Eager to learn the Qur'an, `Abdullah once asked the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, to recite a verse while he was calling a group of Quraysh noblemen to Islam.
The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, continued inviting the noblemen, after which Allah revealed verses from Surah `Abasa advising the Prophet, peace be upon him, to give `Abdullah his due attention.
"The Prophet frowned and turned away,
Because there came to him the blind man, [interrupting].
But what would make you perceive, [O Muhammad], that perhaps he might be purified
Or be reminded and the remembrance would benefit him?
As for he who thinks himself without need,
To him you give attention.
And not upon you [is any blame] if he will not be purified.
But as for he who came to you striving [for knowledge]
While he fears [Allah],
From him you are distracted.
No! Indeed, these verses are a reminder;
So whoever wills may remember it."
Following that incident, the Prophet treated the blind man with exceptional kindness. [b]
Along with Mus`ab ibn Umayr (ra) `Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum was the first to reach Madinah when the order of migration was given. Both he and Bilal ibn Rabah (ra) were given the duty to call the people to prayer. `Abdullah was often left in charge of Madinah in the Prophet’s absence, he lead the prayers, and was martyred in the battle of Qadisiyah against the Persian Empire during the Caliphate of `Umar (ra) in 636.
[a] Son to Qays ibn Sayd and Aatikah. Due to `Abdullah's life-long blindness his mother was called Umm-Maktum (Mother of the concealed one).
[b] Another verse based on an incident involving ibn Umm-Maktum is the 95th verse of An-Nisa. Ibn Kathir's exegesis (tafsir) of the Qur'an relates that Prophet Muhammad told Zayd ibn Thabit the following verse: "Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and those who strive and fight in the Cause of Allah", to which ibn Umm Maktum later said, "O Allah's Messenger! By Allah, if I had power, I would surely take part in Jihad (physical battle)". In response Allah sent down the excusatory revelation "... - except those who are disabled - and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah."