الآية رقم (5) - فِي جِيدِهَا حَبْلٌ مِّن مَّسَدٍ

(5) - (Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber. (5))

The old Arabs used to talk about the neck to describe its beauty and characteristics whereas here this neck is ornamented with a rope of fibre which is naturally rough, so can you imagine how it will be when twisted as rope around the neck!

As such, let us contemplate this Surah and how its images carry insult and humiliation after being in a high and noble status, as the recompense will be of the same type of the deed.

The rope that Um Jamil used to tie the pile of wood to harm the Prophet (saws) became a collar around her neck. Additionally, Abu Lahab who had a reddish skin will be entered to burn in a fire of blazing flame.

So, the phrases and the words are uniformly homogeneous with the performance of the meanings desired in a miraculous coincidence and a wonderful description.

 

الآية رقم (4) - وَامْرَأَتُهُ حَمَّالَةَ الْحَطَبِ

(4) - (And his wife [as well] - the carrier of firewood. (4))

His wife, Um Jamil, had very high status and a noble lineage. Her name is Arwa Bint Harb Bint Umayyah, sister of Abu Sufyan.

She has not sufficed with her husbands’ animus acts towards the Prophet (saws) and his message, rather, she played a very big role in confronting and harming the Prophet (saws) and his message depending on her husband’s wealth and on her brother’s high rank in Quraysh. So, she did not refrain from her hatred and animosity against the Prophet (saws).

Some scholars said that she was in reality a carrier of wood; Abu Lahab was the neighbour of Prophet’s (saws). Um Jamil used to carry firewood and throw them in the path of the Prophet (saws) to harm him.

Other scholars interpreted that (carrying of firewood) is a metaphor of tattling as she was indeed practicing it, hence, as if she was carrying the wood to burn herself and people around her, as she was known of being envious, malevolent, and backbiter, which are of the most serious reasons to cause animosity between people.

الآية رقم (3) - سَيَصْلَى نَارًا ذَاتَ لَهَبٍ

(3) - (He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame. (3))

These scenes can be only seen on the Last Day. Allah (swt) makes what we actually see in life a proof about the truthfulness of what we have not seen of the hereafter matters. Since this speech is about the future, (will) is used.

This is Allah’s wisdom, that is to set forward the perceptual sensible matter to as a proof of the followed unseen one. Hence, the two first verses refer to issues in life while this third one is an indication about the hereafter.

الآية رقم (2) - مَا أَغْنَى عَنْهُ مَالُهُ وَمَا كَسَبَ

(2) - (His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. (2))

The wealth and the gains are mentioned because he was arrogant with them, he used to say: If what my nephew say is true, I will redeem myself with my money and children. Thus Allah (swt) answered back with this saying that his wealth will not avail him or save him from the Allah’s punishment.

The scholars have two opinions about this verse: First, money is the origin that a person possesses then comes the gains and profits. The second opinion is that the gain means children according to the Prophet’s (saws) hadith:

“The Messenger of Allah said: “The best (most Pure) food that a man eats is that which he has earned himself, and a man’s child (and his child’s wealth) is part of his earnings”[1]

Then the Surah moves to talk about the retribution in the hereafter:

[1] Sunan Abi Dawood, hadith No. 3528.

الآية رقم (1) - تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

(1) - (May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. (1))

تَبَّتْ (be ruined): Be broken apart and destructed.

The hands symbolize the man as a whole because most of the human’s deeds are done by his hands. For that, Allah (swt) says:

   ذَٰلِكَ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ  ﴿

 (That is for what your hands have put forth.) (Ali-Imran: 182)

Abu Lahah is the uncle of the Prophet (saws) and his real name is Abdul Uzzah. He was called so because he had reddish face but he is called in this Surah by his nickname because he is going to be in the fire forever so that his nickname matched his destiny.

This verse is not an invocation because Allah’s (swt) command definitely comes true and is fulfilled does not need anyone else to fulfill it, the proof of this is Allah’s (swt) saying (and ruined is he), indeed, it really happened and was fulfilled accordingly.

In life his destruction cut him off although he was one of the most famous and wealthiest people in Makkah but he dies in a humiliating way that cannot be imagined to happen for the lowest ranked and positioned in Makkah society. Abu Rafi’, the Prophet’s (saws) servant, narrated what happened to Abi Lahab:

(Allah stroke him by so-called Al-Adassa disease and killed him. His two sons kept his dead body for two or three days until the dead body started to stink. One day, a Qurayshi man said to his sons, “Woe on you! Shame on you! Your father’s dead body began to stink in your house” They said, “We are afraid of his disease!”. Quraysh was avoiding this disease of “Addasah” same as avoiding the plague. The man said, “Come on! I will help you.” He said: I swear by Allah, they washed him by sprinkling some water from distance. Then, they dragged it to the upper part of Makkah and buried the body there. Then, they covered it with stones.)[1]

Thus, Allah’s promise was fulfilled in life before the hereafter.

The reason of this Surah’s revelation: When the verse of:

   وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ﴿

 (And warn, [O Muhammad], your closest kindred.) (Ash-Shuara: 214)

was revealed, the Prophet (saws) ascended Safa mountain and said, “Oh Sabah! “ All the Quraish gathered round him and said, “What is the matter?” He said, Look, if I told you that an enemy is going to attack you in the morning or in the evening, would you not believe me?” They said, “Yes, we will believe you.” He said, “I am a warner to you in face of a terrible punishment.” On that Abu Lahab said, “May you perish! Is it for this thing that you have gathered us?” So Allah revealed: ‘Perish the hands of Abu Lahab!…”[2]

[1] Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabeer, Hadith No. 916.

[2] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 4687.

تفسير سورة المسد

Surah Al-Masad

The noble Surahs continue their trip in breaking through the future. In previous Surahs, the speech was about the Kawthar, which Allah (swt) has favoured His Prophet (saws) with, and that his enemy is the one cut off, and told us about the victory He (swt) granted to His Prophet (saws) in life, Allah (swt) then, in this Surah, gives an example of the enemies of the Prophet (saws). Allah (swt) willed to choose a person who hated the Prophet (saws) and his (saws) calling and was in clash with from the beginning and on. Allah (swt) chose this person from the Prophet’s (saws) close relatives; his uncle Abu Lahab, about whom these verses were revealed and are to be recited till the Day of Judgement.

Allah (swt) promised Abu Lahab in the hereafter with destruction and punishment while at the time when he was still alive and had the opportunity to enter Islam, but Allah (swt) Who the Holy Qur’an is His speech and the One Who has the knowledge of the future and the unseen, has willed that Abu Lahab would never believe nor even would it occur to his mind to believe.

That is because Abu Lahab has not only disbelieved the Prophet (saws) but transgressed in his disbelief and his wife as well did. Abu Lahab averted people from the way of Allah saying to them about the Prophet (saws): Do not believe him, he is a liar. This man always used to stand against the Prophet (saws) and accusing him of lying, even when the Prophet (saws) was under siege in the valley of Abi Talib, not anyone of Bani Hashim accepted this except Abu Lahab who agreed to isolate Bani Hashim although he belongs to them.

Accordingly, this Surah was revealed talking about this situation and deciding the ruling against Abu Lahab and his wife in advance.