A Meccan sura. While the Prophet was speaking to some disbelieving notables, 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. In the second paragraph there is a condemnation of man’s ingratitude: man becomes self-satisfied and forgets his origin and his final return to God.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
1 He frowned and turned away 2 when the blind man came to him–– 3 for all you know, a he might have grown in spirit, 4 or taken note of something useful to him. 5 For the self-satisfied one 6 you go out of your way–– 7 though you are not to be blamed for his lack of spiritual growth–– 8 but from the one who has come to you full of eagerness 9 and awe 10 you allow yourself to be distracted. 11 No indeed! This [Quran] is a lesson 12 from which those who wish to be taught should learn, 13 [written] on honored, 14 exalted, pure pages, 15 by the hands of 16noble and virtuous scribes.
17 Woe to man! How ungrateful he is! 18 From what thing does God create him? 19 He creates him from a droplet, He proportions him, 20 He makes the way easy for him, 21then He causes him to die and be buried. 22 When He wills, He will raise him up again. 23 Yet man [b] does not fulfil God’s commands. 24 Let man consider the food he eats! 25 We [c] pour down abundant water 26 and cause the soil to split open. 27 We make grain grow, 28 and vines, fresh vegetation, 29 olive trees, date palms, 30 luscious gardens, 31 fruits, and fodder: 32 all for you and your livestock to enjoy.
33 When the Deafening Blast comes–– 34 the Day man will flee from his own brother, 35 his mother, his father, 36 his wife, his children: 37 each of them will be absorbed in concerns of their own on that Day– 38 on that Day some faces will be beaming, 39 laughing, and rejoicing, 40 but some faces will be dust-stained 41 and covered in darkness: 42 those are the disbelievers, the licentious.
a. The shift from talking about the Prophet to addressing him directly reinforces the reproach.
b. Some commentators take this to refer only to disbelievers.
c. This is a shift to the plural of divine majesty to emphasize the magnitude of the action.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.