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
The Meaning of opening the Breast Allah says,
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;  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?  ‘ وضع وزر ‘from you your burden  ‘ رفع ذکر ‘for you your name.  ‘ 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.
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.
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.
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.