Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Qur’an Surah 80: He Frowned

The following is from a work-in-progress called The Qur'an: a Book Report, in which I read each surah of the Qur'an and write about what I learn.

This Meccan surah is unique in that it actually criticizes the prophet Muhammad for a particular action.  Usually, in the Qur’an, the prophet is seen as a model of behavior and devotion.  However, this surah shows that even he is not above reproach.

Here’s what happened.  While the prophet was speaking to some important/notable Meccan unbelievers, trying to convert them, a blind Muslim man approached.  Instead of greeting his fellow believer, Muhammad frowned at him, preferring to speak to the “important” Meccans.  For this, the prophet is reproached: “For all you know,” God says to Muhammad, “he (the blind man) might have grown in spirit…For the self-satisfied one (the “important” Meccan) you (prophet) go out of your way…but from the one who has come to you full of eagerness and awe (the blind man), you (prophet) are distracted.”

The lesson of this surah is that everyone (including the prophet) should not discriminate against or give special preference to anyone—especially those who are already socially marginalized like the blind man.  It is an important reminder to be accepting, open, and kind to all people at all times.  This is, admittedly, a difficult task, one which even the prophet did not do perfectly.

The first 15 verses of surah 80.

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