Translation of Verses & Commentary from Surah `Ankabut (No. 29) [62 – 69]

[62] Allah extends the sustenance to whomsoever of His slaves He will, and constricts for him.80 Surely, Allah is of all things, Knowing.

[63] And, if you asked them, ‘who brought down water out of heaven and quickened the earth thereby after its death?’ they will certainly say, ‘Allah.’ Say, praise to Allah. But rather, most of them ponder not.


80. That is, Allah’s material bounties are not dependent on belief or unbelief. (Qurtubi)

The implication is both ways. (1) Allah (swt) extends provision to an individual at one time and restricts at another. (2) He extends to some people, while He restricts to another group of people. (Alusi)

[64] And the life of this world81 is no more than an amusement and play.82Surely, the Abode of the Hereafter, it indeed is the (true) life83 – only if they knew.


81. The “this” of “this world” is to express the littleness of this world and worthlessness of its affairs.(Zamakhshari)

The following may not be a very accurate description of what this world in reality is; but it does reflect how those devoted to the Hereafter have looked at it. Alusi writes that, in the opinion of some of the Gnostics: “This world is less worthier than a dead swine’s limb, over which a leprosy-stricken dog had urinated.”

82. “That is,” comments Mawdudi, “the reality of it is no more than the children engaging in sport and pastime for a while, and then returning home. One who became a king, does not become one in reality, he is only playing his part in a game. When the time comes, he descends the throne and leaves as empty-handed as he came. Similarly, time is elusive. No phase of life is enduring and lasting. Everyone is playing out his role for a time.”

83. The construction of the word “haywan” on the pattern of “ghadban” or “lahyan” lends the connotation of activity and commotion, which is missing from the simple “hayaah,” (Zamakhshari), and, on the other hand, of exaggeration.(Razi)

[65] Then when they board a ship, they supplicate Allah, making the religion pure for Him.84 But when He rescues them to the land, behold, they associate (others with Him).85


84. This kind of reaction has been reported quite often by passengers of ships who say that when the ship encounters rough weather, rocking left and right, everybody, including the atheists, turn to God, the Supreme, begging forgiveness.(Au.)

Ibn Kathir quotes `Ikrimah b. Abu Jahl from Ibn Is-haq: When the Prophet had subdued Makkah, he left the town escaping him. He boarded a ship heading for Abyssinia. Once in deep waters, storms struck and the ship started rocking.

They began to say, “Fellow-passengers! Supplicate your Lord making your call pure for Him. No one can save you now except He.” `Ikrimah said, “By Allah!If none can rescue except He in the waters, then surely, it is He alone who can rescue on the land.”

So, he supplicated, ‘You have my promise that if I escape this, I shall go back and place my hand in Muhammad’s hand.’ “I am sure,” (He thought), “that I’ll find him kind and clement.”

Which is what, of course, he did.

85. That is, as soon as they are on land, they go back to their false beliefs and false deities. Or, it could mean that they attribute their escape to the skill of the ship’s captain and his crewmen. (Qurtubi)

[66] That86 they may be ungrateful for what We have given them, and to enjoy themselves. But soon they will know.


86. Although a few commentators have thought that the “laam” of “li-yakfuru” is “lamu-kayy,” others have thought that it is “laam-al-`Aqibah.” In Asad’s words, “The particle,li, prefixed to the subsequent verb yakfuru (‘they show [utter] ingratitude’) and yatamatta`u (‘they enjoy [or ‘go on enjoying’] their worldly life’) is not an indication of intent (‘so that’ or ‘in order that’) but merely of a causal sequence…”

[67] Do they not observe that We have made a Sanctuary secure (for them) while people are snatched away from all around them?87 Will they then believe in falsehood and be ingrate to Allah’s blessings?


87. The allusion is to the peace that the Quraysh and other Makkan pagans enjoyed, as custodians of the House of God, while others suffered violence of various kinds. The situation was that any individual other than they could be kidnapped, enslaved and sold as a slave, if a powerful tribe did not support him.(Au.)

Mawdudi comments: “That is, has the city of Makkah, in whose surroundings they enjoy perfect safety and security, been declared a Sanctuary by their deities?”

Asad picks up spiritual overtones. He writes: “In contrast to the ‘sanctuary secure’ – the inner peace and sense of spiritual fulfillment which God bestows on those who truly believe in Him – the atheist or agnostic, is more often than not exposed to fear of the Unknown and a despair born of uncertainty as to what will happen to him after death.”

[68] And who can be more unjust than He who forged a lie on Allah, or cried lies to the truth when it came to him?88 Is not in Jahannum a home for the unbelievers?


88. The addition of the words, “when it came to him” implies that they did not wait to consider and weigh the truth when it came to them, but at once denied it, immediately as it came.(Alusi)

[69] And those who strived in Us,89 We shall surely guide them to Our ways.90 Verily, Allah is with those who do things well.91


89.“All that man can do is to strive in Allah’s Cause. As soon as he strives with might and main, with constancy and determination, the Light and Mercy of Allah (swt) come to meet him. They cure his defects and shortcomings. They provide him with the means by which he can raise himself above himself. They point out the Way, and all the Paths leading up to it.” (Yusuf Ali)

90. That is, We shall guide them to the several ways by which Our Pleasure can be obtained. (Alusi)

Yusuf Ali elaborates: “The Way of Allah (Sirat-ul-Mustaqim) is a Straight Way. But men have strayed from it in all directions. And there are numerous Paths by which they can get back to the Right Way, the way in which the purity of their own nature, and the Will and Mercy of Allah (swt) require them to Walk. All these numerous Paths become open to them if once they give their hearts in keeping to Allah (swt) and work in right Endeavour with all their mind and soul and resources. Thus will they get out of the Spider’s web of this frail world and attain to eternal Bliss in the fulfillment of their true Destiny.”

Asad adds: “The plural used here is meant to stress the fact – alluded to so often in the Qur’an – that there are many paths which lead to a cognizance (ma`rifah) of God.”

Majid has a pertinent point to make: “Note that mere sincere search after God and His truths, apart from all consequences, is promised reward. Sincerity of purpose is the main thing; good results will follow of themselves.”

The above reminds us of an American new-Muslim’s story told us by other than he.

His mother fell sick and they lost hope of her recovery. He prayed to God that if she recovered he would devote himself to His service. She recovered but he, being a nominal Christian, did not know how to serve God. He went about with the thought that he needed to find God and serve Him.

One day, he was sitting with a fellow Muslim on a bench in a college campus while she was going through her mail. She had received some religious literature and he began to browse. He came across a word that somehow struck a note in him. It was ‘A`isha. He asked the girl how it was said. She pronounced it. It struck chord.

Twice he had heard in his dreams a voice saying ‘A`isha, but being American he hadn’t known what it meant or that it was a name. He followed the trail and became a Muslim: “Allah guides whom He will to a Straight Path.” (The Qur’an 2: 213) – Au.

Some scholars have said that he who practices what he knows, receives Divine impulse for loftier deeds. It is also said that what we see of our ignorance concerning what we do not know, is because of our failure with what we already know. (Kashshaf)

Ibn Kathir adds that `Abbas al-Hamdani of `Akka said, while commenting on these words of Allah, [“And those who strive in Us, We shall surely guide them to Our ways”], that the meaning is, “those who live by what they know; gain Allah’s guidance to what they do not know.”

Ahmad b. al-Hawwari said that I mentioned this explanation to Abu Sulayman al-Daarani. He felt pleased but added the caution, “It is not right of anyone who has been inspired to a good deed, to actually do it, unless he finds support for it from the primary sources of Islam. If he finds support for it there, he can put it into action and express gratitude to Allah (swt) for having created corroboration and acceptance for the deed in his heart.”

91. Ibn Abi Hatim has reported Sha`bi as saying, “`Isa ibn Maryam had said: ‘Ihsan is that you should do good to him who ill-treated you; it is not ihsan that you should do good to someone who did you good.’” (IbnKathir).

(The Surah ends here)


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