The (Prophet) frowned and turned away. 5950
Because there came to him the blind man (interrupting).
But what could tell thee but that perchance he might Grow (in spiritual understanding)?
Or that he might receive admonition and the teaching might profit him? 5951
As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient 5952
To him dost thou attend;
Though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). 5953
But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly
And with fear (in his heart) 5954
Of him wast thou unmindful.
By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction: 5955
Therefore let who will keep it in remembrance.
(It is) in Books held (greatly) in honor. 5956
Exalted (in dignity) kept pure and holy
(Written) by the hands of scribes
Honorable and Pious and Just.
Woe to man! what hath made him reject Allah?
From what stuff Hath He created him?
From a sperm-drop: He hath created him and then mouldeth him in due proportions; 5957
Then doth He make His path smooth for him;
Then He causeth him to die and putteth him in his Grave; 5958
Then when it is His will He will raise him up (again).
By no means hath he fulfilled what Allah Hath commanded him. 5959
Then let man look at his Food (and how We provide it): 5960
For that We pour forth water in abundance
And We split the earth in fragments 5961
And produce therein Corn 5962
And Grapes and nutritious Plants.
And Olives and Dates
And enclosed Gardens dense with lofty trees 5963
And Fruits and Fodder
For use and convenience to you and your cattle. 5964
At length when there comes the Deafening Noise 5965
That Day shall a man flee from his own brother.
And from his mother and his father.
And from his wife and his children. 5966
Each one of them that Day will have enough concern (of his own) to make him indifferent to the others. 5967
Some Faces that Day will be beaming.
And other faces that Day will be dust-stained; 5968
Blackness will cover them:
Such will be the Rejecters of Allah the Doers of Iniquity.
See the Introduction to this Sura 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 Allah's Word than men who are apparently gifted, but who suffer from arrogance and self-sufficiency.
It may be that the poor blind man might, on account of his will to learn, be more likely to grow in his own spiritual development or to profit by any lessons taught to him even in report than a self-sufficient leader. In fact it was so. For the blind man became a true and sincere Muslim and lived to become a governor of Madinah.
Such a one would be a Pagan Quraish leader, whom the holy Prophet was anxious to get into his fold, in order that the work of preaching Allah's Message might be facilitated. But such a Message works first amongst the simple and lowly, the poor and despised folk, and the mighty ones of the earth only come in when the stream rushes in with irresistible force.
Allah's Message is for all, but if the great ones arrogantly keep back from it, it is no fault of the preacher, so long as he has proclaimed the Message. He should attend to all, and specially to the humble and lowly.
The fear in the blind man's heart may have been two-fold. (1) He was humble and God-fearing, not arrogant and self-sufficient; (2) being poor and blind, he feared to intrude; yet his earnest desire to learn the Qur-an made him bold, and he came, perhaps unseasonably, but was yet worthy of encouragement, because of the purity of his heart.
Allah's Message is a universal Message, from which no one is to be excluded, rich or poor, old or young, great or lowly, learned or ignorant. If anyone had the spiritual craving that needed satisfaction, he was to be given precedence if there was to be any question of precedence at all.
At the time this Sura was revealed, there were perhaps only about 42 or 45 Suras in the hands of the Muslims. But it was a sufficient body of Revelation of high spiritual value, to which the discription given here could be applied. It was held in the highest honor; its place in the hearts of Muslims was more exalted than that of anything else; as Allah's Word, it was pure and sacred; and those who transcribed it were men who were honorable, just and pious. The legend that the early Suras were not carefully written down and preserved in books is a pure invention. The recensions made later in the time of the first and the third Khalifas were merely to preserve the purity and safeguard the arrangement of the text at a time when the expansion of Islam among non-Arabic-speaking people made such precautions necessary.
Cf. lxxvi. 2, and n. 5832. The origin of man as an animal is lowly indeed. But what further faculties and capacities has not Allah granted to man? Besides his animal body, in which also he shares in all the blessings which Allah has bestowed on the rest of His Creation, man has been granted divine gifts which entitle him to be called the Vicegerent on earth: ii. 30. He has a will; he has spiritual perception; he is capable of divine love; he can control nature within certain limits, and subject nature's forces to his own use. And he has been given the power of judgment, so that he can avoid excess and defect, and follow the middle path. And that path, as well as all that is necessary for his life in its manifold aspects, has been made easy for him.
Cf. xx. 55. Death is an inevitable event after the brief life on this earth, but it is also in a sense a blessing, a release from the imperfections of this world, a close of the probationary period, after which will dawn the full Reality. "The Grave" may be understood to be the period between physical death and immortal Life, whatever may be the mode of disposal of the dead body. This intermediate period is the Barzakh or Partition: see n. 2940 to xxiii. 101.
Though all these blessings and stages have been provided by Allah's Grace for the good of man, yet unregenerate man fails in carrying out the purpose of his creation and life.
After a reference to man's inner history, there is now a reference to just one item in his daily outer life, his food: and it is shown how the forces of heaven and earth unite by Allah's Command to serve man and his dependants. "A provision for you and your cattle" (verse 32 below). If that is the case with just one item, food, how much more comprehensive is Allah's beneficence when the whole of man's needs are considered!
The water comes from the clouds in plentiful abundance; the earth is ploughed, and the soil is broken up in fragments, and yields an abundant harvest of cereals (Corn), trellised fruit (Grapes), and vegetable food (nutritious Plants), as well as fruit that can keep for long periods and serve many uses, like olives and dates.
Therein: i.e., from within the earth or the soil.
We not only get field crops such as were mentioned in n. 5961 above, but we have the more highly cultivated garden crops, both in the way of lofty trees, and in the way of carefully tended fruits like the fig; and then we have grass and all kinds of fodder.
The same verse occurs at Ixxix. 33, where no. 5940 explains the wider meaning in that context.
Preliminary to the establishment of the Final Judgment.
Even those who were nearest and dearest in this life will not be able or willing to help each other on that awful Day. On the contrary, if they have to receive a sentence for their sins, they will be anxious to avoid even sharing each other's sorrows or witnessing each other's humiliation; for each will have enough of his own troubles to occupy him. On the other hand, the Righteous will be united with their righteous families: lii. 21; and their faces will be "beaming, laughing, rejoicing" (lxxx. 38-39).
Cf. lxx. 10-14. Nor friend will ask after a friend that Day. On the contrary the sinner will desire to save himself at the expense even of his own family and benefactors.
The dust on the faces of the sinners will be in contrast to the beaming light on the faces of the righteous; and the blackness in contrast to the "laughing, rejoicing" faces of the righteous. But the dust also suggests that being Rejecters of Allah, their faces and eyes and faculties were choked in dust, and the blackness suggests that being Doers of Iniquity they had no part or lot in Purity or Light. Another contrast may possibly be deduced: the humble and lowly may be "in the dust" in this life, and the arrogant sinners in sunshine, but the roles will be reversed at Judgment.