111. Al-Masad (Ruin)
Revealed in Makkah in the early period of the Makkan era of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission, this sūrah, Al-Masad, of five verses takes its name from the verb TabBa (be ruined), in the first verse. It promises and foretells the perishing of Abū Lahab and his wife, Umm Jamīl, implying the perdition awaiting similar people.
In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.
1. May both hands of Abū Lahab be ruined, and ruined are they!1
2. His wealth has not availed him, nor his gains.
3. He will enter a flaming Fire to roast;
4. And (with him) his wife, carrier of firewood (and of evil tales and slander),
5. Around her neck will be a halter of strongly twisted rope.2
1. Abū Lahab was one of the Prophet Muhammad’s uncles. Abū Lahab, meaning the father of flame, is a nickname that was given to him while he was a child because of the rosy glow on his cheeks. He was one of the fiercest enemies of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, and Islam. Since he was an uncle of the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, he knew him very well and, therefore, was expected to believe in him. But he stubbornly rejected him and actively opposed him. He cursed him, saying: May your hands ruin, meaning “May you be left with no good at all and perish!” So because of his limitless enmity, the Qur’ān designated him as the Father of the Flame, signifying that he was one destined to be among those who would suffer the greatest torment in Hellfire, and foretold that he would perish without accepting faith and be left without any good. It happened just as the Qur’ān foretold. He died in great sorrow when he learned that the Makkan army had been badly defeated at the Battle of Badr. Because of his illness, which was very contagious, no one dared to approach his body to bury it. After a few days, they dug a pit and, pushing his body with long cudgels into it, buried his corpse with stones they threw over it from some distance away.
2. Abū Lahab’s wife, Arwā Umm Jamīl, was no less than her husband in her enmity to the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. She scattered thorns along the Messenger’s way and in front of his house. She also slandered him and the Message he brought, with a view to kindling flames of hatred and enmity against him and his followers. So the Qur’ān announces the type of punishment that she would be given in Hell. She will both burn in the Hellfire and carry the wood of her fire around her neck, the part of her body where she wore precious necklaces.