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
لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ
Allah begets not, nor is He begotten (4)
In the first verse of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ, قُلۡ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ, the claim made was that Allah exists and He is One. The proof of this claim is given in the next words, ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ. This means that the proof for the existence of Allah is that nothing in the world is complete in itself; rather, everything is dependent on other things. Allah Almighty alone is the Perfect Being Who is not in need of anything. The fact that everything within this universe is dependent on others is a powerful proof for the existence of Allah Almighty.
In declaring لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ [He begets not, nor is He begotten] after ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ [Allah, the Independent and Besought of all] Allah the Almighty has given evidence for His Ṣamadiyyah [Absolute Independence]. He has explained that dependence arises for two reasons: firstly, on account of initial attachments and secondly, by virtue of future connections.
Initiatory connections signify that there is a cause for a thing to be brought into being from a non-being and for manifesting it into the realm of existence. Any entity that is initiated and brought into existence from nothing is inevitably dependent on a cause; because if that cause had not existed, that thing could not come into existence.
Future connections refer to having offspring as this not only indicates dependence on a mate, but proves their own mortality. Therefore, there is nothing in this world which exists until the purpose of its creation is fulfilled while also still having offspring. For instance, there is the sun, the moon, mountains, rivers, the earth etc. – so long as they are still needed, they will continue to exist. Death does not overcome them. This is why they do not have descendants. However, man, animals and plants die before fulfilling their purpose, but their offspring continues. Therefore, a being that has no father and no son would unequivocally entail that it is immortal, complete in itself, and is Aḥad.
So by saying لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ Allah Almighty has rejected both types of connections [in relation to His being], and on the one hand, given proof of His Samadiyyah [Absolute Independence], while on the other, He has given proof of His Aḥadiyyah [Oneness]. That is, these two verses combined testify to the claims made in the preceding two verses.
Then, by stating لَمۡ يَلِدۡ وَلَمۡ يُولَدۡ , the Holy Qur’an has also removed a doubt concerning Allah Almighty’s attribute of Ṣamadiyyah. This doubt that arose was that if one accepts that without the help of Allah Almighty, no task can be accomplished, is it not possible that His Omnipotence may come to an end? We observe in the world that some people possess great and mighty powers but at some point their strength diminishes and they are reduced to complete submission and are disgraced. So could this be a possibility with respect to Allah Almighty? Allah Almighty answers this question in the words: لَمۡ يَلِدۡ and has explained that if in the future His Powers were meant to end, then a being would have been born in His place. But He has begotten no son; for only those things can do without having sons that last until the need for them comes to an end. So لَمۡ يَلِدۡ has established that Allah’s Power will never come to end and His Ṣamadiyyah will always remain.
In this verse, another point worth considering is that here the words لَمۡ يَلِدۡ have been placed before, and لَمۡ يُولَدۡ comes after, even though لَمۡ يَلِدۡ denotes Abadiyyah [everlasting] and لَمۡ يُولَدۡ denotes Azaliyyah [pre-eternity]. [Yet] Azaliyyah precedes Abadiyyah. The answer to this is that no man can ever gain knowledge of Azaliyyah because man is the product of the current era. Man can only gain knowledge of Azaliyyah through Abadiyyah. Because all of the world’s past history is evidence that the world has never been deprived of the help of God. Secondly, it is established that He has no son. Therefore, He is everlasting and since He is Everlasting, it necessarily follows that He is also Eternal, without a beginning, for only the One Who was not created in the past is safe from mortality in the future.
Serialisation of Sūrah al-Ikhlāṣ will continue in the next edition.