أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ ﴿1﴾ وَوَضَعْنَا عَنْكَ وِزْرَكَ ﴿2﴾ الَّذِي أَنْقَضَ ظَهْرَكَ ﴿3﴾ وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ ﴿4﴾ فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ﴿5﴾ إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا ﴿6﴾ فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانْصَبْ ﴿7﴾ وَإِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ ﴿8﴾
Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
- Alam nashrah laka sadrak
- Wa wa d’ana ‘anka wizrak
- Allazee anqada zahrak
- Wa raf ‘ana laka zikrak
- Fa inna ma’al usri yusra
- Inna ma’al ‘usri yusra
- Fa iza faragh ta fansab
- Wa ilaa rabbika far ghab
With the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Very-Merciful.
- Have We not caused your bosom to be wide open for you?
- And We removed from you your burden
- that had (almost) broken your back,
- and We raised high your name.
- So, undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease.
- Undoubtedly, along with the hardship there is ease.
- So, when you are free (from collective services) , toil hard (in worship) ,
- and towards your Lord turn with eagerness.
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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) . 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. 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) . 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. 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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. The meaning of raising the name of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 ]:
أَشھَدُ اَنَّ لا إله إلا الله، وأَشھَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّدَا 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) name without respect and honour even though he may not be a Muslim.
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:
for your benefit
‘from your burden
‘for your name.
This indicates the essential characteristic and special greatness of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) ، in that all this is done for the sake of him.
فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 and towards your Lord turn with eagerness….94:8). The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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 (صلى الله عليه وسلم) 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.
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