Surah Al Abasaa: He Frowned

Introduction

This Surah is about the egalitarian message of the holy Quran and the human equality.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr in the introduction to this surah about the first ten verses:

Some maintain that it is related to the previous surah by the manner in which the first ten verses reinforce the message of 79:45, Thou art but a warmer for whosoever fears it (Al), counseling the Prophet not to spend his time seeking to guide those who are indifferent, when there are those waiting who wish to be guided. These first ten Verses refer to a famous incident in the early history of Islam. ‘A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet, reported that this surah was revealed about ‘Abd Allah ibn Umm Maktum, a blind man, who went to the Prophet and kept saying, ‘O Messenger of God, guide me,’ while the Prophet was speaking to the leaders of the idolaters. The Prophet frowned and kept avoiding him, turning to the others (IK, Q). The verses are then said to have been revealed as a rebuke to the Prophet for preaching to those who had no interest in God’s message, while turning away from one who sought guidance.

‘Abd Allah ibn Umm Maktum was among the first to embrace Islam. He is known for his devotion to the Prophet and the Quran. After the revelation of this surah, it is said that the Prophet would greet him by saying, ‘Welcome to him on whose account my Lord rebuked me’ (Q).

This Surah is a poignant reminder that the Quran is word of All knowing God and not Muhammad, may peace be on him. It is also a reminder that not even the best of the prophets, Muhammad, even though sinless, is not infallible. When we raise some leaders to the status of infallibility, it inevitably leads to making an idol out of them and a sort of polytheism.

The next couple of verses talk about the eminence of the holy Quran, then the surah talks about some aspects of Providence of God Almighty and then the subject matter goes to the often repeated theme in the holy Quran of human accountability in the hereafter.

We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. (87:16-19) The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Al Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Al Waqi’ah.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

80:1. He frowned and turned away

 عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّىٰ 

80:2. that the blind man came to him

 أَن جَاءَهُ الْأَعْمَىٰ 

80:3. for all you know, he might have grown in spirit,

 وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّىٰ 

80:4. or taken note of something beneficial to him.

 أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُ فَتَنفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَىٰ 

80:5. For the self-satisfied one

 أَمَّا مَنِ اسْتَغْنَىٰ 

80:6. you go out of your way

فَأَنتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّىٰ

80:7. though it is not your responsibility if he does not attain purity

 وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّىٰ 

80:8. but from the one who has come to you full of eagerness

 وَأَمَّا مَن جَاءَكَ يَسْعَىٰ 

80:9. and awe

 وَهُوَ يَخْشَىٰ 

80:10. you are distracted.

 فَأَنتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّىٰ 

80:11. No indeed. This is a reminder

كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ 

80:12. for whoever wishes will remember it,

 فَمَن شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ 

80:13. inscribed in honored scrolls,

 فِي صُحُفٍ مُّكَرَّمَةٍ 

80:14. exalted, pure,

 مَّرْفُوعَةٍ مُّطَهَّرَةٍ 

80:15. by the hands of

 بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ 

80:16. noble and virtuous scribes.

 كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ 

80:17. Woe to man! How ungrateful is he!

 قُتِلَ الْإِنسَانُ مَا أَكْفَرَهُ 

80:18. From what thing does God create him?

 مِنْ أَيِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقَهُ 

80:19. He creates him from a droplet, He proportions him,

 مِن نُّطْفَةٍ خَلَقَهُ فَقَدَّرَهُ 

80:20. He makes the way easy for him,

 ثُمَّ السَّبِيلَ يَسَّرَهُ 

80:21. then He causes him to die and be buried.

 ثُمَّ أَمَاتَهُ فَأَقْبَرَهُ 

80:22. When He wills, He will raise him  again.

 ثُمَّ إِذَا شَاءَ أَنشَرَهُ

80:23. Yet man does not fulfill, what He has enjoined on him.

 كَلَّا لَمَّا يَقْضِ مَا أَمَرَهُ 

80:24. Let man consider the food he eats!

 فَلْيَنظُرِ الْإِنسَانُ إِلَىٰ طَعَامِهِ 

80:25. We pour down abundant water

 أَنَّا صَبَبْنَا الْمَاءَ صَبًّا

80:26. and cause the earth to fissure.

 ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا الْأَرْضَ شَقًّا 

80:27. We make grain grow,

 فَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبًّا

80:28. and vines, fresh vegetation,

وَعِنَبًا وَقَضْبًا 

80:29. olive trees, date palms,

 وَزَيْتُونًا وَنَخْلًا 

80:30. luscious gardens,

 وَحَدَائِقَ غُلْبًا 

80:31. fruits, and fodder

 وَفَاكِهَةً وَأَبًّا

80:32. for all for you and your live stock to enjoy.

 مَّتَاعًا لَّكُمْ وَلِأَنْعَامِكُمْ 

80:33. When the Deafening Blast comes

 فَإِذَا جَاءَتِ الصَّاخَّةُ

80:34. the Day man will flee from his own brother,

 يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ 

80:35. his mother, his father,

 وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ 

80:36. his wife and his children,

 وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ 

80:37. each of them will be absorbed in concerns of their own on that Day.

 لِكُلِّ امْرِئٍ مِّنْهُمْ يَوْمَئِذٍ شَأْنٌ يُغْنِيهِ 

80:38. On that Day some faces will be beaming

 وُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ مُّسْفِرَةٌ 

80:39. laughing, and rejoicing,

 ضَاحِكَةٌ مُّسْتَبْشِرَةٌ 

80:40. but some faces will be dust-stained

 وَوُجُوهٌ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَلَيْهَا غَبَرَةٌ

80:41. and covered in darkness:

 تَرْهَقُهَا قَتَرَةٌ 

80:42. those are the disbelievers, who exceeded all bounds.

 أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَفَرَةُ الْفَجَرَةُ

Commentary

80:1-10

Introduction and the translation should suffice.

80:11-16

According to Muhammad Ali:

The six verses from 11 to 16 are really a comfort to the Holy Prophet for the hint contained in the first ten is that the leaders would not mind his warning or accept his message, and that therefore he must apply himself to the poor, who would be raised to eminence by the Qur’an. These verses tell him that the Qur’an is a tadhkirah, a reminder, a source of eminence (7:2b). Vv. 15 and 16 clearly state that the scribes of the Qur’an will be virtuous men, who will be honored in the world. Not only was this true of men like Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali, who were among the first scribes of the Holy Qur’an, but even in its later history great rulers of empires earned their livelihood by writing copies of the Holy Qur’an. Hence the prophecy was given as a comfort to the Holy Prophet that he should not be grieved because the rich and the leaders did not accept him, for the poor who accepted him would be raised to eminence through the Holy Qur’an.

80:24

There are countless blessings for humanity from the All Merciful and the Most Gracious God; if we begin to ponder and meditate over them we are first led to the Creator God and eventually to the Personal God of the Abrahamic faiths. Surah Al Rahman: The Lord of Mercy and Compassion makes a longer catalog of the various blessings.

We need to be thankful for not only the outside blessings but also for the very faculties that God has granted us to enjoy our worldly life and blessings. For example, Allah says: “He it is Who has made for you ears, and eyes and hearts; but little thanks do you give. He it is Who has multiplied you in the earth, and unto Him shall you be gathered.” (23:78-79)

80:25

Water is mentioned as a symbol of God’s Mercy in several verses and can also be taken as an allusion to all  living things, for God made every living thing from water (21:30; see also 24:45; 25:54).

Suggested reading: Provident God of the Abrahamic Faiths: Plain Water will Tell you the Story.

80:26

Vegetation comes through the fissures, splitting the  earth. For other verses describing the manner in which God brings forth vegetation and revives the earth with  water, see,  6:99; 29:63; 30:24; 31:10; 35:27; 39:21; 41:39. In several places the holy Quran uses the metaphor: just like dead earth comes to life after a rain, similarly would be the Afterlife.

80:27-32

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr:

These verses reflect the continuous Quranic emphasis on the benefits that God has provided through the natural world and the fact that reflecting upon them leads to a deeper understanding of God’s wisdom, since God created the heavens and the earth in truth (14:19; see also 6:73), and whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth glorifies God (59:1; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1; cf. 57:1; 59:24.); for the importance of the natural environment and the connection between creation and revelation, see 3:191c; 4.5:3c. As sustenance for you and for your flocks also appears  in 79:33.

80:33:42

We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. (87:16-19) The former is discussed at some length in the commentary of Surah Al Fatihah and the latter in the commentary of Surah Al Waqi’ah.

We believe the translation should suffice for these verses for now, at least.

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