Sūra ʿAbas (Arabic: سورة عَبَس, literally: He Frowned) is the eightieth sura of Quran. It is a Makki sura of Quran which is located in the thirtieth juz'. This sura is called 'Abas because it starts with the word. This sura is about the value and significance of Quran, ingratitude of humans for God's gifts, the horrifying incidents of the Resurrection Day and the fate of humans in that day. In the first verses of this sura of Quran, God condemned a person who treated a blind person badly. There are disagreements among the exegetes about the identity of the condemned person; whether he was Prophet Muhammad (s) or someone else.
The thirty four to thirty seven verses of this sura are important, as they describe the Resurrection, when people will flee from their relatives including their brothers, mothers, fathers, spouses, and children. As stated in narrations, those who recite Sura 'Abas will be happy and pleased in the Judgment Day.
This sura is called 'Abas (He Frowned) as it starts with this term. It is also called A'ma (Arabic: أعمی, blind) and Safara (Arabic: سَفَرهscribe), which are stated in the second and the fifteenth verses. A'ma means Blind and Safara is the plural form of Safir which means the angels who writes the actions of humans.
Place and Order of Revelation
Number of Verses and Characteristics
Sura 'Abas has 42 verses, 133 words, and 553 letters. It is one of the mufassalat suras which have relatively short and numerous verses.
Although Sura 'Abas is a short sura, it discusses diverse subjects and it emphasizes on the Resurrection Day. Its content can be summarized into five topics:
- Severe God's condemnation of the person who treated the blind person badly; he was also seeking the truth.
- The value and significance of Quran.
- Ingratitude of humans for God's gifts.
- Mentioning gifts of God in order to encourage humans to be appreciative.
- Mentioning horrifying incidents of the Judgment Day and the fate of believers and disbelievers in that day.
Person Who Frowned
Different explanations about revelation of theses verses have been given in Sunni and Shi'ite commentaries on Qur'an:
- According to Sunni point of view, Prophet Muhammad (s) invited a number of Quraysh leaders to a meeting in order to convince them to convert to Islam. Meanwhile 'Abd Allah b. Umm Maktum a blind and poverty-stricken man approached Prophet Muhammad (s) and asked him to recite some verse of Qur'an for him to learn the truth. He interrupted Prophet's (s) speech a number of times which made Prophet (s) upset and he frowned away. Prophet (s) thought the chiefs of Quraysh would say only slaves and blinds are supporters of Muhammad (s). Then the Prophet (s) ignored 'Abd Allah and continued his discussion with Quraysh chiefs. After that, these verses were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s) and he was criticized for his poor behavior to the blind man. Later on, Prophet Muhammad (s) always praised and revered 'Abd Allah and he said: "Praise to the person for whom I was criticized for."
- According to Shi'ite point of view, these verses were revealed about a man from Banu Umayya who was sitting with Prophet Muhammad (s). When 'Abd Allah b. Umm Maktum entered, the man drew himself aside, not to get his dress dirty. He also frowned away and grimed. Then the verses were revealed and he was condemned for his behavior. The story is narrated from hadith by Imam al-Sadiq (a).
Some of Shi'ite scholars including al-Sayyid al-Murtada and 'Allama Tabataba'i refused to accept the first viewpoint about the revelation of the verses. 'Allama Tabataba'i stated that those verses don't have obvious signs proving that Prophet Muhammad (s) was condemned by God, however there are signs that someone else was the addressee. Prophet Muhammad (s) did not even frown at disbelievers let alone at believers. In addition, God has praised Prophet's (s) behavior in Sura al-Qalam, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (s) before. Also God ordered Prophet (s) earlier in numerous verses to treat believers modestly and neglect their appearance and their privileges. Regardless of what has been discussed, logically frowning upon the poor is a condemned behavior which is highly improbable that Prophet (s) would display such behavior.
Verse 24 of this sura invites people to observe their food: "So let man observe his food"
According to exegeses, here 'observe' means thinking and paying attention about how is the food of humans prepared or thinking about whether the food is halal (permissible) or haram (forbidden). According to some narrations, here ta'am (food) means the knowledge which supplies the food of soul. Then man should think carefully from whom he takes his knowledge.
Fear of the Resurrection Day
In verses 34–37 the intensity of the panic in the Day of Resurrection is described: "On that Day each man shall flee from his own brother, his mother and his father, his wife and his children, for each one of them, on that Day, shall have enough concern of his own to make him indifferent to the others."
According to exegeses of these verses, the feature of the Judgment day and the fear and panic of the Resurrection Day makes people not only to forget their close relatives, but they flee from them. These actions happen after the second deafening blast by Israfil which is stated as al-Sakhkha (the deafening blast) in verse 33. 'Ali b. Abi Talib (a) recited this verse in his supplication in the mosque of Kufa and he asked God for mercy in the Resurrection Day.
It is narrated from Prophet Muhammad (s) that if someone recites Sura 'Abas, he will be happy in the Judgment Day. It is also narrated from Imam al-Sadiq (a) that if someone recites this sura, he will be gain blessings of God which is an easy task for Him. In addition Imam al-Sadiq (a) said if someone recites this sura while it is raining, his sins will be forgiven to the number of the drops of rain. Besides, in other exegeses different merits have been mentioned for reciting this sura of Quran including having a safe trip and finding a lost person or thing.
|For the full text, see text:Sura 'Abas.|
- The material for this article is mainly taken from سوره عبس in Farsi WikiShia.