This Surah is a Makki Surah. It is also named ‘As-Sakh’khah’ (The deafening blast), as it is the only Surah which has this dreaded word. As-Sakh’khah’ is one of the names of the Hour of Resurrection.
Some scholars also named Surah ‘Abasa as the Surah of the “blind man”. The blind man referred to is Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum, the one whom these verses were revealed about.
In these verses, there is a great indication regarding the rank of the noble Prophet Muhammad (saws), even though there are some people who think that they contain an admonition. Let us have a look at this amazing gentle reproof given to our leader Rasulullah (saws).
This story is one which commonly happens in the lives of human beings.
The Holy Qur’an was revealed gradually to establish beliefs firmly in the hearts. However, beliefs and rulings are not constructed in molds which can be poured out all at once, but are derived from events which have really happened.
Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum was a blind man. He had a position with regards to Sayyidah Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) as he was her maternal cousin. He had also believed in the Prophet (saws).
One day, he came to the Prophet (saws) to ask him about some matters of the religion, saying: “O Rasulullah, recite to me and teach me of that which Allah has taught you.”
However, at that moment, the noble Prophet (saws) was addressing a group of the staunch disbelievers and polytheists of Mecca. They were: Shaibah Ibn Rabi’ah, ‘Utbah Ibn Rabi’ah, Al-Walid Ibn Al-Mughirah, Umayyah Ibn Khalaf and Abu Jahal. Al-‘Abbas – before he became a believer – was also among them.
These were the leaders of the people, thus Rasulullah (saws) greatly desired that they would believe. For, if he could enter Iman (faith) into the hearts of these leaders, this would save the believers from a lot of pain. At the very least, they would stop hurting the believers and blocking the movement of the Da’wa (call to Islam). And of course, with them embracing Islam, many others would also follow them and embrace Islam too.
Therefore, Rasulullah (saws) started to dialogue with them and convince them in order to get their hearts inclined to Iman (faith in Allah).
This task requires from him additional effort and difficulty. And he (saws) chose this difficulty and burdened himself with the most difficult of matters.
As for Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum, he was already a believer so that the turning away of the Prophet (saws) from him was not in disdain of him or because he was blind. However, it was because the Prophet (saws) was carrying out the priority and what was needed in that particular situation. He burdened himself with tasks which were above what Allah (swt) had asked him. Speaking to Ibn Umm Maktum was easier and could be done anytime. As for the staunch disbelievers and polytheists, the Prophet (saws) was giving his best at that instance to explain the beliefs of Islam and the belief in Allah (swt).
In view of this point, the answer to the question of why Allah (swt) admonished His Prophet (saws) is clear.
Did He admonish him because he had been negligent? Or was it because he was burdening himself with more than what He (swt) had asked and required of him?
The second, of course! Thus, it was an admonishment for the benefit of the noble Prophet (saws), not one which was against him.
As such, we have to understand that all the admonishments for the Prophet (saws) found in the Book of Allah (swt) are not attacks against him (saws), as understood by some narrow-minded people or even some of the exegetes. They are in actual fact for his benefit.