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 16 (Verses 16:120–16:128): The Way to Greatness


اِنَّ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ کَانَ اُمَّۃً قَانِتًا لِّلّٰہِ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ لَمۡ یَکُ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۰﴾ۙ

16:120 Surely Abraham was a model (of virtue), obedient to Allah, upright, and he was not from among the idolaters,

شَاکِرًا لِّاَنۡعُمِہٖ ؕ اِجۡتَبٰہُ وَ ہَدٰىہُ اِلٰی صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِیۡمٍ ﴿۱۲۱﴾

16:121 grateful for His favours. He chose him and guided him on the right path.

وَ اٰتَیۡنٰہُ فِی الدُّنۡیَا حَسَنَۃً ؕ وَ اِنَّہٗ فِی الۡاٰخِرَۃِ لَمِنَ الصّٰلِحِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۲﴾ؕ

16:122 And We gave him good in this world; and in the Hereafter he is surely among the righteous.

ثُمَّ اَوۡحَیۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ اَنِ اتَّبِعۡ مِلَّۃَ اِبۡرٰہِیۡمَ حَنِیۡفًا ؕ وَ مَا کَانَ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۳﴾

16:123 Then We revealed to you: Follow the faith of Abraham, the upright one; and he was not from among the idolaters.

اِنَّمَا جُعِلَ السَّبۡتُ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ اخۡتَلَفُوۡا فِیۡہِ ؕ وَ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ لَیَحۡکُمُ بَیۡنَہُمۡ یَوۡمَ الۡقِیٰمَۃِ فِیۡمَا کَانُوۡا فِیۡہِ یَخۡتَلِفُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۴﴾

16:124 The Sabbath was ordained only against those who differed about it.1 And surely your Lord will judge between them on the day of Resurrection in that in which they differed.

اُدۡعُ اِلٰی سَبِیۡلِ رَبِّکَ بِالۡحِکۡمَۃِ وَ الۡمَوۡعِظَۃِ الۡحَسَنَۃِ وَ جَادِلۡہُمۡ بِالَّتِیۡ ہِیَ اَحۡسَنُ ؕ اِنَّ رَبَّکَ ہُوَ اَعۡلَمُ بِمَنۡ ضَلَّ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِہٖ وَ ہُوَ اَعۡلَمُ بِالۡمُہۡتَدِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۵﴾

16:125 Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the best manner.2 Surely your Lord knows best him who strays from His path, and He knows best those who go aright.

وَ اِنۡ عَاقَبۡتُمۡ فَعَاقِبُوۡا بِمِثۡلِ مَا عُوۡقِبۡتُمۡ بِہٖ ؕ وَ لَئِنۡ صَبَرۡتُمۡ لَہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لِّلصّٰبِرِیۡنَ ﴿۱۲۶﴾

16:126 And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of what you were afflicted with.3 But if you show patience, it is certainly best for the patient.

وَ اصۡبِرۡ وَ مَا صَبۡرُکَ اِلَّا بِاللّٰہِ وَ لَا تَحۡزَنۡ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَ لَا تَکُ فِیۡ ضَیۡقٍ مِّمَّا یَمۡکُرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۷﴾

16:127 And be patient and your patience is not but by (the help of) Allah, and do not grieve for them, nor be in distress by what they plan.

اِنَّ اللّٰہَ مَعَ الَّذِیۡنَ اتَّقَوۡا وَّ الَّذِیۡنَ ہُمۡ مُّحۡسِنُوۡنَ ﴿۱۲۸﴾٪

16:128 Surely Allah is with those who keep their duty and those who do good (to others).


  1. The meaning here seems to be that the Sabbath, the Jewish day of wor­ship which should have made them walk in the footsteps of righteous Abraham, was turned against them because of their violation of it. Or, the statement is made to show that it was not necessary for the Muslims to observe a day of wor­ship, as even Abraham, a model of virtue for both the Jews and the Muslims, did not observe a particular day of worship.
  2. The principle laid down for preaching and religious controversy by the Quran has yet to be learned by the most advanced people. It shows the breadth of mind of the Holy Prophet, more especially when it is remembered that the injunc­tion was given at a time when Muslims were being most severely perse­cuted and there was the greatest reason for adopting a harsh attitude.
  3. Muslims were being persecuted most cruelly, and they were told that the time would come when they would dominate their erstwhile persecutors. In that case they are allowed to punish them for their guilt, but it is twice added, here and in v. 127, that they should show patience when they had the upper hand and do good even to their enemies, for Allah is with those who do good (v. 128).