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The Grammatical Marvels of Sura Al-Kawthar

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

Truly We have given you the Great Abundance. So pray to your Lord and sacrifice. It is the one who hates you who is cut off without an heir.

(Surah al-Kawthar)

  1. Overview of the Sura

We begin by observing that there are 10 pronounced words read by the reciter and each verse is comprised of 10 letters.

The entire chapter can be broken down in to 10 words written as follows:

إِنَّا – أَعْطَيْنَاكَ – الْكَوْثَرَ – فَصَلِّ – لِرَبِّكَ – وَانْحَرْ -إِنَّ – شَانِئَكَ – هُوَ – الْأَبْتَرُ

The first verse is comprised of 10 letters excluding any repetition.

إِنَّا – أَعْطَيْنَاكَ – الْكَوْثَرَ

ا -ن -ع -ط -ي -ك -ل -و -ث -ر .

The second verse is comprised of 10 letters excluding any repetition.

فَصَلِّ – لِرَبِّكَ – وَانْحَرْ

ص -ل -ر -ب -ك -و -ا -ن -ح .

The third verse is also comprised of 10 letters excluding any repetition.

إِنَّ – شَانِئَكَ – هُوَ – الْأَبْتَرُ

ا -ن -ش -ك -ه -و -ل -ب -ت -ر .

It’s interesting to note that the number of letters used only once without repetition is also ten.


  1. Sentences in the Sura

The Scholars of Arabic language have classified sentences into many types and what is astonishing is that this Sura contains examples of each. There are four types of sentences mentioned in this Sura:

  1. Informative and Non-informative
  2. Conjunction and Disjunction
  3. Nominal and Verbal
  4. Simple and Compound


  1. Informative and non-informative

Sentences, according to the scholars of languages especially the scholars of Al-Balaga (Eloquence or rhetoric) are classified in to two types: Informative sentence (جمل خبرية) and non-informative sentence (جمل انشائية). When you ponder on the Sura you will find both types mentioned.

Examples of the informative sentence (جمل خبرية):

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ

Example of a non-informative sentence (جمل انشائية):

فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ

  1. Conjunction and Disjunction

In the science of Arabic Balaga, the topic of (الوصل والفصل) ‘conjunction and disjunction’ of sentences using the particle و is considered to be one of the most important topics, and was said to be the heart of eloquence. This Sura provides examples of both.

For example, the sentence انحر is connected with و to the preceding sentence فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ and this is an example of الوصل, and that sentence is disconnected with the following sentence إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ, and this is an example of الفصل.

  1. Nominal and Verbal

The scholars of Arabic divided Arabic sentences into two types: Nominal sentences and verbal sentences. The sentences we mentioned as examples of informative and non-informative are also examples of nominal and verbal. This is according to the majority of scholars. However, some scholars from the past and present have added a third type, the conditional sentence, although this is not entirely convincing.

Al -Zamakshari proposed a third type, the conditional sentence (الجملة الشرطية), but other scholars did not accept it as an independent sentence. Ibn Hisham said in Al-Mugni: “Al-Zamakshari and others added the conditional sentence, but the correct opinion is that it is a type of verbal sentence.”

Ibn Hisham himself proposed in Al-Mugni a third type, which is the adverbial clause (الجملة الظرفية) , but others rejected this by saying the adverbial clause refers to the nominal and verbal sentence prior to it, because the governing agent is estimated as either كائن أو استقر, which is either an omitted verb or a verb-like entity.

In reality, the correct position is that there are really only two sentence types in origin (nominal and verbal). In any case, Sura Kawthar contains both these two types of sentences.

  1. Simple and compound

Scholars of Arabic also classified the sentence by its composition: simple or compound. For example:

زيد قام أبوه  و زيد أبوه قائم

Zaid is the subject and the predicate is not a single word but a nominal sentence (أبوه قائم) and a verbal sentence (قام أبوه). These two predicate sentences are not independent sentences but serve as the predicate for the greater sentence whose subject is Zaid.

Sura Al Kawthar has examples of each type:

Compound sentence: إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ

The sentence أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ is the smaller sentence which is the predicate for the greater sentence إِنَّا.

Simple sentence: فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ

As for the sentence إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ it can be analysed from two perspectives. Firstly, if you consider the pronoun هو to be a separating pronoun (ضمير فصل) then the word الْأَبْتَرُ is the predicate of الشانئ, and is a simple sentence. However, if you consider the pronoun هو to be the subject (مبتدأ) and الأبتر to be its predicate (خبرا) then this small sentence is considered the predicate for الشانئ, and will be an example of a complex sentence.

  1. Pronouns (الضمائر) in the Sura

This Sura presents all types of pronouns in the language.

  1. Explicit and implied pronouns – الضمائر بارزة ومستترة

The explicit pronoun is what appears in the verb: أعطيناك, and the implicit pronoun is what is implied in the verb صل and انحر.

  1. Attached and detached pronouns: الضمائر متصلة ومنفصلة

The sentence: أعطيناك is an example of an attached pronoun and the sentence هو الأبتر is an example of a detached pronoun.

  1. Pronouns addressing the first, second and third person

First person: أعطينا

Second person: أعطيناك و ربك و شانئك are explicit and صل و انحر are implicit.

Third person: هو is explicit and شانئ is implicit

  1. Pronouns in terms of number: singular and plural

We have already seen singular and plural pronouns used in the Sura but what about dual pronouns? Although the aim of the Sura is not to show every aspect of the language for it to be miraculous, in the Arabic language plural pronouns can be used for the dual.

  1. Pronouns in consideration of their grammatical position

The pronoun in the nominative position: أعطيناك  is the فاعل

The pronoun in the accusative position: أعطيناك  is the مفعول به

The pronoun in the genitive position: ربك  is the مضاف إليه

One subtlety of the Sura is that the order of the pronouns’ grammatical position is identical for Allah (swt) and His Messenger ﷺ.

For Allah (swt):

Accusative: اسم إن

Nominative: فاعل أعطى

Genitive: الرب


For the Messenger of Allah ﷺ:

Accusative: كاف – أعطيناك

Nominative: صل – الضمير المستتر

Genitive: كاف – ربك

  1. Verbs in the Sura

This Sura contains all the various types of verbs from the morphological (sarf) point of view.

1- الفعل الصحيح: نحر – Sound verb

2- الفعل المعتل: أعطى. – Weak verb

3- الفعل المضعف : صلى . – Duplicated verb

4- الفعل المجرد: نحر. – Simple verb

5- الفعل المزيد : أعطى . – Enhanced verb

6- الفعل اللازم : صلى .- Intransitive verb

7- الفعل المتعدي إلى مفعول واحد: نحر .- Transitive verb with one object

8- الفعل المتعدي إلى أكثر من مفعول: أعطى. – Transitive verb for more than one object

What an amazing Sura! Not only does it have an abundance of guidance but also an abundance of the Arabic language. It indeed deserves to be called Al-Kawthar.

May Allah (swt) gives the ability to benefit from this amazing Book. Ameen


By Abu Malik and Abu Yusuf