A Meccan sura that takes its title from the illustration of the spider in verse 41. The sura stresses that believers will be tested and that they should remain steadfast. The misconceptions of disbelievers regarding the nature of revelation and the Prophet are addressed. References are made to earlier prophets and details given of the punishments brought on those who denied them.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
Belief Dictates Behavior
1 Alif Lam Mim
2 Do people think they will be left alone after saying ‘We believe’ without being put to the test? 3 We tested those who went before them: God will certainly mark out which ones are truthful and which are lying. 4 Do the evildoers think they can escape us? How ill they judge! 5 But as for those who strive for their meeting with God, God’s appointed time is bound to come; He is the All Seeing, the All Knowing. 6 Those who exert themselves do so for their own benefit––God does not need His creatures–– 7 We shall certainly blot out the misdeeds of those who believe and do good deeds, and We shall reward them according to the best of their actions. 8 We have commanded people to be good to their parents, but do not obey them if they strive to make you serve, beside Me, anything of which you have no knowledge: you will all return to Me, and I shall inform you of what you have done. 9 We shall be sure to admit those who believe and do good deeds to the ranks of the righteous.
10 There are some people who say, ‘We believe in God,’ but, when they suffer for His cause, they think that human persecution is as severe as God’s punishment––yet, if any help comes to you [Prophet] from your Lord, they will say, ‘We have always been with you’. Does God not know best what is in everyone’s hearts? 11 God will be sure to mark out which ones are the believers, and which the hypocrites. 12 Those who disbelieve say to the believers, ‘Follow our path and we shall bear [the consequences for] your sins,’ yet they will not do so––they are liars. 13 They will bear their own burdens and others besides: they will be questioned about their false assertions on the Day of Resurrection.
Noah & Abraham
14 We sent Noah out to his people. He lived among them for fifty years short of a thousand but when the Flood overwhelmed them they were still doing evil. 15 We saved him and those with him on the Ark. We made this a sign for all people.
16 We also sent Abraham. He said to his people, ‘Serve God and be mindful of Him: that is better for you, if only you knew. 17 What you worship instead of God are mere idols; what you invent is nothing but falsehood. Those you serve instead of God have no power to give you provisions, so seek provisions from God, serve Him, and give Him thanks: you will all be returned to Him. 18 If you say this is a lie, [be warned that] other communities before you said the same. The messenger’s only duty is to give clear warning.’
19 Do they not see that God brings life into being and reproduces it? Truly this is easy for God. 20 Say, ‘Travel throughout the earth and see how He brings life into being: and He will bring the next life into being. God has power over all things. 21 He punishes whoever He will and shows mercy to whoever He will. You will all be returned to Him. 22 You cannot escape Him on earth or in the heavens; you will have no one to protect or help you besides God.’ 23 Those who deny God’s Revelation and their meeting with Him have no hope of receiving My grace: they will have a grievous torment.
24 The only answer Abraham’s people gave was, ‘Kill him or burn him!’ but God saved him from the Fire: there truly are signs in this for people who believe. 25 Abraham said to them, ‘You have chosen idols instead of God but your love for them will only last for the present life: on the Day of Resurrection, you will disown and reject one another. Hell will be your home and no one will help you.’ 26 Lot believed him, and said, ‘I will flee to my Lord: He is the Almighty, the All Wise.’ 27 We gave Isaac and Jacob to Abraham, and placed prophethood and Scripture among his offspring. We gave him his rewards in this world, and in the life to come he will be among the righteous.
The Story of Lot
28 And Lot: when He said to his people, ‘You practice outrageous acts that no people before you have ever committed. 29 How can you lust after men, waylay travelers, and commit evil in your gatherings?’ the only answer his people gave was, ‘Bring God’s punishment down on us, if what you say is true.’ 30 So he prayed, ‘My Lord, help me against these people who spread corruption.’ 31 When Our messengers brought the good news [of the birth of a son] to Abraham, [a] they told him, ‘We are about to destroy the people of that town. They are wrongdoers.’ 32 Abraham said, ‘But Lot lives there.’ They answered, ‘We know who lives there better than you do. We shall save him and his household, except for his wife: she will be one of those who stay behind.’ 33 When Our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled and distressed on their account. They said, ‘Have no fear or grief: we shall certainly save you and your household, except for your wife– she will be one of those who stay behind– 34 and we shall send a punishment from heaven down on the people of this town because they violate [God’s order].’ 35 We left some [of the town] there as a clear sign for those who use their reason.
Shuaib & Moses
36 To the people of Midian We sent their brother Shuayb. He said, ‘My people, serve God and think ahead to the Last Day. Do not commit evil and spread corruption in the land.’ 37 They rejected him and so the earthquake overtook them. When morning came, they were lying dead in their homes. 38 [Remember] the tribes of Ad and Thamud: their history is made clear to you by [what is left of] their dwelling places. Satan made their foul deeds seem alluring to them and barred them from the right way, though they were capable of seeing. 39 [Remember] Qarun and Pharaoh and Haman: Moses brought them clear signs, but they behaved arrogantly on earth. They could not escape Us 40 and We punished each one of them for their sins: some We struck with a violent storm; some were overcome by a sudden blast; some We made the earth swallow; and some We drowned. It was not God who wronged them; they wronged themselves.
a. Cf. e.g. 51: 28.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.