The Review of Religions is delighted to present the complete English translation of the commentary of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ – Chapter 112 of the Holy Qur’an – by Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), translated into English for the first time.
Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, one of the shortest chapters in the Qur’an, discusses the unity of God, and so contains the essence of the entire Islamic teaching. Just as Sūrah al-Fātiḥah is considered to be an outline of the entire Qur’an, Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, together with the two succeeding chapters, Sūrah al-Falaq and Sūrah al-Nās, also contains the themes mentioned in Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. Indeed, in one tradition, the Holy Prophet (sa) stated that Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is equal to one-third of the Holy Qur’an.
This is one of the most insightful and in-depth commentaries of the Holy Qur’an ever written, and The Review of Religions has the honour of publishing it for our English readers for the first time.
By Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad (ra), Second Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Translated by Murtaza Ahmad
Edited by The Review of Religions Translation Team
Commentary of Verse 2 of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ
As already explained in the commentary of Sūrah al-Lahab [the previous chapter], the Holy Qur’an’s subject matter ends at Sūrah al-Lahab, and this indicates that Sūrah al-Lahab is in one sense the concluding chapter [in terms of subject matter]. It is evident that not everyone can discern all of the profound and vast meanings of the Holy Qur’an, nor can they fully master or constantly remember them. This is why Allah the Almighty, for the benefit of mankind, used this method and summarised the entire Holy Qur’an in the last three chapters after Sūrah al-Lahab. In the same way that a skilled author will preface a book with a brief introduction to the subjects they will cover, and summarises the book at the end, the Holy Qur’an begins with Sūrah al-Fātiḥah which indicates towards the subjects that will be discussed in it and at the end, the subjects are again summarised in Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, Sūrah al-Falaq and Sūrah al-Nās. Indeed, in this sense, Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is in itself a concise and complete summary of the Holy Qur’an, because when we consider the themes and substance of the Qur’an, we realise that their central and focal point is to prove and establish the unity of Allah the Almighty and to proclaim His attributes and magnificence. Therefore, in Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, the perfect unity of Allah, His attributes and His glory has been mentioned briefly. Thus, in this sense, Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ is also a summary of the Holy Qur’an. But if one looks at the themes of the last three chapters collectively, one realises that these three chapters are the same as Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. In other words, just as the Holy Qur’an begins with Sūrah al-Fātiḥah, Allah the Almighty also ends it at Sūrah al-Fātiḥah. Here, attention is drawn to the fact that Allah Himself has summarised the Holy Qur’an and that it is now the responsibility of every Muslim to keep this summary of the Holy Qur’an in mind, to enjoin his children and future generations to do the same and to continue announcing and disclosing it to the whole world until they all unite on this central point. The final three chapters begin with the word ‘Say’ [qul] in order to draw attention to this objective. This means ‘convey our message to others’. When this message reaches others, they will also read the word qul and so it will then also become their duty to convey this word further to others. This is similar to when some people nowadays write letters to others, saying that whoever receives it should send its message to ten more people.
In other words, the essence of the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and Islam has been explained in these last three chapters. Allah makes it clear that ‘O mankind! Now that you have read the entire Holy Qur’an, We tell you that this is for the entire world and thus you must convey it to the people. However, since it is not possible for each person to fully comprehend all its meanings, nor can every person memorise the entire Holy Qur’an, to make it easier for people, We provide its summary. However, We also wish for you to proclaim qul, that is, to try conveying this message to others, and those who hear it from you should convey it to others and so on and so forth.’ And so in this way, these meanings would reach the entire world. That is, by the word qul, each Muslim is bound to convey its message to others. This does not mean to convey this only once in a lifetime; rather, the sentence composition or structure of Qul-Huwallahu Ahad [‘Say, “Allah, He is One”’] indicates that every Muslim has a duty to keep in view this proclamation no matter who they meet, where they gather, or where they go. And then whoever hears it, should convey it to others until this message reaches the entire world.
Perhaps, this is why someone named a certain ritual that Muslims perform when someone passes away, qul.
I recall that once one of our non-Ahmadi relatives passed away. His family also invited me and so I went. When everyone had sat down, I saw that initially, a maulvi [Muslim cleric] recited something and then the family brought a copy of the Holy Qur’an and handed it over to someone. He passed it on to the next person and then he gave it to me in my hands. At the time, I was very young, and was completely unfamiliar with such practices. I did not know what was happening or whether it was acceptable or not. Although I do remember that in my heart I felt averse to taking part in this. When they finally handed the Holy Qur’an over to me, I took it and placed it in front of me, because I was unaware what they expected from me. At this, somebody then picked up the Holy Qur’an themselves and passed it on to the next person, or perhaps I was told to pass it onto to them. I asked someone what was happening and he told me that this act was devised as a way to allow blessings to reach the deceased soul. People thought that whatever they give in charity on behalf of the deceased, it would be at most ten, twenty, fifty or hundred rupees and so the deceased would also receive a limited reward, and perhaps the sins of the deceased would not be atoned for. So they thought that they could give the Holy Qur’an in charity, the value of which is priceless. This idea has now manifested in practice with a person passing the Holy Qur’an to the person next to him, saying on behalf of the deceased soul: ‘I hand this Qur’an over to you.’ And he passes it on to the next person. In this manner, as it were, many Qur’ans are offered as alms with the assumption that infinite blessings will have reached the deceased soul, and their many sins will have been forgiven. Perhaps this practice was named qul for the reason that the Holy Qur’an is passed from one person to another, just as charity exchanges hands.
If the Muslims had acted upon the teaching contained in the word qul, which was given to them by Allah the Almighty, then they would never have suffered the humiliation that they face in this age, and by now the entire world would have accepted the unity of Allah the Almighty and come under the banner of the Muhammad (sa), the Messenger of Allah. The Muslims have completely overlooked even this very basic and small point.
(The serialisation of the English translation of the commentary of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ will continue in next month’s edition.)