His full name was Abd-al-Uzza ibn 'Abdul Muttalib and he was called Abu Lahab (meaning father of the flame) because his cheeks were always red or inflamed. His wife was Umm Jamil, who bore him two sons, Utbah ibn Abu Lahab and Utaybah bin Abu Lahab.
Position of an uncle according to pre-Islamic Arab culture
He was rumored to have a relation with Layla bint Harmalah
Thuwaybah, the servant of Abu Lahab, nursed Muhammad when he was an infant, and later on converted to Islam.
In pre-Islamic Arabic culture, an uncle was someone who represented the father if the child was an orphan. The uncle was also expected to take care of his nephew and raise him like his own child. Abu Lahab's hatred towards Islam, which brought him into conflict with his nephew, violated those traditions.
The Wa Sabahah
When Muhammad claimed he was instructed by God to spread the message of Islam openly, he was told by the Qur'an to warn his kinsfolk about the punishment of God. In doing so, Muhammad climbed Mount Safa and shouted: Wa sabahah! which means "O calamity of the morning!" This alarm in Arabia was raised by the person who noticed early at dawn an enemy tribe advancing against his tribe. So when Muhammad did this, people asked who was the one who made the call. They were told that it was Muhammad. When all the people assembled, Muhammad addressed the clans by name. "O Bani Hashim, O Bani Abdul Muttalib... etc., 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. Muhammad continued and said "Then I warn you that you are heading for a torment." Before anybody could speak, Abu Lahab said: "Woe be on you the rest of the day! Is that what you summoned us for?" Another tradition recalls Abu Lahab picking up a stone to throw at Muhammad.
Other acts of scepticism
Once Abu Lahab asked Muhammad: "If I were to accept your religion, what would I get?" Muhammad replied: "You would get what the other believers would get." Abu Lahab responded: "Is there no preference or distinction for me?" In which Muhammad replied, "What else do you want?" Abu Lahab replied back: "May this religion perish in which I and all other people should be equal and alike!"
Due to his hostility towards Islam, Muslims believe that Allah sent down a surah, the Al-Masadd. Its English translation by Pickthall is as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
1. The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish.
2. His wealth and gains will not exempt him.
3. He will be plunged in flaming Fire,
4. And his wife, the wood-carrier,
5. Will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.
Muhammad was protected somewhat by the influence of his family, but even he was subjected to such abuse; while he was praying near the Kaaba, Abu Lahab threw the entrails of a sacrificed goat over him.
The first people to reach Mecca with the news of the Quraysh defeat in the Battle of Badr were al-Haysuman and Abdullah, al-Khuzai's son, who bewailed the fact that so many of their chieftains had fallen on the battlefield. In the large tent of Zamzam, the converts Abu Rafi, former slave of Abbas freed by Muhammad and Abbas' wife, Umm Fadl sat sharpening their arrows. They had both been overjoyed to hear the news of Muhammad's victory, however, they felt it was more prudent to restrain their happiness.
As they sharpened the arrows, Abu Lahab who had not taken part in the encounter but sent al-As in his place entered. His face looked as black as thunder as he sat himself down at the other end of the tent with his back toward Abu Rafi. Not long after Abu Lahab heard some others in the tent saying, "Abu Sufyan, Al Harith's son has returned," whereupon he looked up, saw his nephew and called him. A small crowd gathered around the two as Abu Sufyan told his uncle, "The facts are the Quraysh met our enemy and turned their backs. They put us to flight taking prisoners as they pleased, I cannot blame our tribesmen because they faced not only them but men wearing white robes riding piebald horses, who were between heaven and earth. They spared nothing and no one had a chance."
When Umm Fadl and Abu Rafi heard the news of the men in white riding between heaven and earth, they could no longer contain their happiness and Abu Rafi exclaimed for all to hear, "They were angels!" Abu Rafi's outburst was more than Abu Lahab could bear, in a raging fury he forced Abu Rafi, who was frail, to the ground and struck him over and over again. Umm Fadl grabbed hold of a tent pole that lay nearby and with all her might hit her brother-in-law's head with it crying out. "Do you think that you can abuse him just because Abbas is away!" She wounded him so severely that his head was split open and laid bare part of his skull. The wound was never to heal, it turned septic and its poison spread rapidly through his entire body erupting into open pustules that caused his death within the week.
When he died, his family, fearing that they might be afflicted with disease -- for they feared the plague, and his condition resembled it -- were hesitant to bury him and so they left his decaying body decomposing in his home for two or three nights. It was only when someone rebuked them strongly saying, "It is disgraceful, you should be ashamed of yourselves to leave your father to rot in his house and not bury him from the sight of men!" that they did something. With great reluctance and from a safe distance, his sons threw water over his body, then removed his corpse and left it by a wall on a high piece of ground outside Mecca and threw stones over it until it was completely covered.
- 'Abdul Muttalib (name)
- Ali ibn Abu Talib