Abu Lahab in the Holy Quran


    Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra

    With reference to the second verse of Surah al-Lahab:

    تَبَّتۡ یَدَاۤ اَبِیۡ لَہَبٍ وَّ تَبَّ

    “Perished be the two hands of Abu Lahab, and so perish he”, one may consider this to merely denote the paternal uncle of the Holy Prophetsa, Abu Lahab.

    Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra gave the following explanation with regard to this verse and chapter:

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    In [this] Surah, “Abu Lahab” does not signify a person, rather it points towards that nation which will prevail over the world in the latter days and will ignite the flames of animosity against the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, or Islam; or they will create such inventions that produce fire or flames. Then, this nation will gather neighbouring nations alongside them and strengthen their bloc. These nations will resemble his [Abu Lahab’s] hands.

    Upon observation, we realise that there are two such blocs in the current era that are united against the Holy Prophetsa or Islam. One bloc consists of some Western powers, while the other bloc has some Eastern powers along with allies.

    “Abu Lahab” here points towards these two blocs. They are like Abu Lahab apparently as their complexion is reddish white, and also intrinsically, for they are working on creating atom bombs and hydrogen bombs, which will result in fire and flames.

    Another way they resemble Abu Lahab is that eventually, they will be enveloped in the fire of warfare. They kindled a fire by producing harmful literature against Prophet Muhammadsa and this is another warrant for their being likened to Abu Lahab. In the verse:

    تَبَّتۡ یَدَاۤ اَبِیۡ لَہَبٍ وَّ تَبَّ

    “Perished be the two hands of Abu Lahab, and so perish he”, the past tense has been used. However, in Arabic, to express the certainty and conviction of an incident about to occur, the past tense is used. In other words, what is being said here is, “Consider this done.”

    Therefore, tabbat [he perished] here means that it is a fact that they shall perish, and their task of annihilating Islam shall not be accomplished. Another point worth noting is that the verse under discussion mentions the destruction of Abu Lahab’s hands, whereas later, his own destruction is foretold. It is clear from this fact that the ones who were to later be termed as “Abu Lahab” – i.e. Western and Eastern powers – would both try and gather as many nations under their umbrella and those nations would unite together and serve their respective bloc as its hands.

    The “Abu Lahab” nations would take pride in these blocs and count them among its strengths. However, Allah will create such means that first, the helpers will be destroyed and then, he who is worthy of being called “Abu Lahab” and the nucleus of these nations will be destroyed.

    Another sublime point which must be mentioned here is that when the ahadith mention those schemes that will rise up against Islam, they also mention that in the midst of this mischief, the Almighty Allah would send the Promised Messiah who would challenge those evils, but through prayer, as it is mentioned:

    لا يدان لاحد لقتالهم

    “No one shall be able to fight them.” (Mishkat, Kitab-ul-Fitan)

    Material arsenal will not be effective in challenging these anti-Islamic peoples as the Muslims would be weak and feeble, but Allah will listen to the prayers of the Promised Messiah; He will create such circumstances that just as salt dissolves in water, these anti-Islamic forces will rise up against one another and be the cause of each other’s destruction.

    The Holy Quran has interpreted the allies of the nations worthy of being called “Abu Lahab” as “hands” and has said:

    تَبَّتۡ یَدَاۤ اَبِیۡ لَہَبٍ

    “Perished be the two hands of Abu Lahab”. In a hadith, where the revolts of the latter days have been mentioned, the word “yadaan” [two hands] has been used. This tells us that Allah the Almighty had given news to the Holy Prophetsa of the coming trials in the latter days within his Ummah and had told him that it would not be possible to overcome the forces foretold in Surah al-Lahab through physical power.

    It is for this reason that the Holy Prophetsa said:

    لا يدان لاحد لقتالهم

    “No one shall be able to fight them.” Thus, the verse:

    تَبَّتۡ یَدَاۤ اَبِیۡ لَہَبٍ وَّ تَبَّ

    “Perished be the two hands of Abu Lahab, and so perish he” has the prophecy contained in it that the nations who attack Islam and the peoples who rise in favour of such nations will all see the pit of destruction and will not be able to destroy Islam.”

    (Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih IIra, Tafsir-e-Kabir, Vol. 10, pp. 510-511)

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