Signs in the Universe:Al-Ankabut (The Spider)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْلِيَاء كَمَثَلِ الْعَنكَبُوتِ اتَّخَذَتْ بَيْتًا وَإِنَّ أَوْهَنَ الْبُيُوتِ لَبَيْتُ الْعَنكَبُوتِ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ

“The example of those who take allies other than Allah is like that of the spider who takes a home. And indeed, the flimsiest of homes is the home of the spider, if they only knew.”

[Al-Qur’an – Surah Al-Ankabut: 41]

Scientific facts:

  • Spiders are found all over the world in all sorts of habitats from the sea shore to the dessert – on the ground, under rocks, on plants, in trees, in caves, on water. Each type of spider tends to be found in a habitat to which it has become specifically adapted.
  • All spiders travel around their immediate territory on foot. But small and young spiders can travel for many miles being carried through the air by a breeze.
  • All spiders are carnivorous. Most spiders eat insects but a few of the larger species are big enough to prey on small vertebrate animals like mice or small birds.
  • There are now about 35,000 named species of spiders worldwide.
  • All webs are designed to catch food. Since spiders do not have great eyesight, they usually use the vibrations of the web strands to locate their prey. When they do, they rush on over and wrap their victim in silk, turning it around and around until it is covered. Then the spider pokes its fangs into the insect and shoots poison into it, which turns its guts into liquid, the spider then sucks out the liquid.
  • The female, in some types of spiders, kills the male as soon as the fertilization takes place. Being larger in size and more violent, the female kills the male and eats its body.

 In some cases, the female eats its youngsters mercilessly. In some types, the female dies after fertilizing its eggs, which are usually fostered in a silk bag.

The Spider Web:
The web
Three simple forms of web can be recognized.

  1. The sheet web
  2. The orb web


         3.  The spatial web.



The most well known form is the orb web.

How is this web constructed?
The most difficult part is the construction of the first thread. This is a sturdy horizontal thread on which the rest of the web is hanging.

How does the spider connect this thread between the two connecting points? She cannot fly.

Does she connect a thread at one place, walk down with an enrolling thread behind her to the other side which pulls the thread horizontal and connects it? No, the answer is simpler. She makes use of the wind and some luck.

The weakest of Homes:

The spider’s house, from the physical point of view, is the weakest house of all, because it is made out of a number of very delicate silk threads. These threads are interwoven, leaving large separating spaces at most times. Therefore, they do not protect from the heat of the sun, or the extreme cold. These threads do not form adequate shade, nor protect from the rain, storming winds, or the dangers of attackers. This is despite the miraculous building of this house.

The weakness is in the spider’s house and not the threads; for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) calls it the flimsiest of homes. This is a clear indication that the weakness and frailty are within the spider’s house and not the spider’s threads. This is a very precise indication. The threads of the spider’s house are made of very delicate silk. The thickness of one thread is usually one millionth of the squared inch, or one part of four thousand parts of the thickness of the ordinary human hair. Despite its delicacy, it is the strongest biological substance known to mankind so far. The silk threads which make up the spider’s web are considered stronger than steel, and their strength is surpassed only by the melted quartz. The thin thread stretches to five times its length before it is cut. Therefore, the scientists call it “biological steel “or “bio-steel”. It is twenty times stronger than the ordinary metal steel. Its tolerance measures 300,000 pounds for the square inch. Hypothetically speaking, should there be a thick rope of the spider’s threads, in the size of the thumb, it can easily carry a “jumbo” jet!

The parable of those who take others besides Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) in worship is made to that of a spider in the above ayah. Just like the weakest house is that of a spider, the ones worshipped besides Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) are also weak.

Also, if we were to analyze the household of a spider we would find it weak in the fact that it is lacking in love and kindness. The female kills the male spider, after mating. Not only does it kill the male but it also eats its body. Soon after the eggs hatch, spiderlings find themselves in a crowded place and fight for food and space. They start killing each other till eventually a few spiderlings remain. On the road to achieving this goal, some of the spiderlings die, whereas those who survive repeat the same tragedy. This makes the spider’s house the most violent and ruthless house, lacking all forms of kinship.

Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) calls us to reflect and not be like such a weak creature. Not only is its house weak but the creature is weak too. Similarly not only are idols and those worshipped besides Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ) weak, but the individuals worshiping such are weak.

Though this creature has poor eyesight, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )has compensated with a sensitive warning touch. Through hair on its body, a spider can detect the smallest vibration, given off by living creatures, hence making them able to detect where the insects are on the web. Spiders’ sensitivity to vibrations on their webs is so well developed that they can tell whether the source is prey caught on the web or a male spider coming to mate.

The spider’s legs are best endowed with such sensory hairs.  An amazing thing to note is that when a spider loses its leg, it grows a replacement leg soon after! Subhaan Allah  this leads us towards developing conviction in the power and might of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى ).

Though a spider’s web is weak, Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى ) Qudrah (ability) is also found in it. It is only under Allah’s (سبحانه وتعالى ) command that a spider could learn to spin such a complex structure.

A spider’s web is a sticky net which acts as a trap for flying insects. Once trapped, an insect meets its destruction.

Similarly idolaters, who revere gods other than Allah (سبحانه وتعالى )and call people to revere such gods are in fact calling people towards shirk through an artful trap which eventually leads to their ultimate destruction in this life and the Hereafter.

Miracle of the Quran:
In the Qur’an there is a Surah (chapter) titled “al-Ankabut”, which means “spider” in Arabic. Allah  (سبحانه وتعالى ) states in the 41st verse of this Surah “The example of those who take allies other than Allah is that of the spider who takes a home. And indeed, the weakest of homes is the home of the spider if they only knew.”  The word “ittakhadhat’  means ‘who takes’ and it has the letter “taa” at the end of the word which gives it the third person feminine meaning. Hence, it can be understood from this that the female spider is the one that builds the web.


Further reading:

About Quran Reflections

Al-Huda's branch at Khayaban-e-Sehar is one of the few Quran courses being regularly conducted in Karachi, Pakistan, where the mode of instruction and examination is English. The students and teachers have decided to upload their reflections on the Quran and class notes on this blog, in order to be available to a global audience for the latter's benefit and inspiration.
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2 Responses to Signs in the Universe:Al-Ankabut (The Spider)

  1. Kulsoom says:

    This was a very nice reflection about the spider and how Allah created the spider and it is really amazing how the spider is created and we should be grateful to Allah whenever we see something that is nice in Allah’s creation.

  2. It is amazing how each creation mentioned in the Qur’an is so significant and important for reflection. Even the dunya is like a web, if we get caught up in it, we just cannot seem to get out of it. Think about how it is time for salah and we have our household duties to take care of and we say, “let me finish this and i will pray.” Then something else comes up and we say, “let me finish this and i will pray.” The whole process of getting to the salah is like brushing off a cobweb off your clothes! This is how dunya traps us and we become victims of our own desires…..May Allah (SWT) guide us to the Straight Path. Ameen.

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