Al-Kawthar. We all know this famous surah. Perhaps we only know it because of its short length though. The actual word kawthar in Arabic refers to great abundance. In the Islamic sense scholars of the past have derives 2 meanings.
It is a river in Jannah which Allah (swt) has gifted to the Prophet (saw). This is what is meant in the ayah where Allah (swt) says,
“Verily, We have granted you (O Muhammad) Al-Kawthar (a river in Paradise)”
-Surah al-Kawthar, Ayah 1
This is exactly how the Prophet (saw) interpreted the meaning. According to a narration found in Sahih al-Muslim, Anas ibn Malik (ra) said, “We were sitting with the Prophet (saw) and he dozed off then he raised his head and was smiling. We said “Why are you smiling, O Rasulallah?” He said, A surah has been revealed to me. And he recited it for us. Then he asked, “Do you know what is al-Kawthar?” We said, Allah (swt) and His Messenger know best. He said “It is a river that my Lord has promised me in which there is much goodness. And it is a cistern (tank) to which my ummah will come on the Day of Judgment.” Ibn Umar (ra) narrates that the Prophet (saw) said,
Al-Kawthar is a river in Paradise. Its banks are made of gold and its bed is of pearls and rubies.
The second meaning we can derive is that it is a giant tank for holding water. This water will be set up in the place of gathering on the Day of Judgment. Only people from the ummah of Muhammad (saw) will come to drink from it. The water of this tank will come directly from the river of al-Kawthar in Jannah. There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari where Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrates that the Prophet (saw) said,
Whilst I was walking in Jannah, I saw a river whose banks were domes of hollow pearls.” I said, “What is this, O Jibreel?” He said: “This is al-Kawthar which your Lord has given to you.” The angel struck it with his hand and its mud or its perfume was of the most fragrant (or pure) musk.
In Musnad Imam Ahmad, Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrates that the Prophet (saw) was asked about al-Kawthar and he said,
“That is a river which Allah has given to me, in Jannah. It is whiter than milk and sweeter than honey, and in it are birds whose necks are like the necks of camels.”
-Musnad Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal
What a blessing it would be to drink from al-Kawthar on the Day of Judgment. However, we have to acknowledge that not everyone from the ummah of Muhammad (saw) will be given the honor of drinking from al-Kawthar. There are hadith that clearly mention that there will be people among the ummah who will be driven back from the tank. We ask Allah (swt) to make us all amongst those who can drink from al-Kawthar. Ameen.
The Messenger of Allah (swt) has stated who will not be allowed to drink from al-Kawthar. Imam Al-Qurtubi said, “Our scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) said: Everyone who apostatizes from the religion of Allah (swt) or who introduces innovations with which Allah (swt) is not pleased and did not give permission for is one of those who will be driven away from al-Kawthar. Those who will be most forcibly driven away will be those who differed from the majority of Muslims and split from them, such as the Khaarijis and Raafidis. The same applies to the evildoers and oppressors who tried to extinguish the truth and kill its followers and humiliate them, and those who openly committed major sins and took the matter of sin lightly, and all those who followed deviant whims and desires and innovation.”
We must strive to follow the example of the Prophet (saw) and his righteous companions. By following his example we can hope that Allah (swt) will have mercy on us and honor us by allowing us to drink from al-Kawthar. If we fail to emulate his example, we will be the losers on that day suffering from unbearable thirst. We seek refuge in Allah (swt) and once again ask Him to make us from amongst those who can drink from al-Kawthar. Ameen.