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Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
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The Qurʾan What is This? A current English-language version of the Qur'an, published in 2004
Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

16. The Bee (56 – 83)

56They set aside part of the sustenance We give them, for [idols] about which they have no true knowledge.a The pagan Arabs gave part of their crops and livestock to their deities (6: 136). By God! You will be questioned about your false inventions. 57They assign daughters to Godb Some of the pagan Arabs called angels the daughters of God. This is doubly blasphemous because of the contempt in which daughters were held in a warrior community, to the extent of female infanticide as described below.—may He be exalted!—and the [sons] they desire to themselves. 58When one of them is given news of the birth of a baby girl, his face darkens and he is filled with gloom. 59In his shame he hides himself away from his people because of the bad news he has been given. Should he keep her and suffer contempt or bury her in the dust? How ill they judge! 60Those who do not believe in the Hereafter should have the contemptible image, and God should have the highest one:c Their image of God is that He can only have daughters, though they themselves have contempt for their daughters. He is the Mighty, the Wise. 61If God took people to task for the evil they do, He would not leave one living creature on earth, but He reprieves them until an appointed time: when their time comes they cannot delay it for a moment nor can they bring it forward. 62They attribute to God what they themselves dislike while their own tongues utter the lie that the besta i.e. sons. belongs to them. Without doubt it is the Fire that belongs to them: they will be given priority there!b This meaning of farata is supported by Razi.

63By God,c The disbelievers used to swear by their idols, so here God swears by Himself. We have sent messengers before you [Muhammad] to other communities, but Satan made their foul deeds seem alluring to them. He is the patron of these present disbelieversd This refers to the disbelievers of Mecca. too, and a painful punishment awaits them all. 64We have sent down the Scripture to you only to make clear to them what they differ about, and as guidance and mercy to those who believe.

65It is God who sends water down from the sky and with it revives the earth when it is dead. There truly is a sign in this for people who listen. 66In livestock, too, you have a lesson—We give you a drink from the contents of their bellies, between waste matter and blood, pure milk, sweet to the drinker. 67From the fruits of date palms and grapes you take sweet juicee The Arabic word sakar means ‘wine’, ‘juice’, or ‘vinegar’ (al-Mu’jam al-Wasit). and wholesome provisions. There truly is a sign in this for people who use their reason. 68And your Lord inspired the bee, saying, ‘Build yourselves houses in the mountains and trees and what people construct. 69Then feed on all kinds of fruit and follow the ways made easy for you by your Lord.’ From their bellies comes a drink of different colours in which there is healing for people. There truly is a sign in this for those who think.

70It is God who has created you and in time will cause you to die. Some of you will be reduced, in old age, to a most abject state, so that, after having knowledge, they will know nothing at all: God is truly all knowing and all powerful. 71God has given some of you more provision than others. Those who have been given more are unwilling to pass their provision on to the slaves they possess so that they become their equals. How can they refuse to acknowledge God's blessings? 72And it is God who has given you spouses from amongst yourselves and through them He has given you children and grandchildren and provided you with good things. How can they believe in falsehood and deny God's blessings?a i.e. claim that the partners they ascribe to God are the ones to give them such blessings. 73Those they worship beside God have no power to provide anything for them from the heavens or the earth: they can do nothing. 74So do not make up images about God: God knows and you do not.

75God presents this illustration: a slave controlled by his master, with no power over anything, and another man We have supplied with good provision, from which he gives alms privately and openly. Can they be considered equal? All praise belongs to God, but most of them do not recognize this. 76God presents another illustration: two men, one of them dumb, unable to do anything, a burden to his carer—whatever task he directs him to, he achieves nothing good— can he be considered equal to one who commands justice and is on the straight path? 77All that is hidden from view in the heavens and earth belongs to God. The coming of the Hour of Judgement is like the blink of an eye, or even quicker: God has power over everything. 78It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful. 79Do they not see the birds made to fly through the air in the sky? Nothing holds them up except God. There truly are signs in this for those who believe.80It is God who has given you a place of rest in your homes and from the skins of animals made you homes that you find light [to handle] when you travel and when you set up camp; furnishings and comfort for a while from their wool, fur, and hair. 81It is God who has given you shade from what He has created, and places of shelter in the mountains; garments to protect you from the heat, and garments to protect you in your wars. In this way He perfects His blessings on you, so that you may devote yourselves to Him. 82But if they turn away [Prophet], your only duty is to deliver the message clearly. 83They know God's blessings, but refuse to recognize them: most of them are ungrateful.

Notes:

a The pagan Arabs gave part of their crops and livestock to their deities (6: 136).

b Some of the pagan Arabs called angels the daughters of God. This is doubly blasphemous because of the contempt in which daughters were held in a warrior community, to the extent of female infanticide as described below.

c Their image of God is that He can only have daughters, though they themselves have contempt for their daughters.

a i.e. sons.

b This meaning of farata is supported by Razi.

c The disbelievers used to swear by their idols, so here God swears by Himself.

d This refers to the disbelievers of Mecca.

e The Arabic word sakar means ‘wine’, ‘juice’, or ‘vinegar’ (al-Mu’jam al-Wasit).

a i.e. claim that the partners they ascribe to God are the ones to give them such blessings.

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