Without us realising, we are reaching the end of the year 2021 and will be welcoming the new year of 2022 in a few days’ time. We praise Allah s.w.t. for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us this year, that despite the uncertainty of the COVID19 pandemic, Allah continues to provide for us security, safety, provision, and support, be it from our family members or through other means.
Since we are welcoming the new year ahead, it is important that we reflect on our actions throughout the year 2021 and set a sincere and clear intention for all our future deeds. If anything, one of the lessons we can learn from a Post-Covid perspective is the unpredictable changes that can occur at any point in our lives. Whether it is good or bad, changes are inevitable in life. It's important that we are able to adjust accordingly.
Despite these unpredictable changes, our intentions and determination should never be out of place. Even if these changes happen and it disrupts the plans we may have set, our intentions will still be counted. Through the sincerity of our intentions and supplications, Allah can open many doors of provisions by His acceptance.
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَقْبَلُ مِنْ الْعَمَلِ إِلَّا مَا كَانَ لَهُ خَالِصًا وَابْتُغِيَ بِهِ وَجْهُهُ
"Verily, Allah does not accept any good deeds unless they are done sincerely (Ikhlas) and in pursuit of his countenance."
In today’s article, we are going to share a Surah (chapter) in the Quran that highlights the sincerity of worship and purity of intention in dedicating our life for the sake of Allah. This Surah is none other than Surah Al-Ikhlas.
Surah Al-Ikhlas is the 112th Surah of the Quran and is among the first few Surahs which are taught to Muslims from a young age. Al-Ikhlas means ‘the Sincerity’ or ‘the Purity’. This Surah is named as such as it describes the oneness of Allah, The One and only God.
According to Imam Ibn Kathir, this Surah was revealed when the Arab idolators questioned our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. on Allah’s lineage, in comparison to their idol gods. During the early days of the revelation, in 6th century Arabia, people invoked and worshipped idols with the belief that idols are a subset or substitute for God and therefore possessing Divine powers and capabilities. There were also others who worship individuals whom they claimed to be the sons or daughters of God. Allah s.w.t. reveals this Surah to refute those claims and provide clarifications on the question of Divinity for Muslims.
Apart from being one of the shortest Surahs in the Quran, Surah Al-Ikhlas is also among the most memorised Surah in the Muslim world. Whether we are aware or not, this Surah contains virtues which may not be found in others.
قُلْ هُوَ ٱللَّهُ أَحَدٌ. ٱللَّهُ ٱلصَّمَدُ. لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ. وَلَمْ يَكُن لَّهُۥ كُفُوًا أَحَدٌۢ
Say, “He is Allah—The One. Allah—the Sustainer (needed by all). He has never had offspring, nor was He born. And there is none comparable to Him.”
(Surah Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-4)
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudriy r.a. narrated:
أنَّه سمعَ رجلًا يقرأُ (قل هوَ اللَّهُ أحدٌ) يردِّدُها، فلمَّا أصبحَ غدا إلى رسولِ اللَّهِ صلَّى اللَّهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ فذَكَرَ ذلِكَ لَهُ، وَكانَ الرَّجلَ يتقالُّها فقالَ رسولُ اللَّهِ صلَّى اللَّهُ عليهِ وسلَّمَ: والَّذي نفسي بيدِهِ إنَّها لتعدلُ ثلثَ القرآنِ
“A man heard another man reciting (Surah Al-Ikhlas) and he was repeating it (in his prayer). The next morning he came to Rasulullah s.a.w. and mentioned the whole story to him as if he regarded the recitation of that Surah as insufficient. Rasulullah s.a.w. then replied, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! That (Surah Al-Ikhlas) equals one-third of the Quran."
In another Hadith,
قالَ النَّبيُّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم لأصْحابِهِ: أيَعْجِزُ أحَدُكُمْ أنْ يَقْرَأَ ثُلُثَ القُرْآنِ في لَيْلَةٍ؟ فَشَقَّ ذلكَ عليهم وقالوا: أيُّنا يُطِيقُ ذلكَ يا رَسولَ اللَّهِ؟ فقالَ: اللَّهُ الواحِدُ الصَّمَدُ؛ ثُلُثُ القُرْآنِ
Rasulullah s.a.w. said to his Companions, “Is any one of you incapable of reciting one-third of the Quran in one night?” They (the Companions) considered it difficult and said: “O Rasulullah, which of us can afford to do that?” He s.a.w. said, “(Surah Al-Ikhlas) is equivalent to one-third of the Quran”
Surah Al-Ikhlas entails the most basic principles of Jurisprudence i.e. The proclamation of the Oneness of Allah, the legislation of Islamic law and the elucidation of Islamic worship and practices. This surah also explains that all matters of worship and practices are only valid with the sincerity and purity of intention and Faith with the belief that Allah is to be worshipped alone without partners.
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ إِذَا أَوَى إِلَى فِرَاشِهِ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ جَمَعَ كَفَّيْهِ ثُمَّ نَفَثَ فِيهِمَا فَقَرَأَ فيهمَا (قل هُوَ الله أحد) و (قل أعوذ بِرَبّ الفلق) و (قل أَعُوذُ بِرَبِّ النَّاسِ) ثُمَّ يَمْسَحُ بِهِمَا مَا اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْ جَسَدِهِ يَبْدَأُ بِهِمَا عَلَى رَأْسِهِ وَوَجْهِهِ وَمَا أَقْبَلَ مِنْ جَسَدِهِ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ ثَلَاث مَرَّات
“Whenever the Prophet s.a.w. went to bed every night, he used to cup his hands together and blow over it after reciting (Surah Al-Ikhlas), (Surah Al-Falaq) and (Surah An-Nas), and then rub his hands over whatever parts of his body he was able to rub, starting with his head, face and front of his body. He used to do that three times.”
3. Following and practising the Prophet’s Sunnah
In many occasions that our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was heard reciting Surah Al-Kafirun (in the first Rak’ah), and Surah Al-Ikhlas (in the second Rak`ah) in the two sunnah Rak’ah of the Subuh prayer in the two rakaat after Maghrib prayer
ما أُحصي ما سمِعتُ رسولَ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم : يقرأُ في الرَّكعتَيْن بعد المغربِ ، وفي الرَّكعتَيْن قبل صلاةِ الفجرِ بـ (قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ وقُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ)
"I can’t count the number of times Rasulullah s.a.w. read in the two rakaat (Sunnah) of Maghrib and in the two rakaat (Sunnah) of Subuh - (Surah Al-Kafirun and Surah Al-Ikhlas)"
and in the Witr prayer, as narrated by Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas r.a:
ان رسولُ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم يُوتِرُ بثلاثٍ، يقرأ في الأولى بـ (سَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى)، وفي الثانية بـ (قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الكَافِرُونَ)، وفي الثالثة بـ (قُلْ هُوَ اللهُ أَحَدٌ)
"Rasulullah s.a.w. would perform the Witr prayer in three (rakaat). He would read on the first rakaat (Surah Al-A’la), and on the second rakaat (Surah Al-Kafirun), and on the third rakaat (Surah Al-Ikhlas)"
4. Love for Surah Al-Ikhlas will entail one to enter the Paradise
A companion from the Ansar r.a. once consistently recited surah Al-Ikhlas every time he led the congregational prayers. This became a point of inquiry from other companions. This was raised to the Prophet s.a.w. to which the Prophet s.a.w. asked him:
".ما يَحْمِلُكَ علَى لُزُومِ هذِه السُّورَةِ في كُلِّ رَكْعَةٍ" فقالَ: إنِّي أُحِبُّها، فقالَ: "حُبُّكَ إيَّاها أدْخَلَكَ الجَنَّةَ.."
The Prophet s.a.w. asked, "What motivates you to consistently recite this Surah (Al-Ikhlas) in all the Rakaat". He replied “Verily I love it (Surah Al-Ikhlas). He (the Prophet) then replied “Your love for it shall admit you into Paradise”
5. Earning the Love of Allah
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَعَثَ رَجُلاً عَلَى سَرِيَّةٍ، وَكَانَ يَقْرَأُ لأَصْحَابِهِ فِي صَلاَتِهِ فَيَخْتِمُ بِ(قُلْ هُوَ اللَّهُ أَحَدٌ) فَلَمَّا رَجَعُوا ذَكَرُوا ذَلِكَ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ "سَلُوهُ لأَىِّ شيء يَصْنَعُ ذَلِكَ". فَسَأَلُوهُ فَقَالَ لأَنَّهَا صِفَةُ الرَّحْمَنِ، وَأَنَا أُحِبُّ أَنْ أَقْرَأَ بِهَا. فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم "أَخْبِرُوهُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّهُ".
The Prophet s.a.w. sent (an army unit) under the command of a man who used to lead his companions in the prayers and would finish his recitation with (Surah Al-Ikhlas). When they returned (from the battle), they mentioned it to the Prophet s.a.w. He replied (to them), "Ask him why he does so." They asked him and he said, "I do so because it mentions the qualities of The Most Merciful (Ar-Rahman) and I love to recite it (in my prayer)." The Prophet s.a.w. said (to them), "Tell him that Allah loves him."
Read: 99 Names of Allah s.w.t.
Indeed, all the Surahs in the Quran have distinct significance and are full of wisdom and merits. One of which is the vast virtues of Surah Al-Ikhlas.
With this understanding, we pray together that Allah instils in us love towards Surah Al-Ikhlas in hopes that it will assist us in maintaining the sincerity of our intention in all our affairs. We also pray that may Allah s.w.t. grant us the love and pleasure of Allah s.w.t. by our sincere intentions.
May the coming year bring us closer to Allah and make us among His truthful, sincere and righteous servants always, ameen ya Rabbal ‘alamin.
And Allah knows best.
 Ibn Kathir, Ismail. "Tafsir al-Quran al-Azim, (pg 866)." Madina: Dār al-Tayba (1999)
 ibid, (pg 865)