Tafseer Surah Al-Ikhlas (Part 3)

by Amalia

Tafseer of Surah Al Ikhlas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Say, “He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, nor is there to Him any equivalent.”

– Surah Al-Ikhlas (1-4)

The Love of Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet SAW) for Surah Al-Ikhlas

In the Sahih Al-Bukhari, it was reported that Aishah RA said:

The Prophet SAW sent a man as the commander of a war expedition and he used to lead his companions in prayer with recitation (of the Qur’an), and he would complete his recitation with the recitation of qul huwa Allahu ahad (‘Say: He is Allah, One’).

So when they returned they mentioned that to the Prophet SAW and he (SAW) said, “Ask him why he does that.”

So they asked him and he said, ‘Because it is the description of Ar-Rahman (Allah) and I love to recite it.

So the Prophet SAW said, “Inform him that Allah the Most High loves him.”

Loving Surah Al-Ikhlas only mean one thing: the love of Allah SWT. And if you love Him, He will love you back.

In another narration, it was reported that a man from the Anshar used to lead the prayers by reciting Surah Al-Ikhlas in the beginning, followed by another surah, and he used to do this in every raka’ah. When this man was asked why he did it that way, he said that he loved it. So the Prophet SAW replied, “Your love for it will cause you to enter Paradise.”

The Third of the Qu’ran

There’s a well-known hadith recorded by Bukhari:

The Prophet SAW 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 Apostle?”

Allah’s Apostle SAW replied, “Allah (the) One, the Self-Sufficient Master Whom all creatures need.’ (Surah Al-Ikhlas 112: 1-4) is equal to one third of the Qur’an.”

But why is it a third of the Qur’an? The third of the Qur’an deals with the attributes of Allah SWT. It is what describes who Allah really is and it is the essence of what this deen is supposed to be in terms of imaan (faith). Surah Al-Ikhlas is the most comprehensive summary of it. If you know nothing else from the Qur’an about tauheed but Surah Al-Ikhlas, you are fine and won’t fall into shirk.

Linguistic Explanations of the Word “Allah” (الله)


Ishtiqaq is the Arabic term for “derivation” or etymology. A mushtaq is defined as a word which has an origin from another word.

But there are some words which are original words that are not derived from other words. This is called asmaa al-jamidah. The original word itself is called jamid.

Is the word “Allah” derived from another word (i.e. mushtaq) or is it unique by itself (i.e. jamid)? There is actually a disagreement among linguists about the origin of the word “Allah”.

The argument why it is mushtaq:

The word “Allah” is derived from the word Ilaah إله (for example, in the phrase laa ilaaha illallah). So if we put Al before Ilaah, then it becomes “Allah”:

Al أل + Ilaah إله (hamza, lam, ha) = Allah
[due to hadf, the hamza in Ilaah is removed]

The root letters of Ilaah is hamza, lam, and ha. From these letters, two verbs can be formed:

  • Alaha (to worship), ya’lahu (he worships). So Ilaah is the one who is worshipped.
  • Aliha is used when a child is thirsty and desperately needs his mother for the milk. So the verbal meaning of Ilaah is the one who people desperately turn to.

So the scholars conclude that these are the origins of the word Ilaah, which is the One who is worshipped, obeyed, and who people desperately turn to out of desperation.

The argument why it is jamid:

The word of “Allah” is the universal word for Allah SWT, which is used in every language. It is the proper name for Him which He revealed to all the messengers in every language.

In Arabic language, the word yaa is used to call someone. For example, Yaa Raheem (O Merciful One). Although the word Raheem is originally Al-Raheem, when we call someone, the word Al cannot be used in this context because it is linguistically incorrect. So, saying Yaa Al-Raheem is incorrect.

But when we say Yaa Allah, it can be seen that the word Al is still used. If the word “Allah” was originally from the word Al + Ilaah, then we would not have said Yaa Allah, instead we would have said Yaa Ilaah (removing the Al). This is one of the linguistic evidences why the word “Allah” does not come from another word.

The second linguistic evidence is that the word “Allah” is not used generically anywhere in the Qur’an. Whenever the word “Allah” is used, it’s not used as “the One worthy of worship” but it’s used as “Allah” in its proper form. For example, bismillahirrahmaanirrahim. The words arrahmaanirrahim are the descriptions (adjective) and the word “Allah” (in bismi allah) is the one being described (noun).

The word “Allah” is also unique in the way it is pronounced. When Alif and Lam (= Al) are placed together, it is pronounced in a light sound, i.e. Allah. In contrast, when the word “Allah” is pronounced, it is pronounced with a heavier sound, i.e. Alloh. So we break the norm of the Arabic language for this word. This is the reason why it is considered a universal word.

One may argue that the word “Allah” comes from another foreign language. The general rule is that, when a word comes from another language and enters into an Arabic language, then we cannot put either dammah, kasrah, and fatha on it. But in the Qur’an, we can find the word “Allah” with a kasrah on it, as can be seen in the following ayat (4:122):

wa man asdaqu minAllahi qeela

“Allahi” has the kasrah on it (on the letter ha), so how can it not be an Arabic word?

Continue to Part 4.

Source: Nouman Ali Khan (can be found on YouTube or on Bayyinah.com)