English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 108: Al-Kauthar — The Abundance of Good (Revealed at Makkah: 3 verses)

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Introduction:

The abundance of wealth spoken of in ch. 102 leads man astray from the real purpose of life. This chapter deals with the Abundance of Good and the means to attain it. Those means are: prayer to God, which fills one with the noblest aspirations, and sacrifice, which means devoting one’s life to the service of humanity. It is one of the earliest revelations at Makkah.

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Translation:

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

108:1 Surely We have given you abundance of good.1
108:2 So pray to your Lord and sacrifice.2
108:3 Surely your enemy is cut off (from good).3

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Commentary:

  1. Al-kauthar means the abundance or the abundance of good. Here it means the abundance of good which God gave the Holy Prophet — he was promised the triumph of Islam over all religions, and granted help against his enemies and intercession for his community. In fact, he was granted so much of goodness of all kinds that it cannot be counted. From what is stated further on, it is clear that it is not the Holy 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.
  2. Two ways to attain the abundance of good promised in v. 1 are: praying to God, and naḥr or sacrifice, which means the devoting of one’s life to the good of humanity. Prayer is communion with God which raises in a person’s heart the highest aspirations and makes him drink deep at the foun­tain of Divine morals. 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, if need be, to lay down his very life for the service of humanity, not of one group or one nation or one community. Although naḥr stands for sacrificing an animal, the sacrifice of an animal itself stands for sacrifice of self (see 22:34).
  3. The word abtar (cut off) conveys several significances. For instance, in want or poor, suffering loss, one from whom all good is cut off, having no off­spring or progeny. All good is cut off from him because he walks contrary to the ways in which good can be attained. (Editor’s Note: This verse also refuted the allegation of the opponents that, as the Holy Prophet had no male off­spring, his name and mission would come to an end after him. This verse contains a prophecy that it is his enemies who would be cut off and leave no successors to continue their name or work.)

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