Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid,
Mother of the Believers (Radiyallahu Anha). 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
Abdullah (Radiyallahu Anhu) was devoted to the Noble Prophet (Sallahu
Alaihi Wasallam) and he was so eager to memorize the Quran that
he would not miss any opportunity to achieve his heart’s
desire. It was regarding this Sahabi that the first sixteen verses
of Surah Abasa were revealed, rebuking the Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi
From that day the Prophet did not cease to be generous to Abdullah
ibn Umm Maktum (Radiyallahu Anhu), to ask him about his affairs,
to fulfill his needs and take him into his council whenever he
approached. 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
(Sallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and those who believed with him, Allah
Ta`ala gave them permission to emigrate. Abdullah and Musab ibn
Umayr (Radiyallahu Anhuma) were the first of the Companions to
reach Madinah. As soon as they reached, they began discussing
with the people, reading the Quran to them and teaching them the
religion of Allah Ta`ala. When the Prophet (Sallahu Alaihi Wasallam),
arrived in Madinah, he appointed Abdullah and Bilal ibn Rabah
(Radiyallahu Anhuma) to be Muadh-dhins for the Muslims, proclaiming
the Oneness of Allah Ta`ala five times a day, calling man to the
best of actions and summoning them to success.
Bilal would call the Adhan and Abdullah would call 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 Allah Ta`ala 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 Allah. If I could go on jihad, I would certainly
do." He then earnestly asked Allah 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 Allah 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. 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. "
It was with this zeal to participate in Jihad that in the fourteenth
year after the Hijrah, in a great battle between the Muslims and
the Persians, his martyred body was found in the battlefield clutching
the flag of the Muslims.