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Sura 16
Aya 1

Chapter 16

The Beeal-Naḥl ( النحل )

128 verses • revealed at Meccan

»The surah that mentions the bees—dwelling in mountains, trees, and man-made hives; eating freely of fruited plants; and giving forth variously coloured honeys that hold both healthful delight and healing qualities—as a clear sign of the wondrous bounty of God’s creation. It takes its name from the honey bee (al-naḥl) mentioned in verse 68 ff. This is just one of the numerous examples given in this surah of God’s grace and the many things man should be grateful for. The surah condemns the idolaters who attribute God’s bounty to other powers and worship false deities. Abraham is given at the end as an example for the Muslim community to follow. Until verse 88, the surah is directed at the polytheists; from verse go onwards it teaches the Muslims in various ways; verse 89 connects the two parts by naming the Prophet as witness to the believers and disbelievers of his community.«

بِسمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحمٰنِ الرَّحيمِ

Muhammad Asad: In The Name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

أَتىٰ أَمرُ اللَّهِ فَلا تَستَعجِلوهُ ۚ سُبحانَهُ وَتَعالىٰ عَمّا يُشرِكونَ

Muhammad Asad

ACCORDING to almost all the authorities (including the Itqan), this Surah was revealed a few months before the Prophet's emigration to Medina. Although some commentators maintain that the last three verses belong to the Medina period, there is no evidence for this more or less speculative view. The title - or, rather, the key-word by which this Surah has been identified ever since the time of the Prophet - is based on the reference, in verses 68-69, to the marvellous instance of God's creativeness manifested in the instincts with which He has endowed the bee. Indeed, it is the evidence of the Creator's purposeful activity that provides the subject-matter of most of this surah - an activity that culminates in the guidance which He offers man through His revealed messages, summed up, as it were, in verse 90: "Behold, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one's] fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy."
GOD'S JUDGMENT is [bound to] come: do not, therefore, call for its speedy advent!1 Limitless is He in His glory and sublimely exalted above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity!
  • Regarding this allusion to the incredulous inquiry of the unbelievers, see 6:57-58, 8:32 and 10:50-51, as well as the corresponding notes.