The Surah Al-Masadd ("The Palm Fibre") is as follows:

May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame And his wife [as well] - the carrier of firewood. Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.

This surah tells us that Abu Lahab will go to hell. However, he was alive at the time when this surah was revelead.

  • Isn't this an interference to Abu Lahab's free will ?
  • Doesn't Allah wait till to judgement day to reveal His verdict on us ?
  • Sure He knows where we will go prior to our deaths but if the verdict is told to us before we die, then how can we talk about free will ?

So my question is, why is the verdict revealed to Abu Lahab before his death and how is this compatible with the concept of free will ?

  • As you said he had a free will and yet he did not change his beliefs neither his bad behavior. God knew he wouldn't. And it never happened. It was written and it's like a piece of the written future was revealed in the Quran and in the same time that confirms itself by him not changing by his free will.
    – Kilise
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 21:01
  • But Abu Lahab learned the verdict of Allah about him when he was alive. Can we really talk about free will after that point ?
    – SpiderRico
    Commented Mar 15, 2016 at 23:52
  • How do you define free will?
    – Kilise
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 6:13
  • The ability to act according to your own will. Now since Abu Lahab learned the decision about himself when he was alive I think this affected his later actions.
    – SpiderRico
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 14:28
  • Abu Lahab could have challenged our Prophet (PBUH) and proved that he was not a Prophet sent by Allah (SWT) and the Qur'an is just his (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) own words if he had accepted Islam after the revelation of this Surah. I know that doesn't answer your question, but it's a point worthy of pointing out.
    – Atata
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 15:44

3 Answers 3


Two essentials things:

  • Abu Lahab was a disbeliever. Regardless of whether a revelation was sent down about his destiny or not, it didn't matter. From Abu Lahab's view - the revelation was meaningless. So no, his free will was not interfered with.

  • Free Will in general is very hard to determine (no pun int). While an individual can make certain choices in his life - the set majority has already been determined. Ali Ibn Talib (RA) put it beautifully:

Once a nomad came to Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (RA), inquiring about freewill and determinism. Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (RA) asked him to stand up then asked him to lift one leg, which he did, then asked him to lift the other one, which obviously he couldn’t do. At this juncture Imam Ali Ibn abi Talib (RA) told him that this is how much freewill there is and this is how much determinism there is.

And Allah (SWT) knows best.

  • 1
    "Abu Lahab was a disbeliever. Regardless of whether a revelation was sent down about his destiny or not, it didn't matter. From Abu Lahab's view - the revelation was meaningless". This makes sense, yes.
    – SpiderRico
    Commented Mar 16, 2016 at 14:29

All praise to Allah Subhanahu wa taala and blessings on Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him His family and companions

In regard to your query it is very important to understand that why Allah Swt revealed the whole surah in refutation of him,He did not get that verdict just because he was a disbeliever and so he was punished in the world ,this is not the reason ,as he was the worshipper of Idol for so long but he was not punished by Allah Swt at that time,But when the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him specifically brought the message of Islam to his relatives as ordered by Allah Swt he shows ampudence or disrespect to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him,

Narrated Ibn `Abbas: When the Verse:-- 'And warn your tribe of near kindred.' (26.214) was revealed. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) went out, and when he had ascended As-Safa mountain, he shouted, "O Sabahah!" The people said, "Who is that?" "Then they gathered around him, whereupon he said, "Do you see? If I inform you that cavalrymen are proceeding up the side of this mountain, will you believe me?" They said, "We have never heard you telling a lie." Then he said, "I am a plain warner to you of a coming severe punishment." Abu Lahab said, "May you perish! You gathered us only for this reason? " Then Abu Lahab went away. So the "Surat:--ul--LAHAB" 'Perish the hands of Abu Lahab!' (111.1) was revealed.(Bukhari)

As stated in Hadith they all show affirmation and trust on words of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him but then denying it completely So There were others among them who were still disbeliever but Abu Lahab and His wife stances were continuous against Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and Islam ,so they were given the choices continuously to accept the truth the message of Islam which they refused by their will.Although they knew that what Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him has said it is real truth and it would really happen but still refusing.

Just imagine if some programmer creates a game ,Now a Programmer knows that if the player is going on to the ways which would lead him to the destruction although the player was given the manual before starting the game with hints and lives so that he could get into the way of destination to win but he is continuous on the wrong way so the progrmammer knows it before that he is going to lose it.

Allah Swt and His Messenger knows best.


It was more like a favor unto him instead of interfering with his free will.

If any sane person is told "You will be punished for using the internet" by the authority that has ultimate power, then that sane person would change his actions and repent.

Abu Lahab was clearly given a favor and yet he didn't avail it and he persisted in his evildoings. Surely ALLAH Azawajal knows the Past, Present and Future and beyond.

His enmity towards the Prophet Muhammad and Islam was not hidden from anyone:

When Muhammad announced that he had been instructed by God to spread the message of Islam openly, the Quran told him to warn his kinsfolk about divine punishment. He therefore climbed Mount Ṣafā and shouted: "Wa ṣabāḥah!" which means, "O calamity of the morning!" In Arabia this alarm was traditionally raised by any person who noticed an enemy tribe advancing against his own tribe at dawn.

On hearing this, the inhabitants of Mecca assembled at the mountain. Muhammad then addressed the clans by name. "O Banū Hāshim, O Banū 'Abd al-Muṭallib ... [and so on], if I were to tell you that behind this hill there is an enemy about to attack you, would you believe me?" The people responded that they would, since Muhammad was known to be honest. He continued saying: "Then I warn you that you are heading for a torment."

At this point, Abu Lahab interrupted: "Woe be on you the rest of the day! Is that what you summoned us for?"[12] Another tradition recalls Abū Lahab picking up a stone to throw at his nephew.[citation needed]

Abu Lahab said, "Muhammad promises me things which I do not see. He alleges that they will happen after my death; what has he put in my hands after that?” Then he blew on his hands and said, “May you perish. I can see nothing in you of the things that Muhammad says.”[13]

ALLAH does not like the Arrogant ones. It has been mentioned in the Quran o Sunnah.

..... Verify, ALLAH likes not the Arrogant and boaster..... (Al-Quran 31:18-19)


يُثَبِّتُ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِالْقَوْلِ الثَّابِتِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ ۖ وَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ الظَّالِمِينَ ۚ وَيَفْعَلُ اللَّهُ مَا يَشَاءُ

Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills. 14:27


إِن تَحْرِصْ عَلَىٰ هُدَاهُمْ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي مَن يُضِلُّ ۖ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن نَّاصِرِينَ

[Even] if you should strive for their guidance, [O Muhammad], indeed, Allah does not guide those He sends astray, and they will have no helpers. 16:37


6:110 And We divert their hearts and eyesight, as they did not believe in it the first time; and We leave them wandering in their transgression.


7:177 Miserable is the example of the people who denied Our revelations, and it was their souls that they had wronged.

7:178 Whoever God guides, then he is the guided one; and whoever He misguides, then these are the losers.

These ayats point out the people who have wronged and have went astray and ALLAH has let them stay that way. As clearly stated, if they deny the revelations, they will have no helpers.

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