The Holy Qur'an

Al-Tafsīr Al-Kabīr: The Grand Exegesis– Commentary of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ Continued

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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

As has been explained in the key-word analysis [of this verse], Allah Almighty has two attributes: He is Aḥad and He is Wāḥid, and there is a difference between the two. When we use the word Wahid, we acknowledge that along with this being the existence of two, three, four or any number of other beings . We do not deny this. And thus we also affirm the fact that all other things come from this, just as the numbers two, three or four, etc., all come from the number one. Similarly, everything in this world comes from Allah Almighty alone. And everything is dependent on Allah Almighty to achieve perfection. As there can be no light anywhere without the rays of the sun, so too nothing can exist without the Grace of Allah Almighty. This is the meaning of Wāḥid

The word Aḥad signifies that Allah Almighty is unique in His Being. This word negates two concepts: firstly, Allah did not emerge from any two entities, and secondly, that He did not become two entities from one entity. Wāḥid can become two from one. When going backwards, it can become one from two. As far as the attributes of God Almighty are concerned, they bear a semblance with the world. Under the splendour of His reflection, these attributes can also be found in other things, albeit to a certain degree. Thus, by saying Wāḥid, we concede that other entities also exist in the world.

With the word Wahid, we may think of another being, but with the word Aḥad this is not possible. Similarly, in the Arabic language when counting one, two, three, etc. the words used are ‘wāḥidithnān’ not ‘aḥad, ithnān’. So God’s creation bears a semblance with His attributes, not with His Being. For instance, Allah Almighty hears and it is through this virtue of His that we are also able to listen. 

Many ignorant people claim that saying that we hear and Allah Almighty also hears, amounts to shirk [associating partners with Allah]. But this is not shirk because whatever we hear is a reflection of His attribute. Therefore, when we use the word Wāḥid we acknowledge the existence of other things in the world which draw strength from Allah and partially manifest His attributes. The number one is succeeded by two, three, four and five etc. If we count backwards, we will always arrive at number one. However, the word Aḥad signifies that it cannot be followed by two, three or four, nor can it return to one. Indeed, this is the true basis of the controversy: many nations take one [God] and turn it into two or three [gods] and then return to one. Thus both of these notions are found among the Christians. They claim that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit combine to become one. In other words, they go from many towards one, that the three combined became one. Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ states that the Waḥidiyyah can be born out of the Trinity but Aḥadiyyah cannot and that is the stage of absolute monotheism. Since this error was to be committed specifically in the latter days, therefore, the Holy Qur’an concludes with: Qul huwāllahu Aḥad ‘Say: “Allah is One and Alone. He cannot be divided into the son and the Holy Spirit nor can the Trinity be merged into One. He cannot adopt multiplicity nor become One by removing multiplicity.”’ Therefore, Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ was revealed in order to prove the Ahadiyyah of Allah Almighty in the latter days.

Through this brief chapter, where Allah Almighty provides evidence for His existence, He completely eradicates the concept of shirk at the same time. Shirk [associating partners with Allah] is of two kinds: first is the belief that a number of beings are equal in status to Allah Almighty, be they bigger or smaller in rank. Second, that despite being created they are given divine status. One is shirk with respect to God’s Being and the other is with respect to His attributes. By saying Qul huwāllahu Aḥad, Allah Almighty refutes the beliefs of those who state or are convinced that there are two or three gods, or propose that God has sons or daughters, or worship other idols.

Therefore, after Qul huwallāhu Aḥad, Allah states: Allahuṣ-Ṣamad [‘Allah, the Independent and Besought of all.’] and then by saying Lam yakun lahū kufuwan aḥad [‘And there is none like unto Him.’], He explains that those who commit shirk and ascribe divine attributes to others are mistaken. No matter how great a person is, they are in need of Allah Almighty. One cannot attain God’s status nor can one be associated with His actions. 

Serialisation of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ will continue in the next edition.