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Abu Lahab’s Torture Will NOT Be Lessened in Hellfire

 

Praise be to Allah the Creator of all creations. He exists without a place and does not need any of His creations. We ask Allah to raise the rank of our beloved Master, Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam) and his kind ‘Al and companions.

 

The Facts

Know that Allah mentioned in the Qur’an that torture for blasphemers in Hellfire will not be lessened or reduced; this is mentioned in the Qur’an under many ayahs. In clear and explicit terms the Qur’an mentions that the severity of the torture destined for blasphemers will vary from one blasphemer to another, but that destined severity will not be lessened; not even for the relatives of Prophet Muhammad who died on blasphemy.

 

The Prophet relayed that among the blasphemers in Hellfire, his uncle Abu Talib،،،, will receive the least severe of torture. But, contrary to what some people claim, that torture will not be lessened for Abu Talib, nor will the degree of torture willed for the Prophet’s other blasphemous uncle, Abu Lahab be lessened.

 

The Issue

Some people claim the contrary, going against the rule of the sound mind, the Qur’an and the scholarly consensus.

 

It is narrated in al-Athar that: “If bad innovations and corrupt beliefs emerge before a scholar and he remains idle (doesn't warn against them), Allah will damn him”. As well, Abu ^Aliyy ad-Daqqaq said: “The one who abstains from defending the truth is a mute devil”.

 

Hence, this response is an Islamic obligation and follows the practice of scholars of Islam in elucidating the truth while warning and advising the misguided and the unaware.

 

The False Belief

During recitations of the Mawlid and on other Islamic occasions, some people narrate that the torture for Abu Lahab will be reduced every Monday. They falsely believe Abu Lahab will receive this concession because he was so happy about the birth of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam), that he freed his slave woman.

 

In today’s version of the story some people say that after Abu Lahab freed her, someone saw Abu Lahab in a dream saying that his torture in Hellfire is lessened every Monday because he freed his slave woman in joy of the Prophet’s birth. In a more elaborate version of the story, some claim that, ‘every Monday, Abu Lahab will drink in Hellfire satisfying water from between his fingers’.

 

The Rational Response

This dream does not qualify as a credible Islamic evidence for several rational reasons. First, the story in Arabic below taken from Sahih al-Bukhariyy is not a hadith of the Prophet (sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam), but merely a narration of a dream.

الأثر ذكره البخاري عن عروة ونصه :"  قَالَ عُرْوَةُ : وثُوَيْبَةُ مَوْلاةٌ لأبِي لَهَبٍ كَانَ أَبُو لَهَبٍ أَعْتَقَهَا فَأَرْضَعَتْ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم. فَلَمَّا مَاتَ أَبُو لَهَبٍ أُرِيَهُ بَعْضُ أَهْلِهِ بِشَرِّ حِيبَةٍ قَالَ لَهُ مَاذَا لَقِيتَ قَالَ أَبُو لَهَبٍ لَمْ أَلْقَ بَعْدَكُمْ غَيْرَ أَنّي سُقِيتُ فِي هَذِهِ بِعَتَاقَتِي ثُوَيْبَةَ ".اهـ من البخاري.

In context, the narration clearly shows that ^Urwah is relaying that someone saw Abu Lahab in a dream saying: “I have not gained any good after leaving you (i.e., after death) except that I get less torture on Mondays for liberating Thuwaybah (i.e., his slave woman)”.

 

In this narration, ^Urwah did not mention who saw the dream. However, some narrations mention that Al-^Abbas is the one who saw the dream. But, none of the authentic scripts mention that Al-^Abbas said he saw Abu Lahab in Hellfire. Also, nowhere is it mentioned that any part of the dream refers to Hellfire, or that Al-^Abbas interpreted the dream in terms of a lessened form of torture in Hellfire.

 

Secondly, one cannot use a dream such as this to establish an Islamic rule, especially because the narrator - ^Urwah, did not mention a chain of narration leading to Al-^Abbas. So, the story lacks authenticity.

 

Thirdly, this story was not relayed to the Prophet (sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam), in case it might be worthy of his commendation.

 

Lastly, in the narration of the dream, there is no mention that ‘torture in Hellfire’ will be lessened. Rather, the narrator meant that something will be lessened every Monday. It may refer to the torture in the grave – a temporary abode before blasphemers enter Hellfire forever in the Hereafter.

 

The Qur’anic Response

More importantly, all the verses in the Qur’an relevant to this matter negate the claim that torture will be reduced for Abu Lahab (or any other blasphemer) in Hellfire every Monday (or any other day), including ayah 36 of Surat Fatir:

 

[وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا لَهُمْ نَارُ جَهَنَّمَ لا يُقْضَى عَلَيْهِمْ فَيَمُوتُوا وَلا يُخَفَّفُ عَنْهُمْ مِنْ عَذَابِهَا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي كُلَّ كَفُورٍ] {فاطر:36}

 

This ayah means: [To those who blasphemed will be the torture of Hellfire. They will not die from the severe torture and the torture of Hellfire will not be lessened for them. Such will be the torture of every blasphemer].

 

The Scholarly Response

The credible Islamic scholars formed a consensus on this matter which Qadi ^Iyad relayed. He said in “Ikmalul-Mu^allim bi Fawa’idi Muslim” (vol. 1, p. 597):

قال القاضي عياض في  إكمال المُعلم بفوائد مسلم [ ج1/597 ] : " وقد انعقد الإجماع على أن الكفار لا تنفعهم أعمالهم، ولا يثابون عليها بنعيم ولا تخفيف عذاب، لكن بعضهم أشد عذابًا من بعض ".اهـ .

This means: “The scholarly consensus (Ijma^) has been affirmed over the judgement that the blasphemers will not benefit from their good deeds (in the Hereafter), and they will not be rewarded for them, neither by enjoyment nor by a reduction of their torture. However, the torture of some will be more severe than others”.

 

Hafidh Ibn Hajar al-^Asqalaniyy is among the many credible scholars who also refuted the story about the dream.

 

Al-^Asqalaniyy quoted Qadi ^Iyad’s statement about the consensus in his explanation of Sahih al-Bukhariyy (vol. 9), book of ‘Marriage’, chapter on ‘Nursing’. There, al-^Asqalaniyy argues that the story is an unreliable dream and opposes the clear verses of the Qur’an:

: "(لكنه مخالف لظاهر القرءان) قال الله تعالى: "وَقَدِمْنَا إلى مَا عَمِلوا مِنْ عَمَلٍ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا" (سورة الفرقان / ءاية: 23)، وأجيب أولا بأن الخبر مرسل أرسله عروة ولم يذكر من حدثه به وعلى تقدير أن يكون موصولا فالذي في الخبر رؤيا منام فلا حجة فيه ولعل الذي رآها لم يكن إذ ذاك أسلم بعدُ فلا يحتج به" إ.هـ، ثم نقل عن القاضي عياض: "الإجماع على أن أعمال الكفار لا تنفعهم ولا يثابون عليها بنعيم ولا تخفيف عذاب وإن كان بعضهم أشد عذابًا من بعض" إ.هـ.

This means: “The story opposes the apparent meanings of all relevant ayahs in the Qur’an. In Surat Al-Furqan, ayah 23 means: [We shall turn to their deeds (on the Day of Judgement) and make them as scattered as the dust particles]. I also point out that the story is (mursal) narrated by a Follower without mentioning the Companion. It was relayed by ^Urwah without a chain of narration. But, presuming a chain of narration exists, the issue will remain that the news is a story of someone’s dream. Thus, it is not a reliable Islamic source of evidence.”

 

In support of the scholars Qadi ^Iyad and Al-^Asqalaniyy is, Imam Shehabud-Din Abul-^Abbas Ahmad Ibn Muhammad ash-Shafi^iyy, al-Qastalaniyy.

 

In his book ‘Irshadus-Sari, which is an explanation of ‘Sahih al-Bukhariyy’, in the chapter on ‘Marriage’ (p.11), al-Qastalaniyy also quoted ayah 23 of Surat Al-Furqan, and said: “This ayah proves that the claim that, blasphemers will benefit from their good deeds is rejected”.

 

Al-Qastalaniyy also argued that: “Though the story is relayed by ^Urwah, he did not say who reported this story to him. And even if this story did have a chain of narrators, it is still not reliable to prove anything, because it is a dream. As such, it cannot be used to affirm an Islamic judgment”.

 

Given such credible evidences drawn from the rational proof, the Qur’an, the consensus that Qadi ^Iyad relayed and the refutations of al-^Asqalaniyy and al-Qastalaniyy, how could one rely on a dream and claim that “Abu Lahab will drink in Hellfire satisfying water from between his fingers every Monday”?

 

Warning

To the seeker of knowledge, remember what many scholars of hadith said, including Hafidh al-Khatib al-Baghdadiyy who stated in his book, ‘al-Faqih and al-Mutafaqqih’: ‘If the text opposes the sound mind, Qur’anic text, or Mutawatir hadith, and cannot have a valid interpretation, then this text is false’.

 

This was also mentioned by other jurisprudents and scholars of ‘Usul, in their books such as, Tajud-Din as-Subkiyy in ‘Jam^ul-Jawami^’, and al-Bayhaqiyy, amongst others.

 

So, do not allow such stories based on dreams to sway you or make you doubt the truth, even if you see them published in a book or heard them from someone who disguises himself with the attire of the people of knowledge.

 

Do not even be fooled by people who claim this story is authentic or that it was narrated by so and so, or that it is quoted in some books of hadith.

And, do not be bothered by those who try to support their case by saying, ‘Al-^Abbas saw the dream’. Say to them, ‘Although Al-^Abbas credibility must never be doubted, however, he did not act on the dream’.

If the disseminators of such stories defend themselves by saying they spread them for the sake of teaching “fada’ilul-‘^mal” (merits of the good deeds) such as celebrating the Birth of the Prophet, say to them what Shaykh ^Abdullah al-Ghumariyy said:

 

“Some booklets about the prophet’s birth (al-Mawlidun-Nabawiyy) contain many unauthentic hadiths that also include some extreme claims against which Allah and the Prophet warned. Reading such fabricated stories (with the intent to accept as true) is prohibited.  Likewise, reading them with the excuse of encouraging “fada’ilul-‘^mal” (to urge others to do good deeds) is also unacceptable because, while using the weak hadith to urge for the good deeds is tolerable, drawing on a fabricated hadith for the same reason is unacceptable. This is confirmed by the scholarly consensus. In fact it is deemed prohibited to read fabricated texts or narrate such fabricated stories”.

 

Advice

Because the story is not only unreliable, but clearly belies the Qur’an and the unanimous agreement of the scholars as well, we urge the one who spreads this story to fear Allah and refrain.

We advice whoever believed it to leave such clear misguidance and go back to the straight path by uttering the Two Testifications of Faith (Shahadatayn), because by such a saying the one who had believed it had belied Allah, the Exalted.

We hope that this brief clarification has left you with no doubt that the torture of Abu Lahab or any blasphemer in Hellfire will NOT be lessened. Our final advice to the one who reads it is to read it with full honesty to the truth, because following the truth is more deserving.

In the end, we ask Allah to keep us steadfast on the truth, and among the defenders of the religion. All praise is due to Allah and Allah knows best.