Showing posts with label The Spider. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Spider. Show all posts

Monday 11 March 2019

Surah Al Ankabut "The Spider": Exegesis of 29th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Surah Al-‘Ankabūt is the twenty ninth surah with 69 ayahs with seven rukus, part of the 20th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an, revealed in Makkah.

This is the second post on surah. The earlier post gave out an overview of the surah along with an enlightening video giving away the gist of the surah by Nouman Ali Khan.   

Let us now read the translation and exegesis in English of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter (For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given below):

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

1. Alif-Lam-Mim.
[These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.]

In verses 2-7 Allah tests the believers to see who is truthful and who is a liar 
2. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. 
The verse 2 above was revealed to address the concerns of the newly reverted Muslims who were mercilessly being tortured, their properties confiscated or burnt and their life made miserable to an extent that some of the meek and weak were losing hope for their future as Muslims. Though these trying circumstances could not shake the determination of the strong willed companions, naturally they also were sometimes overwhelmed by an intense feeling of anxiety and distraction. An instance of this is found in the tradition of Khabbab bin Arat (may Allah be pleased with him), which has been related by Bukhari, Abu Daud and Nasai. He says, “During the time when we had become tired of our persecution by the mushriks, one day I saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) sitting in the shade of the wall of the Kabah. I went up to him and said, O Messenger of Allah, don’t you pray for us. Hearing this, his face became red with feeling and emotion, and he said, The believers who have gone before you had been subjected to even greater persecutions. Some one of them was made to sit in a ditch in the earth and was sawed into two pieces from head to foot. Someone’s joints were rubbed with iron combs so as to withhold him from the faith. By God, this mission will be accomplished and the time is not far when a person will travel without apprehension from Sana to Hadramaut and there will be none but Allah Whom he will fear.”

Thus, Allah tells the believers, “No one can become worthy of Our promises of success in the world and the Hereafter merely by verbal profession of the faith, but every claimant to the faith will have to pass through trials and tribulations so as to furnish proof of the truth of his claim. “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out, when will Allah’s help come? (Then only they were comforted with the good tidings:) “Yes, Allah’s help is near!” (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 214). Similar messages are found in (Surah Aal- Imran: Ayat 179), (Surah At-Taubah: Ayat 16) and (Surah Muhammad: Ayat 31). Allah in these verses has impressed on the Muslims that trial is the touchstone by which the pure and the impure are judged. The impure is turned aside by Allah and the pure is selected so that Allah may honor them with His favors which the only sincere believers deserve.
3. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). 
In verse 3, in response to “It is necessary that Allah should find out,” a question may be asked: “When Allah already knows the truth of the truthful and the untruth of the liar, why should He put the people to the test for the sake of these” The answer is: Until a person has manifested his potential and capability to do a thing in practical terms, justice requires that he neither deserves any rewards nor any punishment. The knowledge Allah already possesses about the capabilities of the people and about their conduct in the future is not enough to satisfy the requirements of justice until the people have manifested their potentialities in practical ways. Justice with Allah is not based on the knowledge that a person possesses a tendency to steal and will commit a theft, but on the knowledge that he has actually committed a theft. Likewise, Allah does not bestow favors and rewards on the basis of the knowledge that a person has the potential and capability to become a great believer and fighter in His way, but on the basis of the knowledge that the person concerned has practically proved by deed and action that he is a sincere believer and a brave fighter in His way. 
4. Do the evil-doers suppose that they will get the better of Us? How evil is their judgement! 
This may refer to all those people who disobey Allah’s commands but here particularly it implies those wicked chiefs of the Quraish, who were in the forefront in their antagonism to Islam and persecution of the converts to Islam, e.g. Walid bin Mughirah, Abu Jahl, Utbah, Shaibah, Uqbah bin Abi Muait, Hanzalah bin Wail, etc. Here the context itself requires that after exhorting the Muslims to patience and fortitude against the trials and tests, those people also should be chided and scolded, who were persecuting the believers.
اَمۡ حَسِبَ الَّذِيۡنَ يَعۡمَلُوۡنَ السَّيِّاٰتِ اَنۡ يَّسۡبِقُوۡنَا​ ؕ سَآءَ مَا يَحۡكُمُوۡنَ‏
It may also mean: “that they will escape Our grasp.” The words yasbiquna in the original may have two meanings: (1) “Whatever we will (i.e. the success of the mission of Our Messenger) should meet with failure, and whatever they wish (i.e. to frustrate the mission of Our Messenger) should be accomplished;” and (2) “We may want to seize them for their excesses and they should be able to escape and get out of Our reach.” 
5. Whoever hopes for the Meeting with Allah, then Allah’s Term is surely coming. and He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. 
That is, that Allah before Whom they will appear to render their accounts is not uninformed. He hears everything and knows every thing, and nothing about them is hidden from Him. That is, the case of the one who does not believe in the life Hereafter and thinks he is answerable to none for his deeds and there is no accountability whatever, is different. He may remain heedless and act as he likes, for he will himself see the consequences when they appear against his expectations. But those who expect that they have to meet their Lord one day and will be rewarded or punished according to their deeds, should not have the misunderstanding that the time of death is yet far off. They should rather think that it is near at hand and the respite for action is about to come to an end. Therefore, whatever they can do for their well being in the Hereafter, they should do. They should not delay self reform on account of the baseless belief that they have yet to live a long life.
6. And whosoever strives, he strives only for himself. Verily, Allah is free of all wants from the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns, and all that exists). 
That is, Allah is not asking you to exert your utmost because he stands in need of any help from you to establish His Godhead and keep it established and sustained. But He instructs you to enter this conflict because this opens the way to your own progress. Through this way only, you can get rid of the evil and follow the way of truth. Through this way alone you can develop the ability and power to rise as the standard bearers of goodness in the world and become worthy of Allah’s Paradise in the Hereafter. By waging this war you will not do any favor to Allah but will only be helping your own selves.
7. Those who believe and do good deeds, We shall cleanse them of their evil deeds and reward them according to the best of their deeds.
Iman means to believe in and accept sincerely all those things to which the Messenger of Allah and this Book invite; and As-salihat are those righteous deeds which are performed in accordance with the guidance of Allah and His Messenger. The righteous deed of the heart and mind is that man’s thinking and his ideas and his intentions should be right and pure. The righteous deed of the tongue is that man should refrain from talking evil things, and whatever he says should be just and right and true. And the righteous deed of the limbs is that man'’s entire life should be spent in Allah’s worship and in obedience to His commands and law. Two results of the belief and righteous deeds have been mentioned: (1) That man’s evils will be wiped off; and (2) that he will be rewarded for the best of his deeds better than what he will actually deserve.

Wiping off of evils means several things: (1) All kinds of sins that man might have committed before his affirmation of the faith will be pardoned as soon as he believes; (2) the errors that man might have committed after the affirmation of the faith due to human weakness, but not because of a rebellious attitude, will be overlooked in view of his good deeds; (3) man’s self reform will automatically take place when he adopts a life of belief and righteousness, and most of his weaknesses will be removed from him.

The sentence, “We shall reward them for the best of what they used to do” has two meanings: (1) Man will be given his rewards on the basis of the best of his deeds; and (2) he will be rewarded better and more handsomely than what he will actually deserve for his deeds. This thing has been stated at other places also in the Quran. For instance, in (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 160), it has been said: “He who will bring a good deed before Allah, will receive a tenfold reward for it”, and in (Surah Al-Qasas: Ayat 4): “Whoever brings a good deed, shall have a better reward than that”, and in (Surah An-Nisa: Ayat 40): “Indeed Allah does not wrong anyone even by a jot: if one does a good deed, He increases it manifold.”

In verses 8-13 the believers have been asked to be kind to your parents but do not obey them in the matter of shirk and Those who say, "Follow us we will bear your burden," are liars 
8. We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents, but if they exert pressure on you to associate with Me in My Divinity any that you do not know (to be My associate), do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I shall let you know all that you have done.
According to Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Daud and Nasai, verse 8 was sent down in respect of Saad bin Abi Waqqas. He was 18 or 19 years old when he embraced Islam. When his mother, Hamnah, daughter of Sufyan bin Umayyah (niece of Abu Sufyan), came to know that her son had become a Muslim, she said, “I will neither eat nor drink nor sit in shade unless you disown Muhammad. The rights of the mother are superior even according to Allah’s command. Therefore if you disobey me, you will be disobeying Allah too.” Saad was perplexed and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told this entire story. At that, this verse was revealed. Possibly other young men who embraced Islam in the initial stage at Makkah were also confronted with similar situations. Therefore, the same theme has been repeated forcefully in (Surah Luqman: 31:15: But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do).

What the verse means to impress is this: The rights of the parents, among the creation of Allah, are to be held as the supreme, but even if the parents force a person to adopt shirk, they should not be obeyed. The next sentence, “Of which you have no knowledge (as such)” is also noteworthy. This gives a sound reason for not obeying the parents in this regard. The parents certainly have the right that the children should serve them, respect them, and obey them in lawful things. But they do not have the right that one should obey them blindly against one’s knowledge of the reality. Therefore, there is no reason why a person should go on following his parents’ religion just because it is their religion. If the children come to know that their parents are following a false religion, they should give it up and adopt the right religion, and should not follow the wrong way whose falsehood has become clear to them even if the parents use every kind of pressure for it. When this is so in the case of even the parents, it should be so with every other person, too. No one deserves to be followed and obeyed unless one is sure that the person being followed is on the right path.
9. And for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and other items of Faith) and do righteous good deeds, surely, We shall make them enter in (the entrance of) the righteous (i.e. in Paradise).
In verse 10 below, though the speaker is a single person, he uses the plural pronoun and says, “We have believed,” Imam Razi has pointed out a subtle point in it. He says that the hypocrite always tries to be counted among the believers and mentions his faith as though he is also a true believer like others. His case is like that of a cowardly soldier who accompanies an army to the battlefield where the soldiers have fought well and put the enemy to rout. This cowardly person might have made no contribution at all, but when he returns home, he will say, “We put up a good fight and routed the enemy,” as if he was one of the heroes of the battlefield.
 10. Among people there are some who say:“We believe in Allah.” But when such a person is made to endure suffering in Allah's cause, he reckons the persecution he suffers at the hands of people as though it is a chastisement from Allah.But if victory comes from your Lord, the same person will say “We were with you.” Does Allah not know whatever is in the hearts of the people of the world?
Here, one should understand that in case of an unbearable persecution and loss and extreme fear, one is permitted to disown Islam and save one’s life, provided that he remains firm in his faith with a sincere heart. But there is a big difference between the sincere Muslim who disowns Islam under compulsion in order to save his life and the opportunist who ideologically believes in Islam as a true religion but joins the disbelievers when he sees the dangers and risks. Apparently, they do not seem to be much different from each other, but the thing which sets them apart is this:
  • The sincere Muslim who utters disbelief under compulsion not only remains attached to Islam ideologically, but practically, his sympathies remain with Islam and the Muslims; he feels happy over their successes and unhappy at their defeat. Even under compulsion he tries to avail himself of every opportunity to cooperate with the Muslims, and remains on the lookout for a chance to join his brethren in faith as soon as the grip of the enemies loosens a little. 
  • Contrary to this, when the opportunist finds that the way of the faith is difficult to follow and calculates carefully that the disadvantages of siding with Islam outweigh the advantages of rejoining the disbelievers, he turns away from Islam and the Muslims for the sake of personal safety and worldly gains, establishes friendship with the disbelievers and is prepared to carry out for his own interests any service for them, which may be utterly opposed to the faith and harmful to the Muslims. But at the same time, he does not close his eyes to the possibility that Islam also might prosper some time in the future. Therefore, whenever he gets an opportunity to talk to the Muslims, he acknowledges their ideology and admits his faith and pays homage to their sacrifices most generously, so that his verbal admissions might be helpful as and when required. 
  • In Surah An-Nisa: Ayat 141, this same bargaining mentality of the hypocrites has been described, thus: The hypocrites are watching you closely to see (how the wind blows). If victory comes to you from Allah, they will say to you, “Were we not with you?” And if the disbelievers gain the upper hand, they will say to them, “Were we not strong enough to fight against you? Yet we defended you from the Muslims.”
Verse 11: That is, Allah provides occasions for the trial again and again so that the faith of the believers and the hypocrisy of the hypocrites become manifest, and whatever is hidden in the hearts becomes exposed. The same thing has been said in (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayat 179): “Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you happen to be at present: He will surely separate the pure from the impure people.”
 11. Verily, Allah knows those who believe, and verily, He knows the hypocrites [i.e. Allah will test the people with good and hard days to discriminate the good from the wicked (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test)]. 
Verse 12: What they meant to say was: “In the first place, the talk about life hereafter and Resurrection and accountability is all meaningless. But supposing there is another life in which the people will be called to account for their deeds, we take the responsibility that we shall take the punishment, etc. on our own selves. You should, therefore, listen to us and give up this new faith and return to your ancestral religion. According to the traditions several chiefs of the Quraish used to counsel thus the people who embraced Islam in the beginning. So, when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) accepted Islam, Abu Sufyan and Harab bin Umayyah bin Khalaf met him and said these very things.
12. And those who disbelieve say to those who believe: “Follow our way and we will verily bear your sins,” never will they bear anything of their sins. Surely, they are liars. 
That is, it is not at all possible that a person should take the responsibility for another before Allah, and thus enable the actual sinner to escape the punishment of his sin, for every person will be responsible for his own deeds there. No bearer of a burden shall bear the burden of another (Sura An-Najm: Ayat 38). But if at all it be so, none will have the nerve, while the blazing Hell is ready to punish the disbelievers, to say to Allah, only for the sake of honoring his pledge in the world, “Lord, forgive this person and send him to Paradise, he had turned apostate on my counseling: I offer myself to suffer the punishment for my own disbelief as well as for his in Hell.”
13. And verily, they shall bear their own loads, and other loads besides their own, and verily, they shall be questioned on the Day of Resurrection about that which they used to fabricate.
Verse 13: That is, though they will not bear the burdens of others, they will neither escape bearing a double burden: one burden of their own selves going astray, and the burden of leading the others astray.  This principle has been stated at another place in the Quran thus “So that they should bear the full brunt of their own burdens on the Day of Resurrection together with some of the burdens of those whom they are leading astray in their ignorance.” (Surah An-Nahl: Ayat 25) The same principle has been elucidated by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this Hadith: “Whoever invited others to the right path will be granted a reward equal to the rewards of all those who listened to him and adopted the right path, without diminishing their rewards in any way. And whoever invited others to deviation will earn a sin equal to the sins of all those who followed him, without diminishing their sins in any way.”

In verses 14-22 mention of Prophet Nuh (Noah, peace be upon him) has been made wherein he admonished his people not to commit shirk for 950 years Likewise, the admonishment of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham, peace be upon him) of his people not to commit shirk
14. And indeed We sent Nuh (Noah) to his people, and he stayed among them a thousand years less fifty years [inviting them to believe in the Oneness of Allah (Monotheism), and discard the false gods and other deities], and the Deluge overtook them while they were Zalimun (wrong-doers, polytheists, disbelievers, etc.). 
Verse 14: For comparison, see (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayats 33-34), (Surah An-Nisa: Ayat 163), (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 84), (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 59-64), (Surah Yuuns: Ayats 71-73), (Surah Hud: Ayats 25-48), (Surah Al-Anbiyaa: Ayats 76-77), (Surah Al-Muminun: Ayats 23-30), (Surah Al-Furqan: Ayat 37), (Surah Ash-Shuara: Ayats 105-123), (Surah As-Saffat: Ayats 75-82), (Surah Al-Qamar: Ayats 9-15), (Surah Al- Haqqah: Ayats 11-12), Surah Nuh: Entire Surah. One should keep the initial verses of this Surah in view in order to understand the relevancy of these stories in this context. There, on the one hand, it has been said to the believers, “We have put to the test all those believers who have passed before you”, and, on the other, the wicked disbelievers have been warned to the effect: “You should not have the misunderstanding that you will outstrip Us and escape Our grasp.” It is to impress these two things that these historical events are being related here.

This does not mean that the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) lived for 950 years, but it means that after his appointment to prophethood till the coming of the flood, he went on making efforts for 950 years for the reformation of his wicked people, and he did not lose heart even though he suffered persecutions for such a long time. The same is the aim of the discourse here. The believers are being told: “You have been suffering persecutions and experiencing stubbornness of your wicked opponents hardly for six years or so. Just imagine the patience and resolution and firmness of Our servant who braved such afflictions and hardships continuously for nine and a half centuries.”

The Quran and the Bible differ about the age of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). The Bible says that he lived for 950 years. He was 600 years old when the flood came, and lived for another 350 years after the flood. But according to the Quran, he must have lived for at least a thousand years, because 950 years is the time that he spent in preaching his mission after his appointment to prophethood till the coming of the flood. Evidently, he must have been appointed to prophethood after he had attained his maturity, and must have lived some life after the flood also.
15. Then We saved him and those with him in the ship, and made it (the ship) as an Ayah (a lesson, a warning, etc.) for the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). 
In the verse 15, making the ship as a lesson may mean: “We made this dreadful punishment or this great event a sign of warning for the later generations.” But from the way this has been mentioned here and in Surah Al-Qamar, it appears that the object of warning was the ship (Ark) itself, which remained on the top of the mountain for centuries and continued to remind the later generations that a flood of such magnitude had once come in that land because of which the Ark had risen up to rest on the mountain. In (Surah Al-Qamar: Ayats 13- 15), it has been said: “And We bore Noah upon a thing (Ark) made of planks and nails, which floated under Our care. This was a vengeance for the sake of him who had been slighted. And We left that Ark as a sign. Then, is there any who would take admonition?”

In the next vere, mention of Prophet Ibraheem (Abraham, peace be upon him) is made:
16. And (remember) Ibrahim (Abraham) when he said to his people: “Worship Allah (Alone), and fear Him, that is better for you if you did but know. 
That is, “Fear disobeying Him and associating others with Him.”

Similar verses can also be found in (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayats 122-141, 258-260); (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayats 64-71); (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayats 71-82); (Surah Hud: Ayats 69-83); (Surah Ibrahim: Ayats 35-41); (Surah Al-Hijr: Ayats 45-60); (Surah Maryam: Ayats 41-50); (Surah Al-Anbiyaa: Ayats 51-75); (Surah Ash- Shuaraa: Ayats 69-104); (Surah As-Safftat: Ayats 75-113); (Surah Az-Zukhruf: Ayats 26-35); (Surah Az-Zariyat: Ayats 24-46).
17. “You worship besides Allah only idols, and you only invent falsehood. Verily, those whom you worship besides Allah have no power to give you provision, so seek your provision from Allah (Alone), and worship Him (Alone), and be grateful to Him. To Him (Alone) you will be brought back. 
The first half of the verse is related to equating gods with one sovereign and supreme Allah.  It means that these idols are in themselves a lie. Then your beliefs that they are gods and goddesses, or they are incarnation of God, or His offspring, or His favorites, or intercessors with Him, or that someone of them is bestower of health, or giver of children or jobs, are all lies, which you have invented from your own whims and conjecture. The fact is that they are in no way more than idols, lifeless, powerless and impotent.”

In these few sentences the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) has put together all rational arguments against idol worship. There must necessarily be some reason for making somebody or something a deity.
  • One such reason can be that somebody should be entitled to being a deity due to some personal excellence. 
  • Another, that he should be the creator of man, and man should be indebted to him for his existence. 
  • Third, that he should be responsible for man’s sustenance, his food and other means of life. 
  • Fourth, that man’s future should be linked up with his support and bounty, and man may be afraid that annoying him would mean bringing about his own ruin. 
The Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said that none of these four things favored idol worship, but they all favored and demanded pure God worship. Saying that “You worship other than Allah only idols”, he demolished the first argument, for a mere idol could have no excellence to entitle it to be a deity. Then, by saying that “And you invent a falsehood”, he refuted the second argument, and “They have no power to give you provision” destroyed the third reason. Lastly, he said, “To Him you will be brought back” and not to the idols; therefore, it was not in their power to make or mar your destiny, but in the power of God alone. Thus, after a complete refutation of shirk, the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) made it clear to them that all the reasons for which man could regard somebody as a deity only applied to Allah, Who alone should be worshiped without associating anyone else with him.
18. “And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers). And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly.” 
That is, if you reject my invitation to Tawhid and deny my message that you have to return to your Lord and render an account of your deeds, it will not be a new thing. In the history of mankind many Prophets like Noah, Hud, Salih (peace be upon them) have also brought the same teachings, and their peoples denied them likewise. Now you may judge for yourselves as to whether they harmed the Prophets or only themselves.

From verse 19 to the end of verse 23 is a parenthesis, which has been interposed in the story of the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and addressed to the disbelievers of Makkah.
19. See they not how Allah originates creation, then repeats it. Verily, that is easy for Allah. 20. Say: “Travel in the land and see how (Allah) originated creation, and then Allah will bring forth (resurrect) the creation of the Hereafter (i.e. resurrection after death). Verily, Allah is Able to do all things.” 21. He punishes whom He will, and shows mercy to whom He will, and to Him you will be returned. 22. And you cannot escape in the earth or in the heaven. And besides Allah you have neither any Wali (Protector or Guardian) nor any Helper. 23. And those who disbelieve in the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and the Meeting with Him, it is they who have no hope of My Mercy, and it is they who will (have) a painful torment.
The relevance of this interposition in the story, which is being related for the admonition of the disbelievers, is that they were basically involved in two kinds of deviation: shirk and idol worship, and the denial of the Hereafter. The first of these has been refuted in the Prophet Abraham’s (peace be upon him) speech as related above. Now the second is being refuted in these few sentences by Allah Himself.

That is, On the one hand, countless new things come into existence from non existence, and on the other, similar new members continue coming into existence to take the place of the dying members of every species. The polytheists acknowledged that that was all due to Allah’s power of creation and invention. They never denied Allah being a Creator, just as the polytheists of today do not do. Therefore, the argument has been based upon what they themselves acknowledged as a reality, as if to say, “How do you think that God, Who, according to your own belief, brings things into existence from non existence, and does not create things just once, but goes on bringing into existence similar things in place of the dying things repeatedly in front of your very eyes, will not be able to raise you back to life after death?”

Verses 24-27 make a mention of the people of Prophet Ibraheem who tried to burn him alive but Allah saved him and Prophet Lut (Lot, peace be upon him), Prophet Ibraheem's nephew, is the only one who affirmed his belief with him
24. So nothing was the answer of [Ibraheem’s (Abraham)] people except that they said: “Kill him or burn him.” Then Allah saved him from the fire. Verily, in this are indeed signs for a people who believe. 
That is, they had no answer to the Prophet Abraham’s (peace be upon him) rational arguments. The only answer they gave was: “Kill him or burn him”, indicate that the whole crowd was unanimous that the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) should be put to death. However, they differed about the method. Some said that he should be killed, and others said that he should be burnt alive, so that no one in future should dare say the sort of the thing he said.

This sentence by itself shows that they had at last decided to burn the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and he was cast into the fire. Here it has only been said that Allah saved him from the fire; but in Surah Al-Anbiyaa it has been elucidated that Allah commanded: “O fire! Be cool and become safe for Abraham!” (Ayat 69). This proves that properties of all things are dependent on Allah’s command and whenever He pleases He can change the property of anything He likes. Normally fire burns and every combustible thing catches fire. But this property of the fire is not of its own acquisition but given by God.

“Indeed, in that are sure signs for a people who believe”. Signs for the believers in this that the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) did not follow the religion of his family, community and country but followed the true knowledge through which he came to know that shirk is falsehood and Tawhid is the reality. And that he went on exhorting his people to accept the truth and to desist from falsehood in spite of their stubbornness and prejudices. And that he was even prepared to suffer the horrible punishment by the fire, but was not prepared to give up the truth. And that Allah did not even spare the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), His friend, from the trials and tests. And that when the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) got successfully through the tests set by Allah, then did come Allah’s succor, and in such a miraculous way that the bonfire was turned cool for him.
25. And [Ibrahim (Abraham)] said: “You have taken (for worship) idols instead of Allah, and the love between you is only in the life of this world, but on the Day of Resurrection, you shall disown each other, and curse each other, and your abode will be the Fire, and you shall have no helper.” 
The Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) must have said this after his safe deliverance from the fire. That is, you have built up your collective life on the foundation of idol worship instead of God worship. This can keep you bound together as a nation only to the extent of mundane life. For here in this world people can get together around any creed, true or false. Any kind of agreement and concord on any belief, however wrong and ill conceived, can become a means of the establishment of mutual friendships, kinships, brotherhoods, and all other religious, social, cultural, economic and political relationships.
26. Then did Lot believe him,44 and Abraham said: “I am emigrating unto my Lord. He is All-Powerful, All-Wise,” 27. And We bestowed on him [Ibrahim (Abraham)], Ishaque (Isaac) and Ya’qub (Jacob), and ordained among his offspring Prophethood and the Book [i.e. the Taurat (Torah) (to Musa – Moses), the Injeel (Gospel) (to ‘Iesa – Jesus), the Qur’an (to Muhammad ), all from the offspring of Ibrahim (Abraham)], and We granted him his reward in this world, and verily, in the Hereafter he is indeed among the righteous.
Verses 28-35 make a mention of Prophet Lut who was appointed as a prophet towards the nation of homosexuals, but the sinners rejected Allah's guidance; as a result Allah destroyed them all. [ A separate post "Prophet Lut (Lot) and Allah's Wrath on his people" has already been published earlier about Prophet Lut and the Wrath of Allah on his people. ]
28. We sent Lut and he said to his people: “You commit the abomination that none in the world ever committed before you. 
For details also refer to (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayats 80-84); (Surah Hud: Ayats 69-83); (Surah Al-Hijr: Ayats 57-79); (Surah Al-Anbiyaa: Ayats 71-75); (Surah Ash-Shuaraa: Ayats 160-175); (Surah An-Naml: Ayats 54 59); (Surah As-Saffat: Ayats 133-138); (Surah Al-Qamar: Ayats 33-40).
29. What! Do you go to men (to satisfy your lust), engage in highway robbery, and commit evil deeds in your gatherings?” Then they had no answer to offer other than to say: “Bring Allah's chastisement upon us if you are truthful.” 
That is, “You satisfy your sex desire with the males.” As stated in (Surah Al-Aaraf: Ayat 81), “you gratify your lust with men instead of women.” And that “You do not even hide yourself when you commit this filthy act, but commit it openly in your assemblies, in front of others.” The same has been stated in (Surah An-Naml: Ayat 54), thus: “Do you commit the indecency while you see it?” And when all his persuasions remained unheard, Prophet Lut cried out his heart to Allah:
30. He said: “My Lord! Give me victory over the people who are Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts). 
And Allah surely did listen to his servant and sent two angels sent to destroy the tyrant and evil people of Lut. According to the details given of this in Surah Hud and Surah A1-Hijr, the angels who had been sent to bring the torment on the people of the Prophet Lot (peace be upon him), first came to the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and gave him the good news of the birth of the Prophet Isaac (peace be upon him) and after him of the Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him). Then they told him that they had been sent to destroy the people of Lot (peace be upon him).
31. When Our emissaries brought the good news to Abraham, and said (to him): “We are surely going to destroy the inhabitants of this city; its inhabitants are immersed in wrongdoing.” 
“This habitation” refers to the territory of the people of Lot (peace be upon him). The Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) at that time resided in the Palestinian city of Hebron, now called Al-Khalil. A few miles to the southeast of this city lies that part of the Dead Sea, which was once inhabited by the people of Lot (peace be upon him) and which is now under sea water. It is a low lying area and is clearly visible from the hill country of Hebron. That is why the angels, pointing towards it, had said "We are going to destroy this habitation."
32. Ibrahim (Abraham) said: “But there is Lout (Lot) in it.” They said:”We know better who is there, we will verily save him [Lout (Lot)] and his family, except his wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk).” 
 And then they visited the Prophet Lut and told him of their purpose of visit. The details of arrival of the angels, the lust over them by the sinning people and what later happened to them has already been covered in our earlier post mentioned above.
33. And when Our Messengers came to Lout (Lot), he was grieved because of them, and felt straitened on their account. They said: “Have no fear, and do not grieve! Truly, we shall save you and your family, except your wife, she will be of those who remain behind (i.e. she will be destroyed along with those who will be destroyed from her folk). 34. Verily, we are about to bring down on the people of this town a great torment from the sky, because they have been rebellious (against Allah’s Command).” 35. And indeed We have left thereof an evident Ayah (a lesson and a warning and a sign the place where the Dead Sea is now in Palestine) for a folk who understand.
The torment that befell on the people of Lut was unimaginable. This was not a rain of water but a rain of stones. According to the details given at other places in the Quran, when Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) had left the place along with the people of his household in the last hours of the night, there occurred a terrible explosion at dawn and a violent earthquake, which turned all their habitations upside down and rained on them stones of baked clay as a result of a volcanic eruption and a strong blast of wind.

The hundreds of ruins found in the waste and uninhabited land lying to the south and east of the Dead Sea indicate that this must have been a prosperous and thickly populated area in the past. The archaeologists have estimated that the age of prosperity of this land lasted between 2300 and 1900 B.C. According to historians, Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) lived about 2000 B.C. Thus the archaeological evidence confirms that this land was destroyed in the time of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) and his nephew Prophet Lot (peace be upon him).

The most populous and fertile part of the area was the vale of Siddim as mentioned in the Bible: And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt (Gen. 13: 10). The present day scholars are of the opinion that valley is now under the Dead Sea and this opinion is supported by firm archaeological evidence. In the ancient times, the Dead Sea did not so much extend to the south as it does today. Opposite and to the west of the present Jordanian city of Al-Karak, there is a small peninsula called Al-Lisan. This was the end of the sea in ancient days. The area to the south of it, which is now under sea water was a fertile valley, the vale of Siddim, in which were situated Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, Zoar, the famous cities of the people of Lot. In about 2000 B.C. this valley sank as a result of a violent earthquake and was submerged in sea water. Even today this is the most shallow part of the Sea. In the Roman period it was more so and was fordable from Al-Lisan to the western coast. One can still see submerged jungles along the southern coast and there might as well be submerged buildings.

According to the Bible and the ancient Greek and Latin writings, the region abounded in pits of petroleum and asphalt and at places inflammable gas also existed. It appears from the geological observations that with the violent earthquake shocks, petroleum, gases and asphalt were thrown up and ignited, and the whole region exploded like a bomb. The Bible says that when Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) got the news and went from Hebron to see the affected valley, he saw that the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. (Gen. 19: 28).

In verses 36-40 mention of the nations of 'Ad, Thamud, Madyan and Fir'on has been made who all rejected the messengers of Allah, and asked for wrath of Allah to befall on them.
36. And to (the people of) Madyan (Midian), We sent their brother Shu’aib (Shuaib). He said: “O my people! Worship Allah, and hope for (the reward of good deeds by worshipping Allah Alone, on) the last Day, and commit no mischief on the earth as Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts). 37. And they belied him [Shu’aib (Shuaib)], so the earthquake seized them, and they lay (dead), prostrate in their dwellings. 38. And ‘Ad and Thamud (people)! And indeed (their destruction) is clearly apparent to you from their (ruined) dwellings. Shaitan (Satan) made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and turned them away from the (Right) Path, though they were intelligent. 39. And (We destroyed also) Qarun (Korah), Fir’aun (Pharaoh), and Haman. And indeed Musa (Moses) came to them with clear Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), but they were arrogant in the land, yet they could not outstrip Us (escape Our punishment). 40. So We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hasiban (a violent wind with shower of stones) [as the people of Lout (Lot)], and of them were some who were overtaken by As-Saihah [torment – awful cry, etc. (as Thamud or Shu’aib’s people)], and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow [as Qarun (Korah)], and of them were some whom We drowned [as the people of Nuh (Noah), or Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his people]. It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.
Parable of those who take protectors other than Allah has been made in verses 41-44.
41. The likeness of those who take Auliya’ (protectors and helpers) other than Allah is as the likeness of a spider, who builds (for itself) a house, but verily, the frailest (weakest) of houses is the spider’s house; if they but knew.
In verse 41, the mention of spider has been used as a parable. The Spiders web is a great sign of God's creation. The structure exemplifies material and strength. The threads are very strongly built to catch a prey but in reality it is a weak house floating in the air. It can easily be destroyed by the mere fingertips of a man, by a large animal or by natural catastrophes. So is the parable of mankind. A man who relies on material resources and lives in glitz and glamour has nothing at all compared to the eternal reality. Their life is built on false hopes that can be broken very easily by God. Their so-called strength is actually a spiritual weakness that will lead to destruction. 
42. Verily, Allah knows what things they invoke instead of Him. He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. 43. And these similitudes We put forward for mankind, but none will understand them except those who have knowledge (of Allah and His Signs, etc.). 44. (Allah says to His Prophet Muhammad ): “Allah (Alone) created the heavens and the earth with truth (and none shared Him in their creation).” Verily! Therein is surely a sign for those who believe.
Verses 45-51 stress on the importance of prayers "Salah" which keep one away from the shameful deeds and it has also been asked of the Prophet of Allah to not to argue with the People of the Book except in good taste
45. Recite (O Muhammad ) what has been revealed to you of the Book (the Qur’an), and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat). Verily, As-Salat (the prayer) prevents from Al-Fahsha’ (i.e. great sins of every kind, unlawful sexual intercourse, etc.) and Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism, and every kind of evil wicked deed, etc.) and the remembering (praising, etc.) of (you by) Allah (in front of the angels) is greater indeed [than your remembering (praising, etc.) Allah in prayers, etc.]. And Allah knows what you do. 46. And argue not with the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), unless it be in (a way) that is better (with good words and in good manner, inviting them to Islamic Monotheism with His Verses), except with such of them as do wrong, and say (to them): “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you; our Ilah (God) and your Ilah (God) is One (i.e. Allah), and to Him we have submitted (as Muslims).” 47. And thus We have sent down the Book (i.e this Qur’an) to you (O Muhammad ), and those whom We gave the Scripture [the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) aforetime] believe therein as also do some of these (who are present with you now like ‘Abdullah bin Salam) and none but the disbelievers reject Our Ayat [(proofs, signs, verses, lessons, etc., and deny Our Oneness of Lordship and Our Oneness of worship and Our Oneness of Our Names and Qualities: i.e. Islamic Monotheism)]. 48. Neither did you (O Muhammad ) read any book before it (this Qur’an), nor did you write any book (whatsoever) with your right hand. In that case, indeed, the followers of falsehood might have doubted. 49. Nay, but they, the clear Ayat [i.e the description and the qualities of Prophet Muhammad written like verses in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)] are preserved in the breasts of those who have been given knowledge (from the people of the Scriptures). And none but the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers, etc.) deny Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). 50. And they say: “Why are not signs sent down to him from his Lord? Say: “The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a plain warner.” 51. Is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) which is recited to them? Verily, herein is mercy and a reminder (or an admonition) for a people who believe.
Verses 52-63 make a mention of those who believe in falsehood and disbelieve Allah shall be the losers. It has also been said that How many creatures are there who do not carry their provisions with them ? Allah provides them as He provides you
52. Say (to them O Muhammad ): “Sufficient is Allah for a witness between me and you. He knows what is in the heavens and on earth.” And those who believe in Batil (all false deities other than Allah), and disbelieve in Allah and (in His Oneness), it is they who are the losers. 53. And they ask you to hasten on the torment (for them), and had it not been for a term appointed, the torment would certainly have come to them. And surely, it will come upon them suddenly while they perceive not! 54. They ask you to hasten on the torment. And verily! Hell, of a surety, will encompass the disbelievers. 55. On the Day when the torment (Hell-fire) shall cover them from above them and from underneath their feet, and it will be said: “Taste what you used to do.” 56. O My slaves who believe! Certainly, spacious is My earth. Therefore worship Me (Alone).” 57. Everyone shall taste the death. Then unto Us you shall be returned. 58. And those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, to them We shall surely give lofty dwellings in Paradise, underneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Excellent is the reward of the workers. 59. Those who are patient, and put their trust (only) in their Lord (Allah). 60. And so many a moving (living) creature there is, that carries not its own provision! Allah provides for it and for you. And He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. 61. If you were to ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?” They will surely reply: “Allah.” How then are they deviating (as polytheists and disbelievers)? 62. Allah enlarges the provision for whom He wills of His slaves, and straitens it for whom (He wills). Verily, Allah is the All-Knower of everything. 63. If you were to ask them: “Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death?” They will surely reply: “Allah.” Say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah!” Nay! Most of them have no sense.
The concluding verses 64-69 press upon the reality that the life of this world is nothing but a pastime, the real life is the life Hereafter and Those who strive in Allah's cause, Allah does guide them to His Way.
64. And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew. 65. And when they embark on a ship, they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others. 66. So that they become ingrate for that which We have given them, and that they take their enjoyment (as a warning and a threat), but they will come to know. 67. Have they not seen that We have made (Makkah) a sanctuary secure, and that men are being snatched away from all around them? Then do they believe in Batil (falsehood – polytheism, idols and all deities other than Allah), and deny (become ingrate for) the Graces of Allah? 68. And who does more wrong than he who invents a lie against Allah or denies the truth (Muhammad and his doctrine of Islamic Monotheism and this Qur’an), when it comes to him? Is there not a dwelling in Hell for disbelievers (in the Oneness of Allah and in His Messenger Muhammad )? 69. As for those who strive hard in Us (Our Cause), We will surely guide them to Our Paths (i.e. Allah’s Religion – Islamic Monotheism). And verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (good doers).”
You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah Al-‘Ankabūt with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 

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Friday 1 March 2019

Surah Al Ankabut "The Spider": Overview of 29th Chapter of the Holy Quran

Surah Al-‘Ankabūt is the twenty ninth surah with 69 ayahs with seven rukus, part of the 20th Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an, revealed in Makkah.

The Surah takes its name from verse 41 in which the word Ankabut (Spider) has occurred:
 مَثَلُ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّخَذُوا۟ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ أَوْلِيَآءَ كَمَثَلِ ٱلْعَنكَبُوتِ ٱتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا ۖ وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ ٱلْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ ٱلْعَنكَبُوتِ ۖ لَوْ كَانُوا۟ يَعْلَمُونَ
The example of those who have made guardians other than Allah is like the spider. She has made a house of cobweb. And undoubtedly, the frailest of all houses is the house of the spider. What a good thing it would have been if they knew.

Parables (comparison) are told in the Qur'an to illustrate a lesson from a religions point of view and to convey a moral wisdom. It is a teaching method that makes it easier to understand and to remember deep truths in an effective way. This kind of profound meaning can only be understood by those who seek true knowledge and attain it by the Grace of Allah. And one great comparison is mentioned in Surah 29, Al Ankabut - The Spider.

Why the mention of spider has been made, please wait for our next post on the exegesis of this surah when the detailed answer will be given.  

Surah Al-‘Ankabūt was revealed in the later time frame since the open proclamation of Islam in Makkah when the persecution of Muslims at the hands of pagans of Makkah had reached at its peak. The disbelievers were opposing and fighting Islam tooth and nail and the new converts were being subjected to the severest oppression. And some of the tortured Muslims had started to complain to the the Prophet of Allah as to why they had been so badly treated when they were following the path of truth. Specifically, one of the companions, Khabbab ibn Al-Arat, was subject to severe torture ad was made to lie on burning sad that his entire skin was burnt. Thus he came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, asking him why was this happening to them? In answer to these painful questions, the first two verses from the Qur’an were revealed:
{Alif, Lam, Meem. Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?} 
Such were the conditions when Allah sent down this Surah to strengthen and encourage the sincere Muslims as well as to put to shame those who were showing weakness of the faith. Besides, the disbelievers of Makkah have been threatened and warned not to invite for themselves the fate that the antagonists of the Truth have been experiencing in every age.

Verses 56 to 60 clearly show that this Surah was sent down a little before the migration to Habash. Some commentators have opined that since it mentions the hypocrites, and hypocrisy appeared in Madinah, the first ten verses of this Surah were revealed at Madinah and the rest of it at Makkah; whereas the people whose hypocrisy has been mentioned here are those who had adopted a hypocritical way of life because they were afraid of the oppression and extreme physical torture to which the Muslims were being subjected by the disbelievers. Evidently, this kind of hypocrisy could be there only at Makkah and not at Madinah. Similarly, some other commentators, seeing that in this Surah the Muslims have been exhorted to migrate, have regarded it as the last Surah to be revealed at Makkah, whereas the Muslims had migrated to Habash even before their migration to Madinah. These opinions are not based on any tradition but on the internal evidence of the subject matter, and this internal evidence, when considered against the subject matter of the Surah as a whole, points to the conditions prevailing in the time of the migration to Habash and not to the last stage at Makkah.

This surah also answers some of the questions of the young men, whose parents were urging them to abandon Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him), and return to their ancestral religion, for they argued: "The Qur'an in which you have put your faith, regards the rights of the parents as the uppermost; therefore, listen to what we say; otherwise you will be working against the dictates of your own Faith." This has been answered in verse 8.

Similarly, the people of some clans said to the new converts to Islam, "Leave the question of punishments, etc., to us. Listen to us and abandon this man. If God seizes you in the Hereafter, we will come forward and say, 'Lord, these people are innocent: we had forced them to give up the Faith; therefore, seize us'." This has been dealt with, in verses 12-13.

The stories mentioned in this Surah also impress the same point mostly, as if to say, "Look at the Prophets of the past (specifically mentioning prophets Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Lut (lot), Shuaib, Hud, Saleh, Musa (Moses), peace be upon them all): they were made to suffer great hardships and were treated cruelly for long periods. Then, at last they were helped by Allah. And those who made them suffer were destroyed and made to suffer for their sins as mentioned in verse 40:
So each We punished for his sin; of them was he on whom We sent down a violent storm, and of them was he whom the rumbling overtook, and of them was he whom We made to be swallowed up by the earth, and of them was he whom We drowned; and it did not beseem Allah that He should be unjust to them, but they were unjust to their own souls.
Therefore, the Muslims are advised to take heart: Allah's succor will certainly come. But a period of trial and tribulation has to be undergone." Besides teaching this lesson to the Muslims, the disbelievers also have been warned, as if to say, "If you are not being immediately seized by Allah, you should not form the wrong impression that you will never be seized. The signs of the doomed nations of the past are before you. Just see how they met their doom and how Allah succored the Prophets."

Then the Muslims have been instructed to the effect: "If you feel that the persecution has become unbearable for you, you should give up your homes, instead of giving up your Faith: Allah's earth is vast: seek a new place where you can worship Allah with the full peace of mind." Besides all this, the disbelievers also have been urged to understand Islam. The realities of Tawhid and the Hereafter have been impressed with rational arguments, shirk have been refuted, and drawing their attention towards the signs in the universe, they have been told that all these Signs confirm the teachings that the Prophet is presenting before them.

While we would present the detailed translation / exegesis of the surah subsequently, we herein under give a gist of Surah Al-‘Ankabūt by the renowned scholar Nouman Ali Khan in a very enlightening manner that would make you understand the entire surah and its purpose of revelation:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary and exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Part backwards for chapters in 30th Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 |
An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic souses and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. However, those wanting detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to sites the references of which are given above.

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on Social Media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Holy Qur'an - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.

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