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Sura XXIX — The Spider

by Rev. G. Margoliouth, M.A.

MECCA—69 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

ELIF. LAM. MIM.[677] Think men that when they say, "We believe," they shall be let alone and not be put to proof?

We put to proof those who lived before them; for God will surely take knowledge of those who are sincere, and will surely take knowledge of the liars.

Think they who work evil that they shall escape Us? Ill do they judge.

To him who hopeth to meet God, the set time of God will surely come. The Hearer, the Knower, He!

Whoso maketh efforts for the faith, maketh them for his own good only. Verily God is rich enough to dispense with all creatures.

And as to those who shall have believed and done the things that are right, their evil deeds will we surely blot out from them, and according to their best actions will we surely reward them.

Moreover we have enjoined on man to shew kindness to parents: but if they strive with thee that thou join that with Me of which thou hast no knowledge,[678] obey them not. To me do ye return, and then will I tell you of your doings:

And those who shall have believed and done the things that are right, we will surely give them an entering in among the just.

But some men say, "We believe in God," yet when they meet with sufferings in the cause of God, they regard trouble from man as chastisement from God. Yet if a success come from thy Lord they are sure to say, "We were on your side!" Doth not God well know what is in the breasts of his creatures?

Yes, and God well knoweth those who believe, and He well knoweth the Hypocrites.

The unbelievers say to the faithful, "Follow ye our way, and we will surely bear your sins." But not aught of their sins will they bear—verily they are liars!

But their own burdens, and burdens beside their own burdens shall they surely bear: and inquisition shall be made of them on the day of Resurrection as to their false devices.

Of old sent we Noah to his people: a thousand years save fifty did he tarry among them; and the flood overtook them in their wrongful doings:

But we rescued him and those who were in the vessel; and we made it a sign to all men:

And Abraham; when he said to his people, "Worship God and fear Him. This will be best for you, if ye have knowledge;"

Ye only worship idols beside God, and are the authors of a lie. Those whom ye worship beside God can give you no supplies: seek, then, your supplies from God; and serve Him and give Him thanks. To Him shall ye return.

Suppose that ye treat me as a liar! nations before you have treated God's messenger as a liar; but open preaching is his only duty.

See they not how God bringeth forth creation? and then causeth it to return again? This truly is easy for God.

SAY,[679] Go through the earth, and see how he hath brought forth created beings. Hereafter, with a second birth will God cause them to be born again; for God is Almighty.

Whom He pleaseth will He chastise, and on whom He pleaseth will He have mercy, and to Him shall ye be taken back.

And ye shall not invalidate his power either in the Earth or in the Heaven:[680] and, save God, ye shall have neither patron nor helper.

As for those who believe not in the signs of God, or that they shall ever meet him, these of my mercy shall despair, and these doth a grievous chastisement await."

And the only answer of his people was to say, "Slay him or burn him." But from the fire did God save him! Verily, herein are signs to those who believe.

And Abraham said, "Of a truth ye have taken idols along with God as your bond of union[681] in this life present;

But on the day of resurrection some of you shall deny the others, and some of you shall curse the others; and your abode shall be the fire, and ye shall have none to help."

But Lot believed on him,[682] and said, "I betake me to my Lord, for He truly is the Mighty, the Wise."

And we bestowed on him Isaac and Jacob,[683] and placed the gift of prophecy and the Scripture among his posterity; And we gave him his reward in this world, and in the next he shall be among the just.

We sent also Lot: when he said to his people, "Proceed ye to a filthiness in which no people in the world hath ever gone before you?

Proceed ye even to men? attack ye them on the highway? and proceed ye to the crime in your assemblies?" But the only answer of his people was to say, "Bring God's chastisement upon us, if thou art a man of truth."

He cried: My Lord! help me against this polluted people.

And when our messengers came to Abraham with the tidings of a son, they said, "Of a truth we will destroy the in-dwellers in this city, for its in-dwellers are evil doers."

He said, "Lot is therein." They said, "We know full well who therein is. Him and his family will we save, except his wife; she will be of those who linger.

And when our messengers came to Lot, he was troubled for them, and his arm was too weak[684] to protect them; and they said, "Fear not, and distress not thyself, for thee and thy family will we save, except thy wife; she will be of those who linger.[685]

We will surely bring down upon the dwellers in this city vengeance from Heaven for the excesses they have committed."

And in what we have left of it is a clear sign to men of understanding.

And to Madian we sent their brother Shoaib. And he said, "Oh! my people! worship God, and expect the latter day, and enact not in the land deeds of harmful excess."

But they treated him as an impostor: so an earthquake assailed them; and at morn they were found prostrate and dead in their dwellings.

And we destroyed Ad and Themoud. Already is this made plain to you in the ruins of their dwellings. For Satan had made their own works fair seeming to them, and drew them from the right path, keen-sighted though they were.

And Corah and Pharaoh and Haman. With proofs of his mission did Moses come to them, and they behaved proudly on the earth; but us they could not outstrip;[686]

For, every one of them did we seize in his sin. Against some of them did wesend a stone-charged wind: Some of them did the terrible cry of Gabriel surprise: for some of them we cleaved the earth; and some of them we drowned. And it was not God who would deal wrongly by them, but they wronged themselves.

The likeness for those who take to themselves guardians instead of God is the likeness of the SPIDER who buildeth her a house: But verily, frailest of all houses surely is the house of the spider. Did they but know this!

God truly knoweth all that they call on beside Him; and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

These similitudes do we set forth to men: and none understand them except the wise.

God hath created the Heavens and the Earth for a serious end.[687] Verily in this is a sign to those who believe.

Recite the portions of the Book which have been revealed to thee and discharge the duty of prayer: for prayer restraineth from the filthy and the blame-worthy. And the gravest duty is the remembrance of God; and God knoweth what ye do.

Dispute not, unless in kindly sort, with the people of the Book;[688] save with such of them as have dealt wrongfully with you: And say ye, "We believe in what hath been sent down to us and hath been sent down to you. Our God and your God is one, and to him are we self-surrendered" (Muslims).

Thus have we sent down the Book of the Koran to thee: and they to whom we have given the Book of the law believe in it: and of these Arabians there are those who believe in it: and none, save the Infidels, reject our signs.

Thou didst not recite any book (of revelation) before it: with that right hand of thine thou didst not transcribe one: else might they who treat it as a vain thing have justly doubted:

But it is a clear sign in the hearts of those whom "the knowledge" hath reached. None except the wicked reject our signs.

And they say, "Unless a sign be sent down to him from his Lord. . . ." SAY: Signs are in the power of God alone. I am only a plain spoken warner.

Is it not enough for them that we have sent down to thee the Book to be recited to them? In this verily is a mercy and a warning to those who believe.

SAY: God is witness enough between me and you.

He knoweth all that is in the Heavens and the Earth, and they who believe in vain things[689] and disbelieve in God—these shall be the lost ones.

They will challenge thee to hasten the punishment: but had there not been a season fixed for it, that punishment had already come upon them. But it shall overtake them suddenly when they look not for it.

They will challenge thee to hasten the punishment: but verily Hell shall be round about the infidels.

One day the punishment shall wrap them round, both from above them and from beneath their feet; and God will say, "Taste ye your own doings."

O my servants who have believed! Vast truly is my Earth:[690] me, therefore! yea worship me.

Every soul shall taste of death. Then to us shall ye return.

But those who shall have believed and wrought righteousness will we lodge in gardens with palaces, beneath which the rivers flow. For ever shall they abide therein. How goodly the reward of those who labour,

Who patiently endure, and put their trust in their Lord!

How many animals are there which provide not[691] their own food! God feedeth them and you. He Heareth, Knoweth all things.

If thou ask them who hath created the Heavens and the Earth, and hath imposed laws on the sun and on the moon, they will certainly say, "God." How then can they devise lies?

God lavisheth supplies on such of his servants as He pleaseth or giveth to them by measure. God knoweth all things.

If thou ask them who sendeth rain from heaven, and by it quickeneth the earth, after it hath been dead, they will certainly answer, "God." SAY: Praise be to God! Yet most of them do not understand.

This present life is no other than a pastime and a disport: but truly the future mansion is life indeed! Would that they knew this!

Lo! when they embark on shipboard, they call upon God, vowing him sincere worship, but when He bringeth them safe to land, behold they join partners with Him.

In our revelation they believe not, yet take their fill of good things. But in the end they shall know their folly.

Do they not see that we have established a safe precinct[692] while all around them men are being spoiled? Will they then believe in vain idols, and not own the goodness of God?

But who acteth more wrongly than he who deviseth a lie against God, or calls the truth when it hath come to him, a lie? Is there not an abode for the infidels in Hell?

And whoso maketh efforts for us, in our ways will we guide them: for God is assuredly with those who do righteous deeds.



[677] See Sura lxviii. p. 32. The first ten verses of this Sura were revealed at Medina, after the battles of Bedr and Ohod. Nöld. p. 115.

[678] Deities for whose worship thou canst shew no authority. Comp. Tr. Jebhamoth, fol. 6. If a father saith to his son, "Defile thyself," or saith, "Make not restitution," shall he obey him? It is said (Lev. xix. 3), Let every man reverence his father and mother, but keep my Sabbaths all of you: ye are all bound to honour me. Thus also Midr. Jalkut, 604. Comp. next Sura, v. 13.

[679] The word SAY—the usual address of God or Gabriel to Muhammad—must either be considered as spoken by God to Abraham, in which case we have a curious instance of the manner in which Muhammad identifies himself with Abraham, and makes Abraham speak in words which he constantly elsewhere uses himself; or, with Wahl, we must suppose that from v. 17 to v. 22 are misplaced.

[680] Comp. Ps. cxxxix. 7.

[681] Lit. for love among yourselves, or as an object of love, i.e. devout worship.

[682] Thus Sura [lxv.] xxi. 71. The Midr. Rabbah on Gen. Par. 18, says that Haran, the father of Lot, was brought by Abraham's deliverance from the furnace to the adoption of his doctrines. Muhammad may have transferred this idea to Lot.

[683] The following passages deserve to be compared, as shewing the loose way in which Muhammad could speak of the relationship subsisting between Abraham and the other Patriarchs. See 38 below. Sura [xci.] ii. 127; [lxxxix.] vi. 84; [lviii.] xix. 50; [lxv.] xxi. 72; [lxxvii.] xii. 6. It is a curious coincidence that in the Sonna 398, 400, Joseph is said to be the Grandson, and Jacob the Son, of Abraham.

[684] Lit. was straitened in regard to them.

[685] See [lxxv.] xi. 83.

[686] So as to fly from our vengeance.

[687] Lit. in truth.

[688] With the Jews. This passage is quoted by modern Muslims in justification of their indifference with respect to the propagation of their religion. "The number of the faithful," said one of them to Mr. Lane, "is decreed by God, and no act of man can increase or diminish it." Mod. Egypt. i. p. 364. Nöldeke supposes this verse to have been revealed at Medina, and renders, Contend not except in the best way, i.e. not by words but by force.

[689] Idols.

[690] That is, you may find places of refuge where you may worship the true God in some other parts of the earth, if driven forth from your native city. This verse is very indicative of a late Meccan origin. Flight from Mecca must have been imminent when Muhammad could thus write.

[691] Lit. carry not. Comp. Matth. vi. 26; Luke xii. 24.

[692] At Mecca.

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