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The Quran => General Discussions => : Adil Husain August 24, 2012, 09:36:13 PM

: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: Adil Husain August 24, 2012, 09:36:13 PM
Salamun alaikum forum members ,

It is a commonly asked question by Hadith follower Muslims that how this verse can be understood using Quran alone?.

تَبَّتْ يَدَا أَبِي لَهَبٍ وَتَبَّ

111:1 Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! (Yusuf Ali)

111:1 The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. (Pickthall)

111:1    Perdition overtake both hands of Abu Lahab, and he will perish. (Shakir)

Who was Abu lahab ?

Thank You.
: Re: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: Mubashir August 25, 2012, 06:16:27 PM

We may find several version of the stories behind these ayahs. However, the lesson learnt here is that those who oppose Allah and His Messenger were condemned.

That is good enough for some of us!!
: Re: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: Sardar Miyan August 26, 2012, 03:15:10 AM
Some brother may kindly answer who is Abu Lahab? Zaid is another.
: Re: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: Wakas August 28, 2012, 10:18:12 PM

"abu lahab" literally means "father (of) flame", i.e. provocateur, a metaphor for the originator of fire/hate/destruction.

Now put this into the verse and re-read it please.

In my view, it is referring to an archetype, as Quran does in many places. It is an excellent play on words, as essentially one will get what they give, i.e. law of requital, and in these verses "abu lahab" ends up in the "lahab/flame" in 111:3. The "wife" (or metaphorically, the accomplice) adds fuel to this fire, and in 111:5 it says "in/on "her" neck will be a rope from twisted fibre", suggesting whoever adds fuel to the fire, their fate is intertwined, with the father of flame. The neck is used in Quran as a symbol to tie one's deeds/fate to, e.g. 17:13.

And lastly, as we all know from Traditional Islamic sources, that "Abu Lahab" was apparently a nicname, yet we are told not to call each other by nicnames in 49:11, so is God using a nicname in 111:1?

The only way out of this possible contradiction is to say "Abu Lahab" is not derogatory, it is complimentary! For example, see Asad's notes:

Muhammad Asad - End Note 1 (111:1)
The real name of this uncle of the Prophet was Abd al-Uzza. He was popularly nicknamed Abu Lahab (lit., "He of the Flame") on account of his beauty, which was most notably expressed in his glowing countenance (Baghawi, on the authority of Muqatil; Zamakhshari and Razi passsim in their comments on the above verse; Fath al-Bari VIII, 599), Since this nickname, or kunyah appears to have been applied to him even before the advent of Islam, there is no reason to suppose that it had a pejorative significance. - The expression "hands" in the above clause is, in accordance with classical Arabic usage, a metonym for "power", alluding to the great influence which Abu Lahab wielded.

I will let readers decide on that aspect.

And lastly, even if it was referring to one specific person, it is unnecessary to determine who this person is, it adds nothing critically important.
: Re: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: HOPE August 28, 2012, 10:50:31 PM

You are right, we or I cannot understand everything I read in the Quran because I'm limited by my knowledge of certain events, historical facts or science.  If I feel a need to be more informed, I will refer to secondary or even tertiary sources till my heart is content.  This does not mean Quran is not sufficient or detailed enough compared to human authored books.  Quran is a reminder, wisdom in which there is no doubt. It is the only source for guidance and salvation.  The rest is trivial.  It does not matter who Abu Lahab is for your guidance but it does not hurt to check it out in a history book.  What is important is how you correlate that information with what you need to know as brothers previously stated.
: Re: Understanding 111:1 of Quran without using secondary Islamic sources?
: Joseph Islam August 28, 2012, 11:23:51 PM
Salamun Alaikum all,

I would humbly be inclined to concur with the general views of the forum members on this thread.

I have a somewhat related article of interest which I share below.