English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 94: Al-Inshirah — The Expansion (Revealed at Makkah: 8 verses)

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Introduction:

This chapter, like the ones before, comforts the Holy Prophet. His difficulties would soon be followed by ease, as his breast was opened or expanded to receive the Truth; hence the title. The great burden, which almost broke his back, meaning his deep anxiety for humanity, was removed by Divine revelation. This chapter is as a supplement to the preceding one. It is one of the earliest revelations.

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Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

94:1 Have We not expanded for you your breast (with Divine light),1
94:2 and removed from you your burden,
94:3 which weighed down your back,2
94:4 and exalted for you your mention?3
94:5 Surely with difficulty is ease,
94:6 with difficulty is surely ease.4
94:7 So when you are free (from anxiety), work hard,5
94:8 and make your Lord your exclusive object.

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Commentary:

  1. The expanding of the breast is also mentioned in Moses’ prayer in 20:25: “My Lord, expand my breast for me”. In 6:125 it is stated: “So whom­soever Allah intends to guide, He expands his breast for Islam”. The expand­ing of the breast signifies its illumination with wisdom and Divine light, and filling with tranquillity. It stands for the greatness of the heart of the Holy Prophet.
  2. The burden which weighed down his back signifies anxiety for raising humanity from the ignorance and superstition in which it was involved. Compare 26:3: “Perhaps you will kill yourself with grief because they do not believe”. The removal of the burden signifies giving relief from anxiety.
  3. This is a clear prophecy of the glorious eminence to which the Holy Prophet was to be raised, uttered at a time when he was alone and unknown.
  4. The ease refers to the ultimate triumph, and the difficulty to the trials which the Holy Prophet was then undergoing. But the passage as well reveals a general law of nature that difficulty is followed by ease.
  5. The Prophet’s being free signifies his freedom from anxiety, in reference to what is said in the previous verse. Being now free from all anxiety, he was to work hard for the regeneration of a fallen humanity, and make his Lord his exclu­sive object, i.e., apply himself wholly to establish the greatness of God.

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