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

Surah Introduction

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This Surah reminds the Believers to be strong in their faith and not to give up their faith because of hardship or family pressures.  Stories of previous Prophets and their followers are also mentioned here to show that the path of truth is not an easy path.  It has trials and hardships.


  1. Tests and trials are part of faith.
  2. Examples of Prophets Noah and Ibrahim - peace be upon them.
  3. Example of Prophet Lot – peace be upon him.
  4. Example of Prophet Shu'aib.  References to the people of 'Ad, Thamud, Qarun and Pharaoh. Message of Prophet Moses - peace be upon him. Spider web of Shirk.
  5. Give the message of Allah in the best way.
  6. Warnings to the non-believers.
  7. The truth will succeed. Allah guides the steps of those who follow the right path.

Al-Ankabut [The Spider] is mentioned in Ayat [29:40].

There are 69 Ayat in this Surah.


Total Ayat69
Total Words *976
Root Words *233
Unique Root Words *2
Makki / MadaniMakki
Chronological Order* 85th (according to Ibn Abbas)
Year of Revelation* 6th year of Prophethood
Events during/before this Surah*
2nd Migration to Abyssinia, Physical beating and torture of some Muslims - 1st Migration of Muslims to Abyssinia, Public Invitation to Islam - Persecution of Muslims; antagonism - ridicule - derision - accusation - abuse and false propaganda., Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam , Revelation begins - Private Invitation to Islam
Events during/after still to occur*
Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 1,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 2,Boycott of Banu Hashim Yr 3,Death of Abu Talib - Death of Khadijah - Stoning at Ta'if - al-Isra wal Mi'raj - Night Journey,1st Pledge of Aqabah,2nd Pledge of Aqabah,,Migration from Makkah to Madinah - Building of Masjid Nabi in Madinah - Treaty with Jews of Madinah - Marriage of Prophet to Aishah,Change of Qiblah from Jerusalem to Makkah - Battle of Badr,Battle of Uhud,,Battle of Ahzab - Expedition of Banu Quraydhah,Treaty of Hudaiybiyah - Letters to Kings and Rulers,,Conquest of Makkah - Battle of Hunain,Hajj led by Abu Bakr - Expedition of Tabuk,Farewell Hajj by Prophet - Death of Prophet - End of Divine Revelation
Names of Prophets Mentioned
Nuh, Lut, Ibrahim, Ishaq, Yaqub, Shuaib, Musa
Surah Index
‘Aad, Abraham, Adversity (patience during) , Astronomy (celestial mechanics) (moon), Astronomy (celestial mechanics) (sun), Behaviour (argue in a kindly manner with those given earlier revelation) , Disbelievers, Disbelievers (God’s promise to) , Earth, Earth (creation and recreation of) , Earthquake, Haman, Hell, Homosexuality, Hud, Iblis, Jacob, Jihad (non-believing parents trying to persuade a believer to polytheism) , Jihad (striving hard in God’s cause) , Knowledge, Knowledge (travel to learn) , Lot, Madyan, Moses, Noah, Noah (ark) , Noah (flood) , Pharaoh, Prayer (restrains one from loathesome deeds) , Prophet (people who are false prophets are wicked) , Qarun, Resurrection (Day) , Resurrection (of humans) , Resurrection (of soul) , Revelation, Ships, Shu’ayb, Sin, Spider, Thamud, Weather (rain) , Weather (wind)

Central Theme

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Theme 1: Trials and tribulations [fitnah and Ibtalah] are an historic truth in the lives of Believers.

Connection of the name of the Surah and its Ayaat

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One the running themes of the Surah is about tests, trials and tribulations and just like a Spider's web, these tests are inter-twinned and complex.

Connection between the beginning and the ending of the Surah

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  • Those who struggle in for Allah. Allah says in the beginning, "He who jahada [struggles] does for the benefit of himself." [29:6]. In the end of the Surah, "Those who jahada [struggles] for Us - We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is the Muhsineen." [29:69]

Manuscripts / Inscriptions

Connection of the Surah to the Surah before/after it

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  • Surah 29, 30, 31 and 32 all begin with ALIF-LAM-MEEM - The same huruf muqatiat [disjointed letters]

The Virtues of the Surah

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Special Features of the Surah

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  • The only mention of Hypocrisy [29:11]  in the whole of Makki Surahs.
  • This is the only of the Qur'an where the word 'al-Ankabut' [The Spider] is mentioned in the whole Qur'an.

Important key and unique words of the Surah

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  • Fitnah - يُفْتَنُونَ  in the second Ayah - is key word [further research needed]
Total Word Count per Ayat (shows how many words per Ayat) *

Unique Root Words to this Surah only

2 unique root words that do not appear in any other Surah *

Top 10 Most Frequent Root Words used in this Surah

Root Word Frequency
in Surah
in Qur'an
أ ل ه 44 2851
ق و ل 25 1722
ع ل م 23 854
ٱلَّذِى 22 1464
ك و ن 21 1390
أ م ن 18 879
ق و م 13 660
إِلَىٰ 12 742
إِلَّا 12 663
أ ت ي 10 549

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]

Background Reasons for Revelation

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Relevant Hadith

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  • Allah tests the Believers to see who is truthful and who is a liar.
  • Be kind to parents but do not obey them in matters of shirk (associating anyone else with Allah).
  • Those who say: "Follow us, we will bear your burden on the Day of Judgement," are liars.
  • The Prophet Nuh admonished his people for 950 years not to commit shirk.
  • The Prophet Ibrahim admonished his people not to commit shirk, for which they tried to burn him alive, but Allah saved him.
  • The Nations of 'Ad, Thamud, Madyan and Fir'on rejected the Rasools of Allah, as a result Allah destroyed them all.
  • Parable of those who take protectors other than Allah, is that of the dwelling of a spider and the fact that the weakest of all the dwellings is the dwelling of a spider.

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Miscellaneous Issues

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A spider web, spiderweb, spider's web, or cobweb is a device created by a spider out of proteinaceous spider silk extruded from its spinnerets, generally meant to catch its prey. Insects can get trapped in spider webs, providing nutrition to the spider