Surah 111. Al-Lahab – The Flame
Here is the solitary instance where an opponent of the exalted Prophet is mentioned in the Qur’an by name. Perhaps because he symbolized leadership, power, tyranny, wealth and priesthood all in one. Hence, this Surah as all others has Eternal application.
Historically, Abi-Lahab was an inoffensive Kunniyah (family title) of Abd-al-Uzza, a paternal uncle of the exalted Prophet. He was a very good looking man with a glowing face and a fiery temper, hence known as Abu Lahab, ‘Father of Flame’. Unfortunately for them, he and his wife ‘Arwa Umm Jamil bint Harb bin Umayyah (a sister of Abu Sufyan) took a very hostile stance against Islam and the exalted Prophet and persecuted him in Makkah. They were the next door neighbors to him.
‘Arwa used to spread out thorny branches at the exalted Messenger’s door by night, and ran a defamation campaign against him. She had a most beautiful and expensive necklace that she always was proud of. The ornament of palm-fiber in her neck probably has a subtle allusion to that in the Surah.
Abi Lahab was the chief priest of the holy Shrine of Ka’bah which at that time hosted 360 idols. He was a wealthy and arrogant man and therefore, he could foresee that God’s Message of human equality threatened his high status and special interests. In short, he was a symbol of opposition to the Divine Message.
The Surah has also been titled by historians as “Tabbat” and “Al-Masad”. I have tried after due to research to stay with the titles of the Surahs as they were in the sacred lifetime of Muhammad Sall-Allahu-‘alayehi-wa-Sallam.
With the Glorious Name of Allah, the Instant and Sustaining Source of all Mercy and Kindness
111:1 Perished is the power of Abu Lahab, and perished is he!
111:2 His wealth and gains will avail him not! [69:27-28, 92:11, 96:7]
111:3 He shall have to endure a fire blazing, glowing.
111:4 And his wife, that carrier of slanderous tales, the firewood hauler.
111:5 Will have her neck ornamented with a rope of palm-fiber. [17:13. Jeed = A neck decorated with an ornament. Here, we have a lesson that color, nationality, tribe, family, wealth, status etc have no bearing in the Divine System. The most honored in the Sight of God is he who is best in conduct. 49:13]
I have had a problem that has been running through my little mind for some time now.
I understand that the Quran is complete and fully detailed but requires human intellect to understand and implement it. It also explains itself; one verse can be used to help understand other verses and it most certainly does not require hadith to “complete” its teachings.
Since the Quran should explain itself, then what is the significance of the above surah? Someone mentioned that Hind has been vilified by our forgery loving historians due to her being the mother of Mawviah and grandmother of Yahzid, and could this be happening in the above understanding as well? Is this translation of the Quran using the historically contemptible Uncle and Aunt of the Prophet which it should not do if looked at in the light of only the Quran?
Abu Lahab is a title and not a proper name so are we not using the hadith and tales of history to understand that it means a man? This can also be applied to his necklace wearing wife.