Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 10:50 am

Surah Ikhlas is one of the most well-known Surahs of the Holy Quran and with good reason! The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “Surah Al-Ikhlas is equivalent to one-third of the Holy Quran.” Riyad As-Salihin: 1012.

Surah Ikhlas is the most fundamental doctrine of Islam. Ikhlas, meaning isolation or sincerity, is not just the name of the surah but also the title of its content. It established the foundations of Tawhid at a time when idol worshippers were rampant in Makkah’s society. It is an answer to polytheists who associated multiple partners with Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).

Surah Al-Ikhlas with English Translation

قُلْ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ

ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ

لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ

وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌۢ

“Say, ˹O Prophet, ˺ “He is Allah—One ˹and Indivisible˺.

Allah—the Sustainer ˹needed by all˺.

He has never had offspring, nor was He born.

And there is none comparable to Him.” Al Quran – Surah Ikhlas

 

When we look at Surah Ikhlas in Arabic, it becomes clear that “Ikhlas” is derived from the root word “kh-l-s,” which means purified or refined. The Surah is central to the message of Islam and is the essence of the religion as it declares the oneness of Allah.

Context of Surah Ikhlas

The general context of Surah Ikhlas is that it was revealed as a counter-argument to the challenges raised by the Polytheists of Makkah on the attributes of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)‎. The content of the surah deals exclusively with Tawhid (monotheistic belief in Islam). This exemplary Surah has the most profound implications despite being one of the shortest Surahs.

The Meaning of “Ikhlas”

“Ikhlas” means isolation, purity, or sincerity in Arabic. “Ikhlas” is not merely the name of the surah but a title denoting its contents regarding Tawhid.

The Structure and Style of Surah Ikhlas

The surah consists of short 4 ayahs. It is called the essence of the Quran due to the subject of the monotheism of God, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)‎ being the whole content of this chapter.

Scholars also relate Hadhrat Bilal crying out “Ahad! Ahad!” when subjected to torture by Umayyah bin Khalaf as proof of Surah Ikhlas being revealed in the earliest period in Makkah. The word “Ahad!” was derived from this very Surah.

The Number of Ayahs in Surah Ikhlas

The surah consists of 4 short ayahs.

Is Surah Ikhlas A Makki or Madani Surah?

It is disputed among scholars whether Surah Ikhlas was a Makki (years Prophet Muhammad ﷺ spent in Makkah) or Madni (years after Hijrah to Madina) surah. The difference of opinion is due to multiple traditions related to the occasion of this surah’s revelation. A general similarity among all traditions is that the revelation of this surah was prompted by either a group or a person asking Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) about God and His Ancestry; thereupon, it was revealed upon him. The opinions of Surah Ikhlas being Makki are much stronger. [(Tabarani) (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Abi Harim, Ibn Jarir, Tirmidhi, Bukhari in At-Tarikh, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Baihaqi) (Abu Yala, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Tabarani in Al-Ausat, Baihaqi, Abu Nuaim in Al-Hilyah)]

When Was it Sent on Prophet Muhammad?

The revelation of this surah was prompted by either a group or a person asking Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) about God and His Ancestry. Thereupon, it was revealed upon him. The exact events are disputed among the scholars. However, many traditions have related a companion of the Prophet ﷺ narrating that the Messenger of Allah was visited by a group of people asking questions like “Who is God? What does He look like? What is His ancestry?”. [(Tabarani) (Musnad Ahmad, Ibn Abi Harim, Ibn Jarir, Tirmidhi, Bukhari in At-Tarikh, Ibn al-Mundhir, Hakim, Baihaqi) (Abu Yala, Ibn Jarir, Ibn al-Mundhir, Tabarani in Al-Ausat, Baihaqi, Abu Nuaim in Al-Hilyah)]

Why is Surah Ikhlas Called the Essence of the Quran?

It is called the essence of the Quran due to the subject of the monotheism of God, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)‎ being the whole content of this chapter. Hazrat Bilal رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْه used to cry “Ahad! Ahad!” as a slave being tortured by his polytheist master at the time. Many scholars consider it as strong evidence for the surah being revealed at the very beginning of prophethood in Makka.

A narration about this Meccan Surah states that “A man said to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that he loves Surah Al-Ikhlas to which the prophet replied that your love would admit you to heaven.” Riyad as-Salihin 1013

Theological Interpretation

Surah Ikhlas straightforwardly clarified the very basic belief of Tawhid in Islam. It laid strong foundations for the completely monotheistic belief system of Islam. It was an unambiguous message to the polytheists and Jews at that time who were challenging the message of Islam being presented by the Beloved Prophet ﷺ of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).

The Concept of Tawhid (Oneness of God)

Surah Ikhlas establishes the most basic Islamic belief of Tawhid, the Oneness of God. It begins with a command addressed to the Prophet ﷺ himself first and then to the rest of the believers to proclaim that God is One. Tawhid is this very belief that there is none like Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), that HE alone is to be called upon for worship and prayers, that He is Unique, and has no partners, nor sons or daughters. Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) is a Sovereign Being, and He cannot be attributed to human characteristics.

How Surah Ikhlas Emphasizes the Monotheistic Belief

With its very beginning ayah, it is strongly established with the proclamation of “Ahad” that God is Alone, Unique, and One. This Oneness of God emphasizes the monotheistic belief in Islam. And continuing to express the Self-Sufficiency of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) with “As-Samad” in the second ayah, meaning “to Whom people turn to when afflicted with calamity”.

The Rejection of Any Partners or Associates with Allah

In the Ayah 3, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) calls upon His believer to say, “He has never had offspring, nor was He born”. This is a clear message to the polytheists, who, at every age, have adopted a concept of God with partners and children. This is a straightforward rejection of any such an idea.

Spiritual and Moral Lessons

The biggest spiritual and moral lesson available in Surah al-Ikhlas is that a Muslim only relies on Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)‎. He (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى)‎ is to be worshipped alone and relied upon by a Muslim for ALL their needs.

The Practical Implications of the Oneness of God

The essential subject of Surah Ikhlas is Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) being Ahad, Unique, and it practically implies that there is no space in Islam for idolatry or polytheism. No physical attribute can be attributed to Him, and no claims about Him having associates or ancestors can be entertained.

The Moral Values and Ethical Principles Derived from Surah Ikhlas

The basic principle of Tawhid makes a Muslim rely utterly and completely on Allah. This belief in the Creator, the Sustainer, alleviates Muslims’ anxiety about the unforeseeable and develops Taqwa in their hearts. A Muslim is taught to value Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), to think of His Sovereignty before any of his actions, and to form a basic foundation for his beliefs. Ethically, it humbles the Muslim so that his intentions and actions come from sincerity and honesty.

How Does Surah Ikhlas Encourage a Closer Relationship with Allah

In the second ayah of Surah Ikhlas, Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) teaches us one of His attributes, “As-Samad” the Self-Sufficient One. For a Muslim, this instills a strong dependence on the One who needs no dependence. It creates reliance and utter dedication on Allah, who, in the words of Ibn ‘Abbas, is “Samad; He to whom the people turn when afflicted with a calamity.”

Surah Ikhlas in Hadith

Surah Ikhlas was significantly emphasized by Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), with several hadiths narrated that make it evident.

Hazrat Aisha (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا) narrates how Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would recite Surah Ikhlas, Surah Falaq, and Surah Nas on his hands and rub them on his body where he could before going to bed. [Sahih al-Bukhari 5017]

In multiple hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) equaled Surah Ikhlas to one-third of the Quran (Sahih Al-Bukhari 5015, Sahih Al-Bukhari 812a). Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: The Prophet (ﷺ) said to his companions, “Is it difficult for any of you to recite one-third of the Qur’an in one night?” This suggestion was difficult for them, so they said, “Who among us has the power to do so, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” Allah Apostle replied: “Allah (the) One, the Self-Sufficient Master Whom all creatures need.’ (Surat Al-Ikhlas 112.1–to the End) is equal to one-third of the Qur’an.” [Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 5015 (In-book reference: Book 66, Hadith 37)]

Companions of our beloved Prophet testify to Surah Ikhlas being of significant importance to Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). It was narrated that `Uthman bin `Affan (رضي الله عنه) heard the Messenger of Allah () say: `I know a word which no one says, sincerely from the heart, but he will be forbidden to the Fire.” `Umar bin al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) said to him: I will tell you what it is: it is the word of al-Ikhlas by means of which Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, caused Muhammad (ﷺ) and his companions to prevail and it is the word of Taqwa that the Prophet (ﷺ) of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) urged his uncle Abu Talib to say when he was dying, the testimony that there is no god but Allah. [Grade: Qawi (Darussalam) Reference: Musnad Ahmad 447 (Book 4, Hadith 43)]

Other Names of Surah Ikhlas

Surah Al-Ikhlas has various nicknames, as mentioned below:

  • Surah Tawheed: Surah that declares the unification or oneness of Allah.
  • Surah Muqashkish:Surah that removes the disease, further elaborating the significance of the word “Ikhlas” and the fact that God removes shortcomings and impurities in one’s faith, such as evil desires and shirk. The same name has been given to Surah Kafirun.
  • Surah Tafreed:Surah that highlights Tafreed, i.e., the individuality or aloneness of Allah. Allah is alone; there is no one like Him.
  • SurahTajreed: Surah that removes all misconceptions and purges faith. Surah Ikhlas provided all answers to the non-believers and cleared any doubts the Muslims had.

Each of the above names provides greater insight into the Surah and its role. The placement of the Surah is also of immense importance. As Surah Kafirun speaks about how Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was told to speak to the unbelievers that they do not worship whom he worships, which led to them wondering whom the Holy Prophet (PBUH) prays to, which was answered in Surah Al-Ikhlas.

Surah Ikhlas Benefits

There are many benefits of Surah Ikhlas benefits, and they will convince you to recite the Surah every day. The most notable of them are:

Surah Ikhlas helps in the Forgiveness of Sins

One of the main benefits of Surah Ikhlas is the forgiveness of sins – Allah doesn’t return those who recite Surah Tawheed and seek Allah’s forgiveness empty-handed. Anyone who recites Surah Ikhlas regularly will benefit from Allah’s mercy. There is no better Surah for asking for forgiveness from the Lord. Hence, we must get in the habit of reciting it regularly.

Surah Ikhlas Gives Barakah in Livelihood

Those who recite Surah Ikhlas regularly and in abundance will see their fortune grow. Not only does the one who recites the Surah witness an increase in sustenance, but those that live near them benefit too. Hence, daily recitation of Surah Ikhlas is a source of Barakah in your livelihood.

Surah Ikhlas Safeguards One from the Evil Eye

Although Surah Nas and Surah Falaq should be recited for safeguarding against the evil eye, Surah Ikhlas is also a known safeguard against the evil eye, magic and sorcery. By reciting the Surah every day, you can expect to lead a happier life, one that is protected from those that may wish you ill.

Allah (SWT) Loves the Recitation of Surah Ikhlas

If there is one benefit of reciting Surah Ikhlas, it is that God loves the one who recites the Surah. Since it is a short Surah that can be easily memorized in Arabic and English, you should be able to recite it daily to receive God’s love.

As a Muslim, you must strive towards seeking Divine love. Our life in this world is only temporary, so we must make the most of every moment to please Allah and prepare for the eternal life.

Surah Ikhlas Perfects Our Faith

What makes Islam a perfect religion is that it acknowledges the oneness of Allah, and renewing our faith in the unity of Allah perfects our faith. With each repetition, our faith grows stronger, and we become better Muslims.

Each verse of Surah Ikhlas perfects our faith by encouraging us to accept God as He intended. We must understand that God is one, He is eternal, He is not begotten, nor does He beget, and He is incomparable. Only then can we become a Muslim or Muslimah whom He wants us to become.

Surah Tawheed covers the basics of Shahada which is why it should be recited along with the Shahada. The Surah allows us to strive towards perfecting our faith and fulfilling our basic requirements as Muslims.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Surah Ikhlas, with its revelation, laid a strong foundation for the monotheistic belief system of Islam. It imparts to its reader reassuring lessons to rely on Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى), who is As-Samad, the Self-Sufficient.

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