Anecdotes from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

by Mumtaz Ahmad Faruqui

The Story of the Blind Man

One day, the Prophet was busy explaining the doctrines of Islam to an assembly of the leaders of the Quraish, when a blind Muslim, Ibn Umm Maktum, came and interruptingly asked the Prophet to teach him what God had revealed to him. The Holy Prophet was displeased by this untimely interruption and did not pay him attention. On this, the Prophet received Divine revelation, which forms chapter 80, entitled He Frowned, of the Holy Quran:

“He frowned and turned away, because the blind man came to him. And what would make thee know that he might purify himself, or be mindful, so the Reminder should profit him? As for him who considers himself free from need to him thou dost attend. And no blame is on thee, if he purify himself not. And as to him who comes to thee striving hard, and he fears. To him thou payest no regard. Nay, surely it is a Reminder, so let him who will mind it.” (The Holy Quran, 80:1–12)

The blind man had gone away by this time. The Prophet sent for him, spread his own cloth for him to sit on, and then asked him to question him about anything he wanted to know.

It will be noted that from the point of view of social etiquette, the blind man was in the wrong; but God Almighty wanted the Prophet to be indulgent towards others’ weaknesses and have the best of manners, as the Holy Quran certifies:

“And surely thou hast sublime morals.” (The Holy Quran, 68:4)

In Islam, mere rank in society, the wealth a person possesses, or the colour of his skin does not confer any superiority on him. The Holy Quran says:

“O mankind, surely We have created you from a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other. Surely the noblest of you with Allah is the most dutiful of you. Surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.” (The Holy Quran, 49:13)

Thus, in a mosque, when prayers are being led, a beggar may stand shoulder to shoulder with a wealthy man and none may say nay to him.