Saturday 4 August 2018

The Holy Qur'an (Summary): Chapter 94 Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ ( The Relief / Solace )

Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ or Sūrat al-Sharḥ as it is also called so is the 94th chapter contained in the 30th part of the Holy Qur'an. As the text and meaning suggest, this chapter was revealed in Makkah during the early days of prophet-hood of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The main theme revolves around the concept "with each difficulty there is ease."

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.

Before commenting on the circumstance under which of Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ was revealed, please read the English translation of the Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ to understand its plain meaning / translation :
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
  • Did We not expand for you, [O Muhammad], your breast?
  • And We removed from you your burden
  • Which had weighed upon your back
  • And raised high for you your repute.
  • Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
  • So when you have finished [your duties], then stand up [for worship].
  • And to your Lord direct [your] longing.
Since proclamation of Islam, the Prophet of Allah (s) was in great distress as everyone seemed to have turned against Him. Most pf his friends, clansmen, relatives and acquaintances who respected and honoured him as a just and truthful person before his proclamation of Islam, turned bitterly against Him and their animosity pained Him.

Under such trying days, Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ was revealed to console the Prophet of Allah and assure Him of the full divine support and help against those who had been the cause of his distress and sufferings. 

The word “Sharh” is also mentioned in Surah al-Anaam Ayah 125 which means “to cut something, to open up, enlarge, expand or uncover.” This word also appears in Surah Ta-Ha Ayah 25, when Prophet  Musa (Moses, peace be upon him) said, “My Lord, expand for me my chest.” In the context, it means opening up of the heart so that Divine wisdoms and mysteries could be comprehended and accepted. Comprehension and acceptance both are essential because sometimes we understand something but are unable to accept it. [3]

In fact in this chapter, Allah had mentioned three of His blessings to ease Prophet's discomfort: The first is opening up of the breast, the second of removing from the heavy burden that was weighing down on His back before the call, and the third of exalting His renown the like of which has never been granted to any man before. 

And then in fifth verse, Allah says it all: "Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease." This in fact is a reassurance from Allah the period of hardships which the Prophet of Allah (s) was passing through at that time, shall too pass soon and He would find solace and comfort very soon. A similar reassurance was given to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Sūrat aḍ-Ḍuḥā: "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."

And then as usual, Allah asks His prophet to turn to Him and thank Him for the bounties He has bestowed upon the Prophet (s) and seek Him alone and let nothing whatsoever distract him. This is the lesson for everyone for us: After whatever we do, our daily chores and work, we should never forget to bow in front of Allah to thank Him for the life He had given to us, though with many ups and down. For these ups and downs are the tests that Allah takes of us to see how steadfast we are and how grateful. And for those who are grateful, there is solace and relief here in this world and thereafter too.

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Sūrat al-Inshirāḥ with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand)

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

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