Tafseer Surah al-Kawthar

Since 2014-01-06

What a splendid Surah is Surah al-Kawthar! How abundant are its benefits, even though it is short in length.

In the Name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
Indeed, We have granted you, O Muhammad (saw), al-Kawthar
So turn in Prayer and sacrifice to your Lord (alone)
Certainly the one who bears hatred towards you
is the one severed from all good  

"What a splendid Surah is Surah al-Kawthar! How abundant are its benefits, even though it is short in length. The reality of its meaning is known from its ending, where Allaah, the One free from all imperfections and the Most High, severs (1) the one having hatred for His Messenger from all good.

So Allaah severs and deprives him of his renown, his family and his wealth, such that he loses all of that in the Hereafter.

He also dispossesses him of his life such that he does not benefit from it and does not use it to acquire righteous deeds for his life in the Hereafter. He severs his heart so that it cannot recognise any good, and he does not enable it to come to know Him and to love Him and to truly believe in His Messengers. He severs his deeds such that he does not act in obedience to Allaah.

He deprives him of helpers, such that no helper or anyone to assist him is to be found for him. He deprives him of every means of seeking nearness to Allaah, and of all righteous deeds, so he does not taste them, and does not relish their sweetness even if he outwardly performed them -- his heart is a fugitive, fleeing and averse to them.

All of this is the recompense for one who has hatred for a part of that which the Messenger (saw) came with, and so refuses to accept it due to desires, or due to his followers, or his shaikh, or his leader or his elders.

Just as is the case with those who have hatred for the aayahs affirming Allaah's attributes (sifaat) and the ahaadeeth affirming Allaah's attributes: those who interpret them away with ta'weel to something else other than what Allaah and His Messenger meant by them, or those who take them to mean that which agrees with their own position (madhab), and the position held by their own faction; or those who wish that the aayahs affirming Allaah's Attributes had never been sent down, and that Allaah's Messenger (Saw) had not uttered the ahaadeeth affirming Allaah's attributes.

So from the strongest signs that a person detests and has hatred for these texts is that when he hears them being used as a proof by the People of the Sunnah for the truth that they indicate - he recoils in horro from that, he contends and he flees from it. This is due to the hatred in his heart for them, and his aversion for them (2).

So what hatred towards the Messenger (saw) can be greater than this?!

Likewise those who listen to music and singing, those who dance about upon hearing singing, lyrical poems, the beating of the daff, and the playing of the flute. Yet when they hear the Qur'aan recited and read in their gatherings they find it tiresome and a burden.

So what hatred can be greater than this?!

Then upon this basis you may gauge the rest of the factions in this regard. Likewise those who give preference to the speech and understandings of men over the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. If it had not been the case that they had hatred for that which the Messenger (saw) came with, they wouldn't have done this. Their affair reaches the extent that some of them forget the Qur'aan, after having memorised it, and are preoccupied with the saying of so and so, and so and so.

But the most severe in hatred and rejection of it are those who disbelieve in it, deny it wilfully, and declare it to be just stories of the ancients and a form of magic. Such people are worse, and more severely cut off. But everyone who has any hatred or aversion for him (saw) will receive their due share of this severance, in accordance with the level of their hatred and aversion to him (saw). So because of the hatred and enmity of those people towards him (saw), Allaah repaid them by causing everything good to be against them and by cutting them off from it.

Whereas He favoured His Prophet (saw) with the opposite of that, in that He granted Him al-Kawthar - that is the abundant good which Allaah gave to him in this life and in the hereafter.

So from that which He granted him in this life is: guidance, victory, help, coolness of the eyes and the soul, that his breast was expanded for the favourable acceptance of the truth that his heart found such delight in the remembrance of Allaah and in love of Him that no wordly delight could ever resemble it. As for what He grants him in the Hereafter, then it is: the highest place in Paradise (al-Waseelah -3), the praiseworthy position and right to intercede (al-Maqaam al-Mahmood -4), and that He made him the first one for homw, and for whose ummah, the gate of Paradise will be opened, and He will give him the "Banner of Praise" (Liwaa'ul-Hamd -5), and the tremendous lake (al-Hawd -6) -- and so on at the time of the Resurrection; and He made all the believers as if they are his children, and he a father to them. Contrary to the state of the one who is severed, the one who hates him and hates that which he came with. So his Saying -- "Innaa shaani'aka" -- means "He who has hatred towards you..." and --"al-abtar" -- "severed/cut off.." is the one whose offspring are severed, the one who does not produce any good, nor any righteous action. So nothing good and no righteous deeds proceed from him

It was said to Abu Bakr ibn 'Ayyaash (7), "There are some people sitting in the mosque, and the people are sitting with them". So he said, "Whoever sits for the people, then the people will sit with him. But the people of the Sunnah die and their renown lives on, whereas the people of innovation die and their renown dies along with them. Because the people of the Sunnah revive that which the Messenger (saw) came with, so they receive a share of His Saying:

Wa rafa3naa laka dhikrak -- "We have raised high your renown". (94:4)

But the people of innovation have hatred for that which the Messenger (saw) came with, so they receive a share of His Saying:

Innaa shaani'aka huwa al-abtar -- "He who has hatred towards you will be severed" (108:3)

So beware! Beware, O man, of having aversion to anything which the Messenger (saw) came with, and of refusing it due to your desires, or due to supporting your madhhab, or your Shaykh, or because of your preoccupation with desires, or with the wordly life. Because Allaah has not obligated obedience to any individual, except for obedience to His Messenger, and that they should accept everything he came with.

So if a servant disobeyed all of the creation, but followed the Messenger (saw) obediently, then Allaah would not ask him about his having disobeyed anybody. Since anyone else who obeys, or is obeyed, is only obeyed subject to and following on from obedience to the Messenger. If he commands anything contrary to what the Messenger commanded he will not be obeyed.

Know this, pay attention to it, be obedient and adhere to the way of the Messenger (saw). Do not innovate and so be one severed from good, and so have your deeds rejected.

Indeed there is no good in a deed that is severed from adherence to the way of the Messenger, and there is no good in the one doing it, and Allaah knows best. (8)

The saying of Allaah ta'ala:

"Indeed We have granted you, O Muhammad (saw), al-Kawthar"

indicated an abundant bestowal given by One Who is Tremendous, Rich and All-Encompassing, and that He is Exalted and Most High, and that His Angels and hosts/army are along with Him.

He began the aayah with "Innaa" that indicated emphasis and that the information conveyed is something certain. The verb occurs in the past tense, indicating the certainty of its coming about and that it is something firmly established and that willhappen. The announcement of it will not enable it to be prevented, because the granting of al-Kawthar is something that has preceded in the original Pre-Decree (al-Qadr) when whatever is to occur for the creation was decreed - fifty thousand years before they were created. (9)

Then as for that (bestowal) which carries the description of its being abundant, then it is left unspecified in order to emphasise its comprehensiveness. But Allaah, the Perfect and Most High, mentioned its description, saying: "Innaa 'ataynaaka-l-kawthar"

So He described it as being al-Kawthar (abundant). Then the Kawthar that is well-known is a river in Paradise as is mentioned in the clear and authentic ahadeeth (10). Also Ibn 'Abbas (11) said, "al-Kawthar is the abundant good which Allaah gave to him". (12)

So since it is the case that the person with the least out of all the people of Paradise will have therein the like of the whole world ten times over (13), then what do you think that which Allaah has prepared for His Messenger (saw) in it will be??!

So al-Kawthar is an indication of the abundance of good things that Allaah has prepared for him, and of their continuance and increase, and their eminence and elevation, and that the river that is al-Kawthar is the greatest of the rivers of Paradise, and the purest in its water, the most pleasant-tasting, the sweetest and the highest.

This is shown by the fact that He introduces it with the definite article (i.e. Al-Kawthar). This indicates perfection and completeness of that which is named, just as you would say, "Zayd AL-Aalim" (ie Zayd THE scholar), and "Zayd Al-Shujaa'" (Zayd THE Brave), meaning "There is no one more knowledgeable nor anyone braver than him". Likewise His saying, "Innaa 'ataynaaka al-Kawthar" shows that He granted him all good, granting it fully and abundantly. Then even though some of his Ummah attain a part of that, then what they attain is due to the blessing of their complying with and following him. Yet he (saw) will receive the same reward, without anything been reduced from the reward of the one who followed him. (14) So there lies in this an indication that Allaah, the Most High, will grant him (saw) in Paradise (extra reward) to the degree of the rewards attained by his whole Ummah, without anything being reduced from their rewards. This is because he was the cause for their becoming guided and their becoming saved.

Therefore it is right - indeed it is a binding duty - that the servant complies with and follows him, and adheres to what he commanded, and increases in righteous and correct action, in fasting, prayer, giving sadaqah and tazkeeyah, so that he (saw) should receive similar reward for that. Because if a person falls into committing forbidden acts, then the Messenger (saw) will miss reward equivalent to the reward for that good which the person left.

Then if a person commits forbidden acts and along with that leaves what has been commanded, then his burden of sin grows and his salvation becomes harder, due to his taking on the burden of that which he was forbidden from and his leaving what he was commanded.

If, however, he performs what he has been commanded with, but also commits what has been forbidden, then he will enter amongst those for whom the Messenger (saw) will intercede. This is because he (saw) will attain a reward equal to that good which the person did.

So it is to Allaah that the creation will return, and their accounting is with Him. And He knows best about their condition - the condition of all His servants.

So his (saw) intercession is for those of his Ummah guilty of committing major sins. As for the doer of good, then his righteousness was due to Allaah's granting him that.And as for the evil doer, then there is no proof for him, nor any excuse.

What is intended is that al-Kawthar is a river in Paradise, and it is also the abundant good that Allaah grants to His Messenger (saw) in this world and the hereafter. And this is other than the reward of his Ummah, right up to the Day of Resurrection. So everybody who recited, learns some knowledge, performs a righteous deed, teaches someone else, gives sadaqah, fights jihaad, guards the frontier, repents, has patience, relies upon Allaah, or attains one of the desirable states of the heart, such as fear, awe, knowledge and awareness of Allaah and so on - then he (saw) will receive the same reward as that person, without anything being reduced from the reward of that individual, and Allaah knows best.

Then in His Saying:

Fa-sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar -- So Turn in Prayer and Sacrifice to Your Lord (alone)

Allaah commands him to gather these two very great types of worship: the Prayer and the Sacrifice. Each of these shows a persons seeking to draw closer to Allaah, his humility, poverty before Him, his good thoughts about Him and the strength of his certain faith. They also show that his heart is at peace with Allaah, and with His promise, His orders, His beneficence and His grant of good.

This is contrary to the state of the people of arrogance, aversion and those who think they have no need of Allaah. Those who feel that they have no need to ask of their Lord by praying to Him and making requests to Him. Those who do not perform sacrifices for Him for fear of poverty, who abandon helping the needy and providing them with food and at the same time bear evil thoughts about their Lord.

Therefore Allaah, ta'ala, combined them both in His Saying:

"Say All my prayers, sacrifices, my living, and my dying are for Allaah, the Nourisher, and Lord of all of the Creation". (6:162)

So what is meant is that the Prayer and the Sacrifice are the most excellent means of drawing closer to Allaah, since they are introduced here with the "faa" that shows result or effect. Thus performing Prayer and the Sacrifice is a means of establishing the thanks due to Allaah for that which He granted to him, i.e. for al-Kawthar and the abundant good.

The greatest way of giving thanks to the One Who Bestowed that blessing upon him is by performing these two types of worship. Indeed the Prayer is the limit of worship and the highest goal.

Thus it is as if He by His saying "Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar" is saying, "We have granted you abundant good, and have blessed you with that cause of your establishing those two forms of worship for Us, out of thanks for Our giving you that blessing. Such that these two are the cause of Our blessing you with that good. Therefore establish them for Us".

So the Prayer and the Sacrifice are encircled by a grant of blessing that precedes them, and a grant of blessing that follows on from them.

Also it is the case that the finest of the types of worship involving the giving of ones wealth is the Sacrifice and the finest of the bodily worships is the Prayer. That which unites together for the servant in his Prayer is such that it does not unite together for him in any other worship, and this will be known by those whose hearts are alive and who have the highest desire.

Furthermore that which unites together for the one making the Sacrifice: his giving preference and precedence to Allaah, his good thoughts about Allaah, the strength of his certain faith, and his trusting in that which lies in Allaah's Hand is a truly amazing affair, if that is combined with correct and true faith (eemaan) and with making one's worship purely and sincerely for Allaah (al-Ikhlaas).

So the Prophet (saw) carried out the command of his Lord and was one who frequently prayed to His Lord and performed the Sacrifice many times, to the extent that in the Farewell Pilgrimage he sacrificed sixty-three animals with his own hand (15), and he would sacrifice at the time of the 'eids and at other times.

In His Saying "Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar" there is an indication that you should not grieve over anything from this worldly life, just as is mentioned at the end of Suraah Taa Haa and al-Hijr, and in other places.

It also contains an indication that one should abandon having the people as the focus of ones attention and leave off worrying about what you meet with or receive from them. Rather you should pray to your Lord and sacrifice to Him.

It also alludes to the state of the one severed from all good, the bearer of aversion and hatred, the one whose Prayers and Sacrifice are performed for other than Allaah.

In His Saying

Innaa shaaniaka huwa al-abtar

There are a number of grammatical forms of emphasis

Firstly, that the sentence begins with "innaa".

Secondly, use of the disconnected personal pronoun (i.e. "huwa", he) which shows the strength for the connection and its being particular to him (i.e., "The one who hated you, HE IT IS, that is the one severed from all good").

Thirdly, the conclusion of the sentance occurs in the superlative form, not just the form of one passively carrying the action of the verb.

Fourthly, the concluding word, "al-abtar", carries the "al" that shows that this is characteristic is his attribute in its entirety, and that he has more right to it (i.e, being severed from all good) than anybody else.

Similar to it in the form of emphasis is the saying of Allaah:

La takhaf innaka anta al-'a3laa --
"Fear not, certainly you, O Musa, will be the one who has the upper hand" (20:68)

Also from its fine and delicate points of benefit is the way in which one's attention is turned by His Saying - Fa sallee li-rabbika wa-anhar - to show that your Lord is the one Who is alone in deserving that, and that it is fully appropriate that you should direct your worship to Him (alone), and should make the Sacrifice for Him.

And Allaah Knows Best."




(1) The verb "batara" - to cut off, sever, amputate; and from it: abtar: one cut off

(2) See "Usool as-Sunnah" of Imaam Ahmed and its appendices, pp.15-16, 'Abdullaah ibn Ahmad reports in as-Sunnah (no. 535), "I heard Abu Ma'mar al-Hudhalee say, "Whoever claims that Allaah, azza wa jall, does not speak, nor Hear, nor See, nor become Angry, nor br Pleased (and he mentioned some attributes) -- then he is a disbeliever in Allaah, azza wa jall. If you see him standing by a well, throw him into it. This is what I hold as my religion before Allaah, azza wa jall, since those people are disbelievers in Allaah, ta'ala". (see also pp.114-128 and 172-178 of the same book)

(3) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Adhaan, chapter, The Supplication at the Time of Adhaan (vol.1 no.538). From Jaabir ibn 'Abdullaah (ra) who said, "Allaah's Messenger (saw) said, "Whoever after hearing the mu'adhdhin says, "O Allaah! Lord of this perfect call and the prayer that is to be established! Give to Muhammad the highest place in Paradise (al-Waseelah), and the praiseworthy position and right to intercede (al-Maqaam al-Mahmood) which You promised for him on the Day of Resurrection"". And Muslim reports in his Saheeh from 'Abdullaah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Aas (ra) that he heard the Prophet (saw) say, "When you hear the mu'adhdhin, then say the same as he says. Then invoke blessings (salaat) upon me -- because whoever invokes a single blessing upon me, then Allaah will bless him ten times because of it. Then ask Allaah to grant me al-Waseelah", because it is a position in Paradise befitting only one of Allaah's servants, and I hope to be that one. So whoever asks that "al-Waseelah" be given to me, then my intercession will be permitted for him".

(4) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh in the Book of Tafseer, Chapter: the Statement of Allah "Your Lord will raise you to a position of praise". From Ibn 'Umar (ra) who said, "On the Day of Resurrection, the people will fall upon their knees. Every people will follow their Prophet saying, "O so and so! Intercede!" Until the right to intercede is given to the Prophet (saw). So that is the day when Allaah will raise him to the praise worthy position of al-Maqaama al-Mahmood". At-Tabaree said in his tafseer (15/143-4), "Most of the scholars say that it (al-Maqaama al-Mahmood) is the position that he (saw) will take on the Day of Resurrection to intercede for the people that their Lord relieves them from the terrible condition they are in on that Day".

(5) at-Tirmidhee reports in his Sunan (no. 3875) from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (ra) who said, "Allaah's Messenger (saw) said, "I am the noblest of the children of Aadam on the Day of Resurrection - and that is no boast. And in my hand will be the Banner of Praise (Liwaa'ul-Hamd) -- and that is no boast. And there will be no Prophet on that Day, Aadam and everyone besides him, except that they will be under my banner. And I will be the first person for whom the earth will be opened -- and that is no boast"". (saheeh by Sh. al-Albaani, see Saheeh Sunan it-Tirmidhee no.2859)

(6) al-Bukhaari reports in his Saheeh (vol.8, no.58) from 'Abdullaah ibn 'Amr (ra) who said, "The Prophet (saw) said, "My Lake is such that it takes a month's journey to cross it. Its water is whiter than milk. Its smell is better than musk. Its drinking cups are as numerous as the stars of the sky. Whoever drinks from it will be never thirsty"

(7) He was the Shaykh of Islaam, the faqeeh, the Muhaddith, and he lived in Kufah. Ibn al-Mubaarak said, "I have not seen anyone quicker upon the Sunnah than him". He died in the year 193AH, see Tadhkiratul-Huffaadh of adh-Dhahabee 1/265

(8) Muslim reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Judgements, from 'A'ishah (ra) that Allaah's Messenger (saw) said, "Whoever does an action that does not conform to our affair, then it is rejected".

(9) Muslim reports in his Saheeh, in the Book of Pre-Decree from 'Abdullaah ibn 'Amr ibn al-Aas (ra) who said, "I heard Allaah's Messenger (saw) say, "Allaah wrote the ordained measure of all created beings, before He created the Heavens and the earth by fifty thousand years." And he said, "And His Throne was over the water".

(10) al-Bukhaaree reports in his Saheeh (vol.8, no. 583) from Anas (ra) that the Prophet (saw) said, "Whilst I was walking in Paradise I came to a river. On its two banks were tents made of hollow pearls. I said, "What is this, O Jibreel?" He said, "This is the Kawthar that your Lord has granted you". Behold its scent (or its mud) was sweet-smelling musk"".

(11) 'Abdullaah ibn 'Abbas (ra) the famous Companion and cousin of the Prophet (saw) known as the "Great Scholar of the Ummaah", and the "Explainer of the Qur'aan". The Prophet (saw) supplicated for him, saying, "O Allaah! Grant him knowledge of the Book". Reported by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh in the Book of Knowledge.

(12) Reported by al-Bukhaaree in his Saheeh, the book of ar-Riqaaq, Chapter 53: Regarding the Lake, eng. trans. vol.8,no. 580

(13) As narrated by Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri (ra) from the Prophet (saw). See Saheeh al-Bukhaaree, eng. trans. vol. 9, no. 532a, and Muslim, Eng. trans. vol.1, no.361 and no.s 359-361.

(14) Muslim reports in his saheeh in the book of Leadership, from Abu Mas'ud al-Ansaari (ra) that Allaah's Messenger (saw) said, "Whoever guides to some good will receive the same reward as its doer".

(15) Muslim reports in the long hadeeth of Jaabir (ra) about the Hajj of the Prophet (saw) in the Book of Hajj, Chapter 19 ".. then he (saw) went to the place of sacrifice and sacrificed sixty three animals with his own hand. Then he gave the knife to 'Alee and he sacrificed what remained..."

Source: Islamic Awakening

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