Companions of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) By: Abdul Wahid Hamid

‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Mother of the Believers (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha). 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 Makkah and was amongst the first to accept Islam. He lived through the persecution of the Muslims and suffered what the other Companions of the Prophet experienced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance and sacrifice. Neither his dedication nor his faith weakened against the violence of the Quraish onslaught. In fact, all of that only increased his determination to hold on to the religion of Allah and his devotion to His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam).

‘Abdullah was devoted to the noble Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam) and was so eager to memorize the Qur’an that he would not miss any opportunity to achieve his heart’s desire. Indeed, his sense of urgency and his insistence could sometimes have been irritating as he, unintentionally, sought to monopolize the attention of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu alaihi wa sallam).

During this period, the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was concentrating on the Quraish notables. On one particular day he met ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah 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 Allah’. He (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had begun talking and negotiating with them and telling them about Islam. He (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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 (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) was thus engaged, ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) came up and asked him to read a verse from the Qur’an. “O Messenger of Allah,” he said, “teach me from what Allah has taught you.” The Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) frowned and turned away from him. Instead he turned his attention to the prestigious group of Quraish, hoping that they would become Muslims and that by their acceptance of Islam they would bring greatness to the religion of Allah and strengthen his mission. As soon as he had finished speaking to them and had left their company, he (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) 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. Because there came to him the blind man. And how can you know, (O Muhammad (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi sallam), that he might become pure (from sins)? Or he might receive admonition, and the admonition might profit him.  As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient, to him you attend; What does it matter to you if he will not become pure (from disbelief, you are only a messenger, your duty is to convey the Message of Allah). But as to him who came to you running. And is afraid (of Allah and His punishment). Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another. Nay, indeed it (this Qur’an) is an admonition. So whoever wills, let him  pay attention to  Him (it). It is in Records held (greatly) in honor (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfudh). Exalted in dignity, purified. In the hands of scribes (angels). Honorable and obedient.” [Surat ‘Abasa 80: 1-16]

These are the sixteen verses which were revealed to the noble Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) about ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu); sixteen verses that have continued to be recited from that time till today and shall continue to be recited.

From that day the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) did not cease to be generous to ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu), 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 Allah in a most severe manner on ‘Abdullah’s account? In fact, in later years, he (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) with these words of humility: Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me.

His Migration

When the Quraish intensified their persecution of the Prophet (Salla ‘alaihi wa sallam) and those who believed with him, Allah gave them permission to emigrate. ‘Abdullah’s response was prompt. He and Mus’ab ibn Umayr (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) were the first of the Companions to reach Yathrib (Madinah). As soon as they arrived, he and Mus’ab (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) began discussing with the people, reading the Qur’an to them and teaching them the religion of Allah.

When the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)  arrived in Madinah, he appointed ‘Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) to be Muadh-dhins (caller for prayer) for the Muslims, proclaiming the Oneness of Allah five times a day, calling man to the best of actions and summoning them to success. Bilal (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) would call the Adhan and ‘Abdullah (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) 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 Maktum who would announce the beginning of dawn.

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “Bilal pronounces Adhan at night, so keep on eating and drinking (sahur) 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.” [Al-Bukhari – The book of Adhan]

One of the responsibilities that the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) placed on ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) 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 conquest of Makkah.

Allah responds to his invocation

Soon after the battle of Badr, the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) received a revelation from Allah 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 Ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) deeply. It pained him to be thus barred from the higher status and he said: “O Messenger of Allah, if I could go on Jihad, I would certainly go.” He then earnestly asked Allah to send down a revelation about his particular case and those like him who were prevented because of their disabilities from going on military campaigns. His prayer was answered. An additional phrase was revealed to the Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) exempting those with disabilities from the import of the original verse. The full Ayah became: Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury, or are blind or lame, etc.),and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives… [Surat an-Nisa’ 4: 95]

His Jihad in the Cause of Allah:

In spite of thus being excused from Jihad, the soul of ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) 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 moments. 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.” [Reported by Ibn Sa’d]

In the fourteenth year after the Hijrah, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) 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 from every direction responded to ‘Umar’s call and converged on Madinah. Among all these was the blind Mujahid, ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) . ‘Umar (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) appointed Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) commander over the army, gave him instructions and bade him farewell. When the army reached Qadisiyyah, ‘Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) was 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 forces 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 Umm Maktum (Radia Allaahu ‘anhu) . He was found dead on the battlefield clutching the flag of the Muslims. [Suwar min Hayat as-Sahabah]

This noble companion departed this world, although he was deprived from the blessing of eye sight but Allah has bestowed upon him the blessing of insight, and even greater than that is the blessing of Islam and the companionship of the best of creation the Prophet Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) .

Allah (Subhanaahu wa Ta’aala) will mend his break with first step in Paradise which no eyes have ever seen, no ears have ever heard of nor was it imagined. Therein, Allah will join him with his beloved Prophet (Salla Allaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and will give in substitute to his blindness in this life with the greatest blessing in Paradise which is looking at the Countenance (Face) of Allah and that is when Allah removes the veils and the believers will look at His Face (Azza wa Jal).

May Allah be pleased with him and the rest of the Companions.


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