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Our Role Model-prominent Blind Sahabi - Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (Radiyallahu Anhu)

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 experienced.

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 Wasallam).

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.

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