A Meccan sura that takes its title from the bee (verses 68–9) inspired in its remarkable way by God. This is just one of the numerous examples given of God’s grace and the many things man should be grateful for. The sura 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 sura is directed at the polytheists; from verse 90 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.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
There is No True Deity but God
1 God’s Judgement is coming, [a] so do not ask to bring it on sooner. Glory be to Him! He is far above anything they join with Him! 2 He sends down angels with inspiration at His command, to whichever of His servants He chooses, to give [His] warning: ‘There is no god but Me, so beware of Me.’ 3 He created the heavens and earth for a true purpose, and He is far above whatever they join with Him! 4 He created man from a drop of fluid, and yet man openly challenges Him. 5 And livestock––He created them too. You derive warmth and other benefits from them: you get food from them; 6 you find beauty in them when you bring them home to rest and when you drive them out to pasture. 7 They carry your loads to lands you yourselves could not reach without great hardship––truly your Lord is kind and merciful–– 8 horses, mules, and donkeys for you to ride and use for show, and other things you know nothing about. 9 God points out the right path, for some paths lead the wrong way: if He wished, He could guide you all.
God’s Blessings for Humankind
10 It is He who sends down water for you from the sky, from which comes a drink for you, and the shrubs that you feed to your animals. 11 With it He grows for you grain, olives, palms, vines, and all kinds of other crops. There truly is a sign in this for those who reflect. 12 By His command He has made the night and day, the sun, moon, and stars all of benefit to you. There truly are signs in this for those who use their reason. 13 He has made of benefit to you the many-colored things He has multiplied on the earth. There truly are signs in this for those who take it to heart. 14 It is He who made the sea of benefit to you: you eat fresh fish from it and bring out jewelry to wear; you see the ships cutting through its waves so that you may go in search of His bounty and give thanks. 15 He has made mountains stand firm on the earth, to prevent it shaking under you, and rivers and paths so that you may find your way, 16 and landmarks and stars to guide people. 17 Can He who creates be compared to one who cannot create? Why do you not take heed?
18 If you tried to count God’s blessings, you could never take them all in: He is truly most forgiving and most merciful. 19 He knows what you conceal and what you reveal. 20 Those they invoke beside God create nothing; they are themselves created. 21 They are dead, not living. They do not know when they will be raised up.
Punishment for Arrogance
22 Your God is the One God. As for those who deny the life to come, their hearts refuse to admit the truth and they are arrogant. 23 There is no doubt that God knows what they conceal and what they reveal. He does not love the arrogant.
24 When they are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they say, ‘Ancient fables.’ 25 On the Day of Resurrection they will bear the full weight of their own burden, as well as some of the burden of those they misled with no true knowledge. How terrible their burden will be! 26 Those who went before them also schemed, but God attacked the very foundations of what they built. The roof fell down on them: punishment came on them from unimagined directions. 27 In the end, on the Day of Resurrection, He will shame them, saying, ‘Where are these “partners” of Mine on whose account you opposed [Me]?’ Those given knowledge will say, ‘Shame and misery on the disbelievers today!’ 28 Those whose lives the angels take while they are wronging themselves will show submission: ‘We were doing no evil.’ ‘Yes you were: God knows fully everything that you have done, 29 so enter the gates of Hell. There you will remain– the home of the arrogant is evil indeed.’
The Good are Rewarded and God’s Promise is True
30 But when the righteous are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they will say, ‘All that is good.’ There is a reward in this present world for those who do good, but their home in the Hereafter is far better: the home of the righteous is excellent. 31 They will enter perpetual Gardens graced with flowing streams. There they will have everything they wish. This is the way God rewards the righteous, 32 those whose lives the angels take in a state of goodness. They will say to them, ‘Peace be upon you. Enter the Garden as a reward for what you have done.’ 33 Are the disbelievers waiting for the angels to come to them, or your Lord’s Judgement? Those who went before them did the same. God did not wrong them; they wronged themselves. 34 So the evil they had done hit them and they were surrounded by the very thing they had mocked.
35 Those who worshipped others alongside God say, ‘If God had willed, we would not have worshipped anything but Him, nor would our fathers. We would not have declared anything forbidden without His sanction.’ Those before them said the same. Are the messengers obliged to do anything other than deliver [their message] clearly? 36 We sent a messenger to every community, saying, ‘Worship God and shun false gods.’ Among them were some God guided; misguidance took hold of others. So travel through the earth and see what was the fate of those who denied the truth. 37 Though you [Prophet] may be eager to guide them, God does not guide those who misguide [others], [b] nor will they have anyone to help them. 38 They have sworn by God with their strongest oaths that He will not raise the dead to life. But He will– it is His binding promise, though most people do not realize it– 39 in order to make clear for them what they have differed about and so that the disbelievers may realize that what they said was false. 40 When We will something to happen, all that We say is, ‘Be,’ and it is.
a. The Arabic verb ata is in the past tense to express inevitability and nearness.
b. Cf. verse 25.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.