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Commentary on Surat Al-Lahab

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Chapter 111: Surat Al-Lahab
The Flame

By: Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri

In the name of Allah,
the Beneficent, the Merciful

  1. May the two hands of Abu Lahab perish, and may he perish!

Tabba  means 'to be lost, to lose', and 'to perish, or be destroyed'. Abu Lahab was an uncle of the Prophet. He was a vibrant, fiery being, handsome and dangerous, like a tiger. He upheld the old traditions, and defended them in a dogmatic, fanatical way. Whatever his 'hands' put forth, whatever his actions were, he was to be at a loss.

  1. His wealth and what he gains will be of no use!

Whatever he earned, whatever he possessed of power, was to be of no avail.

  1. He will be plunged into flaming fire,

He was destined for the ultimate Fire, just as in this life he burned with his agitation, his fiery hatred and his disappointments and frustrations.

  1. And his wife, the carrier of fire-wood.

Abu Lahab's wife was the sister of Abu Sufyān. Hatab means 'firewood', the implication being, in the phrase 'carrier of fire-wood', that she incited people against each other by carrying tales back and forth to fuel and fan gossip and to create agitation. She used to throw small thorny bushes along the path which the Prophet used to take to the Ka'bah, so that in the dark of the early morning he would step on them. What it implies is that her inner discontent showed itself in whatever she did outwardly, and her inner thorns were carried outwardly on her back.

  1. Upon her neck is a halter of strong twisted palm-fiber!

Jīd describes the part of the neck where the necklace usually rests. Masad normally means a twisted palm frond. This means that what she dragged about with her what was around her neck was a heavily twisted chain of her own making.

Although this chapter historically refers to an uncle of the Prophet and his partner in persecution, his wife, wherever and whenever truth appears, the denial and opposition of an Abū Lahab is always close at hand.

End of the Surah

Back Up Next

The Opening - A Commentary on Chapter 1: Surat Al-Fatiha ] The Cow - A Commentary on Chapter 2: Surat Al-Baqarah ] The Family of 'Imrān - A Commentary on Chapter 3: Surat Al-'Imrān ] The Spider - A Commentary on Chapter 29: Surat Al-'Ankabt ] The Heart of the Qur`an - A Commentary on Chapter 36: Surat Ya Sin ] The Beneficent - A Commentary on Chapter 55: Surat Al-Rahmn ] The Event - A Commentary on Chapter 56: Surat Al-Wqi'ah ] The Kingdom - A Commentary on Chapter 67: Surat Al-Mulk ] The Jinn - A Commentary on Chapter 72: Surat Al-Jinn ] The Unwrapped - A Commentary on Chapter 73: Surat Al-Muzzammil ] A Commentary on the Last Section of the Qur`an ]