Surah Al-Kawthar: Verse 1 - إنا أعطيناك الكوثر... - English

Tafsir of Verse 1, Surah Al-Kawthar

إِنَّآ أَعْطَيْنَٰكَ ٱلْكَوْثَرَ

English Translation

Indeed, We have granted you, [O Muhammad], al-Kawthar.

English Transliteration

Inna aAAtaynaka alkawthara

Tafsir of Verse 1

Surely We have given thee abundance;

To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance).

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.

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.

Verse 1 - Surah Al-Kawthar: (إنا أعطيناك الكوثر...) - English