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Surahs Duha-Alam Nashrah
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


Both these surahs form a pair with regard to their subject. Both address the Prophet (sws). Their placement in the arrangement of the Qur’an shows that the phase of indhar-i ‘am of his preaching mission ended on both these surahs. Precisely this is what it is evident from their subject.

The theme of both the surahs is to comfort and assure the Prophet (sws) and give him glad tidings of a great success in the future.





Surah Duha

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

وَالضُّحَى. وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَى. مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَى. وَلَلْآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْأُولَى. وَلَسَوْفَ يُعْطِيكَ رَبُّكَ فَتَرْضَى. (١-٥)

 In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

The day bears witness when it brightens and the night also when it becomes peaceful1 [that both sorrow and joy are needed to train and discipline a person.2 Hence,] your Lord has neither abandoned you nor is he displeased with you. 3 And the days to come shall be a lot better for you than these initial ones, 4 [O Prophet!] And your Lord will soon give you so much that you shall be well-pleased.5 (1-5)


أَلَمْ يَجِدْكَ يَتِيمًا فَآوَى. وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا فَهَدَى. وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَى. فَأَمَّا الْيَتِيمَ فَلَا تَقْهَرْ. وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ. وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ. (٦-١١)

Is6 this not a fact that He found you an orphan and gave you shelter?7 And found you searching for the way and guided you? 8  And found you in need and [gave you such contentment of the heart that it] enriched you?9 So, [now] treat not the orphan with harshness10 and scold not the one who asks,11 and keep proclaiming this favour [of Guidance] the Lord has given you.12 (6-11)




Surah Alam Nashrah

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ. وَوَضَعْنَا عَنكَ وِزْرَكَ. الَّذِي أَنقَضَ ظَهْرَكَ. وَرَفَعْنَا لَكَ ذِكْرَكَ. (١-٤)


In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

Have We not opened up your heart for you?13 And not relieved you of your burden that was breaking your back? 14 And for your sake15 not augmented your voice? 16 (1-4)


فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. (٥-٦)

Therefore, [rest assured,] with this difficulty17 [you are now facing], a great ease [awaits you]. 18 With this difficulty, a great ease [awaits you]. 19 (5-6)


فَإِذَا فَرَغْتَ فَانصَبْ. وَإِلَى رَبِّكَ فَارْغَبْ. (٧-٨)

So, when you are free [from this task],20 labour hard [in worship] and turn to your Lord with all fervour.21 (7-8)



Kuala Lumpur

09th March 2010

(Translated from Al-Bayan by Dr Shehzad Saleem)





1. The actual words are: وَالضُّحَى. وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَى.. The word الضُّحَى denotes the time of mid-morning. The expression إِذَا سَجَى occurs in contrast to it; hence, the time denoted by الضُّحَى is correspondingly implied by its corresponding time of the night.

2. Ie., just as for material existence, the light and heat of the day and the darkness and quietness of the night are needed, similarly for the instruction and training of man’s spiritual and moral being, both grief and joy are essential. The Prophet (sws) is addressed and told that if the difficulties encountered in his preaching mission, the abundance of his opposition and the unexpected response of his people is breaking his back, it is for the reason just stated. In divine revelation too such beneficial reasons are kept in consideration. It is an essential requirement for his and for his companions’ training and instruction. He is rest assured that this is an established practice of God in this regard.

3. Here that aspect of the purport – for which the testimony of the alternation of day and night – is highlighted which was necessary to relieve the worry of the Prophet (sws). Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… In other words, the Prophet (sws) is assured that if at that time he was facing stiff opposition and had little following and meagre resources and divine guidance and revelation were also not to his satisfaction, it did not mean that his Lord had abandoned him or was displeased with him: these circumstances were a trial and test to train and instruct him in order to fully prepare him to bear his responsibilities. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 413)

4. The actual words are الْأُولَى and ألاٰخِرَةُ. Here they do not refer to the terms “the Herein” and “the Hereafter” respectively. They are general in their connotation ie. the initial and the later periods. The good news given in the verse is a comprehensive one. It includes all victories which were later gained by the Prophet (sws) and as result of which he gained political authority over the whole of the Arabian peninsula. Moreover, the Ka‘bah was given in his custodianship, his enemies were routed and innumerable people entered the folds of Islam.

5. Ie., his as well as the desires of his companions would be fulfilled – the desires which they harboured in their hearts regarding the future of Islam. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… Since these triumphs were yet to materialize, the second object of the verb يُعْطِيكَ has been suppressed in this verse; however, the word فَتَرْضَى has hinted at the fact that the Almighty will bless him so much in this regard that he will become very happy. This one word comprehensively embraces what a whole book cannot encompass. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 415)

6. From here onwards, evidence is presented from the life of the Prophet (sws) on what has been said earlier by the words: “the days to come [O Prophet!] shall be a lot better for you than these initial ones.”

7. This is a reference to the respect and honour, affection and support the Prophet (sws) received first from his grandfather and then from his paternal uncle.

8. The actual word is ضَالٌّ. It is an expression of the complexities the Prophet (sws) would be engrossed in resolving while being in the confines of the Hira cave before he was called to the prophethood. In other words, it means: لم يهتد إلى الطريق. For this reason, this word should not be translated as “one who has gone astray.” It should be translated as “one who is searching for the way.” In other words, it refers to a person who is wandering here and there but is not able to find the right way. In Arabia, before the Prophet (sws) was called to prophethood all the followers of the religion of Hanifiyyah were in this state. It is mentioned in various historical narratives that they would sit against the walls of the Ka‘bah and would longingly express while addressing God that they did not know how to worship Him, otherwise they would have done it in the prescribed way. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

The prophets of God have an upright nature even before they are given the responsibility of prophethood. Even in the early part of their lives they never deviate from the obvious norms of human nature; however, human nature can only guide a person in broad areas of faith and deeds. It cannot explain all the corollaries and consequences of all articles of faith nor is it capable of defining the exact limits of all deeds and morals. Therefore, even an upright person who lives by the guidance provided by his nature still needs to know the attributes of God and the requirements of faith in the attributes of the God on whose existence his heart bears evidence. He wants to know the obligations which he owes to His Creator and how he should discharge them. He also wants to know how he should lead his life in such a disciplined manner that even the distant aspects of his life are spent in subservience to God. Unless these questions are answered, a person does not receive real satisfaction and neither is he able to establish a relationship with the Almighty on the right footing. These were the questions which bombarded the Prophet (sws) in the phase of his life referred to by the words وَوَجَدَكَ ضَالًّا. Obviously, this state of his can neither be regarded as of error nor of guidance. In precise words, this state of his reflects his effort to seek the truth. In other words, it is as if a person is standing on a crossroad and is unable to decide the path he should adopt. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 416)

9. This enrichment is the consequence of the guidance mentioned in the previous verse. A succeeding verse وَأَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ states ones obligation to this enrichment. It is evident from this that what is primarily implied here by the word enrichment relates to the spiritual realm and not to the material one. Its real connotation is the sharh al-sadr (heart’s contentment) mentioned in the next surah. This is attained as a result of a true comprehension of God and the law and wisdom which is revealed by Him. The greatest needy in this world is one who is wanting in this treasure. Before being called to prophethood, it was this want and need which made the Prophet (sws) anxious. Once he acquired this treasure, he was the richest person on earth.

10. This is a mention of the obligations which the favours mentioned earlier entail. The sequence corresponds to the stated sequence of the favours. A little deliberation shows that this is a subtle criticism on the arrogant leaders of the Quraysh whose attitude towards the blessings of God has remained in discussion. When they were not ready to reform it, they were ignored and the Prophet (sws) was told that he should leave them alone; he is nevertheless fully aware of what it is to be like an orphan; he has to safeguard their rights; no oppression or injustice should emanate from him regarding them.

11. This verse complements verse seven of the surah: “And found you wandering and guided you.” Consequently, the person “who asks” mentioned in the verse primarily is the one who asks for divine guidance. Those who ask for their material needs are also subsumed under this and most certainly are worthy of being dealt with with kindness; if one is not able to serve them for their needs then they should not be scolded and one should excuse oneself in a befitting manner.

12. This is an obligation towards the favour explained in the verse. وَوَجَدَكَ عَائِلًا فَأَغْنَى. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… One needs to focus one’s attention especially on the word فَحَدِّثْ. This word is more appropriate for proclaiming the favour of wisdom rather than proclaiming the favour of wealth. The implication is that the Prophet (sws) should declare and proclaim the treasure of wisdom he has been blessed with from the Almighty: just as the Almighty has bestowed it on him free of charge, he too should distribute it to others on a complimentary basis and communicate it to every person who comes to him and declare it before every gathering. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 419)

13. This signifies the cognizance and insight which God specially bestowed on the Prophet (sws) in matters of religion and its preaching. The trust and confidence which was the fountainhead of all his strength and resolve was engendered through it. It is stated that the Almighty especially did this for him and for his support and help so that the greatest of opposition did not stagger his determination and resolve.

14. This and the sentence after it are connected to the first sentence and should be translated accordingly. The burden mentioned in the verse refers to the grief the Prophet (sws) was stricken with before being called to prophethood because of wandering for guidance and to the one that afflicted him after being called to prophethood as a result of the response of his nation.

15. Ie., to strengthen and encourage him.

16. This is a reference to how his once feeble voice became a reverberating roar in all of Arabia. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

… The leaders of the Quraysh, who were the first invitees of this religion, persisted in opposing it. However, during hajj, the pilgrims who came to the Ka‘bah became a constant source of spreading its teachings in the whereabouts of Makkah, particularly among the Ansar of Madinah. Subsequently, it reached the far flung areas of Arabia and then infiltrated into other countries. Such was the extent of its tide that it was not difficult for someone to imagine that this voice was not to be silenced and soon a hitherto feeble call would become a deafening uproar and that before long every nook and corner of Arabia would resound with the cries of Allahu Akbar. (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 427)

17. Ie., so close is this ease to the difficult time he is facing that it is almost adjacent.

18. The ease referred to in the verse is that which was afforded to the Prophet (sws) in Madinah after migration. As a result, not only did his preaching endeavours lead to political authority, but also with this authority the whole of Arab became subservient to him.

19. The repetition emphasizes the glad tidings. The period in which this surah was revealed was apparently a very testing time. The Almighty presented various incidents of the Prophet’s life to assure him. He was told that the God Who endowed him with all these blessings was there to help him; very soon these difficult times would give way to ease; the hindrances in his way would be removed and he and his companions would finally reach the destination the Almighty had appointed as an established practice for His messengers. The words are rather precise here. But in Surah Nasr, details are cited. It is stated that God’s help and victory would come and the Prophet (sws) would see people entering the folds of Islam in multitudes.

20. Ie., once he is free from the duties of the mission assigned to him. It is evident from other verses of the Qur’an that this mission was to bring about a wordly reward and retribution in Arabia for its inhabitants and as result achieve the sovereignty of the truth in this land. Found in the word are the glad tidings that he would be able to successfully complete this mission after surmounting all the impediments that came his way.

21. Ie., when the phase of divine support and victory arrived and he fulfilled his responsibility, he should fully devote himself to worship the Almighty because it is only this effort and devotion which would reap rewards for him when he met his Lord. Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

In complying with this final directive, the Prophet (sws) began to spend more and more time in worship. Such was the extent of his involvement that some people even inquired from him the reason for taking so many pains in worship when all his sins had been forgiven. The Prophet (sws) is said to have replied: أفلا أکون عبدا شکورا  (Should not I become a grateful servant of my Lord.) (Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 9, 429)

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