The Holy Quran does not name any among the men and women contemporary, who lived in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) except Hazrath Zaid (bin Haritha) and Abu Lahab in its text. But a few like Abdullah bin Umme Maktum and Hazrath Ayesha are two companions who were fortunate enough to have verses revealed about them. About Hazrath Ayesha, the beloved wife of the Prophet, Allah revealed a verse where her chastity was sworn to. But about Hazrath Abdullah bin Umme Maktumm, a chapter narrates his plight when the Prophet showed a bit of indifference towards him in preference to the leading lights of the Quraish.
Abdullah bin Umme Maktum was related to the Prophet through his first wife Khadijah to whom he was a cousin. His father was Qais bin Zaid and mother Athika bin Abdullah. Abdullah bin Umme Maktum was born blind and hence was known as Abdullah Maktum.
Visually handicapped, Abdullah Maktum knew his limitations as far as his contributions to the Islamic movement were concerned. He therefore made it a habit to join the company of the Holy Prophet and gather as much as of Quranic verses and wisdom being disbursed by the Prophet.
One day it so happened that leaders of the Quraish were sitting around him. Among them were Uthaba bin Rabia, Sheeba bin Rabia, Amr bin Hasham, Waleed bin Mughairah and Umayyah bin Khalaf. Abdullah Maktum also joined the session and wanted the Prophet to explain a verse. The intervention was a bit nagging for the Prophet who overlooked his interest and continued his conversation with the Quraish leaders. It was nothing, but out of concern that the support for the Islamic message from the leading lights of the Quraish would be a greater boon for the budding movement.
As the session ended and the people began to disperse, the following verses of the Quran were revealed:
The Prophet frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (Abdullah bin Umme Maktum). But what could tell you that perchance he might become pure from sins. Or that he might receive admonition, and that the admonition might profit him?
As for him who thinks himself self-sufficient, to you attend; What does it matter to you if he will not become pure (from disbelief, you are a messenger, your duty is to convey the message of Allah).
But as to him who came to you running. And is afraid (of Allah and his punishment)Of him you are neglectful and divert your attention to another,
Nay, (do not do like this), indeed it (these verses of the Quran) are an admonition, So whoever wills, let him pay attention to it. (ch. 53, v.1-12)
The Prophet repented this attitude and would treat Maktum with extreme respect in future interactions. Maktum was among the two companions who were dispatched to Madinah before the Prophet’s migration in order to preach the Islamic message there. He was also appointed the co-muezzin with Hazrath Bilal at the Masjid Nabawi.
The Prophet appointed Maktum as the supervisor of Madinah affairs during his absences. This was on as many as 10 occasions including the one during the conquest of Makkah.
Maktum was highly perturbed after verses of the Holy Quran admonished those who sat behind even while others participated in battles against the infidels. This became evident when a verse revealed on the Prophet said:
Those among the faithfuls who sat behind and those who participated in the jihad could not be equal.
Maktum immediately raised a query about those who are handicapped. Another verse was revealed soon after which said:
“Save those who remain behind due to certain handicaps.”
Following this, Maktum took upon himself the task of holding the standard (flag of the army) of the war. During Caliph Umar’s reign, he participated in the battle of Qadissiyah. Maktum stood holding the banner for three days when the Muslim armies finally emerged victorious. Hundreds of companions fell martyrs. Among them lay Abdullah bin Umme Maktum with the banner still held firm under his arms. May Allah be pleased with him!
(Abridged and translated by Maqbool Ahmed Siraj from Suwarum min Hayathus Sahaba authored by Dr. Abdul Rahman Rafat Pasha).