Period of Revelation: It is a Makki Surah.
This is the only place in the Qur’an where a person from among the enemies of Islam has been condemned by name. Otherwise in Makkah as well as in Madina, there were many people who were in no way less hostile to Islam and Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam than Abu Lahab. The question is, what was the special trait of the character of this person, which became the basis of this condemnation by name? To understand that it is necessary that one should understand the Arabian society of that time and the role that Abu Lahab played in it.
In ancient days since there prevailed chaos and confusion, bloodshed and plunder throughout Arabia, and the condition for centuries was that a person could have no guarantee of the protection of life, honor, and property except with the help and support of his clansmen and blood relations, therefore silah rehmi (good treatment of the kindred) was esteemed most highly among the moral values of the Arabian society and breaking off of connections with the kindred was regarded as a great sin.
Under, the influence of the same Arabian tradition when the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began to preach the message of Islam, the other clans of Quraysh and their chiefs resisted and opposed him severely. However, the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib (children of al-Muttalib, brother of Hashim) not only did not oppose him but continued to support him openly, although most of them had not yet believed in his Prophethood.
The other clans of Quraysh themselves regarded this support by the blood relations of the Prophet as perfectly in accordance with the moral traditions of Arabia. That is why they never taunted the Bani Hashim and the Bani al-Muttalib in that they had abandoned their ancestral faith by supporting a person who was preaching a new faith. They knew and believed that they could in no case hand over an individual of their clan to his enemies, and their support and aid of a clansman was perfectly natural in the sight of the Quraysh and the people of Arabia.
This moral principle, which the Arabs even in the pre-Islamic days of ignorance, regarded as worthy of respect and inviolable was broken only by one man in his enmity of Islam, and that was Abu Lahab, son of Abdul Muttalib. He was a paternal uncle of the Prophet; his father and Abu Lahab were real brothers. In Arabia, an uncle represented the father especially when the nephew was fatherless. The uncle was expected to look after the nephew as one of his own children. But this man in his hostility to Islam and love of kufr trampled all the Arab traditions under foot.