He, the Prophet, frowned, glowered with his face, and turned away,
He, the Prophet, frowned, glowered with his face, and turned away,
(He frowned and turned away. Because the blind man came unto him) [80:1-2]. This refers to Ibn Umm Maktum. The latter went to see the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, while the latter was meeting 'Utbah ibn Rabi'ah, Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, 'Abbas ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, and Ubayy and Umayyah the sons of Khalaf. He was calling them to Allah, hoping that they might embrace Islam. Ibn Umm Maktum stood up and said: "O Messenger of Allah, teach me of that which Allah has taught you". He kept on requesting him and repeating his request, not knowing that he was busy and dealing with someone else. Signs of annoyance appeared on the face of the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, because of being repeatedly interrupted. He said in himself: "These chiefs will say: his followers consist of only the blind, lowly people and slaves!" The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, frowned and turned away from him, and faced toward the people he was addressing. Allah, exalted is He, then revealed these verses. After this, the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, used to honour him, and would say, whenever he saw him: "Welcome to the one about whom my Lord has rebuked me!" Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Rahman al-Musahifi informed us> Abu 'Amr Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Hamdan> Abu Ya'la> Sa'id ibn Yahya ibn Sa'id> his father> Hisham ibn 'Urwah> 'A'ishah who said: "(He frowned and turned away) was revealed about Ibn Umm Maktum, the blind. The latter went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and kept saying: 'O Messenger of Allah, guide me', while there were with the Messenger of Allah the leaders of the idolaters. The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, kept avoiding him and turning to the others. It is about this that (He frowned and turned away) was revealed". This was revealed by al-Hakim in his Sahih from 'Ali ibn 'Isa al-Hiri> al-'Utabi> Sa'd ibn Yahya.
The Prophet being reprimanded because He frowned at a Weak Man
More than one of the scholars of Tafsir mentioned that one day the Messenger of Allah was addressing one of the great leaders of the Quraysh while hoping that he would accept Islam. While he was speaking in direct conversation with him, Ibn Umm Maktum came to him, and he was of those who had accepted Islam in its earliest days. He (Ibn Umm Maktum) then began asking the Messenger of Allah about something, urgently beseeching him. The Prophet hoped that the man would be guided, so he asked Ibn Umm Maktum to wait for a moment so he could complete his conversation. He frowned in the face of Ibn Umm Maktum and turned away from him in order to face the other man. Thus, Allah revealed,
عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى - أَن جَآءَهُ الاٌّعْمَى - وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّى
(He frowned and turned away. Because there came to him the blind man. And how can you know that he might become pure) meaning, he may attain purification and cleanliness in his soul.
أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُ فَتَنفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَى
(Or he might receive admonition, and the admonition might profit him) meaning, he may receive admonition and abstain from the forbidden.
أَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنَى - فَأَنتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّى
(As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient. To him you attend;) meaning, `you face the rich person so that perhaps he may be guided.'
وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلاَّ يَزَّكَّى
(What does it matter to you if he will not become pure) meaning, `you are not responsible for him if he does not attain purification.'
وَأَمَّا مَن جَآءَكَ يَسْعَى - وَهُوَ يَخْشَى
(But as for him who came to you running. And is afraid.) meaning, `he is seeking you and he comes to you so that he may be guided by what you say to him.'
فَأَنتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّى
(Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another.) meaning, `you are too busy.' Here Allah commands His Messenger to not single anyone out with the warning. Rather, he should equal warn the noble and the weak, the poor and the rich, the master and the slave, the men and the women, the young and the old. Then Allah will guide whomever He chooses to a path that is straight. He has the profound wisdom and the decisive proof. Abu Ya`la and Ibn Jarir both recorded from `A'ishah that she said about,
(He frowned and turned away.) was revealed.'' At-Tirmirdhi recorded this Hadith but he did not mention that it was narrated by `A'ishah. I say it is reported like this in Al-Muwatta' as well.
The Characteristics of the Qur'an
كَلاَّ إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ
(Nay; indeed it is an admonition.) meaning, this Surah, or this advice in conveying knowledge equally among people, whether they are of noble or low class. Qatadah and As-Suddi both said,
كَلاَّ إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ
(Nay; indeed it is an admonition.) "This means the Qur'an.''
فَمَن شَآءَ ذَكَرَهُ
(So, whoever wills, let him pay attention to Him (it).) meaning, so whoever wills, he remembers Allah in all of his affairs. The pronoun could also be understood to be referring to the revelation since the conversation is alluding to it. Allah said:
فَى صُحُفٍ مُّكَرَّمَةٍ - مَّرْفُوعَةٍ مُّطَهَّرَةٍ
(In Records held in honor, exalted, purified.) meaning, this Surah or this admonition. Both meanings are connected to each other. Actually, all of the Qur'an is in honored pages, meaning respected and revered.
(exalted) meaning, elevated in status.
(purified) meaning, from impurity, additions and deficiency. Concerning Allah's statement,
(In the hands of ambassadors (Safarah),) Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak, and Ibn Zayd, all said, "These are the angels.'' Al-Bukhari said, "Safarah (ambassadors) refers to the angels. They travel around rectifying matters between themselves. The angels when they descend with the revelation of Allah, bringing it like the ambassador who rectifies matters between people.'' Allah said,
(Honorable and obedient.) meaning, they are noble, handsome, and honorable in their creation. Their character and their deeds are righteous, pure and perfect. Here it should be noted that it is necessary for one who carries the Qur'an (i.e., the angel) to be following righteousness and guidance. Imam Ahmad recorded from `A'ishah that the Messenger of Allah said,
«الَّذِي يَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ وَهُوَ مَاهِرٌ بِهِ، مَعَ السَّفَرَةِ الْكِرَامِ الْبَرَرَةِ، وَالَّذِي يَقْرَؤُهُ وَهُوَ عَلَيْهِ شَاقٌّ، لَهُ أَجْرَان»
(He who recites the Qur'an proficiently, will be with the noble, righteous, ambassador angels, and the one who recites it with difficulty will receive two rewards.) This Hadith was reported by the group.
The style of this first sentence is elegant and subtle. Although in the following sentences the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) has been directly addressed, which by itself shows that the act of frowning and turning aside had issued forth from him, the discourse has been opened in a manner as though it was not he but some one else who had so acted. By this style the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace), by a subtle method, has been made to realize that it was an act unseemly for him. Had somebody familiar with his high morals witnessed it, he would have thought that it was not he but some other person who had behaved in that manner.
The blind man referred to here implies, as we have explained in the Introduction, the well-known Companion, Hadrat Ibn Umm Maktum. Hafiz Ibn 'Abdul Barr in Al-Isti'ab and Hafiz Ibn Hajar in Al-Isbah have stated that he was a first cousin of the Holy Prophet's wife, Hadrat Khadijah. His mother, Umm Maktum, and Hadrat Khadijah's father, Khuwailid, were sister and brother to each other. After one knows his relationship with the Holy Prophet, there remains no room for the doubt that he had turned away from him regarding him as a poor man having a low station in life, and attended to the high-placed people, for he was the Holy Prophet's brother-in-law and a man of noble birth. The reason why the Holy Prophet had shown disregard for him is indicated by the word a ma (blind man), which Allah Himself has used as the cause of the Holy Prophet's inattention. That is, the Holy Prophet thought that even if a single man from among the people whom he was trying to bring to the right path, listened to him and was rightly guided, be could become a powerful means of strengthening Islam. On the contrary, Ibn Umm Maktum was a blind man, who could not prove to be so useful for Islam because of his disability as could one of the Quraish elders on becoming a Muslim. Therefore, he should not interrupt the conversation at that time; whatever he wanted to ask or learn, he could ask or learn at some later time.
This is the real point which the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had overlooked in the preaching of Islam on that occasion, and for teaching him the same Allah first reproved him on his treatment of Ibn Umm Maktum, and then ' told him what really deserved to occupy his attention as preacher of the Truth and what did not. There is a man whose apparent state clearly shows that he is a seeker after truth: he fears lest he should follow falsehood and invite Allah's wrath; therefore, he comes all the way in search of the knowledge of the true faith. There is another man, whose attitude clearly reflects that he has no desire for the truth; rather on the contrary, he regards himself as self-sufficient, having no desire to be guided to the right way. Between these two kinds of men one should not see whose becoming a Muslim would be of greater use for Islam and whose becoming a believer could not be of any use in its propagation. But one should see as to who was inclined to accept the guidance and reform himself, and who was least interested in this precious bargain. The first kind of man, whether he is blind, lame, crippled. or an indigent mendicant, who might apparently seem incapable of rendering any useful service in the propagation of Islam, is in any case a.valuable man for the preacher to the Truth. To him therefore he should attend, for the real object of this invitation is to reform the people, and the apparent state of the person shows that if he was instructed he would accept guidance. As for the other kind of man, the preacher has no need to pursue him, no matter how influential he is in society. For his attitude and conduct openly proclaim that he has no desire for reform; therefore, any effort made to reform him would be mere waste of time. If he has no desire to reform himself, he may nor the loss would be his, the preacher would not at all be accountable for it.
That is, "You should never do so: do not give undue importance to those who have forgotten God and become proud of their high worldly position. The teaching of Islam is not such that it should be presented solicitously before him who spurns it, nor should a man like you try to invite these arrogant people to Islam in a way as may cause them the misunderstanding that you have a selfish motive connected with them, and that your mission would succeed only if they believed, otherwise not, whereas the fact is that the Truth is as self-sufficient of them as they are of the Truth."
The allusion is to the Qur'an.
"Purified" : free from all kinds of mixtures of false ideas and thoughts, and presenting nothing but the pure Truth. There is no tinge whatever in these scrolls of the impurities with which the other religious boors of the world have been polluted. They have been kept pure and secure from all kinds of human speculation and evil suggestions.
This refers to the angels who were writing the scrolls of the Qur'an under the direct guidance of Allah, were guarding them and conveying them intact to the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). Two words have been used to qualify them: karim, i.e. noble, and barr, i.e. virtuous. The first word is meant to say that they are. so honored and noble that it is not possible that such exalted beings would commit even the slightest dishonesty in the trust reposed in them. The second word has been used to tell that they carry out the responsibility entrusted to them of writing down the scrolls, guarding them and conveying them to the Messenger with perfect honesty and integrity.
If the context in which these verses occur, is considered deeply, it becomes obvious that here the. Qur'an has not been praised for the sake of its greatness and glory but to tell the arrogant people, who were repudiating its message with contempt, plainly: "The glorious Qur'an is too holy and exalted a Book to be presented before you humbly with the request that you may kindly accept it if you so please. For it does not stand in need of you as you stand in need of it. If you really seek your well-being, you should clear your head of the evil thoughts and submit to its message humbly; otherwise you are not so self-sufficient of this Book as this Book is self-sufficient of you. Your treating it with scorn and contempt will not affect its glory and greatness at all, rather your own pride and arrogance will be ruined on account of it.
And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (He frowned): '(He frowned) He says: Muhammad (pbuh) showed a stern face (and turned away) his face