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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Surah Al-Kausar interpreted by Hadith compared to the Quran

Regarding Surah Al-Kausar (Chapter 108 of the Glorious Quran), the interpretation of the term "Kausar" given by Hadith appears to carry no compatibility with this expression in the Noble Quran.

The dictionary meaning of the term 'Kausar' in English is 'abundance.'

A Hadith written by Bukhari (quoted as under) has explained the term "Kauser" as a 'fount' or 'river' in Paradise.

"It is related by Anas that the Apostle of God said: “While I was walking in Paradise I saw a [strange] river on either bank of which there were domes made of concave pearls. ‘What is it?’ I inquired from Gabriel. ‘It is the Kausar the Lord has given to you,’ Gabriel replied. I found that its soil was as fragrant as musk.” -Bukhari

Plenty of Hadith stories were constructed almost 200 years after the passing away of the Prophet (SAAW), concerning the Journey of Mairaj. This was one of them.

On the contrary, the Glorious Quran confirms not a single content of any the Ahadith on Isra and Mairaj. The description of the Journey of Isra and Mairaj in the Glorious Quran is very brief, contained in verses:

- 17:1 and 17:60 of Surah Bani Israel (also known as Surah Al-Isra)
- 53:6-18 of Surah An-Najm

The above verses are quoted as follows

"Glorified be He Who carried His servant by night from the Inviolable Place of Worship to the Far distant place of worship the neighbourhood whereof We have blessed, that We might show him of Our tokens! Lo! He, only He, is the Hearer, the Seer." (17:1) Bani Israel

"And (it was a warning) when we told thee: Lo! thy Lord encompasseth mankind, and We appointed the sight which We showed thee as an ordeal for mankind, and (likewise) the Accursed Tree in the Qur'an. We warn them, but it increaseth them in naught save gross impiety." (17:60) Bani Israel

6. "One vigorous; and he grew clear to view
7. When he was on the uppermost horizon.
8. Then he drew nigh and came down
9. Till he was (distant) two bows' length or even nearer,
10. And He revealed unto His slave that which He revealed.
11. The heart lied not (in seeing) what it saw.
12. Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he seeth ?
13. And verily he saw him yet another time
14. By the lote-tree of the utmost boundary,
15. Nigh unto which is the Garden of Abode.
16. When that which shroudeth did enshroud the lote-tree,
17. The eye turned not aside nor yet was overbold.
18. Verily he saw one of the greater revelations of his Lord."
(53:6-18) An-Najm

Apart from these verses, nothing more is contained in the Quran on this topic.

Now let's read Surah Al-Kausar.

1. Lo! We have given thee Abundance;
2. So pray unto thy Lord, and sacrifice.
3. Lo! it is thy insulter (and not thou) who is without posterity.
(Surah Al-Kausar 1-3)

There are four Springs or Fountains mentioned in the entire Quran that will give refreshing drinks to the dwellers of Paradise . Those are:

- Tasnim (Surah 83:27)
- Kafur (Surah 76:5)
- Zanjabil (Surah 76:17)
- Salsabil (Surah76:18)

There is no reference to the term 'Kausar' as a spring, stream or river anywhere in the Quran.

I have studied Surah Al-Kausar many times, trying my best to follow every word of it. From the context of this Surah, I don't see how or why anyone should presume that "kausar" is meant to be a fount or river in Paradise. Surah Al-Kausar was revealed to the Prophet in response to the taunts by the people of Qureysh who would often insult the Prophet because he had no sons. Allah comforts the Prophet by saying that He has bestowed upon him abundance or plenty (apparently meaning plenty of blessings and good things) and it is his insulters who are insignificant and will not be remembered (without posterity). While Allah knows best, to a reader, very evidently, the term 'kausar' ('abundance') in Surah 108 carries the usual meaning of a common collective noun, not a proper noun.

The concept of interpreting "Kausar" as a fountain or river comes exclusively from the Hadith. The Glorious Quran gives absolutely no reasons for deducing such a conclusion. Surah Al-Kausar, which is brief and evidently non-metaphorical, carries a simple and direct meaning -- that the Prophet (SAAW) has been given plentiful from Allah Almighty. This could refer to worldly reward as well as reward in the Hereafter. To presume "Kausar" to be a fountain in Paradise can only be looked upon as an attempt to misinterpret the Quran.


  1. Kausar means Abundance of Power Given to you: Verily, We have granted you Al-Kauthar (108:1).
    This reflects the Power of our soul here. This surah is reflecting a Power given to us as Human. In the remaing part of ayah it is saying to get best out of power you Pray to ALLAH and sacifice (Whatsoever you like most) in the name of ALLAH and he will eliminate all misieries (Satan, people jealeousy etc.) around you

  2. I would interpret that "abundance" refers to the bounties of Allah which He bestowed on the Prophet (sw). The entire Surah is meant to comfort the Prophet at a time when the disbelievers were taunting and ridiculing him because the Prophet had no sons.

    As the translation of Surah Al-Kausar goes: We have given you abundance - so pray unto your Rab and sacrifice - it is your insulter and not you who has no posterity.

    The term "posterity" refers to future generations, progeny or off spring. Therefore the reference is clearly to survival of family name or fame. Thus, Allah assures the Prophet that his fame will live forever but the name of his insulters will be forgotten.

    1. It is not reflecting something for the Prophet (PBUH), alone. It is reflecting for all human being. It is saying that I have given you Fount (Source), which reflects to the soul that we have, so if Pray only HIM and do sacrifice (Things that individual loves, he will remove "For he who hateth thee He will be cut off".

      So, it is saying if you use the power I gave you (Which is invoked by Praying to ALLAH alone and sacrificing what we love)then he will remove all obstacles for us in this world and Hereafter.

      Here you are assuming that it is adressing to Prophet (PBUH), which is not the case. This happen when we read lot of translations and read what is written in Bracket and this is natural.

      So, try reading it as standalone Surah and don't let your mind associate Pre Concieved thing with it. Within few days you will understand the TRUE meaning behind it, yourself.

  3. I certainly read every Verse of the Noble Quran as a standalone Chapter. The Quran is a Standalone Book and it should not and cannot be read in any other way other than a standalone perception. I concur one hundred percent on that.

    As I quoted Surah Al-Kausar above, the reference is very direct, clear and straightforward. There is no need to complicate that unnecessarily. Surah Al-Kausar definitely points directly to the Prophet (sw) as words of solace and a balm from Allah. I'm very careful with the translation I select, so there's no problem on that front. In fact that is the reason I understand the term "abundance" as plentiful or being synonymous with the bounties of Allah. The term "abundance" carries no such ideas of a spring or stream or river in Paradise as presumed by Hadith for which there is no evidence in the Quran.

    Your explanation is not too different from mine except that you are giving it a slightly different twist .. perhaps because it pleases you to sound different. But what we are discussing here is the Quran, no ordinary book. Therefore let's not compete as 'intellects.' Rather what's important is to keep matters straight by staying close to the Quranic words and their possible connotations in order to minimize the chances of inaccuracies.

    The term "abundance" is a simple one meaning 'plenty.' Allah speaks of His grace, generosity and plentitude which HE has bestowed upon the Prophet as a gesture of HIS infinite kindness. It might also include the aspect of power which Allah gave to the Prophet (sw) to confront his enemies. But there is no reason to bring the term "Fount" here. That is a typical Hadith idea and translating "abundance" as "Fount" is the chief reason for all sorts of confusions over nothing. Even those who have prepared the dictionary on Quranic Arabic (Corpus Quran) have explained "al-Kausar" or "abundance" as a "river in Paradise." This guesswork is indeed regrettable. The word is only "abundance" (there's no need to write it with a capital 'A') which denotes 'plentiful.' It highlights the superficiality of traditionalism and material benefits on earth. The term "posterity" denotes progeny or off spring. A large family with sons is often considered enviable as sons are seen as the source of survival of their family names. Consequently, the Surah also contains a prophecy in which those folks who ridiculed the Prophet thinking that he wouldn't be known in future were the ones who lost their own identities .. the Prophet being remembered for all times to come by the will of Allah. This fact stands as clear as daylight right before our eyes as we talk at this moment. Hence Allah states that it's those who 'insult' the Prophet have no "posterity."

    Yes, the Surah also contains a general allusion for all of humankind as many Quranic verses do. The more general aspect of this Surah is the exposure of the futility of traditional and superficial ideas and all concepts involving materialism. It underscores the uselessness of fame and power based upon family or tribal status coming through the male members of that community. It's a reminder of the fruitlessness and empty vanity of wealth or fame that's based on money, influence or mere names of personalities. What matters to the Divine Power is only the strength of one's faith in Monotheism (Tawheed) and the good deeds that ensue as a result of that faith, heightening our conscience and improving our actions. Subsequently, the human soul grows in wisdom and piety with the help of contemplating on the Final Message of Allah. Therefore, after comforting the Prophet, Allah tells him to continue his devotion to Allah and with his good deeds which include many sacrifices in the way of Allah.

  4. I used Yousaf translation for "FOUNT". So lets go by your translation of Abundance, still it dosen't make a difference. This Surah is basic knowledge, that what we Humans are and creating an awareness tto us that why we are called as "Naib". No where I mentioned that it reflects a "River in paradise", it is all human own perception.

    Quran is not something to be percieved in one's own way. It is very direct in approach and conveys a very direct massage. This is we human create a illusion around it. Tafseer and hadith has formed a base of our illusions. Attributing it to Prophet (PBUH) is also a perception. A direct command for Prophet (PBUH) has been clearly mentioned in Quran.

    Except for Hadith Quote, how can you form an opinion that it is addressing to Prophet (PBUH). This is exactly the case where some scholars found it difficult to say Tahajuud, so they attributed it to Prophet (PBUH). Whereas Quran tells us that it is the most important Prayer.

    Now coming to Abundance, what ALLAH is telling us is that I have given to You (Humans), that is why we are "Vicegerent". That Aundance is the soul that came wit us. To keep the soul on right path we need to Pray and sacrifice. Once we do that we will get this world and hereafter.

    The problem with us is that we start associating things with Money and family etc. ALLAH is talking about Hereafter and telling us that this life is very short + a Test for us. So if we start associating with materialistic things we are bound to go wrong. That is why immediate next ayat is addressing Praying to ALLAH and Sacrifice.

    So we need to be direct in reading of Quran and not deiving our own meaning, based on pre concieved notions

    1. Yusuf Ali's translations are most inaccurate, his goal being to keep the Quranic translations as compatible as possible with various Hadith narrations. You did not mention "river in Paradise" but you mentioned "Fount" and the notion of "river in Paradise" arises from the use of the word "Fount."

      Indeed Quran is not to be perceived in one's own way, and you are doing exactly what you denounce.

      You asked, except for Hadith how can you know if it's being addressed to the Prophet? It just shows how little you've analysed the Surah. The two trustworthy translations of M.M. Pickthall and M.A.H. Abdel Haleem, which are closest to being independent of the Hadith as much as can be found, read as follows, respectively:

      "Lo! We have given thee abundance;"


      "We have truly given abundance to you"

      Mark the words "thee" or "you." Who do you think Allah is referring to by mentioning "thee" or "you" if not the Prophet? Get your perception straight and read the Quran rationally. This does not point to all humanity. It's more specific than that. We are also supposed to learn lessons from it, but the original is addressed to the Prophet. It's nothing unusual in the Quran, so you really don't need to fight a 'jihad' quarreling over it. There are many verses, some directly spoken to the Prophet, some directly to the people of Mecca or Medinah and some more generally spoken to the all humans. But no matter to whom the verses are addressed, all Quranic verses carry messages, lessons and warnings to all of mankind.

      Surah Al-Kausar consists of two aspects. First, a direct reference to the Prophet (sw) and secondly, the message & ethical lesson to the word as I already detailed earlier. Both have been taken into consideration clearly and in a straightforward manner in my previous comment.

      Your arguments are incomplete as it touches only a portion of what is implied in the Surah.

      The discussion is closed as you are only repeating the same thing again and again. Moreover, this is not a debate center. Comments close after a certain point when all relevant aspects have been discussed. Thank you for your time.

  5. Hmmmm, I now follow both of you. I think Zainab is right. When Allah says that He has "given you abundance" why would it mean anyone except Prophet pbuh? Because Allah has ordained the fate of different people differently. The lives of some people have more tests, trials, tribulations and lack of success than others. If they persevere then they will get their reward in next world if Allah wills. Of such people Allah won't say that they have been given abundance. So I agree that is not a general statement but told to the Prophet. Then also in this Surah Allah addresses a group of people as the insulters. That's again an evidence of the verses being told to the Prophet because everyone in the world doesn't necessarily have insulters. Everyone doesn't get harassed and targeted, but the Prophet did have many enemies who targeted him in different ways. Sister's point is very sensibly looked at. I also like the way she has studied this Surah very comprehensively - the direct address to the Prophet and the good moral lessons to be drawn for spiritual improvement. Thank you sis.

    1. Thank you Anonymous. Your points are worth noting too.

      Closing this thread. Thank you again everyone. Salaams.