عَبَسَ وَ تَوَلّٰۤی ۙ﴿۱﴾

  He frowned and turned his face.


 اَنۡ جَآءَہُ الْاَعْمٰی ؕ﴿۲﴾

  Because the blind man came to him.


 وَ مَا یُدْرِیۡکَ لَعَلَّہٗ یَزَّکّٰۤی ۙ﴿۳﴾

  And what you know, perhaps he might be cleansed;


اَوْ یَذَّکَّرُ فَتَنۡفَعَہُ الذِّکْرٰی ؕ﴿۴﴾

  Or be admonished, so that the admonition may benefit him.


 اَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنٰی ۙ﴿۵﴾

  As for him who regards himself self-sufficient;


 فَاَنۡتَ لَہٗ تَصَدّٰی ؕ﴿۶﴾

  To him you do pay attention.


 وَ مَا عَلَیۡکَ اَلَّا یَزَّکّٰی ؕ﴿۷﴾

  Whereas there is not any blame on you if he is not cleansed.


 وَ اَمَّا مَنۡ جَآءَکَ یَسْعٰی ۙ﴿۸﴾

  But as to him who came to you running.


 وَ ہُوَ یَخْشٰی﴿۹﴾ۙ

  And whereas he fears.


 فَاَنۡتَ عَنْہُ تَلَہّٰی ﴿ۚ۱۰﴾

  Then you become busy with others leaving him.

Tafsir al-Kabeer                                                                                                             التفسیر الکبیر                        

أَجْمَعَ الْمُفَسِّرُونَ عَلَى أَنَّ الَّذِي عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى، هُوَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ، وَأَجْمَعُوا [عَلَى] أَنَّ الْأَعْمَى هُوَ ابْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ

The exegetists have formed consensus that the one who frowned and turned his face away was the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – and they also formed consensus regarding the blind person that it was Ibn Umm Maktoom.

أَتَى رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ابْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ وَعِنْدَهُ صَنَادِيدُ قُرَيْشٍ عُتْبَةُ وَشَيْبَةُ ابْنَا رَبِيعَةَ وَأَبُو جَهْلِ بْنُ هِشَامٍ، وَالْعَبَّاسُ بْنُ عَبْدِ الْمُطَّلِبِ، وَأُمَيَّةُ بْنُ خَلَفٍ، وَالْوَلِيدُ بْنُ الْمُغِيرَةِ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى الْإِسْلَامِ، رَجَاءَ أَنْ يُسْلِمَ بِإِسْلَامِهِمْ غَيْرُهُمْ

 فَقَالَ لِلنَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَقْرِئْنِي وَعَلِّمْنِي مِمَّا عَلَّمَكَ اللَّهُ، وَكَرَّرَ ذَلِكَ، فَكَرِهَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَطْعَهُ لِكَلَامِهِ، وَعَبَسَ وَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهُ فَنَزَلَتْ هَذِهِ الْآيَةُ،

وَكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يُكْرِمُهُ، وَيَقُولُ: إِذَا رَآهُ «مَرْحَبًا بِمَنْ عَاتَبَنِي فِيهِ رَبِّي» وَيَقُولُ: هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ حَاجَةٍ، وَاسْتَخْلَفَهُ عَلَى الْمَدِينَةِ مَرَّتَيْنِ

Ibn Maktoom visited the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – while the dignitaries of Quraish; ‘Utabah, Shaibah ibna Rabee’ah, Abu jahl ibn Hisham, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and Waleed ibn al-Mugheerah, were present by him whom he was inviting towards Islam, hoping that others will embrace Islam under their influence. 

He said to the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, “Please teach me what Allah Almighty has taught you”.  He then repeated it.  The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – did not like him interrupting during his discussion and frowned and turned his face away from him.  This verse was then revealed.

The Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – after this incident used to respect him and say whenever he saw him, “Welcome to the one due to whom my Lord reproached me.” And would ask him, “Is there anything you need?”  He even made him his Khaleefah (in charge of leading in Salah) twice in Madinah Munawwarah.

إِنَّهُ كَانَ يَسْتَحِقُّ التَّأْدِيبَ لِوُجُوهٍ:

 أَحَدُهَا: أَنَّهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ لِفَقْدِ بَصَرِهِ لَا يَرَى الْقَوْمَ، لَكِنَّهُ لِصِحَّةِ سَمْعِهِ كَانَ يَسْمَعُ مُخَاطَبَةَ الرَّسُولِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أُولَئِكَ الْكُفَّارَ، وَكَانَ يَسْمَعُ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ أَيْضًا، وَكَانَ يَعْرِفُ بِوَاسِطَةِ اسْتِمَاعِ تِلْكَ الْكَلِمَاتِ شِدَّةَ اهْتِمَامِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِشَأْنِهِمْ، فَكَانَ إِقْدَامُهُ عَلَى قَطْعِ كَلَامِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَإِلْقَاءِ غَرَضِ نَفْسِهِ فِي الْبَيْنِ قَبْلَ تَمَامِ غَرَضِ النَّبِيِّ إِيذَاءً لِلنَّبِيِّ عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ، وَذَلِكَ مَعْصِيَةٌ عَظِيمَةٌ

وَثَانِيهَا: وَهُوَ كَانَ قَدْ أَسْلَمَ وَتَعَلَّمَ، مَا كَانَ يَحْتَاجُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ أَمْرِ الدِّينِ، أَمَّا أُولَئِكَ الْكُفَّارُ فَمَا كَانُوا قَدْ أَسْلَمُوا، وَهُوَ إِسْلَامُهُمْ سَبَبًا لِإِسْلَامِ جَمْعٍ عَظِيمٍ، فَإِلْقَاءُ ابْنِ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ، ذَلِكَ الْكَلَامَ فِي الْبَيْنِ كَالسَّبَبِ فِي قَطْعِ ذَلِكَ الْخَيْرِ الْعَظِيمِ، لِغَرَضٍ قَلِيلٍ وَذَلِكَ مُحَرَّمٌ

وَثَالِثُهَا: أَنَّهُ تَعَالَى قَالَ:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُنادُونَكَ مِنْ وَراءِ الْحُجُراتِ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ [الْحُجُرَاتِ: 4]

فَنَهَاهُمْ عَنْ مجرد النداء إلا في الوقت، فههنا هَذَا النِّدَاءُ الَّذِي صَارَ كَالصَّارِفِ لِلْكُفَّارِ عَنْ قَبُولِ الْإِيمَانِ وَكَالْقَاطِعِ/ عَلَى الرَّسُولِ أَعْظَمَ مُهِمَّاتِهِ، أَوْلَى أَنْ يَكُونَ ذَنْبًا وَمَعْصِيَةً، فَثَبَتَ بِهَذَا أَنَّ الَّذِي فَعَلَهُ ابْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ كَانَ ذَنْبًا وَمَعْصِيَةً، وَأَنَّ الَّذِي فَعَلَهُ الرَّسُولُ كَانَ هُوَ الْوَاجِبُ

وَعِنْدَ هَذَا يَتَوَجَّهُ السُّؤَالُ فِي أَنَّهُ كَيْفَ عَاتَبَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى عَلَى ذَلِكَ الفعل

لَعَلَّ هَذَا الْعِتَابَ لَمْ يَقَعْ عَلَى مَا صَدَرَ مِنَ الرَّسُولِ عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ مِنَ الْفِعْلِ الظَّاهِرِ، بَلْ عَلَى مَا كَانَ مِنْهُ فِي قَلْبِهِ، وَهُوَ أَنَّ قَلْبَهُ عَلَيْهِ الصَّلَاةُ وَالسَّلَامُ كَانَ قَدْ مَالَ إِلَيْهِمْ بِسَبَبِ قَرَابَتِهِمْ وَشَرَفِهِمْ وَعُلُوِّ مَنْصِبِهِمْ، وَكَانَ يَنْفِرُ طَبْعُهُ عَنِ الْأَعْمَى بِسَبَبِ عَمَاهُ وَعَدَمِ قَرَابَتِهِ وَقِلَّةِ شَرَفِهِ، فَلَمَّا وَقَعَ التَّعْبِيسُ وَالتَّوَلِّي لِهَذِهِ الدَّاعِيَةِ وَقَعَتِ الْمُعَاتَبَةُ، لَا عَلَى التَّأْدِيبِ

He deserved to be disciplined for the following reasons:

  1. If he, due to his inability to see, could not see the people, he could definitely hear him talking to those infidels and could hear their voices as well and knew its importance to the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him.  Therefore, his interruption in the middle of discussion to advance with whatever personal things he had to say before he could complete his discussion with the to annoy the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, was a severe act of disobedience.
  • He had already embraced Islam and was not in need of Islamic education, but those infidels had not yet embraced Islam and their Islam could become a reason for a large group to embrace Islam.  Therefore, the interruption of Ibn Umm Maktoom with his talk in the middle was portrayed a threat to this great achievement, which is impermissible.
  • Allah Almighty has stated:

اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ یُنَادُوۡنَکَ مِنۡ وَّرَآءِ الْحُجُرٰتِ اَکْثَرُہُمْ لَا یَعْقِلُوۡنَ ﴿۴﴾

  Undoubtedly, those who call you from behind your private apartments, most of them are stupid.

(Al-HUjrat 49, Verse 4)

So He prohibited them from calling except at specific time.  In this context, his call became like an obstacle for the infidels to embrace Islam and an interruption for the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – at a crucial time while he was engaging in his great work.  It turns out that it was an act of violation and a sin which establishes that what Ibn Umm Maktoom did was a sin and the way the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – responded was necessary.

At this point, the question still remains as to how could Allah Almighty have reproved him at this action?

Answer:

Perhaps this reproach was not on the way the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – reacted in what he apparently did but with the thought behind it, that he the Holy Prophet’s – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – heart was drawn towards them due to his relationship with them and their high status while his mind displayed the natural tendency of disliking a blind person due his blindness and because he was not related to him and the lack of his dignity.  So, when the aversion and turning of the face occurred due to these factors, the reproach was bases on that, not on the disciplinary measures.

Tafsir al-Kabeer (Mafateeh al-Ghaib) of Imam Fakhruddin Muhammad ibn Umar al-Raazi al-Shafe’i t D. 606 A.H.

Tafsir al-Qurtubi                                                                                                                                                                                      تفسیر القرطبی                                                    

قَالَ عُلَمَاؤُنَا: مَا فَعَلَهُ ابْنُ أُمِّ مَكْتُومٍ كَانَ مِنْ سُوءِ الْأَدَبِ لَوْ كَانَ عَالِمًا بِأَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَشْغُولٌ بِغَيْرِهِ، وَأَنَّهُ يَرْجُو إِسْلَامَهُمْ، وَلَكِنَّ اللَّهَ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى عَاتَبَهُ حَتَّى لَا تَنْكَسِرَ قُلُوبُ أَهْلِ الصُّفَّةِ، أَوْ لِيُعْلِمَ أَنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ الْفَقِيرَ خَيْرٌ مِنَ الْغَنِيِّ، وَكَانَ النَّظَرُ إِلَى الْمُؤْمِنِ أَوْلَى وَإِنْ كَانَ فَقِيرًا أَصْلَحَ وَأَوْلَى مِنَ الْأَمْرِ الْآخَرِ

Our ‘Ulama said:

What Ibn Umm Maktoom did was violation of respect by deliberately interrupting while the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – was busy with others, for he was hopeful that they would embrace Islam, but Allah Almighty reproached him – so the Ashaab al-Sufffah (people of Al-Suffah) would not suffer a heartache and it be known that a poor believer take preference on the rich and attending to a believer is preferable even though he may be poor.  It would have been wiser than attending to the latter.

Tafsir Qurtubi (Al-Jame’ Li Ahkaam al-Quran) Imam Shamsuddin Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Qurtubi t D. 671 A.H.

Tafsir Rooh al-Bayaan                                                                                              تفسیر روح البیان                                                

وهو ابن أم مكتوم المؤذن الثاني لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فى الأذان

ولذلك قال عليه السلام ان بلالا يؤذن بليل فكلوا واشربوا حتى يؤذن ابن أم مكتوم

It was Ibn Umm Maktoom, the second Mu’adhdhin of the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, for the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – stated, “Sayyiduna Bilal – may Allah be pleased with him – would give Adhan in Fajr, so eat and drink until Sayyiduna Ibn Maktoom – may Allah be pleased with him – calls Adhan.”

ويقال ان رسوالله عليه السلام لم يغتم فى عمره كغمه حين أنزلت عليه سورة عبس لان فيها عتبا شديدا

It is mentioned that the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon him – was never so distressed as much as he was when Surah Abasa was revealed, for there was strong reproach in it.

ولذلك روى ان عمر ابن الخطاب رضى الله عنه بلغه ان بعض المنافقين يؤم قومه فلا يقرأ فيهم الا سورة عبس فارسل اليه فضرب عنقه لما استدل بذلك على كفره ووضع مرتبته عنده وعند قومه

It is for this reason that Sayyiduna ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab – may Allah be pleased with him – beheaded a hypocrite Imam for reciting only Surah Abasa in Salah.  He proved the status of his disbelief and showed his place before his people.

Tafsir Rooh al-Bayaan of Imam Isma’eel Haqqi ibn Mustafa al-Istanbuli Hanafi t D. 1127 A.H.