16 - An Nahl (The bee)

6 Tafsir(s) related to verse 16.1

Al-Jalalayn

When the idolaters found chastisement slow in coming, the following was revealed: God’s commandment has come, that is, the Hour [has come] ([this verb] atā is in the past tense because it means that [the event therein described] will come to pass) in other words, it [God’s commandment] is close at hand, so do not seek to hasten it, do not demand it before its [due] time, for it will come to pass without doubt. Glory be to Him — an affirmation of His transcendence — and exalted be He above what they associate, with Him, in the way of others.

Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

(The commandment of Allah will come to pass") [16:1]. Said Ibn 'Abbas: "When Allah, exalted is He, revealed (The Hour drew nigh and the moon was rent in twain) [54:1], the unbelievers said to each other: 'This man claims that the Day of Judgement is near, so refrain from some of the things you usually do until we see what happens'. When they saw that nothing happened, they said: 'Nothing happened', and so Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Their reckoning draweth nigh for mankind, while they turn away in heedlessness") [21:1]. They again became apprehensive and waited for the nearing last Hour. When a long time had passed [and nothing happened] they said: 'O Muhammad, nothing of that with which you have threatened us happened'. And Allah, exalted is He, revealed (The commandment of Allah will come to pass). The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, jumped up when he heard this and people raised their heads [to heaven]. The revelation (so seek not ye to hasten it) came, and people felt relieved. And when this verse was revealed, the Messenger of Allah, Allah, bless him and give him peace, said: 'I and the last Hour are like this - and he pointed with his finger - ; it almost came before me' ". Other unbelievers said: "The judgement is already here; it is chastisement through the sword". This is the answer of al-Nadr ibn al-Harith when He said (O Allah! If this be indeed the truth from Thee, then rain down stones on us") [8:32], as if hastening chastisement, and so Allah exalted is He, revealed this verse.

Kashani

God's commandment has come: since the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, was from among the folk of the major resurrection witnessing it and witnessing its states at the source of the union - as [indicated by what] he has said, 'I have been sent with the Hour [following me] as [in the distance between] these two [fingers]' - he informed of his presential vision by saying God's commandment has come. And since its manifestation in differentiated mode, such that it will be manifest to every single person, will only occur with the coming of the Messiah (Mahdī), peace be upon him, he said: so do not seek to hasten it, as this was not yet the time for its manifestation. He then confirmed his presential vision of God's countenance and the annihilation of creation in the Resurrection with his words: Glory be to Him and exalted be He above what they associate, [with Him] in the way of affirming the existence of another. He [God] then differentiated what he [Muḥammad] had witnessed at the source of the union - since he was at the station of separation after concentration, witnessing the multiplicity of the attributes at the source of the [exclusive] unity of the Essence where he is neither veiled from the multiplicity by the unity nor vice versa, as mentioned in His words God bears witness " [Q. 3:18] - and so He said:

Kashf Al-Asrar

The command of God is coming, so do not seek to hurry it.

God's command is many-colored, and obeying Him is many-hued. The servant's outwardness was commanded one thing, his inwardness something else. The outwardness was commanded to stay with tightened belt on the threshold of worship in the way station of service. The inwardness was commanded to stay quiet on the carpet of recognition with the quality of veneration. The heart was commanded to be constant in watchfulness. The secret core was commanded to seek limpidness in the station of recognition. And the spirit was commanded to cling to the Presence in contempla- tion itself.

So do not seek to hurry it. Do not hurry to find what is desired and do not go beyond the measure of the command, for everyone truthful will one day reach what he desires, and everyone obedient to the Real has the promise of vision.

Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an

That is, "The time for final `Judgment' has come near." As regards the use of the past tense in the original, this may be to show certainty of its occurrence in the near future or to emphasize the fact that the rebellion and the wrong deeds of the Quraish had become so unbearable that they warranted that the time for decisive action had come.

Here question arises as to what that "Judgment" was and how it came. We are of the opinion (and true knowledge is with Allah alone) that that "Judgment" was Hijrat (the Migration) of the Holy Prophet from Makkah. For a short time after this Revelation he was bidden to emigrate from there. And according to the Qur'an, a Prophet is bidden to leave his place only at that time when the rebellion and antagonism of his people reaches the extreme limit. Then their doom is sealed, for after this Allah's punishment comes on them either as a direct scourge from Him, or they are destroyed by the Prophet and his followers. And this did take place actually. At the occasion of the Migration, the people of Makkah regarded it as a victory for themselves, but in fact it turned out to be a defeat for shirk and disbelief which were totally uprooted within a decade or so after the Migration not only from Makkah but from the rest of Arabia as well.

In order to understand the interconnection between the first and the second sentences, one should keep in view the background. The challenge of the disbelievers to the Prophet, `to hasten Divine Judgment',was really based on their assumption that their own religion of shirk was true and the religion of Tauhid presented by Muhammad (Allah's peace be on him) was false; otherwise, they argued, the Divine scourge with which he threatened them would have come upon them long before because of their disbelief and rebellion, if there had been the authority of Allah behind it. That is why after the declaration of the "Judgment," their misunderstanding about the cause of delay in the punishment was removed, as if to say, "You arc absolutely wrong to assume that punishment has not been inflicted on you because your creed of shirk is true, for Allah is fret from and far above shirk and has no partner."

This means "the Spirit of Prophethood with which a Prophet is imbued in order to fulfill his Mission by word and deed. The Qur'an has called this the Spirit in several places, for this has the same relation to the Mission of a Prophet and his moral life, which the soul has to the physical human life."

As one of the things, which prompted the disbelievers to challenge the Holy Prophet for scourge, was their presumption that he was not a true Prophet, Allah told them categorically that he was a true Prophet, who had been imbued with the "Spirit" which We Ourself had sent down on him.

"Allah sends down the Spirit on..... He chooses." This is the answer to the objections which the chiefs of the Quraish used to raise against the Holy Prophet: Had Allah wanted to send a Messenger to them, was there no one better than Muhammad (Allah's peace be on him), son of `Abdullah, for this mission? Why did He not choose one of the big chiefs of Makkah or Taif for the purpose? Such absurd objections needed no other answer than this that is why such an answer has been given in several places of the Qur'an as if to say "Allah knows best how to do His work, and does not stand in need of any advice from you. He chooses for His mission anyone whom He considers fit for it.

This verse declares the essence of the "Spirit" of Prophethood, which is this: Godhead belongs to one Allah alone: so only He is worthy of fear. Therefore, there is no other anchor that might make fast and hold together human moral system than His fear. For it is the fear of His displeasure and His punishment, and the fear of the consequences of His disobedience which alone can act as a strong deterrent to restrain one from deviation. That is why mankind has been admonished: "Fear Me."

Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs

And from his chain of transmitters on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said: 'When the words of Allah (The reckoning draws near for mankind") [21:1] and (The hour drew near") [54:1], people waited whatever time Allah willed them to wait, but nothing happened. So they said: "O Muhammad! When will the torment which you promised us happen?" As a response, Allah revealed: (The commandment of Allah will come to pass) the chastisement of Allah has come. The Prophet (pbuh) was sitting at that point and he suddenly stood, having no doubt in his mind that the chastisement had come. But immediately after that, Allah said: (so seek not ye to hasten it) i.e. the chastisement, at which the Prophet (pbuh) sat down. (Glorified) Allah exonerated Himself from having a son or partner (and Exalted be He) He is too elevated and absolves Himself (above all that they associate (with Him)) of idols.