top of page

Quran Chapter 16 [part 2] - The Bee - Reflection, False Worship, A Warning to Make Things Clear

41 As for those who emigrated in God’s cause after being wronged, We shall give them a good home in this world, but the reward of the Hereafter will be far greater, if they only knew it. 42 They are the ones who are steadfast and put their trust in their Lord.

43 [Prophet], all the messengers We sent before you were simply men to whom We had given the Revelation: you [people] can ask those who have knowledge if you do not know. 44 We sent them with clear signs and scriptures. We have sent down the message to you too [Prophet], so that you can explain to people what was sent for them, so that they may reflect.

45 Are those who plan evil so sure that God will not make the earth swallow them up, that punishment will not come on them from some unimagined direction, 46 that it will not catch them suddenly in the midst of their comings and goings– for they cannot frustrate God– 47 or that it will not catch up with them gradually? Indeed your Lord is kind and merciful. 48 Do the [disbelievers] not observe the things that God has created, casting their shadows right and left, submitting themselves to God obediently? 49 It is to God that everything in the heavens and earth submits, every beast that moves, even the angels– they are free from arrogance: 50 they fear their Lord above them, and they do as they are commanded.

False Worship

51 God said, ‘Do not take two gods’– for He is the One God–‘ I alone am the One that you should hold in awe.’ 52 Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him: everlasting obedience is His right. Will you heed anyone other than God? 53 Whatever good things you possess come from God, and when hardship afflicts you, it is to Him alone you cry out for help, 54 yet when He has relieved you of your hardship– lo and behold!– some of you attribute partners to your Lord. 55 Let them show ingratitude for the favors We have shown them; ‘Enjoy your brief time– soon you will know.’

56 They set aside part of the sustenance We give them, for [idols] about which they have no true knowledge. [a] By God! You will be questioned about your false inventions. 57 They assign daughters to God [b] ––may He be exalted!––and the [sons] they desire to themselves. 58 When one of them is given news of the birth of a baby girl, his face darkens and he is filled with gloom. 59 In his shame he hides himself away from his people because of the bad news he has been given. Should he keep her and suffer contempt or bury her in the dust? How ill they judge! 60 Those who do not believe in the Hereafter should have the contemptible image, and God should have the highest one: [c] He is the Mighty, the Wise.

A Warning to Make Things Clear

61 If God took people to task for the evil they do, He would not leave one living creature on earth, but He reprieves them until an appointed time: when their time comes they cannot delay it for a moment nor can they bring it forward. 62 They attribute to God what they themselves dislike while their own tongues utter the lie that the best [d] belongs to them. Without doubt it is the Fire that belongs to them: they will be given priority there! [e]

63 By God, [f] We have sent messengers before you [Muhammad] to other communities, but Satan made their foul deeds seem alluring to them. He is the patron of these present disbelievers [g] too, and a painful punishment awaits them all. 64 We have sent down the Scripture to you only to make clear to them what they differ about, and as guidance and mercy to those who believe.

65 It is God who sends water down from the sky and with it revives the earth when it is dead. There truly is a sign in this for people who listen. 66 In livestock, too, you have a lesson– We give you a drink from the contents of their bellies, between waste matter and blood, pure milk, sweet to the drinker. 67 From the fruits of date palms and grapes you take sweet juice [h] and wholesome provisions. There truly is a sign in this for people who use their reason. 68 And your Lord inspired the bee, saying, ‘Build yourselves houses in the mountains and trees and what people construct. 69 Then feed on all kinds of fruit and follow the ways made easy for you by your Lord.’ From their bellies comes a drink of different colors in which there is healing for people. There truly is a sign in this for those who think.

God Gives Examples

70 It is God who has created you and in time will cause you to die. Some of you will be reduced, in old age, to a most abject state, so that, after having knowledge, they will know nothing at all: God is truly all knowing and all powerful. 71 God has given some of you more provision than others. Those who have been given more are unwilling to pass their provision on to the slaves they possess so that they become their equals. How can they refuse to acknowledge God’s blessings? 72 And it is God who has given you spouses from amongst yourselves and through them He has given you children and grandchildren and provided you with good things. How can they believe in falsehood and deny God’s blessings? [i] 73 Those they worship beside God have no power to provide anything for them from the heavens or the earth: they can do nothing. 74 So do not make up images about God: God knows and you do not.

75 God presents this illustration: a slave controlled by his master, with no power over anything, and another man We have supplied with good provision, from which he gives alms privately and openly. Can they be considered equal? All praise belongs to God, but most of them do not recognize this. 76 God presents another illustration: two men, one of them dumb, unable to do anything, a burden to his carer– whatever task he directs him to, he achieves nothing good– can he be considered equal to one who commands justice and is on the straight path? 77 All that is hidden from view in the heavens and earth belongs to God. The coming of the Hour of Judgement is like the blink of an eye, or even quicker: God has power over everything. 78 It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful. 79 Do they not see the birds made to fly through the air in the sky? Nothing holds them up except God. There truly are signs in this for those who believe. 80 It is God who has given you a place of rest in your homes and from the skins of animals made you homes that you find light [to handle] when you travel and when you set up camp; furnishings and comfort for a while from their wool, fur, and hair. 81 It is God who has given you shade from what He has created, and places of shelter in the mountains; garments to protect you from the heat, and garments to protect you in your wars. In this way He perfects His blessings on you, so that you may devote yourselves to Him.


a. The pagan Arabs gave part of their crops and livestock to their deities (6: 136).

b. Some of the pagan Arabs called angels the daughters of God. This is doubly blasphemous because of the contempt in which daughters were held in a warrior community, to the extent of female infanticide as described below.

c. Their image of God is that He can only have daughters, though they themselves have contempt for their daughters

d. i.e. sons.

e. This meaning of farata is supported by Razi.

f. The disbelievers used to swear by their idols, so here God swears by Himself.

g. This refers to the disbelievers of Mecca.

h. The Arabic word sakar means ‘wine’, ‘juice’, or ‘vinegar’ (al-Mujam al-Wasit).

i. i.e. claim that the partners they ascribe to God are the ones to give them such blessings.

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.



bottom of page