Abu Lahab

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Abū lahab ibn 'Abd al-Muṭṭalib
Born ʿAbd al-ʿUzzā ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib
c. 549
Died c. 624 (aged 74-75)
Residence Mecca
Occupation Major Chief of Quraysh
Predecessor Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib
Successor Abu Sufyan
Spouse Umm Jamil bint Harb
Children Utaybah bin Abu Lahab
Utbah ibn Abi Lahab
Mutaib bin Abu Lahab
Durrah bint Abu Lahab
Uzzā bint Abu Lahab
Khālida bint Abi Lahab
Parents Abdul Muttalib (father)
Lubnā bint Hājar (mother)
Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib
Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib

Abu Lahab ibn 'Abdul Muttalib (أبو لهب) was a half paternal uncle of Muhammad, a leader of the Quraysh, and a staunch critic of Islam. He is one of the few Arabs alive during Muhammad's period of revelations to be mentioned by name in the Qur'an.

In the Qur'an

The 111st chapter of the Qur'an is variously titled Masad and Lahab, and is entirely about the fiery fate of Abu Lahab and his wife.

The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish.

His wealth and gains will not exempt him.

He will be plunged in flaming Fire,

And his wife, the wood-carrier,

Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.

The following Hadith provide historical context for the revelation of Surah 111:

Narrated Ibn Abbas: When the Verse:--'And warn your tribe of near-kindred, was revealed, the Prophet ascended the Safa (mountain) and started calling, "O Bani Fihr! O Bani 'Adi!" addressing various tribes of Quraish till they were assembled. Those who could not come themselves, sent their messengers to see what was there. Abu Lahab and other people from Quraish came and the Prophet then said, "Suppose I told you that there is an (enemy) cavalry in the valley intending to attack you, would you believe me?" They said, "Yes, for we have not found you telling anything other than the truth." He then said, "I am a warner to you in face of a terrific punishment." Abu Lahab said (to the Prophet) "May your hands perish all this day. Is it for this purpose you have gathered us?" Then it was revealed: "Perish the hands of Abu Lahab (one of the Prophet's uncles), and perish he! His wealth and his children will not profit him...." (111.1-5)

Allegedly falsifiable prophecy

Sometimes it is claimed that Abu Lahab could have destroyed the credibility of Muhammad and the Quran by converting or pretending to do so after the above-quoted surah had been revealed. However, critics point out that there are two obvious flaws in this suggestion. Firstly, the surah does not state that Abu Lahab will never believe, but only that he is destined to be plunged into hell when he dies, which is unfalsifiable. If instead the prophecy is taken to imply Abu Lahab's continuing non-belief, then the believers would have called his bluff if he claimed to believe. They would simply ask Abu Lahab, "How can you possibly believe in the truth of a book which contains a prophecy that you will never do so?" Indeed, interpreted as a prophecy about his continuing non-belief, it is self-fulfilling. His conversion would automatically negate the book he would claim to now believe in, making such a belief impossible for him.


Abu Lahab's wife Umm Jamil bint Harb (أم جميل بنت حرب‎) finds mention in the following narration:

Narrated Jundub bin Sufyan: Once Allah's Apostle became sick and could not offer his night prayer (Tahajjud) for two or three nights. Then a lady (the wife of Abu Lahab) came and said, "O Muhammad! I think that your Satan has forsaken you, for I have not seen him with you for two or three nights!" On that Allah revealed: 'By the fore-noon, and by the night when it darkens, your Lord (O Muhammad) has neither forsaken you, nor hated you.' (93.1-3)

Abu Lahab's daughter Durrah and son 'Utbah both converted to Islam.

'Utbah married Muhammad's daughter Ruqayyah, and Utaibah, another one of Abu Lahab's sons, married Muhammad's daughter Umm Kulthum. However, neither marriage was consummated.[1] Abu Lahab's daughter Durrah married Muhammad's adopted son Zaid ibn Haritha, though this marriage ended in divorce.[2] It is not known when this divorce occurred, but Durrah later married Ḥārith ibn Naufal of Banu Hāshim and, when he died, married she married Dihya ibn Khalifa.[3]

Freeing his slave girl Thuwayba, Muhammad's wet-nurse

Abu Lahab is also noted for having freed Muhammad's wet-nurse, who had previously been Abu Lahab's slave:

Narrated Um Habiba: (the wife of the Prophet) I said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Will you marry my sister, the daughter of Abu Sufyan." The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Do you like that?" I said, "Yes, for I am not your only wife, and the person I like most to share the good with me, is my sister." He said, "That is not lawful for me." I said, "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! We have heard that you want to marry Durra, the daughter of Abu Salama." He said, "You mean the daughter of Um Salama?" I said, "Yes." He said, "Even if she were not my stepdaughter, she is unlawful for me, for she is my foster niece. Thuwaiba suckled me and Abu Salama. So you should not present to me your daughters and sisters." Narrated 'Urwa: Thuwaiba had been a slave girl whom Abu Lahab had emancipated.


  1. Ibn Saad/Bewley vol. 8 p. 25.
  2. Muhammad ibn Saad, Tabaqat vol. 3. Translated by Bewley, A. (2013). The Companions of Badr p. 32. London: Ta-Ha Publishers.
  3. Ibn Saad/Bewley vol. 8 p. 37.