Tafseer of Surah Tawheed

a hand with the shahada finger pointing

This is post #23 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

Allah says, in Surah Tawheed, also known as Surah Ikhlas:

قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ

Translation: Say, “He is Allah , [who is] One, Allah , the Eternal Refuge [As-Samad], He neither begets (gives birth to) nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent.” [Surah Ikhlas]

The tafseer of this great surah, Surah Ikhlas is very, very extensive; volumes of books have been written on it. One of our writers, Abdul-Ahad, may Allah bless him and increase him in his nearness to Allah, has written very extensively about this surah. Therefore, I will suggest to you some great readings about this great surah, and instead, break down the Arabic grammar word by word.

Tafseer of Surah Ikhlas

Grammatical Analysis

  • Qul (قُلْ): Say. It is a command (fi’l amr), both to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), in response to the question of the mushrikeen “tell us the lineage of your Lord,” and to us. There are four surahs that begin with qul–surah Ikhlas, Surah Naas, Surah Falaq, Surah Kafiroon. (We completed tafseer of all these surahs already, walhamdulillah.)
  • Huwa (هُوَ): He, or it. One of the most common words you’ll come across. It’s technically third-person, singular, and masculine. In this case, it refers to Allah.
  • Allah (اللَّهُ): This word is called laf dhuw jalaala (the honorable name) when we refer to it. Because it’s not proper to say “Allah is mansoob (having fatha on the last letter)” or “Allah is marfoo’ (having damma on the last letter)” when we speak about grammar.
  • Ahad (أَحَدٌ): Ahad means “one.” Then again, wahid also means one; the difference is that, if I said I have wahid books, it means I have one book. Or two books. Or more books–”I have one book.” On the other hand, if I said I have ahad books … that means I have one and only one book. Not two. Not three. Just one. So here, he is Allah, Al-Ahad–the one, the unique (perhaps unique is a better translation of ahad).
  • As-Samad (الصَّمَدُ): This is one of the names of Allah. It means the one who everybody depends on, but the one who doesn’t depend on anyone. Like if there was a fund-raiser and there’s only one person in the community who has the money, and he pays it–he can be described as samad. Allah is AS-Samad, THE samad, who we all depend on.
  • Lam (لَمْ): Lam is a particle of negation similar to laa or maa or other negations. Lam makes mudaari’ (present/future-tense) verbs majzoom (having sukoon on the last letter).
  • Yalid (يَلِدْ): Yalidu is mudaari’ (present/future-tense), singular, and masculine. It’s from the verb walada, which means to give birth to. It’s majzoom (yalid and not yalidu) because of lam.
  • Wa (وَ): Wa by itself, means “and.”
  • Yuwlad (يُولَدْ): This is the passive form of yalid (evidenced by the damma and fatha on the first and second letters). So “yalidu” means “he gives birth to,” and yuwladu means “he was given birth to.” It’s also majzoom, with sukoon, because of lam (it’s connected by the wa, which carries over the grammatical case, too).
  • Yakun (يَكُن): Yakunu is the mudaari’ of kaana (he was). It means “he is.” Again, it’s majzoom because of lam.
  • Lahu (لَّهُ): Lahu is the preposition “li” (for), and hu is the majroor version of huwa. So li + huwa = lahu, roughly translated as “for him.”
  • Kufuwan (كُفُوًا): If you look in the fiqh books about the chapter of orphan girls, they must be married to someone of the same “kufwan,” someone of the same level and status and rank as she is. So here, it’s saying that there’s nobody at the same level as Allah–because he is Al-Ahad.

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam.

Action Items:

  • Memorize This Surah. If you haven’t already, memorize it; it’s very short and easy (and it rhymes!). And if you feel lazy, remember–there are literally thousands of children under the age of 7 who have done this. It’s that easy.
  • Share Some Tafseer. If you have links to other (authentic) tafseer of this great surah, post a comment insha’Allah and share it with the world.

References:

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11 Responses

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  1. bint Muhammad A

    Bismillah

    As Salaamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah

    I didn’t know where else to post this post, but I would really like for you to explain what bid’ah means in arabic. Taking it from its root word etc.

    And then if you can allude onto the point of “good” bid’ah, and what this is.

    JazakAllahu khayr

  2. @bint Muhammad A, wa’alikum as-salaam wa rahmatullah. This is something very difficult to explain, so I’ll try to summarize it; the best thing to do is take an ‘aqeedah course (100-level) to learn the intricacies.

    - Bid’ah can only occur in religious actions, like praying; it can’t occur in things like eating.
    - Allah says: “whoever does something without our permission, will have it rejected.” Therefore, bid’ah is to do something that Allah has not authorized, directly or through his rasool, in religious acts.
    - Linguistically, I believe bid’ah means to innovate, to come up with something new that didn’t exist before; I think the root verb is bada3a.
    - Regarding good bid’ah, Allahu ‘alam; I was taught that there IS no good bid’ah, because our deen is protected (locked down) and cannot be changed. Some other sects claim things like ‘Uthman (radiallahu ‘anhu) compiling the Qur’an is good bid’ah (and use that to open the door to new acts of worship); but we (ahlul sunnah wal jam’ah) reject this, because it’s not bid’ah.

    If you’re interested in more detail, let me know insha’Allah and I can refer you to some knowledgable people, bi idhnillah, for more detailed discussions (or if you have specific concerns).

  3. bint Muhammad A

    Bismillah

    As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah

    JazakAllahu khayr for your very quick response, and your time. May Allah aza waj al bless you abundantly in the Dunya and Akhirah. Ameen Ya Rabbil Alameen

    Even with a brief answer, alHamdulillah it was still very informative, and I am very greatful.

    Could you please clarify why the inclusion of the (dhamma/fatrah etc) is not a “good” bidah as claimed by many?

    Also, what is to be said of the hadiths where “good” bid’ah is mentiond?

    i.e Umar (ra) praying the Tarawih in congregation?

    i.e the charity incident

    AlHamdulillah yes, if you would really like, I would definetly appreciate if you could refer me to some more knowledgeable people, so that I may go into greater detail on this subject.

    I would too appreciate your responses on the above that I have written too.

    Inhsa’Allah I shall hear from you soon.

  4. Salam,

    sister, masha-Allah, it’s great to see you seeking clarifications in matters. Masha-Allah, this is a good sign and it reminds me of Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) who had a very inquisitive mind.

    You’ve asked questions regarding two of the most “discussed” issues when it comes to the discussion of bid’ah. Before I proceed to answer them, I’d like to make an important point regarding bid’ah in general.

    As brother Ilmseeker has clarified the meanings of bid’ah linguistically and Islamically, I think something is missing from the answer. That being: the bid’ah that is prohibited in Islam is that when a person seeks nearness to Allah through an innovated action. Essentially what it means is that if someone is to innovate an action in the religion and seek higher grounds through that act, the person has fallen into innovation. This is because our Shari’ah legislates that for a person to claim that certain acts are rewarding, he/she must have evidences from the Qur’an and the Sunnah to prove that.

    Following the above if you analyze the matter of fatha, dammah and kasrah, it is evident that there is no “reward” intended by adding the tashkil for ease of reading. The purpose for this was to make things easy for the non-Arabs who were accepting Islam in large numbers immediately after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) (due to the advancements of the Muslims beyond the Arabian peninsula). Now, the tashkil was not added by ‘Uthman (RA) but it was later added by scholars of Qur’an to make the recitations of the Qur’an easier.

    Hence, the act itself is bid’ah (linguistically), but it’s not condemnable since no one sought to claim the act in and of itself as an act of worship – even though it assisted an act of worship. So, this bid’ah lid-deen (“innovation” for the deen). What this implies is that certain acts can be carried out to serve the needs of the deen. The acts themselves are not religious but what it aides is religious. I hope this is clear. Another example of this is dividing the Islamic knowledge to various sciences – i.e. Aqeedah, fiqh, usool, tarikh, uloom al qur’an, tafsir, etc. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH), no such sciences existed in the manner they exist today. So, these sciences are not ‘religious innovation’ but they are innovation ‘linguistically’. And the purpose of this ‘innovation’ is to serve the religion and hence they fall under different ruling (i.e. permissible). Likewise, today we use the internet to propagate Islam and there is tremendous amount of khayr in it. So, it is not permissible for someone to claim that this is bid’ah – since we are not adding anything to the codes and conducts of the religion itself.

    I hope this is clear.

    Now, we move on to the topic of tarawih prayer and it being a “good bid’ah”. This is a classic one – I must say. I will not respond to this but will rather point you to a post on ISLAM Q&A. I think the answer there is quite comprehensive. If you still have more questions after reading the article, then insha-Allah you can post your questions here and we shall try our best to answer them or bring the answers to you (if the matter is beyond our sphere of knowledge).

    Here are two links on the topic of tarawih: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/21740

    http://islamqa.com/en/ref/65572/

    Before I end, I’d like you to watch the following video by our dear Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. Here he briefly discusses the history of the rules of tajwid. I think it will be beneficial for you to watch the entire series as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l11-AOjXsy8

    Wallahu ta’la a’lam.

    Wassalamu ‘alaykum.

  5. bint Muhammad A

    Bismillah
    Walaykum Salaam Wa Rahmatullah

    AHamdulillah, all good is from Allah swt. JazakAllahu khayran for your beneficial reply, and your kind words. AlHamdulillah. May Allah aza waj al preserve you, and keep you firm upon Haqq. Ameen Ya Rabbil ‘Alameen.

    The post was very clear and coherent in its explanation. Masha’Allah.

    May I just ask, what is the position of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah with regards to bid’ah and the various categories? With bid’ah hasanah ruled out for the Ahuls Sunnah; is bid’ah, simply just bid’ah? i.e cannot be broken down into sub categories.

    Can you confirm the hadeeth, where ‘Umar (ra) says about the Taraweeh in congregation being a bid’ah hasanah, as daeef?

    Finally. why do people get labelled as followers of “Wahhabiya” when they take a staunch stance on bid’ah? Do those of Wahhabiya differ in the ‘Aqeedah with that of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah?

    I pray Allah aza wajal grant you the tawfiq to reply with a post that will benefit myself and others too. I sincerely hope and pray that no fitan is caused over anything I have asked on this post, and that Allah aza wajal unites the Ummah! Ameen Ya Rabbil ‘Alameen

    BarakAllah feekum

  6. Innal Hamdulillah….

    Ukhti, you have asked several questions which also raise few questions. I’ll first attempt to answer your questions, thereafter I will ask you few questions to get some clarity from your perspective as well.

    1) Categories of Bid’ah: As the Prophet (PBUH) said – kullu bid’atin dalalah – meaning all the bid’ahs are misguidance. Hence the linguistic and shar’ee meaning derived from this implies that “all” innovations are misguidance. This is of course in regards to the innovations in the religion. The statement of the Prophet (PBUH) here is in the same “tone” as the verse in the Qur’an – Kullu nafsin za’iqatul maut – all souls shall taste death. There are no differences in the meaning of the word “kullu” in both statements. Hence, there cannot be any exceptions in the ruling of the two matters except that there is evidence. Moreover, elsewhere in the Qur’an Allah (SWT) mentions that everything (kullu) will be destroyed. However, He then makes an exception to that by saying – illa wajha rabbuk – except for the Face of your Lord (meaning except your Lord). So, here you see that for there to be an exception, it must be stated in the primary sources of our religion – i.e. the Qur’an and the Sunnah. If it was left for us all to decide what are the exceptions, 1.5 billion Muslims are able to come up with at least 1.5 billion exceptions. Allah (SWT) did not leave the Shari’ah for us to define; rather He Himself has completed it and perfected it as He stated in Surah al Maidah (Al Yawmu akmaltu lakum deenakum….).

    So, for anyone to make exceptions to the rule – all bid’ah are misguidance – there must be legal evidences from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Now, of course here we are talking about innovations in the religion.

    One interesting implications of admitting innovations in the religion is: claiming that Allah (SWT) or the Prophet (pbuh) did not inform us of this good. After all, everyone who practices/introduces innovation claim that they are indeed introducing “good things”. And how could you go wrong in doing “good things” when it is in fact “an act of worship” – i.e. a medium of coming closer to Allah. So, some argue that how could you prohibit people from worshipping Allah? The reality of this is that we are not asking people not to worship Allah – but rather asking people to worship Allah in accordance with what has been revealed. And as Allah (SWT) stated in Surah An Najm (Wa ma yantiqu ‘anil hawa, in huwa illa wahyun-yuh’a – Nor does he speak of (his own) desire, It is only an Inspiration that is inspired). Therefore, the commands and statements of the Prophet (PBUH) are also revelations. So, going against them equates to reviling the commands of Allah (SWT).

    I do not wish to go in great lengths in discussing the importance adhering to the words and commands of the Prophet – pbuh. I’m sure you’are quite aware of the matter (insha-Allah).

    Now as for categories of bid’ah, there is no such thing is good bid’ah – as in you can introduce “new” and “good things” in the religion. This is because – as we explained above – it implies that the Prophet (pbuh) did not inform us of all the good things in this religion or he has left/forgotten to tell us about some matters – wal’iyadhubillah. As it is evident in the Qur’an from the verses that Allah (SWT) would have punished the Prophet (pbuh) if he was not to do his job. And of course it never happened that Allah (SWT) punished his Khaleel. Secondly, introducing new things in the religion may also imply that someone knows of a matter that is good for us but the Prophet -pbuh- was not aware of such – wal’iyadhubillah. Thirdly, it may also imply that Allah (SWT) is contradicting His statement in the Qur’an about completing the deen (Surah Nisa). Fifthly, it also contradicts the statements of the Prophet (PBUH) about leaving us on a “clear path” whose nights are like “its days”. Meaning that the Prophet -pbuh- left everything clear with us and did not leave us in any confusion whatsoever.

    All of the above go into imply that any newly invented matter that is not evidenced upon the deen is rejected and will be thrown into the fire.

    Additionally, some of the scholars (of modern times) have categorized bid’ah into various categories. They are all valid (insha-Allah) and they are just an attempt in demonstrating the various types of innovations.

    I’d like to refer you to the following articles for a detail discussion on the categories of bid’ah: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/10843/

    Before, I finish off discussing this topic, I want to advise you with a great statement that I heard from a friend – a statement that should be written down in gold (in my humble opinion).

    “perfect the established sunnah first before even thinking about what of the newly invented matters you should practice”.

    Isn’t it true that we have not perfected the established Sunnah of the Prophet -pbuh- in our daily lives? How many a nights do we wake up for qiyam? How many a days do we pray salatud-doha? How many a night do we recite Suratul Mulk? And we can go on and on stating the list of authentic Sunnahs that we have abondoned. And yet, we argue and vouch to practice newly matters! May Allah (SWT) guide us!

    2) The Hadeeth of Umar (RA) about Bid’ah: It’s not da’eef and it was reported by Al Bukhari in his Sahih. And Umar (RA) did not invent anything new in this matter. He just re-started the tradition of the Prophet in regards to praying under one imam. If you closely examine the hadeeth, people were praying tarawih in groups already – meaning that they were already praying behind some imams. However, what Umar (RA) did was he combined the groups under one imam – which is not a new thing. So, his words do not imply that he started a new thing but rather he knew that the Prophet (pbuh) too had led the tarawih salah in one jam’ah. So, it was not something new at all. He re-started the tradition simply because he knew that now the Prophet -pbuh- was no longer and there was no way for the matter to become an obligation upon the Muslims (which was the fear of the Prophet-pbuh).

    I advise you to re-read the following article and the explanations thereon: http://islamqa.com/en/ref/65572/

    3) About Wahhabism: I do not know how much you know about this matter. Hence, I’m unable to write an appropriate reply. I’d advise you to read the following work: http://ibnalhyderabadee.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/lifeofabdul-wahhaab.pdf

    please read the first 3 pages carefullly and I hope it will clarify some matters for your.

    Now in regards to the ‘differnces’ between the aqeedah of ‘Ahlus Sunnah wal jam’ah’ and ‘wahhabiyah’, I do not know what do you mean by Ahlus Sunnah? Every sect of Islam claims to be from Ahlus Sunnah. So, without knowing what group you are refering to you, we are unable to answer your question. If you’d like to take this conversation offline (i.e. beyond this blog), insha-Allah the admin of this blog can arrange that (I’m not an admin or anything).

    Wa jazakumullahu khayrun.

    Wassalamu ‘alaykum.

    Abu AbdurRahman

  7. bint Muhammad A

    JazakAllahu khayran for that very informative, and consice reply. AlHamdulillah, verily all good comes from Allah aza waj al.

    I read over the links, and the online book you provided the link for. A very deep and insightful read. Masha’ Allah

    It clears alot of ideas that I have heard. Alhamdulillah

    I would like to add some further comments, but as per what you wrote, and as I do not wish for this blog post to detract from the original topic at hand, that it would be better to move the topic offline insha’Allah?

    BarakAllah feekum

  8. Aboobackek

    assalam ya illmuseeker
    learn what is not illem first then for illem.please see in the net a topic called NESCIENCE:then call me.That is why there is laa in towheed.
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  9. ali

    it’s good to tell us about the great and simple religion islam

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