Surah Ash-Sharh – Solace/The Opening Forth
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
- Have We not opened your breast for you (O Muhammad [saw])
- And removed from you your burden,
- Which weighed down your back?
- And have We not raised high your fame?
- Verily, along with every hardship is relief,
- Verily, along with hardship is relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs)
- So when you have finished (your occupation), devote yourslef for Allâh’s worship.
- And to your Lord (Alone) turn (all your) intentions and hopes.
I never plan what surah to read in my Salat but when I think about it, apart from Surah Al-Fatiha and Al-Ikhlas, I found that I most often recite this Surah, more than any other Surah I know.
The Surah was revealed in Makkah, one of two Surahs revealed as consolation to the Prophet (saw) when he was going through a hard time in the initial stage of his mission, delivering Allah’s message. The other one is Surah Ad-Duha, which was the first of the two. The Prophet (saw) lost his Uncle Abu Talib, who had acted as a shield and support for him against the Quraish. Not long after, he lost his beloved wife, Khadijah (ra) who had been a pillar of support for him in his mission.
The death of these two pillars of support saw an increase in the onslaught of the Quraish against the Prophet and his followers. There was also a cessation of revelation to the Prophet(saw) at that period that made the Quraish believed that he has been forsaken by Allah(swt), a lot of mockery and all sort of hostilities followed.
His escape to Ta’if for a supportive environment with the hope that the tribe there might be more receptive to the message was met with even a greater hostility. On being driven out of the town, narrowly escaping with his life from the onslaught against him, the Prophet (saw) cried out in appeal to Allah (swt) saying:
O Allâh! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would sullenly frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about.
I seek protection in the light of Your Countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone. The Sealed Nectar
Of course, Allah never abandoned his Prophet(saw), because He has Chosen him and He will support him. Those two Surahs (Ad-Dhuha & Ash-Sharh) serve as a consolation to him, a reassurance that he was not alone, and a motivation for him to forge ahead with his mission. A light of hope for him that he will surely succeed, truly every hardship is accompanied by ease. Tomorrow will be better than today and every hardship is a precursor to success.
The life of the Prophet is an inspiration for us all, can you imagine that he was “every man in one man”. Whatever situation you find yourself today, the Prophet had probably been there.
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad [saw]) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. (Q 33:21)
Why do I recite this Surah Al-Sharh so often? The answer is in the name, simply put, Solace .