“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

Muslims often claim that the Qur’an was solely inspired by Allah and revealed trough the angel Gabriel to the prophet. But is this really the case? I would like you to consider the story of Ibn Umm Maktum and his role during the alleged revelation of Surat An-Nisa 4:95.

Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum was a cousin of Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. His father was Qays ibn Za’id and his mother was Aatikah bint Abdullah. She was called Umm Maktum (Mother of the Concealed One) because she gave birth to a blind child.1

Ibn Umm Maktum grew up as a blind man who converted to Islam later is his life. After having been ignored by the prophet for some time, he eventually became a very close friend and companion to the prophet. During the ‘revelation’ of the ‘Jihad verse’ (i.e. Surat An-Nisa 4:95) Ibn Umm Maktum played a significant role.We read in the hadeeth literature that Muhammad changed his ‘revelation’ in order to accommodate the personal needs of Ibn Umm Maktum.

In Sahih Bukhari we find these traditions:2

Narrated Al-Bara:

When the Verse: “Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home)” (4.95) was revealed, Allah Apostle called for Zaid who wrote it. In the meantime Ibn Um Maktum came and complained of his blindness, so Allah revealed: “Except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame…” etc.) (4.95) (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 60, Number 117)

Narrated Al-Bara:

There was revealed: ‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah.’ (4.95)

The Prophet said, “Call Zaid for me and let him bring the board, the inkpot and the scapula bone (or the scapula bone and the ink pot).”‘ Then he said, “Write: ‘Not equal are those Believers who sit…”, and at that time ‘Amr bin Um Maktum, the blind man was sitting behind the Prophet. He said, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is your order for me (as regards the above Verse) as I am a blind man?”

So, instead of the above Verse, the following Verse was revealed:

‘Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame etc.) and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah.’ (4.95) (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 6, Book 61, Number 512)

Note that Muhammad quickly changed a verse after the complaint by Ibn Umm Maktum3in order to accommodate his request of not having to join in Jihad. The same story is also mentioned and verified in the second most trustworthy hadeeth collection (i.e. Sahih Muslim).

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Ishaq, that he heard Bara’ talking about the Qur’anic verse: “Those who sit (at home) from among the believers and those who go out for Jihad in the way of Allah are not equal” (iv. 95). (He said that) the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered Zaid (to write the verse). He brought a shoulder-blade (of a slaughtered camel) and inscribed it (the verse) thereon. The son of Umm Maktum complained of his blindness to the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). (At this) descended the revelation: “Those of the believers who sit (at home) without any trouble (illness, incapacity, disability)” (iv. 95). The tradition has been handed down through two other chains of transmitters. (Sahih Muslim, Book 20, Number 4676)

It has been narrated on the authority of Bara’ who said: When the Qur’anic verse: “Those who sit (at home) from among mu’min” (iv. 94) was revealed, the son of Umm Maktum spoke to him (the Holy Prophet). (At this) the words: “other than those who have a trouble (illness)” were revealed. (Sahih Muslim, Book 20,Number 4677)

The above incident is also mentioned and verified by the grand majority of classical scholars. For instance, Ibn Katheer in his Tafseer states:

Al-Bukhari recorded that Al-Bara’ said, “When the Ayah

<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home),>

was revealed, the Messenger of Allah called Zayd and commanded him to write it.Then, Ibn Umm Maktum came and mentioned that he was blind. Allah revealed …

<except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame)>.”

Al-Bukhari recorded that Sahl bin Sa`d As-Sa`di said, “I saw Marwan bin Al-Hakam sitting in the Masjid. I came and sat by his side. He told us that Zayd bin Thabit told him that Allah’s Messenger dictated this Ayah to him …

<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled, and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah>

Ibn Umm Maktum came to the Prophet as he was dictating that very Ayah to me. Ibn Umm Maktum said, `O Allah’s Messenger! By Allah, if I had power, I would surely take part in Jihad.’ He was a blind man. So Allah sent down revelation to His Messenger while his thigh was on mine and it became so heavy for me that I feared that my thigh would be broken. That ended after Allah revealed …

<except those who are disabled>.

This was recorded by Al-Bukhari. At-Tirmidhi recorded that Ibn `Abbas said …

<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled>, refers to those who did not go to the battle of Badr and those who went to Badr. When the battle of Badr was about to occur, Abu Ahmad bin Jahsh and Ibn Umm Maktum said, `We are blind, O Messenger of Allah! Do we have an excuse’ The Ayah …

<Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled> was revealed. Allah made those who fight, above those who sit in their homes not hindered by disability.

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 2, parts 3, 4, & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), by Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, First Edition: March 2000, pp. 555-556; also online)

Alī ibn Ahmad al-Wāhidī (d. 468/1075), the earliest scholar of the branch of the Qur’anic sciences known as Asbāb al-Nuzūl states in his Tafseer:

(Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah…) [4:95]. Abu ‘Uthman Sa‘id ibn Muhammad al-‘Adl informed us> his grandfather> Muhammad ibn Ishaq al-Sarraj> Muhammad ibn Humayd al-Razi> Salamah ibn al-Fadl> Muhammad ibn Ishaq> al-Zuhri> Sahl ibn Sa‘d> Marwan ibn al-Hakam> Zayd ibn Thabit who said:

“I was with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, when the verse (Those of the believers who sit still are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah) and did not mention (other than those who have a (disabling) hurt). Ibn Umm Maktum said: ‘How is this so when I am blind and unable to see?’ The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, was overwhelmed with revelation in this assembly and he leaned on my thigh. By Him in whose Hand is my soul, his weight grew so much on my thigh that I feared he would crush it. Then he was relieved, upon which he said: ‘Write: (Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah)’, and I wrote it down”.

This was narrated by Bukhari> Isma‘il ibn ‘Abd Allah> Ibrahim ibn Sa‘d> Salih> al-Zuhri. Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Yahya informed us> Muhammad ibn Ja‘far ibn Matar> Abu Khalifah> Abu’l-Walid> Shu‘bah> Abu Ishaq> al-Bara’ who said:

When the verse (Those of the believers who sit still are not on an equality…), the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, called Zayd who went to him with a shoulder blade and wrote on it this verse. But Ibn Umm Maktum complained about the fact that he is blind, and so the verse (Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah) was revealed”.

This was narrated by Bukhari from Abu’l-Walid and by Muslim from Bundar from Ghundar, and both Abu’l-Walid and Ghundar related it from Shu‘bah. Isma’il ibn Abi al-Qasim al-Nasrabadhi informed us> Isma’il ibn Najid> Muhammad ibn ‘Abdus> ‘Ali ibn al-Ja’d> Zuhayr> Abu Ishaq> al-Bara’ that the Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “Call Zayd for me and ask him to bring with him a shoulder blade and an inkwell”, or he said: “a slate”. (Source)

Isn’t the above story an example of Muhammad quickly changing his ‘revelations’ in order to suit the personal needs of specific individuals? It seems rather implausible that this blind individual needed to remind Allah that there were disabled people in the world that are not able to participate in jihad. Very implausible when you consider that Allah is called the ‘Al Knowing’ (Al-Aleem) in the Qur’an over and over again.

You did not kill them; it was Allah Who killed them. You did not throw when you threw; it was Allah Who threw: so He might test the believers with this excellent trial from Him. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Anfal, 8:17)



Both East and West belong to Allah, so wherever you turn, the Face of Allah is there. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Baqara, 2:115)

Yet, the fact remains that the ‘revelation’ was already given and written down before it was changed/revised.

… He said that) the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered Zaid (to write the verse). He brought a shoulder-blade (of a slaughtered camel) and inscribed it (the verse) thereon … (Sahih Muslim, Book 20, Number 4676)

This is a clear sign that the Qur’an was open to human influence. A plain reading of the facts surrounding the alleged revelation of the ‘jihad verse’ (i.e. Surat An-Nisa 4:95) clearly shows that Muhammad was prepared to change his revelations in order to meet his or his community’s needs.

 

Footnotes

1 Abdul Wahid Hamid, Companions of the Prophet, Vol. 1; online, e.g., here: 1, 2, 3.

2 This is an incident that is reported in many narrations and by different narrators. We list only a couple of these in the main text. Others are found in Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 52, Number 85; Vol. 6, Book 60, Numbers 116-119.

3 The attentive reader may have observed that two different names were given for this person: Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktum and ‘Amr Ibn Umm Maktum. The Islamic sources are contradictory at this point. Nevertheless, it is clearly the same person. For more on this question, see the Index entry: Ibn Umm Maktum.