Understanding Pairs of Surahs with Surah Dhuha and Surah Ash-Sharh

Any visitor to the Quran can sense that the Quran is not simply collection of verses grouped into Surahs. They find some sort of flow or an axis around which the whole discourse of the Quran is centered. Within Surahs too there generally seems to be a single theme at play. If they fail to see that, they surely find that a set of verses within a Surah seem to be connected and working towards a single message. These hints of coherence are vernacularly referred to as context of a verse in the Quran.

The Coherence of the Quran has been undertone which most readers feel that the Quran has. However, only a very few scholars of the Quran have taken to elaborate this coherence. It was Imam Hamiduddin Farahi who seriously looked into the coherence of the Quran. Based on his discoveries his student Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi formulated an exegesis of the Quran. In our previous article we used the tools formulated by these scholars to work out the coherence with in a single surah. Now we shall look at the concept of pairs of surahs. One of the features of the coherence in the Quran is that the surahs of the Quran appear in pairs adjacent to each other. Pairs of surahs are formed when two to surahs have the same theme and are addressed to the same audience. Surahs in pairs generally times mirror each other. This means that the arrangement of discourse one surah mirrors the other. So if the one surah opens with verses on a certain topic, its pair will also open with verses on the same topic. Pairs are found both in long and short surahs. Another aspect of pairs is that of the two surahs the latter surah picks up on a concluding topic of the previous surah and elaborates it further and in detail. This at times creates a reflection of the discourse of the previous surah. This means that the introductory discourse of the previous surah becomes the concluding discourse of the next surah. 

To understand concept of pairs of surahs we shall look at a pair of short surahs. Surah Dhuha and Surah Ash Sharah appear nearly at the end of the Quran. Both these surahs are addressed solely to the Prophet (sws). On reading these it easy to pick up that they have similar theme. These surahs were revealed to comfort the Prophet (sws) during times of depression with regard to his mission. We see that both surah start with consolations and reminders. Consolations of better times to come and reminders of the progress he has made and of the constant help of Allah. Then each surah gives remedies to the Prophet (sws) to cure or overcome his depression and rejuvenate his spirit. Both the surahs also encourage the Prophet (sws) to keep faith in Allah’s help by giving reminders of Allah’s help to him earlier. Amazingly both surahs also clearly mirror each other in their discourse. By using the tools listed our previous articles anyone can observe these patterns. We have presented both the surahs below to show the mirror effect of the pair and also the internal coherence of each surah.

Surah Dhuha

1 The glorious morning light bear witness; 2 and the night too when it settles in, 3 that your Lord has not forsaken you, nor is He displeased with you, 4 and (you shall find) the coming times shall be better than what is preceding it; 5 and soon you will be pleased with what your Lord will bring you.

Reminder and consolation to the Prophet (sws) by Allah about His favors.

Promise of better times to follow the current despair.

6 (So Remember) Did He not find you an orphan and shelter you? 7 Did He not find you lost and wandering, and guide you? 8 Did He not find you in need, and enrich you?

Reminder and consolation to the Prophet (sws) by Allah about His favors.

Indirect promise of better times to follow current despair.

9 So do not depress the orphan, 10 and do not turn away the one who asks (for guidance); 11 and narrate the blessings of your Lord.

Advice to thank Allah for His favors with pragmatism and joy.



Surah Ash-Sharh

1 Have We not lifted up your heart, 2 and removed your burden 3 that weighed so heavily on your back, and 4 have We not strengthened and amplified your call?

Reminder and consolation to the Prophet (sws) by Allah about His favors.

Indirect promise of better times to follow the current despair.

5 So, surely with every hardship (you face) there is ease; 6 surely, with every hardship (you face) there is ease.

Promise of better times to follow the current despair.

7 So, when you are not occupied (with your tasks), buckle up, 8 and turn to your Lord your with (all your) attention (in worship).

Advice to cut off from the world to rejuvenate spiritually and thank Allah for his favors.



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