¡ Truly We have bestowed abundant good upon thee.
1 Abundant good translates kawthar, which derives from kathīr, meaning “much,” “abundant,” or “copious”; it is used to indicate something that is abundant in number, measure, weight, or quality, and there are at least sixteen different opinions regarding its meaning in this context (Q). The most widespread opinions regard it as a proper name referring to a river or pool in the Garden. Some Muslims will thus use the phrase “sitting by Kawthar” as a reference to being in Paradise. Other opinions relate abundant good to the gift of prophecy, the Quran (Q, Ṭs), or various aspects of Islam, such as the daily prayers, the two testimonies (shahādatayn), “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Messenger of God,” or the light within the breast that guides one to religion (Q). Some commentators take abundant good as a reference to the abundance of the Prophet’s progeny (Ṭs). The association with a river in Paradise finds the strongest support in the Ḥadīth literature (Q). In a widespread account, Anas ibn Mālik said, “When the Prophet was made to ascend to the heavens, he said [after his return], ‘I came upon a river the banks of which were made of tents of hollow pearls. I asked Gabriel, “What is this river?” He replied, “This is Kawthar” ’ ” (IK). According to another account, “Kawthar is a river in the Garden whose banks are of gold, and it flows over pearls and rubies. Its scent is finer than musk, and its water is sweeter than
honey and whiter than milk” (IK, Q). Another account joins the river to the other gifts bestowed upon the Prophet. It is related that Abū Bishr mentioned, “Saʿīd ibn Jubayr said that Ibn ʿAbbās said regarding Kawthar, ‘That is the good that God has bestowed upon His Messenger.’ I said to Saʿīd ibn Jubayr, ‘But the people claim that it is a river in the Garden.’ Saʿīd said, ‘The river in the Garden is part of the good that God has bestowed upon His Messenger’” (IK; for references to the river or pool in the Ḥadīth literature, see the introduction to the sūrah). Al-Ṭabarsī notes that all these sayings are particular aspects of the whole, which is the abundant good in the two abodes: Heaven and this world.