Soldier of Allah 

Companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

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8. Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum

Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Mother of the Believers, may  God be pleased with her. His father was Qays ibn Said and his mother was Aatikah bint Abdullah.  She was called Umm Maktum (Mother of the Concealed One) because she gave birth to a blind  child. 

Abdullah witnessed the rise of Islam in Makkah. He was amongst the first to accept Islam. He lived  through the persecution of the Muslims and suffered what the other companions of the Prophet  experienced. His attitude, like theirs, was one of firmness, staunch resistance and sacrifice. Neither  his dedication nor his faith weakened against the violence of the Quraysh onslaught. In fact, all  this only increased his determination to hold on to the religion of God and his devotion to His  messenger. 

Abdullah was devoted to the noble Prophet and he was so eager to memorize the Quran that he  would not miss any opportunity to achieve his hearts desire. Indeed, his sense of urgency and his  insistence could sometimes have been irritating as he, unintentionally, sought to monopolize the  attention of the Prophet. 

In this period, the Prophet, peace be upon him, was concentrating on the Quraysh notables and  was eager that they should become Muslims. On one particular day, he met Utbah ibn Rabiah and  his brother Shaybah, Amr ibn Hisham better known as Abu Jahl, Umayyah ibn Khalaf and Walid ibn  Mughirah, the father of Khalid ibn Walid who was later to be known as Sayf Allah or 'the sword of  God'. He had begun talking and negotiating with them and telling them about Islam. He so much  wished that they would respond positively to him and accept Islam or at least call off their  persecution of his companions. 

While he was thus engaged, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum came up and asked him to read a verse  from the Quran. "O messenger of God," he said, "teach me from what God has taught you." 

The Prophet frowned and turned away from him. He turned his attention instead to the prestigious  group of Quraysh, hoping that they would become Muslims and that by their acceptance of Islam  they would bring greatness to the religion of God and strengthen his mission. As soon as he had  finished speaking to them and had left their company. he suddenly felt partially blinded and his  head began to throb violently. At this point the following revelation came to him: 

"He frowned and turned away when the blind man approached him ! Yet for all you knew, (O  Muhammad), he might perhaps have grown in purity or have been reminded of the Truth, and  helped by this reminder. Now as for him who believes himself to be self-sufficient, to him you gave  your whole attention, although you are not accountable for his failure to attain to purity. But as for  him who came unto you full of eagerness and in awe of God, him did you disregard. 

Nay, verily, this is but a reminder and so, whoever is willing may remember Him in the light of His  revelations blest with dignity, lofty and pure, borne by the hands of messengers, noble and most  virtuous.'

(Surah Abasa 8O: 116)

These are the sixteen verses which were revealed to the noble Prophet about Abdullah ibn Umm  Maktum, sixteen verses that have continued to be recited from that time till today and shall  continue to be recited. 

From that day the Prophet did not cease to be generous to Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. to ask him  about his affairs, to fulfill his needs and take him into his council whenever he approached. This is  not strange. Was he not censured by God in a most severe manner on Abdullah's account? In fact,  in later years, he often greeted Ibn Umm Maktum with these words of humility: 

"Welcome unto him on whose account my Sustainer has rebuked me." When the Quraysh  intensified their persecution of the Prophet and those who believed with him, God gave them  permission to emigrate. Abdullahs response was prompt. He and Musab ibn Umayr were the first  of the Companions to reach Madinah. 

As soon as they reached Yathrib, he and Musab began discussing with the people, reading the  Quran to them and teaching them the religion of God. When the Prophet, upon whom be peace,  arrived in Madinah, he appointed Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah to be muadh-dhins for the Muslims,  proclaiming the Oneness of God five times a day, calling man to the best of actions and summoning  them to success . 

Bilal would call the adhan and Abdullah would pronounce the iqamah for the Prayer. Sometimes  they would reverse the process. During Ramadan, they adopted a special routine. One of them  would call the adhan to wake people up to eat before the fast began. The other would call the  adhan to announce the beginning of dawn and the fast. It was Bilal who would awaken the  people and Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum who would announce the beginning of dawn. 

One of the responsibilities that the Prophet placed on Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was to put him in  charge of Madinah in his absence. This was done more than ten times, one of them being when he  left for the liberation of Makkah. 

Soon after the battle of Badr, the Prophet received a revelation from God raising the status of the  mujahideen and preferring them over the qaideen (those who remain inactive at home). This was  in order to encourage the mujahid even further and to spur the qaid to give up his inactivity. This  revelation affected ibn Umm Maktum deeply. It pained him to be thus barred from the higher  status and he said: 

O messenger of God. If I could go on jihad, I would certainly do." He then earnestly asked God to  send down a revelation about his particular case and those like him who were prevented because  of their disabilities from going on military campaigns. 

His prayer was answered. An additional phrase was revealed to the Prophet exempting those with  disabilities from the import of the original verse. The full ayah became: 

"Not equal are those who remain seated among the believers, except those who possess  disabilities, and those who strive and fight in the way of God with their wealth and their persons."

(Surah an-Nisaa, 4: 95). 

In spite of thus being excused from jihad, the soul of Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum refused to be  content with staying among those who remained at home when an expedition was in progress.  Great souls are not content with remaining detached from affairs of great moment. He determined  that no campaign should by-pass him. He fixed a role for himself on the battle field. He would say:  "Place me between two rows and give me the standard. I will carry it for you and protect it, for I  am blind and cannot run away. " 

In the fourteenth year after the hijrah, Umar resolved to mount a major assault against the  Persians to bring down their State and open the way for the Muslim forces. So he wrote to his  governors: 

"Send anyone with a weapon or a horse or who can offer any form of help to me. And make  haste." 

Crowds of Muslims from every direction responded to Umar's call and converged on Madinah.  Among all these was the blind mujahid Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. Umar appointed Saud ibn Abi  Waqqas commander over the army, gave him instructions and bade him farewell. When the army  reached Qadisiyyah, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was prominent, wearing a coat of armor and fully  prepared. He had vowed to carry and protect the standard of the Muslims or be killed in the  process. 

The forces met and engaged in battle for three days. The fighting was among the most fierce and  bitter in the history of the Muslim conquests. On the third day, the Muslims achieved a mighty  victory as one of the greatest empires in the world collapsed and one of the most secure thrones  fell. The standard of Tawhid was raised in an idolatrous land. The price of this clear victory was  hundreds of martyrs. Among them was Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum. He was found dead on the  battlefield clutching the flag of the Muslims.


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