Sheikh Salman al-Oadah
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“Say: He is Allah, the One.” [Sūrah al-Ikhlās: 1]

We should take notice that Sūrah al-Ikhlās begins with a command to Prophet Muhammad, and in turn, to all the believers thereafter. It is the command to: “Say”.

There are 320 verses of the Qur’an that begin with this command, but only five chapters that do so. If we investigate these 320 instances, we find that in most cases those verses were revealed in response to some question posed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This is the case with the chapter Sūrah al-Ikhlās.

In this case, the question came from the pagans of Mecca who, in their myopic understanding, assumed that Allah was like the idols they worshipped. This is why they demanded: “Give us the genealogy of your Lord.” They wanted to know the origin of Allah, from whence He derived; or alternatively, from what substance He was made, like the stone, wood and clay of their idols.

Then Allah commanded His Messenger by revealing the four verses of Sūrah al-Ikhlās:
Say: He is Allah, the One, Allah the eternally besought. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And there is nothing at all like Him.
By revealing these verses in this context, Allah makes it clear that we take our beliefs from Him. Allah is the one who teaches us about Himself, through His revelations to His Messenger. It is not for our minds and our intellects to concoct beliefs about Allah. Though our minds are able to reach a number of sound conclusions about Allah, it is not possible for the mind to successfully do so on its own, independently of Allah’s guidance.

This is why Allah says: “And thus did We reveal to you an inspired book by Our command. You did not know what the Book was, nor what the faith was, but We made it a light, guiding thereby whomever We please of Our servants.” [: 52]

Otherwise, the mind will get carried away in the most obstinate and convoluted of philosophical discourses. Allah knew all along that philosophy would lead some people astray to the point of denying the distinction between creator and creation. Allah warns us: “O humankind! You are in the dearest need of Allah, and Allah is the Self-Sufficient, the Praiseworthy.” [Sūrah Fātir: 15]

He also knew that some people would bring themselves to the false idea that Allah is imminent in creation, contained in all created things in a pantheistic manner. Allah makes it clear that this is not the case: “Lo! Your Lord is Allah Who created the heavens and the Earth in six Days, then mounted He the Throne.” [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 54]

This verse makes it clear that Allah is separate and distinct from His Creation in every way.

And it is with the idea of Allah’s uniqueness that Sūrah al-Ikhlās concludes: “And there is nothing at all like Him.” [Sūrah al-Ikhlās: 4]