Surat al-KawtharWritten by محبوب حسين الأزهرى
From Tafsir Diya al-Qur’an by Diya al-Ummah, Ash-Shaykh, Pir, Muhammad Karam Shah rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi
English Rendering: Tahir Mahmood Kiani
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
إِنَّآ أَعۡطَيۡنَـٰكَ ٱلۡكَوۡثَرَ (١) فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَٱنۡحَرۡ (٢) إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ ٱلۡأَبۡتَرُ (٣)
The name of this noble chapter is ‘al-Kawthar’, which is mentioned within its first verse.
This chapter comprises of one unit and three verses. It consists of ten words and forty letters.
‘Allamah Jalaluddin as-Suyuti rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi cites two statements regarding the revelation of this chapter:
1. One is that of Sayyiduna Anas radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhu, who says that this chapter was revealed [when the Beloved Messenger Muhammad sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam was resident] in the noble city of Madinah. The gist of his narration is ‘We were in the company of the Prophet sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam when he [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] was, all of a sudden, overcome with revelation, and the head of the Prophet sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam bowed forwards. A short while later, he [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] raised his head, smiling. People inquired the reason for his smile and he [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] replied, ‘Allah ta‘ala has revealed this chapter to me…’ and he recited the chapter of al-Kawthar.’
2. On the other hand, Ibn Mardawiyyah relates the statement of Sayyiduna Ibn ‘Abbas, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn Zubayr and Sayyidah ‘A’ishah radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhum that this chapter was revealed [when the Beloved Messenger Muhammad sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam was resident] in the holy city of Makkah.
The statements of these [latter] Senior Companions [radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhum] shall be preferred over the statement of that of Sayyiduna Anas [radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhu], that this chapter was revealed in Makkah, and is therefore a Makki [chapter.] The reason behind the report by the latter [, Sayyiduna Anas radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhu,] may be explained thus, that many chapters are such that have been revealed many times over. It could be that this chapter may have been revealed a second instance at this gathering behind particular wisdom, and this is corroborated by another narration of Sayyiduna Anas [radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhu], reported by Imam Muslim, Tirmidhi and other muhaddiths.
The Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] said:
‘When I entered Paradise on the Night of the Ascension, I saw therein a river - tents of pearls were fixed on either of its banks. When I paddled my hand in its water, the aroma of pure musk began emanating from it. I inquired [Sayyiduna] Jibra’il [‘alayhi ’s-salam] regarding [that aroma] and he replied:
‘hadha al-kawthar alladhi a‘taka-hu Allah ’
‘This is the River al-Kawthar, which Allah ta‘ala has bestowed upon you.’’
The Ascension took place in Makkah, and the tidings of being bestowed with al-Kawthar were given in that very night, and so the disclosure of this bestowment must also have been made in Makkah.
Moreover, [Imam] al-Suyuti [rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi] writes:
‘al-mash’hur bayna ahl at-tafsir wa ’l-maghazi anna hadhihi ’s-surah makkiyyah’ (Tafsir ad-Durr al-Manthur)
‘It is common knowledge among the exegetes [of the Noble Qur’an] and analysts that this chapter is Makki.’
Furthermore, the expression of this chapter resembles very much that of [other] Makki chapters.
Mother of the Believers Sayyidah Khadijah [radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anha] gave birth to four daughters and two sons of the Prophet aall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam. One son was named Qasim and the other ‘Abdullah, known appellatively as Tayyib and Tahir, respectively.
Prior to the announcement of his prophethood, the people of Makkah held the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] in high esteem. They were expecting something noble from him. They were so impressed by the conduct and character of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] that they would call him [with the noble titles of] ‘as-Sadiq’ and ‘al-Amin’.
When the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] stood atop the Mount Safa and invited all to ‘qulu la ilaha illa’Llahu, tuflihu (Say, ‘There is no god but Allah, and you shall prosper)’ their countenances changed [dramatically]. Their hearts were overwhelmed with passions of hate, contempt and enmity. They would be irritated with everything associated with the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] and everything that would be a cause of sorrow to the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], it would be a cause of pleasure to them. Thus, when both the sons of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] passed away, in succession, in their infancy, the people of Makkah were not saddened to the slightest. In fact, they expressed satisfaction and pleasure. The dire threat which they were anticipating against their beliefs, culture and civilisation was, to some extent, reduced. They began to console themselves by saying that because the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] has no male heir to continue a succession, the death of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] would also be the end of his religion.
Abtar: One who has no son is known as abtar [in the Arabic language].
The insolent people from the [tribe of] Quraysh would use this very word against the Beloved [Messenger] of Allah [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam]. Abu Lahab was though an uncle of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], but his grudge and hostility against the latter was such that upon the death of the second son of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], his happiness knew no bounds. He ran to the [other] polytheists and broke these uplifting glad tidings to them, ‘batira muhammad al-laylah (Tonight, Muhammad has been severed [of progeny]).’
‘As ibn Wa’il would say [as a taunt]:
‘inna muhammadan abtaru, la ibna la-hu yaqumu maqama-hu ba‘da-hu, fa-idha mata inqata‘a dhikra-hu, wa istarhamtum min-hu
(Indeed, Muhammad is severed [of male posterity]; he has no son who would succeed him after him. When he dies, his mention will no longer be and you shall then be relieved of him).’
When heart-wrenching episodes such as these exceeded their limits, and the strength of his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] tolerance began to dwindle by their taunting and reproaching, Allah, the Most Generous, revealed this blessed chapter to His Beloved Bondsman and Holy Messenger [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], which [, in itself,] explains, in an extremely brief and yet exceedingly impressive manner, the blissful news of limitless and uncountable bounties and blessings, over which Allah ta‘ala had rendered His Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] a master, an explanation of which is to follow.
He [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala] declares [, to the disbelievers,] ‘Do you believe that his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] mention shall be wiped out, that his name and legacy shall remain no more? Hark! Hark! This is absurd.
- The grace-emitting spring of My Beloved Messenger [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] shall flow forth forever and the world shall satiate itself thereby,
- the pious shall continuously offer their florid garlands of devotion and love in his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] beauteous court ,
- those of fervour and zeal shall continue to disseminate the universal gathering with his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] remembrance,
- the spiritually exhilarating intonations of ‘peace and blessings [be upon him]’ shall, ad finitum, herald the glad tidings of the Spring [of spiritual bliss],
- so long as the banner of My Grandeur continues to fly over the terrestrial and the empyrean, the remembrance of My Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] shall persist, and the lamp which I, Myself, have kindled, it shall continue to emit its light despite the fierce and violent tempests.
The heart of whom is an abode to enmity against my Beloved Prophet [Sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] - may he perish! may the name and legacy of that individual be wiped out! may he be severed from the root!’
The fourteen-century-old history of Islam confirms and acknowledges this statement of Allah [subbhna-Hu wa-ta‘ala] and this shall always continue likewise! In fact, those people [of Makkah] experienced it themselves, when only a few years later, they became his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] servants and disciples, on their own accord.
That chaste and pure individual, who emigrated from Makkah one dark night, in the state of poverty and helplessness, the colleague of whom was none, other than Sayyiduna Abu Bakr as-Siddiq [radiy Allahu ta‘ala ‘anhu], he headed [back] in the direction of Makkah, a number of years later, with an army of ten thousand, and Makkah opened up its once-closed gates in his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] reception, and all the leaders of the Quraysh [of Makkah], heads bowed, presented themselves at his [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] court.
One other point of interest to remember here: In the Glorious Qur’an, wherever the lofty status of the Beloved Prophet, who is the Mercy to all the Worlds [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], has been mentioned, there is a note of commonality – and that is, that Allah ta‘ala has firstly mentioned Himself, and thereafter, He states the glory of His Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam]. For example:
‘subhana ’lladhi asra bi ‘abdi-Hi laylan…’
(Pure [and Glorified] is He Who took His Bondsman by night…)
‘wa ma arsalna-ka illa rahmata ’lli ’l-‘alamin’
(And We have not sent you [O’ Muhammad sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] but a mercy to all the worlds.)
Likewise, here also [we find]:
‘inna a‘tayna-ka ’l-kawthar’
(Surely, We have bestowed upon you [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] al-kawthar)
What is the logic behind this?
As far as my humble understanding is concerned, I see two reasons behind this:
1. One of them is so that, after observing the incomprehensible splendours of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], people do not take him [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] as God, therefore, He [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala] declares that these splendours are not his [Sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] own, and that it is I, the Lord of the Earth and the Heavens, Who has conferred them to him [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam],
2. The second wisdom is so that no imprudent individual would deny the splendours of the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], because it is Allah ta‘ala Who has bestowed them to him [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], Who is Omniscient, All-Wise and All-Powerful.
Whoever denies the splendours of the Messengers [‘alayhim al-salam ], he, in reality, is denying the power and wisdom, the attributes of benevolence and philanthropy of Allah ta‘ala.
al-hamdu li ’Llahi ’lladhi a‘ta nabiyya-na min al-mawahib as-sunniyyah ma la tuhsa, wa’l-mahamid al-jalilah ma la tu‘add
(All praise is to Allah Who has bestowed our Prophet with innumerable wonderful talents that cannot be numbered, and with magnificent encomiums that cannot be calculated.)
بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
In the Name of Allah, the Divinely Compassionate, the Ever-Merciful.
إِنَّآ أَعۡطَيۡنَـٰكَ ٱلۡكَوۡثَرَ (١)
1. Verily, We have bestowed upon you in abundance (whatever We have given you O’ Muhammad sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam);
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَٱنۡحَرۡ (٢)
fa-salli li-Rabbi-ka wa ’nhar
2. So (continue to) turn in prayer to your Lord and sacrifice (to Him only).
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ ٱلۡأَبۡتَرُ (٣)
inna shani’a-ka huwa ’l-abtar
3. Surely, it is your enemy (O’ Muhammad sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam) who will be severed (from all future hope).
The commendation yet continues, which had begun from the Chapter of ad-Duha (the Glorious Morning Light), of the wonderful attributes and splendours of the Prophet, the Mercy for all the Worlds sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa ali-hi wa-sallam.
Allah ta‘ala has mentioned, under various headings in the chapters in between, those bounties and favours which He [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala] bestowed to either His Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], or by virtue of [His Beloved sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], to the followers of His Beloved Prophet Muhammad [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam]. In this chapter, He [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala ] has synopsised all those captions in just one word of ‘al-Kawthar’,
- so that the divine verity-seeing Eye may incessantly gaze upon each individual wonder of Muhammadan beauty and inebriate itself,
it may remain lost in the grace and allurements of that embodiment of exquisite and elegance,
the heart may continuously sacrifice itself to the benevolences of that perpetual beauty.
- Each and every expression of His [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] is enlivening,
each and every style of His [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] is exhilarating.
- When Divine Articulation describes the prestige of its Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam], it begins to adopt a unique format. He [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala] says:
(Surely, We have…)
The plural pronoun [‘We’] has been used. The wording of plurality occasionally denotes profusion and amount, and it sometimes appears as an expression of greatness and status. Here, the objective is the latter, which means,
‘We - Who are the Creators of and Masters of the earth and sky,
We - Who are the Embellishers and Illuminators of the universal ceremony,
We - the vast mat of munificence and philanthropy of Whom is forever laid spread, and is for all an open invitation.
O’ Beloved [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam]!
We have bestowed ‘al-Kawthar’ upon you. Whatsoever We may wish to give, none can prevent that, and whatsoever We have given, none can seize that.’
In the stead of the word ‘atayna’, the word ‘a‘tayna’ is stated here. The conceptual difference in both words is manifest. Upon researching the literal meaning of the word ‘a‘ta ’, Ibn Manzur writes:
‘al-i‘ta’u wa’l-mu‘atatu jami‘an: al-munawalah
wa qad a‘ta-hu ’sh-shay’a, wa atawtu ’ah-shay’a: tanawalat-hu bi ’l-yad ’
meaning, to hand over a thing to another with one’s own hand. (Lisan al-‘Arab)
According to this research, the connotation of the verse is thus, ‘We have, with Our Divine Hand, handed over ‘al-Kawthar’ to you, We have rendered you a master over it.’
‘Allamah Nayshapuri [rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi], states in his exegesis [of the Holy Qur’an] that there are various [positive] exaggerations in this verse:
‘min-ha at-tasdir bi-anna, wa min-ha al-jam‘u ’l-mufidu li’t-ta‘zim, wa min-ha lafz al-i‘ta’ duna al-ita’ – wa fi al-i‘ta’ dalilu ’t-tamlik duna al-ita’, wa min-ha sighat al-madi ad-dallatu ‘ala at-tahqiq’
This verse commences with the word ‘inna ’, which denotes intensification. Thereafter, the pronoun of plurality has been used, which denotes reverence. Moreover, the word [from the infinitive] ‘i‘ta’ ’has been mentioned, not ‘ita’ ’- proprietorship is found in the word ‘i‘ta’’ whereas this meaning is not to be found in [the latter] ‘ita’ ’. Furthermore, the wording for the past tense has been used here, which indicates ascertainment, meaning, that this has already taken place.
‘Allamah Alusi [rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi] writes:
‘wa fi isnad al-i‘ta’i ilayhi duna al-ita’i isharatun ila anna dhalika ita’un ‘ala jihat at-tamlik ’
Here, the ascription of ‘i‘ta’ is towards the nominative pronoun, rather than of the word ‘ita’ ’. This indicates the fact that Allah ta‘ala has rendered the Prophet [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam] the master of ‘al-Kawthar’. What magnificence of generosity and munificence of the Bestower [subhana-Hu wa-ta‘ala], and what high and lofty status of the recipient [sall Allahu ta‘ala ‘alayhi wa-sallam].
Now, an attempt to comprehend the meaning of ‘al-Kawthar’ will show you the amount of the oceans of excellences and exquisites that have been contained therein:
1. ‘Allamah [Mahmud] al-Alusi [rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi]states:
‘al-kawthar: huwa faw‘alun min al-kathrah, sighatun mubalaghatun: ash-shay’ al-kathir kathrat al-mufratah ’
‘al-Kawthar’ is derived from ‘al-kathrah’, upon the measure of ‘faw‘al’, which itself is a noun of exaggeration. It means, ‘the abundance of a thing in such that such copiousness cannot be comprehended’.
2. ‘Allamah [Jalaluddin] al-Qurtubi [rahmatu’Llahi ta‘ala ‘alayhi]writes:
‘wa ’l-‘arabu tusamma kullu shay’in kathirin fi ’l-‘adadi wa ’l-qadri wa ’l-khatri kawtharan ’
‘Whatsoever is huge in number, measure and significance, is called ‘Kawthar’ [with the Arabs].’
One noteworthy point here is that the common rule is that both the qualified noun and its attribute are both generally mentioned together, but here, it is in oppos
Allama Hafiz Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari BA (Hons), BSc (Hons), MA (RES) Secretary of WAAG (World Association of Al-Azhar Graduates) UK, a mureed of Hazrat Zia-Ul-Ummat Shaykh Pir Justice Pir Karam Shah Al-Azhari and a student of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada. As such, Mahboob Hussain is the founder and resident scholar of PirKaramShah.com. He was born in Pakistan in 1976 Mahboob Hussain arrived in the UK in 1978 where he settled in Dewsbury. In 1980 he began his primary Islamic studies under Abul In’am Muhammad Abdul Bari Chishti and followed that by memorisation of the Qur'ân. After completing his GCSE’s in 1993 he rejoined his teacher in Jamia al-Karam, which at that time was at the former site in Milton Keynes, where under his tutelage and the auspicious guidance of Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, he began his studies in Arabic and Islamic studies and A Levels. Here he was fortunate to meet with his Shaykh, the Ummah’s Luminary, Justice Shaykh Muhammad Karam Shah al-Azhari (ra) and pledged his allegiance to him.
After completing his A Levels and studies in Jamia al-Karam in 1997, he was fortunate to pursue his studies in Jamia al-Azhar, Cairo where he gained a BA honours from the Department of Theology, specialising in the science of Prophetic Traditions. After completing his studies in 2000, he returned to the UK and spent a year teaching Arabic and Islamic studies in his local town Dewsbury. In 2001 he began BSc in Computing and Information Studies in the University of Bradford, which he completed in 2005 and immediately rejoined Shaykh M I H Pirzada at Jamia al-Karam as a teacher. Mahboob Hussain has achieved his MA thesis by research at the University of Leeds titled ‘Jewish Anecdotes in Qur'ânic Exegesis’ and is currently looking forward to his upcoming PhD InshAllah. He is also involved in alot of other literary work, such as English translation of selected surahs of Tafsir Zia-Ul-Quran, soon to be exclusively released on pirkaramshah.com.