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Chapter 108:
Al-Kauthar — The Abundance of Good:

Revealed at Makkah: 3 verses

English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali


Introduction:

As against The Abundance of Wealth spoken of in ch. 102, which leads man away from the real object of life, this chapter speaks of The Abundance of Good, and of the means to attain it. The two means to attain it are here stated to be prayer to God, which fills the heart with the noblest of aspirations, and sacrifice, which means the devoting of one’s life to the service of humanity. It is one of the earliest revelations.

Translation:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

108:1 Surely We have given thee abundance of good.a

108:2 So pray to thy Lord and sacrifice.a

108:3 Surely thy enemy is cut off (from good).a

Commentary:

1a. Al-kauthar (from the same root kathura as takathur — see 102:2a) means the abundance or the abundance of good. "It has been said that the kauthar here means the abundance of good which God will give to the followers of the Prophet on the day of Resurrection. ... And what is mentioned in commentaries about the kauthar was all given to the Prophet; that is to say, he was given abundance of good, and he was promised the triumph of Islam over all religions and he was granted help against his enemies and he was granted intercession for his community, and he was granted of goodness that which cannot be counted" (LA). ‘Ikrimah said that kauthar meant abundant good and the Quran and wisdom; Sa‘id said that God granted him abundance of good of every kind, and on being asked if it was a river in paradise replied, the river and all (good) besides it (IJ). According to I‘Ab, the kauthar is the abundance of good which God gave the Prophet (B. 65:cviii). From what is stated further on, it is clear that it is not the Prophet alone who is promised this abundance of good but also every true follower of his who makes use of the means for the attainment of it as described in the next verse.

2a. Two ways are pointed out in this verse to attain the abundance of good promised in the first verse, praying to God, and nahr or sacrifice, which means the devoting of one’s life to the good of humanity. Prayer is communion with God which raises in man’s heart the highest aspirations and makes him drink deep at the fountain of Divine morals. To aspire after good is the first need. If there is no aspiration for good, it is simply impossible to do good; hence prayer is mentioned first. And when these noble aspirations arise, man is told to lay down his very life for the service of humanity, not of one group or one nation or one community. The word nahr means the uppermost part of the breast and nahara means he stabbed an animal in the nahr (LL), and thus stands for sacrificing an animal. But the sacrifice of an animal itself stands for sacrifice of self, for which see 22:34a, 38a.

3a. The word abtar (from batr, meaning the cutting off of a thing entirely), as applied to a beast, means one whose tail is cut off. As applied to a man it conveys several significances, for instance, in want or poor, suffering loss, one from whom all good or prosperity is cut off, having no offspring or progeny (LL). All good is cut off from him because he walks contrary to the ways in which good can be attained.

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