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Surah Abasa

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Maududi's Commentry (Tafseer) on Surah Abasa

Mecca Mecca (24)
42Total Ayat: 42
1Total Ruku: 1


The Surah is so designated after the word `abasa with which it opens.

Period of Revelation

The commentators and traditionists are unanimous about the occasion ofthe revelation of this Surah. According to them, once some big chiefsof Makkah were sitting in the Holy Prophet's assembly and he wasearnestly engaged in trying to persuade them to accept Islam. At thatvery point, a blind man, named Ibn Umm Maktum, approached him to seekexplanation of some point concerning Islam. The Holy Prophet (uponwhom be peace) disliked his interruption and ignored him. ThereuponAllah sent down this Surah. From this historical incident the period ofthe revelation of this Surah can be precisely determined.

In the firstplace, it is confirmed that Hadrat Ibn Umm Maktum was one of the earliestconverts to Islam. Hafiz Ibn Hajar and Hafiz Ibn Kathir have statedthat he was one of those who had accepted Islam at a very early stageat Makkah.

Secondly, some of the traditions of the Hadith which relatethis incident show that he had already accepted Islam and some othersshow that be was inclined to accept it and had approached the HolyProphet in search of the truth. Hadrat Aishah states that coming tothe Holy Prophet he had said: "O Messenger of Allah, guide me to thestraight path." (Tirmidhi, Hakim, Ibn Hibban, Ibn Jarir, Abu Ya'la.According to Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, he had asked the meaning of averse of the Qur'an and said to the Holy Prophet: "O Messenger ofAllah, teach me the knowledge that Allah has taught you." Ibn Jarir,Ibn Abu Hatim). These statements show that he had acknowledged theHoly Prophet (upon whom be peace as a Messenger of Allah and the Quranas a Book of Allah. Contrary to this, Ibn Zaid has interpreted thewords la allahu yazzakka of verse 3 to mean: la allahu yuslim: "maybethat he accepts Islam." (Ibn Jarir) And Allah's own words: "What wouldmake you know that he might reform, or heed the admonition, andadmonishing might profit him?" and "The one who comes to you running,of his own will, and fears, from him you turn away", point out that bythat time he had developed in himself a deep desire to learn thetruth: he had come to the Holy Prophet with the belief that he was theonly source of guidance and his desire would be satisfied only throughhim; his apparent state also reflected that if he was giveninstruction, he would benefit by it.

Thirdly, the names of the peoplewho were sitting in the Holy Prophet's assembly at that time, havebeen given in different traditions. In this list we find the names of`Utbah, Shaibah, Abu Jahl, Umayyah bin Khalaf, Ubayy bin Khalaf, whowere the bitterest enemies of Islam. This shows that the incident tookplace in the period when these chiefs were still on meeting terms withthe Holy Prophet and their antagonism to Islam had not yet grown sostrong as to have stopped their paying visits to him and havingdialogues with him off and on. All these arguments indicate that thisis one of the very earliest Surahs to be revealed at Makkah.

Theme and Subject Matter

In view of the apparent style with which the discourse opens, onefeels that in this Surah Allah has expressed His displeasure againstthe Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) for his treating the blind manwith indifference and attending to the big chiefs exclusively. Butwhen the whole Surah is considered objectively, one finds that thedispleasure, in fact, has been expressed against the disbelievingQuraish, who because of their arrogant attitude and indifference tothe truth, were rejecting with contempt the message of truth beingconveyed by the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). Then, besidesteaching him the correct method of preaching, the error of the methodthat he was adopting at the start of his mission has also been pointedout. His treating the blind man with neglect and disregard anddevoting all his attention to the Quraish chiefs was not for thereason that he regarded the rich as noble and a poor blind man ascontemptible, and, God forbid, there was some rudeness in his mannerfor which Allah reproved him. But, as a matter of fact, when a callerto Truth embarks on his mission of conveying his message to the people,he naturally wants the most influential people of society to accepthis message so that his task becomes easy, for even if his invitationspreads among the poor and weak people, it cannot make much difference.Almost the same attitude had the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace)also adopted in the beginning, his motive being only sincerity and adesire to promote his mission and not any idea of respect for the bigpeople and hatred for the small people. But Allah made him realizethat that was not the correct method of extending invitation to Islam,but from his mission's point of view, every man, who was a seekerafter truth, was important, even if he was weak, or poor, and everyman, who was heedless to the truth, was unimportant, even if heoccupied a high position in society. Therefore, he should openlyproclaim and convey the teachings of Islam to all and sundry, but thepeople who were really worthy of his attention, were those who wereinclined to accept the Truth, and his sublime and noble message wastoo high to be presented before those haughty people who in theirarrogance and vanity thought that they did not stand in need of himbut rather he stood in need of them.

This is the theme of vv. 1-16.From verse 17 onward the rebuke directly turns to the disbelievers,who were repudiating the invitation of the Holy Messenger of Allah(upon whom be peace). In this, first they have been reproved for theirattitude which they had adopted against their Creator, Providence andSustainer. In the end, they have been warned of the dreadful fate thatthey would meet in consequence of their conduct on the Day ofResurrection.

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