This page contains all verses of surah An-Nahl in addition to Interpretation of all verses by Maarif-ul-Quran (Mufti Muhammad Shafi). In the first part you can read surah النحل ordered in pages exactly as it is present in the Quran. To read an interpretation of a verse click on its number.
The Name of the Surah
This Surah has been called Al-Nahl, that is, the honey bee because it mentions it as a unique Divine marvel. Another name for this Surah is Surah Al-Ni` am. (Qurtubi) The word Ni'am is the plural of Ni'mah (blessing) because the great blessings of Allah Ta’ ala have been particularly mentioned in this Surah.
The Surah begins without any particular introduction with a direct, stern and awesome note of warning. The reason behind it was the saying of the polytheists that Muhammad (al-Mustafa ﷺ) keeps warning them of the day of Qiyamah and the punishment of Allah and telling them that Allah Ta’ ala has promised victory for him and punishment for his opponents. All this, they challenged, they do not see coming upon them. In reply, it was said: أَتَىٰ أَمْرُ اللَّـهِ فَلَا تَسْتَعْجِلُوهُ (The command of Allah is bound to come. So, do not ask for it to come sooner - 1).
Here, the expression: أَمْرُ اللَّـهِ (amrullah : the command of Allah) means the promise Allah has made to His Rasul - that his enemies will be made to surrender, and that Muslims will be blessed with victory and honour. In this verse, it is in a distinctly awesome tone that Allah Ta’ ala has said: أَتَىٰ أَمْرُ اللَّـهِ (ata amrullah: translated here as 'the command of Allah is bound to come' ). Literally (the nuance of the original expression remaining untranslatable), the sense is that issued is the command of Allah, that is, it is bound to come which you will soon see.
Some commentators say that 'the command of Allah' here means the day of Qiyamah. The sense of its being 'bound to come' is that it is going to come soon. And if we were to look at it in the frame of the life of the entire world itself, its being close, or its actual coming does not remain much distant. (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit)
As for the second sentence in the first verse where it is said that Allah Ta’ ala is free of Shirk (the ascribing of partners to Him), it means that the act of these people who are belying the promise of Allah Ta’ ala is itself an act of Kufr (infidelity) and Shirk. Allah Ta’ ala is absolutely free from it. (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit)
The essential message of the first verse is to call people to believe in the Oneness of Allah (Tauhid) through a stern warning. The second verse carries an affirmation of Tauhid through a reported proof, the substance of which is that every Rasul or messenger of Allah, from Sayyidna Adam (علیہ السلام) to the Last of the Prophets ﷺ ، who has come in different parts of the world at different times, has but preached this belief in the Oneness of Allah - though, none of them knew anything about the life and work of each other because of obvious causes. Just imagine if at least one hundred and twenty thousand blessed wise men who are born in different ages, countries and regions, and believe in and adhere to one single principle, then, one is naturally compelled to accept that their saying so cannot be false. In order to have faith, this single proof is sufficient.
The word: رُوح (ruh: spirit) as used in this verse, according to Sayyidna ibn ` Abbas ؓ ، means Wahy (revelation); and according to some commentators, it means Hidayah (guidance). (Al-Bahr Al-Muhit) After having presented the reported proof of Tauhid in the second verse, the same belief has been proved rationally by turning the focus on the blessings of Allah Ta` ala as it follows next in verses 3-8.
The word: خَصِیم (khasim) in verse 4 has been derived from: خُصُومۃ (khusumah) and means a quarrelsome person. Al-An’ am is the plural of na'am, which are cattles such as the camel, goat and cow. (A1-Mufradat of Raghib al-Isfahan)
The word: دِفْءٌ (difun) in verse 5 denotes what provides warmth, that is, wool which is used to make warm clothings. The word: تُرِیحُون (turihun) in verse 6 is a derivation from rawah, and: تَسْرَحُونَ (tasrahun) in the same verse, from saralh. When the cattle are sent to graze, it is called sarah, and when they return home, it is called rawah. The expression: بِشِقِّ الْأَنفُسِ -(shiqqil-anfus) in verse 7 means personal hardship.
The verses affirm the Oneness of Allah through the great signs of the creation of the universe. The first such creation pointed to is the creation of the heavens and the earth. Then comes the creation of human beings whom Allah Ta’ ala has made the ones who are served by the whole universe. How did man originate? The text says that he was created from an insignificant drop. at happened then was: فَإِذَا هُوَ خَصِيمٌ مُّبِينٌ (and soon he turned into a quarrelsome person expressing himself openly). In other words, when the elementally weak man was endowed with strength and speech, he turned into a critic of the Creator Himself disputing His Being and Attributes publicly.
After human beings, mentioned there was the creation of things which were made specially for their benefit. Since the first addressees of the Qur'an were Arabs and their economic life depended on domestic cattle like camels, cows and goats, therefore, these were taken up first: وَالْأَنْعَامَ خَلَقَهَا (As for the cattle, He created them - 5).
Then, out of the benefits received by human beings from the cattle, two were particularly mentioned. (1) لَكُمْ فِيهَا دِفْءٌ (having warmth for you), that is, they use wool from them to make clothings which keep them warm during winters.
(2) The second benefit was mentioned in: وَمِنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ (and of them you eat), that is, they can slaughter these animals and eat from their meat; and, when alive, they procure milk from them which is fine food indeed. Included here are butter, yogurt, butter-oil and everything else which fall under dairy products.
For the rest of benefits derived from them, only one word: مَنَافِعُ (manafi`: other benefits) was considered sufficient. It signifies that there are countless benefits tied to the meat, skin, bone and hair of animals. It is within the framework of this brevity, even ambiguity, that a hint has been given towards all modern innovations in the processing and use of food, dress, medicine and domestic articles, innovations which have been made to date, or will be made right through the Last Day.
After that, identified there is yet another benefit of these cattle - though, in terms of the contemporary Arab taste of the time - when it was said that these cattle make things look good for them particularly when they return home from their grazing grounds in the evening, or when they are sent out to graze in the mornings. The reason is that these cattle at that time become silent spokesmen of the strength and pride of their owners.
Finally, mention has been made of another important benefit which comes from these animals. They carry heavy loads to far out places, places which could not be reached 'without putting yourselves into hardship.' Out of the animals, camels and oxen have been particularly har-nessed into this service of man at a large scale. Even during our day of trains, trucks and cargo planes, human beings cannot universally claim to have become free of their need. There are places in the world where none of our modern means of transportation can work. Consequently, one is compelled to borrow their services.