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Get to Know Surah Al-Ankabut – with Brother Nouman

Get to Know – Episode 7

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3– Part 4– Part 5 – Part 6

How in this Surah did Allah (SWT) prepare Muslims in Makkah for the Hijrah?

How do the three stories of prophets mentioned here set the background for believers to prepare for Madinah?

Do you want to understand Surah Al-Ankabut at a deeper level?

Get to Know a Surah of the Quran is a new series of videos brother Nouman Ali Khan presented this year during the month of Ramadan.

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The following is a summary of some of the most important points and reflections brother Nouman mentioned in this seventh episode.


Surah Al-Ankabut is a late Makkan surah.

The surah starts with a story of Muslims being tortured and being put to the test…

One of the companions, Khabbab ibn Al-Arat, was subject to severe torture, and he came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, asking him why was this happening to them?

And 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?} (29:1-2)

The Story of Allah’s Prophets

After talking about the patience believers must have when faced with these trials, Allah mentions two Prophets.

First Prophet Noah, peace be upon him.

{And We certainly sent Noah to his people, and he remained among them a thousand years minus fifty years, and the flood seized them while they were wrongdoers.} (29:14)

So what Allah is telling believers is look, you’ve been going through struggles for a few years, but there are believers before you who have been struggling for centuries.

So learn from them.

Then He switches over and all of a sudden out of nowhere, He switches the subject to Ibrahim, peace be upon him:

{And [We sent] Abraham, when he said to his people, “Worship Allah and fear Him. That is best for you, if you should know.} (29:16)

What’s the parallel between Noah and Ibrahim?

Allah is actually showing us how He rescues people.

Noah, peace be upon him, has been rescued from water.

And Ibrahim, peace be upon him, has been rescued from fire.

So two extreme opposite elements.

Allah can rescue you from anything.

He can rescue you from the most terrible of floods, and He can rescue you from drowning in a gigantic flame.

He can do that.

So He is telling the Muslims if He can make a way of escape for Noah and Ibrahim, He will make a way of escape for you.

Prepare for Hijrah

Interestingly enough, as the story continues, Allah (SWT) talks about Lot.

And He says about Lot {… Indeed, I will emigrate to [the service of] my Lord …} (29:26)

Lot also was in an impossible situation, and he literally used the word I am migrating to my Master.

So now we have the case of three people who escaped and migrated.

Why is it important?

Muslims are being tortured in Makkah, and now through the stories of the Qur’an, the idea is being implanted in their minds that it is time for migration.

Like instead of spelling it out and saying migrate, He is telling them to migrate through these stories.

It is incredible.

Then He starts talking about nations that have been destroyed before, but the people who believed were always saved.

So don’t worry. If these people are on the verge of destruction, (the Quraish), that does not mean that you are going to be destroyed.

You need to find your escape … You need to get away.

Remember this is a Makki surah, and remember that Muslims in Makkah are primarily dealing with idol worshippers, the Qureish.

But by the end of this surah, He says:

{And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best…} (29:46)

So the command is don’t debate with the People of the Book (Jews & Christians) except with that which is better: in terms of argument, you present better arguments and also better ethics, a better way of speaking.

If they speak to you with harsh language, don’t respond with harsh language.

If they speak to you angrily, don’t respond angrily.

Why in a Makkan surah would Allah tell His Prophet and the Muslim community to deal with People of the Book kindly, and to engage in conversation with them?

The reason for that is that they are about to leave Makkah, and they are about to go to Madinah.

And when they go to Madinah they are going to be dealing with the People of the Book.

So it’s so beautifully embedded, the instructions to the Prophet, peace be upon him, inside the narrative of the Qur’an, that people who were living this experience can hear the code, they can hear right through it, and they can tell what is being told to them.

And they were now mentally prepared to take this step.

This is why, in the end of the surah, Allah (SWT) says in the conclusion of this message:

{And those who strive for Us – We will surely guide them to Our ways. And indeed, Allah is with the doers of good.} (29:69)

There wasn’t one road to Madinah, there were multiple roads.

So it has this general spiritual meaning, but also in the context in which the surah was revealed it had a very particular meaning.

Those of you who have been struggling to hold on to your faith, I will give you multiple ways to get away…

For more details on this Surah explained by brother Nouman, and to watch the full episode, please click here.