“فَمَنۡ يُّرِدِ اللّٰهُ اَنۡ يَّهۡدِيَهٗ يَشۡرَحۡ صَدۡرَهٗ لِلۡاِسۡلَامِۚ وَمَنۡ يُّرِدۡ اَنۡ يُّضِلَّهٗ يَجۡعَلۡ صَدۡرَهٗ ضَيِّقًا حَرَجًا كَاَنَّمَا يَصَّعَّدُ فِى السَّمَآءِؕ كَذٰلِكَ يَجۡعَلُ اللّٰهُ الرِّجۡسَ عَلَى الَّذِيۡنَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ”
“Thus whomever God desires to guide, He opens his heart to Islam, a willing submission to God alone. And whomever He desires to leave astray, He makes his breast narrow and constrained by it, as if he were mounting up to the heaven. Thus does God lay chastisement upon those who do not believe.”
Surat Al-Ana’am, Verse 125
(Translation by Ahmad Zaki Hammad)
Indeed, whomever Allahﷻ intends to guide, Heﷻ opens his chest for submission. Allahﷻ will literally expand his chest. While we fill our lives with worries…worries of this temporary dunya. We are stressed over work, school, family life, our health, paying the bills, and so much more. While we stress over the matters of this world, all we wish for is to have some peace. We wish for our minds and hearts to be at ease even for the slightest period of time. However, we fail to recognize that this does not have to be something that we long for. Rather, it could be a reality granted to us immediately. But only if we listen upon the call of our Lord.
Allahﷻ addresses us directly in the Holy Quran and tells Hisﷻ slaves that whoever Heﷻ intends to guide, Heﷻ shall literally expand his/her chest to the peace of Islam. However, only if we genuinely seek such a gift with the purest intention. My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, the answer is very simple. We answer the call of Allahﷻ to seek Hisﷻ guidance, and from His mercy, Allahﷻ shall bless us with this peace never felt before. Indeed, it is a feeling of peace that lifts the weight of the world off of our shoulders. Suddenly, all of our worries disappear. We still have the burdens of finances, work, family and health but they no longer overtake our hearts and minds. No matter the hardship that is thrown at us, we still feel our hearts at ease and content only because we have full faith and reliance upon Allahﷻ and only a special kind of peace can do such a miracle.
We make dua for this all the time but how many of us actually realize or understand what we are saying? We all know the dua from Surat Taha: “And he said, ”Oh Allah! Expand my chest to peace and relieve me of my worries!” This was even an expression used for our beloved Prophetﷺ himself in Surat Al-Sharh. Allahﷻ asks Prophet Muhammadﷺ, “Did we not expand your chest to peace and relieve you of your worries?” If this is a peace that Allahﷻ granted our Prophetﷺ, then this is a peace that surely, we want for ourselves as well. May Allahﷻ grant it to us. Whoever Allahﷻ decides deserves guidance, He will open his chest to Islam. Islam means to submit. It also means peace. Allahﷻ will allow these people to feel at peace and at ease. Allahﷻ is telling us that through submitting to him, we will find peace and guidance. People who Allahﷻ has guided feel like their entire lives revolve around Salah. They feel like their chests get tight if they haven’t prayed. They find relaxation in their Salah. They feel tightness in their chest and as soon as they pray, they feel like they could actually relax.
However, it is also important to remember that whoever Allahﷻ intends to misguide, then Heﷻ will make his chest constricted. “ضيقاً” means to feel constricted due to a lack of space. You feel like you are claustrophobic. You are stuck in a tight space and cannot get out. This causes you to feel as though you cannot breathe. “حرجاً” means that you feel uncomfortable because of these restrictions placed on you. It is similar to when you tell a child that they have to sit in one spot and cannot move. You could see the discomfort on their faces. This is also like a feeling of paralysis. Imagine that you are paralyzed and can’t move your body at all. This is another kind of discomfort.
It is as though he has to climb up a mountain and get higher and higher in the sky. “يصعد” means to climb up and up with such discomfort. The word itself is used to describe the struggle of this. When you climb a mountain, it is exhausting. You get tired the higher you go. Air gets thinner the higher you climb and breathing becomes more and more difficult. These people just hear a little bit about Islam and get uncomfortable. The simple thought of Islam makes these people feel so angry or have such discomfort.
Allahﷻ says that indeed this is how we place a curse on those who refuse to believe. The word “رجس” means not just dirty, but filthy. These are filthy things, specifically the things that Allahﷻ told us are filthy such as pork and alcohol. Allahﷻ uses that same word to describe the manner that Heﷻ deals with those who refuse to believe. Allahﷻ says that this is how we pile this filth on those who refuse to believe.
Insha’Allah in next month’s article, we will address the questions: Who does Allahﷻ guide? As well as, how do we become amongst the guided and attain this inner peace? We ask Allahﷻ to forgive us for our shortcomings. We ask Allahﷻ to grant us all paradise and protect us from the hellfire as well as the punishment of the grave. We ask Allahﷻ to expand our chests to the peace of Islam and relieve us of all of our burdens. Allahumma Ameen.
By Ahmad Salah