Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur’ān; Translated and Explained by Muhammad Asad (1980)
Al-Kawthar (Good in Abundance)
Whereas most of the authorities assign this sūrah to the early part of the Mecca period, Ibn Kathīr considers it most probable that it was revealed at Medina. The reason for this assumption (shared by many other scholars) is to be found in an authentic ḥādīth on the authority of Anas ibn Mālik, who narrates – with a good deal of circumstantial detail – how the sūrah was revealed “while the Apostle of God was among us in the mosque” (Muslim, Ibn Ḥanbal, Abū Dāʾūd, Nasāʾī). The “mosque” referred to by Anas can only have been the mosque of Medina: for, on the one hand, Anas – a native of that town – had never met the Prophet before the latter’s exodus to Medina (at which time Anas was barely ten years old); and, on the other hand, there had been no mosque – i.e., a public place of congregational worship – available to the Muslims at Mecca before their conquest of that city in 8 H.
The three verses of the sūrah are addressed, in the first instance, to the Prophet and, through him, to every believing man and woman.
(1) BEHOLD, We have bestowed upon thee good in abundance:1 (2) hence, pray unto thy Sustainer [alone], and sacrifice [unto Him alone],
(3) Verily, he that hates thee has indeed been cut off [from all that is good]!2
1 The term kawthar is an intensive form of the noun kathrah (Zamakhsharī), which, in its turn, denotes “copiousness”, “multitude” or “abundance”; it also occurs as an adjective with the same connotation (Qāmūs, Lisān al-ʿArab, etc.). In the above context, which is the sole instance of its use in the Qurʾān, al-kawthar obviously relates to the abundant bestowal on the Prophet of all that is good in an abstract, spiritual sense, like revelation, knowledge, wisdom, the doing of good works, and dignity in this world and in the hereafter (Rāzī); with reference to the believers in general, it evidently signifies the ability to acquire knowledge, to do good works, to be kind towards all living beings, and thus to attain to inner peace and dignity.
2 Lit., “it is he that is cut off (abtar)”. The addition, between brackets, of the phrase “from all that is good” is based on an explanation forthcoming from the Qāmūs.