Al-Ikhlas (Purity of Faith)

Quran – Surah 112 –Al-Ikhlas (Purity of Faith)

This surah of four verses was revealed in Makkah. It takes its name from the subject matter; for this reason, it is also called Surat at-Tawhid (Declaration of God’s Absolute Unity).

1. say: “He, God, the unique one of Absolute unity. *1

1. As pointed out by Fakhru’d-din ar-razi, a great interpreter of the Qur’an, God is called by three Names in this verse: He, God, and the one of Absolute unity. “He” denotes the divine Being in His essence, the Necessarily-existent one – who is indescribable, known by none but Himself only. “God” is the divine Being who manifests Himself with and is recognized by His Attributes and Names, who encompasses all the Attributes and Names by which the divine Being is called. And “The one of Absolute unity” negates all false notions and concepts about the divine Being. “He” is the term used by those nearest to the divine Being; they appeal to Him as He. “God” is the term used by the people of the right, the people of happiness and prosperity (who will be given their records in their right hands), while “the one of Absolute unity” comes in this verse in connection with the people of the Left, the people of wretchedness (who will be given their records in their left hands), who have incorrect concepts of God, who deny Him, or who associate different partners with Him. There are some differences between God’s being the one of Absolute unity (wahid) and the unique one of Absolute oneness (Ahad). God’s being the one of Absolute unity (wahid) means the manifestation of God’s Names, which give existence to all things and beings, and are responsible for their life, throughout the entire universe. God’s being the unique one of Absolute oneness” (Ahad) means God’s concentration of the manifestations of His Names on individual things or beings. In order to understand the difference more clearly, said Nursi makes the following analogy: The sun encompasses innumerable things in its light. This can serve to understand God’s unity. But to hold the totality of its light in our minds, we would need a vast conceptual and perceptual power. so lest the sun be forgotten, each shining object reflects its properties (light and heat) as best it can and so manifests the sun. This is an analogy for God’s being the unique one of Absolute oneness. As related to the manifestation of God’s unity, the whole universe is a mirror to God. while as related to the manifestation of His being the unique one of Absolute oneness, each (shining) being is a mirror of Him. Bediüzzaman said Nursi notes that faith in God’s unity has two degrees: believing superficially that God has no partners, and that the universe belongs only to Him (such believers may be susceptible to deviation and confusion); and firm conviction that God is one, that everything belongs to Him exclusively, and that only He creates, maintains, provides, causes to die, etc. such believers see His seal and observe His stamp on all things. Free from doubt, they feel themselves always and everywhere in His Presence. Their conviction cannot be diluted by deviation or doubt.

2. “God, the eternally-Besought-of-All (Himself in no need of anything).

3. “He begets not, nor is He begotten. *2

2. declaring that God begets not, and nor is He begotten is such an evident principle for the divine Being that it is mentioned here to refute all creeds that attribute sons or daughters to God. It primarily and categorically refutes the pagans’ attribution to Him of the angels as daughters and the Christians’ seeing Him as the Father of Jesus, upon him be peace, or their attributing Jesus, upon him be peace, to Him as a son.

4. “And comparable to Him there is none.” *3/4

3. The divine religion, which had been revealed to Prophets of various peoples was the same in essence; but over the course of time, its message had been misinterpreted as it had become mixed up with superstitions and had degenerated into magical practices and meaningless rituals. The concept of God, the very core of the religion, had become debased by (a) the anthropomorphic tendency of turning God into a being with a human shape and passions;(b) the deification of angels; (c) the association of other personalities with the Godhead of the one and only God (as in Hinduism and Christianity); (d) the making of the Prophets or some godly persons into incarnations of God (e.g., Jesus, upon him be peace, in Christianity, the Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism, Krishna and rama in Hinduism); and (e) the personification of the Attributes of God as separate divine persons (e.g., the Christian Trinity of the Father, the son, and the Holy Ghost, and the Hindu Trimutri of Brahma, vishnu, and shiva). The holy Prophet of Islam, Muhammad,upon him be peace and blessings, ejected all such theological trends and restored the concept of God to its pristine purity as the only Creator, sustainer, and Master of all of creation (ezzati, 1980: ).

Tawhīd -–unity – is the highest conception of the deity, the knowledge of which God has sent to humankind in all ages through His Prophets. It was this same knowledge that all the Prophets, including Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad, upon them all be peace, brought to humankind. People became guilty of polytheism or idol-worship after the death of their Prophets only because they had deviated from the pure teachings of the Prophets. They relied upon their own faulty reasoning, false perceptions, and biased interpretations in order to satisfy their lusts, which they would have been unable to do with a Tawhīd-based system, in which they would have had to obey the commandments only of the one supreme God.

“The foremost in the religion,” ‘Ali ibn Abī Tālib, the Fourth Caliph, may God be pleased with him, is reported to have said, “God’s knowledge, the perfection of His knowledge, is to testify to Him; the perfection of testifying to Him is to believe in His oneness; the perfection of believing in His oneness is to regard Him as pure; and the perfection of His purity is to deny all kinds of negative attributes about Him” (an-Nahj al-Balāghah) He is infinite and eternal; He is self-existent and self-sufficient. As stated in this sūrah: He, God, the one of Absolute unity; the eternally-Besought-of-All (Himself in no need of anything); He begets not, nor is He begotten; and comparable to Him, there is none. And elsewhere, the same sentiment is expressed: vision perceives Him not, and He perceives all vision (6:103); and Nothing whatsoever (is there) like Him, and He (alone) is the All-Hearing and All-seeing (42:11). Again, in the words of Ali, may God be pleased with him, “He is a Being, but not through the phenomenon of coming into being. He exists, but not from non-existence. He is with everything, but not by a physical nearness. He is different from everything, but not by a physical separation. He acts, but without the accompaniment of movements and instruments. He is the one, the only one who is such that there is none with whom He keeps company or whom He misses when absent” (an-Nahj al-Balāghah, “First sermon”).

4. This short sūrah, which God’s Messenger describes as equivalent to one-third of the Qur’ān, has six sentences – three positive and three negative – which prove or establish six aspects of divine unity, and reject or negate six types of associating partners with God. each sentence has two meanings: one a priori (functioning as a cause or proof), and the other a posteriori (functioning as an effect or result). That means that the sūrah actually contains 36 sūrahs, each made up of a combination of six sentences and each having many aspects. one is either a premise or a proposition, and the others are arguments supporting it, as detailed below:

-say: He is God because He is the one of Absolute unity, because He is the eternally-Besought-of-All, because He begets not, because He is not begotten, and because comparable to Him there is none.

-say: Comparable to Him there is none because He begets not, because He is not begotten, because He is the eternally-Besought-of-All, because He is the one of Absolute unity, and because He is God.

-say: He is God so He is the one of Absolute unity, so He is the eternally-Besought-of-All, so He begets not, so He is not begotten, and so comparable to Him there is none.

And so on. In this way, there are thousands of Qur’āns within the Qur’ān.