As the Prophet (s) prepared himself for a prized opportunity to present Islam to the noblemen of Quraysh, a blind man approached simultaneously with a question to ask.

The Prophet (s) frowned.  The Prophet (s) in the early days of the risala, yearned for an opportunity to present the Sacred Message to the influential upper crust of Meccan society.  Finally, an audience was permitted.  In attendance were those who others respected and put trust in their judgment. `Utbah, Shaibah, Abu Jahl, Umayyah bin Khalaf, and Ubayy bin Khalaf all assembled.

From a distance, in quick stride, ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom (ra) called out to bystanders to lead him to Muhammed (s).

The Prophet frowned.  A frown that went unwitnessed by the created was Seen by the Creator.

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيمِ

عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى أَن جَاءهُ الْأَعْمَى

(The Prophet) frowned and turned away because there came to him the blind man

وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّى

But what would make you perceive, [O Muhammad], that perhaps he might be purified?

أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُفَتَنفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَى

Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him?

أَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنَى فَأَنتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّى

As for him who thinks himself to be self-sufficient; To him you attend;

وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّى

And you are not accountable for his failure to attain purity

وَأَمَّا مَن جَاءكَ يَسْعَى

But as to him who came to you running.

وَهُوَيَخْشَى فَأَنتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّى

And is afraid (of Allah and His Punishment); of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another,

كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء ذَكَرَهُ

Nay, indeed it (these Verses of this Qur’an) are an admonition, so whoever wills, let him pay attention to it. (Sura 80.1-12)

Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoum (ra) was blind from birth and hence his mother was called Umm-Maktum (Mother of the concealed one). His father Qays ibn Sayd and mother Aatikah bint Abdullah were not notable or of fine pedigree.  He was, by all accounts, a commoner.

I went to visit a well known elder of the West Australian Muslim community at hospital today.  I went, Allah knows, out of compulsion and a sense of duty rather than in pursuit of divine virtue.  On the way up to the room the elevator door opened a couple of floors before my intended destination. I saw Waseem and felt angry with myself.  He was in a hospital robe pushing an IV pole. How could I have forgotten to visit him?! I pardoned my way out and greeted Waseem with genuine delight in my heart and concern on my mind.  We walked to his room.

At the age of 26 he felt an abdominal pain one night and felt strange for a few weeks before going to see a doctor.  Tumors, cancer and a terminal prognosis were announced all within a short couple of days.

But the brother was smiling and his room felt good. Imaan good. Sabr and contentment good. He smiled throughout our time together. I told him I am going to see someone upstairs and will come back down to see him.

I came, out of duty and respect for one man, and found my Imaan grow in meeting, coincidentally, another who had slipped my mind.

The Prophet (s) is sinless.  At first inspection, and to the untrained eye, one may think that Allah is rebuking or censoring His Beloved Messenger.  That is not the case.

Allah (swt) says in surat al-Fath 40.1-2

إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا

Indeed, We have given you, [O Muhammad], a clear conquest

لِّيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا

That Allah may forgive for you what preceded of your sin and what will follow and complete His favor upon you and guide you to a straight path.

The “sins” of the Prophets (s) are not works of immorality or evil.  On the contrary, they are actions of righteous deeds that are beyond their call at a given period of time.

The Prophet’s (s) neglect of ibn Umm Maktoom was not out of contempt. It was out of diligence and seeking goodness for the notables.

But the Prophet (s) frowned.

Ibn Umm Maktoom (ra) was unaware of this frown until the Prophet (s) saw him after the revelation of this sura and honoured him by placing his cloak on the ground for him to sit on.  The Prophet (s) loved Ibn Umm Maktoom.  He (ra) would be the second muezzin for the Prophet (s) and would be his (s) deputy in Medina during his (s) travels.

The frown was not meant for Ibn Umm Maktoom.  Rather, it was at his (s) inability to change the hearts of the notables and their rejection of the Truth. He (s) frowned because when the notables saw Ibn Umm Maktoom (ra) they scoffed declaring arrogantly their revulsion of being asked to join this commoner in his faith in Allah and the Messenger. Allah (swt) therefore seeks to comfort the Prophet (s) with the admonition:

وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّى

And you are not accountable for his failure to attain purity

وَأَمَّا مَن جَاءكَ يَسْعَى

But as to him who came to you running.

وَهُوَيَخْشَى فَأَنتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّى

And is afraid (of Allah and His Punishment), of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another,

كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَن شَاء ذَكَرَهُ

Nay, indeed it (these Verses of this Qur’an) are an admonition, so whoever wills, let him pay attention to it.

The Quran is the Word of Allah. It has subtle and delicate nuances that bewilder the knowing.

Whenever Allah (swt) speaks of ibn Umm Maktoom (ra) in Surat ‘Abasa, Allah (swt) drops a (taa) to imply the earnestness and desire of faith on the part of Ibn Umm Maktoom.  For example, yazzakkā: the original tā’ [of yatazakkā] has been assimilated with the zāy to imply expedience and sure desire.

As such Allah (swt) says:

تَلَهَّىٰ يَذَّكَّرُ يَزَّكَّى

Instead of:

تَتَلَهَّىٰ يَتَذَّكَّرُ يتَزَّكَّى

With regards to the conscious rejecters of faith the taa remains as a reminder of their distance from Allah and belief.

تَصَدَّىٰ اسْتَغْنَىٰ

Eventually, all who were assembled that day would die as conscious rejecters of faith, overwhelmingly during the Battle of Badr.

Ibn Umm Maktoom (ra) would die a martyr as the standard bearer during the battle of Qadisyeh during the leadership of ‘Umar (ra).  A blind man leading the believers to victory in defence of the message he so cherished. Fitting.

I will see Waseem, my commoner friend, tomorrow insha allah.