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Surah Lahab [111] – Tafseer

June 17, 2010

Abu Lahab’s name:

  • His real name is Abdul Uzzah, who was an idol/false god. So Allah does not dignify him by mentioning the false god that he worshiped. Also nobody is the slave of Uzzah so his name is a lie so Allah does not mention his name.
  • Because he is of the people of the Fire and Allah is going to put him in a flame that is flickering red, why not call him by his nickname because his nickname has now been given a new meaning. Now when he is called Abu Lahab, he’s not called that because he has redish skin or he looks good, but because he’s going to be in a Lahab forever.

Wa Tab

  • The first part is Dua (May his hands be destroyed)
    • There’s no guarantee that it will happen
    • The second part – wa tab – is Khabr
      • It means that it is bound to happen. i.e. it is guaranteed to happen
      • Abu Lahab developed a very serious disease and he started developing a swelling in his body
      • His sons, servants, family, and friends all stayed away from his because they were afraid to catch the diseases from him
      • He’s dying painfully and slowly and no one is there for him
      • His corpse was lying there and no one wanted to touch it so his sons finally hire some Abyssinians who use logs to drag him into a pit and then throw stones at him to fill up his grave. They didn’t even want to touch him either.
      • Allah’s promise came true – that he would die a slow painful death.

Ayah 2:


مَا أَغْنَىٰ عَنْهُ مَالُهُ وَمَا كَسَبَ
  • His wealth and assets did not benefit him at all.
  • There are different kinds of negations in Arabic. Ex. Lam Yughni
  • The word ‘ma’ is strong: imphatic
    • It means not at all
    • It is always used to negate a countering idea.
    • He and Quraish believed that the biggest thing he had in his advantage was his wealth
    • This verse negates this belief
    • Since the past is used to guarantee something, this verse is not only saying that His wealth and assets did not benefit him at all it is also saying that it will not benefit him
    • Kasb: also includes children
      • So the ayah is also saying that your children will not benefit you either
      • Also Allah uses the third person ‘him’ instead of ‘you’.
        • Allah does not dignify him by addressing him.
        • This is a tradition of Allah against the worst Kafir
        • Wa La Yukalimullah


Abu Lahab use to take pride in two things and Allah took both of them away from him in this surah

  • His good looks (the disease he got was one of the skin)
  • And his wealth (his wealth will never benefit him)

Ayah 3:

سَيَصْلَىٰ نَارًا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ
  • The tone has changed – now the ayah speaks about the future
  • When the past tense is used it’s usually used for the immediate future, something that will happen very soon (or something that will happen in this world/dunya)
  • Maeaning of Verse: Very soon he will be cast into a flame which has the quality of red flame or flickr. This is an attack against him – you like to be called by flames? Then that’s what you’ll get.
  • The letter ‘seen’ is used here as a threat and warning

Umm Jamil:

  • She was the granddaughter of Ummayyah and the sister of Abu Sufyan
  • She had very high status and a noble lineage and she would show it off
  • She and Abu Lahab were a high class celebrity couple in Makah

She use to grab her necklace when she saw the Prophet and she would swear by Lat and Uzzah that she would spend the necklace to complete her animosity againt the Prophet.

Ayah 4:

وَامْرَأَتُهُ حَمَّالَةَ الْحَطَبِ
  • Now the surah starts talking about his wife Umm Jamil
  • The word Imra’ah
    • There are two words for wife in the Quran. Imra’ah and Zawj
    • The two functions of marriage are, one to increase good in society and decrease evil, and number two, children.
    • When any of theses things is missing Allah uses Imra’ah.
    • And when they’re both there he uses Zawj.
    • In this situation, they have harmony and children but two negatives can’t make a positive [except in math]
    • They didn’t increase good in society so Allah uses the word Imra’ah
    • Because the word Wamra’atuhu is marfoo’ (has dhamma) it is a second khabr
      • This means the ayah is saying: He will be cast into a flame and so will his wife
      • They tag team in this dunya and in the akhira
  • The word 7amalata
    • The word is mansoob (has fat7a)
    • There are 16 reasons why a word can have a fat7a on it
    • One of the reasons is shatm – condemnation/curse/anger
    • This is a way of Allah mentioning her in disgust and the disgust is captured in the fat7a
    • Allah uses 7amaalah instead of 7amilah to indicate that she will keep on carry it
    • 7amaalah comes from Fa3aalah
    • It’s also used to indicate one’s profession
    • The slave girls who use to bring in the wood were called 7amaalat al-7adab, and Umm Jamil use to think of her self as being way over them but Allah degrade her and brings her down as if to say I don’t care of your status in society. If you mess with the Prophet then you don’t deserve anything like that

Ayah 5

فِي جِيدِهَا حَبْلٌ مِّن مَّسَدٍ

  • She use to call the prophet Mudhamam (the one who is condemned)
  • She use to also make poetry against the Prophet
    • Mudhamaman Qalayna – We are tired of him (mudhamam)
    • Wa Deenahu Abayna – And his religion we have rejected
    • Wa 7ukmahu 3asayna – And his rule we will always disobey
    • The Prophet use to say that they’re making fun of someone called Mudhamam and that his name was Muhammed (someone who is praised and thanked)

When a dog is barking, there’s no wisdom in barking back

When people start talking obnoxiously and ignorantly the worst thing you can do is respond

We have to learn to recognize a bark for a bark and an intellectual criticism as an intellectual criticism

Two themes are coming to a conclusion in surah lahab

  • One theme has to do with Abu Lahab
  • The second has to do with Umm Jamil

Four different kinds of disbelievers:

1. A friendly disbeliever

  • Mu’tem bin adiyy
  • Abu Taleb

2. A noble enemy

  • He does show animosity, but if he had become Muslim, he would have been amazing
  • Abu Jahl

3.Wretched enemy but nothing personal against the Prophet

  • Utbah ibn Rabiah (the great debater)
  • Waleed ibn Mugheerah (poet)

4. Hates Islam and hates the Prophet

  • Abu Lahab

Four domestic situations for women

1. A wonderful woman with a wonderful wali (guardian)

  • Maryam

2. A wonderful woman with a terrible wali (guardian)

  • Asiyah – wife of Firown

3. A terrible woman but a wonderful wali (guardian)

  • Wives of Lut and Nuh

4. A terrible woman with a terrible wali (guardian)

  • Umm Jamil

Two negatives don’t make a positive

The worst male enemy and the worst kind of female character are both mentioned in this surah

Placement of the Surah

  • In the previous surah Allah mentions that which will benefit you in the akhirah
    • Tasbeeh and Istighfaar (glorifying Allah and asking for forgiveness)
    • In this Surah Allah tells us about what will absolutely have no benefit in the akhirah
      • Money and the things you earn
      • Allah says in surah Baqarah, “For disbelievers worldly life was beautified, and as a result they make fun of those who believe. And people who have Taqwa will be above them [not in this world] on the day of resurrection.
        • In this Surah Allah gave his messenger a gift:
        • Not only will he be above Abu Lahab in the akhirah but also in this dunya

Kataballah La’aghlibana Ana wa Rusuli (Allah has declared I will dominate, I and and my messenger)

Ghalaba: is used for victory in this world

Afla7a or Falaa7: is used for victory and success in the next world 17

  • Allah says regarding Firown, he was kept from accepting the deen/path
  • Part of the miracles in the Quran is the prediction of the quran
  • The Quran says rome will dominate in ten years, and this happened
  • In this surah Allah says Abu Lahab will be destroyed.
    • Abu Lahab was very smart and clever enemy and had a sharp tongue
    • This was one of the easiest ways the quran made itself open to attack
    • Abu Lahab could have said La ilaha ilallah
    • If he had said that, even if it was sarcastically, he could say ‘your book is saying I’m burning in hell but here I am taking shahadah and it’s suppose to protect me against the hell fire. So your book must be wrong.
    • He had many years to take this opportunity but the Quran said about Firown he was kept from accepting the deen.
    • He never took the opportunity and we learn from that he too was kept from accepting the deen.
    • This is part of the miracle of the Quran

Placement of the Quran (continued)

  • This surah comes after Surah kafiroon and Surah nasr
  • Surah Kafiroon concluded that there are two distict religions
    • Lakum deenakum wa liya deen
    • To you your religion, and to me, my religion
    • The deen of islam, and whatever you people have
    • One of them is true, and one of them is false
  • In Surah Israa’ Allah says: The truth will manifest and the falsehood will be destroyed
  • The truth will manifest
    • Idha Jaa’a nasrullah (when the victory of Allah comes)
    • Surah nasr is the fulfillment of the promise of the truth will manifest
  • Falsehood will be destroyed
    • Tabat Yada Abi Lahab
    • Surah Lahab is the fulfillment of the promise falsehood will be destroyed
  • Dr. Israr Ahmed use to say Allah plants the seed somewhere and shows the flower blooming somewhere else


One Comment
  1. June 30, 2010 12:31 pm

    This is one of the most powerful discussions I ever read today, I’m talking about this section of your article “… woman with a terrible wali (guardian)Two negatives don…t make a positive The worst male …” it causes me to feel more knowledgable after reading it.

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