Sūrah al-Kawthar and Sūrah al-Kāfirūn

Sūrah al-Kawthar is considered one of the proofs of the inimitable nature of the Quran. It is three short powerful verses. Despite its brevity, the Quraysh were unable to produce something similar to it. This stands as historical evidence for the inimitable nature of the Quran. Had it been possible, the Quraysh would have produced a Sūrah like it. That would have been far easier than spending their entire lives at war with Islam.

Scholars differ regarding whether this is a Makkan or Madinan Sūrah. There is evidence to support both views and the issue remains unsettled. I am inclined to the opinion that it is Madinan, because of a narration in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim that indicates it was revealed in Madinah. Allah knows best. Scholars, however, agree that it is comprised of three verses.

The theme of this Sūrah is the statues of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this world and the next. The Sūrah was revealed because of the accusations by the enemies of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have no legacy because he did not leave behind any male children. This is thoroughly refuted by this Sūrah and by history itself. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not leave behind any male children, but he established a nation that continues to honor him and follow him today. This is a far greater legacy than anything his enemies could have produced.

Abundance and Gratitude

One of the lessons we can derive from this Sūrah is the importance of gratitude when tested with abundance. In this Sūrah, Allah tells the Prophet (peace be upon him) that He has granted him al-Kawthar. There are various interpretations of this word but a common one is an abundance in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had his needs taken care of in this world so that he could focus on his mission, and he has the greatest Paradise in the next world.

In the next verse, Allah commands the Prophet (peace be upon him) to pray and sacrifice for Allah. This is understood to mean that the Prophet (peace be upon him) should express his gratitude to Allah through worship. There is a very powerful lesson in this. In this world, Allah will test some people with hardship and others with abundance. He may test some people with hardships at some point in their lives and abundance at other points in their lives. Allah knows best who needs which kind of test.

While most of us know that we need to handle the test of hardship with patience, we often forget that abundance is also a test. When tested with an abundance of anything, the way to pass this test is through gratitude, worship and using those blessings in a way that is pleasing to Allah. This lesson is repeated many times in the Quran, especially in the stories of David and Solomon. The focus in those stories is always on gratitude. The lesson is simple; when Allah blesses us, we must respond with gratitude through worship.

The final verse is a prediction that the person who started this slander will be forgotten about and cut off from history. This prediction came through as we do not know who this person is, nor does anyone care. There is a lesson in this for those who try to humiliate or insult the Prophet (peace be upon him). They too will be forgotten when it is all over.

The Virtues of Sūrah al-Kāfirūn

Sūrah al-Kāfirūn was revealed in Makkah during the early Makkan Phase. There is consensus about this because the reason for revelation has been preserved in an authentic narration. Sūrah al-Kāfirūn is a short Makkan Sūrah made up of six powerful verses. Its theme is the uncompromising message of Islam, and the refusal to mix that message with falsehood in any way.

It is narrated that some of the leaders of the Quraysh offered the Prophet (peace be upon him) a compromise. They offered to worship Allah for one year, and in exchange, the Muslims should worship the idols for a year. This offer shows that they clearly did not understand the purpose of the message of Islam and its uncompromising stance on monotheism. Sūrah al-Kāfirūn was revealed as a response to their ridiculous offer.

There are various virtues narrated about this Sūrah. It was the habit of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to recite this Sūrah in the two units of prayer before Fajr, as well as in the Witr prayer. (Ibn Majah 5:1202, 5:1226) The many narrations about the Prophet (peace be upon him) reciting it indicates that it is a Sūrah he often recited in many Salahs. We can establish from this that it is recommended to recite this Sūrah in these prayers, and Allah knows best.

It is also narrated that this Sūrah is equal to a quarter of the Quran in value, but scholars differ over the authenticity of this narration. If it is true then it could mean that reciting it earns the reader the reward of reciting a quarter of the Quran. It could also mean that the message of this Sūrah summarizes the message of a quarter of the Quran. Allah knows best.

The Uncompromising Message

This short Sūrah teaches us never to compromise on the purity of our religion. We should never water down or change any of the fundamentals of our religion to please the disbelievers. This is clear in the wording of the Sūrah and its response to the Quraysh. We do not worship the idols that they worshipped, and they did not worship Allah properly the way we do. They have their religion and we have ours.

This message is very relevant to our times. Although nobody is really trying to push Muslims back into idol-worship today, there is a strong movement to get Muslims to compromise their religion and follow their desires. Liberalism revolves around the worship of one’s desires and pursuit of unbridled lust. The message of Islam gets in the way of their animalistic goals. Because of this, there is a strong push for Muslims to water down their religion, creating a fake liberal Islam in the process.

As believers, we need to take a clear stance on this. They have their way of life and we have ours. We will not compromise the fundamental beliefs and morals of our religion to please people. The pleasure of Allah is our priority and it matters more than anything else. This message does not negate the importance of Fiqh evolving and changing from time to time and place to place. That is a necessary part of our religion, and is done according to Fiqh principles, not the desires of disbelievers.

The focus here is on our beliefs and morals. These do not change, and we must remain firm and uncompromising on these no matter how much society pressurizes us to change. At the end of the day, we do not worship the desires that they worship, and they do not worship Allah whom we worship. They have their liberal way of life, and we have our pure true way of life.

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.

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