﴿41﴾ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَآءَ كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتاً وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ لَوْكَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ
41. “ The parable of those who take guardians besides Allah is as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house but verily the frailest of (all) houses is the house of the spider, if they but know (this).”
To use parables is one of the best methods applied in education, and the best parable is the parable which is tangible for all levels of people everywhere and in any time.
Taking the name of ‘Ankabūt (spider) from this verse, the Sura under discussion has been entitled ‘Ankabūt.
It has been narrated from Plato who said that fly is the greediest insect which, for its livelihood, often sits on pickle, confectionery, a taint, and a wound, but a spider weaves in a corner and has continence. It is interesting that Allah has set the most active and the greediest insect as the prey of the most retiring insect. A fly goes toward the spider and it hunts the fly by its webs.
However, in the previous verses the painful and sad fate of the mischievous, arrogant, obstinate, unjust, and self-loving pagans was stated. In this relation, in this verse there has been stated an interesting parable for those who take objects of worship and guardian besides Allah for themselves, in a way that the more we contemplate about this parable, the more points we gain from it. It says:
as the parable of the spider that makes for itself a house
spider, if they but know (this).”
What an expressive and interesting parable, and what a comprehensive and minute simile it is!
You can be careful that every animal and insect has a house or a nest for itself, but none of them is as weak as the spider’s house.
In principle, a house must have walls, a roof, and a door and it protects its owner from bad events, and maintains his food and necessary things in it. Some houses have not ceiling but they have at least a wall, or they have not walls while they have ceilings. But the spider’s house, which is made of a few very thin webs that has neither any wall, nor any ceiling, nor any yard, nor any door. These are from one side. On the other side, its materials are so weak and unstable that they resist before no event, and if a mild wind blows, it will tear the webs entirely. If a few drops of rain fall on it, they destroy it wholly. The least flame of fire burns it. It will be torn up even with a little dust, and it will hang on the ceiling.
The false objects of worship of this group have neither any profit nor harm, nor can remove any difficulty, nor can be a place of refuge for any one of them on the day of affliction.
It is true that this house not only is a resting place for the spider, with its long legs, but also a snare for hunting insects and earning food, while comparing it with the houses of other animals and insects it is very weak and unstable. Those who choose a support other than Allah, their support is as the web of spider. The crown and throne of persons like Pharaoh, the endless wealth of individuals such as Korah, the castles and treasures of the kings all are like the webs of a spider: They are weak, unstable, unreliable and ephemeral before the storm of events.
The history also shows that: verily none of these things can be the support of man, but those who rely on their faith and trust in Allah, they have relied on a firm and strong support.
It is also necessary to note that though the house of spider and its webs are used as a proverb for its weakness, that is one of the wonders of the world of creation and paying attention to it makes man more acquainted to the greatness of the Lord.
The webs of spider are made from some viscous liquid which is stored in some very small cavities as small as the needle-point located under its belly. This liquid has a special combination that when it is exposed to the weather it becomes hard and firm.
By its particular claws spider draws that liquid out from these cavities and makes its webs by it.
It is said that by this little liquid that it has, each spider is able to make about five hundred meters web.
Some commentators have said that the weakness of these webs is because of their extraordinary tenderness; else it is stronger than a steal string with the same thinness.
It is surprising that each of these webs sometimes comes out from a very small hole which is in its body. Now you may think that how tender, exact, and narrow every one of these secondary webs is produced!
Besides the wonderful materials which have been used in the structure of a spider’s house, its structural shape is also interesting. If you look carefully at the sound houses of spiders, you will see an interesting scenery like a sun with its sunbeams that are built on some particular bases made of the same webs. This house, of course, is a suitable and ideal house for spider, but on the whole, there cannot be considered a house weaker than that; and the objects that they worship other than Allah are like that house.
Regarding the fact that spider is not only of one kind, and some scholars claim that more than twenty thousand sorts of spider have been known until now and each of them has some specialties, the greatness and power of Allah is made in the creation of this small creature.
However, the application of the Qur’ānic word /’auliyā’/ (the plural form of /waliy/) instead of /’asnām/ (idols) may point to this fact that not only the man-made objects of worship, but also the leaders of non-religious groups are in the same row.
The sentence /lau kānū ya‘lamūn/ (if they but know), that is mentioned at the end of the verse, is about the idols and false objects of worship, not about the weakness of spider’s house, for its weakness is known to all. Thus, the concept of this sentence is: if they were aware of the weakness of the objects of worship and the position that they have chosen other than Allah, they would know well that these are like the web of spider from the point of weakness.
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