This Surah was revealed at Makkah during the early stages, when the Prophet was enduring extremely difficult conditions.
Major Issue, Divine Laws and Guidance:
• Allah has made the name of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), everlasting
The disbelieving Quraish used to say: "Muhammad (peace be upon him) is cut off from his community and reduced to a powerless and helpless individual. Muhammad bin Ishaq says: "Whenever the Prophet (peace be upon him) was mentioned before 'As bin Wa'il, the chief of Makkah, he used to say: Leave him alone for he is only a childless man (abtar) with no male offspring. When he dies, there will be no one to remember him." (Reported by Ibn Jareer). Ibn Sa'ad and Ibn Asakir have related that Sayyiduna Abdullah bin Abbas said; "The eldest son of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was Qasim; next to him was Zainab, next to her Abdullah and next to him three daughters: Umme Kulthum, Ruqayyah, and Fatimah. Of them, first Qasim died and then Abdullah. Thereupon ‘As bin Wa'il said: "His line has come to an end; now he is abtar (i. e. cut off from the root)." Abu Jahl also had said similar words on the death of the Prophet's son, Abdullah.
Such were the disturbing conditions under which Surah Al-Kauthar was sent down. The Quraish were angry with him because he worshipped and served only Allah and repudiated their idolatry publicly. For this very reason, he was deprived of the rank, esteem and honor that he enjoyed among his people before Prophethood and was now cut off from his community. The handful of his Companions were helpless poor people who were also being persecuted and tyrannized. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was grieved by the death of his two sons, one after the other, whereas the near relatives and the people of his clan were rejoicing and uttering such words which were disheartening and disturbing for the Prophet (peace be upon him), who had treated even his enemies most kindly. At this occasion, Allah in just one sentence of this brief Surah, gave him the good news - better news than which has never been given to any one in this world. It will be his opponents who will be cut off from their roots and not him.
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This very brief surah is like a short sharp message of good news addressed directly and personally to Prophet Muhammad. It was to console him for the loss of all his male children at a very early age. According to Arabian custom before Islam, the loss of male off- spring was considered a great misfortune because it signiﬁed the cutting off of a father’s name and ancestry, and his fading into obscu- rity. A man not survived by his sons was thus given the pejorative Arabic name al-abtar (sonless).
The surah came to reassure the Prophet that God’s grace and generosity towards him were great and unparalleled. He was favored by receiving the Qur’anic revelation; he was selected as a messenger of God to all mankind; and he is loved and revered by millions all over the world. In every moment that passes someone, somewhere, is praying for Muhammad or praising his name.
Muhammad should undoubtedly be the happiest of all God’s cre- ation; he is the mentor, the benefactor, the model, and the leader of mankind, for all time.
God says: “We have given you in abundance [of all good things], so pray to your Lord, and sacriﬁce” (1–2). This is a reference to prayers performed on the occasion of Eid, which is normally fol- lowed by the sacriﬁce of animals, usually sheep, cows, or camels, whose meat should be distributed among the poor and the needy.
Then God says: “He that hates you [Muhammad] shall fade into obscurity” (3). This is a reference to those who lampooned the Prophet and taunted him for the non-survival of his sons.
It also conveys the reassurance that, in God’s sight, Muhammad was praiseworthy and deserving of God’s grace and generous rewards.
إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ