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Sura 80
Aya 1

Chapter 80

He FrownedʿAbasa ( عبس )

42 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that opens with admonishing the Prophet and refers to him as He [who] Frowned and turned away. While the Prophet was speaking to some unbelieving nobles of Quraysh, hoping to convert them, a blind Muslim man came up to learn from him, but in his eagerness to attract the disbelievers to Islam, the Prophet frowned at him. The Prophet is then reproached and told not to concern himself with the disbelievers. It takes its name from the word “he frowned” (ʿabasa) in verse 1. The surah also deals with the condemnation of man’s ingratitude: man becomes self-satisfied and forgets his origin and his final return to God.«

The surah is also known as He Made a Wry Face, He Who Frowned

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Yusuf Ali: In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

عَبَسَ وَتَوَلّىٰ

Yusuf Ali

This is an early Meccan Sūra, and is connected with an incident which reflects the highest honor on the Prophet’s sincerity in the Revelations that were vouchsafed to him even if they seemed to reprove him for some natural and human zeal that led him to a false step in his mission according to his own high standards.
He was once deeply and earnestly engaged in trying to explain the holy Qur-ān to Pagan Quraish leaders, when he was interrupted by a blind man, ’Abdullah ibn Umm Maktūm, one who was also poor, so that no one took any notice of him. He wanted to learn the Qur-ān. The holy Prophet naturally disliked the interruption and showed impatience. Perhaps the poor man’s feelings were hurt. But he whose gentle heart ever sympathized with the poor and the afflicted, got new Light from above, and without the least hesitation published this revelation, which forms part of the sacred scripture of Islam, as described in verses 13-16. And the Prophet always afterwards held the man in high honor.
The incident was only a passing incident, but after explaining the eternal principles of revelation, the Sūra recapitulates the Mercies of God to man, and the consequences of a good or a wicked life here, as seen in the spiritual world to come, in the Hereafter.
[80:1-42] Men not blest with the good things of this life may yet be earnest seekers of Truth and Purity, and deserve as much attention as those who seem to wield some influence, yet who in their pride are self-sufficient. God’s Message is universal: all have a right to hear it. Held high in honor, kept pure and holy, it should be writ by none but good and honorable men.
God’s Grace is showered on man not less for his inner growth than his outward life. There must be a final Reckoning, when each soul must stand on its own past Record: the faces, then, of the Blest will beam with Joy and Light, while the Doers of Iniquity will hide in Dust and Shame and Darkness.
(The Prophet) frowned and turned away,1
  • See the Introduction to this Sūra for the incident to which this refers. The lesson is that neither spiritual worth nor the prospect of effective spiritual guidance is to be measured by a man’s position in life. The poor, or the blind, the halt, or the maimed, may be more susceptible to the teaching of God’s Word than men who are apparently gifted, but who suffer from arrogance and self-sufficiency.