Jumuah lecture on Friday 14 February 2020 (19 Jamadil Thani 1441)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in His Holy Book and final message to humanity, addressing His final Prophet (a.s) and Messenger Rasulullah (SAWA) in the shortest chapter of the Holy Quran, Surah Kauthar (chapter 108):
إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ
“To thee have We granted the Fount (of Abundance).
فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ
Therefore, to thy Lord turn in Prayer and Sacrifice.
إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ
Surely your enemy is the one who shall be without posterity.”
This shortest chapter of the Holy Quran is amazingly the subject of amongst the longest discussions in the Holy Quran, in the very opening verse. Literally, according to the Arabic dictionary, “Kauthar” comes from “Kathura”, which means abundance. This is the antonym of “Qaleel” which means limited.
There are around 26 different interpretations provided by commentators of the Holy Quran regarding the understanding of ”Kauthar”. These interpretations range from it being referred to as a pool in Paradise by this name to it being referred to the Holy Quran and Islam itself. And then there are so many other opinions too.
BACKGROUND TO THE REVELATION OF SURAH KAUTHAR
Nobody disputes the fact that this chapter was revealed against the backdrop of accusations from the disbelievers and the mentality of Jahiliyyah (era of ignorance) pointing towards our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). They accused Rasulullah (SAWA) of being “abtar”. This word refers literally to someone who does not have a tail, and in this context, the accusations leveled against Rasulullah (SAWA) was that he does not have a legacy, which to these ignorant opponents meant a surviving son.
As we know, Rasulullah (SAWA) did have sons, but they all passed away at a very young age. Hence, they are not the source of the continuation of the offspring of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Now, in the Arab culture, and more particularly in the Jahiliyyah mentality, it is seen as the end if you do not have a male child. It means that you do not have anything further to offer after you pass away. Girls were not regarded as the source of anything for your legacy to continue.
As we all know, Rasulullah (SAWA) did have surviving female offspring. Despite this, the enemies called him “abtar” because they did not recognize female offspring, owing to their ignorant culture and mentality. This is the background to the revelation of Surah Kawthar in response to these accusations.
Let us reflect on the background of this accusation and in this specific mentality of Jahiliyyah which is unfortunately still prevalent today, where it pollutes our thoughts that a daughter can never match the status of a son, and that our legacy is through our sons and not through our daughters. We see that the Holy Quran refutes this uncivilized mentality through Surah Kauthar.
HOW IS FATIMA (S.A) REFERRED TO AS KAUTHAR?
Referring to the two examples of interpretation of “Kauthar” referred to earlier, namely that it refers to the Holy Quran or a pond in Paradise, we can conclude that this reference is obviously not in response to this accusation and ignorant mentality.
Similarly, there are even interpretations which refer to “Kauthar” as being the whole nation of Islam (Ummah). Indeed, without doubt, these are all examples of the legacy of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), but the person who accused was not referring to the students and followers of Rasulullah (SAWA). Rather, he was referring to Rasulullah (SAWA) not having a biological legacy (through a son).
Therefore, the only appropriate understanding is the one expounded upon by the great Sunni commentator of the Holy Quran, Allama Fakhruddin Razi, where he says that the only suitable interpretation which is commensurate with the background of the revelation of this Surah Kauthar is that Almighty Allah (SWT) replied with one word (Kauthar), meaning that contrary to the mainstream ignorant belief at that time, our Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) indeed has the greatest of offspring and the greatest of legacies.
According to Allama Fakhruddin Razi’s interpretation, this Surah Kauthar establishes that nobody will have any offspring to match that of Rasulullah (SAWA), with impact spread to all corners of the world. Secondly, this Surah Kauthar is also directly refuting the notion that a girl cannot be the source of one’s legacy or be the source of any good. What this Surah Kauthar is therefore establishing is that a daughter is indeed the continuation of one’s legacy, but beyond this, it establishes a daughter as being the source of abundance of good.
FATIMA (S.A) PRESENTED AS KAUTHAR IS THE BEST RESPONSE TO THE UNCIVILIZED ARAB CULTURE
Surah Kauthar is therefore the negation of 2 things:
- Rasulullah (SAWA) does indeed have a legacy through his daughter;
- The mentality which belittled women and treated them with contempt.
What is more important to note is that the Holy Quran did not reply simply in the form of legacy, meaning the response was not simply responding to the accuser that Rasulullah (SAWA) will have offspring. Instead, the word used in the Holy Quran is “kauthar”, meaning offspring which will be the source of good in ABUNDANCE!
This Surah Kauthar contains unique qualities! For example, nowhere else in the Holy Quran is the word “a’tayna” used ie. with a “Ta” and not a “Taa”. There is a difference if this word “a’tayna” is spelt with a “Ta” instead of a “Taa”. If it is spelt with a “Taa”, it means something which you give, but can take back. However, if it is spelt with a “Ta”, it refers to something which you give but do NOT take back!
Another unique aspect of this Surah is that the word “kauthar” is only used in this Surah and nowhere else in the Holy Quran. Similarly, the word “abtar” is also only used here and nowhere else in the Holy Quran.
There are numerous places in the Holy Quran where Almighty Allah (SWT) has expressed His favours on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). A clear example is the opening verse of Surah Fath (chapter 48):
إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُبِينًا
“Surely We have given to you a clear victory.”
When people came with loads of wealth and resources, Almighty Allah (SWT) supported Rasulullah (SAWA) with verses such as these to reassure him and doesn’t request anything in return. On the contrary, Surah Kauthar is unique in that we read in the second verse that Rasulullah (SAWA) is requested to be thankful to Almighty Allah (SWT) by offering Prayer and Sacrifice, after being granted the abundance ie. Kauthar, as referred to in the first verse.
This “kauthar” is very special, as it is Lady Fatima (s.a)!
BIRTHDAY OF LADY FATIMA (S.A) IS THE REAL WOMEN’S DAY!
20 Jamadil Thani is the birthday of this great Lady Fatima (s.a). Nobody else, other than Lady Fatima (s.a), is suitable for this title of “kauthar” in the Holy Quran. Almighty Allah (SWT) has basically given everything to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) through Lady Fatima (s.a)!
If we reflect on this personality, she is the symbol of piety, Taqwa (God-consciousness), Imaan (faith), Jihad (struggle), resistance, speaking truth to the power, and the list goes on. She is this strong woman with the most powerful voice shining with noble stature in that uncivilized society where baby girls were buried alive!
There are so many angles to explore with this noble personality of Lady Fatima (s.a). Why does Almighty Allah (SWT) refer to her in the Holy Quran as Kauthar? Indeed, one can understand this title ascribed to her from a biological angle, since she is the blessed daughter of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), and there are millions of children of Fatima (s.a) spread across the world in the form of lineage through the infallible Imams ie. Syed lineage.
Sunni and Shia have both narrated that those with Syed lineage enjoy certain status. We have Hadith which explain the special respect to be afforded to the descendants of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), until the point where Rasulullah (SAWA) says that we should respect these children because of their lineage to him, even if they are not good. At the same time, it should be noted that being a descendant from this sacred lineage comes with added responsibility. So, it is a balanced approach, and added respect comes with added accountability.
LADY FATIMA (S.A) – THE MOTHER OF THE AHLUL BAIT (A.S) AND ALL THE WOMEN OF ALL THE WORLDS
From this sacred Lady Fatima (s.a) emerges the 12 infallible Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s), and personalities like Husain ibn Ali (a.s) (the leader of martyrs), the epitome of bravery by the name of Lady Zainab (s.a) etc.
Spirituality, knowledge, culture, eloquence and deep mystical understanding all comes from this house. Who, other than from this house, can present us a book like Sahifa Sajjadiyyah, this compilation of duas from the child of Lady Fatima (s.a) ie. our fourth Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Zainul Abideen (a.s)? These are not simply duas, but rather, an ocean of wisdom and guidance.
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s) and Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), the 5th and 6th Imams of Ahlul Bait (a.s) come from this house too! They are the teachers of the 4 Imams of jurisprudence of our Sunni brethren. Furthermore, it is from this stream of abundant goodness from the house of Lady Fatima (s.a) that will emerge the one who will rescue the world, our awaited saviour, who will fulfil the ambitions of Prophets (a.s). He is the one who will fill this earth with the justice of Islam, as it will be filled with injustice and oppression before that.
Everyone agrees that Imam Mahdi (atfs), our saviour and leader of the final victory of Islam, will be from the children of Lady Fatima (s.a). He is the one who will lead the prayers, and Prophets (a.s) will be following him.
These are the different levels of abundant goodness referred to by “kauthar”. This is evident when we explore her personality from any angle, be it cultural, social, political, academic or spiritual. The source of goodness is Lady Fatima (s.a).
From this, we understand that it is not for just any old reason that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) loved Lady Fatima (s.a) so much, to the point where he declares that “Fatima (s.a) is part of me, whoever hurts Fatima (s.a) hurts me”. Nobody reached this level, where Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) goes further to say that “Allah (SWT) is happy with the happiness of Fatima (s.a) and angry with the anger of Fatima (s.a)”.
This is the exemplary status of Fatima (s.a), where she reached that sublime level where her pleasure and anger become the criteria for the pleasure and anger of Almighty Allah (SWT)!
SECOND KHUTBAH – LADY FATIMA (S.A) IS THE SOURCE OF HOPE IN THIS TURBULENT WORLD
There can be nobody better to reflect upon to achieve Taqwa of Almighty Allah (SWT), than Lady Fatima (s.a). Generally, the second khutbah of Jumuah is dedicated to social issues and our concerns regarding our society and Ummah (Muslim nation).
Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s), the beloved son of Lady Fatima (s.a), narrates that he saw his mother in her prayer chamber. He narrates that she started praying from Esha’i throughout the night until Fajr, deep in dua (supplication) for others and not herself. She mentioned the names of different people in her supplications. Afterall, Fatima (s.a) is the shelter for the Ummah!
Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba (a.s) says that after his mother, Lady Fatima (s.a) completed her all-night Ibadah (worship), he enquired from her why she did not make dua for herself, after making dua for numerous individuals by name through the night.
Her response to Imam Hasan (a.s) should be framed! She provided a short, deep, meaningful slogan in response, saying “first neighbours, then yourself”. This outstanding slogan typifies her philosophy of life! This is the devotion which Lady Fatima (s.a) taught us through her duas and practical life, especially in her stance for truth and justice. This spirit manifests and flourishes in the Noor of Kauthar, the Noor of Lady Fatima (s.a)!
Centuries have passed, but still that Noor shines bright. Sometimes in the form of Imam Khomeini (r.a), Ayatullah Khamenei, Ayatullah Sistani, Syed Hassan Nasrullah and others. They all have this blood of Lady Fatima (s.a) as the source of enlightenment, which we can see evidently in the world today.