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

وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدُۢ

And He [Allah] has no partner (with respect to His attributes).

Key Word Analysis

كُفُوًا (Kufuwan)

الْکُفُؤُ (al-Kufu’):الْمُماثِلُ (al-mumāthil) – That is, کُفُؤ(kufu’) means the like of something or an equal to it. Therefore, when the Arabs say; هَذَا کُفُؤُهُ (hādha kufu’uh) it means   مُمَاثِلُهُ (mumāthiluh) i.e. person x resembles person y [1]. In Al-Mufradāt, Imam Raghib states that kufu’ refers to an individual who is of equal rank to another.


Commentators say that the verse: وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدُۢ  (wa lam yakun lahū kufuwan aḥad) is placed here to reiterate and emphasise the subject-matter of the first verse [in this chapter]. However, this is incorrect. The truth is that if neither a being was begotten nor did it beget anything else, this may give rise to the doubt that perhaps another similar being exists. This verse removes this doubt and explains that neither is God the son of any being nor does He have a son; moreover, there is also nothing like or similar to Him. As for the question whether the Qur’an has presented any proof for this; the Holy Quran has given this proof in another place:

لَوۡ كَانَ فِيھِمَآ ءَالِھَةٌ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ لَفَسَدَتَا

That is, if two similar beings had existed then there would be disorder in the world [2] because the existence of two such beings means that one out of the two will remain redundant. For if two beings can perform the same task then why are two beings existing needlessly? Thus, لَفَسَدَتَا (lafasadatā) means exactly this that the creation of the heavens and the earth would have gone to waste. It also explains that had two similar beings existed they would have initiated parallel schemes in the world; however, if the schemes were running in parallel then one part of the world would have gone in one direction and the other part would have gone in another. However, this is not the case. We observe throughout the world that only one type of law is in operation to the extent that the law governing the sun is the same that governs the earth. And the same law is operating with respect to all other celestial bodies besides these two. So while one type of law operates in the universe, the existence of two similar beings of the same strength becomes absurd.  

In a subtle manner this verse sheds light on the fact that despite there being a likeness to certain attributes of God Almighty in humans, yet still there can be no equal and equivalent to Him. The attributes endowed to man cannot make him equal of God. For example, it is clear that man has the ability to beبَصِیْر  baṣīr [the one possessing sight] within his limitations, and man has the ability to be سَمِیْع samī‘ [the one possessing hearing] within his limitations, but man’s seeing and hearing is so deficient and limited that it cannot at all be compared to the attributes of God Almighty i.e. being the All-Seeing and the All-Hearing. Animals see and so do humans; animals eat and as do humans; animals move and so do humans, but even then animals and humans are not declared as equal because the way man uses his eyes is different from the way animals use their eyes. Animals do not use their mouths in the way that humans use their mouth. An animal cannot use its feet in the way that humans can. The fact is that by using his eyes, man makes estimations concerning the future but animals cannot do this. Humans eat with their mouth but are mindful that they avoid eating anything that is detrimental to their health but the animal does not do this. Then, humans as well as animals use their feet to walk but humans, even as they walk, utilise the movements of their feet and accordingly they invented the bicycle and certain types of boats. But an animal does not do this because the movements in their feet are limited. Therefore, animals cannot be equal to humans.

Similarly, this verse explains that one should not liken the hearing and seeing of man to the hearing and seeing of God Almighty. The manner in which God Almighty sees is different to that of man. For instance, God perceives the subtlest of things, while man does possess this. An object placed behind a wall becomes hidden to man, but it is not hidden from the eyes of God. Similarly, when man speaks indeed other people can hear him, but when God Almighty speaks to His prophets it cannot be heard even by those sitting next to them. God reveals to them those matters that are hidden behind thousands of veils of which at times those present before him do not have knowledge. So despite man possessing sight and hearing, he is not equal to God. This is what is indicated in this verse and this doubt has been removed. 

As already explained in the lines above, this chapter was revealed for the Latter Days to wipe out the dangerous trials that are atheism and Christianity, and to establish the existence of Allah the Almighty and His Oneness, as well as to unite all nations upon one focal point. Prior to the advent of the Holy Prophet (sa), various names of Allah the Almighty were used throughout the world. Some referred to Him as God while others referred to Him as Parmeshwar. Some called Him Yazdan while others called Him Elohim. And people in their ignorance thought that so and so was the God of the Hindus or of the Zoroastrians or of the Jews or of the Christians. In fact, it was written in their scriptures: Your God – Parmeshwar or Elohim – commands you to do this or that. This means that in previous times, the Being of Allah the Almighty remained merely a god of a specific nation. Eventually Allah the Almighty manifested His personal name – i.e. Allah – to mankind through Prophet Muhammad (sa). He informed the world that all these names: God, Yazdan and Elohim etc. all point towards the name of Allah the Almighty. Otherwise, in actuality there is only One God Whose name is Allah. Allah the Almighty indicates to this reality in the following words:

وَلَئِن سَأَلۡتَھُم مَّنۡ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمٰوٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ لَيَقُولُنَّ ٱللَّهُ

That is, if you ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will reply Allah [3]. This does not mean that they will declare the name of Allah but it means that whatever name they utter will point towards Allah alone. So the truth is that no matter what name Hindus and Christians assign to God, it only means that Allah is the Creator of all things. Therefore, Allah is not the god of one nation; rather He is Lord of all the Worlds and all the nations of the world accept and believe in Him, either by this name or another.

This concludes the commentary of Sūrah al-Ikhlā. The commentary of the next chapter, Sūrah al-Falaq, will begin soon.


[1] ‘Aqrab al-Mawarid.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 21:23.

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 31:26.