University of Essex Islamic Society
Explanation of Surah al-Ikhlaas - The Chapter of Purity
Shaykh-ul-Islam Taqi ad-Deen Ibn Taymiyyah
Born 1263 C. E. / 661 A. H., Died 1328 C. E. / 728 A. H.
The Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamaa'ah (i.e. the Sunnis) do not deviate from those things which have been brought by the Messengers, for that is the Straight Path, the path of those whom God has bestowed His favour upon from among the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous. It is in this collection of what has been described about Almighty God by Himself in Surah al-Ikhlaas (literally: "The Chapter of Purity") that makes it equal to one third of the Qur'an. In this surah, Almighty God has said:
"Say! He is God, the One!
The Eternally Besought of all!
He does not beget, nor is He begotten.
And there is nothing comparable to Him."
1. Whatever the Messenger of God, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, brought with him, that alone is real. It is obligatory to obey it and forbidden to deviate from it as this alone is the Straight Path which has no curves.
2. The Straight Path is only one and whoever deviates from it he strays onto the wrong path, innovation and injustice. Almighty God commands (in the Qur'an):
"And this is My Straight Path, so follow it and do not follow the other paths lest they divert you from His way.
3. The Straight Path is that path of the Ummah (community of Muslim believers) which lies in between the two extremes. Hence, the supplication in every rak'ah (i.e. unit) of the prayer: "Guide us to the Straight Path", that He should help, assist, guide, support and lead us in those things which will help us to obey Him and keep us steadfast on His Path. This is the Path of those who were favoured by God: the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs and the Righteous, and these are the best for keeping company.
4. The Concept of Tawheed has been explained in Surah al-Ikhlaas by separating and purging it from Shirk (associating others with Almighty God, polytheism and idolatry).
5. Imam Ahmad's narration of 'Ubayy bin Ka'ab that the mushrikoon (i.e. pagan idolaters) asked: "Oh Muhammed! Tell us the geneology of Your Lordl", whereupon God revealed this surah.
6. From authentic hadiths, it is proven that this surah is equal to one third of the of the Qur'an. The substance of the statement of Ibn 'Abbaas (a Companion of the Prophet) is as follows: that the Qur'an consists of three fundamental objectives:
a) Those commands and prohibitions which contain the laws and practical ways. These form the subject matter of the science of Fiqh (jurisprudence) and Ethics.
b) The tales and narratives which include the stories of the Prophets and Messengers of God and their communities. The punishments and disasters which befell those who resisted and denied the Messengers of God. Also, the promises, rewards, warnings and dooms.
c) The knowledge of Tawheed (the Unity of God) and the description of those matters which relate to the Names of Almighty God and His Attributes, which to have faith in is obligatory upon the servant of God (i.e. each Muslim). This has precedence over the first three.
7. Surah al-Ikhlaas contains the third objective and a general description of it. Thus, it is correct to say that this surah is equal to one third of the Qur'an.
8. The answer to the question that how does this surah contain comprehensively the knowledge of Tawheed and its principles which form the essence of the belief in Almighty God. God's command "He is God, the One" negates partnership with Him in every sense, whether it concerns His Self, Attributes or His Deeds. It also demonstrates the distinctiveness of God in His perfection, magnificence and majesty. The word Ahad is not used in affirmation for anyone besides God, since Ahad is more emphatic than Wahid.
9. The Tafseer (commentary, exegis) of Ibn 'Abbaas for the verse "God! al-Samad (i.e. the Eternally Besought of all).": The Chief who is best in His Nobility. The Great one who is best in His greatness. The Tolerant One who is best in His toleration. The Omnipotent who is the best in His omnipotence, the All Knowing who is best in His knowledge. The Self which is perfect in all types of nobility and greatness - that Self is only God - the Most Revered and the Most Powerful. He alone has these qualities for they do not apply to anyone save Him. No one is equal to Him and no one is like Him.
10. The Tafseer is also as follows: The Self who has no fear, around whom all creatures turn and Whom they seek after for all their needs and actions.
11. Affirmation in the Oneness negates all forms of polytheism and similitude. Affirmation of all the meanings of al-Samad includes all the noble Names and the most exalted Attributes. This is the Tawheed of Affirmation.
12. The Tawheed of Purity is in the statement: "He does not beget not nor is He begotten. And there is none comparable to Him". This statement can also be understood from the general statement: "Say! He is God! The One". Nothing came out of Him nor did He come out of anything. He has no equal, no likeness and no similarity.
13. Domination of the concept of Tawheed in this surah. The afffirmation of Oneness for the Lord in total and absolute contradiction to all forms of Polytheism. His character of being "Eternally Besought of all", which proves all His Attributes, that He cannot suffer from any defect, negation of father and son which is an implication of Him being in no need and that all is in need of Him. All is characterised in the statement of His being besought and His Oneness. Negation of an equal which includes negation of similarity, resemblances and likeness. This surah includes all of these matters and is therefore rightly deserving of being called equal to a third of the Qur'an.