Good Deed: #280 Evaluate you life, Reflect on Surah Abasa, or He Frowned

SURA 80. Abasa, or He Frowned
1. [The Prophet] frowned and turned away,
2. Because there came to him the blind man [interrupting].
3. But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow [in spiritual
4. Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him?
5. As to one who regards Himself as self-sufficient,
6. To him dost thou attend;
7. Though it is no blame to thee if he grow not [in spiritual understanding].
8. But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly,
9. And with fear [in his heart],
10. Of him wast thou unmindful.
11. By no means [should it be so]! For it is indeed a Message of instruction:
12. Therefore let whoso will, keep it in remembrance.
13. [It is] in Books held [greatly] in honour,
14. Exalted [in dignity], kept pure and holy,
15. [Written] by the hands of scribes-
16. Honourable and Pious and Just.
17. Woe to man! What hath made him reject Allah;
18. From what stuff hath He created him?
19. From a sperm-drop: He hath created him, and then mouldeth him in due
20. Then doth He make His path smooth for him;
21. Then He causeth him to die, and putteth him in his grave;
22. Then, when it is His Will, He will raise him up [again].
23. By no means hath he fulfilled what Allah hath commanded him.
24. Then let man look at his food, [and how We provide it]:
25. For that We pour forth water in abundance,
26. And We split the earth in fragments,
27. And produce therein corn,
28. And Grapes and nutritious plants,
29. And Olives and Dates,
30. And enclosed Gardens, dense with lofty trees,
31. And fruits and fodder,-
32. For use and convenience to you and your cattle.
33. At length, when there comes the Deafening Noise,-
34. That Day shall a man flee from his own brother,
35. And from his mother and his father,
36. And from his wife and his children.
37. Each one of them, that Day, will have enough concern [of his own] to make
him indifferent to the others.
38. Some faces that Day will be beaming,
39. Laughing, rejoicing.
40. And other faces that Day will be dust-stained,
41. Blackness will cover them:
42. Such will be the Rejecters of Allah, the doers of iniquity.


1. Surah’s  first part treats a certain incident which took place in the early days of Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was busy with a few Quraysh dignitaries, explaining to them the Islamic message, when Ibn Umm Maktūm, a poor blind man, interrupted him. Unaware that the Prophet was busy, the blind man asked him repeatedly to teach him some verses from the Qur’ān. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was not very pleased at this interruption. He frowned and turned away from Ibn Umm Maktūm. This sūrah opens by criticizing the Prophet’s behaviour in this incident. It lays down clearly the values and principles upon which Islamic society is founded and states the true nature of the message of Islam.

2. The Prophet was deeply touched by these divine instructions and by God’s reproof.  The first action he took was to announce these instructions and the reproof in public. This in itself is something very great. Taken from any point of view, no person other than a messenger from God would have announced in public that he had been censured so strongly for his slip.

3. The point at issue here is not merely how an individual or a class of people should be treated.  The heart of the matter is, how should people evaluate everything in their lives? From where should they derive the values and standards necessary for such an evaluation?

4.The opening part of the sūrah seek to establish is that people must base their values and standards on divine considerations, laid down by God not social circumstances, traditions or practices, nor any concept of life

5.  There is no denying the difficulties involved in conducting human life on the basis of values and standards laid down by the Divine Being, free from the pressure of all worldly considerations.

6. If we consider the pressure of society on the individual’s feelings and attitudes, and the weight of considerations to be taken into account such as traditional values, family and social ties, as well as the values that prevail in one’s own environment, we can appreciate the difficulty of carrying out these divine instructions.

7. This is, indeed, a true description of the principle established here, namely that mankind should derive their values and standards from the Divine Being, after they have freed themselves from the pressure of their social set-up with all its values and standards.

9. The basic standard God has, through His prophets, commanded mankind to adopt is: “The noblest of you in God’s sight is he who fears Him most.” (49: 13) This is the standard by which all values, traditions and practices should be evaluated. It establishes a purely divine criterion which has nothing to do with any worldly considerations.

10. But people live on earth and establish a multitude of ties, each having its own weight and gravity. They have considerations of family relations, power and wealth. The distribution or concentration of these creates certain practical and economic results which determine the position of every man, woman or class of people in relation to others. Thus some acquire a position superior to that of others, in worldly standards.

11. When Islam declares, “The noblest of you in God’s sight is he who fears Him most,” it simply indicates that all these values and considerations are void, however important they seem to us. It substitutes for them a single value derived directly from God. Moreover, it is the only value acceptable to Him. The incident depicted here serves to establish this value in an actual situation. Thus the essential principle is established: the scales recognized are those of God; the supreme value which should govern human life is the divine one. Hence, the Muslim community must abandon all human values, standards, traditions and concepts.

source: Sayyid Qutb – in the shade of the quran 


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