Exclusive to The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
Expansion of the Blessed Chest
Kashif Shahzad Attari
One exalted excellence of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is the opening of his blessed chest (shaq al-sadr), which occurred four times. This means that Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم split his blessed chest and extracted his sanctified heart, then washed it in a golden tray with the water of Zamzam filling it with light and wisdom, and then returned it to its place.
Opening of the blessed chest; the first instance
It is reported on the authority of Sayyiduna Anas Bin Malik رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ:
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was playing with children (as befits his honour). Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم then came, took hold of him and made him lie down. Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام then opened the blessed chest and extracted the sanctified heart; a clot of blood was then taken out, and he (Sayyiduna Jibrīl) said: هٰذَا حَظُّ الشَّيْطَانِ مِنْكَ, i.e. ‘This was the portion of Satan within you.’ (Meaning, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is a mercy for all creation, and the aforementioned removed portion of the blessed heart was that which contained mercy for Satan.) Thereafter, Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم washed the blessed heart in a golden tray with Zamzam water; he then placed it back in its original place, stitching the opening. The children (upon witnessing this) rushed to the foster mother of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, (Haleemah Sa’diyyah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا), and said: ‘The (Holy Prophet) Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has been killed.’ Hearing this, the people hastened to him, and saw that his blessed complexion had changed. Sayyiduna Anas Bin Malik رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ stated: ‘I used to see the marks of stitching upon his blessed chest.’
Ghazali-e-Zaman, ‘Allamah Sayyid Ahmad Sa’eed Kaazimi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has stated in the explanation of this narration: ‘It is understood from this hadith that all interpretations about the opening of the chest (shaq al-sadr) being spiritual or in a dream, etc., are false. Rather, this opening occurred in reality and in a physical state, because the stitching would visibly glow upon the pure chest.’
Opening the blessed chest; the second instance
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated in a blessed statement of his:
‘At ten years of age, I was travelling through the desert, when suddenly, I saw two individuals (Jibrīl and Mīkaīl عَـلَيْـهِما الـسَّـلَام) above my head. One asked the other: ‘Is that him?’ The other replied: ‘Yes.’ They both took hold of me, lay me down, and cut open my abdomen. Jibrīl was bringing water in a dish, whilst Mīkaīl was washing my stomach. Then one of them said to the other, ‘Open his chest.’ I saw that my chest had been split, but I felt no pain. This angel then said: ‘Cut open his heart and remove malice and jealousy from it.’ My heart was then split, and something resembling a mass of coagulated blood was removed. The angel then said: ‘Place affection and mercy in his heart’. The second angel placed something which resembled silver into my chest, and then took out something grounded and sprinkled it on top. Thereafter, he moved the hallux of my foot, and said: ‘You may now take leave.’ Upon returning from this, my heart was embedded with compassion for children and respect for elders.
Opening the blessed chest; the third instance
The Mercy of the entire universe صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم made a vow that he will perform I’tikaf for a month in the cave of Hirā, alongside Sayyidatuna Khadijah al-Kubrā رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا. As it happened, it was also the month of Ramadan. One night, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم came forth (from the cave) and heard اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَیْکَ. He assumed that it was the sound of a Jinn, and hastened to Sayyidatuna Khadijah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا. The mother of the believers wrapped a blanket around him and asked:
‘O, son of Abdullah! What happened?’ He replied: ‘I heard a sound of اَلسَّلَامُ عَلَیْکَ, and thought it was a Jinn.’ The mother of the believers humbly stated: ‘O son of Abdullah, glad-tidings to you, salām is a good thing.’ After this, on another occasion the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم came outside and saw Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام present within the sunlight. One of his arms was in the east, and the other in the west; on this occasion he عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم conversed with the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, promised to meet him again, and then left.
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم reached the specified meeting point as he was informed, however, Jibrīl’s arrival was delayed. When he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم intended to return, all of a sudden, he saw Jibrīl and Mīkaīl عَـلَيْـهِما الـسَّـلَام, filling the sky. Mīkaīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم remained between the earth and the sky, whereas Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم descended and laid the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم on his back. Then, (after opening the prophetic chest) he removed the pure heart, and whatever Allah willed was taken out. Thereafter, the luminous heart was washed in a golden tray with Zamzam water, then it was returned to its place, and the cut was stitched and sealed. Thereafter, Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم laid the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم on his stomach and placed a seal upon the blessed back, the effect of which he felt in his blessed heart. Then he was made to recite the first five verses of Surah al-‘Alaq. On his return, whichever stone or tree the Beloved of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم passed by, it greeted him with salām. To the extent that when he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم returned to Sayyidatuna Khadijah al-Kubra رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا, she also expressed salām by saying, اَلسَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكَ يَارَسُوْلَ الله, (Musnad Abu Dawood Tiyalsi, p. 215, Hadith 1539; Dalaail Al-Nubuwwah li Abu Nu’aym, p. 125, Raqm, 163).
4th instance of the opening of the blessed chest
On the night of Mi’raaj, the Noble Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was resting in the Hatīm (semi-circular wall near the Holy Ka’bah), when 3 angels came forth. Awakening him, they took him to the blessed well of Zamzam; here, Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم – who was one of the three angels - split the blessed prophetic body from the throat to the chest, and (after removing the blessed heart,) washed it with Zamzam water. Thereafter, a golden tray was brought forward, which had a golden vessel containing faith and wisdom. The blessed heart was filled with the contents of the vessel, the opening was stitched, and the blessed chest was sealed.
Wisdom of opening the blessed chest
It is the exalted statement of Allah Almighty:
اَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَۙ(۱)
Did We not expand your chest for you (O Beloved)?
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 30, Surah Alam Nashrah, verse 1)
Hakeem-ul-Ummat, Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has mentioned regarding this verse:
‘Expansion of the chest is either the splitting, or opening, or enhancing of the chest.
If the first meaning is taken (meaning splitting of the blessed chest), then consider that the Holy Prophet’s blessed chest was split, and his heart was washed on 3 or 4 occasions.
Firstly: During the time spent with Sayyidah Haleemah, so that an inclination towards playing is not found in the heart.
Secondly: It occurred in the beginning of his adolescence, so that the heedlessness of youth does not affect him.
Thirdly: Near the time of being granted Prophethood so that his heart could bear its responsibility.
Then this event took place on the night of Mi’rāj, so that he could see the celestial spectacles and experience the vision of Allah.
This is the apparent expansion of the chest (sharh al-sadr).
Wisdom behind the usage of a golden tray
The commentator of Bukhari, Imam Badr al-Deen Mahmood Bin Ahmad al-‘Ayni رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has mentioned a few faith refreshing wisdoms regarding the splitting of the blessed chest of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, and why it was placed into a golden tray. They are presented here with some amendments and additions in wording:
1. Gold is the most superior and excellent metal; and, the heart of the Messenger of Allah is the most excellent of all hearts.
2. Gold has qualities which are not found in other metals. Likewise, there are such excellences (exclusivities) of the sacred, prophetic heart that no one else in creation possesses.
3. Fire does not consume gold, nor does soil ruin it, nor does it rust. The heart of Mustafa صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is not tainted by any form of sin or disobedience, and cannot be consumed by soil or fire.
4. Gold is generally the heaviest type of conventional jewellery. The tray being fashioned from gold alludes to the weight and responsibility of revelation.
Wisdom behind bathing the pure heart
Ghazali-e-Zaman, Sayyid Ahmad Sa’eed Kazimi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has written:
‘The blessed heart was not washed in Zamzam water due to any impurity, because the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is سَیِّدُ الطَّیِّبِیْن وَالطَّاھِرِین, i.e. the master of all those who are exceptionally pure. Thus, after the miraculous birth, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was not given ghusl (bath). This indicates that the wisdom behind washing the blessed heart with Zamzam was so that this particular water was blessed and honoured with uniqueness; an attribution which was not afforded to any other water. Furthermore, Zamzam water coming into direct contact with the blessed heart meant that it has an excellence that not even the waters of Kawthar and Tasneem possess.
Blessed heart has eyes and ears
After the first opening of the blessed chest, while washing the sacred prophetic heart with Zamzam water, Sayyiduna Jibrīl عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلاَم said: قَلْبٌ سَدِيْدٌ فِيْهِ عَيْنَانِ تَبْصُرَانِ وَاُذُنَانِ تَسْمَعَانِ i.e. This sacred heart is pure from all divergence, it has two eyes which see and two ears that hear.
The opening of the chest is a proof of the Prophet being alive
Generally, the body cannot remain alive without a soul. However, the pure bodies of the noble Prophets عَـلَـيْـهِمُ الـصَّلٰوةُ وَالـسَّـلَام remain alive even after the soul has departed. The human heart is the location of the soul, this is why, when the heart is removed from the chest, a person dies. The heart of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم not only came out of his blessed chest, but it was then split, and the congealed blood attached to the heart was washed. Even after all this, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was completely alive. This is an evident proof that after the extraction of the soul, the beloved of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is still alive. The one who retains life after his heart is taken out will also retain life upon the removal of the soul.
O Allah! For the sake of the heart of Mustafa صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, keep our hearts firm on faith.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم
 (Kashf-ul-Ghummah, vol. 2, p. 53; Zurqaani Alal Mawahib, vol. 7, p. 191)
 (Siraat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 10, p. 739)
 (Naseem Al-Riyaz, vol. 3, p. 38, Maqalat Kaazimi, vol. 1, p. 159)
 (Muslim, vol. 88, p. 413)
 (Maqalat-e-Kaazimi, vol. 1, p. 209)
 (Dalaail Al-Nubuwwat li Abi Na’eem, p. 128, Raqm, 166)
 (Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 580, Hadith 7517)
 (Naseem-ul-Riyaz, vol. 3, p. 70, extracted)
 (‘Umda-tul-Qaari, vol. 11, p. 600)
 (Maqalat-e-Kaazimi, vol. 1, p. 85)
 (Fatah Al-Bari, vol. 14, p. 407)
 (Maqalat-e-Kaazimi, vol. 1, p. 159)