The Story of a Blind Man
(Quran Surah Abasa 80:1-12)
Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum a blind man, was a companion of Prophet (pbuh). He was one of the early converts to Islam. He was also the cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her. His father was Qays ibn Said and his mother was Aatikah bint Abdullah. She was called Umm Maktum (Mother of the Concealed One) because she gave birth to a blind child.
“One day the Messenger of Allah (saws) 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 (phub) 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.
﴿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.
Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir
The Prophet (pbuh) always used to guide people towards Islam. During this incident he (phuh) devoted his complete attention to the leaders of Quraysh with the hope of guiding them towards Islam and hence ignored the blind man. As a result of this Allah revealed the above verses.
After this incident, the Prophet (pbuh) always treated Ibn Umm Maktum with kindness and generosity. He (pbuh) often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility:
“Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me.”
Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum would also pronounce the iqamah for the Prayer. Bilal (ra) would call the adhan.
Narrated Salim bin Abdullah: My father said that Allah s Apostle said, “Bilal pronounces ‘Adhan at night, so keep on eating and drinking (Suhur) till Ibn Umm Maktum pronounces Adhan.” Salim added, “He was a blind man who would not pronounce the Adhan unless he was told that the day had dawned.”
Source: Sahih Al-bukhari