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 5 (Verses 16:35–16:40): Prophets are Raised to Explain


وَ قَالَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَشۡرَکُوۡا لَوۡ شَآءَ اللّٰہُ مَا عَبَدۡنَا مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍ نَّحۡنُ وَ لَاۤ اٰبَآؤُنَا وَ لَا حَرَّمۡنَا مِنۡ دُوۡنِہٖ مِنۡ شَیۡءٍ ؕ کَذٰلِکَ فَعَلَ الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِمۡ ۚ فَہَلۡ عَلَی الرُّسُلِ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِیۡنُ ﴿۳۵﴾

16:35 And the idolaters say: If Allah pleased we would not have served any but Him, (neither) we nor our fathers, nor would we have prohibited anything without (order from) Him. Thus did those before them. But have the messengers any duty except to deliver the message clearly?1

وَ لَقَدۡ بَعَثۡنَا فِیۡ کُلِّ اُمَّۃٍ رَّسُوۡلًا اَنِ اعۡبُدُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اجۡتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوۡتَ ۚ فَمِنۡہُمۡ مَّنۡ ہَدَی اللّٰہُ وَ مِنۡہُمۡ مَّنۡ حَقَّتۡ عَلَیۡہِ الضَّلٰلَۃُ ؕ فَسِیۡرُوۡا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ فَانۡظُرُوۡا کَیۡفَ کَانَ عَاقِبَۃُ الۡمُکَذِّبِیۡنَ ﴿۳۶﴾

16:36 And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger, saying: Serve Allah and shun the devil. Then some of them Allah guided, and for some of them remaining in error was justly due.2 So travel in the land, then see what was the end of the rejectors.

اِنۡ تَحۡرِصۡ عَلٰی ہُدٰىہُمۡ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یَہۡدِیۡ مَنۡ یُّضِلُّ وَ مَا لَہُمۡ مِّنۡ نّٰصِرِیۡنَ ﴿۳۷﴾

16:37 If you desire their guidance, yet Allah will not guide him who leads (others) astray,3 nor do they have any helpers.

وَ اَقۡسَمُوۡا بِاللّٰہِ جَہۡدَ اَیۡمَانِہِمۡ ۙ لَا یَبۡعَثُ اللّٰہُ مَنۡ یَّمُوۡتُ ؕ بَلٰی وَعۡدًا عَلَیۡہِ حَقًّا وَّ لٰکِنَّ اَکۡثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا یَعۡلَمُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۳۸﴾

16:38 And they swear by Allah their most energetic oaths: Allah will not raise up him who dies. Yes indeed! It is a promise binding on Him, quite true, but most people do not know:

لِیُبَیِّنَ لَہُمُ الَّذِیۡ یَخۡتَلِفُوۡنَ فِیۡہِ وَ لِیَعۡلَمَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوۡۤا اَنَّہُمۡ کَانُوۡا کٰذِبِیۡنَ ﴿۳۹﴾

16:39 So that He might make clear to them what they differ about, and that those who disbelieve might know that they were liars.

اِنَّمَا قَوۡلُنَا لِشَیۡءٍ اِذَاۤ اَرَدۡنٰہُ اَنۡ نَّقُوۡلَ لَہٗ کُنۡ فَیَکُوۡنُ ﴿٪۴۰﴾

16:40 Our word for a thing, when We intend it, is only that We say to it: Be; and it is.


  1. They contended that if Allah did not like evil He could have diverted them from evil ways. They are told in reply that Allah’s pleasure is not exercised by compelling people to adopt one way or the other, but by sending His messen­gers in every age and to every nation to point out the right way to the people, and by clear messages through His messengers to warn people to avoid evil.
  2. There were some people who did not care for the Prophet’s warning and adhered to error. Justice therefore required that they should be left in error. The message was sent by God; the choice was man’s own to accept or reject it. The words do not mean that Allah had foredoomed some people, for then the sending to them of messengers would have been absurd.
  3. Those who not only walk in error themselves, but have grown so hos­tile to the cause of Truth that they mislead others, cannot find the right way, how­ever much the Prophet may be anxious for them.