A short explanation of the words يَشْرَحْ ,ضَيِّقاً ,حَرَجا from ayah 125, Surah Al An’am
(Notes from an online lecture by Huda Institute, Canada.)
So whoever Allah wants to guide – He expands his breast to [contain] Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide – He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does Allah place defilement upon those who do not believe.
The word yashrah [يَشْرَحْ] is from the root sheen-ra-ha ش ر ح which literally means “to cut something, to open up, enlarge, expand or uncover”, meaning that when Allah سبحانه و تعالى wishes to guide someone, He expands his heart to accept Islam. It becomes easy for him to submit to the commands of Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
Then Allah سبحانه و تعالى talks about another condition of the heart. The word dayyiq [ضَيِّقاً] is from the root ض ي ق dad-ya-qaf which means “narrow, choked or overfilled with something”. When Allah wishes to send someone astray, his heart closes up, meaning he is unable to accept guidance, thus being deprived of faith. The bigger your container, the more you can contain. The narrower your container, the lesser you can contain.
One meaning of the word dayyaq is “overfilled with something”. What is the heart overfilled with? With the desires of dunya. If it is already filled, it doesn’t have any room for the love of Allah or Islam.
The word haraja [حَرَجا] used in the ayah means “everything gathered at one place”. For example, you gather all your furniture and put it in the garage. The garage becomes constricted. You can’t access the things inside, and perhaps the real purpose of the garage for which it is made – your car – won’t be able to fit in.
`Umar رضي الله عنه once asked a Bedouin as to what the word haraja حرجا meant. He replied, “[We use] the word haraja for a tree that is in the midst of other trees (meaning surrounded by other trees) and because of that, no one can reach it.” `Umar replied, “Such is the heart of a munafiq that no khair reaches it.” This heart is distant and surrounded by the desires and deception of dunya. The person has filled his heart with so many things that he doesn’t have time to pray or read the Qur’an and act upon it.
- In this ayah, we learn about two types of people:
1. one whose heart is OPEN to Islam
2. and the other, one whose heart is CONSTRICTED
- The one whose heart has opened up, he loves the word of Allah سبحانه و تعالى, and is welcoming to every command.
- On the other hand, the condition of him whose heart is constricted is such that he gets bored upon hearing the words of Allah. He does not want to listen. His heart becomes tight every time he listens to the Quran.
- When a person is constantly concerned about his eternal abode (آخره) and abstains from the world of deception, then it is a sign that such a person’s heart has been opened up by Allah سبحانه و تعالى for guidance. It’s not that he is anti-social, but he is not attached to things, which is why he finds time to act on the commands of Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
- The Quran and Sunnah are the only true guidance. We must hold on to them to receive خير from Allah.
May Allah سبحانه و تعالى open up our hearts to guidance, may Allah سبحانه و تعالى help us walk on the right path, may Allah سبحانه و تعالى choose us to be the residents of Jannah. Ameen.