Tafsir Surah Lahab
Some of Prophet Muhammad’s worst enemies were from his own family.
His uncle, Abu Talib, helped and supported him for many years. But another uncle, Abu Lahab, attacked the Prophet (pbuh) for an even longer time.
This Surah explains how Allah’s curse will be applied to Abu Lahab and his wife Umm Jamil for their evil behavior towards Prophet Muhammad. It also shows the ultimate end of those who stand against Islam and against truth.
Abu Lahab thought his power and wealth would save him in this life and the next. However, even today he is being cursed by every Muslim who recites this Surah.
Imagine being cursed by virtually every Muslim who has ever existed for the past 1400 plus years. Almost makes one feel sorry for Abu Lahab.
1. Perish the hands of Abu Lahab and perish he!
This Surah is about one of the uncles of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) named Abdul Uzza. He was nicknamed Abu Lahab because he had a reddish complexion.
Some time after receiving the message of Islam, the Prophet (pbuh) went to a valley near Mecca and began to call his people, the Quraish, to Islam.
Upon hearing the message of Islam, Abu Lahab was the first to abuse him. He mocked the Prophet saying:
“Is this why you called us? May you perish?”
Allah sent this Surah and this verse which actually contains a dua on behalf of the Muslim to curse and destroy Abu Lahab.
The last word in this verse, “Tabba”, verifies that Abu Lahab indeed has perished.
Not long after the Battle of Badr, Abu Lahab became deathly ill. His illness was so disgusting, his own family did not want to come near him. When he died, they had to hire laborers to dig a hole, throw his body inside, and then cover it with stones.
Abu Lahab’s wife also took part in this abuse. She used to put thorn bushes in the path where the Prophet was known to walk.
She will also be cursed in the next life also, as we shall see later in this Surah.
2. His wealth will not benefit him nor will that which he earned.
In addition to being a rather obnoxious individual, Abu Lahab was also very arrogant.
You see, Abu Lahab was very wealthy and had lots of children. He was so arrogant, that he boasted that even if Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was speaking the truth, he would ransom himself from the fire with his money.
Yeah, he was that kind of foolish.
As we see from the previous verse, when the time for his death came, neither his wealth nor his children did him any good. In fact, his children didn’t even want to bury him with their hands.
3. He will enter a fire full of flames.
Seeing that his wealth and children could not benefit him in this life, one wonders why Abu Lahab believed they could help him in the next life.
This verse explains that Abu Lahab will be forced into a fire “full of flames.”
Of course, this is Hell, his final destination. However, Abu Lahab will also face a severe punishment in the grave.
4. And his wife too, who carries firewood.
Abu Lahab’s wife also got into the act. She used to torment and aggravate the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and his companions. She would spread malicious and false tales about them.
The phrase “who carries firewood” in this verse may refer to three things:
- Abu Lahab’s wife carrying gossip and lies about the early Muslims.
- Abu Lahab’s wife carrying thorny branches to put in the Prophet’s path in order to hurt him.
- Abu Lahab’s wife who will carry firewood in hell for her husband as he experiences the eternal punishment.
It is also possible that this verse may refer to all three things. Whatever the case, Abu Lahab’s wife will share in his destruction.
5. On her neck will be a twisted rope of palm fibers.
Let’s look at some of the words in this verse.
The second word is “jeed,” means a beautiful neck. In this verse, it is ironically referring to the wife’s neck.
The last word of this verse and this Surah is “masad” which means a string or cord or rope that is made by twisting strands of palm fiber or some other material together.
Abu Lahab’s wife used to tie the thorny branches she carried to injure the Prophet (pbuh) with such a rope.
Some say that the “masad” in this verse refers to an iron collar she will wear around her neck in hell. It will be attached to a chain over seventy cubits long by which she will be led to the fire.