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Tafsir Surat al-Kawthar, Part 1

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani

April 9, 2003 | Oakland, California

Audhu billahi min ash-shaytan ir-rajeem, bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

Nawaytu ‘l-arba`een, nawaytu’l-`itikaaf, nawaytu’l-khalwah, nawaytu ‘l-`uzlah, nawaytu ‘r-riyaada, nawaytu ‘s-salook, lillahi ta`ala fee hadha ‘l-masjid

Atee`oollah wa atee`oor-rasula wa ooli ’l-amri minkum.

We will explain Surat al-Kawthar, Surah 108.

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

“Inna `ataynaaka al-kawthar fa salli li rabbika wanhar inna sha’anayaka huwa al-abtar.”

To thee (O Muhammad) we have granted the abundance. [Which is the Bounty of Allah bestowed on the Prophet (s)]. Therefore to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice. For he who hates thee, he will be cut off (from Future Hope).

Allah said, “Inna `ataynaaka al-kawthar” – “We gave you the Kawthar.”

He did not say, “We are giving.” He did not say, “We will be giving.” He said in the past tense, “inna `ataynaaka” – “We gave you…”

When Allah says, “We have given you already,” it means, “We have given it before you have been created and before anything has been created, we have given you the abundance, Allah’s Bounty.”

What is Allah’s Bounty? It has no description, no details, so no one knows it. Allah says, “We have given you,” meaning, “No one knows what I have given you, Ya Muhammad; it is up to My Greatness that I gave, without limitation.”

So in whatever way you try to limit the Prophet (s), it is a mistake.

When you say, “The Prophet (s) is someone who brought the message and died and that is it,” that is a big mistake.

Everyone is going to die, and the Prophet (s) passed from this life, but that does not mean he is like me or like you or like anyone else.

Allah did not say to any other prophet what He said to the Prophet (s), “We have given you ‘the abundance.’”

And what did He say? Al-kawthar. Kawthar comes from the Arabic “katheer.” “Katheer” means “too much.” We gave you that which is too much. How then can what Allah gave Sayyidina Muhammad(s) be restricted?

Whatever you exaggerate in praising the Prophet (s), and whatever you praise is not yet anything compared to what Allah has given him and to where He has raised him. But you need both a mind and a heart in order to understand this point.

Today they attack those, who, like Imam Muhammad al-Busairi, praised the Prophet (s) intensely. Despite that, today everyone is reciting his poems, al-burda ash-sharif and al-mudariyya.

Some people recite it every day. Other people tell them, “No don’t do that; you might end up in a line praising the Prophet (s) to much.”

In these three verses Allah informed us, “O human beings, say whatever you want to say of praise of the Prophet (s), as much as you feel free to say, it is not shirk, because you cannot praise him as I have.”

And it is from the secret of the ayat, that Muhammad al-Busairi said in al-Burda, “Say whatever you want to say about the Prophet (s), but don’t say like the Christians said about Jesus, that he is God or the son of God.” It means go as high as you like in praise of the Prophet (s).

So who can go higher, when he said “Muhammadun Rasulullah” to follow “la ilaha ill-Allah?”

When someone wants to give, if I want to give you something, there must someone giving and someone taking. Someone gives and someone takes. If there is not someone taking how do you give. Do you give in the air? No.

So when Allah said, we have given you, not in dunya, but before he gave him.

That will explain something was given by Allah something that was existing.

That is why when Jaabir asked the Prophet (s), “what Allah created first,” he said, “The first thing that Allah created was the light of your Prophet O Jaabir.” And that light was turning in Bahr al-Qudrah, the Ocean of Allah’s Attribute of Power. There he was turning, accumulating more and more energy. When someone turns he gathers centrifugal force. More and more power accumulating as he circumambulates in the Bahr al-Qudrah.

And the hadith continues, from that light He created creation, and from one fourth of it the dunya was created.

It means “We gave you what is beyond description. We gave you “al-katheer, min kulli shay,” from whatever We created, We gave you, O Muhammad, more than that.”

So what was the Prophet (s) given? That is what no one knows. That means that whatever level Allah has raised him to, no one knows. No one but Allah knows. No one else.

There are many hadith explaining the meaning of “inna ‘ataynaak al-kawthar”.

وروى عنه عليه السلام انه قرأها فقال " اتدرون ما الكوثر انه نهر فى الجنة وعدنيه ربى فيه خير كثير أحلى من العسل وأشد بياضا من اللبن وأبرد من الثلج وألين من الزبد حافتاه الزبرجد وأوانيه من فضة عدد نجوم السماء لا يظمأ من شرب منه ابدا اول وارد به فقراء المهاجرين لدنسوا الثياب الشعث الرؤس الذين لا يزوحون المنعمات ولا تفتح لهم ابواب السدد ويموت احدهم وحاجته تتلجلج فى صدره لو أقسم على الله لأبره "

In one of the hadiths, the Prophet (s) after reading the surah, said, “Do you know what Allah has given me? It is a river in Paradise that Allah promised and gave me. In it is a lot of goodness, abundance.”

And ibn `Abbas (r) mentioned this understanding where he said, “The word 'al-Kawthar' means the abundant good which Allah gave to him (the Prophet Muhammad). Abu Bishr said: I said to Sa`id ibn Jubayr, "Some people claim that it (al-Kawthar) is a river in Paradise." Sa`id replied, "The river that is in Paradise is one item of that good which Allah has bestowed upon him (Muhammad)." (Sahih Bukhari)

He described it as, “ahla min al `asl” – “sweeter than honey,” “wa ashaddu bayaadin min al-labni, wa abradu min ath-thalj.” - “Intensely white even more than milk and cooler than ice.”

What is sweeter than honey? Think about it. The Prophet (s) said, “ahla min al-`asl.” Honey is the sweetest thing, and feehi shifa’, it contains a cure for human beings.

It means that what Allah has given to the Prophet (s) from that river, has an effect top cure human beings. Anyone wants to quench his thirst will be cured. Whoever wants to come to the Prophet (s) Muhammadun Rasulullah, will be given knowledge, more than anywhere.

“And more white than milk.” That means any knowledge that you acquire in this dunya, must have an ego flavor. First of all, when they say something, they write by their name, professor, or PhD, or doctor. Even Muslim scholars write “doctor” in front of their names.

So he said, "Ashaddu bayaadin min al-labni." What I am giving you from that knowledge, from that river, is knowledge or a river that quenches your thirst and has no spot of dust or darkness. It is a pure white spiritual knowledge that is from the Divine Presence - that will make you white. When you acquire it, it purifies you like crystal clear water. You become like that. You will be able to inherit and to receive blessings of the Divine Presence. It is perfect clarity and with that you will be dressed.

And he said, “cooler than ice.” When you drink cool water you feel refreshed, as if newly born. When he (s) says, “cooler than ice,” what is the most precious thing in that time in the desert? It was water and they had no ice there. They were only hearing about ice. The Prophet (s) said it is colder than ice, so it will rejuvenate you and refresh you in a way that will enable you to receive heavenly knowledge.

When you are tired and sweating from running, what do you take? You take icy water. When you are dumping yourself in the difficulties of this dunya, and ego is taking your self over, you are sweating and tiring; you need to drink something. So that is the cure for bringing the ego down, after it makes you tired. It will give you the heavenly water of youth that will rejuvenate you.

“Wa alyanu min az-zabad” – “more soft than the zabad.” Zabad is when the waves come on the seashore, you see white stuff - that foam. Something softer than the foam, something so clean and so white will be given to you when you are dressed with that dress.

Allah gave the Prophet (s) and the Prophet (s) gave to the Ummah.

Both shores of nahr al-kawthar, both of them are made from emeralds, zabarja. Or zumurrud. That entire beach is made from emeralds.

That means that paradise is made entirely from gems. That is why, when Sayyidina Adam, when he came down to earth, it was a dead planet like all other planet. There was no life on it. Because why should earth have life, the others don’t.

But when Adam put his foot on the dunya, he grafted it with paradise, from the traces of Paradise on his feet. Immediately it grafted it. He first put his feet in Ceylon, on Adam’s Peak. All the mountain is filled with gems: emeralds, sapphires, rubies. Anywhere you dig you find gems. I visited there with Mawlana Shaykh. They take you by helicopter if you want to go to the top because it is very high. From top to bottom it is gems.

So when his feet touched the earth it became gems.

So the two sides are from emerald, and beside it are cups made of silver. Ibn `Abbas said that the number of these cups is more than the number of stars and planets (al-kawaakib) in this universe.

Allah is giving to the Prophet (s). It is narrated by Ahmad and Muslim and Abu Dawud and an-Nisa'i, and many others.

He (s) said, when he read the surah, “Do you know what Kawthar is? It is a river that Allah gave to me in Paradise. It has a lot of goodness. My ummah is going to come to it on Judgment Day and - aaniyatahu `addad al-kawaakib - the number of its cups is as the number of stars and planets in this universe.”

How many stars in one galaxy? In one there are 80 billion stars. Allahu Akbar. So how many cups are there? It means how big it is? If you put them near each other, there is no end.

أوتيت الكوثر آنيته عدد النجوم

It is narrated by Ibn Marduway, that Ibn `Abbas said that the Prophet (s) said, “I was given the Kawthar, and its cups are on the number of stars.” - "Uteet ul-kawthar aaniyatahu `addad an-nujoom.”

Ibn `Abbas (r) said that al-Kawthar is a river in Paradise, one side of it is from gold and the other is from silver and it flows over pearls and emeralds, its water is whiter than snow and is sweeter than honey.

عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما في قوله: {إنا أعطيناك الكوثر} قال: نهر في الجنة عمقه سبعون ألف فرسخ ماؤه أشد بياضًا من اللبن وأحلى من العسل، شاطئاه الدر والياقوت والزبرجد خص الله به نبيه محمدًا صلى الله عليه وسلم دون الأنبياء.

It is narrated by Ibn Marduway, that Ibn `Abbas said regarding “inna `ataynaaka al-kawthar,” that it is a river in Paradise whose depth is 70,000 farsakh (miles).

The circumference of the earth is 40,000 kilometers. That means around 25,000 miles.

What is inside it? When he says 70,000 miles it must be understood it is not to be understood by counting and measuring. Rather it means that there is no way to measure its depth. The depth that Allah swt is giving to the Prophet (s) of knowledge, as well as the literal physical depth of that river.

What do you think when the people are sweating on Judgment Day? The sun comes down on the head of people. Not like a hot day here. On Judgment Day, it will be on top of your head and your brain will burn from intensity of that heat. How much will you be sweating from that heat? You will be rushing to the shafa`a of the Prophet (s), rushing to enter that river to quench your thirst.

And this kawthar is part of that abundance known as al-Kawthar. If that is a part, what do you think of what Allah gave to the Prophet (s)?

And as the Prophet (s) mentioned in the hadith, “When you drink from the water [of al-Kawthar], you will never get thirsty.”

“Never get thirsty,” means you will never be in difficulty. You will be eternally-living in Paradise. And the first to enter it are the fuqaraa min al-muhajiroon - the poor among those who migrated with the Prophet (s) from Makkah to Madina.

من أراد أن يسمع خرير الكوثر، فليجعل إصبعيه في أذنيه

And Umm al-Muminoon Sayyida `Ayesha (r) said, “Man arada an yasma’u khareer al-kawthari fal yada` usbuayhi fee udhunayh.”

Whoever wants to hear the sound of al-Kawthar let them put their fingers in their ears. He will hear the waves and the water flowing.

Put them inside. Do you hear it? We used to do that when we were young.

Sayyida `Ayesha said that. “Anyone wants to hear Kawthar, put their fingers in their ears and they will hear it.”

" حوضى ما بين صنعاء الى ايلة على احدى زواياه ابو بكر وعلى الثانية عمر وعلى الثالثة عثمان وعلى الرابعة على فمن ابغض واحدا منهم لم يسقه الآخر "

And the Prophet (s) said, “My Basin is as the distance between Sana` and Quds, and it has four corners: in one corner is Sayyidina Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, in another corner is for Sayyidina `Umar, in one corner is Sayyidina `Uthman bin `Affan and one is for Sayyidina `Ali al-Murtada. Anyone who hates any one of them, the other three will not give him from the water to quench his thirst.”

والاظهر ان جميع نعم الله داخلة فى الكوثر ظاهرة او بطانه

“Wa’l-zhahar inna jami` ina`amillah daakhilatan fi ’l-kawthar.”

He is saying here, in explanation, all that Allah has given of favors and sustenance are found inside the Kawthar. And who owns it? The Prophet (s).

Allah gave the Prophet (s) and from that Kawthar the Prophet (s) divided to humanity.

That is why Allah made the Prophet (s) to intercede for everyone.

فمن الظاهرة خيرات الدنيا والآخرة ومن الباطنة العلوم اللدنية الحاصلة بالفيض الالهى بغير اكتساب بواسطة القوى الظاهرة الباطنة.

He said Inna, affirming “Every one of Allah’s favors that He gave to mankind are hidden in kawthar, zhaahiran wa baatinan, from the apparent and the unseen, including all favors in dunya and akhira, and from the favors of the unseen are al-`uloom al-laduniyya. the heavenly knowledge. – as referred to in the ayat:

فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

Fawajada `abdan min `ibaadinaa ataynaahu rahmatan min `indina wa `allamnaahu min ladunna `ilma.

And [they two] found one of Our servants, on whom We had bestowed grace from Ourselves and unto whom We had imparted knowledge [issuing] from Ourselves.(Surat al-Kahf, 18:65)

That no one can see. Also that is entered in Surat al-Kawthar. What normal people cannot see is described in the Qur’an.

Al-haasilatu’l-fayd al-ilahi. That knowledge can only be inherited or can be taken by Allah bestowing His heavenly and Lordly Attributes, sending it on those who are able to receive them. Bi ghayri iktisaab bi-wasitaat al-quwwat azh-zhaahiriyya. Without efforts through the worldly physical life, but by spiritual efforts of dhikr and mediation.

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