أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ ﴿94:1﴾
(94:1) (O Prophet), Did We not lay open your breast *1
*1 To begin the discourse with this question, and then the subsequent theme, shows that the Holy Messenger (upon whom be Allah's peace) at that time was very disturbed and distressed at the great hardships that he was passing through in the initial stage of his mission of calling the people to Islam. Under those conditions Allah addressed him and consoling him, said: "O Prophet, have We not blessed you with such and such favour? Then, why do you feel so disturbed and distressed at these initial difficulties?"
A little consideration of the context wherever the word sharh sadr (opening up of the breast) has occurred in the Qur'an, shows that it has two meanings:
(1) In Surah Al-An'am: 125, it was said: "So whomever Allah wills to guide aright, He makes his breast wide open to Islam (yashrah sadrahu lil-lslam)"; and in Surah Az-Zumar; 22: "Can the person whose breast Allah has opened for Islam (sharahallabu sadrahu liI-Islam) and he is walking in the light shown by his Lord.." At both.these places sharh sadr implies to free oneself from every kind of distraction and vacillation and to be satisfied with Islam as the only right way of Iife, and to regard the beliefs, principles of morality and civilization, religious instructions and injunctions, which Islam has given to man, as right and true.
(2) In Surah Ash-Shu`ara': 12-13, it has been mentioned that when Allah appointed the Prophet Moses to the great office of Prophethood and commanded him to go and confront the Pharaoh and his mighty empire, he submitted: "My Lord, I fear that they will treat me as a liar, and my breast straitens." And in Surah Ta Ha: 2526, it has been stated that on this very occasion the Prophet Moses implored Allah, saying: "Lord, open up my breast for me (Rabbisbrah-li sadri) and make my task easy for me." Here, straitening of the breast implies a person's finding it too hard for himself to shoulder the onerous responsibilities of Prophethood and going out to clash with a mighty and tyrannical power of disbelief all by himself, and sharh sadr implies that his morale be boosted so that he is ready to undertake any campaign and any task however difficult and hard, without any hesitation, and he develops the nerve and courage to shoulder the great responsibilities of Prophethood.
A littie consideration will show that in this verse "opening up of the Holy Prophet's breast" contains both these meanings. According to the first meaning, it implied that before the Prophethood the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) looked upon the religion of the polytheistic Arabs, Christians, Jews and fireworshippers as false, and was not even satisfied with the hanifiyyat prevalent among some of the Arab monotheists, for it was an ambiguous creed which contained no detail of the right way. (This we have explained in E.N.'s of AsSajdah).
But since he himself did not know what was the right way, he was mentally confused and distracted. With the blessing of Prophethood Allah removed his mental agitation and opened up before him the way of right guidance, which brought him full peace of mind. According to the second meaning, it implies that along with the blessing of Prophethood Allah also blessed him with the courage, spirit ,of resolution and broad mindedness which were needed for shouldering the onerous responsibilities of the great office. He became bearer of the vast knowledge, which no other human mind could encompass and contain. He was blessed with the wisdom which could rectify any evil however grave and wide spread. He developed the capability to stand up without any equipmern and the apparent help and support of a worldy power as the standard-bearer of Islam in a society sunk in ignorance and barbarism, to brave any storm of hostility without the least hesitation, to endure patiently all the difficulties and hardships of the way 'so that no power might cause him to abandon his position and standpoint. Thus, The verse means to impress the point: "When Allah has blessed you, O Prophet, with this invaluable wealth of sharh sadr, why do you feel distressed and depressed at the hardships you are experiencing in the initial stage of your mission."
Some commentators have taken sharh sadr to mean shaqq Sadr (splitting up of the breast) and have declared this verse to be a proof of the miracle of sharh sadr as related in the traditions of the Hadith.
But the fact is that the proof of that miracle is dependent only on the traditions of the Hadith, it is not correct to prove it from the Qur'an.
According to the Arabic language, sharh sadr can in no way be taken to mean shaqq sadr. `Allama Alusi in the Ruh al-Ma'ani says:"In the sight of the research scholars it is a weak thing to regard sharh sadr as shaqq sadr. "