An Introduction to Surat An-Nahl (The Bees)
Name of the Surah
The Surah was named after this title due to the mention of the word ‘bees’ which occurs in the following verse:
And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct. (An-Nahl 16:68)
Period of Revelation
The surah was revealed during the last Makkan stage of Prophethood. Like all surahs revealed in Makkah, it discusses the main topics of faith, such as God’s oneness, revelation and resurrection. But it also refers to a number of secondary topics, such as the essential unity between Abraham’s faith and the faith preached by Muhammad (peace be upon them both). It outlines the true nature of God’s will, and mentions the human will with regard to accepting or denying the true faith, following divine guidance or going astray.
Theme of the Surah
All the topics of the surah revolve round different aspects of the message, i.e., refutation of shirk (polytheism), proof of tawhid (monotheism), and warning of the consequences of the rejection of and opposition and antagonism to the message.
Topics of the Surah
1- The surah sounds like a massive campaign aimed at profoundly influencing people’s hearts and minds. It is a campaign that uses a moderate rhythm with several coherent sounds.
2- It portrays every aspect of the whole universe, looks at the present life and the life to come, as well as secrets of the universe and what is beyond the reach of our faculties of perception.
3- The surah also highlights a number of great natural phenomena, reflecting the greatness of creation, God’s bounty, His knowledge and elaborates planning.
4- The objections, doubts, pseudo-arguments and pretexts of the unbelievers are taken up, one by one, and repudiated.
5- The Prophet (peace be on him) and his Companions are being consoled and encouraged. They are also being told how they should face the campaign of opposition and persecution launched by the unbelievers.
Sayyed Abu A`la Maududi’s Tafhim Al-Qur’an.
Sayyid Qutb’s Fi Zhilal Al-Qur’an.