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Sūrah Mā‘ūn-Kawthar
Qur'anic Exegesis
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


Mutual Relationship

Both these surahs form a pair as far as the subject discussed in them is concerned. Surah Maa`oon mentions the crimes of the leadership of the Quraish, particularly Abu Lahab, while Surah Kauthar, on account of these crimes, declares their deposition from the custodianship of the Baitullaah.


Surah Mā‘ūn

The surah is directed at the Quraish, and its central theme, after a depiction of the crimes of their leadership particularly Abu Lahab, is to inform them of the doom which has been destined for them because of these crimes. It is evident from the contents of the surah that it was revealed in Makkah in the phase of migration and renunciation of the Prophet’s mission as a final warning for the Quraish. 

Surah Kawthar

The surah addresses the Prophet (sws) and its central theme is to give glad tidings to him that the custodianship of the Baitullaah shall now be transferred to him and instead of him, it will be his enemies who shall be totally humbled. It is evident from the contents of the surah that it was revealed in Makkah in the phase of migration as  glad tidings of the future.


Surah Mā‘ūn

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.

Seest thou one who denies reward and punishment [O Prophet!]. He it is who shoves the orphan and urges not the feeding of the poor.1

So woe be to these [priests of the Baitullaah] who pray being unmindful [to the essence] of their prayers; who put up a pretentious display [of worship], and are not even prepared to lend ordinary items of common use to others.2

Surah Kawthar

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful.


Upon thee [O Prophet!] have We bestowed this abundance of good [this House of Ours3]. So pray ye only for your Almighty and offer ye sacrifice only for Him.4 Indeed, it is this enemy of yours who is rootless: none of his followers will remain.5







1. It is evident from the context of this group that these verses portray the mean and petty character of Abu Lahab. Two basic evils have particularly been mentioned here: disbelief in the Hereafter, and maltreatment of the poor. The first has corrupted his faith and the second his deeds. A person who does not believe in the Hereafter is one who has not paid heed to the calls of his conscience only to deny the most manifest of realities, while a person who snubs and victimizes the deprived when he is, in fact, entrusted with their well-being has sunk to the meanest level of humanity. It must be kept in mind that at the time of revelation of the surah, Abu Lahab was in charge of the Rifaadah (the treasury of the Baitullaah) and as such was responsible for the welfare of the poor and needy of the society. Instead of realizing his responsibility, he, as pointed out by these verses had totally disgraced this sacred trust.

2. The clergy of the Baitullah were no different from Abu Lahab their chief. They stood right beside him in denying the Hereafter and in persecuting the poverty-stricken. Together they were also guilty of putting up a pretentious display of worship. The Baitullaah, it must be kept in consideration, had been built for two reasons. Firstly, to be the centre of worship of the one and only Allah; secondly, to cater for the needs, physical as well as emotional, of orphans and the poor. It was the duty of its custodians to carry out these tasks. But since those individuals whose unworthy characters was depicted could not be expected to fulfil the duty, they were informed of the dreadful fate which had been ordained for them.

3. According to Farahi’s research, the Baitullaah is the figurative manifestation of the rivulet pond of kauther found in paradise, and that just as the kauther of this world -- the Baitullaah -- has been given to the Prophet (sws) and his companions, the kauther of paradise shall also be granted to them.

4. After declaring the Prophet (sws)  as the new guardian of the Baitullaah, a reference has been made to the two responsibilities which his predecessors had grossly failed to carry out and because of which they were actually ousted from its custodianship.

5. In the later part of the Makkan period, the Quraish were responsible for the propaganda that Muhammad (sws) was detached from his nation and the centre of his old religion (the Baitullaah) and if he took refuge in Medina with the Ansaar, cutting off himself from the Quraish, he would be like a severed branch of a tree which is bound to wither away. In this background, Abu Lahab and his comrades are informed that after being dislodged from the Baitullaah, it is they who shall be uprooted from the land and not the Prophet (sws). The Almighty shall shower his favours on him and his companions.

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