title of its contents, for it deals exclusively with Tawheed. 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 shirk (polytheism) completely.
Background of Revelation
From many Ahadith it is narrated that different people on different occasions had questioned the Prophet pbuh about the essence and nature of the God to Whose worship he invited the people, and on every occasion he recited by Allah’s command this very Surah in response, as it was revealed for answering those questions by nonbelievers. 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 Allah inspired him to recite this very Surah in answer to them. One of the Hadith out of many is this,
Hazrat Abdullah bin Masud r a has reported that the Quraish said to the Prophet pbuh: “Tell us of the ancestry of your Lord.” Thereupon this Surah was sent down.
Theme and Subject Matter
The world, when the Prophet pbuh began to preach the message of Tawheed was much into shirk.
The idol-worshippers 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.
The Christians claimed to believe in One God, yet their God also had at least a son.
The Jews also claimed to believe in One God, but their God too was not without physical, material and other human characteristics.
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 Allah, 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 Quran that in a few words briefly it answered all the questions and presented such a clear concept of the Being of Allah as destroyed all polytheistic concepts, without leaving any room for the ascription of any of the human qualities to His Being.
Allah addresses the Prophet pbuh here. When the Prophet pbuh was asked: “Who is your Lord and what is He like? It was commanded by Allah to answer by this. But after Prophet pbuh every believer is adressed to respond in such a way when asked about Allah.
“Allah” 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. At that time there existed 360 idols of gods (ilahs) in and around the Kabah, but the polytheists forsaking all of them had invoked only Allah for protection. In other words, they knew in their hearts that no ilah could help them on that critical occasion except Allah. As there are several verses in Quran. For example,
In Surah Az-Zukhruf it has been said: “If you ask them who created them, they will surely say, ‘Allah’.” (V: 87)
So Allah gives is introduction as Ahad which means He is single, unique and matchless. This is a fundamental attribute of Allah; no one else in the world is qualified with this quality: He is One, He has no equal.
Ahad means all this…
Allah Alone has been, and will be, God for ever; neither was there a God before Him, nor will 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.
Now Allah mentions His second attribute i.e. He is As-Samad.
Samad is he who has no superior.
He who is independent of all and all others are dependent upon him.
The one to whom the people turn for obtaining the things they need and for help in hardships.
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.
Allah 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 As-Samad, i.e the Only and One Being Who is wholly and perfectly qualified with the attribute of samad in the true sense.
In these verses the belief of the people who ascribe children to Allah, has been refuted from every aspect. 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 Allah, 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 Quran was that they regarded the angels as daughters of Allah.
Although all these assumptions are destroyed as soon as Allah 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.
There is no one in the entire universe, nor ever was, nor ever can be, who is similar to Allah, or equal in rank with Him, or resembling Him in His attributes, works and powers in any degree whatever.
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