7.2 The Blind Man
In spite of his kindness, one day Mohamed happened to frown upon one of the poor people he was continually striving to help. That particular day he was standing with one of the chief men of Quraysh, trying to convince him to enter Islam. When a man of such consequence entered Islam, his family, his dependants, and sometimes his whole clan followed him. Mohamed wanted as many people as possible to follow the right path; he wanted to save as many as possible from the degrading worship of stone and from eternal suffering. More than once the Koran gently reproved him for his anxiety for people, his extreme concern for them.
"Perhaps you will kill yourself from grief, following their trail because they do not believe these words." (18:6)
While Mohamed was speaking to this prominent Qurayshi, a poor blind man came up to him. He was the son of Umm Maktum, a poor woman. Unable to see that Mohamed was busy with another, he kept saying,
"Teach me something of what Allah has taught you,"
over and over again. Mohamed saw his opportunity of convincing this dignitary of Quraysh slipping away, but the blind man kept on insisting,
"Teach me something of what Allah has taught you."
Mohamed turned and walked away from him. On the way home he felt ashamed for not having stopped and talked with the son of Umm Maktum, then immediately after this, these holy verses were revealed to him:
"He frowned and turned away, when the blind man came to him. How can you tell? Perchance he might become a better man, or recall and the reminder would help him. As for him who is indifferent, you stop and address him, when you are not charged with his salvation; as for him who comes hurrying to you, while apprehensive, you are diverted from him. Nay, this is a reminder, so remind him who wishes it." (80:1-12)
To Allah it is not only the important personages who are of consequence, but all those who want to walk in the straight way, who desire to know Him and to be taught His words. Mohamed was commanded not to address people according to their position in this world, but according to their earnestness in seeking guidance. A man may be humble and poor but great in the sight of Allah; and a man may be very great in the sight of his fellow men and of no consequence to Allah. He assesses people according to what is in their hearts and not according to their appearance, wealth, position, or influence among other men. The Messenger taught his followers these verses just as he taught them every word that was sent down of the Koran. He did his very best to deliver everything accurately, neither diminishing nor adding anything. These verses contained a reprimand for him, nevertheless he repeated them and explained their implications as he explained everything else from the Koran.
Whenever the blind man passed by him after that, Mohamed used to be very cordial and attentive to him. Smiling he used to say,
"You, on account of whom my Lord has taken me to task."
The personality of Mohamed, so frank and open, so intelligent, tactful, and modest, helped attract people to Islam. Ali ibn Abi Talib said of him:
"No one saw him without being awed by his presence; and no one came to know him without loving him."