imperial crown

It’s not dunya status that matters. Allah teaches us this again in Surah Abasa–it’s the one with taqwa.

This is post #24 in our series on Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma (click the link to see all posts in this series).

How would you feel if someone you love corrected you, in public, in front of everyone else? Would you feel condemned, or criticized? Would you take it more seriously than someone you don’t like criticizing you?

And what if Allah, the Lord of the Universe, criticized you … in public?

Imagine, now, the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) sitting in his house, waiting for revelation–revelation he can use against the Quraysh. Revelation in his favour. Revelation to change the world.

And Allah reveals …

عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى

أَن جَاءَهُ الْأَعْمَى

وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّى

Translation: He frowned and turned away. Because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting]. But what would make you perceive, [O Muhammad], that perhaps he might be purified? [Surah Abasa, verses 1-3]

Ibn Zayd said: “if there was a single surah that the Prophet would’ve hidden, it would’ve been this one–a reprimand, albeit polite, against him.” And this proves the truthfulness of the Messenger of Allah and the companions–if any of them would’ve hidden something, something to make themselves (or the Prophet) look better, it would’ve been this surah.

But they didn’t. And that in itself is a miracle and a testification to their sincerity to deliver the whole message to us.

And the reprimand is polite. Compare two company memos–one says “such-and-such broke X protocol and resulted in us losing $1M. Don’t do this again.” versus “our X protocol was broken, and we lost $1M. Don’t do this again.” Which is kinder? The third-person one!

And Allah says … abasa. He frowned and he turned away. And incidentally, to abasa is the minimum frown possible–a crinkling of the forehead, no more.

And Allah revealed Qur’an. This should exemplify to you how much Allah loves his Rasool–and how intimate their relationship his. How close they were–that Allah even comments on a crinkled forehead! Subhanallah!

And this is not just anyone, but the Messenger of Allah, who went to the Quryash to give them da’wah so that all of Mecca could accept the message. This was his chance for the Conquest of Mecca, without a single drop of blood shed. And still, Allah reprimanded him.

Realize that he went to speak to the head-honchos of Quraysh. This was finally a chance they gave him to speak. And Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom is from the Muslims, from his relatives–someone he has 247 access to.

And of all things, this surah shows the great status of Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom, radiallahu anhu, the blind man mentioned in verse two. Being blind, he didn’t even see what was going on–it shows his innocence of what he was doing.

And this is a key point: Allah says about Abdullah ibn Umm Maktoom, that “huwa yakhshaa,” that he fears Allah. Imagine if this was said about you, how would you feel? To know, for sure, that you have khushoo’, real and true khushoo’ of Allah. To Allah, status is taqwa, not dunya status. The Quraysh, for all their high and lofty status, meant nothing to Allah; while the companions, many of them miskeen and fuqara, are among the best. Is that not why Abu Lahab, who’s syed (from the family of the Prophet), who’s Quraysh, who’s noble in status–is in naar, while Bilal, formerly a black African slave, is in jannah?

We should therefore pursue status with Allah, in taqwa and deen, and NOT run around after dunya. Because dunya status is fleeting; while the hereafter is eternal.

Arabic Analysis

  • Jaa’a (جَاءَ): he came. Similar to ataa (أتى), but more grand and majestic.
  • Yadh-dhakkaru (يَذَّكَّرُ): This is on the pattern of yaffa’alu (shadda on the fa and the ‘ayn). This is similar to yatadhakaru; but the latter means a partial remembering, while what Allah used is a complete remembrance. It’s a very strong present-tense form of dhakara, to remind.
  • Adh-Dhikraa (الذِّكْرَى): Dhikr is a reminder. Dhikraa, with alif-maqsoorah, is a powerful reminder. And here, Allah is saying, that this is a powerful reminder–not just any old reminder.
  • Maa akfara hu (مَا أَكْفَرَهُ): this is ta’ajjub (amazement); Allah is showing amazement at how ungrateful humans are. The root word of kaafir is kafara, which means to cover, or to be ungrateful to.
  • Amaatahu (أَمَاتَهُ): in verse 21, Allah concludes talking about the kaafir by saying: He makes him die. It’s almost a mercy that this person is killed. Subhanallah!
  • Aqbara (أَقْبَرَ): Like the word “qabr” (grave), aqbara means to put someone into their grave. The person is not left out as a rotting carcass, to be eaten by animals.

Action Items:

  • Pursue Taqwa: Find a way to increase yourself in taqwa–whether by doing more good deeds, or charity, or prayer, or anything. And share it with us in the comments!

Wallahu ta’ala ‘alam.


  • Touched by an Angel: Tafseer of Juz ‘Amma. By Muhammad Alshareef. 2009.
  • Tafseer of Surah Abasa. By Nouman Ali Khan – Bayyinah Institute