The very early revealed Meccan Surah Al-Lahab (The Flame) referred in the first order to a particular incident of a vindictive and persistent harassment. However, it also carries a general lesson that cruelty finally ruins itself. The person who rages against holy things is ultimately burnt up in his own rage. His hands which are the instruments of his deeds will perish and he perishes himself. Hence, neither his position nor his boasted wealth will be able to rescue him.
Throughout their lives, Abu Lahab and his wife, both respective uncle and aunt of the Holy Prophet, did many awful and astonishing things to Prophet Mohammad (Pbuh) and his companions. They tried in every way they can to make the life of the Prophet miserable. In fact, Abu Lahab is the only person mentioned in the Holy Quran particularly by name for punishment by Almighty Allah.
Abu Lahab’s wife used to get up early morning just to collect thorns to put in front of the house of the Prophet. It is also narrated that she wanted to sell a valuable necklace which she possessed just to use the money received from the sale to harm the Prophet in every possible way. Almighty Allah says in this particular Surah that rather than a necklace, she will have a rough rope around her neck in hell. This surah is also known as Al-Masad (The Palm Leaf).
“Perish the hands of the Father of Flame! Perish he! No profit to him from all his wealth, and all his gains! Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of blazing Flame!” Verses 1-3
The nick name “Father of Flame” was given to Abu Lahab due his flaming hot temper and his reddish skin tone. Abu Lahab, one of the most entrenched opponents of early Islam, used to curse the Holy Prophet when the latter called the Quraish and his own family to come and listen to his preaching. But Abu Lahab’s words, power and strength were all vain as the futile curse will not come. Instead, the star of Islam rose higher and higher every day and the oppressors dwindled in force and supremacy.
It is said that many heads of persecution perished at Badr warfare and Abu Lahab himself perished a week after Badr as he was overwhelmed with misery of his own blazing obsessions. Hence, verse 3 “Burnt soon will he be in a Fire of blazing Flame” was prophetic of his end in this present life, although it also refers to the Hereafter.
“His wife shall carry the (crackling) wood as fuel! A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre round her (own) neck!” Verses 4-5
The wife of Abu Lahab was a woman of similarly zealous spite and cruelty against the Prophet. It is said that in order to cause body harm to the Prophet, she used to tie bundles of thorns with ropes of twisted palm leaf fibre. She carried the bundles and strewed them about on dark nights in the passageways which the Prophet was likely to take. Her other vices were also carrying tales between people to enmesh them. In so doing she was laying up for herself another type of Fire and Rope; the Fire of Punishment and the Rope of Slavery to Evil.
Thus Evil does arrange its own doom. It is generally known that spiteful wrong doing recoil on the wrong doer’s head. The common experience is that generally people perish by the very means by which they seek out to destroy others.
Reference: “The Holy Quran” translation by A. Yusuf Ali
“The Quran in Plain English” by Iman Torres- Al Haneef