Chapter Scripts

Surah Al-‘Ankabut: 29:11-20

29:11 [Yeah] and most certainly will God mark out those who have [truly] attained to faith, and most certainly will He mark out the hypocrites.


This passage connects with verse 2 above, “We did test those who lived before them”. The story of Noah and of his failure to convert his people occurs in the Qur’an several times, and most extensively in 11:25-48. In the present instance, it is meant to illustrate the truth that no one – not even a prophet – can bestow faith on another person (cf. 28:56 – “thou canst not guide aright everyone whom thou lovest”). The same purport underlies the subsequent references, in verses 16-40, to other prophets.

29:12 And [He is aware, too, that] they who are bent on denying the truth speak [thus, as it were,] to those who have attained to faith: “Follow our way [of life], and we shall indeed take your sins upon ourselves!” But never could they take upon themselves aught of the sins of those [whom they would thus mislead], Behold, they are liars indeed!


Sc., “and despite this great length of time was unable to convince them of the truth of his mission”. The identical figure – 950 years – is given in the Bible (Genesis ix, 29) as Noah’s lifespan. By repeating this element of the Biblical legend, the Qur’an merely stresses the fact that the duration of a prophet’s mission has nothing to do with its success or failure, since “all true guidance is God’s guidance” (3:73) – and, as we are so often told in the Qur’an, “God guides [only] him that wills [to be guided]”. Thus, the reference to Noah is meant to reassure the believer who may be distressed at seeing the majority of his fellow men refuse to accept, all at once, a truth that appears self-evident to him.

29:13 Yet most certainly will they have to bear their own burdens and other burdens besides their own; and most certainly will they be called to account on Resurrection Day for all their false assertions!


Lit., “you create a lie”.

29:14 And, Indeed, [in times long past] We sent forth Noah unto his people, and he dwelt among them a thousand years bar fifty, and then the floods overwhelmed them while they were still lost in evildoing. 


This passage – consisting of verses 19-23 – is parenthetically placed in the midst of the story of Abraham, connecting with the latter’s reference to the resurrection at the end of verse 17 (“unto Him, you shall be brought back”). The ever-recurring emergence, decay, and re-emergence of life, so vividly exemplified in all organic nature, is often cited in the Qur’an not merely in support of the doctrine of resurrection, but also as evidence of a consciously-devised plan underlying creation as such – and, thus, of the existence of the Creator.

29:15 But We saved him, together with all who were in the ark, which We then set up as a symbol [of Our grace] for all people [to remember].


Cf., for example, 23:12-14, which alludes to man’s coming into existence out of most primitive elements, and gradually evolving into a highly complex being endowed not only with a physical body but also with a mind, with feelings, and instincts.

29:16 And Abraham, [too, was inspired by Us] when he said unto his people: “Worship God, and be conscious of Him, this is the best for you if you but knew it!


Implying that such people deprive themselves of God’s grace and mercy (which is the twofold significance of the term rahmah in this context) by rejecting all belief in His existence: in other words, belief in God – or one’s readiness to believe in Him – is, in and by itself, already an outcome of His grace and mercy, just as suffering in the hereafter is an outcome of one’s be~ing “bent on denying the truth”.

29:17 You worship only [lifeless] idols instead of God, and [thus] you give visible shape to a lie! Behold, those [things and beings] that you worship instead of God have it not in their power to provide sustenance for you, seek, then, all [your] sustenance from God, and worship Him [alone) and be grateful to Him, [for] unto Him you shall be brought back!


Lit., “the answer of his people was nothing but that they said” – thus connecting with the passage ending with verse 18.

29:18 And if you give [me] the lie – well, [other) communities have given the lie (to God’s prophets) before your time: but no more is an apostle bound to do than clearly deliver the message [entrusted to him].”


See note 64 on 21:69.

29:19 Are, then, they [who deny the truth] not aware of how God creates [life] in the first instance, and then bring it forth anew? This, verily, is easy for God!


Lit., “solely out of love”

29:20 Say “Go all over the earth and behold how [wondrously] He has created [man] in the first instance, and thus, too, will God bring into being your second life – For, Verily, God has the Power to Will anything!


Thus Razi. explaining this idol worship as a result of a mere blind imitation (taqlid) of attitudes inherited from past generations.


The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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