Three women are mentioned in the Quran whose stories are shared to symbolize evil. These women are the wives of Prophet Noah (PBUH), Prophet Lut (PBUH), and the wife of Abu Lahab.
“God sets forth, an example of the disbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut. They were under two of our righteous servants, but they betrayed them and they (the husbands) availed them nothing against God and it was said (to them), ‘Enter the Fire along with those who are entering.’” (66: 10) The wives of Prophets Noah and Lut (PBUT) did not believe in the message that their husbands brought and followed those who rejected their guidance. The message that the verse conveys is that belief is an individual responsibility. A prophet will not be able to defend his closest family member in front of God if they choose to disbelieve. These two women had the opportunity to choose guidance, however they opted for misguidance. A wife knows her husband intimately and these two women must have known that their husbands brought the truth to their people, but they chose to betray them and continue to side with the disbelievers. The punishment that was inflicted on Lut’s (PBUH) wife is mentioned in other verses in the Quran. (11: 82-83)
A third example is the wife of the Prophet’s (PBUH) uncle. A short Sura is devoted to describe the crimes, she and her husband committed and the punishment that was decreed for them. The Sura is Surat Al-Massad (Chapter 111).
“May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. His wealth and what he earns will not avail him. He will burn in a flaming Fire, and his wife, the firewood-carrier, will have upon her neck a rope of palm-fibre.” (111: 1 – 5)
Abu Lahab was the Prophet’s (PBUH) uncle. His name was Abd Al-Ozza ibn Abd Al-Muttaleb. He acquired the nick name Abu Lahab because his face looked bright like fire. He and his wife, Um Jamil were among the worst of those who persecuted the Prophet (PBUH) and resisted Islam. Abu Lahab used to stalk the Prophet (PBUH) and whenever the Prophet (PBUH) started to call people to Islam, Abu Lahab would stand behind him to tell lies about Islam. He would then advise people not to listen to the Prophet (PBUH). Both he and his wife were enemies of the Prophet (PBUH) and Islam from day one.
When Quraish decided to boycott Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Muslims, the clan of Bani Hashem under the leadership of Abu Taleb, with exception of Abu Lahab and his wife, decided to protect the Prophet (PBUH). Abu Lahab sided with Quraish against his nephew. His two sons were married to the daughters of the Prophet (PBUH) before the advent of Islam. When the Prophet (PBUH) announced that he was sent as a messenger of God, Abu Lahab and his wife commanded their two sons to divorce their wives. He continued, together with his wife, to wage a merciless war on the Prophet (PBUH) and Islam. Um Jamil used to place thorns on the path of the Prophet (PBUH). Their fear of change morphed to anger and hate and blinded them towards a good man.
This Sura reiterates the principle that belief is an individual responsibility and we see that one is not guaranteed a stronger conviction in religion simply due to proximity to a messenger. Even though, Abu Lahab was a blood relative of the Prophet (PBUH), he not only chose not to believe in the message that his nephew brought, but he also made it his mission to make the Prophet’s (PBUH) life difficult.