. Surah 111-Al-Masad
. In The Name of Allah, the Compassion, the Compassionate

The Rope

(1) Doomed are the deeds of the propagator of the Fire as indeed he is doomed himself.

(2) His riches and acquired wealth shall not save him from the evil consequences of his deeds.

(3) Inevitably he shall burn in a scorching Fire,

(4) And his wife who carries the firewood

(5) Shall be drawn to her doom by a rope around her neck


This Surah was inspired in Mecca in the early days of Islam.  The second Ayah refers to the propagator of the Fire, interpreted above in a more generalized sense, to the specific person of “Abu Lahab”.

Abu Lahab was Prophet Muhammad’s , God bless his soul, uncle.  He was a very wealthy and influential person in Mecca.  His real name was Abdul Uzza Bin Abed Al-Muttalib.  He could not believe that his own nephew had a message for humanity from God.  He burnt with jealousy and envy.  He was very adamant in his disbelief in the person of Muhammad, bless his soul, and the message of Islam.  He was very arrogant in his wealth and power.  He thought his possessions made him extremely superior over others who were less fortunate. 

Abu Lahab earned his nickname from his fiery temper and ruddy complexion.  “Lahab” in Arabic literally translates to “flames of fire”.  Abu is the “father of” or the person that people have ascribed to certain traits or the person who’s become known by a certain distinctive mark.  Thus, the Qura’n refers to Abu Lahab by his nickname and not by his real name because it is Abu Lahab’s character and behavior that is to be studied.  It is not the person per se that is so important that earned him a special recognition in the Qur’an.

Abu Lahab was exceptional in his devotion to the enmity of Muhammad, bless his soul.  The closeness of the blood relationship between them never stopped him from defaming his own nephew.  Abu Lahab had three sons; Utba, Mua’tab and Utaiba.  Utba and Utaiba were married to the Prophet’s daughters; Ruqayya and Um-Kulthoum.  Abu Lahab made his two sons divorce their wives as a punishment to Muhammad, bless his soul.

Before divorcing Um-Kulthoum, Utaiba wanted to defame the Prophet and the words of the Qur’an.  He faced Muhammad, bless his soul, and uttered words that played on the rhyme of the Ayahs that start Surah 53-Al-Najm (The Star).  The words, although rhymed with the Ayahs meant the total opposite.  Then, he spat after saying his sentences and thus showing the Prophet, bless his soul, his deep despise for the Qur’an.  Utaiba, then, divorced the Prophet’s daughter at this public setting.  This action angered Muhammad, bless his soul, who prayed that God send after him a vicious dog to destroy his life like he destroyed Um-Kulthoum’s life without mercy.  Years later, Utaiba was eaten alive by a lion, and that’ how he perished without ever joining Islam.

As for Utba and Mua’tab, they declared their Islam the day Mecca surrendered to the muslim army. 

Abu Lahab’s late years in life were totally dedicated to the destruction of Muhammad, bless his soul, and his message.  A story is told that earlier on when the Prophet, bless his soul, began his message, Abu Lahab challenged that if Muhammad’s message were to be true he was never to go to hell any way.  Abu Lahab said that he could always sacrifice his money and children to protect him from hell and suffering.  He truly believed that superiority was only attained through money and power.  Furthermore, he believed that he was superior to Muhammad, bless his soul, and thus, he could never follow the words or the message of someone below him.

Abu Lahab and his wife, Um-Jameel, were so dedicated to torturing Muhammad and persecuting his followers.  They made it their life’s obsession.  Um-Jameel, on a nightly basis, gathered prickly wood and thorns and bundled them with rope and carried them with the rope around her neck.  She spread these thorns in Muhammad’s path especially in dark nights to injure him.  The couple set an example of hatred towards the Prophet, bless his soul.

Abu Lahab and his wife exercised their hatred for a long time while the Prophet lived in his own home town of Mecca.  They practiced their evil upon the Prophet and his followers for over thirteen years till the battle of Badr, the first military confrontation between Qureish (Mecca’s tribes) and muslims.  Abu Lahab contracted an infectious disease after the battle and died seven days later.  His own family was scared to come close to the rotting body as it began to smell three days later.  So, they pushed Abu Lahab’s body with sticks into a hole in the ground and threw stones into the hole to bury him.  That was his hellish end in life and surely he did not fare much better in the hereafter.

So much attention was given to the character of Abu Lahab in the Qur’an by devoting an entire Surah.  It is the character of burning hate and jealousy.  It describes in a way the destructive behavior of hatred.  All that torment and persecution of Muhammad, bless his soul, and his followers were finally reflected in the fate of the perpetrator.  Divine justice will always prevail even if humanity can not administer civil justice. 

.. .Ibrahim AbuNab (1931-1991)