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)

Section 10 (Verses 16:71–16:76): The Recipient of Revelation


وَ اللّٰہُ فَضَّلَ بَعۡضَکُمۡ عَلٰی بَعۡضٍ فِی الرِّزۡقِ ۚ فَمَا الَّذِیۡنَ فُضِّلُوۡا بِرَآدِّیۡ رِزۡقِہِمۡ عَلٰی مَا مَلَکَتۡ اَیۡمَانُہُمۡ فَہُمۡ فِیۡہِ سَوَآءٌ ؕ اَفَبِنِعۡمَۃِ اللّٰہِ یَجۡحَدُوۡنَ ﴿۷۱﴾

16:71 And Allah has made some of you excel others in the means of subsistence; so those who are made to excel do not give away their sustenance to those whom their right hands possess, so that they may be equal in it. Will they then deny the favour of Allah?1

وَ اللّٰہُ جَعَلَ لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَنۡفُسِکُمۡ اَزۡوَاجًا وَّ جَعَلَ لَکُمۡ مِّنۡ اَزۡوَاجِکُمۡ بَنِیۡنَ وَ حَفَدَۃً وَّ رَزَقَکُمۡ مِّنَ الطَّیِّبٰتِ ؕ اَفَبِالۡبَاطِلِ یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ وَ بِنِعۡمَتِ اللّٰہِ ہُمۡ یَکۡفُرُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۷۲﴾

16:72 And Allah has made wives for you from among yourselves,2 and has given you sons and daughters from your wives, and has provided you with good things. Will they then believe in falsehood and deny the favour of Allah?3

وَ یَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مَا لَا یَمۡلِکُ لَہُمۡ رِزۡقًا مِّنَ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ شَیۡئًا وَّ لَا یَسۡتَطِیۡعُوۡنَ ﴿ۚ۷۳﴾

16:73 And they serve besides Allah that which controls for them no sustenance at all from the heavens and the earth; nor have they any power.

فَلَا تَضۡرِبُوۡا لِلّٰہِ الۡاَمۡثَالَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَعۡلَمُ وَ اَنۡتُمۡ لَا تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۷۴﴾

16:74 So do not coin likenesses for Allah. Surely Allah knows and you do not know.

ضَرَبَ اللّٰہُ مَثَلًا عَبۡدًا مَّمۡلُوۡکًا لَّا یَقۡدِرُ عَلٰی شَیۡءٍ وَّ مَنۡ رَّزَقۡنٰہُ مِنَّا رِزۡقًا حَسَنًا فَہُوَ یُنۡفِقُ مِنۡہُ سِرًّا وَّ جَہۡرًا ؕ ہَلۡ یَسۡتَوٗنَ ؕ اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ ؕ بَلۡ اَکۡثَرُہُمۡ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿۷۵﴾

16:75 Allah sets forth a parable: There is a slave, the property of another, controlling nothing, and there is one to whom We have granted from Ourselves a goodly provision, so he spends from it (on good works) secretly and openly. Are the two alike? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.4

وَ ضَرَبَ اللّٰہُ مَثَلًا رَّجُلَیۡنِ اَحَدُہُمَاۤ اَبۡکَمُ لَا یَقۡدِرُ عَلٰی شَیۡءٍ وَّ ہُوَ کَلٌّ عَلٰی مَوۡلٰىہُ ۙ اَیۡنَمَا یُوَجِّہۡہُّ لَایَاۡتِ بِخَیۡرٍ ؕ ہَلۡ یَسۡتَوِیۡ ہُوَ ۙ وَ مَنۡ یَّاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ ۙ وَ ہُوَ عَلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿٪۷۶﴾

16:76 And Allah sets forth a parable of two men: One of them dumb, controlling nothing, and he is a burden to his master; wherever he sends him, he brings no good. Is he equal with him who enjoins justice, and he is on the right path?5


  1. This provides an answer to the demand of the disbelievers expressly stated elsewhere: “We will not believe till we are given the like of what Allah’s messengers are given” (6:124). It is pointed out that, as there are differ­ences in the physical world, so there are differences in the spiritual world. All persons are not equally fit to receive the gift of Divine revelation. The favour of Allah, which is the Divine revelation, should not be denied simply because all individuals are not equal recipients of it.
  2. The statement made here is that for all men wives are created from their anfus (plural of nafs, meaning soul or self). No one ever interprets these words in the erroneous way in which similar words about Adam are misinter­preted, where the rib is made to take the place of soul or self. The words of the Quran do not allow this unnatural interpretation, which is based upon the story of Genesis.
  3. They believe in the superstition that the idols, which are inanimate objects, can intercede with Allah, and deny the favour of Allah (i.e. Divine reve­la­tion) being granted to a human being. Hence the next verse speaks of the idols.
  4. By slave is meant the idol-worshipper who, instead of being master of idols, stones, and such-like objects, as Allah has created him to be, chooses to become a slave to them, bows before them, and considers them more powerful than himself. By the master of the goodly provision from Allah is meant the recip­ient of the Divine revelation, i.e., the Prophet. The comparison is made to show that the idol-worshippers will ultimately find themselves deprived of all power.
  5. This parable makes the same comparison as the previous one. The purport is here made clearer. The master of the goodly provision from Allah of the previous verse is here plainly called the enjoiner of justice and the one who is on the right path, while the idol-worshipper is the one who is not able to do anything and who remains unsuccessful in whatever he undertakes — a prophetical allu­sion to the defeats and discomfiture of the idolaters.