‘Nahl’ denotes the Infallible Imams (a.s.)
The Almighty Allah says:
وَأَوْحَى رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ.
And your Lord revealed to the bee… (Surah Nahl 16:68)
Some have said that it was an inspiration to the bee. Some say that it was made in their ‘Teenat’ (life clay) and it was created on this same ‘Teenat’.
أَنْ اتَّخِذِي مِنْ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنْ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ.
Make hives in the mountains and in the trees and in what they build: (Surah Nahl 16:68)
It means they should make hives on the mountains, and trees of grapes or those compartments and holes that people make for them or they make such hexagonal compartments that even the engineers are astonished at them.
ثُمَّ كُلِي مِنْ كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا يَخْرُجُ مِنْ بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِلنَّاسِ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَةً لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ.
Then eat of all the fruits and walk in the ways of your Lord submissively. There comes forth from within it a beverage of many colours, in which there is healing for men; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect. (Surah Nahl 16:69)
So eat from different flowers whichever you like and walk on those ways which are appointed by Allah and made easy for you, that is, remain obedient to Allah in that condition.
The bees produce honey of different colours, white, yellow, red, and. There is remedy in honey for pains and sufferings of the people. There are few medicines in which honey is not used.
In the explanation of this verse Ali Ibne Ibrahim has narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that he said: We are the ‘bees’ on whom Allah sent revelation and ‘mountains’ refers to the Arabs. Allah has commanded us to make the Arab Shias. ‘And in the trees’ means the non-Arabs; and ‘in what they build’ refers to those freed slaves who got mixed in the tribes of Arabs though originally they were non-Arabs. The meaning of the drinking of different colours is that the different sciences that are manifested through us.
Dailami has also narrated from the same Imam on the explanation of this verse that: What is the value of the honeybees that Allah should send revelation on them? This verse was revealed in our praise and Allah has compared us to the honeybee. We are under the command of Allah and ‘mountains’ refers to our Shias and ‘tree’ refers to the believer ladies.
Ayyashi has narrated from the same Imam that ‘bee’ indicates the Holy Imams (a.s.) and ‘mountain’ refers to the Arabs and ‘tree’ refers to the freed slaves and ‘in what they build’ are the boys and servants who are not freed and they have the love of Allah, the Prophet and the Holy Imams, and the different colours of drink means different sciences which are taught by the Imams to their Shias. ‘In which there is healing for men’ means there is a remedy in the knowledge and our Shias are the ‘men’ and Allah knows the non-Shias best that they are. If this verse means what people think, it is a type of honey that people eat. Therefore when a sick person takes it, he would surely get well because the promise of Allah is not false, but the remedy is from the knowledge of the Quran because Allah says:
وَنُنَزِّلُ مِنْ الْقُرْآنِ مَا هُوَ شِفَاءٌ وَرَحْمَةٌ لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَلَا يَزِيدُ الظَّالِمِينَ إِلَّا خَسَارًا.
And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers, (Sura Israa 17:82)
Then the Hazrat said that the Quran is a remedy and mercy for those who are fit for it and the Holy Imams who guide, deserve it the most; about whom the Almighty Allah says:
ثُمَّ أَوْرَثْنَا الْكِتَابَ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَيْنَا مِنْ عِبَادِنَا.
Then We gave the Book for an inheritance to those whom We chose from among Our servants…(Surah Fatir 35:32)
Also Ayyashi from other chains from the same Imam has narrated that ‘bee’ refers to the Holy Prophet (S).
Make hives in the mountains…
It means marry the women of Quraysh.
and in the trees…
and also from all the Arabs.
and in what they build:
This refers to non-Arabs and slaves and the different colours of drinks refers to the different sciences.
There is a tradition from Imam Moosa Kazim (a.s.) that ‘bee’ refers to the Holy Imam (a.s.) and ‘mountains’ refers to Quraysh and ‘tree’ refers to all Arabs and ‘what they build’ refers to non-Arabs and slaves.
…in the ways of your Lord… (Surah Nahl 16:69)
It is the true religion that we follow and the different kinds of honey denote the knowledge of Amirul Momineen (a.s.) which has reached the people and which is the cure of the diseases of ignorance and misguidance. Thus Allah says regarding the Quran:
…and a healing for what is in the breasts…(Surah Yunus 10:57)
It means it is cure for the diseases of the breasts.1
- 1. The writer says: It is repeatedly mentioned that whenever Quran mentions food, worldly life, apparent tastes and their benefits they denote spiritual food, spiritual tastes, eternal life like water denotes knowledge and the light of wisdom. Therefore it is not unlikely that ‘bees’ denote the Holy Prophet (S) or Imams (a.s.) because as bees collect the fine food from which the best food is obtained that helps in curing the physical body and they make their dwellings in different places and their king are so wise that kings of humans take lessons from them, in the same way leaders of religion are the best of the creatures and for the Shias they are the source of divine revelation through which they cure their spiritual problems and diseases like ignorance and misguidance. Also the Imams (a.s.) due to opposition, oppression and injustice on them, kept their knowledge secret and passed it to each and every tribe and family of Shias like the bees in fear of other animals make their homes in places where they remain safe any harm. As narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.): Fear about your religion and keep it secret through ‘Taqaiyyah’ because one that does not practice Taqaiyyah cannot remain safe. You are among your opponents like honeybees among birds. If the birds come to know what is there in the bellies of those bees they would not leave a single bee alive and eat each one. In the same way when opponents come to know what is there in your chest, that is the love of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), that you love we Ahlul Bayt, they would eat you with their tongues and harm you openly and privately. May Allah have mercy on those who have our love in their hearts and keep it concealed. Arabs are compared to mountains as they are strong, firm and steadfast in religion or that they are tribes and tribes together and the comparison of non-Arabs with trees is because they are spread out or that they are soon obedient and obey the orders and have much ability for perfection. The slaves, the freed ones or those attached to tribes are compared to the honeycombs because they are attached with their lords and tribes as they are artificially made. Such types of similes and metaphors abound in verses that do not contradict the apparent meaning just as many traditions also prove the apparent meaning.