English Translation and Commentary of the Holy Quran (2010)

by Maulana Muhammad Ali

Chapter 16: Al-Nahl — The Bee (Revealed at Makkah: 16 sections, 128 verses)


This chapter is so named because the bee, guided by its instinct which is called “revelation” in 16:68, gathers honey from flowers by taking the best of what is in them, producing “a beverage of many colours in which there is healing for human beings” (16:69). Similarly, Divine revelation to the Holy Prophet collected the best in previous revealed teachings and presented it in the Quran, which is also called “a healing” for people (10:57).

This chapter begins by mentioning the benefits which God has conferred upon man in physical nature to show that He also bestows upon him spiritual gifts. Those who reject these gifts will come to disgrace but God is slow to punish. Revelation is necessary, but not every person can receive it directly. The best ones are chosen for it. Revelation teaches the doing of good, and the Quran replaces previous revelation. Those who reject it are then compared to a flourishing town which is made to suffer because of the ingratitude of its people. Lastly, Muslims are given certain golden directions to follow in order to be a great nation. This chapter was revealed in the last period at Makkah.

List of Sections (Rukus):

  1. Revelation Testified to by Nature (Verses 16:1–16:9)
  2. Nature Upholds Unity (Verses 16:10–16:21)
  3. Denial due to Ignorance (Verses 16:22–16:25)
  4. The Wicked will come to Disgrace (Verses 16:26–16:34)
  5. Prophets are Raised to Explain (Verses 16:35–16:40)
  6. Doom of Opponents is Coming (Verses 16:41–16:50)
  7. Human Nature Revolts against Polytheism (Verses 16:51–16:60)
  8. Wrongdoing of Deniers (Verses 16:61–16:65)
  9. Parables Showing Truth of Revelation (Verses 16:66–16:70)
  10. The Recipient of Revelation (Verses 16:71–16:76)
  11. Punishment Withheld (Verses 16:77–16:83)
  12. Prophets Testify (Verses 16:84–16:89)
  13. Revelation Enjoins Good (Verses 16:90–16:100)
  14. The Quran is not a Forgery (Verses 16:101–16:110)
  15. Fate of the Opponents (Verses 16:111–16:119)
  16. The Way to Greatness (Verses 16:120–16:128)