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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 Koran Interpreted Translation by A.J. Arberry

16 THE BEE (72 – 102)

The Qurʾan Translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem

16. The Bee (70 – 92)

God created you; then He will gather you to Him; and some of you will be kept back unto the vilest state of life, that after knowing somewhat, they may know nothing; God is All-knowing, All-powerful. And God has preferred some of you over others in provision; but those that were preferred shall not give over their provision to that their right hands possess, so that they may be equal therein. What, and do they deny God's blessing? God has appointed for you of yourselves wives, and He has appointed for you of your wives sons and grandsons, and He has provided you of the good things. What, do they believe in vanity, and do they disbelieve in God's blessing? 75And do they serve, apart from God, that which has no power to provide them anything from the heavens and the earth and can do nothing? So strike not any similitudes for God; surely God knows, and you know not.

God has struck a similitude: a servant possessed by his master, having no power over anything, and one whom We have provided of Ourselves with a provision fair, and he expends of it secretly and openly. Are they equal? Praise belongs to God! Nay, most of them know not. God has struck a similitude: two men, one of them dumb, having no power over anything, and he is a burden upon his master—wherever he despatches him, he brings no good. Is he equal to him who bids to justice, and is on a straight path?

To God belongs the Unseen in the heavens and in the earth. And the matter of the Hour is as a twinkling of the eye, or nearer. Surely God is powerful over everything.

80And it is God who brought you forth, knowing nothing, from your mothers’ wombs, and He appointed for you hearing, and sight, and hearts, that haply so you will be thankful.

Have they not regarded the birds, that are subjected in the air of heaven? Naught holds them but God; surely in that are signs for a people who believe.

And it is God who has appointed a place of rest for you of your houses, and He has appointed for you of the skins of the cattle houses you find light on the day that you journey, and on the day you abide, and of their wool, and of their fur, and of their hair furnishing and an enjoyment for a while. And it is God who has appointed for you coverings of the things He created, and He has appointed for you of the mountains refuges, and He has appointed for you shirts to protect you from the heat, and shirts to protect you from your own violence. Even so He perfects His blessing upon you, that haply you will surrender. So, if they turn their backs, thine it is only to deliver the manifest Message. 85They recognize the blessing of God, then they deny it, and the most of them are the unthankful.

And the day We shall raise up from every nation a witness, then to the unbelievers no leave shall be given, nor shall they be suffered to make amends. And when the evildoers behold the chastisement, it shall not be lightened for them, and no respite shall be given them. And when the idolaters behold their associates, they shall say, ‘Our Lord, these are our associates on whom we called apart from Thee.’ They will fling back at them the saying, ‘Surely, you are truly liars.’ And they will offer God surrender that day, and there shall go 90astray from them that they were forging. Those that disbelieve and bar from the way of God—them We shall give increase of chastisement upon chastisement, for that they were doing corruption. And the day We shall raise up from every nation a witness against them from amongst them, and We shall bring thee as a witness against those.

And We have sent down on thee the Book making clear everything, and as a guidance and a mercy, and as good tidings to those who surrender. Surely God bids to justice and good-doing and giving to kinsmen; and He forbids indecency, dishonour, and insolence, admonishing you, so that haply you will remember. Fulfil God's covenant, when you make covenant, and break not the oaths after they have been confirmed, and you have made God your surety; surely God knows the things you do. And be not as a woman who breaks her thread, after it is firmly spun, into fibres, by taking your oaths as mere mutual deceit, one nation being more numerous than another nation. God only tries you thereby; and certainly He will make clear to you upon the Day of Resurrection that whereon you were at variance. 95If God had willed, He would have made you one nation; but He leads astray whom He will, and guides whom He will; and you will surely be questioned about the things you wrought. Take not your oaths as mere mutual deceit, lest any foot should slip after it has stood firm, and you should taste evil, for that you barred from the way of God, and lest there should await you a mighty chastisement. And do not sell the covenant of God for a small price; surely what is with God—that is better for you, did you but know. What is with you comes to an end, but what is with God abides; and surely We shall recompense those who were patient their wage, according to the best of what they did. And whosoever does a righteous deed, be it male or female, believing, We shall assuredly give him to live a goodly life; and We shall recompense them their wage, according to the best of what they did. 100When thou recitest the Koran, seek refuge in God from the accursed Satan; he has no authority over those who believe and trust in their Lord; his authority is over those who take him for their friend and ascribe associates to God.

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.

84The day will come when We raise up a witness from every community, when the disbelievers will not be allowed to make excuses or amends. 85When the evildoers face punishment it will not be lightened for them nor will they be given any respite.86When the idolaters see the partners they joined with God they will say, ‘Our Lord, these are the partners we used to invoke beside You,’ but the partners will retort, ‘You are liars,’ 87and on that Day they will offer total submission to God: their false deities will desert them.88Because of the corruption they spread, We shall add torment upon torment for those who disbelieved and barred others from the path of God.

89The day will come when We raise up in each community a witness against them, and We shall bring you [Prophet] as a witness against these people, for We have sent the Scripture down to you explaining everything, and as guidance and mercy and good news to those who devote themselves to God.

90God commands justice, doing good, and generosity towards relatives and He forbids what is shameful, blameworthy, and oppressive. He teaches you, so that you may take heed. 91Fulfil any pledge you make in God's name and do not break oaths after you have sworn them, for you have made God your surety: God knows everything you do. 92Do not use your oaths to deceive each other—like a woman who unravels the thread she has firmly spun—just because one party may be more numerous than another. God tests you with this, and on the Day of the Resurrection He will make clear to you those things you differed about.

Notes:

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

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