A few days ago I was having a discussion with a friend of mine on Surah 80 of the Holy Quran. This friend was a Sunni, and, as anyone familiar with Sunni and Shia debates over the years rightly knows, his interpretation of that verse vastly differs from that of the Shia madhab. But rather than focusing on the surah itself, and subsequently trying to prove whose version of events lay closer to the truth, I want to focus on a very interesting exchange that happened between the brother and me.

Before moving on with the discussion, let me quickly post the relevant verses; they read:

 [080:001] He frowned and turned his face away,

[080:002] Because a blind man came to him (and interrupted him).

[080:003] You don’t really know! Perhaps he would (shed his disbelief, and) grow in faith.

 [080:004] He might heed (the warning); perhaps the reminder would benefit him.

[080:005] (Instead), the one who displays indifference,

 [080:006] You attend to.

(Yusuf Ali’s translation for the first verse appears like this:  ‘’(The Prophet) frowned and turned away[.]’’


     Now according to Sunni tradition this verse was revealed about the Prophet of Islam. In opposition to such views is what our hadiths say, primarily, that this verse wasn’t revealed about the Prophet, but rather, about someone else. When I stated this point my friend wanted to know who I thought this verse is specifically referring to. From the traditions we have, which aren’t many, I couldn’t recall if there was a specific person for who this verse was revealed about, but I only remembered that it was for one of the Prophets companions, and not about the Prophet himself. After I mentioned this my friend burst out in anger. He began to ostracise me, saying how typical it was for Shias to always insult the Prophets companions and so forth. So I asked him, why is it insulting if I attribute this to the Prophets companions? He replied because it shows the companion(s) in a bad light, and Shias always try to insult the sahaba(s) by showing them in a bad light.

    His anger resided in this fact: that by arguing that this verse was revealed about the sahabas that we, the Shia, are insulting them. How dare we do such a thing? Why is it so typical of us to insult the Prophets companions? And on he went.

   Rather than focusing on his claims, I want to ask him this: does he not realize what an incredibly insulting thing he said? If attributing this event to the sahabas is insulting, is it not then doubly insulting to attribute this to God’s Prophet? If one should get angry about this story being revealed about one of his idols, should not a person be irate when it is accepted as a fact about his Prophet?

   If it is insulting to a sahabaha, then it is doubly insulting to the Prophet of Islam, yet, my friend has no problem in believing it (or, rather, has no choice but to accept it).

    A second point worth highlighting is what this exchange revealed. It revealed one of the glairing differences between our madhab and his. More specifically, it revealed how we view our Prophet and his character, and how his sect does. Whereas we refuse to accept such stories like this toward the Prophet, he has no problem in doing so, and will even debate with many to prove that it in fact was revealed about the Prophet.

  I most likely will write an article dealing with the actual issue at hand—who is God reprimanding in the verse—but I will do that later on.

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