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Abdullah Ibn Umm-Maktum, a blind companion on whose case Allah revealed 16 verses


Abdullah Ibn Umm-Maktum, the son of Qays Ibn Zayd and Aatikah Bint Abdullah. He was from the Quraysh tribe in Makkah. He was blind from birth and hence his mother was called Umm-Maktum (Mother of the concealed one). He was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the prophet's first wife.

Abdullah witnessed the rise of Islam in Makkah. He was among the first converts to Islam and gave allegiance to the Prophet(peace be upon him). He lived through the persecution of the Muslims and suffered what the other companions of the Prophet(peace be upon him) experienced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance, and sacrifice. Neither his dedication nor his faith weakened by the violence of the Quraysh onslaught. In fact, all this only increased his determination to hold on to the religion of Allah and his devotion to His messenger.

Abdullah was very devoted to the Prophet(peace be upon him) and he was so eager to memorize the Glorious Qur'an that he would not miss any opportunity to achieve his heart's desire. Indeed, his sense of urgency and his insistence could sometimes have been irritating as he, unintentionally, sought to attract the attention of the Prophet(peace be upon him).

During this period, the Prophet(peace be upon him) was concentrating on the Quraysh nobles and was eager that they should become Muslims. On one particular day, he met Utbah ibn Rabiah and his brother Shaybah, Amr ibn Hisham known as Abu Jahl, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and Walid ibn Mughirah, the father of Khalid ibn Walid who was later to be known as Sayf Allah or 'the sword of Allah. He had begun talking and negotiating with them and telling them about Islam. He so much wished that they would respond positively to him and accept Islam or at least call off their persecution of his companions. While he was busy talking to them, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum came and asked him to read a verse from the Qur'an.

"O Messenger of Allah," he said, "teach me from what Allah has taught you." The Prophet(peace be upon him) frowned and turned away from him. He turned his attention instead to the prestigious group of Quraysh, hoping that they would accept Islam and that by their acceptance of Islam they will bring greatness to the religion of Allah and strengthen his mission. As soon as he had finished speaking to them and had left their company, he suddenly felt partially blinded and his head began to throb violently. At this point the following revelation came to him:

{عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى * أَن جَاءَهُ الْأَعْمَى * وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّى * أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُ فَتَنفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَى * أَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنَى *  فَأَنتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّى * وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّى * وَأَمَّا مَن جَاءَكَ يَسْعَى* وَهُوَ يَخْشَى * فَأَنتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّى * كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ * فَمَن شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ * فِي صُحُفٍ مُّكَرَّمَةٍ * مَّرْفُوعَةٍ مُّطَهَّرَةٍ * بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ * كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ}.

{He frowned and turned away * When the blind man approached him! * Yet how would you know, (O Muhammad), that he might be purified * Or be reminded, and the remembrance would benefit him * As for he who thinks himself without need * To him you gave your whole attention * And not upon you [is any blame] if he will not be purified * But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge] * While he fears [Allah] * From him you are distracted * Nay, verily, this is but a reminder * So whoever wills may remember it * [It is recorded] in honored sheets * Exalted and purified * [Carried] by the hands of messenger-angels * Noble and dutiful }.  (Qur'an80: 1-16).

These are the sixteen verses which were revealed to the noble Prophet about Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum that have been recited from that time till today and shall continue to be recited until when Allah will destroy the earth and all that is in it. From that day the Prophet did not cease to be generous to Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum, to ask him about his affairs, to fulfill his needs and take him into his council whenever he approached. This is not strange. Was he not censured by Allah in a most severe manner on Abdullah's account? In fact, in later years, he often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility: [Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me].

When the Quraysh intensified their persecution of the Prophet and those who believed with him, Allah gave them permission to migrate to Madinah. Abdullah's response, devotion and striving in the path of Allah in Madinah will be our next article Insha-Allah.

May Allah be pleased with Him and all the prophet's companions.


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