Sura al-'Ankabut (Arabic: سورة العنکبوت) is the 29th sura of the Qur'an. It is a Makki sura located in juz's 20 and 21. The name "al-'Ankabut" [spider] is adopted from the analogy made in verse 41 of this sura. This sura speaks about the unity of God, signs of God in the creation and fighting with polytheism; and to console the few Muslims in the beginning of Islam, it gives reports about the destinies of some previous prophets. Sura al-'Ankabut also speaks about the greatness of the Qur'an and the proofs of rightfulness of the Prophet (s) and the stubbornness of his opposers.
Verses 41 and 57 are among famous verses of sura al-'Ankabut. In verse 41, God likens the story of disbelievers' reliance on idols to spider and its weak net; and verse 57 warns that every soul shall taste death, then they shall be brought back to God. About the merits of recitation of this sura, it is transmitted from the Prophet (s) that whoever recites Sura al-'Ankabut, he will be rewarded ten rewards for every believer or hypocrite [in the history].
The name of this sura is adopted from the allegory given in verse 41. In this allegory, God likens the story of a disbeliever who worships anything other than God to a spider and its net and calls the house of spider, the weakest of all houses.
Order and Place of Revelation
Number of Verses and Other Features
Tafsir-i nimuna has explained the content of Sura al-'Ankabut in four general parts:
- Mentioning the "trial", the "condition of hypocrites" in trials and knowing their performance
- Consoling the Prophet (s) and the few believers in the beginning of Islam by mentioning some parts of the lives of other prophets such as Noah (a), Abraham (a), Lut (a), and Shu'ayb (a).
- The Unity of God, signs of God in the creation and fighting with polytheism
- Weakness of idols, describing idol-worshippers as spider, discussing about the greatness of the Qur'an, the proofs of the rightfulness of the Prophet (s), stubbornness of his opposers, mentioning educational issues such as prayer, doing goodness toward the parents and righteous deeds, and mentioning the manner of discussion and rational encounter with opposers.
Context of Revelation
About some of the verses of sura al-'Ankabut, different contexts of revelation are mentioned, the beginning verses of this sura were revealed about 'Ammar and Yasir who were tortured because of their belief in God or the verses were revealed about those Muslims who were in Mecca. The second context of revelation for the first verses of the sura is that Muslims who were in Medina wrote letters to Muslims in Mecca saying that, "your admission to Islam is not accepted from you, unless you emigrate." So, when they moved toward Medina, polytheists of Mecca went after them and killed some of them.[Note 1]
Home of Spider
"The parable of those who take guardians instead of Allah is that of the spider that takes a home, and indeed the frailest of homes is the home of a spider, had they known! (41)"
In the interpretations of this verse, it is mentioned that God likens the masters of polytheists (i.e. idols) to the house of spider to imply that these masters cannot bring any benefit to their followers or guard them against harms and hardships.
Destination of Every Soul
"Every soul shall taste death. Then you shall be brought back to Us. (57)"
In the interpretations of this verse, it is mentioned that one of the excuses of Muslims who lived in the lands of polytheists and did not want to emigrate was that they said: "if we go out of our homeland, the dangers of death and hunger would threaten us; and by emigration, we fall distant from our relatives and children." So, the Qur'an revealed the above verse as an answer to them, to tell them that there is no escape from death.
Merits and Benefits
About the merits of this sura, it is transmitted from the Prophet (s) that whoever recites Sura al-'Ankabut will be rewarded ten rewards for every believer or hypocrite [in the history]. Reciting this sura before going to sleep is a means of relaxation and comfort in sleep.
|For the full text, see text:Sura al-'Ankabut.|
Stories and Historical Accounts
- Story of Noah (a): 950 years of Noah's (a) prophethood among his people, The flood of Nuh (a) (verses 14 – 15)
- Story of Abraham (a): Inviting people to monotheism and avoiding idol-worshipping, Abraham's (a) survival from the fire, continuation of prophethood among descendants of Abraham (a), in prophets Isaac (a) and Jacob (a) (verses 16 – 28)
- Story of Lut (a): Lut's faith in Abraham (a), Lut's warning about heinous act of his people, coming of angels to Abraham (a) and informing him of the punishment of the people of Lut, Lut's wife among sinful people (verses 26 – 35)
- Prophethood of Shu'ayb (a) and inviting his people, rejection of Shu'ayb, the punishment of his people (verses 36 – 37)
- Khamagar, Muhammad, Sakhtar-i suraha-yi Qur'an-i karim, Mu'assisa-yi Farhangi-yi Qur'an wa 'Itrat-i Nur al-Thaqalayn, Qom: Nashra, ed.1, 1392 Sh.
- Do the people suppose that they will be let off because they say, ‘We have faith,’ and they will not be tested? (2) Certainly, We tested those who were before them. So Allah shall surely ascertain those who are truthful, and He shall surely ascertain the liars. (Quran 29:2-3)
- The material for this article is mainly taken from سوره عنکبوت in Farsi Wikishia.