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Qur'anic Treasures Hidden in Surah Ikhlas (Purity)
(Holy Qur'an 112:1-4)

Surah Fatiha (The Opening Chapter) of the Holy Qur'an is the important Surah of the Holy Qur'an and no Muslim prayer is complete without it. It is therefore the most repeated Surah of the Holy Qur'an. After the Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas is the most important and most often repeated Surah of the Holy Qur'an. The importance of this Surah has been described in the following hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)1:

"He (Abud Darda) reported God's messenger as saying, "Is any of you capable of reciting a third of the Qur'an in a night?" On being asked how they could recite a third of the Qur'an he replied, " 'Say, He is God, One' is equivalent to a third of the Qur'an." Muslim transmitted it, and Bukhari transmitted it from Abu Sa'id."

The translation2 of Surah Ikhlas (Holy Qur'an 112:1-4) is:

Say: He is Allah, the One and Only! Allah, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not nor is He begotten. And there is none like unto Him.

Surah Ikhlas is a very important Surah from the Holy Qur'an because it proclaims the Oneness (Tawhid) and Absolute nature of Divine Essence. This concept is presented in the first ayat. The second ayat declares that Allah is Eternal, i.e., He is beyond the bounds of time and space. The third ayat describes that Allah does not give birth nor is He is given birth and the last ayat declares that Allah is beyond comparison. Surah Ikhlas directly supports the first declaration (shahadah) of Islam: "There is no god but Allah". In this context, Islam is based on belief in one God (monotheism).

In his memoirs, Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah, also known as Aga Khan III, has defined the principle of Islam as follows3:

"Once man has thus comprehended the essence of existence there remains for him the duty, since he knows the value of his own soul, of making for himself a direct path which will constantly lead his individual soul to and bind it with the universal Soul of which the Universe, as much of it we perceive with our limited vision, is one of the infinite manifestations. Thus Islam's basic principle can only be defined as monorealism and not as monotheism."

This insight into Islam's basic principle sheds a new light into the interpretation of Surah Ikhlas. In the first ayat, Allah commands the Holy Prophet to declare that Allah is One. From the above quotation, the Islamic principle of Oneness is not limited to the the declaration that there is but one God but extends to all realities. In other words, all realities merge into One Reality. This absolute reality is called Monoreality. Therefore, Allah is Monoreal.

The second ayat declares that the Monoreal is Eternal. This means that the Monoreal is above time and space because, in human terms, time is related to the movement of stars and planets. This implies that the Monoreal is not affected by the past, present and future.

The third ayat declares that the Monoreal does not give birth or take birth because it is Eternal and the only reality. The Monoreal is immortal and it does not need to give birth or take birth.

The last ayat declares that there is none equal to the Monoreal because the Monoreal is unique. Human beings live in the world of duality where each object or concept has an opposite. Some examples of duality are good and evil, male and female, small and large, and so on. In contrast to this, the Monoreal is absolutely unique because it consists of all realities and there is nothing left except Itself. Therefore, the Monoreal is beyond comparison.

Surah Ikhlas is a short surah with a powerful message. The Holy Prophet has encouraged Muslims to recite this surah to purify their faith. In addition to this, recitation of this prayer for an extended period results in the forgiveness of sins according to the following hadith4:

"Anas reported the Prophet saying, "if anyone recites two hundred times daily, 'Say, He is God, One', the sins of fifty years will be wiped out, unless he is in debt." Tirmidhi and Darimi transmitted it. The latter's version has "fifty times" and he did not mention "unless he is in debt."

Let us now recite this prayer with humility, courage and conviction.

Transliteration
English Translation
A'uzu billahi minashaitanir rajim I seek refuge in Allah from the outcast Satan
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
Qul Hu-walaahu 'Ahad Say: He is Allah, the Monoreal!
'Allahus-Samad; Allah (the Monoreal) is Eternal.
Lam yalid, wa lam yuulad; The Monoreal does not take or give birth.
Walam yakul-la-Huu kufuwan 'ahad. And there is none comparable to the Monoreal.
[Sound Clip: real audio stream ]

The recitations of selected aya(t) of Holy Qur'an in Tarteel tune are by Shiekh Abdul Bassit Abdul Sumed and have been reproduced on this site with permission from MECAH Enterprises.

End Notes

  1. Robson, J., Book VIII. The excellent qualities of the Qur'an Chapter I. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 451.
  2. A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an, 1806
  3. Aga Khan III, Memoirs of Aga Khan, 175.
  4. Robson, J., Book VIII. The excellent qualities of the Qur'an Chapter I. In: Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), 456-457.

References

  1. Aga Khan III. Memoirs of Aga Khan. Cassell, London, 1954.
  2. Robson, J. Mishkat al Masabih Vol. I (English translation with explanatory notes), Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, Lahore, r1990.
  3. Yusuf Ali, A. The Holy Qur'an (translation and commentary). American Trust Publications, 1977.

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Article by Dr. Noorallah Juma
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