Surah Ikhlas: A Gateway to Spirituality

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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Surah Ikhlas (112:1-4)

Ya Ali Madad. Surah Fatiha (The Opening Chapter) of the Holy Qur’an is the important Surah of the Holy Quran and no Muslim prayer is complete without it. It is therefore the most repeated Surah of the Holy Qur’an. After the Surah Fatiha, Surah Ikhlas is the most important and most often repeated Surah of the Holy Quran. Surah Ikhlas is a very important because it proclaims the Oneness (Tawhid) and Absolute nature of Divine Essence and supports the first declaration (shahadah) of Islam: “There is no god but Allah”. In our daily practice, we recite Surah Ikhlas in our Holy Dua, Idd Namaz and in Fateha and Ziyarat-e-Mayyat funeral ceremonies. It was also recited in the presence of Noor Mowlana Hazar Imam during his mulaqats around the world.

Surah Ikhlas has two attributes of Allah. The first one is ‘al-ahad‘ and the second one is ‘al-samad‘. There are many Quranic commentaries of the topic of Tawhid, and on the two attributes in this surah. In this post, I am presenting some newer aspects on these attributes in the context of the first two ayats. In order to provide analysis, I am first presenting the transliteration of Surah Ikhlas and three translations because there are significant differences on how the word ‘samad’ is translated:

Transliteration and Translations of Surah Ikhlas

Qul huwa’llahu ahad (112:1)
Allahu’l-samad (112:2)
Lam yalid wa lam yulad (112:3)
wa-lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad (112:4)

Yusufali’s Translation
Say: He is God, the One and Only;
God, the Eternal, Absolute;
He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;
And there is none like unto Him.

Pickthall’s Translation
Say: He is God, One!
Allah, the eternally Besought of all!
He begetteth not nor was begotten.
And there is none comparable unto Him.

Hamza, Rizvi & Mayer’s Translation
Say: He is God, One!
God, the self sufficient Besought of all,
He neither begot nor was begotten,
nor is there anyone equal to Him

In Yusufali’s translation, ‘samad’ is translated as Eternal and Absolute, but in the other two, it is translated as Eternal and Besought. This is important because ‘besought’ is past and past participle of beseech. Beseech means to seek for something. The synonyms of beseech are entreat, pray, implore, and supplicate to mention a few. Thus, this concept becomes very important when we read the commentary for the second ayat of Surah Ikhlas.

Commentaries for Two Ayats of Surah Ikhlas

There are many commentaries on this ayat, however I have chosen the following excerpts from the third nawbat (mystical commentary) of Rashid al-Din Maybudi which is published in ‘An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. Volume 1: on the Nature of the Divine’, 2008, Oxford University Press, New York.

Maybudi has written this piece in praise of God, however, it takes a personal address from God to the Holy Prophet:

Say, He is God, one

O Muhammad! Those strangers [to you and your religion] (biganagan)are asking you about My lineage. Say: God is One. God is that single, Unique One, unique in essence and in attributes; unique in glory and in magnitude, unique in divinity and lordship. In having no beginning or end He is Unique. Worthy of His divinity, and knowing in His divinity. He is the generous and kind, the gracious , the merciful and the good. The One who knows the most intimate secrets. He is the One who holds up the loftiest horizon, the Creator of the [heavenly] throne and [lowly] earth alike, the one who is near the [servant] who is acquainted with Him; the One deserving all praise. The light of His providence (‘inayat) is visible in hearts of His lovers. Though He is hidden from eyes, in His creation, He is manifest.

Rashid al-Din Maybudi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. pp.512-3

God, the Besought of All

He is One to whom they repair for all their needs and in who they seek refuge from misfortunes, He is the eternally Besought of all, for His servants depend upon and need Him. The hope of sinners and forlorn alike is alike in His grace; the cure of all afflictions, in His generosity. The joy of devishes is in His majesty and beauty. Blessed is the person whose intimate companion (mu’nis) is His name, dear the person whose portion is His memory; joyful, the heart which is tied to Him; pure the tongue that is in remembrance of Him. Happy is the life of one who spends his time with His love and affection. One person delights in Paradise, another delights in the Beloved. The Beloved is the portion of the person whose aspiration is wholly for Him.

Rashid al-Din Maybudi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. p.513

My Inspiration for Reciting Surah Ikhlas

My inspiration of reciting Surah Ikhlas came from the writing of Abu ‘Ali al-Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi (d. 548/1154). He was an important Twelver Imami traditionalist and scholar. Through his work, he became a successful and influential commentator both in Sunni and Shi’i circles. In the Anthology of Commentaries, he has listed ahadith on the virtues of Surah Ikhlas . Here are two of these:

According to [the hadith by] Anas [b. Malik]: the Prophet said: ‘When one [of you] recites qul huwa’llahu ahad once, he will be blessed; if he recites it twice, he will be blessed together with his family; if he recites it three times, he, his family and all his neighbours will be blessed; if he recites it twelve times, twelve palaces will be built for him in Paradise, such that the guardian (hafaza) say [one to another], “Let us go and have a look at the palace of this brother of ours”; if he recites it one hundred times, he will expunge the sins of twenty-five years, with the exception if [sins involving] blood or money; if he recites it four hundred times, he will expunge [the equivalent of ] the sins of four hundred years; yet if he recites it a thousand times, he will not die until he has seen his place in Paradise or it is seen for him [by someone else].

Al-Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. p.519

The second hadith is as follows:

Al-Sukuni [reported] from Abu ‘Abd Allah [Ja’far al-Sadiq] that the Prophet performed the funeral prayer over Sa’d b. Mu’adh, and when he had finished, he said, ‘He [Sa’d] has met with 70,000 angels, among them Gabriel, saying prayers for him. I [the Prophet] said ‘O Gabriel, why has he deserved your prayers for him?”, to which he [Gabriel] replied. ‘Because of his reciting qul huwa’llahu ahad whenever he sat, stood up, was riding, on foot, walking, coming and going.”

Al-Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. pp.519-20

The third source was the writing of Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d.606/1209). He was one of the most influential and perhaps the most significant Sunni theologians of the medieval period. In the latter period of his life he became known as the ‘elder of Islam’ (Shaykh al-Islam). In the Anthology of Commentaries, he has listed twenty titles for Surah Ikhlas on pages 535-538. Here is the nineteenth title which gave me a great boost:

Nineteenth: The sura of light (nur). God said: God is the Light of the heaven and the earth (Q. 23:35]. He is the illuminator of the heavens and the earth, and this sura illuminates the heart. The Prophet said, ‘Everything has a light, and the light of the Qur’an is Say: He is God, One‘. This is analogous to the light of the human being which lies in his smallest organ, and that is the pupil of the eye. This sura is to the Qur’an what the pupil of the eye is to the human being.

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. pp.537-8

There was also another hadith which is most relevant to the present circumstance. It also come from the writings of Tabrisi:

According to Sahl b. Sa’d al-Saidi, a man came to the Prophet and complained to him of his impoverishment and straitened means. The Messenger of God said to him, ‘whenever you enter your home, offer the peace greeting (salaam) whether there is somebody there or not, then recite [the sura] qul huwa’llahu once.’ The man did this and God showered him with such provisions (rizq) that this eventually spilled over into his neighbours’ [homes].

Al-Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi , An Anthology of Quranic Commentaries. pp.519-20

After reading and internalizing the above knowledge, I first developed a package consisting of Surah Ikhlas and several tasbis which I silently recited after the completion of two duas in Jamat Khana for a period of 49 days in 2012. With Mowla’s immense grace, I did reach my target of forty-nine days on December 28, 2012.

My Surah Ikhlas & Tasbi package

  1. ‘Astaghafirullahi Rabbi wa Atubu Ilayhi’ (101 times)
    ‘I seek forgiveness from my Lord and Sustainer and I seek to return to Him in repentance’
  2. Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
    Qul Hu-walaahu ‘Ahad
    Lam yalid, wa lam yuulad;
    Walam yakul-la-Huu kufuwan ‘ahad. (101 times)

    Then the following tasbis from the 99 Divine Names (101 beads)
  3. Ya Samad: The Supreme Provider, The Independent One from the Divine Name No. 68
  4. Ya Ghani: The Self-sufficient One from the Divine Name No. 88
  5. Ya Wahaab: The Supreme Bestower from the Divine Name No. 16
  6. Ya Razzaaq: The Total Provider from Divine Name No. 17
  7. Ya Mughni: The Bestower of Sufficiency from Divine Name No. 89
  8. Ya Raafi: The Elevating One from Divine Name No. 23
  9. Sukhran Lillah wal Hamdulillah
    (All thanks are due to Allah, and all praises are due to Allah)

The Knowledge and Practice Pillars

The search for spiritual enlightenment is based on two pillars: knowledge and practice. I found that the above-mentioned spiritual exercises strengthened me immensely and I have continued my recitations of Surah Ikhlas.

I am going back to tasbis 4 to 7 because these are for material and spiritual sustenance as we go through the COVID-19 crisis and to tasbi no. 8 is for spiritual energy to build in the recovery period.

There will be blessings of Divine help, a new light, a new reflection, a new wisdom, a new way of living our precious lives as we add intensive dhikr of Surah Ikhlas in our collection of supplications.

Let us supplicate and submit to our Creator and pray for the whole humanity because we are all created from a Single Soul!

Please listen, download or loop the mp3 track which has the recitation of Surah Ikhlas:

Surah Ikhlas by Shiekh Abdul Bassit Abdul Sumed

Angelic Salwat Supplication

Let us now start supplicating with angelic salwat, Allâhumâ salli alâ Muhammadin wa âle Muhammad (O Allah! Bestow Peace on and through Muhammad and his Descendants) to our beloved NOOR Mowlana Shah Karim Al-Hussaini Hazar Imam for mushkil aasan for material and spiritual upliftment.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Allâhumâ salli alâ Muhammadin wa âle Muhammad

Al-hamdu lillahi rabbil 'alamin
Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds!

May NOOR Mowlana Hazar Imam bestow mushkil aasan, peace, prosperity, happiness, barakat, higher spiritual enlightenment, spiritual & luminous tayid (help) and empowerment to you, your family, your Jamat, global Jamat and humanity at large! Ameen.

May Noor Mowlana Hazar Imam fill your spiritual heart with his NOOR and nothing else and empower you to overcome fear, anxiety and uncertainty as we pass through this calamity! Ameen.

Rakh Mowla je Noor te Yaqeen (Certainly, we trust in Mowla's Light only)

Haizinda — Qayampaya
(Our Present Imam is Living and His NOOR is Eternal)