REFLECTIONS ON THE CHAPTER OF THE ABUNDANCE [108]

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REFLECTIONS ON CHAPTER OF THE ABUNDANCE [108]


In the Name of God, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.


إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

 

 

 “Surely (O Muhammad) We have given you abundance (of good (Kawthar).” [108:1]


فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

 

 

“Therefore to your Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.” [108:2]


إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

 

 

“Surely your enemy is the one who will be without spring.” [108:3]


Reflection #1


This Surah is the 15th Surah in the chronological order of the Holy Qur’an, And the 108th in the traditional order of the Holy Qur’an.This Surah is known as a Meccan Surah, but some believe that it may be Medinan. Some others have said that this Surah might have been revealed twice; once in Mecca and once in Medina, but the narrations cited on the occasion of its revelation attest to the first idea which says it is Meccan.


Occasion of Revelation


The following is a story told about the occasion of the revelation of Surah Kawthar: ‘As-Ibn-Wa’il, who was one of the chiefs of the pagans, met the Holy Prophet (S) coming out of the Sacred Mosque. He spoke with him (S) for awhile.

In the meantime, a group of authoritative men of the Quraish were sitting in the Mosque watching him from a distance.

 

 

When ‘As-ibn-Wa’il entered the Mosque they asked him:

“To whom were you speaking?”

He answered:

“With this abtar (The one without an offspring) one”.

 

 

He used this word for the Holy Prophet (S) to taunt him, because he (S) had two sons born of Lady Khadijah; Qasim and Taher (also called ‘Abdullah) who died in Mecca and so, there was no live male issue from the Holy Prophet (S). Hence after, the Qur’an applied this name to the enemies of the Prophet. [1]


The Arabs used to call the one who had no son “abtar” (ابتر), and ‘abtar’ means ‘the animal whose tail is cut off’. So, then. it means the one whose succession in his seed has ceased, i.e., the one who has none to inherit him. To console the Holy Prophet (S), this Surah was revealed with the glad tidings of the greatest amount or the highest degree of the grace of God, bestowed on him.

Those people traditionally considered the male child extraordinarily valuable and thought of him as a substitute for the father. They happily imagined that with the demise of the Holy Prophet (S) his program would cease because he had no son to substitute him to continue it.

The revelation of this Surah was, in fact, an answer to the enemies of the Apostle to inform them that Islam and the Qur’an would remain and ceaselessly continue, forever.


The Virtue of Studying the Surah


On the virtue of the recitation of this Surah, a tradition from the Holy Prophet (S) says:

 

“He who recites it (Surah Kawthar) God will quench his thirst from the streams of Heaven and will recompense him good rewards as many as the number of every sacrifice which the servants of God make on the day of the Feast of Sacrifice, together with those sacrifices which are of the People of the Book and the pagans.” [2]

 

The name of this Surah, Kawthar, is taken from the first verse of the Surah.


Surah Al-Kawthar in its depth


1.“Surely (O Muhammad) We have given you abundance (of good (Kawthar).”
2. “Therefore, to your Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.”
3. “Surely your enemy is the one who will be without spring.”


 In this Surah, similar to Surah Duha and Surah Inshirah, the Holy Prophet (S) is addressed. One of the objective points in all three Surahs is that of consoling him when he was faced with a magnitude of painful incidents and numerous taunts by the offensive language of his enemies.

 

 

“Surely (O Muhammad) We have given you abundance of good (Kawthar).”

 

 

The term “Kawthar” (كوثر) is a descriptive case derived from “Kathra” (كثرة)   with the meaning of ‘a lot of goodness, or blessing’; while gracious persons are also called ‘Kawthar’.

What is the purpose of using the term ‘Kawthar’, here? A narration says that when the Holy Prophet (S) sat on the pulpit and recited this Surah, some of the companions asked him what it was that God had given him and he answered:

“It is a stream in Heaven, whiter than milk, more clear than a goblet (of crystal) with dome-shaped ornaments from pearls and rubies…” [3]


Another tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) says:

 

 

“Kawthar is a stream in Heaven that God granted His Apostle for his son (who died in his lifetime)”.

 

 

Some have also said the purpose of using the word ‘Kawthar’ is for the Pool of Abundance (Haudh Al-Kawthar) that belongs to the Prophet (S) wherefrom the believers quench their thirst when arriving in Paradise. [4]


Some have commented on it as being ‘prophecy’ and some others as ‘the Qur’an’; still others as ‘abundance of the Prophet’s companions and followers’, or the ‘abundance of the descendants’ all of whom came from his daughter, Fatimah Zahra (as), and they multiplied to such an extent that it is impossible to count them.

They are not only, now, but, until the advent of the Hereafter, the reminders of the Holy Prophet (S). Some have also commented on it as being ‘intercession’, narrating a tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) in this connection, as a reference.

Even, Fakhr-i-Razi has narrated fifteen different narrations on the meaning of ‘Kawthar’.

But, it seems that most of them are the statements of the clear examples of this broad concept, because, as was mentioned before, ‘Kawthar’ means ‘goodness and blessing in abundance’, and we know that God, the Graceful, granted the Holy Prophet (S) so many blessings so that each of those mentioned in the above is one clear example of them. There are also many other examples that may be cited as example commentaries for the verse.

However, all the divine gifts granted to the Holy Prophet (S) in all aspects, even the victories in his expeditions against his enemies, and the scholars of his followers in the Muslim community, who guard the burning torch of Islam and Qur’an, in every period and age, and carry it throughout the world, all in all are involved in this ‘abundance of good’.


It should not be forgotten that God revealed these verses to His Prophet’s (S) Holy heart at the time when the manifestations of this ‘abundance of good’ had not yet appeared. It was a miraculous piece of news which informed about the near future and the remote future regarding the legitimacy of the Holy Prophet (S).

This great blessing and the ‘abundance of good’ needs a lofty thankfulness, although creatures can never thank the Creator for His blessings, fully, because even the success of being thankful is another blessing from Him which needs thankfulness.


When it is so; “Therefore to your Lord turn in prayer and Sacrifice”. Yes, He is the One Who grants these blessings, therefore, prayer, worship and sacrifice, which is also a kind of worship, itself, have no meaning save for God, particularly in regard to the meaning of the term Lord which indicates the constancy of grace, providence and Lordship of Providence.

Briefly, ‘worship’, in the form of prayer or making a sacrifice, is only the Lord’s and Benefactor’s privilege, and it is exclusively for the Pure Supreme Being.

This refers to the behaviour of the pagans who used to prostrate and sacrifice to the idols while they knew their affluence belonged to God. and in any case, the phrase ‘your Lord’, used in the verse, is a clear evidence for the necessity of ‘intention with divine motive’ in worship.

Many commentators believe that the purpose, involved here refers to the prayer on the Feast of Sacrifice, and making sacrifice on the same day. But, the meaning of the verse is apparently general and inclusive, even though prayer and sacrifice of the Feast on the day are of its clear examples.

Perhaps, using the term “wanhar” (وَانْحَرْ) based on “Nahr” (نحر), which is specific to butchering a camel, is for the reason that sacrificing a camel, amongst other offerings, enjoyed a higher importance for the Muslims of that time who liked it very much, and thus, its butchering was not possible without the showing of generosity.


Here are two more commentaries on the above verse:

 

 

  1. The implied meaning of the phrase “wanhar” ( وَانْحَرْ) is ‘facing Qiblah (the direction of the Ka’ba) when saying a prayer’, because the word “Nahr” (نحر) (originally means ‘throat’ then, it has been used with the meaning of ‘standing in front of anything’.

 

 

  1. The purpose involved, here is the ‘raising of the hands up to the throat and face’.

A tradition says that when this Surah was revealed, the Holy Prophet (S) asked Gabriel (A) :

 

 

“What is this “Nuhayrah” ( نحيرة)    that my Lord has commissioned me to do”?

 

Gabriel (A) said:

 

 

“This is not “Nuhayrah” (نحيرة) . God has, however, commanded you to raise your hands at the beginning of prayer when you say “ God is the greatest” and when you are going to perform bowing or prostration and after that, because our prayer and that of the angels, in the seven heavens, are like this. Everything has an adornment and the adornment of prayer is raising the hands at the time of saying “God is the greatest”. [5]


There is another tradition from Imam Sadiq (as) who, on the commentary of this verse, indicating with his holy hands, said:

 

 

“The purpose is that you raise your hands so that your palms be towards Qiblah (the direction of the Ka’ba)”. 

 

 

There is no problem in combining all these meanings, in particular, there are many Islamic narrations about raising the hands at the time of saying “God is the greatest” Thus, the verse has such a vast meaning that it covers all of them. However, the first commentary is the most appropriate.


In the last verse of this short Surah, regarding the taunts made by the chiefs of the pagans to that holy being, it says:“Surely your enemy is the one who will be without offspring”.

The term “Shan’i” (شانئ) is derived from “Shana’an” ( شنآن ) with the meaning of ‘enmity, spitefulness, and peevishness’; and “Shan’I” is the one who possesses these characteristics.

It is worthy to note that “abtar” originally means ‘the animal whose tail is cut off’ and the enemies of Islam taunted the Holy Prophet (S) by saying this with the hope that after his departure from this world and having no son to inherit his position, the dissolution of Islam’s sovereignty would happen. But, Qur’an, consoling the Holy Prophet (S) tells him that it is not him who will be without offspring, but surely his enemy is.


Explanation: Lady Hazrat Fatimah (A) and Kawthar


It was said earlier that ‘Kawthar’ has a vast inclusive meaning which is ‘goodness in abundance’ and the examples are many.

A large number of scholars of the Shi’ah school believe that one of the most clear examples of that word is the auspicious existence of Lady Fatimah Zahra (A), because the occasion of the revelation of the verse says that they accused the Holy Prophet (S) of being without offspring, but the Qur’an says:

 

 

“Surely (O Muhammad) We have given you abundance of good (Kawthar)”.

 

 

From this meaning we understand that this ‘abundance of good’ is the very Lady Fatimah Zahra (A) of whom the descendants of the Prophet (S) increased abundantly and thousands and thousands of them scattered in the world preaching his religion and preserving it.

It is a fact that none can correctly count the number of descendants of Hazrat Ali (A) and Fatimah (A) who are recognized as the descendants of the Holy Prophet (S), among whom so many great scholars, scientists, writers, commentators, jurisprudents, traditionists and splendid leaders left some outstanding works and unmatched fame in this world, and tried to protect Islam with their donations and devotions.


Here, we encounter a very interesting discussion from Fakhr Al-Razi who, along with other commentaries on ‘Kawthar’, says:

 

 

“The third statement is that this Surah has been revealed to reject those who criticized the Holy Prophet (S) for his lack of progeny, therefore, the meaning of the Surah is that God shall give him a generation which will remain stable through all ages.

 

 

And consider this, that although a number of Ahlul-Bait have been martyred, the world is replete with them, whereas from the Ummayads (who were the enemies of Islam) there remains no mentionable figure in the world. Then, behold and see how many of the great men of leadership such as Al-Baqir, As-Sadiq, Ar-Rida, and Nafs-i-Zakiyyah [6]are found among them, (the household).” [7]


The Miracle of this Surah


This Surah virtually contains three important miraculous predictions. On the one hand, it informs the Prophet (S) of the, glad tidings of the‘abundance of good’, (although the verb “a’tayna” (أَعْطَيْنَا) is in the past tense form, but it may be as the indisputable tense common to the present and future which has been stated in the form of the past tense) and this ‘abundance of good’ encompasses all victories and successes that were obtained, later, by the Holy Prophet (S); were not predictable in Mecca at the time of the revelation of this Surah.

On the other hand, the Surah foretells that the Holy Prophet (S) shall not be without posterity, and his generations and descendants shall exist abundantly in the world.

The third prediction of the Surah is that the enemies of the Prophet (S) will be ‘abtar’, i.e., without posterity. This, too, actually happened and those enemies were so rooted out that no trace of their generations can be seen today. Tribes such as the Ummayads and Abbasids, who opposed the Prophet (S) and his prophecy and who enjoyed such a population that their family and children could not be counted, today, of which there is not one of them to be introduced.


God and the Plural Pronoun


It is noteworthy that, here and in many other verses of the Holy Qur’an, God introduces Himself by the first person plural pronoun, thus: “Surely We have given you abundance of good (Kawthar)”.

This sense, and the likes of it, is for the expression of Glory and Power, because when the nobility talk about themselves, they announce not only themselves, but, also their commissionaires, and this refers to the power and nobility as well as to the presence of those in obedience along with the commands.

In the verse under discussion the term /an/ is also another emphasis on this meaning and the phrase“a’taynaka” (أَعْطَيْنَاكَ) ‘We have given you’, rather than “ataynaka” (اتيناك), is an evidence to the fact that He has awarded him “Kawthar”,which, itself, is a great glad tiding to the Prophet (S) in order to keep his Holy heart aloof from annoyance resulting from the nonsensical remarks of the enemies, and consequently, languor does not affect his firm determination, and for him to know that God is his support Who is the source of all welfare and grace in abundance.


Reflection #2 (Iteration)


Let’s Reiterate the reflection on this beautiful Surah that has showed us the beauty of the Blessings of The Prophet (S) and his Ahlulbayt (A) in another deep reflection.


It is commonly held that this chapter was revealed in Mecca, however there are some scholars who believe that it may have been revealed in Medina. Another opinion states that this chapter was revealed twice – once in Mecca and once in Medina.


However the narrations cited on the occasion of its revelation attest to the first idea which says that it is a Meccan chapter.

 

 

In regards to the occasion of revelation, the following story has been narrated:

 

 

As b. Wail, who was one of the chiefs of the pagans, met the Noble Prophet as he was coming out of the Sacred Masjid (Masjid al-Haram). As b. Wail proceeded to speak with the Prophet during that short time, a group of leaders of the Quraysh were sitting in the masjid watching him from a distance.

When As b. Wail entered the masjid they asked him: “Who were you speaking to?” He answered: “With the ‘abtar’ one.”

As b. Wail used this (derogatory) word (abtar) for the Noble Prophet to taunt him, because he knew that the Noble Prophet had a son named ʿAbdullah who had died in his infancy, and in the language of the Arabs, a person who had no male offspring was referred to as “abtar” – meaning one who has no posterity to follow after him. Thus, the Quraysh gave the Noble Prophet this nickname after the death of his son.

To condole the Noble Prophet , this chapter was revealed with the glad tidings of the greatest amount of grace (al-Kawthar – an abundance of goodness) from Allah and that the Prophet’s 9 opponents would be ‘abtar’ or have no posterity.[8]


In summary: The Noble Prophet had two male children from his first wife Khadijah – one named Qasim and the other one named Tahir (who was also known as Abdullah) and both of them passed away in Mecca, and thus the Prophet did not have any son who lived.

This tragic event gave the Quraysh the opportunity to hurl insults at the Prophet and refer to him as ‘abtar’ or one who has no (surviving) male children. [9]


According to their traditional ways, the Arabs gave a great deal of importance to male children and considered the son as being an extension of their father.

Thus, after the death of his two sons, they thought that with the eventual demise of the Noble Prophet, his mission (of spreading Islam) would also cease to exist as he had no male children (to carry on his message) and this greatly pleased the polytheistic Arabs greatly!

The Noble Qur’an was revealed and through a miraculous message in this chapter, replied to these individuals and let them know that: It is the enemies of the Prophet who will actually be ‘abtar’ or cut off in progeny, and that the program of Islam and the Qur’an will never come to a halt!

The revelation of this chapter was in fact, an answer to the enemies of the Apostle of Allah to inform them that Islam and the Qur’an would remain and continue forever. From another point of view, it was also a consolation to the Messenger of Allah that after he had heard this despicable nickname which they gave him, and knew of their plots against him, that his heart was brought to tranquility through this news.


The virtue of studying this chapter


In regards to the virtue of the recitation of this chapter, a tradition from the Noble Prophet says:

 

 

مَنْ قَرَأَهَا سَقَاهُ اللهُ مِنْ أَنْهَارِ الْـجَنَّةِ وَ أَعْطي مِنَ الأَجْرِ بِعَدَدِ كُلِّ قُرْبَانٍ قَرَّبَهُ الْعِبَادِ فِي يَوْمِ عِيدٍ وَ يَقْرَبُونَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَ” الْمُشْرِكِينَ

 

 

One who recites it (Suratul Kawthar), God will quench their thirst from the streams of heaven and will recompense them good rewards as many as the number of every sacrifice which the servants of God make on the day of the Feast of Sacrifice, together with those sacrifices which are of the People of the Book and the pagans.[10]

 

The name of this chapter, al-Kawthar, is taken from the first verse of the chapter.


Commentary of the Verses


In the Name of God, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful


 “إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ ۝ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ ۝ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ”

 

 

“Surely We have given you (Muhammad) abundance of good (al-Kawthar). ~ Therefore turn to your Lord in prayer and sacrifice. ~ Indeed your enemy is the one who will be without offspring.”


We have given you (Muhammad) much goodness!


In this chapter, similar to what is seen in Suratul Ḍuha and Suratul Inshirah, the Noble Prophet is the focal point of the address, and one of the prime objectives in all three of these chapters is to grant consolation to the Prophet in relation to the continuous painful incidents and numerous taunts of his enemies and their harsh language (towards him).

 

 

We first read{Surely We have given you (Muhammad) an abundance of good (al-Kawthar).}

The term “أَلْکَوْثَرُ” is the descriptive case derived from the (Arabic word) “كَثْرَتٌ” which means “ample goodness or blessings” and those individuals who are extremely generous are also referred to as “al-Kawthar”.


What is the purpose of using the term “al-Kawthar”?


It is mentioned in the narrations that: When this chapter was revealed, the Noble Prophet ascended the pulpit (mimbar) and recited it. His companions asked him what it was that God had given him and he answered: “It is a stream in paradise, whiter than milk, more clear than a goblet (made of crystal), and on either side are domes decorated with pearls and rubies.” [11]


In a tradition from Imam Jafar As-Sadiq (A) he says: “Al-Kawthar is a stream in paradise which God has granted to His Prophet in exchange for his infant son (ʿAbdullah) who passed away during the life of the Prophet.”

Some scholars have stated that “al-Kawthar” is a ‘Pool of Abundance’ which belongs to the Prophet from where the believers will quench their thirst when they arrive in paradise. [12]


Other opinions of ‘al-Kawthar’ include the following:

 

 Some have commented on it as being ‘prophecy’;

 

Others mention that it is the Qur’an;

 

Another opinion is that it refers to an abundance of companions and followers of the Prophet ;

 

Yet another interpretation is that it refers to the abundance of descendants all of who will come from his daughter, Fatima Zahra’, and will increase to such an extent that it will be impossible to count them.

 

They do not only exist today, but in fact will continue to remain until the hereafter as reminders of the Noble Prophet;

 

Some have also commented on this term referring to ‘intercession’ and have narrated a tradition from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq in this regard. [13]


Even the Sunni scholar, Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi has narrated fifteen different narrations on the meaning of ‘al-Kawthar’, however most of them are merely statements of the clear examples of this broad concept, because as was mentioned before, ‘Al-Kawthar’ means ‘goodness and blessings in abundance’, and we know that God the Grand, granted the Noble Prophet so many blessings such that each of the ones mentioned above is but one clear example of them.

There are many other examples that may be cited as commentaries for the verse; however we will mention them here.

All of the Divine gifts granted to the Noble Prophet in every aspect – such as the victories in his expeditions against his enemies; the scholars of his community who in every era and age, guard the illuminated torch of Islam and the Qur’an and carry it throughout the world – all in all are contained in this ‘abundance of goodness’.

It should not be forgotten that God revealed these verses to His Prophet’s (S) blessed heart at a time when the manifestations of this ‘abundance of good’ had not yet appeared.

It was a miraculous piece of news which he was informed about and was to transpire in the near and remote future to confirm the legitimacy of the Noble Prophet (A).


This great blessing and the ‘abundance of good’ should have a lofty level of thanks (to be given to God), although creatures can never entirely thank the Creator for His blessings because even the ability to be thankful is another blessing from Him which needs thanks. Therefore, God says, {Thus, turn towards your Lord in prayer and (offer the) sacrifice.}

He is the One who grants these blessings, therefore prayer, worship and sacrifice – which is also a kind of worship in itself – has no meaning unless it is done solely for the sake of God , particularly in regard to the meaning of the term Lord (رَبِّ) which indicates the constancy of grace and providence.

Briefly it can be stated that: ‘worship’ – whether it be in the form of the salat (prayer) or making a sacrifice of an animal, is only the Lord’s and Benefactor’s privilege, and it is exclusively for the Pure Supreme Being – God – to be directed towards.

This portion of the verse refers to the behavior of the pagans who used to prostrate and sacrifice animals to the idols, while they knew their thanks for all of the blessings that they had been given truly belonged only to God, and the phrase ‘your Lord’ (لِرِبِّكَ) used in this verse, is a clear evidence for the necessity of pure intentions in all acts of worship.

Many commentators believe that the meaning of salat in this verse is the salat on the Day of the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Qurban), and making the sacrifice of an animal on that day. However, the meaning of the verse is apparently general in its scope and inclusive of many other types of prayers, even though salat and the sacrifice of the Day of the Feast of Sacrifice are clear examples of this term.

Perhaps the use of the term “وَانْحَرْ” or ‘offer sacrifice’ which comes from the root ‘نَحَرَ’ and is specific to the process of slaughtering a camel has been employed because among all of the animals which can be slaughtered (on the Day of the Feast of the Sacrifice and also in general), the camel is the best of them, and among the early community of Muslims, we know that they had a great fondness of slaughtering (and eating) the camel and that slaughtering a camel was not possible without a show of generosity (due to its great worth and value).


Here are two more commentaries which have been offered on the above verse:

 

1. The implied meaning of the phrase “وَانْحَرْ”is to face the qiblah (the Kaʿbah) when performing the salat. This interpretation is given because the word “نَحَرٌ” originally meant the ‘throat’, and then later on it was used by the Arabs to mean the act of ‘standing in front of anything’.It is for this reason that the Arabs say, “مَنَازِلُنَا تَتَنَاحَرُ” meaning that “Our stations are opposite of one another.”

2. Another meaning is the raising of the hands up to the face and neck when pronouncing the ‘takbir’ (to begin the salat).


In a tradition we read that when this chapter was revealed, the Noble Prophet asked Gabriel : “What is this “نُحَيرَة” that my Lord has commissioned me to do? Gabriel said: “This is not “نُحَيرَة”; rather God has commanded you to raise your hands at the beginning of prayer when you say “أَللهُ أَكْبَرُ” and also every time when you are going to perform the ruku or sajdah and after that (particular act), because our prayer (salat) and that of the angels in the seven heavens is exactly like this. Everything has an adornment and the adornment of prayer is raising the hands at the time of saying “أَللهُ أَكْبَرُ “ [14


In another tradition, this one from Imam Jafar as-Sadiq who on the commentary of this verse, indicated with his hands and said: “The meaning of this verse is that you raise your hands in such a way that your palms face towards the qiblah (the direction of the Kabah).”[15]


However, many commentators of the Holy Qur’an see that the first commentary given is the most appropriate in regards to what this verse means, since its meaning was to negate the actions of the idolaters who used to perform acts of worship such as the sacrifice of animals for other than God .

However with this said, there is also no problem in combining all of these meanings together and in particular, there are many narrations about raising the hands at the time of saying “أَللهُ أَكْبَرُ” and there are traditions in the books of the Shia and the Ahlus-Sunnah in this regards, and therefore this verse can have such a vast meaning that it covers all of them.


In the last verse of this short chapter, keeping in mind the taunts made by the chiefs of the pagans towards the Noble Prophet, we read, {Surely your enemy is the one who will be without offspring.}

The term “شَانِي” or ‘enemy’ is derived from the word “شَنَئَآنٌ” which means ‘enmity, spitefulness, and bad manners’; thus, the word “شَانِي” is the one who possesses these characteristics.

It is worthy to note that the word “أَبْتَرُ” originally meant ‘an animal whose tail is cut off’ and the enemies of Islam taunted the Noble Prophet by using this word.

In reality, the usage of the term “شَانِي” clearly shows that in their desire to express their enmity towards the Prophet 9, these people did not even display the smallest amount of respect or dignity – meaning that their enmity was interwoven with hard-heartedness and the use of shameful words! In reality, the Qurʾan retorted to such individuals and told them, “It is actually you who have this characteristic (of being cut off of your posterity) and not the Noble Prophet!”

In addition, just as has been mentioned in regard to the history of revelation of this chapter, the Quraysh were waiting for the demise of the Prophet (S) to transpire as they felt that with his departure from this world and since he had no son to inherit his position, the dissolution of the rule of Islam would happen.

But the Qur’an, consoling the Noble Prophet told him that it is not him who will be without offspring, but surely his enemy is the one who will not continue on!


Points of Interest


1. Lady Fatima (A) and al-Kawthar


It was said earlier that ‘al-Kawthar’ has a vast, inclusive meaning which is ‘goodness in abundance’ and the examples are many.

A large number of scholars of the Shia school believe that one of the most clear examples of this word is the auspicious existence of Fatima Zahra, because the occasion of the revelation of the verse indicates that the enemies accused the Noble Prophet of being without offspring to which the

Qur’an replied{Surely (Muhammad) We have given you abundance of good (al-Kawthar).}

 

From this verse we understand that this ‘abundance of good’ is that very Lady Fatima Zahra’.


In addition, not only is it the physical and biological offspring of the Prophet which will increase, rather it is these abundant number of offspring scattered which continue his religion and are responsible for the preservation of all of the values of Islam and continue to convey it to the future generations!

This is not only limited to the infallible Imams of the Ahlul Bayt who have a literal number that we can enumerate (12), rather it is the thousands and thousands of children of Fatima which have spread around the entire world from whom so many great scholars, scientists, writers, exegetists, jurists, narrators of the Prophet’s sayings and leaders have come from – individuals who have left outstanding works and unmatched fame in this world, and have protected Islam with their selfless giving (of themselves and their efforts) and their hard work and devotions.


Here, we encounter a very interesting discussion from Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi who along with other commentators on ‘al-Kawthar’, says:

 

“ The third statement of the meaning of this chapter is that it was revealed to reject those who criticized the Noble Prophet for his lack of progeny.

Therefore the meaning of this chapter is that God will give him a generation which will remain throughout all of the ages.

Considering the fact that how many members of the Ahlul Bayt have been martyred, we still see that the world is replete with them, whereas the Umayyads (who were the enemies of Islam) there remains no mentionable figure in the world.

Then, behold and see how many of the great men of leadership such as al-Baqir, as-Sadiq, al-Ridha, and Nafs al-Zakiyyah [16], etc… are found among them (the household)!”[17]


2. The miracle of this chapter


In reality, this chapter contains three important miraculous predictions:

 

On one hand, it informs the Prophet of the glad tidings of the ‘abundance of good’, (although the verb “أَعْطَيْنَا” is in the past tense form), it may definitely be considered as meaning the present and future which has been stated in the form of the past tense and this ‘abundance of good’ encompasses all victories and successes that were obtained later by the Noble Prophet (S) however which were not predictable in Mecca at the time of the revelation of this chapter.


On the other hand, the chapter foretells that the Noble Prophet (S) will not be without posterity, and his generations and descendants will exist abundantly all over the world.

The third thing which this chapter foretells is that the enemies of the Prophet (S) will be ‘abtar’ – without posterity. This too actually happened and those enemies were so rooted out that no trace of their generations can be seen today.

We see that today, tribes such as the Umayyads and Abbasids, who opposed the Prophet and his prophecy and who enjoyed such a population in the past, today their family and children cannot even be counted and they not even present anywhere!


3.God and the plural pronoun


It is noteworthy that here and in many other verses of the Noble Qur’an, God introduces Himself by the first person plural pronoun and says: {‘We’ have given you an abundance of good (al-Kawthar).}

This wording and others like it are for the expression of Glory and Power, as when the noble talk about themselves, they announce not only themselves, but also their commissionaires, and this refers to their power and nobility, as well as to the presence of those in obedience, along with the commands.

In the verse under discussion the term “إِنَّ” is also another emphasis on this meaning, and the phrase “أَعْطَيْنَاكَ” – ‘We have given you’, rather than “آتَيْنَاكَ” is evidence to the fact that God has awarded the Noble Prophet (S) “al-Kawthar” which itself is a great glad tiding to the Prophet in order to keep his heart aloof from annoyance resulting from the nonsensical remarks of the enemies; and consequently, languor does not affect his firm determination, and for him to know that God is his support and that He is the source of all welfare and grace in abundance.


Reflection #3


 This is really one of the finest Surahs that deals with the beauty of the Prophet (S). It is an honour to me as a Muslim that the Prophet (S) is granted the gift of Kawthar from God. It is an honour to know that God has planned Kawthar for the Prophet (S) and for those true believers of goodness and faith who really were loyal believers during the time of the Prophet (S) and after his demise.

God demands a requirement from us, and that is to connect our hearts to Him and to perform our actions with the intentions for the sake of his Love and His majesty.

It is also important that a legacy of blessings will follow the passing of the Prophet (S) which we will inherit in our hearts if we are open enough and ready to open our hearts to God’s blessing.

It is also important to know that God’s gift has no boundaries and no limits reach God’s gifts and blessings.


عَطَاءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ

 

 

…a ˹generous˺ giving, without end. [Surah Hud 108]


God’s gift without end will reach every broken heart that really opens up to God when the Heart is wounded by its cracks and grief.


 وسئل أين الله؟ فقال: عند المنكسرة قلوبهم.

 

 

Someone asked Prophet Muhammed (S): ” Where is God “?

 

He (S) replied: ” With the Broken-Hearted “

 

 

 

 [Bihar Al-Anwar, Volume 70, Page 157]  


 You should also know that the Prophet (S) left behind him two weighty things : the Qur’an and his Ahlulbayt (A) that will never be separated until the Qur’an and Ahlulbayt (A) will reach the pool of Kawthar!


قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنِّي تَارِكٌ فِيكُمْ مَا إِنْ تَمَسَّكْتُمْ بِهِ لَنْ تَضِلُّوا بَعْدِي أَحَدُهُمَا أَعْظَمُ مِنَ الآخَرِ كِتَابُ اللَّهِ حَبْلٌ مَمْدُودٌ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ إِلَى الأَرْضِ وَعِتْرَتِي أَهْلُ بَيْتِي وَلَنْ يَتَفَرَّقَا حَتَّى يَرِدَا عَلَىَّ الْحَوْضَ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ تَخْلُفُونِي فِيهِمَا ‏”‏ 

 

 

Narrated Zaid bin Arqam, may God be pleased with both of them:

 

 

that the Messenger of God (ﷺ) said:”Indeed, I am leaving among you, that which if you hold fast to them, you shall not be misguided after me. One of them is greater than the other: The Book of God is a rope extended from the sky to the earth, and my Ahlulbayt (A) – the people of my house – and they shall not split until they meet at the Hawdh, so look at how you deal with them after me.”


Sunni Sources 


  1. Sahih al-Tirmidhi, v5, pp 662-663,328, report of 30+ companions, with reference to several chains of transmitters and Sahih Muslim 2408 d, Book 44, Hadith 58, Eng reference : Book 31, Hadith 5923
    Al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, Chapter of “Understanding (the virtues) of Companions, v3, pp 109,110,148,533 who wrote this tradition is authentic (Sahih) based on the criteria of the two Shaikhs (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
    3. Sunan, by Daarami, v2, p432
    4. Musnad, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v3, pp 14,17,26,59, v4, pp 366,370-372, v5, pp 182,189,350,366,419
    5. Fadha’il al-Sahaba, by Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, v2, p585, Tradition #990
    6. al-Khasa’is, by al-Nisa’i, pp 21,30
    7. al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar Haythami, Ch. 11, section 1, p230
    8. al-Kabir, by al-Tabarani, v3, pp 62-63,137
    9. Kanz al-Ummal, by al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Chapter al-Iti’sam bi Habl Allah, v1, p44.
    10. Tafsir Ibn Kathir (complete version), v4, p113, under commentary of verse 42:23 of Qur’an (four traditions)
    11. al-Tabaqat al-Kubra, by Ibn Sa’d, v2, p194, Pub. by Dar Isadder, Lebanon.
    12. al-Jami’ al-Saghir, by al-Suyuti, v1, p353, and also in v2
    13. Majma’ al-Zawa’id, al-Haythami, v9, p163
    14. al-Fateh al-Kabir, al-Binhani, v1, p451
    15. Usdul Ghabah fi Ma’rifat al-Sahaba, Ibn al-Athir, v2, p12
    16. Jami’ al-Usul, Ibn al-Athir, v1, p187
    17. History of Ibn Asakir, v5, p436
    18. al-Taj al-Jami’ Lil Usul, v3, p308
    19. al-Durr al-Manthoor, al-Hafidh al-Suyuti, v2, p60
    20. Yanabi al-Mawaddah, al-Qundoozi al-Hanafi, pp 38,183
    21. Abaqat al-Anwar, v1, p16

And much more …………


 It is also important to know that there were “Sahabas” of the Prophet (S) who will not reach the pool of Kawthar and the Greatest Blessing of God due to their disloyalty and their misguidance after the demise of the Prophet (S), when they weren’t willing to follow the Qur’an and the Ahlulbayt (A)


ابْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، أَنَّهُ كَانَ يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّبِيِّ، صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ يَرِدُ عَلَى الْحَوْضِ رِجَالٌ مِنْ أَصْحَابِي فَيُحَلَّئُونَ عَنْهُ فَأَقُولُ يَا رَبِّ أَصْحَابِي‏.‏ فَيَقُولُ إِنَّكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَكَ بِمَا أَحْدَثُوا بَعْدَكَ، إِنَّهُمُ ارْتَدُّوا عَلَى أَدْبَارِهِمُ الْقَهْقَرَى ‏”‏‏

 

 

Narrated Ibn Al-Musaiyab:

 

 

The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Some men from my companions will come to my Lake-Fount (Lake/pool of Kawthar) and they will be driven away from it, and I will say, ‘O Lord, my companions!’ It will be said, ‘You have no knowledge of what they innovated after you left: they turned apostate as renegades (reverted from Islam).

 

 

[Sahih al-Bukhari 6586, Book 81, Hadith 174, English reference: Vol. 8, Book 76, Hadith 586, Sahih al-Bukhari 6582, Book 81, Hadith 170, English reference: Vol. 8, Book 76, Hadith 584 ]


Hold on to the rope of God and don’t become divided. Hold on to the rope of God, which we as Muslims must hold on to, and let’s not divide from the Qur’an and Ahlulbayt (A).

Let’s unite when it comes to the two most important things after the demise of the Prophet (S). The Qur’an and the Ahlulbayt (A) that are our way to God and his blessings and his Kawthar which is a gift without an end, and is a gift which the eyes have never seen and which the ears have never heard of, and which the hearts never have thought of or been able to imagine!


Supplication


O Lord! Do not deprive us from the blessings of that ‘abundance of good’ that You granted to Your Prophet (S).

 

 

O Lord! You know that we truly love Your Prophet (S) and his pure progeny (A); therefore include us among their ranks.

 

 

O Lord! You know that we heartily love Your Prophet (S) and his pure progeny (A); include us among them.

 

 

O Lord! The glory of his essence and his religion is much notable; add to this grandeur, majesty and honour.


Further readings


  1. Majma’ Al-Bayan By Shaykh At-Tabrasi
  2. Tafsir Namuneh By Ayatollah Naser Makarem As-Shirazi
  3. Tafsir Al-Mizan By At-Tabatabaei
  4. Tafsir Nur Ath-Thaqalayn By Al-Huwayzi
  5. Tafsir As-Safi By Al-Kashaani
  6. Tafsir At-Tibyan By Shaykh At-Tusi 
  7. Tafsir Jami’ Al-Jawami’ By Shaykh At-Tabrasi 
  8. Tafsir Al-Qummi by Shaykh Ali Ibrahim Al-Qummi
  9. Tafsir As-Shibr 
  10. Tafsir Min Wahy Al-Qur’an By Sayyed Muhammed Hussain Fadlallah 
  11. Tafsir Al-Mubin by Sayyed Muhammed Jawad Al-Mughniyah
  12. Tafsir Furat Al-Kufi 
  13. The Study Qur’an by Hossein An-Nasr
  14. Tafsir Al-Kabir by Fakhr Ad-Din Ar-Razi 
  15. Tafsir Al-Kashaaf By Zamakshari

References


[1] The Messenger of Allah (S) had another son by the name of Abraham, born of Mariyah Qibtiyyah in 8 AH. He, too, died before he was 2 years old.

 

[2]  Majma’-al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 548

 

[3] Majma’-al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 549

 

[4] Ibid.

 

[5] Majma’-al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 550

 

[6] Nafs Az-Zakiyyah is another name for Muhammad-ibn-Abdullah, the son of Imam Hassan Mujtaba (as) who was martyred by Mansur-i-Dawaniqi in 145 AH.

 

[7] Tafsir Al-Kabir By Ar-Razi, vol. 32, p. 124.

 

[8] Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, pg. 549

 

[9] The Noble Prophet had other male children as well – namely Ibrahim, from his wife Mariyah al-Qubtiyyah, and who was born in Medina. Coincidentally, he too passed away before reaching the age of two and his death also weighed heavily on the heart of the Prophet.

 

[10] Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, pg. 548

 

[11] Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 549

 

[12] Ibid.

 

[13] Ibid.

 

[14] Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 550

 

[15] Majmaʿ al-Bayan, vol. 10, p. 548

 

[16] Nafs al-Zakiyyah is another name for Muhammad b. ʿAbdullah, the grand-son of Imam Ḥasan al-Mujtaba who was martyred by Mansur al-Dawaniqi in 145 ah.

 

[17]  Tafsir of Fakhr ad-Din al-Razi, vol. 32, p. 124


| REFLECTIONS ON CHAPTER OF THE ABUNDANCE [108]

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