Tafseer Surah Al-Ikhlas (Part 5)

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 He born, nor is there to Him any equivalent.”

Surah Al-Ikhlas (1-4)


Allahu ash-Shamad
Allah, the Eternal Refuge.

Definitions of ash-Shamad

  • The One who is enough, whom we returned to, and who fulfills our needs and answers all of our questions in times of need. When the word shamad is used as a verb, it implies that you turn to someone to ask him/her to fulfill a need. Al-Masmood is what shamad implies; which is the one to whom people turn to in times of need.
  • The One who is attributed as the ultimate goal. He is our ultimate goal of what we do in life. One of the reasons why this surah is called Al-Ikhlas (sincerity) is because of our sincerity to do things for Allah SWT.
  • The One who is not in need of anyone else and nobody can overpower Him or be above Him in status or any attribute.
  • The One who has no blemishes or faults
  • The One who cannot be overcome. This is also used in Arabic literature as someone who cannot be overcome in battle, business, eloquence, etc.
  • The One who is incredible and great in terms of His glory. The One who is Everlasting.
  • The One who everyone needs and He needs none Himself.

Shamad is also used as an adjective which means something that is solid with no holes or emptiness. Something that is absolute without any flaws.

Allah SWT has many names, but they do not lack in anything. They are perfect and these names are fulfilled perfectly. For example, when we call someone a “noble”. It could be that from the outside, he is a noble person, but from the inside, he is not. But because Allah is ash-Shamad, Allah fulfills his names and attributes in an absolute and perfect sense.

Ash-Shamad and Ahad

This ayat further explains the previous ayat (the first ayat), i.e. Allah the Absolute (ash-shamad) is the only One (ahad).

The reason why ash-Shamad and Ahad are mentioned is because the Arab polytheists would describe Allah as the Creator and the Merciful, but they would not say He is Ahad or ash-Shamad.

The word ash-Shamad  has “Al” (alif lam in Arabic) which denotes to absolute.

Connection to Surah Al-Masad/Al-Lahab

Surah Al-Masad talks about Abu Lahab whom he thought he had no equals and he needed no one — because he was very rich and everybody needed him. So Surah Al-Ikhlas refutes this by stating that the only One that needs no one (ash-Shamad) and has no equal (ahad) is actually Allah SWT.


Lam yalid wa lam yulad
He neither begets nor is He born (begotten),

The Explanation of “Lam”(Not)

In Arabic language, the word laa is used for a present tense, while the word lam is used for a past tense. In this ayat, the word lam is used. So the correct translation would be: “He did not beget nor did He begotten.”

If it were in a present tense, then Allah SWT could have said: laa yalidu wa laa yuladu. Note that all of the English translations in this website uses present tense rather than past tense.

Why is past tense used in this ayat? Why is lam used instead of laa? Because it removes all forms of birth associated to Allah in the past. The allegations that Allah had a child had been existed before the Islamic period, e.g. Christianity and some Jewish sects. All of these concepts were made in the past, hence the use of the past tense in this ayat.

In addition to addressing the falsehoods of the religion that already occurred, Allah SWT also made a prediction that there would be no other religion after Islam which claimed that God had a child. All of them were created before Islam. This is one of the miracles of the Qur’an in which a future was predicted. There are no religions today except those who were formed in a pre-Islamic period that made a claim about God having a child.

He did not Beget

Having a son means that Allah has an equal and this is impossible as Allah SWT is ahad (the One). He says:

… How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things?

— Al-Qur’an (6:101)

How can Allah has a son when He does not have an associate or a spouse? The Arabic word for a spouse is either sahibah or kufuw (which is used in the next ayat).

Giving birth, having a child, or being born implies that a person has a beginning and an end. This means that the person is not eternal and therefore it is part of a weakness. This is why it is not an attribute of Allah SWT. Lam yalid wa lam yulad.

One of the definitions of ash-Shamad listed above is the One who we turn to. He is the only One who we should turn to. It is absolutely not necessary for us to turn to other things (like His “son”) or anything that is placed between us and Him.


Wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad
Nor is there to Him any equivalent

The Definition of “Kufuw”

This word means a spouse, an associate, or a counterpart and can also mean an enemy that is equally good in battle. So basically a kufuw is someone who is equal or comparable to you in terms of rank, skills, status, etc. This is used to describe a spouse as you would usually marry someone who is compatible with you and has the same level of intellect as you.

The word kufuw is also used in this ayat to emphasize that Allah SWT never had any counterpart or anyone that can be compared to Him. This word is actually used to explain the word ahad as Allah SWT has no one that is equal in His Uniqueness (ahad).

The Grammatical Sequence

Let’s read this ayat again:
Wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad

This is actually not the expected sequence. In Arabic language, the normal grammatical sequence of this ayat is:
Wa lam yakun ahadun kufuwan lahu

So the sequence of this sentence was rearranged: lahu — kufuw — ahad.
The normal sequence should be: ahad — kufuw — lahu.
To recap, the meaning of these words are as follows: ahad is anyOne, kufuw is a counterpart/equivalent, and lahu is to Him (Allah).

The most valuable word in this sentence is lahu (to Him/Allah). We can see here that in the normal sequence, lahu is mentioned at the end, while in the ayat, lahu is mentioned in the beginning. Why? Because lahu is the most important word and Allah SWT mentioned Himself first for emphasis or stress. It is He who never has a counterpart, i.e. every one other than Him will always have a counterpart.


The first ayat of Surah Al-Ikhlas is about Allah’s Oneness and Uniqueness.

The second ayat shows the grace and mercy of Allah SWT upon us. We turn to him in times of need and He fulfills it.

The third ayat shows that Allah SWT is free from any kind of weakness. To say that Allah SWT has children implies that He has a weakness, because this shows that Allah is not Devine and Eternal. For a human being, having children implies strength, because our legacy will be continued, our name will be passed on, etc. But Allah is different. He does not need to worry about His name being passed on. He does not need to worry about these things because He is a perfection. There are different standards applied for the Creator and the Creation — and we need to understand that!

This is the surah where we can learn to completely submit ourselves to Allah SWT. We are weak, we need guidance all the time, and it is only Him to whom we turn. It is only Him that we want to please.

One of the nicknames of this surah is An-Najaat, the surah of rescue. It rescues us from depression, sadness, hardships, and shirk. Most importantly, it protects us from hellfire. May all of us be one of those who will be protected in the hereafter. Amin.

— the end —

Source: Nouman Ali Khan – can be found on YouTube (this part of the post is explained starting in minutes 1:03:00) or on Bayyinah.com (the second part).