Surah al-`Ankabut (The Spider ) 29 : 41

مَثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّخَذُوا۟ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَوْلِيَآءَ كَمَثَلِ ٱلْعَنكَبُوتِ ٱتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا ۖ وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ ٱلْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ ٱلْعَنكَبُوتِ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا۟ يَعْلَمُونَ

Translations

 
 Muhsin Khan
 Pickthall
 Yusuf Ali
Quran Project
The example of those who take allies other than Allāh is like that of the spider who takes [i.e., constructs] a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew.

1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems

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Explanatory Note

Now that the destruction of despotic, wrongdoing and wicked unbelievers has been outlined, and bearing in mind what was said at the beginning of the sūrah about tests and temptation, the relative power of competing forces is described in a clear simile. There is only one true power and this belongs to God. Every other power is frail and flimsy. Whoever seeks support or protection from other than God is like a spider which clings to a frail home woven of silk that lacks strength. Both the spider and its web, or home, are without real support.

This is an amazing but true picture of the powers operating in the universe. People sometimes overlook this truth and hence their values fall by the wayside. Indeed their concept of human relations grows corrupt and all their criteria become ill- balanced. They do not know which way to go, what to take up and what to leave. In this situation, the power of government deceives them. They feel it to be too strong, address their wishes and complaints to it, fear it and try to appease it so that they remain safe from its strong-handed measures. Similarly, they are deceived by other powers, such as that of wealth which they imagine to control people’s lives. They, thus, try to obtain wealth so that they can exercise power over others. The power of knowledge also deceives them as they consider it a source of strength, wealth and all other elements that give people power. Hence, they approach it with humility, just like a worshipper engaged in devotion. Whether controlled by individuals, communities or states, apparent power deceives them. They are pulled towards it like moths are attracted to light or swarm towards a fire.

2. Linguistic Analysis

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Frequency of Root words in this Ayat used in this Surah *


3. Surah Overview

4. Miscellaneous Information

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5. Connected/Related Ayat

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6. Frequency of the word

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7. Period of Revelation

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"Verses 56 to 60 clearly show that this Surah was sent down a little before the migration to Abyssinia, during the period of extreme persecution of the Muslims at Makkah. This is supported by the subject matter as well. The disbelievers were opposing Islam and the new Muslims were being subjected to severe torture and oppression. Such were the conditions when God sent down this Surah to strengthen and encourage the Muslims, as well as to admonish the hypocrites. The disbelievers of Makkah were also threatened not to invite a similar fate to the past nations that denied the truth." [Ref: Mawdudi]

8. Reasons for Revelation

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9. Relevant Hadith

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10. Wiki Forum

Comments in this section are statements made by general users – these are not necessarily explanations of the Ayah – rather a place to share personal thoughts and stories…

11. Tafsir Zone

 

Overview (Verses 41 - 43)

The Frailty of the Powerful
 

Now that the destruction of despotic, wrongdoing and wicked unbelievers has been outlined, and bearing in mind what was said at the beginning of the sūrah about tests and temptation, the relative power of competing forces is described in a clear simile. There is only one true power and this belongs to God. Every other power is frail and flimsy. Whoever seeks support or protection from other than God is like a spider which clings to a frail home woven of silk that lacks strength. Both the spider and its web, or home, are without real support:
 
Those who take anyone other than God for their protectors may be compared to the spider which makes for itself a home. Indeed the spider’s home is the frailest of all homes, if they but knew it. God certainly knows the nature of whatever people invoke instead of Him. He alone is Almighty, Wise. Such are the comparisons We draw for people’s benefit, but none will grasp their meaning except the people of knowledge. (Verses 41-43)
 

This is an amazing but true picture of the powers operating in the universe. People sometimes overlook this truth and hence their values fall by the wayside. Indeed their concept of human relations grows corrupt and all their criteria become ill- balanced. They do not know which way to go, what to take up and what to leave. In this situation, the power of government deceives them. They feel it to be too strong, address their wishes and complaints to it, fear it and try to appease it so that they remain safe from its strong-handed measures. Similarly, they are deceived by other powers, such as that of wealth which they imagine to control people’s lives. They, thus, try to obtain wealth so that they can exercise power over others. The power of knowledge also deceives them as they consider it a source of strength, wealth and all other elements that give people power. Hence, they approach it with humility, just like a worshipper engaged in devotion. Whether controlled by individuals, communities or states, apparent power deceives them. They are pulled towards it like moths are attracted to light or swarm towards a fire.
 
People are thus oblivious of the one power which creates all the little powers, owns, gives, directs and uses them as it pleases. They forget that seeking support and protection from these little powers is just like a spider taking refuge in its web. It remains a small powerless insect that has no power within itself or its flimsy web.
 
The only real support and protection for man is with God. This is the main truth which the Qur’ān takes special care to instil in the minds of believers. It makes their community stronger than all the powers that try to obstruct it. Over the centuries it enabled the community of believers to place the arrogance of tyrants under its feet and to overcome tyranny in its strongest forts and seemingly impregnable lines. This great truth is established in every believer’s mind, it has filled every heart and become part of their very being. It is no longer a word we utter, or a subject for debate. It is the main idea in our lives, minds and senses.
 
All power belongs to God. The only protection to be sought is from God. Everything else is weak, flimsy and powerless, however much it tries to inflict punishment, be tyrannical and overpowering. They are simply spiders, and what power has a spider other than the silk with which it weaves its web?: “Indeed the spider’s home is the frailest of all homes, if they but knew it.” (Verse 41)
 
Advocates of the divine message who are often subjected to oppression and hardship, and also to temptation and deceit, should reflect on this great truth and keep it before their eyes. They must not allow themselves to forget this even for a moment as they face different forces, some trying to inflict harm on them or even crush them, and some trying to lure them to their own line, or to buy them out. But all these forces are no more than the threads of a spider’s web. This is their real estimation in God’s measure. It is also the measure when compared with true faith when people have the right concept of it.
 
“God certainly knows the nature of whatever people invoke instead of Him.” (Verse 42) They seek the protection of patrons to whom they ascribe a share of divinity. God knows the reality of these patrons: they are no more than a spider seeking refuge in its frail web. “He alone is Almighty, Wise.” (Verse 42) He alone has power over all things, and in His wisdom, He conducts the affairs of the universe.
 
“Such are the comparisons We draw for people’s benefit, but none will grasp their meaning except the people of knowledge.” (Verse 43) Devoid of knowledge and clear reasoning, some unbelievers took such comparisons as material for ridicule. They said that Muhammad’s God speaks about spiders and flies. They were uninspired by this remarkable description because they did not use their reason, while their knowledge too remained scanty: “None will grasp their meaning except the people of knowledge.” (Verse 43)


12. External Links

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