Assalamualaikum.

Surah Ash-Sharh is also referred to as Al-Inshirah and is the 94th Surah of the Qur’an. The English meaning of this Surah is “Solace” or “Comfort” and is composed of 8 ayats (verses). It is classified as a Meccan Surah meaning it’s revelation was before Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had migrated from Mecca to Medina.

This surah was revealed by Allah to Muhammad (ﷺ) to console and encourage him. The Prophet had to bare the blunt of the criticism and abuse when Islam was first revealed to him since people thought of him crazy. He had lost respect within his own friends, clansmen, and neighbors who began being harsh and hostile towards him. He was openly mocked in the streets as no one in Mecca was receptive to his message. Although he gradually became accustomed to this ridicule he faced a lot of hardship and the message of this Surah helped provide some comfort to him.

Below you can read Surah Ash-Sharh (Al-Inshirah) in it’s entirety with transliteration and Sahih international translation. For those looking to learn more about the history, background, and interpretation of this Surah we’ve provided Tafseer at the end.

 

Read Surah Ash-Sharh Transliteration

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

Alam nashrah laka sadrak
1. Did We not expand for you, [O Muhammad], your breast?

Wa wa d’ana ‘anka wizrak
2. And We removed from you your burden

Allathee anqada thahrak
3. Which had weighed upon your back

Wa raf ‘ana laka zikrak
4. And raised high for you your repute.

Fa inna ma’al usri yusra
5. For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

Inna ma’al ‘usri yusra
6. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.

Fa iza faragh ta fansab
7. So when you have finished [your duties], then stand up [for worship].

Wa-ila rabbika farghab
8. And to your Lord direct [your] longing.

Surah Al Inshirah Tafseer

Here we’ve provided four different tafseer works on Surah Al-Inshirah to those who want to make it a study to learn more about the Qur’an in detail. With just the word by word translation you can understand the ayah but may miss out on important lessons or concepts which are elaborated in detail in the tafseer.

Surah Inshirah Tafseer Ibn Kathir

Which was revealed in Makkah
﴿ بِسۡمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ﴾

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

﴿ أَلَمۡ نَشۡرَحۡ لَكَ صَدۡرَكَ • وَوَضَعۡنَا عَنكَ وِزۡرَكَ • ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنقَضَ ظَهۡرَكَ • وَرَفَعۡنَا لَكَ ذِكۡرَكَ • فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرًا • إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرً۬ا • فَإِذَا فَرَغۡتَ فَٱنصَبۡ • وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَٱرۡغَب ﴾

1. Have We not opened your breast for you
2. And removed from you your burden.
3. Which weighed down your back
4. And have We not raised high your fame
5. Verily, along with every hardship is relief,
6. Verily, along with every hardship is relief.
7. So when you have finished, devote yourself to Allah’s worship.
8. And to your Lord turn intentions and hopes.


The Meaning of opening the Breast

Allah says,

﴿ أَلَمۡ نَشۡرَحۡ لَكَ صَدۡرَكَ ﴾

(Have We not opened your breast for you) meaning, `have We not opened your chest for you.’ This means, `We illuminated it, and We made it spacious, vast and wide.’ This is as Allah says,

﴿ فَمَن يُرِدِ ٱللَّهُ أَن يَهۡدِيَهُ ۥ يَشۡرَحۡ صَدۡرَهُ ۥ لِلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِ‌ۖ ﴾

(And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam.) (6:125) And just as Allah expanded his chest, He also made His Law vast, wide, accommodating and easy, containing no difficulty, hardship or burden.

The Meaning of opening the Breast

Allah says,

﴿ أَلَمۡ نَشۡرَحۡ لَكَ صَدۡرَكَ ﴾

(Have We not opened your breast for you) meaning, `have We not opened your chest for you.’ This means, `We illuminated it, and We made it spacious, vast and wide.’ This is as Allah says,

﴿ فَمَن يُرِدِ ٱللَّهُ أَن يَهۡدِيَهُ ۥ يَشۡرَحۡ صَدۡرَهُ ۥ لِلۡإِسۡلَـٰمِ‌ۖ ﴾

(And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam.) (6:125) And just as Allah expanded his chest, He also made His Law vast, wide, accommodating and easy, containing no difficulty, hardship or burden.A Discussion of Allah’s Favor upon His Messenger Concerning Allah’s statement,

﴿ وَوَضَعۡنَا عَنكَ وِزۡرَكَ ﴾

(And removed from you your burden.) This means

﴿ لِّيَغۡفِرَ لَكَ ٱللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنۢبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ ﴾

(That Allah may forgive you your sins of the past and the future.) (48:2)

﴿ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنقَضَ ظَهۡرَكَ ﴾

(Which weighed down your back) Al-Inqad means the sound. And more than one of the Salaf has said concerning Allah’s saying,

﴿ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنقَضَ ظَهۡرَكَ ﴾

(Which weighed down your back) meaning, `its burden weighed heavy upon you.’The Meaning of raising the Fame of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)

﴿ وَرَفَعۡنَا لَكَ ذِكۡرَكَ ﴾

(And have We not raised high your fame?) Mujahid said, “I (Allah) am not remembered except that you are remembered with Me: I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Qatadah said , “Allah raised his fame in this life and in the Hereafter. There is no one who gives a sermon, declares the Testimony of Faith (Shahadah), or prays a prayer (Salah) except that he proclaims it: I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.Ease after Difficulty

﴿ إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرً۬ا • فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلۡعُسۡرِ يُسۡرًا ﴾

(Verily along with every hardship is relief. Veriliy along with every hardship is relief)

Allah informs that with difficulty there is ease, and then he reaffirms this information (by repeating it)The Command to remember Allah during Spare Time

﴿ فَإِذَا فَرَغۡتَ فَٱنصَبۡ • وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَٱرۡغَب ﴾

( So when you have finished, devote yourself to Allah’s worship. And to your Lord turn intentions and hopes. )

Meaning, ‘when you have completed your worldly affairs and its tasks, and you have broken away from its routine, then get up to perform the worship, and stand for it with zeal, complete devotion and purify your intention and desire for your lord.’ Similar to this is the Prophet’s statement in a hadith that is agreed-upon to be authentic,

لَا صَلَاةَ بِحَضْرَةِ الطَّعَامِ, وَلَا هُوَ يُدَافِعُهُ الأَخْبَثَانِ

There is no prayer when the food is served, nor when the two foul things (excrement and urine) are pressing a person.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) also said,

إِذَا أُقِيمَتِ الصَّلَاةُ وَحَضَرَ الْعَشَاءُ فَبْدَأُوا بِااْلْعَشَاءِ

When the prayer has started and the dinner has been served, then begin with dinner.

Mujahid said concerning this Ayah, “When you are free from the worldly affairs, and you have stood to pray, then stand up for your Lord.”

Commentary

It was mentioned at the end of the preceding Surah that twenty-two Surahs from Surah Ad-Duha to the end of the Qur’an are mainly concerned with Divine favours conferred upon the Holy Prophet ‘ and with his greatness. Only a few Surahs are concerned with the conditions of the Hereafter or some other subject. Surah Al-Inshirah is concerned with special favours that Allah conferred upon the Holy Prophet ﷺ . Its style is the same as that of the preceding Surah – the interrogative style. In the preceding Surah, the style was ‘Did He not find you…?’ [Here the style is]:

أَلَمْ نَشْرَ‌حْ لَكَ صَدْرَ‌كَ (Did We not cause your bosom to be wide open for your benefit?…94:1). The word sharp literally denotes ‘to open, to cause the bosom to be widely opened’. [In the present context] it is to cause the bosom to be wide open to comprehend the Divine mysteries. The verse signifies that Allah illuminated his bosom with wisdom, Divine light and peace and made it spacious, vast and wide as is said in another verse:

فَمَن يُرِ‌دِ اللَّـهُ أَن يَهْدِيَهُ يَشْرَ‌حْ صَدْرَ‌هُ لِلْإِسْلَامِ
‘So, he whom Allah wills to give guidance, He opens his heart for Islam [6:125] ‘

The Holy Prophet’s ﷺ bosom was expanded to receive the knowledge and wisdom and the gracious morals and ethical qualities, which the greatest philosophers could not match. As a result of this expansion of heart, tawajjuh ilal-makhluq (attentiveness to the creation) did not disturb his attentiveness to and concentration on Allah. Some of the authentic Traditions report that the angels, with Allah’s permission, physically opened the blessed chest of the Holy Prophet ﷺ. Some of the commentators interpret this ‘expansion of the chest’ to refer to the same miracle, as mentioned in Ibn Kathir and others. And Allah knows best!

وَوَضَعْنَا عَنكَ وِزْرَ‌كَ الَّذِي أَنقَضَ ظَهْرَ‌كَ (And We removed from you your burden that had [ almost ] broken your back…94:2-3). The word wizr literally denotes ‘burden’ and the phrase naqd-uz-zahr means ‘to break one’s back as for instance when a heavy load is put on one’s back, it bends’. This verse signifies that Allah had relieved him of his burden that was breaking his back. What was that burden or heavy load? One answer to this question is that now and then the Holy Prophet ﷺ did certain permissible deeds, thinking that they were of benefit and in the interest [ of spiritual development ]. Later on he discovered that they were not in keeping with wisdom, or they were undesirable. The Holy Prophet was conscious of his high status and close proximity to Allah. He regarded even such things as serious infractions. This was naturally a very heavy load that made him grieved. But Allah relieved him of his burden in that a blanket pardon was granted to him and it was declared that he would not be held accountable for such things.

Some commentators say that wizr (burden) refers to the effect of revelation. It weighed heavily on him in the initial stages of the Prophethood. He was saddled with a nerve-racking and back-breaking task of raising [ a morally degenerated people], through propagation of Tauhid and elimination of kufr and shirk, [ from the depths of moral turpitude to the peaks of spiritual excellence, and then through them to cleanse and purify the whole of mankind of the dross of iniquity, ignorance and superstition]. The task enjoined:
فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْ‌تَ
‘So, stand firm – as you have been commanded [11:112] ‘

The Holy Prophet ﷺ used to feel the heavy weight of this task and responsibility. Some narration report that a few strands of his beard had turned grey as a result of this command. The Holy Prophet ﷺ is reported to have said that the following verse has made me old:
فَاسْتَقِمْ كَمَا أُمِرْ‌تَ
‘So, stand firm – as you have been commanded [11:112] ‘

Verses [2-3] give the cheerful news that Allah will remove from him the load which was weighing down his back. The following verses show how the back-breaking load will be removed, and every difficulty will be followed by ease and relief. By means of expansion of bosom, Allah gave the Holy Prophet so much of courage that no instance of hardship seemed hardship, and no burden of any magnitude seemed a burden. And Allah knows best!

وَرَ‌فَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَ‌كَ (and We raised high for you your name….94:4). The meaning of raising the name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ is that his blessed name is remembered together with the name of Allah in all the symbols of Islam, like the kalimah, the adhan, the iqamah, and in sermons from the minarets and pulpits [throughout the world]:
اَشھَدُ اَنَّ لا إله إلا اللہ
اَشھَدُ اَنَّ مُحَمَّدَ رَّسُولُ اَلله
(I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except
Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’

No sensible person utters the Holy Prophet’s ﷺ name without respect and honour even though he may not be a Muslim.

Note Carefully
Here three verses mention three favours that are bestowed on the Holy Prophet t: [ 1] opening of the bosom widely; [2] removal of the burden; and [ 3] raising of the name high. Each of the sentence is composed of a verb, an object and between them is a prepositional phrase thus:
شرح صدر
for your benefit? [1] ‘

وضع وزر
‘from you your burden [2] ‘

رفع ذکر
‘for you your name. [4] ‘

This indicates the essential characteristic and special greatness of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، in that all this is done for the sake of him.

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ‌ يُسْرً‌ا إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ‌ يُسْرً‌ا (So undoubtedly, along with hardship there is ease. Undoubtedly, along with hardship there is ease….94:6). Grammatically, if the Arabic definite article al- is prefixed to an Arabic noun and is repeated with the same definite article al-, they refer to the same antecedent. However, if the same noun is repeated without the definite article, they refer to different antecedents. The word al-‘usr ‘[ the ] hardship’ in verse [ 6] is the repetition of al-‘usr ‘[ the ] hardship’ occurring in verse [ 5]. It does not refer to a new hardship. In contrast to this, the word yusr ‘ease’ in both verses occur without the definite article. This indicates that the second yusr ‘ease’ in verse [ 6] is a different antecedent to the yusr ‘ease’ occurring in verse [ 5]. Thus it may be concluded that there is only one ` usr ‘hardship’ and two yusr ‘twofold ease’. ‘Twofold ease’ does not mean twice as much. In fact, it means ‘manifold ease’. The verse signifies that only one kind of hardship will face him, but in the wake of it many kinds of ease are assured.

Sayyidna Hasan Al-Basri (رح) reports that once the Holy Prophet ﷺ emerged from his home in a very happy mood and, giving cheerful news to his Companions on the basis of the current verse, said: “One hardship cannot overcome twofold ease”. Thus history and biographical books written by Muslims and non-Muslims – all bear ample testimony to fact that the most difficult task, even the seemingly impossible task, became easy for him. The above narration further indicates that the Arabic definite article al- signifies that it is an article used to indicate previous knowledge [that is, al- lil ahd] and refers to the hardship of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and his Companions. Allah kept to His promise to them in such a way that the world saw it visibly how in the wake of every hardship the Holy Prophet and his Companions experienced the manifold ease that made their task easy. If a person does not achieve ‘ease’ after ‘hardship’, it does not contradict this verse. In fact, even now Allah’s universal principle applies. One needs to exercise fortitude against hardship, rely on Allah with purity of heart, devote oneself totally to Him, hold onto high hopes for His grace, and one should not despair of His mercy if there is delay in success – He certainly will grant relief after every instance of hardship. [Fawa’id-e-` Usmaniah]. Hadith narratives support this.

The Command for Teachers and Preachers to Remember Allah During Spare Hours
فَإِذَا فَرَ‌غْتَ فَانصَبْ وَإِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّكَ فَارْ‌غَب (So when you are free [ from collective services ], exert yourself [ in worship ], and towards your Lord turn with eagerness….94:8). The Holy Prophet ﷺ is commanded in these verses that when he has finished his day’s work of teaching and training his followers and other temporal affairs, he should turn to Allah as ever with all his heart, that is, prayers, remembrance of Allah, supplication and seeking Allah’s pardon. This is the interpretation assigned to this verse by most commentators. Some scholars have interpreted it differently, but the foregoing interpretation appears to be the closest. The sum total of this interpretation is as follows: The Holy Prophet ﷺ exerted himself greatly to spread the word of Allah and reform human beings. Exerting himself to human reform was his greatest form of ‘worship’ but it was ‘indirect worship’ through planning and executing the plan of human reform. The verse purports to say that the indirect worship is not sufficient. So, when he is free from collective services to humanity, he should devote time to turn to Him by carrying out ‘direct worship’ by turning to Allah in prayer for the success of his efforts, because this ‘direct worship’ is what man is created for. Probably, that is why the ‘indirect worship’ has been mentioned as something that may be finished and one may be free from, because that is based on need, and a believer can free himself from it, but the ‘direct worship’ of Allah is such that he cannot free himself from it. He has to spend his entire life and expend all his energy in it.

Note
This indicates that scholars [ who are involved in education, propagation and human reform ] should not be unmindful of ‘direct worship’. Some time should be devoted specifically, in privacy, to attentiveness to, and remembrance of Allah as the biography of the righteous predecessors bear testimony to the fact that without it neither education nor preaching can be effective. It would be devoid of light and blessings.

Note
The word fansab derived from nasab means ‘to be tired’. The verse signifies that one should tire oneself when carrying out acts of worship. One should not carry out acts of worship only when one finds it convenient. Binding oneself to a wazifah (a usual course of optional worships) is itself quite exerting and tiring, no matter how little.

Al-hamdulillah
The Commentary on
Surah Al-Inshirah
Ends here

This surah was revealed soon after the preceding one, Surah 93, The Morning Hours, as if it were a continuation of it. Here, also, the feelings of sympathy and an atmosphere of delightful, friendly discourse abound. It portrays the divine care the Prophet enjoys and explains the measures taken out of concern for him. The surah also gives the good news of forthcoming relief, points out to the Prophet the secret of ease, and emphasizes his strong ties with God.

Have We not opened up your heart, and relieved you of your burden, which weighed heavily on your back? And have We not given you high renown?” (Verses 1-4) This suggests that the Prophet was troubled for some reason concerning the message he was entrusted with, and the obstacles in its way. These verses also suggest that the difficulties facing his mission weighed heavily on his heart, making him feel the need for urgent help and backing. Hence this comforting address.

Have We not opened up your heart,” so that it may warm to this message? Have We not facilitated it for you, endeared it to you, defined its path and illuminated it for you to see its happy end? Look into your heart! Do you not see it to be full of light, happiness and solace? Reflect on the effects brought about by all the favours bestowed on you! Do you not feel comfort with every difficulty, and find contentment with every kind of deprivation you suffer?

And relieved you of your burden, which weighed heavily on your back?” (Verses 2-3) Your burden was so heavy that it almost broke your back, but We relieved you of that. Relief took the form of giving your heart a lift so that you might feel your mission easier and your burden not so hard to shoulder. Another aspect of the relief was the guidance you received on how to discharge your mission and how to appeal to people’s hearts. Furthermore, there is relief for you in the revelation of the Qur’ān which explains the truth and helps you to drive it home to people easily and gently. Do you not feel all this when you think of how heavy your burden was? Do you not feel it to be lighter after We opened up your heart?

And have We not given you high renown?” (Verse 4) We exalted you among those on high, on earth and in the whole universe. We raised your fame high indeed as we associated your name with that of God’s whenever it is pronounced. “No Deity but God, Muhammad is God’s Messenger.” Indeed, this is the highest degree of praise. It is a position granted only to Muhammad, with no share of it to anyone else. God has willed that one century should turn after another and generations succeed generations with millions and millions of people in all corners of the world honouring the blessed name of Muhammad with prayers for peace and blessings to be granted him, and with his profound love entrenched in their hearts. Your fame spread far and wide when your name became associated with this divine way of life.

Certainly the mere fact that you were chosen for this task is an exaltation to which no one else in this universe can ever aspire. How can there remain any feeling of affliction or hardship after this favour which heals all such difficulties?

God, nevertheless, addresses His beloved messenger kindly. He comforts and reassures him, explaining to him how He has given him unceasing ease. “With hardship comes ease. Indeed, with every hardship comes ease.” (Verses 5-6) Hardship is never absolute, for ease always accompanies it. When your burden became too heavy, We lifted up your heart and relieved you.

This is strongly emphasized by a literal repetition of the statement: “With hardship comes ease.” The repetition suggests that the Prophet had endured serious hardship and much affliction. This reminder recalls the various aspects of care and concern shown to the Prophet and then reassures him emphatically. A matter which afflicts Muhammad’s soul so much must be very serious indeed.

Then follows a statement pointing out the aspects of comfort and the factors contributing to the lifting up of hearts and spirits, which is of great help to Muslims as they travel along their hard and long way: “When you have completed your task resume your toil, and to your Lord turn with love.” (Verses 7-8)

With hardship goes ease, so seek relief and solace. When you have finished whatever you may have to do, be it a matter relating to the delivery of your message or an affair of this life, then turn with all your heart to what deserves your toil and striving, namely devotion and dedication in worship. “And to your Lord turn with love.” (Verse 8) Seek Him alone and let nothing whatsoever distract you. Do not ever think of the people you call on to believe in Him. A traveller must have his food with him, and this is the real food for your journey. A fighter for a cause needs to have his equipment, and this is the equipment necessary for you. This will provide you with ease in every difficulty you may encounter, and with comfort against every kind of affliction you may suffer.

The surah ends on the same note as the preceding surah, The Morning Hours. It leaves us with two intertwined feelings. The first is a realization of the great affection shown to the Prophet, which overwhelmed him because it was the love of his Lord, the Compassionate, the Merciful. The other feeling is one of sympathy shown to his noble self. We can almost feel what was going on in his blessed heart at that time which required this reminder of delightful affection.

It is this mission of Islam: a grave trust and a burden which weighs him down. It is nevertheless the rising of the divine light, the link between mortality and eternity, existence and non-existence.

Tafsir of Surah Ash Sharh By Abul A’la Maududi

The Surah is so designated after the first sentence.

Period of Revelation

Its subject matter so closely resembles that of Surah Ad-Duha that both these Surah seem to have been revealed in about the same period under similar conditions. According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, it was sent down in Makkah just after wad-Duha.

Theme and Subject Matter
The aim and object of this Surah too is to console and encourage the Holy Messenger (upon whom be Allah’s peace). Before his call he never had to encounter the conditions which he suddenly had to encounter after it when he embarked on his mission of inviting the people to Islam. This was by itself a great revolution in his own life of which he had no idea in his life before Prophethood. No sooner had he started preaching the message of Islam than the same society which had esteemed him with unique honor, turned hostile to him. The same relatives and friends, the same clansmen and neighbors, who used to treat him with the highest respect, began to shower him with abuse and invective. No one in Makkah was prepared to listen to him; he began to be ridiculed and mocked in the street and on the road; and at every step he had to face new difficulties. Although gradually he became accustomed to the hardships, even much severer ones, yet the initial stage was very discouraging for him. That is why first Surah Ad-Duha was sent down to console him, and then this Surah.

In it, at the outset, Allah says: “We have favored you, O Prophet, with three great blessings; therefore you have no cause to be disheartened. The first is the blessing of Sharh Sadr (opening up of the breast), the second of removing from you the heavy burden that was weighing down your back before the call, and the third of exalting your renown the like of which has never been granted to any man before. Further below in the notes we have explained what is implied by each of these blessings and how great and unique these blessings indeed are!

After this, the Lord and Sustainer of the universe has reassured His Servant and Messenger (upon whom be peace) that the period of hardships which he is passing through, is not very long, but following close behind it there is also a period of ease. This same thing has been described in Surah Ad-Duha, saying: “Every later period is better for you than the former period, and soon your Lord will give you so much that you will be well pleased.”

In conclusion, the Holy Prophet has been instructed, so as to say, “You can develop the power to bear and resist the hardships of the initial stage only by one means, and it is this: `When you are free from your occupations, you should devote yourself to the labor and toil of worship, and turn all your attention exclusively to your Lord’.”This same instruction has been given him in much greater detail in Surah Al-Muzzammil 1-9.

[1-8] (O Prophet!) have We not opened up your breast for you?1 And removed from you the heavy burden that was weighing down your back,2 and exalted your renown for you.3 So, the fact is that along with every hardship there is also ease. Indeed, with every hardship there is also ease!4 Hence, when you are free, devote yourself to the labor of worship, and turn all your attention to your Lord.5

1. To begin the discourse with this question, and then the subsequent theme, shows that the Holy Messenger (upon whom be Allah’s peace) at that time was very disturbed and distressed at the great hardships that he was passing through in the initial stage of his mission of calling the people to Islam. Under those conditions Allah addressed him and consoling him, said: “O Prophet, have We not blessed you with such and such favor? Then, why do you feel so disturbed and distressed at these initial difficulties?”

A little consideration of the context wherever the word sharh sadr (opening up of the breast) has occurred in the Qur’an, shows that it has two meanings:

(1) In Surah Al-An’am: 125, it was said: “So whomever Allah wills to guide aright, He makes his breast wide open to Islam (yashrah sadrahu lil-lslam)”; and in Surah Az-Zumar; 22: “Can the person whose breast Allah has opened for Islam (sharahallabu sadrahu liI-Islam) and he is walking in the light shown by his Lord..” At both these places sharh sadr implies to free oneself from every kind of distraction and vacillation and to be satisfied with Islam as the only right way of life, and to regard the beliefs, principles of morality and civilization, religious instructions and injunctions, which Islam has given to man, as right and true.

(2) In Surah Ash-Shu`ara’: 12-13, it has been mentioned that when Allah appointed the Prophet Moses to the great office of Prophethood and commanded him to go and confront the Pharaoh and his mighty empire, he submitted: “My Lord, I fear that they will treat me as a liar, and my breast straitens.” And in Surah Ta Ha: 2526, it has been stated that on this very occasion the Prophet Moses implored Allah, saying: “Lord, open up my breast for me (Rabbisbrah-li sadri) and make my task easy for me.” Here, straitening of the breast implies a person’s finding it too hard for himself to shoulder the onerous responsibilities of Prophethood and going out to clash with a mighty and tyrannical power of disbelief all by himself, and sharh sadr implies that his morale be boosted so that he is ready to undertake any campaign and any task however difficult and hard, without any hesitation, and he develops the nerve and courage to shoulder the great responsibilities of Prophethood.

A little consideration will show that in this verse “opening up of the Holy Prophet’s breast” contains both these meanings. According to the first meaning, it implied that before the Prophethood the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) looked upon the religion of the polytheistic Arabs, Christians, Jews and fire worshipers as false, and was not even satisfied with the hanifiyyat prevalent among some of the Arab monotheists, for it was an ambiguous creed which contained no detail of the right way. (This we have explained in E.N.’s of As Sajdah). But since he himself did not know what was the right way, he was mentally confused and distracted. With the blessing of Prophethood Allah removed his mental agitation and opened up before him the way of right guidance, which brought him full peace of mind. According to the second meaning, it implies that along with the blessing of Prophethood Allah also blessed him with the courage, spirit ,of resolution and broad mindedness which were needed for shouldering the onerous responsibilities of the great office. He became bearer of the vast knowledge, which no other human mind could encompass and contain. He was blessed with the wisdom which could rectify any evil however grave and wide spread. He developed the capability to stand up without any equipment and the apparent help and support of a worldly power as the standard-bearer of Islam in a society sunk in ignorance and barbarism, to brave any storm of hostility without the least hesitation, to endure patiently all the difficulties and hardships of the way ‘so that no power might cause him to abandon his position and standpoint. Thus, The verse means to impress the point: “When Allah has blessed you, O Prophet, with this invaluable wealth of sharh sadr, why do you feel distressed and depressed at the hardships you are experiencing in the initial stage of your mission.”

Some commentators have taken sharh sadr to mean shaqq Sadr (splitting up of the breast) and have declared this verse to be a proof of the miracle of sharh sadr as related in the traditions of the Hadith. But the fact is that the proof of that miracle is dependent only on the traditions of the Hadith, it is not correct to prove it from the Qur’an. According to the Arabic language, sharh sadr can in no way be taken to mean shaqq sadr. `Allama Alusi in the Ruh al-Ma’ani says:”In the sight of the research scholars it is a weak thing to regard sharh sadr as shaqq sadr. ”

2. Some of the commentators have interpreted this to mean that before Prophethood, in the days of ignorance, the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had happened to commit certain errors because of which he was feeling disturbed, and Allah by sending down this verse consoled and satisfied him, saying that He had forgiven him those errors. But in our opinion it is a grave mistake to interpret this verse thus. In the first place, the word vizr does not necessarily mean a sin, but it is also used for a heavy burden. Therefore, there is no reason why it should in every case be taken in the bad sense. Secondly, the Holy Prophet’s life before Prophethood also was so clean and pure that it had been presented in the Qur’an as a challenge before the opponents.. So much so that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was made to point out to the disbelievers: “I have already lived a lifetime among you before the revelation of this Qur’an.” (Yunus 16). and he was also not the type of a person who would commit a sift secretly. God forbid, had he been such a man, Allah would not have been unaware of it, and would not have made him proclaim the thing before the people openly, which He made him proclaim in the above-mentioned verse of Sarah Yunus, if his person carried the blot of a sin committed secretly. Thus, in fact, in this verse vizr means a heavy burden and it implies the burden of distress, anguish and anxiety that was, telling on his sensitive nature when he saw- his nation deeply sunk in ignorance and barbarism. Idols were being worshiped, the community was engrossed in idolatry and polytheistic customs and practices, filth of immorality and indecency prevailed all around, wickedness and corrupt practices were rampant in society, the powerful were suppressing the powerless; girls were being-buried alive, tribes were subjecting, one another to surprise attacks, and sometimes the wars of vengeance continued for a hundred years at a stretch. No one’s life, property and honor was safe unless he had a strong hand at his back. This grieved the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) but he could find no way to cure the malady. This same anxiety was weighing down his back. Allah by showing him the way to Guidance removed its burden from him. Then as soon as he was appointed to the office of Prophethood, . he came to know that belief in the doctrine of Tauhid, the Hereafter and Prophethood was the master-key by which each corruption in human life could be eradicated and the way to reform opened in every aspect of life. This guidance front Allah relieved him of his burden and he felt re-assured that by means of it he would not only be able to cure the maladies of Arabia but also of all mankind outside Arabia as well.

3. This was said at a time when no one could even conceive how the renown of the one unique individual who had only a few followers confined only to the city of Makkah, would be exalted throughout the world, and what high fame he would achieve. But Allah Almighty gave His Messenger (upon whom be peace) this good news under those very conditions and then fulfilled it in a strange way. In the first place, he took from his enemies themselves the task of exalting his renown. One of the methods that the disbelievers of Makkah adopted to defeat his mission was that in the Hajj season when the pilgrims from every corner of Arabia were attracted to their city, they would visit them at their halting places and would warn them to beware of a dangerous man called Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings), who they alleged, worked such magic on the people that father was separated from son, brother from brother, and husband from wife; therefore, they should keep away from him, The same thing they said to all other people, who visited Makkah on other than Hajj days in connection with pilgrimage or on other business. In this way although they were trying to defame the Holy Prophet, yet the result was that his name reached every nook and comer of Arabia and the enemies themselves. took him out of his seclusion in Makkah and introduced him among all the tribes of the country. After this, it was but natural that .’the people should become curious to know as to who was this man, what he preached, what was his character like and who were the people influenced by his magic and what sort of effect his “magic” had on them. As the propaganda of the Makkan disbelievers spread the people’s curiosity also grew. When as a result of this curiosity the people came to know of the Holy Prophet’s morals, his character and conduct, when they heard the Qur’an and found what teachings it presented and when the people saw how different the lives of those who had been influenced by what was being described as .magic had become from the lives of the common Arabs, the bad name started being changed into good name. So much so that by the time the Hijrah took place there was perhaps no tribe left anywhere in Arabia from which one or another person, one or another clan had not accepted Islam and in which at least some people had not developed sympathy and interest in the Holy Prophet and his message. This was the first stage of the exaltation of his renown. Then from the Hijrah started the second stage in which on the one hand the hypocrites, the Jews and the prominent polytheists of Arabia were actively engaged in defaming him and on the other the Islamic State of Madinah was presenting such a practical model of God-worship, God consciousness, piety and devotion, purity of morals and community life, justice and equity, equality of man and man, generosity of the rich, care of the poor, fulfillment of pledges and promises and righteousness in dealings, which was conquering the hearts, The enemies tried by resort to war to impede the growing influence of the Holy Prophet, but the party of the believers, trained and developed under his own leadership, proved its superiority by their discipline, their bravery, their fearlessness of death, and their adherence to restrictions of morality even in the state of war; so convincingly that entire Arabia had to recognize it as a power to be reckoned with. Within ten years the Holy Prophet’s renown become so exalted that the same land in which the opponents had exerted their utmost to defame him, reverberated with the slogan of Ash hadu anna Muhammad ar-Rasul Allah from one end to the other. Then the third stage commenced with the establishment of the righteous Caliphate when his holy name started being mentioned and praised everywhere in the world. This process continues till today, and will continue till Resurrection if Allah so wills. Wherever in the world there exists a settlement of the Muslims, the apostleship of Muhammad (Upon whom be Allah’s peace) is being proclaimed aloud in the call to the Prayer five times a day, blessings of Allah are being invoked on him in the Prayers, and his sacred remembrance is being made in the Friday Sermons. There is no moment in the 12 months of the year and in the 24 hours of the day when at one or another place in the world, the Prophet’s holy name is not being mentioned. This is a clear proof of the truth of the Qur’an that when in the initial stage of the Prophet hood Allah proclaimed wa rafa `na Iaka dhikrak, no one could estimate and imagine with what esteem and to what great extent the Holy Prophet’s renown would be exalted. In a Hadith Hadrat Abu Sa`id Khudri has reported that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) said: “Gabriel came to me and said: My Lord and your Lord asks: In what ways have I exalted your renown? I submitted: Allah alone has the best. knowledge. He said: Allah says: Whenever mention is made of Me, yon too will be mentioned along with Me.” (Ibn Jarir, lbn Abi Hatim, Musnad Abu Ya`la, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Hibban Ibn Marduyah, Abu Nu`aim). The whole later history stands witness that this prediction has proved literally true.

4. This has been repeated twice so as to reassure the Holy Prophet that the bad times hp was passing through at that time would not last for ever, but were going to be replaced by good times in the near future. On the surface this appears to be a contradiction that hardship should be accompanied by ease, for these two things do not co-exist. But the words “hardship with ease” instead of “ease after hardship” have been used in the sense that the period of ease is so close to it as if it were a concomitant of it.

5. “When you are free,” When you are free from other occupations, whether occupations in connection with the preaching of Divine message, or teaching and training of the new converts, or domestic occupations of mundane nature.” The commandment means: “When you are no more occupied, you should spend your time in the labor and toil of Allah’s worship and turn all your attention exclusively to your Lord.”