بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ ١
اللَّهُ الصَّمَدُ ٢
لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ ٣
وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌ ٤
In the Name of Allah, the Lord of Grace, the Ever Merciful.
Say: He is Allah, the One and only God (1)
the Eternal, the Absolute. (2)
He begets none, nor is He begotten, (3)
and there is nothing that could be compared to Him. (4)
Allah’s Absolute Oneness
This short sūrah is equivalent to one-third of the Qur’ān, as authentic aĥādīth
confirm. Al-Bukhārī, the leading Ĥadīth scholar, relates a ĥadīth which mentions the
case of one who had heard another man reciting this sūrah repeatedly. He went to the
Prophet (saw) the following morning and told him disapprovingly about what he had
heard, as though he felt that it was too little. The Prophet (saw) commented, “I swear by
Him who holds my soul in His hand that it [i.e. this sūrah] is equivalent to one third
of the Qur’ān.”
And, indeed, there is nothing surprising in that. For Allah’s oneness which the
Prophet (saw) was ordered to declare to the whole world is a belief to be ingrained in our
minds, an explanation of human existence and a way of life in itself. From this
standpoint, the sūrah can be said to have embraced, in the clearest of terms, the
principal and most fundamental ideas of the great truth of Islam.
The Arabic term, aĥad, used here to refer to Allah’s oneness is much more precise
than the more frequently used term, wāĥid, which means ‘one’. Aĥad has the added
connotations of absolute and continuous unity and an absence of equals.
Allah’s oneness is such that there is no reality and no true and permanent existence
except His. Moreover, every other being acquires whatever power it may possess
from Allah who rules over this world. Nothing else whatsoever plans anything for the
world nor, for that matter, decides anything in it.
This is the belief that should be entrenched in us. It gives us a full explanation of
human existence. Once this belief is clear and the explanation has established itself in
our minds, our hearts are purified of all falsities and impurities. They are thus
released from all bonds except their bond with the Unique Being to whom alone the
reality of existence belongs and who is the only effective power in this world. Thus,
the human heart is released from bondage to anything in this world, even if it cannot
shirk the notion that other beings exist. Indeed, why should our hearts aspire to
anything that has neither a permanent reality, nor any independent power to
function in this world? The only real existence is that of the Divine Being and the
truly effective power is Divine Will.
When a human heart releases itself from believing in anything but the one truth of
Allah, and upholds this everlasting truth, it begins to enjoy its freedom from all
shackles, false ideas, evil desires, fears and confusions of any sort. Indeed, when a
human heart finds Allah, it benefits much and loses nothing. Why should it desire
anything but Allah’s pleasure? Why should it fear anything, since there is no
absolutely effective power but that of Allah?
When a concept that sees nothing in the world but the reality of Allah establishes
itself in our hearts and minds, we begin to see this genuine and permanent reality in
everything He has made. This is when our hearts feel the hand of Allah in everything.
There is only one level beyond this and that is when our hearts feel nothing but
Allah’s reality in the whole universe.
Thus, every event and every movement in this life and in the universe is attributed
to the first and only cause; that is, Allah who brings other causes into play and
influences their effectiveness. The Qur’ān takes great care to establish this truth.
It has always put aside apparent causes, associating events directly with Allah’s will. It says:
“When you threw [a handful of dust] it was not your act, but Allah’s.” (8: 17)
“For victory comes only from Allah.” (8: 10 and 3: 126)
“You have no will except as Allah wills.”(76: 30)
By disregarding all apparent causes and connecting matters directly with Allah’s
will, a feeling of relief gently penetrates our hearts so that we recognize the only
Saviour from whom we can ask whatever we may wish, and by whom we are
rescued from all fear. We are no longer impressed by apparent influences, reasons
and causes that bear no reality or true existence in themselves.
These are the steps of the way some mystics, or Sufis, tried to climb, but they
deviated too far from it. For Islam wants people to follow this route struggling with
the realities of life, and leading a human life in which they exercise the role God has
assigned to human beings on earth, using all their resources and fulfilling all the
obligations laid upon them.
From this concept of Allah’s oneness stems a perfect way of life based on an
explanation of human existence and whatever outlooks, feelings, and traits it
stimulates. This way of life is based on the worship of Allah alone whose will is the
only effective power in the world. Thus, people seek refuge with Him in times of
need and fear, happiness and discomfort, ease and hardship. For what is the use of
turning towards a non-existent or powerless being? This way of life looks to Allah
alone as its benefactor. From Him we receive our beliefs, outlooks, values, criteria,
legislation, institutions, systems, ethics and traditions.
A Complete Way of Life
On this basis a complete way of life is formulated, in which people perform all
their activities and make sacrifices absolutely and only for Allah, hoping always to be
nearer the truth. This way of life strengthens bonds of love, brotherhood, mutual
sympathy and care between all beings and human hearts. For when we speak of
liberation from complete submission to these feelings we are by no means suggesting
that people should despise or hate them or escape from practising them. Instead they
arise from the creative hand of Allah and they all owe their existence to Him. They are
a gift to us from Allah who loves us and whom we love. Therefore, they deserve our
It is a sublime and lofty way of life that looks at this earth as small, life as short, its
enjoyments and luxuries as worth little; and the breaking away from hindrances as
humanity’s great aim. In Islam, however, this release does not mean seclusion,
isolation and neglect, nor does it mean contempt for, or escape from life. Instead it
simply means a continuous and sincere endeavour and an everlasting struggle to
lead humanity towards submission of everything in human life to Allah alone.
Consequently, it is the fulfilment of man’s role as Allah’s vicegerent on earth with all
Liberation of the soul through a life of isolation and extreme spiritualism is easy to
achieve but Islam does not approve of it, because it wants its followers to fulfil man’s
role assigned to him by Allah who placed him in charge of the earth and to provide
the leadership humanity needs. This is the harder way that guarantees man’s
elevation and achieves the victory of divine will within him. This is real liberation,
for it urges the human soul to fly to its divine source and achieve its sublime status
within the scope Allah, the wise Creator, has defined for it.
For the sake of all this, the first address the Islamic message made was devoted to
the establishment of the reality of Allah’s oneness in people’s hearts and minds. In this
form, the Islamic message is seen by the soul, heart and mind, as a full explanation of
human existence, a way of life and not merely a spoken word or an inert belief. It is
life in its entirety and religion in its totality. Whatever details are later put in place
are no more than the natural fruits of its establishment in people’s hearts and minds.
All the deviations that afflicted the followers of earlier divine religions, and which
corrupted their beliefs, ideas and lives arose, in the first place, from a deterioration of
the concept of Allah’s absolute oneness in their minds. But what distinguishes this
concept in the Islamic faith is the fact that it is deeply rooted throughout human life.
Indeed, it forms the foundation of a realistic and practical system for human life,
clearly reflected in both legislation and belief.
To say, “He is Allah, the One and only God,” (Verse 1) means that “He is the Eternal, the
Absolute,” (Verse 2) and that “He begets none, nor is He begotten, and there is nothing that
could be compared to Him.” (Verses 3-4) But the Qur’ān states it all in detail for added
emphasis and clarification.
“The Eternal, the Absolute” also means the Lord to whom all creation turns for help,
and without whose permission nothing is decided. Allah is the One and only Lord. He
is the One God and Master while all other beings are but His servants. To Him and
Him alone are addressed all prayers and supplications. He and only He decides
everything independently. No one shares His authority.
“He begets none, nor is He begotten,” means that the reality of Allah is deep-rooted,
permanent and everlasting. No changeable circumstances ever affect it. Its quality is
absolute perfection at all times. Birth is descent and multiplication and implies a
developed being after incompleteness or nothingness. It requires espousal which is
based on similarity of being and structure. All this is utterly impossible in Allah’s case.
So the quality of ‘One’ includes the renouncement of a father and a son.
“There is nothing that could be compared to Him,” means that no one resembles Him
in anything or is equivalent to Him in any respect, either in their reality of being, in
the fact that He is the only effective power, or in any of His qualities or attributes.
This is implied in the statement of his being ‘One’ made in the first verse, but it is
repeated so as to confirm and elaborate upon that fact. It is a renunciation of the two-god
belief which implies that Allah is the God of Good while Evil has its own lord
who, as the belief goes — is in opposition to Allah, spoils His good deeds and
propagates evil on earth. The most well-known two-god belief was that of the
Persians, who believed in a god of light and a god of darkness. This belief was
known to the people in the south of the Arabian Peninsula, where the Persians once
had a state and exercised sovereignty.
This sūrah firmly establishes and confirms the Islamic belief in Allah’s oneness just
as Sūrah 109, al-Kafirun (the disbelievers), is a denunciation of any similarity or meeting point
between the Islamic concept of Allah’s oneness and any belief that ascribes human
form, attributes, or personality to Allah. Each sūrah deals with Allah’s oneness from a
different angle. The Prophet (saw)used to start off his day reciting these two sūrahs in the
sunnah, or voluntary prayer before the obligatory (fard) dawn or fajr prayer. This, surely,
was immensely significant.
In The Shade Of The Qur’an, Volume 18