|Structure||42 verses, 133 words, 538 letters|
Period of revelation
Commentators and traditionists are unanimous about the occasion of the revelation of this Surah. According to them, at one time some big chiefs of Makkah were sitting in the assembly of Mohammad, and he was earnestly engaged in trying to persuade them to accept Islam. At that very point, a blind man, named Abd-Allah ibn Umm-Maktum, approached him to seek explanation of some point concerning Islam. Muhammad disliked his interruption and ignored him. Thereupon Allah sent down this Surah. From this historical incident the period of the revelation of this Surah can be precisely determined.
In the first place, it is confirmed that Hadrat Abd-Allah ibn Umm-Maktum was one of the earliest converts to Islam. Hafiz Ibn Hajar and Hafiz Ibn Kathir have stated that he was one of those who had accepted Islam at a very early stage at Makkah.
Secondly, some of the traditions of the Hadith which relate this incident show that he had already accepted Islam, and some others show that he was inclined to accept it and had approached Muhammad in search of the truth. Hadrat Aishah states that coming to Muhammad he had said: "O Messenger of Allah, guide me to the straight path." (Tirmidhi, Hakim, Ibn Hibban, Ibn Jarir, Abu Ya'la. According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, he had asked the meaning of a verse of the Qur'an and said to Muhammad: "O Messenger of Allah, teach me the knowledge that Allah has taught you." Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abu Hatim). These statements show that he had acknowledged Muhammad. Contrary to this, Ibn Zaid has interpreted the words "la'allahu yazzakka" of verse 3 to mean: la'allahu yuslim: "that perhaps he might become Muslim." (Ibn Jarir) And Allah's own words: "What would make you know that he might reform, or heed the admonition, and admonishing might profit him?" and "The one who comes to you running, of his own will, and fears, from him you turn away", point out that by that time he had developed in himself a deep desire to learn the truth: he had come to Muhammad with the belief that he was the only source of guidance, and his desire would be satisfied only through him; his apparent state also reflected that if he was given instruction, he would benefit by it.
Thirdly, the names of the people who were sitting in Muhammad's assembly at that time, have been given in different traditions. In this list we find the names of Utba ibn Rabi'ah, Shaibah, Abu Jahl, Umayyah ibn Khalaf, Ubay ibn Khalaf, who were the bitterest enemies of Islam. This shows that the incident took place in the period when these chiefs were still on meeting terms with the Holy Prophet and their antagonism to Islam had not yet grown so strong as to have stopped their paying visits to him and having dialogues with him off and on. All these arguments indicate that this is one of the very earliest Surahs to be revealed at Makkah.
- 1. He (The prophet) frowned and turned away
- 2. Because the blind man came to him
- 3. And what would make you know that he would purify himself
- 4. Or became reminded so that the reminder should profit him
- 5. As for him who thinks himself free from need
- 6. To him you give attention
- 7. And you are not to be blamed if he would not purify himself
- 8. But as for him who came to you running
- 9. While he fears Allah
- 10. From him you were being unmindful
- 11. Nay! Indeed there verses (the Quran) are admonishment
- 12. So whoever wills, let him pay attention to it
- 13. It is recorded in honored sheets
- 14. Exalted and purified
- 15. In the hand of scribes
- 16. Noble and righteous
- 17. Woe to man; How ungrateful he is
- 18. From what substance did He create him
- 19. From a sperm-drop He created him and then made him accordingly to a measure
- 20. Then he makes the path easy for him
- 21. Then He causes him death and puts him in his grave
- 22. Then when He wills, He will resurrect him
- 23. Nay! But he has not done what He commended him
- 24. Let man look at his food
- 25. How We poured down water in abundance
- 26. Then We cleave the earth in fragments
- 27. And produce grain therein
- 28. And grapes and vegatables
- 29. And olives and dates
- 30. And gardens, dense with many trees
- 31. And fruits and grasses
- 32. A provision for you and your cattle
- 33. But when there cames the deafening blast
- 34. On that Day a man shall flee from his own brother
- 35. And from his mother and father
- 36. And from his wife and his children
- 37. On that Day every man will have enough concern of his own
- 38. Some faces on that day will be bright
- 39. Laughing and happy at the glade tidings
- 40. But other faces that day covered with dust
- 41. Blackness will cover them
- 42. These are they who are unbelievers, the wicked one
Theme and subject matter
In view of the apparent style with which the discourse opens, one feels that in this Surah Allah has expressed His displeasure against the Muhammad for his treating the blind man with indifference and attending to the big chiefs exclusively. But when the whole Surah is considered objectively, one finds that the displeasure, in fact, has been expressed against the disbelieving Quraish, who because of their arrogant attitude and indifference to the truth, were rejecting with contempt the message of truth being conveyed by Muhammad. Then, besides teaching him the correct method of preaching, the error of the method that he was adopting at the start of his mission has also been pointed out. His treating the blind man with neglect and disregard and devoting all his attention to the Quraish chiefs was not for the reason that he regarded the rich as noble and a poor blind man as contemptible, and, God forbid, there was some rudeness in his manner for which Allah reproved him. Almost the same attitude had Muhammad also adopted. Allah made him realize that that was not the correct method of extending invitation to Islam, but from his mission's point of view, every man, who was a seeker after truth, was important, even if he was weak, or poor, and every man, who was heedless to the truth, was unimportant, even if he occupied a high position in society. Therefore, he should openly proclaim and convey the teachings of Islam to all and sundry, but the people who were really worthy of his attention, were those who were inclined to accept the Truth, and his sublime and noble message was too high to be presented before those haughty people who in their arrogance and vanity thought that they did not stand in need of him but rather he stood in need of them.
This is the theme of vv. 1-16. From verse 17 onward the rebuke directly turns to the disbelievers, who were repudiating the invitation of Muhammad. In this, first they have been reproved for their attitude which they had adopted against Allah. In the end, they have been warned of the dreadful fate that they would meet in consequence of their conduct on the Day of Resurrection.
- List of suras in the Quran
- Al Mubarakpuri, Shaykh Safiur-Rahman (July 2003). Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 10. Maktaba Darussalam. p. 356. ISBN 9960-892-71-9.
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