Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Surah Al-Kawthar (Arabic: اَلْكَوْثَر‎) is the 108th chapter (surah) of the Qur’an and is the shortest surah in the Qur’an. The literal meaning in English is “Abundance” but also translated to mean Bounty, Plenty, Good in Abundance. This Surah is classified as a Meccan Surah, i.e. it’s believed to have been revealed before the Prophet Muhammed (ﷺ) and his followers migrated from Mecca to Medina.

Surah Kawthar consists of 3 ayats (verses) and below each verse we’ve provided the transliteration and translation to help you read and understand this Surah. 

Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was asked: “What is Al-Kawthar?” He said: “That is a river that Allah has given me”- that is, in Paradise – ‘whiter than milk and sweeter than honey. In it are birds whose necks are like the necks of camels.” ‘Umar said: “Indeed this is plump and luxurious then.” So the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “Those who consume it are more plumb than it.” Sahih (Darussalam) Reference At-Tirmidhi Hadith 2542



Read Surah Kawthar with Transliteration and Translation

Bismillah Hir Rahman Nir Raheem
In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

inna ataina kal kausar
Ayat 1. Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], al-Kawthar.

Fasalli li rabbika wanhar
Ayat 2. So pray to your Lord and sacrifice [to Him alone].

Inna shaani’aka huwal abtar
Ayat 3. Indeed, your enemy is the one cut off.

Tafsir of Surah Kawthar

For those looking to gain a deeper understanding of this surah we have provided different tafseer of Surah Kawthar. This way you can read different perspectives of scholars and truly understand the revelation, background, benefits, and significance of the 108th chapter of the Qur’an.

Surah Kawthar Tafsir by Ibn Kathir

Which was revealed in Al-Madinah and They also say in Makkah

﴿بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴾

 

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

«لَقَدْ أُنْزِلَتْ عَلَيَّ آنِفًا سُورَة»

 

(Verily, a Surah was just revealed to me.) Then he recited,

﴿إِنَّآ أَعْطَيْنَـكَ الْكَوْثَرَ – فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ – إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ ﴾

 

(Verily, We have granted you Al-Kawthar. Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice. For he who hates you, he will be cut off.) Then he said,

«أَتَدْرُونَ مَا الْكَوْثَرُ؟»

 

(Do you all know what is Al-Kawthar) We said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said,

«فَإِنَّهُ نَهَرٌ وَعَدَنِيهِ رَبِّي عَزَّ وَجَلَّ،عَلَيْهِ خَيْرٌ كَثِيرٌ، هُوَ حَوْضٌ تَرِدُ عَلَيْهِ أُمَّتِي يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، آنِيَتُهُ عَدَدُ النُّجُومِ فِي السَّمَاءِ، فَيُخْتَلَجُ الْعَبْدُ مِنْهُمْ فَأَقُولُ: رَبِّ إِنَّهُ مِنْ أُمَّتِي، فَيَقُولُ: إِنَّكَ لَا تَدْرِي مَا أَحْدَثَ بَعْدَك»

 

(Verily, it is a river that my Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, has promised me and it has abundant goodness. It is a pond where my Ummah will be brought to on the Day of Judgement. Its containers are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Then a servant of Allah from among them will be (prevented from it) and I will say: “O Lord! Verily, he is from my Ummah (followers).” Then He (Allah) will say: “Verily, you do not know what he introduced (or innovated) after you.)” This is the wording of Muslim. Ahmad recorded this Hadith from Muhammad bin Fudayl, who reported from Al-Mukhtar bin Fulful, who reported it from Anas bin Malik. Imam Ahmad also recorded from Anas that the Messenger of Allah said,

«دَخَلْتُ الْجَنَّةَ فَإِذَا أَنَا بِنَهْرٍ حَافَتَاهُ خِيَامُ اللُّؤْلُؤِ، فَضَرَبْتُ بِيَدِي إِلَى مَا يَجْرِي فِيهِ الْمَاءُ، فَإِذَا مِسْكٌ أَذْفَرُ، قُلْتُ: مَاهَذَا يَا جِبْرِيلُ؟ قَالَ: هَذَا الْكَوْثَرُ الَّذِي أَعْطَاكَهُ اللهُ عَزَّ وَجَل»

 

(I entered Paradise and I came to a river whose banks had tents made of pearls. So I thrust my hand into its flowing water and found that it was the strongest (smell) of musk. So I asked, “O Jibril! What is this” He replied, “This is Al-Kawthar which Allah, the Mighty and Majestic has given you.”) Al-Bukhari recorded this in his Sahih, and so did Muslim, on the authority of Anas bin Malik. In their version Anas said, “When the Prophet was taken up to the heaven, he said,

«أَتَيْتُ عَلَى نَهْرٍ حَافَتَاهُ قِبَابُ اللُّؤْلُؤِ الْمُجَوَّفِ فَقُلْتُ: مَا هَذَا يَا جِبْرِيلُ؟ قَالَ: هَذَا الْكَوْثَر»

 

(I came to a river whose banks had domes of hollowed pearl. I said: “O Jibril! What is this” He replied: “This is Al-Kawthar.”)” This is the wording of Al-Bukhari. Ahmad recorded from Anas that a man said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is Al-Kawthar” He replied,

«هُوَ نَهْرٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ أَعْطَانِيهِ رَبِّي، لَهُوَ أَشَدُّ بَيَاضًا مِنَ اللَّبَنِ، وَأَحْلَى مِنَ الْعَسَلِ، فِيهِ طُيُورٌ أَعْنَاقُهَا كَأَعْنَاقِ الْجُزُر»

 

(It is a river in Paradise which my Lord has given me. It is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey. There are birds in it whose necks are (long) like carrots.) `Umar said, “O Messenger of Allah! Verily, they (the birds) will be beautiful.” The Prophet replied,

«آكِلُهَا أَنْعَمُ مِنْهَا يَا عُمَر»

 

(The one who eats them (i.e., the people of Paradise) will be more beautiful than them, O `Umar.) Al-Bukhari recorded from Sa`id bin Jubayr that Ibn `Abbas said about Al-Kawthar, “It is the good which Allah gave to him (the Prophet).” Abu Bishr said, “I said to Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Verily, people are claiming that it is a river in Paradise.”’ Sa`id replied, `The river which is in Paradise is part of the goodness which Allah gave him.”’ Al-Bukhari also recorded from Sa`id bin Jubayr that Ibn `Abbas said, “Al-Kawthar is the abundant goodness.” This explanation includes the river and other things as well. Because the word Al-Kawthar comes from the word Kathrah (abundance) and it (Al-Kawthar) linguistically means an abundance of goodness. So from this goodness is the river (in Paradise). Imam Ahmad recorded from Ibn `Umar that the Messenger of Allah said,

«الْكَوْثَرُ نَهْرٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ حَافَتَاهُ مِنْ ذَهَبٍ، وَالْمَاءُ يَجْرِي عَلَى اللُّؤْلُؤِ، وَمَاؤُهُ أَشَدُّ بَيَاضًا مِنَ اللَّبَنِ، وَأَحْلَى مِنَ الْعَسَل»

 

(Al-Kawthar is a river in Paradise whose banks are of gold and it runs over pearls. Its water is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey.) This Hadith was recorded in this manner by At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi Hatim and Ibn Jarir. At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan Sahih.” Then Allah says,

﴿فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ ﴾

 

(Therefore turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice.) meaning, `just as We have given you the abundant goodness in this life and the Hereafter — and from that is the river that has been described previously — then make your obligatory and optional prayer, and your sacrifice (of animals) solely and sincerely for your Lord. Woship Him alone and do not associate any partner with him. And sacrifice pronouncing His Name alone, without ascribing any partner to Him.’ This is as Allah says,

﴿قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاَتِى وَنُسُكِى وَمَحْيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِى للَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَـلَمِينَ – لاَ شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَبِذَلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَاْ أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ ﴾

 

(Say: “Verily, my Salah, my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of all that exists. He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.”) (6:162-163) Ibn `Abbas, `Ata,’ Mujahid, `Ikrimah and Al-Hasan all said, “This means with this the Budn should be sacrificed.” Qatadah, Muhammad bin Ka`b Al-Qurazi, Ad-Dahhak, Ar-Rabi`, `Ata’ Al-Khurasani, Al-Hakam, Isma`il bin Abi Khalid and others from the Salaf have all said the same. This is the opposite of the way of the idolators, prostrating to other than Allah and sacrificing in other than His Name. Allah says,

﴿وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ مِمَّا لَمْ يُذْكَرِ اسْمُ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَإِنَّهُ لَفِسْقٌ﴾

 

(And do not eat from what Allah’s Name has not been pronounced over, indeed that is Fisq.) (6:121)

 

The Enemy of the Prophet is Cut Off

Allah says,

﴿إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ ﴾

 

(For he who hates you, he will be cut off.) meaning, `indeed he who hates you, O Muhammad, and he hates what you have come with of guidance, truth, clear proof and manifest light, he is the most cut off, meanest, lowliest person who will not be remembered. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr and Qatadah all said, “This Ayah was revealed about Al-`As bin Wa’il. Whenever the Messenger of Allah would be mentioned (in his presence) he would say, `Leave him, for indeed he is a man who is cut off having no descendants. So when he dies he will not be remembered.’ Therefore, Allah revealed this Surah.” Shamir bin `Atiyah said, “This Surah was revealed concerning `Uqbah bin Abi Mu`ayt.” Ibn `Abbas and `Ikrimah have both said, “This Surah was revealed about Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf and a group of the disbelievers of the Quraysh.” Al-Bazzar recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf came to Makkah and the Quraysh said to him, `You are the leader of them (the people). What do you think about this worthless man who is cut off from his people He claims that he is better than us while we are the people of the place of pilgrimage, the people of custodianship (of the Ka`bah), and the people who supply water to the pilgrims.’ He replied, `You all are better than him.’ So Allah revealed,

﴿إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ ﴾

 

(For he who hates you, he will be cut off.)” This is how Al-Bazzar recorded this incident and its chain of narration is authentic. It has been reported that `Ata’ said, “This Surah was revealed about Abu Lahab when a son of the Messenger of Allah died. Abu Lahab went to the idolators and said, `Muhammad has been cut off (i.e., from progeny) tonight.’ So concerning this Allah revealed,

﴿إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ ﴾

 

(For he who hates you, he will be cut off.)” As-Suddi said, “When the male sons of a man died the people used to say, `He has been cut off.’ So, when the sons of the Messenger of Allah

died they said, `Muhammad has been cut off.’ Thus, Allah revealed,

﴿إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الاٌّبْتَرُ ﴾

 

(For he who hates you, he will be cut off.)” So they thought in their ignorance that if his sons died, his remembrance would be cut off. Allah forbid! To the contrary, Allah preserved his remembrance for all the world to see, and He obligated all the servants to follow his Law. This will continue for all of time until the Day of Gathering and the coming of the Hereafter. May the blessings of Allah and His peace be upon him forever until the Day of Assembling. This is the end of the Tafsir of Surat Al-Kawthar, and all praise and blessings are due to Allah.

Cause of Revelation

It is reported by Ibn Abi Hatim (رح) ، on the authority of Suddi, and by Baihaqi, in Dala’il-un- Nubuwwah, on the authority of Muhammad Ibn Ali Ibn Husain ؓ ، that the Arabs used to taunt and revile people who have lost their male issues. They used to refer to such a person as ‘abtar’, meaning ‘having no male offspring or no male issue’. In keeping with this social evil, when the young son of the Holy Prophet ﷺ ، namely Qasim passed away, some leaders of Quraish, especially As Ibn Wh’il, started taunting the Holy Prophet ﷺ telling the people that they no longer need to bother about him, because he had no sons to carry on his name and that he would be forgotten after his death; he is ‘abtar’, that is, his lineage is cut off. On this occasion, the Surah was revealed. [Baghawi, Ibn Kathir, Mazhari].

According to some narratives, Ka’b Ibn Ashraf, a Jew of Madinah, came to Makkah and the Quraish asked him: You are the leader of the people. What do you think about this young man who claims that he is better than us (in religion), while we are the people who serve the pilgrims; we are the custodians of Ka’bah and supply water to the pilgrims.” He replied: “You are better than him.” This Surah was revealed on that occasion. [ Ibn Kathir cites this incident from Bazzar with an authentic chain of narrators; and Mazhari says that Muslim also transmitted the incident ].

According to these narrations, this Surah was sent down when the unbelievers of Makkah taunted the Holy Prophet ﷺ because he had lost all his male issues, and called him ‘abtar’ or insulted him for some other reason. The present Surah gives an answer to the taunts of the unbelievers, and maintains that there is no justification for calling the Holy Prophet ﷺ an ‘abtar’ only because he had no male child alive, not only because his lineal offspring will remain till the Day of Judgment, though from his daughters, but he was destined to be the spiritual father of a multitude of sons in all ages to the end of time, sons who were to be far more faithful, obedient and loving than the sons of any father, and they will outnumber the followers of all the Prophets (علیہم السلام) that came before him. The Surah has also dismissed the statement of Ka’b Ibn Ashraf, and highlights the great honor and respect given to him by Allah.

The River or Fountain of Kauthar
Verse [ 108:1]إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ‌ ([ 0 Prophet,] surely, We have given you Al-Kauthar [ a river in Paradise ].) The word ‘Al-Kauthar’ literally means ‘abundant goodness’. Imam Bukhari (رح) has recorded on the authority of Said Ibn Jubair ؓ that Ibn ` Abbas ؓ said about ‘al-Kauthar’: ‘It is the abundant goodness that Allah gave to him [ Holy Prophet ﷺ ] ‘. A special pupil of Ibn ` Abbas ؓ said: “I asked Said Ibn Jubair ؓ that people claim that it is a river in Paradise.” Said Ibn Jubair ؓ replied that the river in Paradise is part of the goodness that Allah gave him. Therefore, Mujahid interprets that it is the abundant goodness of this world, as well as of the next world. This explanation includes the river in Paradise and other things as well.

The following Hadith is recorded in Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud and Nasa’i رحمۃ اللہ علیہم from Sayyidna Anas ؓ that he said:

بینا رسول اللہ ﷺ بین اظھرنا فی المسجد اذ اغفی اغفاء ۃً ، ثم رفع رأسہ متبسّمّاً ۔ قلنا : ما اضحکک یا رسول اللہ ؟ قال : لقد انزلت علیّ آنفاً سورة فقرأ بسم اللہ الرحمٰن الرحیم انّا اعطینٰکَ الکوثر الخ ثم قال : اتدرون ما الکوثر ؟ قلنا : اللہ و رسولہ اعلم ۔ قال : فانّہ نھرٌ وعدنیہ ربّی عزوجل علیہ خیر کثیر ۔ وھا حوض ترد علیہ امّتی یوم القیامۃ ۔ آنیتہ عدد نجوم فی السّماء ۔ فیحتلج العبد منھم ۔ فاقول : ربّ انّہ من امتی فیقول : انّک لا تدری ما احدث بعدک ۔
“While we were with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in the mosque, he went into some kind of slumber or doziness. Then he lifted his head smiling. We asked: ‘0 Messenger of Allah! What has caused you to smile?’ He replied: ‘A Surah has just been revealed to me.’ Then he recited Bismillah and Surah Al-Kauthar. Then he asked: ‘Do you know what is Al-Kauthar?’ We replied: ‘Allah and His Messenger ﷺ know best,’ He said: ‘It is a river that my Lord, the Mighty and Majestic, has promised me and it has abundant goodness. It is a fountain where my Ummah will come on the Day of Judgment. Its containers are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Then a servant of Allah from among them will be prevented from it, and I will say: ‘0 Lord! Verily, he is from my Ummah [ followers.] ‘Then Allah will say: ‘You do not know what he introduced [ or innovated ] after you.’

This is the wording of Muslim. Ibn Kathir, having cited this Tradition, writes further:

و قد ورد فی صفۃ الحوض یوم القیامۃ انّہ یشخب فیہ میزابان من السّماء من نھر الکوثر و ان آنیتہ عدد نجوم السّماء۔
“It is reported regarding the description of the fountain on the Day of Judgment that two channels will lead from the sky to supply the fountain with the water of Kauthar. It will have more cups than the stars in the sky.”

The Tradition cited above clarifies many points.
[ 1] It indicates the cause of the revelation of Surah Al-Kauthar.
[ 2] It gives its authentic interpretation, that is, ‘abundant goodness’ and that it includes the fountain of Kauthar which will quench the thirst of the Prophet’s followers on the Day of Judgment.
[ 3] The actual river of Kauthar is in Paradise, and the fountain of Kauthar will be on the Plain of Gathering. Two channels will flow from the river of Paradise into the fountain of Gathering, augmenting its supply of water.
[ 4] It reconciles the narratives that tell us that the believers will arrive at the fountain of Kauthar before their entry into Paradise.
[ 5] Some people will be turned away from the fountain, because they later on turned away from Islam, or they were not Muslims at all, but expressed their Islam only hypocritically. Their hypocrisy was exposed after the Holy Prophet ﷺ . Allah knows best!

There are Traditions that describe the cleanness and sweetness of water of Kauthar, and that its banks are adorned with pearls. These qualities cannot be compared with anything in this world.

If the revelation of Surah Al-Kauthar is in response to the taunting of the heathens who called him ‘abtar’ because he had lost his sons, as explained earlier, this Surah comforts him. They used to say that when he would pass away, there shall be none to take his name on account of having no male offspring and his activities will cease. This Surah tells him that he has been granted Al-Kauthar and completely dismisses the reproach of his enemies, in that his lineage does not stop here in this world, but his spiritual lineage will continue till the Day of Gathering. His spiritual sons and daughters will outnumber the Ummahs of the previous Prophets. They will also enjoy the greatest respect and honor.

Prayer and Sacrifice

Verse [ 108:2] فَصَلِّ لِرَ‌بِّكَ وَانْحَرْ‌ (So, offer salah [ prayer ] to your Lord, and sacrifice.) The imperative inhar is derived from nahr which means ‘to sacrifice by stabbing upwards into the jugular vein [ the way of slaughter for camels as opposed to other cattle ] ‘. As the Arabs generally used to sacrifice camels, the verse employs the imperative wanhar. Occasionally, the word nahr is used in the general sense of ‘sacrifice’.

Verse [ 108:1] vehemently denounces the false notion of the unbelievers and gives glad tidings of Kauthar to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ in this world as well as in the next world. He will have the abundant goodness in both the worlds immeasurably. The current verse directs the Holy Prophet ﷺ the way to express his gratitude to Allah on this good tiding: [ 1] prayer; and [ 2] sacrifice. Salah is the highest form of physical worship; and sacrifice is highest form of pecuniary or monetary form of worship. Sacrifice in the name of Allah is a fight against idolatry, because the idolaters used to sacrifice in the name of their idols. On that basis, Islamic sacrifice is distinctive and important. On another occasion, the Qur’an jointly mentions prayer and sacrifice, thus: [ 6:162]

إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
My prayer, my offering, my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. [ 6:162]

According to Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas ؓ ، ` Ata’, Mujahid, Hasan Basri رحمۃ اللہ علیہما and others, the imperative wanhar means ‘sacrifice or offer oblation’. Some people have attributed to some leading exegetes that they have taken this imperative to mean: ‘Fold your hands or arms on the chest’ Ibn Kathir holds such narrations as ‘munkar’, (that is, a narration which is narrated by a weak narrator and contradicts the narration of a stronger and more reliable authority.)

The Enemy of the Prophet ﷺ is Cut Off
Verse [ 108:3] إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ‌ (Surely, it is your enemy whose traces are cut off.) The word shani’ as used in the original is derived from sha’n and means ‘one who hates, traducer, insulter’. This verse was revealed in connection with the unbelievers who used to taunt the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and referred to him as ‘abtar’. Most narratives identify the traducer as ` As Ibn Wa’il, others identify him as ‘Uqbah and yet others identify him as Ka’b Ibn Ashraf. Allah granted the Messenger of Allah ﷺ the Kauthar, that is, abundant goodness which includes a multitude of children. How wonderful are the works of Allah! There is no scarcity of lineal children of the holy Prophet ﷺ . Furthermore, a Prophet ﷺ is the spiritual father of his entire Ummah which comprises his spiritual children. The Holy Prophet ﷺ is the spiritual father of his entire Ummah till the end of time and as such will have the largest number of spiritual children compared to the Ummahs of the previous Prophets (علیہم السلام) . In this way, the enemy has been rebutted, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, their argument has been rebuffed that it is not the Prophet ﷺ ، but his enemies are, ‘abtar’ or cut off.

Note
Imagine how Allah has raised the name of the Holy Prophet ﷺ and exalted his reputation in every nook and corner of the world since the inception of his prophet-hood till today, and it will continue to be so until the end of time. His blessed name is recited along with Allah’s name five times a day from the minarets. In the Hereafter, he will be granted the (Al-Maqam Al-Mahmud) Praised Station where he will make the Grand Intercession on behalf of the entire progeny of ‘Adam (علیہ السلام) . On the contrary, ask the world history: Where are the children of ` As Ibn Wa’il? Where are the children of Ka’b Ibn Ashraf? where are the children of ‘Uqbah, and what happened to their families? Their very own names have been lost to the world. No one cares to remember them. They have become unknown who thought that soon the Holy Prophet ﷺ will become unknown. They have left this world and the strings of their lineage have been cut off. Their names have been preserved in Islamic traditions only for purposes of interpretation of relevant verses. فَاعْتَبِرُ‌وا يَا أُولِي الْأَبْصَارِ‌ “So, 0 People of insight, take note !” [ 59:2].

Al-Hamdulillah
The Commentary on
Surah Al-Kauthar
Ends here

Overview

Similar to Surahs 93 and 94, The Morning Hours and Solace, this surah exclusively concerns the Prophet, seeking to cheer him up and assure him of happier prospects in his struggle. In it God threatens his enemies with destruction while directing the Prophet to the path of thanksgiving.

The surah represents a glimpse of the Prophet’s life and the course of his mission in the early period at Makkah. It deals with the plots and insults directed against the Prophet and the divine message he conveys. The surah is an example of God’s protection of His servant, the Prophet Muhammad, and the few who followed him and believed in God. It is an instance of God’s direct support to the believers in their struggle, supplying them with fortitude, restraint, and promise, while threatening a terrible fate on their antagonists.

In this way, the surah symbolizes the reality of guidance, goodness and faith on the one hand and that of error, evil and disbelief on the other; the former category is one of abundance, profusion and expansive goodness, the latter one of scantiness, shrinking resources and annihilation.

Background

Among the people of the Quraysh, the Arab tribe which controlled Makkah, there were some impudent folk who viewed the Prophet and his mission with no small degree of antagonism. They would resort to machinations and taunts against him to deter the people from listening to the truth which he conveyed to them in the form of a divine message. Among them were people like Al-`Aş ibn Wa’il, `Uqbah ibn Abī Mu`ayţ, Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl and others. They said about the Prophet that he was a man with no posterity, referring to the early death of his sons. One of them once remarked, “Do not be bothered with him; he will die without descendants and that will be the end of his mission.”

Such a trivial and cunning taunt had a wide impact on the Arab society of the time, which set great store by sons. Such taunting delighted the Prophet’s enemies and undoubtedly this was a source of depression and irritation to his noble heart. This surah was therefore revealed to comfort the Prophet and assure him of the abiding and profuse goodness which God had chosen for him and of the deprivation and loss awaiting his persecutors.

Blessings in Abundance

We have certainly given you abundance.” (Verse 1) The word used in the surah and rendered here as ‘abundance’ is kawthar, derived from the stem word kathrah which signifies ‘abundance’ or ‘a multitude’. This kawthar is unrestricted and unlimited. It indicates the opposite meaning to the one the impudent Quraysh tried to attach to the Prophet. We have given you that which is plentiful, overflowing and rich, unstinting and unending.

If anyone wishes to pursue and observe this abundance which God has given to His Prophet, he will find it wherever he looks and reflects. He will find it in Muhammad’s prophethood itself, which gave him a link with the great reality and the Supreme Being, who has no parallel and no partner. What indeed can the one who has found God be said to have lost?

He will also find it in this Qur’an which was revealed to Muhammad, every chapter of which is a fountain of richness that flows incessantly. Moreover, he will find this kawthar, or abundance, manifest in Muslims’ following of the Prophet’s sunnah, i.e. way of life, throughout the centuries, in the far-flung corners of the earth, in the millions upon millions who follow in his footsteps and pronounce his name with respectful affection. He will see it in the millions upon millions of hearts that cherish his example and memory even to the Day of Resurrection.

He will also find this kawthar, or abundance, manifest in the goodness and prosperity which have accrued to the human race as a result of his message, and which reach those who know and believe in him as well as those who do not. He will also discern this abundance in various and manifold phenomena, attempting to enumerate which give, at best, only a passing feeling of a great reality.

This indeed is abundance in its absolute and unlimited sense. The surah, therefore, does not give it a specific definition. Several accounts relate that ‘al-kawthar’ is a river in heaven granted to the Prophet. However, Ibn `Abbas, the Prophet’s learned cousin, contends that the river is but one part of the abundance which God has furnished for His Messenger. Keeping the circumstances and the whole context in mind, Ibn `Abbas’s view is the more valid.

So pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him.” (Verse 2) Having assured the Prophet of this munificent gift, which disproves what the calumniators and wicked schemers say, God directs the Prophet to be completely and sincerely thankful to Him for His bounty. He is to devote himself to Him alone in worship and ritual slaughter, taking no heed whatsoever of any form of idolatry and refusing to participate in the worship rituals offered by idolaters, especially when they invoke anyone other than God in their offerings.

Islam frequently lays emphasis on the pronouncing of God’s name when slaughtering animals. It prohibits anything that is consecrated to any other being, which indicates the importance Islam attaches to the purification of human life from all forms of idolatry and all that leads to it. Because it is based on the principle of God’s oneness in its purest sense, Islam does not aim merely at purifying human imagination and conscience. It pursues idolatry in all its manifestations, striving to eliminate its marks in man’s consciousness, worship rituals and general behaviour. Life, Islam says, is one indivisible entity and must be treated as such. It must be cleansed inside out and completely oriented towards God, in all its aspects: worship, tradition and social behaviour.

Surely, he who hates you is the one cut off” (Verse 3) In the first verse, God specified that Muhammad was not the one who had no posterity but, on the contrary, was the one endowed with abundance. In this verse, God throws back the taunt on those who hated and reviled the Prophet. Indeed, God’s promise has come true. For, the influence and legacy of Muhammad’s enemies were short-lived, while his impact on human life and history has grown and deepened. Today we are witnessing the truth of this divine pronouncement as clearly as no one among those addressed by the Qur’an for the first time ever did or imagined.

Faith and goodness cannot be barren. Their influence is both profound and deeprooted. By contrast, falsehood, error and evil may grow and spread quickly, but they ultimately come to nothing. God’s criteria are different from the criteria laid down by man. Men are often deceived when they vainly believe their sense of judgement to be the criterion. Before us is the eloquent and enduring example of the Prophet. Of what value or interest to humanity have Muhammad’s slanderers and foes been to anyone?

On the other hand, calling others to the religion of God, to truth and goodness, can never be called futile. Neither can the righteous and the true be called deprived or cut off. How can it be, when this message itself comes from, and is supported by, God, the Immortal, the Eternal? But deprived and sterile indeed are disbelief, error and evil as are their votaries, however strong and widespread they may appear to be at any moment.

God affirms the truth; wily opponents are but liars!

Tafsir Surah Kawthar by Abul A’la Maududi

The full meaning of the word kauthar, as used here, cannot perhaps be expressed in one word in any language of the world. This is an intensive form of the noun kathrat which literally means abundance, but the context in which it has been used does not give the meaning of mere abundance but abundance of good, of spiritual benefits and blessings, and of such abundance which is unbounded and limitless, and it does not imply any one good or benefit or blessing but abundance of countless benefits and blessings.

Have a look again at the background of this Surah given in the Introduction. The enemies thought that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had been completely ruined: he was cut off from the community and had become utterly helpless and powerless; his trade was ruined; his male children who could perpetuate his name were dead; the message that he presented was such that except for a handful of the people no one in entire Arabia, not to speak of Makkah, was prepared to listen to it. Therefore, failure and disappointment would be his lot as long as he lived and there would be no one in posterity to remember him when he died. Under such conditions when Allah said: We have granted you the Kauthar, this by itself gave the meaning: Your foolish opponents think that you are ruined and deprived of the good things that you enjoyed before Prophethood, but the fact is that We have favored you with unbounded good and countless blessings. This included the matchless moral qualities which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was blessed with; this included the great blessings of Prophethood and the Quran, the knowledge and wisdom that were granted to him; this included the blessing of Tauhid and also of such a system of life whose simple and intelligible, rational and natural, and comprehensive principles had the potential to spread throughout the world and of continuing to spread for ever afterwards. This also included the blessing of the exaltation of renown because of which the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) blessed name continues to be exalted throughout the world since 1400 years and will continue to be so exalted till Resurrection.

This also included the blessing that by his preaching eventually such a world-wide community came into being, which became the standard-bearer of truth in the world forever, which can claim to have produced the greatest number of the pious, virtuous and noble character people in any one nation, and which even when corrupted and deprived has the highest good in it as against every other nation of the world. This also included the blessing that the Prophet (peace be upon him) during his very lifetime witnessed his invitation and message attaining to the highest success and the preparation of a community which had the power to dominate the world. This also included the blessing that although on his being deprived of the male offspring the enemies thought he would be lost to posterity, yet Allah not only blessed him with the spiritual offspring in the form of Muslims, who will continue to exalt his name in the world till Resurrection but also granted him from his one daughter, Fatimah, the natural progeny, who have spread throughout world and whose only mark of distinction and pride is that they trace their descent from him.

These are the blessings which the people have seen and witnessed as to how abundantly Allah has blessed His Prophet (peace be upon him) within the world. In addition, Kauthar also implies two other great blessings which Allah will bestow on him in the Hereafter. We had no means of knowing these; therefore the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself gave us news of them, and told us that Kauthar also implied them. First, the Fountain of Kauthar, which he will be granted on the Resurrection Day in the Plain of Assembly; second, the River Kauthar, which he will be granted in Paradise. About both such a large number of the Ahadith have been reported from him through such a large number of the reporters that there remains no doubt about their authenticity.

What the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about the Fountain of Kauthar is as follows:

This Fountain will be granted to him on the Resurrection Day when there will be the cry of al-atash, alatash (thirst, thirst!) on every side. The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) community will gather together before him at it and will be watered thereby. He himself will be the first to arrive at it and will be occupying the central position.

He has said: This is a Fountain at which my Ummah will assemble on the Resurrection Day. (Muslim: Kitab as-Salat Abu Daud: Kitab as-Sunnah). I shall have arrived at the Fountain before you. (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Riqaq and Kitab al- Fitan; Muslim: Kitab al-Fidail and Kitab at-Taharah; lbn Majah: Kitab al Manasik and Kitab az-Zuhd. Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Abdullah bin Masud, Abdullah bin Abbas, Abu Hurairah).

I shall be there before you and shall bear witness on you, and by God, I am seeing my Fountain even at this time. (Bukhari: Kitab al-jana-iz Kitab al- Maghazi, Kitab ar-Riqaq).

Addressing an assembly of the Ansar, the Prophet (peace be upon him) once said: After me you will meet with selfishness and nepotism, endure it patiently until you meet me at the Fountain. (Bukhari: Kitab Manaqib al-Ansar and Kitab al-Maghazi; Muslim: Kitab al-Iman; Tirmidhi: Kitab al-Fitan).

I shall be near the middle of the Fountain on the Resurrection Day. (Muslim: Kitab al-Fadail).

Abu Barzah Aslami was asked: Have you heard something about the Fountain from the Prophet (peace be upon him). He replied: Not once, or twice, or thrice, or four or five times, but over and over again. May Allah deprive of its water the one who belies it. (Abu Daud: Kitab as-Sunnah).

Ubaidullah bin Ziyad thought that the traditions about the Fountain were false; so much so that he belied all the traditions reported by Abu Barzah Aslami, Bara bin Aazib and Aaidh bin Amr. At last, Abu Sabrah brought out a writing which he had written down after hearing it from Abdullah bin Amr bin alAas, and it contained this saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): Beware! Your place of meeting me will be my Fountain. (Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Abdullah bin Amr bin alAas).

Different dimensions of the Fountain have been given in different traditions, but according to a large number of the traditions it will extend from Aylah (the present Israeli seaport of Ilat) to Sana’a of Yaman, or from Aylah to Adan, or from Amman to Adan in length, and from Aylah to Juhfah (a place between Jeddah and Rabigh) in breadth. (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Riqaq; Abu Daud at Tayalisi: Hadith No. 995; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Abu Bakr Siddiq and Abdullah bin Umar; Muslim: Kitab at-Taharah and Kitab al-Fadail; Tirmidhi Abwab Sifat al-Qiyamah; Ibn Majah: Kitab az-Zuhd). From this it appears that on the Resurrection Day the present Red Sea itself will be turned into the Fountain of Kauthar. And the correct knowledge is only with Allah.

About this Fountain the Prophet (peace be upon him) has told us that water will be supplied to it from the River Kauthar of Paradise (which is being mentioned below). Two channels from Paradise will flow into it and supply water to it. (Muslim: Kitab al-Fadail). According to another tradition: A canal from the River Kauthar of Paradise will be opened towards this Fountain. (Musnad Ahmad; Marwiyyat Abdullah bin Masud).

According to the description of it given by the Prophet (peace be upon him) its water will be whiter than milk (according to other traditions whiter than silver, and according to still others, whiter than snow), cooler than snow, sweeter than honey; the earth of its bed will be more fragrant than musk; the water jugs set at it will be as numerous as the stars in the sky; the one who drinks from it would never thirst; and the one who is deprived of it will never have his thirst satisfied. These things with a little variation in wording have been reported in numerous Ahadith (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Riqaq; Muslim: Kitab at- Taharah and Kitab al-Fadail; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Ibn Masud, Ibn Umar, Abdullah bin Amr bin alAas; Tirmidhi: Abwab Sifat al-Qiyanmah: Ibn Majah: Kitab az- Zuhd; Abu Daud: Tayalisi, Ahadith No. 995, 2135).

Concerning it the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned the people of his time again and again, saying: After me those from among you who would effect changes in my way, will be removed from the Fountain and will be disallowed to approach it. I shall say: they are my companions, but it will be said: Don’t you know what they did after you? Then I too shall discard them and tell them to keep away. This subject has been expressed in many traditions. (Bukhari: Kitab ar-Rigaq, Kitab al-Fitan; Muslim: Kitab at-Tahara and Kitab al-Fadail Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Ibn Masud, Abu Hurairah; Ibn Majah: Kitab al-Manasik. The Hadith which Ibn Majah has related in this connection contains very pathetic words. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Beware! I shall have arrived at the Fountain before you and shall pride myself by your means upon the greater numbers of my Ummah as against other ummahas. Do not at that time cause my face to be blackened. Beware! I shall have some people released, and some people shall be separated from me. I shall say: O my Lord, they are my companions. He will reply: Don’t you know what innovations they introduced after you? According to Ibn Majah, these words were said by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his Sermon at Arafat.

Likewise, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has also warned the Muslims coming after him till Resurrection, saying: Whoever from among you will swerve from my way and effect changes in it, will be removed from the Fountain. I shall say: O Lord, they belong to me, they are the people of my Ummah. In response it will be said: Don’t you know what changes they effected after you and then turned back on their heels? Then I shall also turn them away and shall not allow them to approach the Fountain. Many traditions on this subject are found in the Hadith. (Bukhari: Kitab al- Musaqat, Kitab ar-Riqaq, Kitab al-Fitan; Muslim: Kitab at- Taharah. Katab as-Salat, Kitab al-Fadail; Ibn Majah: Kitab az-Zuhd; Musnad Ahmad: Marwiyyat Ibn Abbas).

Traditions about this Fountain have been related by more than 50 companions, and the earlier scholars generally have taken it to mean the Fountain of Kauthar. Imam Bukhari has named the last chapter of his Kitab ar-Riqaq as Babun fil hawd wa qual-Allahu inna a tainak al-Kauthar, and in a tradition from Anas there is the explanation that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about Kauthar: It is a Fountain at which my Ummah shall alight.

The River Kauthar which the Prophet (peace be upon him) shall be granted in Paradise, also has been mentioned in a large number of the traditions of Hadith. Many traditions have been related on the authority of Anas in which he says, and in some he explains that he is reporting the exact words of the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, that on the occasion of miraj; the Prophet (peace be upon him) was taken round Paradise and shown a river on the banks of which there were vaults of pearls or precious stones carved from within; the earth of its bed was of the strong-scented musk. He asked Gabriel, or the angel who took him round, what it was? He replied that it was the River Kauthar, which Allah had granted him. (Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmidhi, Abu Daud Tayalisi, Ibn Jarir) Again, according to Anas, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked (or a person asked him): What is the Kauthar? He replied; It is a River which Allah has granted me in Paradise. Its earth is musk: its water is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey. (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, lbn Jarir; according to another tradition of Musnad Ahmad, describing the merits of the River Kauthar the Prophet said that at its bottom there are pearls instead of pebbles. Ibn Umar says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Kauthar is a river in Paradise the banks of which are golden; it flows on pearls and diamonds (i.e. its bed has diamonds instead of pebbles); its earth smells sweeter than musk; its water is whiter than milk (or snow), cooler than snow and sweeter than honey.” (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Abi Hatim, Darimi, Abu Daud Tayalisi, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Marduyah, Ibn Abi Shaibah). Usamah bin Zaid says that the Prophet (peace be upon him) once went to visit Usamah; he was not at home; his wife entertained him and during the conversation said My husband has told me that you have been granted a river in Paradise, which is called the Kauthar. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: Yes, and its bed is of rubies and corals and emeralds and pearls. (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Marduyah. Though the sanad of this tradition is weak, the presence of a large number of traditions dealing with this subject strengthens it). Besides these marfu traditions, a great many sayings of the companions and their successors have been related in the Hadith to the effect that the Kauthar implies a river in Paradise. These traditions describe its qualities as have been mentioned above. For instance, the sayings of Abdullah bin Umar, Abdullah bin Abbas, Anas bin Malik, Aishah, Mujahid and Abul Aliyah are found in Musnad Ahmad, Bukhari, Tirmidhi, Nasai; and the books of Ibn Marduyah, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Shaibah and other traditionists.

Different commentaries of it have been reported from different scholars. Some of them take the Prayer to mean the five times obligatory Prayer (salat); some take it to imply the Prayer of Id al-Adha, and some say that it implies the Prayer itself. Likewise, the meaning of wanhar and sacrifice according to some illustrious scholars, is to place the right hand over the left hand and to fold them on the chest in the Prayer; some say that it implies raising both hands with Allahu Akbar at the commencement of the Prayer; some say that it implies raising both hands at the commencement of the Prayer, at bowing for Ruku and after rising from Ruku; and some say that it means performing the Id al-Adha Prayer and then offering the animal sacrifice. But if the context in which this command has been enjoined, is considered, its meaning clearly seems to be: O Prophet, when your Lord has granted you so many and so splendid blessings, then you should perform the Prayer only for His sake and offer sacrifice only for His sake. This command was given in the environment when not only the pagans of Quraish but the pagans of entire Arabia and the world worshipped their self-made gods and offered sacrifices at their shrines. Therefore, the intention of the command is: Contrary to the polytheistic practice, you should remain steadfast to your creed: your Prayer is only for Allah and your sacrifice is also for Him alone, as it has been said at another place: Declare, O Prophet, my salat and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, Lord of the universe, Who has no partner with Him. This is what I have been enjoined, and I am the first to surrender to Him. (Surah Al-Anaam, Ayats 162-163). This same meaning has been explained of it by Ibn Abbas. Ata, Mujahid, Ikrimah, Hasan Basri, Qatadah, Muhammad bin Kaab al-Qurzi, Dahhak, Rabi bin Anas, Ata al-Khurasani and many other major commentators. (Ibn Jarir). However, this by itself is correct that when the Prophet (peace be upon him) enforced by Allah’s command the practice of the Id al-Adha Prayer and the offering of animal sacrifice at Al-Madinah, he himself gave the first place to the Prayer (salat and the second to the sacrifice, as commanded in the verses: Inna salati wa nusuki and fa-salli li-Rabbika wanhar, and also enjoined on the Muslims to do the same, i.e. they should first perform the Prayer and then offer the sacrifice. This is neither the explanation of this verse nor the occasion of its revelation but a deduction made by the Prophet (peace be upon him) from these verses and his deduction of injunctions is also a kind of divine inspiration.

The word shani as used, in the original is derived from shaan, which means the hatred and spite because of which a person may start ill-treating another. At another place in the Quran it has been said: (And O Muslims,) the enmity of any people should not so provoke you as to turn you away from justice. (Surah Al-Maidah, Ayat 8). Thus, shani aka implies every such person who blinded by his enmity of the Prophet (peace be upon him) should bring false accusations against him, slander and defame him and vent his personal spite against him by taunting and scoffing at him in every possible way.

Huwal abtar: He himself is abtar, i.e. though he calls you abtar, he in fact himself is abtar. Some explanations of abtar have already been given in the Introduction to the Surah. It is derived from batar which means to cut off, but idiomatically it is used in a comprehensive meaning. In the Hadith, the rakah of the Prayer which is not coupled with another rakah is called butaira, i.e. the lonely rakah. According to another Hadith, every piece of work, which is in any way important, is abtar if it is started without the glorification and praise of Allah implying that it is cut off from the root; it has no stability; and it is doomed to failure. A man who fails to achieve his object is abtar as also the one who is deprived of all means and resources. A person who is left with no hope of any good and success in life is also abtar. A person who has been cut off from his family, brotherhood, associates and helpers is also abtar. The word abtar is also used for the man who has no male child, or whose male child or children have died, for after him there remains no one to remember him and he is lost to posterity after death. In almost all these meanings the disbelieving Quraish called the Prophet (peace be upon him) abtar. At this, Allah said: O Prophet, not you but your enemies are abtar. This was not merely a reprisal, but a prophecy out of the most important prophecies of the Quran, which literally proved true. When it was made, the people regarded the Prophet (peace be upon him) as abtar, and no one could imagine how the big chiefs of the Quraish would become abtar, who were famous not only in Makkah but throughout Arabia, who were successful in life, rich in worldly wealth and children, who had their associates and helpers everywhere in the country, who enjoyed intimate relations with all the Arabian tribes, being monopolists in trade and managers of Hajj. But not long afterwards the conditions altogether changed. There was a time when on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench (A.H. 5) the Quraish had invaded Al-Madinah with the help of many Arabian and Jewish tribes, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) being besieged had to resist the enemy by digging a trench around the city. After only three years, in A.H. 8, when he attacked Makkah, the Quraish had no helper and they had to surrender helplessly. After this within a year or so the whole Arabia came under his control, deputations of tribes from all over the country began to visit him to take the oaths of allegiance and his enemies were left utterly helpless and resource-less. Then they were so lost to posterity that even if their children survived, none of them today knows that he is a descendent of Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab, Aas bin Wail, or Uqbah bin Abi Muait, the enemies of Islam, and even if he knows it, he is not prepared to claim that his ancestors were those people. On the contrary, blessings are being invoked on the children of the Prophet (peace be upon him) throughout the world; millions and millions of Muslims take pride in bearing relationship to him; hundreds of thousands of people regard it as a mark of honor and prestige to have descended not only from him but from his family and even the families of his companions. Thus, some one is a Sayyid, another an Alavi, and Abbasi, a Hashmi, a Siddiqi, a Faruqi, an Uthmani, a Zubairi, or an Ansari, but no one is an Abu Jahli or Abu Lahabi. History has proved that not the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) but his enemies were, and are, abtar.