By Jerrmein Abu Shahba
Sura Kawthar is one of the shortest chapters in the Holy Qur’an, yet it is one of the richest ones too. It carries a fountain of knowledge for those who seek to extract its deeper meaning and wisdom. The interpreters of the Qur’an in the different schools of thought in Islam have intentionally presented a multitude of opinions regarding the identity of Kawthar to distance this virtue from its true owner, the Lady of Light (peace be upon her). The general context of this Sura conveys the meaning of Kawthar to refer to abundance in progeny and posterity. We find a wide array of ideas and key points in these regards presented in this Sura and they are all derived from one spring. It all points to the meaning that Kawthar refers to the “abundant good” which has no limit, as mentioned in the first verse: “We have given you Kawthar.” (108:1)
Also, the specific application of Kawthar is manifested in the holy being of Lady Fatima Zahra, the purified daughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny). Sure enough, the progeny of the Prophet comes only from Fatima and she is the mother of almost all the Infallible Imams (peace be upon them all). To have something in abundance is not necessarily a thing that is sought for; however, abundance is desired only when the object is nothing but pure “good”. If we search all of history across the globe, we will not find a better example of good manifested in any person other than Lady Fatima and her progeny.
This profound Sura which had been gifted to the Holy Prophet ends with the verse, “Surely your enemy is the one who shall be without posterity.” (108:3) It is important to realize that the introductory and concluding verses of this Sura are related to each other and that this last verse reveals the identity of al-Kawthar, which has been gifted to the Prophet. Mir Pooya explains in his Qur’anic commentary that when the Holy Prophet’s son, born to Khadija al-Kubra (peace be upon her), passed away, Amr ibn Aas and Hakam ibn Aas taunted the Holy Prophet by calling him Abtar (tail-less), one whose progeny has been cut off. This Sura was revealed to give glad tidings to the Holy Prophet that abundance of unbounded grace, of wisdom and knowledge, of mercy and goodness, of spiritual power and insight – in the highest of degrees – and of progeny has been given to him. Mir Pooya also says that this chapter guarantees abundance in every type of growth and profit to the Holy Prophet. The reality of this “abundance” cannot be encompassed or fathomed nor can it be given its most due right. It is a sincere grant from Allah to His beloved and chosen one, Prophet Muhammad. This should not be a surprise to us because, after all, Allah had previously stated in 93:5, “And soon will your Lord give you so that you shall be well pleased.”
It is important to make a distinction here between the words of a creation and that of the Almighty Creator. When a creature says that “I will give” it is not the same as when the Creator says “I will give.” The divine bestowal is much greater than our minds can encompass! So when Allah announces to His beloved Prophet that He will give him such that he will be pleased, then surely we can expect that divine grant to be something that is not materialistic or temporal or related to the mundane world. It is something that exceeds the boundaries of this life and existence! Upon hearing this verse, we as Muslims should anticipate and follow the pure autobiography of the Prophet to discover what that great grant which Muhammad received from Allah is. We can imagine the Prophet himself waiting anxiously to receive this divine gift which will make him ever pleased with his Lord. The answer to this question is answered in Sura Kawthar when Allah announces to the Prophet in front of everyone that “We have given you Kawthar.” (108:1)
In some degree or another, according to the grade of their submission, all the believing men and women receive some portion from the abundance given to the Holy Prophet; therefore, they are commanded to offer Salat regularly and sacrifice whatever they have in the cause of Allah whenever necessary. As indicated in verse 2 of this Sura: “Therefore pray to your Lord and make a sacrifice.” If we analyze the two verbs of this verse, we will realize a deeper meaning is implied, one beyond merely praying or giving up the materials of this world. Rather, according to some exegetes, to perform Salat in the context of this verse means to send blessings upon the Prophet and his progeny in the form of Salawaat as an expression of Mowadda (reciprocal devotion) to the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). And the biggest sacrifice that was offered in gratitude of the grant of abundance was the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) in Karbala, as described in the words “Dhibh ‘Adheem” (the Great Slaughter) (37:107). The Holy Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt demonstrated the highest standard of devotion in prayers and in giving everything they had in the cause of Allah.
At the same time, it is implied in the last verse of this Sura that those who go against the Prophet and hurt him or deny the treasure of Kawthar personified in the immaculate character of Fatima, their progeny is cut off and is non-existent in Allah’s eyes, even if the progeny exists physically.
Surely it is not a coincidence that we spend the months of Rabi al-Awwal and Rabi al-Thani commemorating the birth of the Holy Prophet and appreciating his pure autobiography to the point of realizing how much divine reward he deserves. Then we embark on the months of Jamadi al-Awwal and Jamadi al-Thaani to appreciate the bestowal of Kawthar as the divine gift to the Holy Prophet which is manifested in his daughter, the Lady of the Universe! It is not possible to value Kawthar without valuing Lady Fatima, and one cannot appreciate Lady Fatima without appreciating her father. Allah has granted Prophet Muhammad many gifts including knowledge, clemency, prophethood, courage, eloquence, and love in the hearts of believers. However, the most significant and valuable of gifts which Allah gave to him is Lady Fatima, the apple of his eyes.
Lady Fatima is the one who preserved the light of prophethood, and she became the extension to the message of Islam via her sons – the Infallible Imams who kept the message on track according to the Sunnah of the Prophet. They sacrificed themselves in this path of truth, justice, and liberty. Lady Fatima left behind a great legacy which is passed on by her sons and grandsons who represent the closest and shortest route towards Divine proximity.
Do you know when Allah presented Lady Fatima to His Prophet? According to Shaikh Muhajir in volume 1 of his book Know that I am Fatima, this divine bestowal was granted in his loins at the highest point of this universe as indicated in this verse: “Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass. Near it is the Garden of Abode. When that which covers covered the lote-tree. The eye did not turn aside, nor did it exceed the limit.” (53:14-16) It was in that very high position that the sperm-drop was formed by Allah’s will. In fact, let us hear the words of the Prophet himself on the event of Ascension, when he describes how Lady Fatima was gifted to him: “When I experienced Ascension to the heavens, Jibra’il took my hands and made me enter Paradise and gave me some dates which I ate. That food converted into a sperm-drop in my loins. So when I descended to earth and united with Khadija, she became pregnant with Fatima. Fatima is a human Hoori; whenever I yearned for the scent of Paradise, I smelled the fragrance of my daughter Fatima.”
This extraordinary event urges us to reflect on this unique virtue of Lady Fatima, the only human being whose origin was created from the light of the best of creations – Prophet Muhammad – which was mixed with the clay or fruit of Paradise from the holiest of places where even Archangel Jibra’il is not permitted to cross! Surely the fruit of this unity must yield something or someone truly great in the eyes of Allah, such that according to the Infallible Imams, Lady Fatima is the Hujjah (Proof) over the Imams themselves! Her origins were initiated in the highest abode which clearly implies that her status is also at a very high stage. From here we begin to understand the secret behind the Prophet’s extraordinary care towards Lady Fatima. He used to rise from his seat out of respect for her, he would embrace her hands and he would say, “Welcome, Umme Abiha!” addressing her by the loving title of “Mother of Her Father”. In light of the fact that she was created from the clay of Paradise, it is no wonder then that the Prophet comments that when he yearned for Paradise, he would smell the fragrance of Lady Fatima! The association of Lady Fatima with Paradise further proves to us that whoever yearns for the pleasure of Paradise should please Lady Fatima, love her and be an obedient servant who follows her path and that of her purified sons! After all, if the Prophet himself yearns for Paradise through his daughter, then surely we should also seek salvation via Fatima – the manifestation of Kawthar!
This article originally appeared in Islamic Insights [www.islamicinsights.com] magazine. It has been republished here with permission.