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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 8

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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 8









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

and deaf.

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-

ture first.

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

to curse.

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

his feet.

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

year’s worship.

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

of Salvation.

THE BEQUEST - I have nothing to leave you except my family.


ayings of