The word "Parable" comes from Greek and means "comparison".
Parables are told in the Quran 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 attains it by the Grace of God.
One great comparison is mentioned in Surah 29, Al Ankabut - The Spider. To get an in-depth view, the chapter also narrates the stories of Qarun, Firaun and Haman from the period of Musa's Prophet hood. These were all tyrant people who oppressed the Children of Israel and committed great sins.
The Story of Qarun is fully mentioned in Surah 28, Al Qasas - The Narration:
28:76. Qarun was doubtless, of the people of Moses; but he acted insolently towards them: such were the treasures We had bestowed on him that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men, behold, his people said to him: "Exult not, for God loves not those who exult (in riches).
28:77. "But seek, with the (wealth) which God has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as God has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for God loves not those who do mischief."
28:78. He said: "This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge which I have." Did he not know that God had destroyed, before him, (whole) generations,- which were superior to him in strength and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected? but the wicked are not called (immediately) to account for their sins.
28:79. So he went forth among his people in the (pride of his worldly) glitter. Said those whose aim is the Life of this World: "Oh! that we had the like of what Qarun has got! for he is truly a lord of mighty good fortune!"
28:80. But those who had been granted (true) knowledge said: "Alas for you! The reward of God (in the Hereafter) is best for those who believe and work righteousness: but this none shall attain, save those who steadfastly persevere (in good)."
28:81. Then We caused the earth to swallow up him and his house; and he had not (the least little) party to help him against God, nor could he defend himself.
28:82. And those who had envied his position the day before began to say on the morrow: "Ah! it is indeed God Who enlarges the provision or restricts it, to any of His servants He pleases! had it not been that God was gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up! Ah! those who reject God will assuredly never prosper."
28:83. That Home of the Hereafter We shall give to those who intend not high- handedness or mischief on earth: and the end is (best) for the righteous.
In Short, Qarun was a person who became so rich that the keys to his treasure were too heavy to carry even for strong men. Instead of giving thanks to God he became arrogant and thought of himself as better than anyone else. People told him how wrong he was and that he should spend some of his wealth in charity because it was initially given to him by God. But Qarun went on arguing that it was his intelligence and cleverness that had made him rich. The righteous didn't complain but the ones who loved worldly life wished they could be as fortunate as Qarun. God did punish Qarun in the end with an earthquake that swallowed him along with his treasures. A terrible end indeed for the wicked where his intelligence and cleverness couldn't help him at all.
Lets now go back to the parable and take a look at the construction of a Spiders web:
The spider makes a spider web by producing silk threads that is stuck to an end. The spider then carefully strengthens it with a second thread. This process is repeated and the spider continues to make a Y-shaped netting. When the first three radials of the web are constructed, more are added making sure that the distance is small enough and proportional. When the radials are complete the spider will fortify the center with five circular threads. Then a spiral of non-sticky thread is widely spread from inside out so that the spider can easily move around it's own web. After the spider web is compete it will chew off the three initial threads and sit and wait. The spider waits near the web for a prey animal to become trapped. He senses the impact and struggle of a prey by vibrations transmitted through the web. The spider may also hide himself for the prey by holding one foot on a signal line from the hub and sense the vibration.
The comparison between the wicked man and the spider web:
29:40 Each one of them We seized for his crime: of them, against some We sent a violent tornado (with showers of stones); some were caught by a (mighty) Blast; some We caused the earth to swallow up; and some We drowned (in the waters): It was not God Who injured (or oppressed) them:" They injured (and oppressed) their own souls.
29:41 The parable of those who take protectors other than God is that of the spider, who builds (to itself) a house; but truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house;- if they but knew.
29:42 Verily God doth know of (every thing) whatever that they call upon besides Him: and He is Exalted (in power), Wise.
29:43 And such are the Parables We set forth for mankind, but only those understand them who have knowledge.
29:44 God created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): verily in that is a Sign for those who believe.
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.
In light of the story of Qarun, there is an obligation that comes with wealth, if it is not spent God-consciously it can lead to corruption. The lesson here is that men puffed up with pride, wealth or any kind of other earthly advantages will have an ill-fate like that of Qarun. While those with spiritual strength; those who are righteous, humble and thankful will attain the mercy of God.