The Islamic Bulletin
The Islamic Bulletin
Abdullah ibn UmmMaktum was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuway-
lid, Mother of the Believers, may God be pleased with her. His father
was Qays ibn Za’id 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.
Abdullah witnessed the rise of Islam in Mecca. He was amongst the
first to accept Islam. He lived through the persecution of the Muslims
and suffered what the other companions of the Prophet (pbuh) experi-
enced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance
and sacrifice. Neither his dedication nor his faith weakened against the
violence of the Quraysh onslaught. In fact, all this only increased his
determination to hold on to the religion of God and his devotion to
His messenger. Abdullah was devoted to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and
he was so eager to memorize the Qur’an that he would not miss any
opportunity to achieve his heart’s desire. Indeed, his sense or urgency
and his insistence could sometimes have been irritating as he, unin-
tentional, sought to monopolize the attention of the Prophet (pbuh).
In this period, the Prophet (pbuh), was concentrating on the Quraysh
notables and was eager that they should become Muslims. On one
particular day, he met Utbah ibn Rabiah and his brother Shaybah,
Amr ibn Hisham better 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 God’. 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 thus engaged, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum came
up and asked him to read a verse from the Qur’an. “O messenger
of God,” he said, “teach me from what God has taught you.” The
Prophet (pbuh) frowned and turned away from him. He turned his
attention instead to the prestigious group of Quraysh, hoping that
they would become Muslims and that by their acceptance of Islam
they would bring greatness to the religion of God 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:
“He frowned and turned away when the blind man approached
him! Yet for all you knew, (OMuhammad), he might perhaps have
grown in purity or have been reminded of the Truth, and helped
by this reminder. Now as for him who believes himself to be
self-sufficient to him you gave your whole attention, although you
are not accountable for his failure to attain to purity. But as for him
who came unto you full of eagerness and in awe of God, him did
you disregard. Nay, verily, this is but a reminder and so, whoever
is willing may remember Him in the light of His revelations blest
with dignity, lofty and pure, borne by the hands of messengers,
noble and most virtuous.” (Qur’an Surah Abasa 80:1-16)
These are the sixteen verses which were revealed to the Holy Prophet
(pbuh) about Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum--sixteen verses that have
continued to be recited from that time till today and shall continue
to be recited. From that day the Prophet (pbuh) 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 God in a
most severe manner on Abdullah’s account? In fact, in later years, he
often greeted Ibn UmmMaktumwith these words of humility: “Wel-
come unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me.”
When the Quraysh intensified their persecution of the Prophet (pbuh)
and thosewhobelievedwithhim,Godgave thempermission toemigrate.
Abdullah’s responsewas prompt.HeandMus’ab ibnUmayrwere thefirst
of the Companions to reach Madinah. As soon as they reached Yathrib,
he and Mus’ab began discussing with the people, reading the Qur’an to
them and teaching them the religion of God. When the Prophet (pbuh)
arrived in Madinah, he appointed Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah to be
muadh-dhins for theMuslims, proclaiming theOneness of Godfive times
a day, calling man to the best of actions and summoning them to success.
Bilal would call the adhan and Abdullah would pronounce the
iqamah for the Prayer. Sometimes they would reverse the process.
During Ramadan, they adopted a special routine. One of them
would call the adhan to wake people up to eat before the fast began.
The other would call the adhan to announce the beginning of dawn
and the fast. It was Bilal who would awaken the people and Abdullah
ibn Umm Maktun who would announce the beginning of dawn.
One of the responsibilities that the Prophet (pbuh) placed on Ab-
dullah ibn Umm Maktum was to put him in charge of Madinah in
his absence. This was done more than ten times, one of them being
when he left for the liberation of Mecca. Soon after the battle of Badr,
the Prophet (pbuh) received a revelation from God raising the status
of the mujahideen and preferring them over the qa’ideen (those
who remain inactive at home). This was in order to encourage the
mujahid even further and to spur the qa’id to give up his inactivity.
This revelation affected Abdullah deeply. It pained him to be thus
barred from the higher status and he said: “O messenger of God. If
I could go on jihad, I would certainly do.” He then earnestly asked
God to send down a revelation about his particular case and those
like him who were prevented because of their disabilities from going
onmilitary campaigns. His prayer was answered. An additional phrase
was revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) exempting those with disabilities
from the import of the original verse. The full ayah became:
“Not equal are those who remain seated among the believ-
ers--except those who possess disabilities--and those who strive
and fight in the way of God with their wealth and their persons...”
(Qur’an Surah an-Nisaa, 4:95)
In spite of thus being excused from jihad, the soul of Abdullah ibn
UmmMaktum refused to be content with staying among those who
remained at home when an expedition was in progress.
Great souls are not content with remaining detached from affairs
of great moment. He determined that no campaign should by-pass
him. He fixed a role for himself on the battle field. He would say:
“Place me between two rows and give me the standard. I will carry
it for you and protect it, for I am blind and cannot run away.”
In the fourteenth year after the hijrah, Umar resolved to mount
a major assault against the Persians to bring down their State and
open the way for the Muslim forces. So he wrote to his governors:
“Send anyone with a weapon or a horse or who can offer any form
of help to me. And make haste.”
Crowds of Muslims came from every direction responded to Umar’s
call and converged on Madinah. Among all these was the blind
mujahid, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. Umar appointed Sa’d ibn
Abi Waqqas commander over the army, gave him instructions and
bade him farewell. When the army reached Qadisiyyah, Abdullah
ibn UmmMaktumwas prominent, wearing a coat of armor and fully
prepared. He had vowed to carry and protect the standard of the
Muslims or be killed in the process. The forced met and engaged
in battle for three days. The fighting was among the most fierce and
bitter in the history of the Muslim conquests. On the third day, the
Muslims achieved a mighty victory as one of the greatest empires
in the world collapsed and one of the most secure thrones fell. The
standard of Tawhid was raised in an idolatrous land. The price of this
clear victory was hundreds of martyrs. Among them was Abdullah
ibn UmmMaktum. He was found dead on the battlefield clutching
the flag of the Muslims.
TRUST - Trust in God - but tie your camel first.
THE WORLD - Treat this world as I do, like a wayfarer, like a horse-
man who stops in the shade of a tree for a time, and then moves on.
OBJECTS - It is your attachment to objects which make you blind
SLEEP - Sleep is the brother of death.
REFLECTION - The faithful are mirrors, one to the other.
WOMEN - Women are the twin-halves of men.
PRIVACY - Whoever invades people’s privacy corrupts them.
WIVES - A virtuous wife is the best treasure any man can have.
OPPRESSION - When oppression exists, even the bird dies in its
LOVE - Do you think you love your Creator? Love your fellow-crea-
DISTRIBUTION - God it is who gives: I am only a distributor.
HELPING OTHERS - I order you to assist any oppressed person,
whether he is a Muslim or not.
MONKISHNESS - No Monkery in Islam.
THE PIOUS - My back has been broken by ‘pious’ men.
CURSING - You ask me to curse unbelievers. But I was not sent
TEACHING - One hour’s teaching is better than a whole night of
DAY AND NIGHT - The night is long: do not shorten it by sleep.
The day is fair: do not darken it with wrongdoing.
HUMILITY - Humility and courtesy are themselves a part of piety.
ENVY - Envy devours good deeds, as a fire devours fuel.
THE LEARNED - Whoever honors the learned, honors me.
POVERTY - My poverty is my pride.
DEATH - Die before your death.
THE TONGUE - A man slips with his tongue more than with
DESIRE - Desire not the world, and God will love you. Desire not
what others have, and they will love you.
PRIDE AND GENEROSITY - Pride in ancestry is really a property
-interest. Generosity is a variety of piety.
PRACTICE - Who are the learned? Those who put into practice
what they know.
KINDNESS - Whoever has no kindness has no faith.
PRINCES AND SCHOLARS - The best of princes is one who visits
the wise. The worst of scholars is one who visits princes.
ANGER - You ask for a piece of advice. I tell you: “Do not get angry.”
He is strong who can withhold anger.
THE JUDGE - A man appointed to be a judge has been killed
without a knife.
STRUGGLE - The holy warrior is him who struggles with himself.
INK AND BLOOD - The ink of the learned is holier than the blood
of the martyr.
CONTEMPLATION - An hour’s contemplation is better than a
UNDERSTANDING - Speak to everyone in accordance with his
degree of understanding.
FOOD - Nobody has eaten better food than that won by his own
WORK - I am a worker.
ACCUSATIONS - Anyone reviling a brother for a sin will not himself
die before committing it.
PARADISE - I will stand surety for Paradise if you save yourselves
from six things: telling untruths, violating promises, dishonoring
trust, being unchaste in thought and act, striking the first blow,
taking what is bad and unlawful.
TASKS - Whoever makes all his tasks one task (i.e. the Hereafter),
God will help him in his other concerns.
POETRY - In some poetry there is wisdom.
LIES, PROMISES, TRUST - He is not of mine who lies, breaks a
promise or fails in his trust.
THOUGHTS - Good thoughts are a part of worship.
VISION OF THE FAITHFUL - The Faithful see with the light of
SOME BEHAVIOR - I am like a man who has lighted a fire, and all
the creeping things have rushed to burn themselves in it.
THE QUR’AN - The Qur’an has been revealed in seven forms. Each
verse has inner and outer meaning.
OBLIGATION TO LEARN - The pursuit of knowledge is obligatory
on every Muslim.
THE YOUNG IN PARADISE - Old women will not enter Paradise:
they will be young and beautiful first.
A JOURNEY - On a journey, the lord of a people is their servant.
RECOGNITION - Souls which recognize one another congregate
together; those which do not, argue with one another.
TRUTH - Speaking the truth to the unjust is the best of holy wars.
KNOWLEDGE - Journey even as far as China seeking knowledge.
THE TIME WILL COME - The time will come when you are divided
into 72 sects. A group among you will be my people, the people
THE BEQUEST - I have nothing to leave you except my family.