. Surah 112 - Al-Ikhlas
. In The Name of Allah, the Compassion, the Compassionate
           
The Devotion


(1) (Say) I Proclaim Allah is the One and only God

(2) Allah, the Absolute Endurance

(3) Did not beget like any creature nor was He begotten

(4) And He is not to be compared or likened to anything or anyone


Commentary

The Prophet is reported to have said on many occasions that this Surah is “equivalent to one third of the whole Qur’an.”  It is so because it contains the basic doctrine of Islam defined in the most succinct way.  God is One, but His Oneness is unlike the oneness known to man.  There is nothing like it.

    This Surah like the other three Surahs (114,113,109) that start with the word “Say”, is a prayer appealing to the most rigid part of the human mind.  A few simple but deeply penetrating words that one uses to remind himself of the higher order of things. 

    The Surah describes basic tenets of how we should think of God.  We may call these attributes of Allah, but they are not attributes in the sense that we may use to describe other forms of beings.  As God is not a being the way we define beings.  The word “Allah” in Arabic is a very unique word that literally means God.  Allah is not a form of a Muslim deity that only a certain group of people worship or ascribe to themselves.  Allah; God is the universal term used by most people for all times.

This Surah is a prayer for one to say that we proclaim the indivisible absoluteness of the oneness of Allah, the eternity of this existence,  and the non-existence of anything like him. 

    Allah, God can only be described in the relative sense when we ascribe attributes to Him.  The Qur’an ascribes Ninety-Nine absolute attributes to God.  This helps us understand our relationship to Him, to the Universe and to others around us.  The above attributes establish the foundation of Muslim thought as distinct from any other philosophy.  This Surah establishes “Touheed” in Islam or the critical principle of unification and the indivisible unity of existence.  All entities and the relationships that connect them are part of a united universe.  They all move or act according to universal truths commensurate with the natural laws of existence.  One may describe this as being a “Master Plan” and that each particle moves in accordance with that plan.     

The word “Islam” in Arabic, although has become a term ascribed to only a certain group of people that worship Allah, is a very misunderstood word.  It literally means “surrender” of the individual will to a higher will.  It was never meant to be a description of a distinct religion separate from the natural existence of humanity.  Thus, there are only two types of theological persuasions on earth; Muslims and Non-Muslims.  A Muslim is a person who has accepted the existence of a higher power than his own.  A higher power that is compassionate and caring about his existence and where he fits within this jigsaw puzzle of ultimate unity.  A so called Christian or a Jew or a Buddhist or any person labeled under any form of organized religion or even those who are atheists or seculars can be true Muslims.  Muslim is a term and not a label.  Every living creature in this universe is a Muslim as they live by the natural laws of existence and bow in respect and recognition of that power over their destiny.

The above attributes of Allah help us in developing a personal relationship with the Creator and creation.  A personal relationship between human beings and Allah is critical in the development of one’s own consciousness.  Although rationally we can not limit the existence of Allah through any confining description, but in the fragile emotional make-up of man, personalizing the relationship brings greater security to the insecure Self.  Learning about God and experiencing God are two complementing ways to elevate us to a higher order. 

    Learning requires information that connects in a logical and rational fashion.  Each new piece of information must either make sense according to a line of logic or be subjected to questioning in order to understand the line of logic it fits in.  Learning requires the dedicated and devoted subjection of the mind sometimes to contradictory information.  It requires the total openness of the mind to assimilate new information, process it, add it to some form of logic, evaluation of its relevance, storing it, and possibly discarding it.  It is not an easy thing to dissect the mind from the Heart and the Self.  The Qur’an talks about the three States of existence in the human consciousness: Self (Nafs), Heart (Rouh), and the Mind (Akel). 

The Self represents the lower order of needs ranging from food to shelter to sex.  The Heart represents the higher order of needs from independence, to recognition, to realization.  The Mind represents the referee or the arbitrator between the Self and the Heart.  Man’s actions are to a high degree focused through the Mind with motives being innately shaded by an ongoing struggle between the Self and the Heart. 

    Relationships between people and between nations are motivated by either the needs of the Self or the Heart.  Correspondingly, we establish  three types of relationships with others: Realistic corresponding with the Self and its immediate needs of tangible satisfaction; Rational corresponding with the Mind and its needs to arbitrate a longer term relationship through win-win circumstances; and the Emotional, such as family ties, aspiring to a higher order of things. 

    A personal relationship with God is nurtured along all three channels; Rational, Realistic and Emotional.  We seek God to intervene and provide for our daily bread when we are in need.  We seek information and science to help us learn about Existence and its Laws.  We also seek God with all of our Heart and reflect our most intimate emotions upon Him.  We may emotionally personalize him to take on the form of a Parent, a Father, a Big brother, a Teacher, or just believe in His mystical nature. 

The symbolism of the divinity of the Trinity; the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit, tries to address the nature of the personal relationship one seeks with God.  Rationally it can not be justified, but emotionally it can provide a lot of comfort to man’s frailty.  Realistic relationships are almost diametrically opposed to the Emotional ones.  That’s because we’ve been endowed with the gift of Reason that is borne from Compassion.  The Self requires almost the same things as the Heart does, but takes an opposite path in achieving it.  The need for security maybe satisfied by the Self through Realistic relationships that provide very short term gains by swindling, deception and a “hit and run” behavior.  The same need of security can also be satisfied through the Heart taking the course of Emotional relationships that commit to the bonding of souls in a pool of community spirit.  An unconditional bonding that requires nothing in return. 

    The Path taken by the Self is the opposite Path taken by the Heart.  That’s why in Surah 1-Al-Fatiha (The Commencement), we constantly pray to seek God to show us the Path of blessings, and not the cursed barren path of the restless.  The Path of blessings (or “Baraka” as it is called in Arabic) is the path that creates an enormous blessing out of every shred of benevolence that comes our way.  Just like when Jesus the Messiah fed a whole village from a couple of loaves of bread. It symbolizes the Path of blessings that Jesus, bless his soul, walked.  The Path or as we may term it today the Process is the critical factor distinguishing the relationship from being Realistic or Emotional.  The advent of the Methodist Christian Church focused on the path or the method through which we can feel God.

    Realistic and Emotional relationships are two sides of the same coin.  The coin is the Need and the question is whether we examine the Demand side or the Supply side of the Need, in order to achieve satisfaction.  The need of an alcoholic for alcohol, as an example, can be satisfied through the Supply side and a Realistic relationship that just acquires alcohol at whatever cost.  Or on the other hand, satisfaction can take place through the Demand side that questions the basis of the need, and eventually determines that in the long term this need is destructive.  Thus, the Demand side establishes an Emotional vehicle that disengages the tangible commodity sought after.  The Need itself is the thing to be questioned.  Satisfaction is achieved from the Demand side through abstinence and control of the need.

    Clear black and white Realistic and Emotional relationships are rarely evident in our daily lives.  Pure Realistic and Emotional relationships are to a large degree similar in their lack of logic and extreme nature of the behavior.  The Rational form of relationships has become to a large degree, in most self-respecting societies, dominant.  The Rational relationship is an economic-based relationship that gives and takes.  Each side of the relationship performs both functions of giving and taking.  The Rational relationship is economic in nature and various motives may gyrate between needs of the Self and needs of the Heart.

Our human awareness and perception of God has been transformed in the past five hundred years mainly through the channel of the Rational.  That is the path foretold by most messengers of Allah.  It is man’s purpose to rise from the Self and to go after the Emotional and then establish the heaven on earth through the Rational.  There is no salvation for the human condition except through Reason. 

    The promise of Eternity of Existence appeals to the most insecure character of man.  Satisfaction of the need to eternalize and in so doing resolving the frightful dilemma of disappearance through death, may be satisfied through the Demand and Supply side.  Consider this futuristic technological advancement to immortalize: One’s own consciousness or Surah will eventually be captured on an interactive compact disc (CD), to be played whenever the need to interact with that person arises.  The need for preservation of the frail physical will subside.  Meanwhile, we will continue to believe that the consciousness we establish as distinct individuals in our years on earth will never vanish.  The bliss of total security in Supreme Knowledge, which we may feel through experiencing God, is the ultimate promise of our eternal resting place; Heaven.

    Learning and experiencing God are two complementing Paths to elevate us to a higher order.  We pray to seek God through all channels of human consciousness from the Self to the Mind to the Heart.  The personal relationship we establish with him is Realistic, Rational and Emotional.  There is no contradiction between viewing God as an abstract humanly concocted concept or being a loving Father constantly watching and fretting over the development of His children.  Experiencing God is completely emotional in nature.  It is mythical, mystical and includes elements of superstition. 

Extreme self-professed experiences of God lead to the darkness of the human paranoia and superstition.  Too little experiencing of God reduces the greatest gift of life to a function of eating and sleeping.  Moderation in experiencing God leads to Devotion, the subject of this Surah.  The Devotion of continuously seeking Him as He is the Fountain and the Consummation of all things.  Defining the Path of blessings is something we may endlessly theorize about, but continuously reform to reflect our current perceptions of a higher more perfect order. 

    Al-Ikhlas literally means faithfulness, loyalty and total devotion.  The name of this Surah reflects the subject or the concept that one must be devoted to, or the subject that deserves a human being’s most loyal devotion.   The subject is the oneness of this universe and the eternal endurance of this unity.  These four simple Ayahs define the foundation of recognizing a divine will higher than our human one identifiable by its continuous acts of compassion.

    This Higher Will, God; Allah, is identifiable by its Eternal Endurance regardless by man’s disposition towards it.  It endures through and tolerates every act taken by humanity.  It is not confined to the organic or the inorganic.  It is not confined to biological or chemical nature.  It is not confined to the subject of reproduction or human genealogy.  It can not be described in absolute human terms defining its exact nature.  We can feel it through its attributes. 

Our Devotion is to continuously seek Him in every face we meet, in every task we undertake, and in every relationship we make.  Our devotion is to fulfill our own human journey that starts with following all the irrational whimsical forces of emotions and ends up with the Unity of Existence.  (Say) I Proclaim Allah is the One and only God.  God is the Eternal Source and the Constant in the face of time and imperfect human consciousness evolution. 

    Each unique experience takes the journey of evolution that learns from nothing.  It goes through a stage of emotionalizing God.  Then, philosophizing Him takes us from the Realistic to the Rational realm.  From the Realistic we ascend to the Rational and then descend again to the irrational Emotional.  We oscillate about the Rational yearning for a glimpse of His Face.  The ecstasy of the Emotional experience fades into bitter sweet memories of the pains and aches of the human Heart. 

All through this we know His Constancy deep down in our heart of hearts.  Then, the Rational reduces the emotional into figures and numbers and perfectly understandable scientific logic negating the mystical nature of the unknown emotion.  Our Devotion continues to seek Him; the Uncaused Cause of everything that is born. 

A Causal-Effect relationship exists in everything we think or do.  A continuum of causes and effects traced back to a source and forwarded to a consummation.  Or is it linear, as our Rational would make us believe.  Finding the source will lead us to Genesis, the day we recognize our will as part of the Whole Will of perfection.  And Genesis is the consummation of that will and re-union of the imperfect with the Perfect.  The start is the finish and thus the Continuum of Existence.  He has been Constant all throughout these causes and effects of the human condition. 

    His intervention is not reserved for a set of “chosen” people, or needed to materialize in the form of a man like some literalists try to make belief, or framed in a time period after which he cuts off connection with humans.  God is alive and every manifestation or Ayah speaks of His Existence.  Through Devotion we can turn on the connection.  A personal relationship with God is a two way street.  Devotion is ridding one’s Heart of all falsehoods that block or derail the Path of direct connection with God.  We devote ourselves to seek God through the Heart firstly, and through the Mind secondly.  It is a spiritual path firstly, and through a disciplined method secondly. 

The Process is led by the Principles.  The Principles are restated in a new light that reflects observed imperfections in the human process and the method.  The Surah of Devotion is a constant reminder of the pinnacle of Principles that underpin a process.  Unity and oneness as applied to multiplicity.  

    We can not find the errors of our ways unless we put our unconditional trust and faith in God.  We must seek to rid ourselves of the reductionism needs of the Self.  Take a brave step to stand up and rise towards a higher order.  God will show the way through one’s devotion.  We can not make conditions for the trust, such as demanding to see the way.  Conditions negate absolute trust in the Absolute and limit the ceaseless faith in His Justice.  That is the path of spiritual freedom. 

God does not forsake the loyalists and the devoted.  They must exercise courage to taste His Power to release the spirit, through deep faith and unconditional trust.  Courage to release the spirit to become free from the insecurity of death.  To become certain and secure in the knowledge of His Security in Eternity. 

    Revelation comes to every human being in his own unique way.  We are created with such love and compassion, and fashioned in such a unique way that there is no other human being like him.  What a person does with that uniqueness is his divine responsibility.  Genesis 24 (the Bible) makes mention of the Tree of Life existing on the East side of the Garden of Eden.  “Cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of Life.”  The Tree of Life can be interpreted symbolically to mean the Spiritual Age of mankind. 

In the promised Spiritual Age, man can achieve eternal existence through encapsulating his consciousness forever.  Man has eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and walked the earth in search of the Information Age.  We are more than half way through that age.  Although there are still places on earth that haven’t even begun the earlier stage of Industrialization.  The prophecy forecasts a great role for the Nation of Abraham.  The Abrahamic Nation must go forward in unity to the age of Innocence and Purity (symbolized by cherubim) guided by Enlightenment (flashing sword) in order to lead humanity to the Spiritual Age.

.. .Ibrahim AbuNab (1931-1991)