Benefits and Virtues of Surah 16 An-Nahl


16. An-Nahl

16.1 Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه)

“I heard ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) saying: ‘The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said: “Four before Zuhr, after the zenith, are reckoned with their like from Salat As-Sahr (meaning the reward is like that of the two Sunan and obligatory Rak’ah of Fajr).” The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said: “There is nothing but that it glorifies Allah at that hour.” Then he recited the Ayah:

Their shadows shift from right to left, prostrating to Allah while they are humble (16:48).

Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3128

16.2 Narrated Ubayy bin Ka’b (رضي الله عنه)

“On the Day of Uhud, sixty-four of the Ansar were killed, and six from the Muhajirin, one of whom was Hamzah (رضي الله عنهم), and they mutilated them, so the Ansar said: ‘If, (in the future) we are able to kill them on a day like this, we would mutilate from among them as twice as they (mutilate from among us).'” He said: “So on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, Allah revealed:

And if you punish them, then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you have patience, then it is better for those who are patient (16:126).

So a man said: ‘There shall be no Quraish after today.’ But the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Leave the people, except for four.'”

Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 5, Book 44, Hadith 3129

16.3 It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) said concerning Surat An-Nahl – :

“Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith; but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a great torment.” (16:106)

“This was abrogated, and an exception was made, as Allah said:

“Then, verily, your Lord for those who emigrated after they had been put to trials and thereafter strove hard and fought (for the Cause of Allah) and were patient, verily, your Lord afterward is, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (16:110)

This was ‘Abdullah bin Sa’d bin Abi As-Sarh who was the governor of Egypt and used to write to the Messenger of Allah [SAW]. The Shaitan misled him and he went and joined the unbelievers. So he (the Prophet [SAW]) commanded that he be killed on the day of the Conquest of Makkah. Then, ‘Uthman bin ‘Afan sought protection for him, and the Messenger of Allah [SAW] granted him protection.”

Sunan an-Nasa’i 4069

16.4 It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه), regarding Allah’s saying:

“Whatever a Verse do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it.” (2:106)


“And when We change a Verse in place of another -and Allah knows best what He sends down” (Al-Nahl 16:101)


“Allah blots out what He wills and confirms (what He wills). And with Him is the Mother of the Book.” (13:39)

The first thing that was abrogated in the Qur’an was the Qiblah. And He said:

“And divorced women shall wait (as regards their marriage) for three menstrual periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation.” (2:228)

-that is because when a man divorced his wife, he had more right to take her back, even if he had divorced her three times. Then (Allah) abrogated that and said:

“The divorce is twice, after that, either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness.” (2:229)

Sunan an-Nasa’i 3554

16.5 Yahya related to me from Malik

That the best of what he had heard about horses, mules, and donkeys was that they were not eaten because Allah, the Blessed, the Exalted,said,

“And horses, and mules and asses, for you to ride, and as an adornment. ” (Sura 16 ayat 8) .

He said, may He be Blessed and Exalted,

“In cattle, some of them you ride, and some of them you eat.” (Sura 6 ayat 79).

He said, the Blessed, the Exalted,

“Mention Allah’s name over what He has provided you of cattle, and eat of them and feed the beggar (al-qani) and the suppliant (al-mutarr). (Sura 22 ayat 34).

Malik said “Allah mentioned horses, mules, and donkeys for riding and adornment, and He mentioned cattle for riding and eating.” Malik said, “al-qani also means the poor.”

Muwatta Malik Book 25, Hadith 15

16.6 Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) told Shahr (ibn Hawshab),

“While the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) was sitting in the courtyard of his house in Makka, ‘Uthman ibn Maz’un passed by and smiled at the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to him, ‘Why don’t you sit down?’ ‘I will,’ he said. So the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, sat facing him. While he was conversing with him, the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, stared at the sky and said, ‘A messenger from Allah, ‘Abdullah came to me just now when you sat sown?’ He asked, ‘What did he say to you?’ He said,

‘Allah commands justice and doing good and giving to relatives. And He forbids indecency and doing wrong and tyranny. He warns you so that hopefully you will pay heed.’ (16: 90)

‘Uthman (رضي الله عنه) said, ‘That was when belief was established in my heart and I loved Muhammad.'”

Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 893

16.7 Narrated `Amr bin Maimun (رضي الله عنه)

I saw `Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) a few days before he was stabbed in Medina. He was standing with Hudhaifa bin Al-Yaman and `Uthman bin Hunaif to whom he said, “What have you done? Do you think that you have imposed more taxation on the land (of As-Swad i.e. ‘Iraq) than it can bear?” They replied, “We have imposed on it what it can bear because of its great yield.” `Umar again said, “Check whether you have imposed on the land what it can not bear.” They said, “No, (we haven’t).” `Umar added, “If Allah should keep me alive I will let the widows of Iraq need no men to support them after me.” But only four days had elapsed when he was stabbed (to death ). The day he was stabbed, I was standing and there was nobody between me and him (i.e. `Umar) except `Abdullah bin `Abbas. Whenever `Umar passed between the two rows, he would say, “Stand in straight lines.” When he saw no defect (in the rows), he would go forward and start the prayer with Takbir. He would recite Surat Yusuf or An-Nahl or the like in the first rak`a so that the people may have the time to Join the prayer.

As soon as he said Takbir, I heard him saying, “The dog has killed or eaten me,” at the time he (i.e. the murderer) stabbed him. A non-Arab infidel proceeded on carrying a double-edged knife and stabbing all the persons he passed by on the right and left (till) he stabbed thirteen persons out of whom seven died. When one of the Muslims saw that, he threw a cloak on him. Realizing that he had been captured, the non-Arab infidel killed himself, `Umar held the hand of `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf (رضي الله عنه)and let him lead the prayer. Those who were standing by the side of `Umar saw what I saw, but the people who were in the other parts of the Mosque did not see anything, but they lost the voice of `Umar and they were saying, “Subhan Allah! Subhan Allah! (i.e. Glorified be Allah).”

`Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf led the people a short prayer. When they finished the prayer, `Umar said, “O Ibn `Abbas! Find out who attacked me.” Ibn `Abbas (رضي الله عنه) kept on looking here and there for a short time and came to say. “The slave of Al Mughira.” On that `Umar said, “The craftsman?” Ibn `Abbas said, “Yes.” `Umar said, “May Allah curse him. I did not treat him unjustly. All the Praises are for Allah Who has not caused me to die at the hand of a man who claims himself to be a Muslim. No doubt, you and your father (Abbas) used to love to have more non-Arab infidels in Medina.” Al-Abbas had the greatest number of slaves. Ibn `Abbas said to `Umar. “If you wish, we will do.” He meant, “If you wish we will kill them.” `Umar said, “You are mistaken (for you can’t kill them) after they have spoken your language, prayed towards your Qibla, and performed Hajj like yours.” Then `Umar was carried to his house, and we went along with him, and the people were as if they had never suffered a calamity before. Some said, “Do not worry (he will be Alright soon).” Some said, “We are afraid (that he will die).” Then an infusion of dates was brought to him and he drank it but it came out (of the wound) of his belly. Then milk was brought to him and he drank it, and it also came out of his belly. The people realized that he would die.

We went to him, and the people came, praising him. A young man came saying, “O chief of the believers! Receive the glad tidings from Allah to you due to your company with Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and your superiority in Islam which you know. Then you became the ruler (i.e. Caliph) and you ruled with justice and finally you have been martyred.” `Umar said, “I wish that all these privileges will counterbalance (my shortcomings) so that I will neither lose nor gain anything.” When the young man turned back to leave, his clothes seemed to be touching the ground. `Umar said, “Call the young man back to me.” (When he came back) `Umar said, “O son of my brother! Lift your clothes, for this will keep your clothes clean and save you from the Punishment of your Lord.” `Umar further said, “O `Abdullah bin `Umar! See how much I am in debt to others.” When the debt was checked, it amounted to approximately eighty-six thousand. `Umar said, “If the property of `Umar’s family covers the debt, then pay the debt thereof; otherwise request it from Bani `Adi bin Ka`b, and if that too is not sufficient, ask for it from Quraish tribe, and do not ask for it from any one else, and pay this debt on my behalf.” `Umar then said (to `Abdullah), “Go to `Aisha (the mother of the believers) and say: “`Umar is paying his salutation to you. But don’t say: ‘The chief of the believers,’ because today I am not the chief of the believers. And say: “`Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission to be buried with his two companions (i.e. the Prophet, and Abu Bakr).” `Abdullah greeted `Aisha and asked for the permission for entering, and then entered to her and found her sitting and weeping. He said to her, “`Umar bin Al-Khattab is paying his salutations to you, and asks the permission to be buried with his two companions.” She said, “I had the idea of having this place for myself, but today I prefer `Umar to myself.”

When he returned it was said (to `Umar), “`Abdullah bin `Umar has come.” `Umar said, “Make me sit up.” Somebody supported him against his body and `Umar asked (`Abdullah), “What news do you have?” He said, “O chief of the believers! It is as you wish. She has given the permission.” `Umar said, “Praise be to Allah, there was nothing more important to me than this. So when I die, take me, and greet `Aisha and say: “`Umar bin Al-Khattab asks the permission (to be buried with the Prophet (ﷺ) ), and if she gives the permission, bury me there, and if she refuses, then take me to the grave-yard of the Muslims.” Then Hafsa (the mother of the believers) came with many other women walking with her. When we saw her, we went away. She went in (to `Umar) and wept there for sometime. When the men asked for permission to enter, she went into another place, and we heard her weeping inside. The people said (to `Umar), “O chief of the believers! Appoint a successor.”

`Umar said, “I do not find anyone more suitable for the job than the following persons or group whom Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had been pleased with before he died.” Then `Umar mentioned `Ali, `Uthman, Az-Zubair, Talha, Sa`d and `Abdur-Rahman (bin `Auf) (رضي الله عنهم) and said, “Abdullah bin `Umar (رضي الله عنه) will be a witness to you, but he will have no share in the rule. His being a witness will compensate him for not sharing the right of ruling. If Sa`d becomes the ruler, it will be alright: otherwise, whoever becomes the ruler should seek his help, as I have not dismissed him because of disability or dishonesty.” `Umar added, “I recommend that my successor takes care of the early emigrants; to know their rights and protect their honor and sacred things. I also recommend that he be kind to the Ansar who had lived in Medina before the emigrants and Belief had entered their hearts before them. I recommend that the (ruler) should accept the good of the righteous among them and excuse their wrong-doers, and I recommend that he should do good to all the people of the towns (Al-Ansar), as they are the protectors of Islam and the source of wealth and the source of annoyance to the enemy. I also recommend that nothing be taken from them except from their surplus with their consent. I also recommend that he do good to the ‘Arab bedouin, as they are the origin of the ‘Arabs and the material of Islam. He should take from what is inferior, amongst their properties and distribute that to the poor amongst them. I also recommend him concerning Allah’s and His Apostle’s protectees (i.e. Dhimmis) to fulfill their contracts and to fight for them and not to overburden them with what is beyond their ability.”

So when `Umar expired, we carried him out and set out walking. `Abdullah bin `Umar greeted (`Aisha) and said, “`Umar bin Al-Khattab asks for the permission.” `Aisha said, “Bring him in.” He was brought in and buried beside his two companions. When he was buried, the group (recommended by `Umar) held a meeting. Then `Abdur-Rahman said, ” Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you.” Az-Zubair said, “I give up my right to `Ali.” Talha said, “I give up my right to `Uthman,” Sa`d, ‘I give up my right to `Abdur-Rahman bin `Auf.” `Abdur-Rahman then said (to `Uthman and `Ali), “Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses.” So both the sheiks (i.e. `Uthman and `Ali) kept silent. `Abdur-Rahman said, “Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?” They said, “Yes.” So `Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. `Ali) and said, “You are related to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select `Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him.” Then he took the other (i.e. `Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When `Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, “O `Uthman! Raise your hand.” So he (i.e. `Abdur-Rahman) gave him (i.e. `Uthman) the solemn pledge, and then `Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance.

Sahih al-Bukhari 3700

16.8 Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) related about

ليحملوا أوزارهم كاملة يوم القيامة ومن أوزار الذين يضلونهم بغير علم ألا ساء ما يزرون

That they may bear their own burdens in full on the Day of Resurrection and some of the burdens of those whom they misguide without knowledge. Unquestionably, evil is that which they bear (16:25)

It says in a Hadith: “Whoever invites people to guidance, he will receive a reward like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their reward in the least. And whoever invites people to misguidance, he will bear a burden of sin like that of those who follow him, without diminishing their burden in the least.”

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

16.9 Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) related about

يخرج من بطونها شراب مختلف ألوانه فيه شفاء للناس

There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people (16:69)

Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded in their Sahihs from Qatadah from Abu Al-Mutawakkil Ali bin Dawud An-Naji from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (رضي الله عنه) that -a man came to the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) and said, “My brother is suffering from diarrhea.” He said,”Give him honey to drink”. The man went and gave him honey, then he came back and said, “O Messenger of Allah! I gave him honey to drink, and he only got worse.”The Prophet said, Go and give him honey to drink.”So he went and gave him honey, then he came back and said, “O Messenger of Allah! it only made him worse.”The Prophet said, “Allah speaks the truth and your brother’s stomach is lying. Go and give him honey to drink.” So he went and gave him honey, and he recovered.”

It is reported in the Two Sahihs from A’ishah (رضي الله عنها) that the Messenger of Allah used to like sweet things and honey.

This is the wording of Al-Bukhari, who also reported in his Sahih from Ibn Abbas that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said: Healing is to be found in three things: the cut made by the cupper, or drinking honey, or in branding with fire (cauterizing), but I have forbidden my Ummah to use branding.

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

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16.10 Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) related about

والله خلقكم ثم يتوفاكم ومنكم من يرد إلى أرذل العمر لكي لا يعلم بعد علم شيئا إن الله عليم قدير

And Allah created you; then He will take you in death. And among you is he who is reversed to the most decrepit [old] age so that he will not know, after [having had] knowledge, a thing. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Competent (16:70)

Al-Bukhari, when commenting on this Ayah, reported a narration from Anas bin Malik that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) used to pray:

أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْبُخْلِ وَالْكَسَلِ وَالْهَرَمِ وَأَرْذَلِ الْعُمُرِ وَعَذَابِ الْقَبْرِ وَفِتْنَةِ الدَّجَّالِ وَفِتْنَةِ الْمَحْيَا وَالْمَمَات

I seek refuge with You from miserliness, laziness, old age,  senility, the punishment of the grave, the Fitnah of the Dajjal and the trials of life and death.

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Narrated Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه)

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said, “Allah will not accept the excuse of any person whose instant of death is delayed till he is sixty years of age.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6419

16.11 Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) related about

وإيتاء ذي القربى

And giving to relatives (16:90)

In a Hadith, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said: “There is no sin more deserving of having its punishment hastened in this world, as well as what is reserved in the Hereafter for the one who does it, than tyrannical aggression and cutting the ties of kinship.”

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

16.12 Ibn Kathir (رحمه الله) related about

إنما جعل السبت على الذين اختلفوا فيه وإن ربك ليحكم بينهم يوم القيامة فيما كانوا فيه يختلفون

The sabbath was only appointed for those who differed over it. And indeed, your Lord will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that over which they used to differ (16:124)

It was reported in the Two Sahihs that Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) say: “We are the last, but we will be the first on the Day of Resurrection, even though they were given the Book before us. This is the day that Allah obligated upon them, but they differed concerning it. Allah guided us to this day, and the people observe their days after us, the Jews on the following day and the Christians on the day after that.” This version was recorded by Al-Bukhari.

It was reported that Abu Hurayrah and Hudhayfah (رضي الله عنهم) said that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وعلى آله وسلم) said: “Allah let the people who came before us stray from Friday, so the Jews had Saturday and the Christians had Sunday. Then Allah brought us and guided us to Friday. So now there are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, thus they will follow us on the Day of Resurrection. We are the last of the people of this world, but will be the first on the Day of Resurrection, and will be the first to be judged, before all of creation.” It was reported by Muslim.

(Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

16.13 Mufti Shafi Usmani (رحمه الله) related about

والذين هاجروا في الله من بعد ما ظلموا لنبوئنهم في الدنيا حسنة ولأجر الآخرة أكبر لو كانوا يعلمون

And those who emigrated for [the cause of] Allah after they had been wronged – We will surely settle them in this world in a good place; but the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if only they could know (16:41)

In the verses cited above, two great promises have been made to Muhajirin subject to some conditions: (1) To give them a good place right here in this world, and (2) To bless them with the greater reward of the Hereafter which is limitless. The expression: ‘a good place in the world’ is highly comprehensive. It includes a good residence for the Muhajir (one who does Hijrah) as well as neighbours who are good. It also includes extended means of living, supremacy over hostile enemies, recognition and fair name among people, and honour which continues through the family, and progeny. (Qurtubi)

The background of the revelation of the verse is basically the first Hijrah which the noble Companions made to Ethiopea. Then, the probability that it may include the Hijrah to Ethiopea as well as the Hijrah to al-Madinah al-Munawwarah which came after that. Mentioned here in this verse are the same Muhajirin to Ethiopea, or the Muhajirin to Madinah. Therefore, some scholars have said that this promise was for these blessed Sahabah (رض) only, that is, those who had made their Hijrah to Ethiopea, or those who had later done it to Madinah. As for the promise of Allah, it stood already fulfilled within the present world, something witnessed openly. Everyone saw how Madinah was made for them the real good place to live. Instead of hostile neighbours, they lived among those who were sympathetic, sharing and sacrificing. Enemies were conquered and subdued. Within a short period of time since their Hijrah, doors of ample sustenance were thrown open for them. The poor and needy of yester years became wealthy citizens of the day. Many countries of the world came under their sway. Such were their achiements in moral greatness and beauty of conduct that they remain receiving words of praise from friends and foes alike even to this day. Allah Ta` ala blessed them with great honour, and their generations as well.

But, along with these promises, the Holy Qur’an has also put forth some qualifications of Muhajirin and some conditions of Hijrah as well. Therefore, those deserving of the fulfillment of these promises can only be the Muhajirin who possess these qualifications and who have satisfied the desired conditions. Out of these, the very first condition is that of: فِی اللہِ (fil-lah: for the sake of Allah) which means that the purpose of doing Hijrah should only be to please Allah Ta` ala and that, in it, there be no selfish motives of material gains such as business or employment. The second condition is that these Muhajirin be victims of injustice as stated in: مِن بَعْدِ مَا ظُلِمُوا (after they were oppressed). The third qualification is that they stay patient against initial disadvantages and difficulties showing steadfastness and fortitude as pointed out in: الَّذِينَ صَبَرُ‌وا (those who kept patient). The fourth qualification is that they, even while utilizing all available material means, make it a point to place their trust in Allah alone for every ultimate success comes from Him alone, as described in: وَعَلَىٰ رَ‌بِّهِمْ يَتَوَكَّلُونَ (and who place trust in their Lord).

Imam Al-Qurtubi has given details about migration and Hijrah highlighting their difference along with some related injunctions. Quoting Ibn al-Arabi, Al-Qurtubi says that going out of the home-land and travelling through the earth is either to run from something and find a safe haven, or to seek and get something. The first kind of trip which is to escape and be safe from something is called Hijrah which is of six kinds:

1. Going from Dar al-Kufr (Abode of Disbelief) to Dar al-Islam (Abode of Islam): This kind of journey was obligatory (Fard) even during the days of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) and it shall remain obligatory, subject to capability and ability, right through the day of the Qiyamah (when there is no security of life, property and honour, or that it is not possible to fulfill religious obligations, the Fara’id of Din). If one continues to stay in Dar al-Harb (technically an enemy country of disbelievers at war with Muslims), one will be considered a sinner.

2. To get out of Dar al-Bid’ah (Abode overtaken by deviation from established religion): Ibn Qasim says that he had heard from Imam Malik (رح) that it is not Halal for any Muslim to stay at a place where the early righteous elders of the Muslim community (al-Salaf-al-Salihun) are criticised and maligned. After reporting this statement, Ibn al-Arabi writes that it is totally correct – because, should you be unable to eradicate the practice of what is forbidden, then, it becomes necessary for you that you should remove your own self from that place, and have nothing to do with it. This is as commanded by Allah Ta` ala in the Qur’an: وَإِذَا رَ‌أَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِ‌ضْ عَنْهُمْ (And when you see those who indulge in Our verses adversely, turn away from them – 6:68).

3. To get out of a place overtaken by what is Haram: This is because the quest for what is I1alal is obligatory (Fard) on every Muslim.

4. To move out in order to avoid being subjected to physical pain: This kind of journey is permissible. In fact, it is a blessing from Allah that one should leave a place where danger exists that he will be physically hurt by enemies. So, this is his way out of that danger. This fourth kind of journey was first made by Sayyidna Ibrahim (علیہ السلام) . It was to seek deliverance from the pain inflicted on him by his people. When he left ` Iraq for Syria, he had said: إِنِّي مُهَاجِرٌ‌ إِلَىٰ رَ‌بِّي (I am a muhajir [ emigrant ] unto my Lord – 29:26). After him, Sayyidna Musa (علیہ السلام) made a similar journey from Egypt to Madyan: فَخَرَ‌جَ مِنْهَا خَائِفًا يَتَرَ‌قَّبُ (he got out from there, fearing, watching – 28:21).

5. To move out due to unsuitable climate or likely diseases: This is the fifth kind of journey which has also been permitted by Islam as the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) had advised some shepherds to settle by the grooves outside Madinah because the climate of the city did not suit them. Similarly, Sayyidna ` Umar al-Faruq (رض) had sent an executive order to Sayyidna Abu ` Ubaidah (رض) that he should should shift the provincial capital from Jordan to some site located on a higher altitude where the climate is not bad.

But, this is on condition that there be no plague or other epidemic diseases affecting the area. And if, an epidemic does spread out in an area, it is governed by another rule, that is, those who are already pre-sent there do not have to get out from that area. As for those who are outside it, they should not go in there – as it happened with Sayyidna ` Umar al-Faruq during his journey to Syria. When he reached the borders of Syria, he was told that a plague has spread throughout that country. Hearing that, he hesitated from entering that country. He went into repeated consultations with the Sahabah (رض) to resolve this problem. The resolution came only after Sayyidna ` Abd Al-Ralhman ibn Al-` Awf narrated a Hadith in which the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) had said: اِذا وَقَعَ بِاَرضِ وَّاَنتُم بِھَا فَلَا تَخرُجُوا مِنھاَا وَ اِذَا وَقَعَ بِاَرضِ وَّلَستُم بِھَا فَلَا تَھبِطُوا عَلَیھَا (رواہ الترمذی و قال حدٰث حسن صحیح) When plague spreads in an area where you are present, do not go out from there; and when it spreads in an area where you are not already present, do not go in there (after having heard of plague). (This Hadith has been reported by Tirmidhi who calls it Hasan Sahih)

At that time, Sayyidna ` Umar al-Faruq (رض) ، in obedience to the command of the Hadith, proclaimed that the whole caravan shall turn back and go home.

Some ` Ulama have pointed out that this Hadith has a particular element of wisdom in it, that is, the people staying in an area affected by some epidemic are most likely to be infected by its germs. If they were to run away from there, the one who is infected dangerously is not going to survive anyway, but he would infect others wherever he goes. Hence, the wise decision.

6. To secure personal property and possessions: When someone feels the danger of being hit by thieves and robbers at a certain place, he should move away from there. The Shari` ah of Islam has permitted doing this as well because the property and possessions of a Muslim are as sacrosanct as his or her life.

These six kinds belong to migration undertaken to run for safety against something. Then, there is the journey undertaken to seek and get something. It has nine kinds:

1. The journey for moral self-correction: It means touring and travelling through Allah’s earth for the particular purpose of witnessing the creation of Allah Ta’ ala, the manifestations of His most perfect power, and having a spot observation of the sad end of past peoples in order to learn one’s essential lesson in how to live sensibly and confidently. The Holy Qur’an has exhorted people to embark on such trips, for instance in: أَوَلَمْ يَسِيرُ‌وا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ فَيَنظُرُ‌وا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ (Have they not travelled around the earth and seen how was the end of those before them? – 35:44). ` Ulama have identified the journey undertaken by Sayyidna Dhul-Qarnain as a journey of this kind, while some of them suggest that his journey through the earth was to establish Divine Law on it.

2. The journey of Hajj: That it is an Islamic duty subject to some conditions is well known.

3. The journey of Jihad: All Muslims know that it is also either obligatory (fard), or necessary (wajib), or recommended (mustahabb).

4. The journey for employment: If a person cannot find economic sup-port for his needs in his homeland, it is incumbent on him that he travels elsewhere and look for an employment opportunity there.

5. The journey for trading: It means travelling to acquire wealth in excess to the measure of need. According to Islamic legal norms, this too is permissible. Allah Ta’ ala says: لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَبْتَغُوا فَضْلًا مِّن رَّ‌بِّكُمْ : ‘There is no sin on you that you seek the bounty of your Lord (by trading) – 2:198.’ Here, by ‘seeking of bounty’ in this verse, the reference is to trading. When Allah Ta’ ala has allowed trading even during the Hajj trip, then, undertaking a journey for the sole purpose of trading becomes permissible in the first degree.

6. The journey for education: That it is an absolute duty in terms of religious need, and that it is an obligation of sufficiency (fard al-kifayah: an obligation which, if discharged by some, would suffice for others) in terms of what is more than needed, is widely known and amply recognized.

7. The journey to a place believing it to be sacred and blessed: This is not correct and proper except for the three Masajid and they are: (1) A1-Masjid Al-Haram (The Sacred Mosque of Makkah al-Mukarramah) (2) Al-Masjid An-Nabawiyy (The Mosque of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) ، in Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah) (3) Al-Masjid Al-Agsa (Baytul-Maqdis). [ This is the view of Al-Qurtubi and Ibn al-Arabi. Other revered scholars of early Islam and their successors have also allowed the undertaking of travel to visit places generally considered blessed – Muhammad Shafi’].

8. The journey undertaken to guard Islamic frontiers: This is known as Ribat. There are many Hadith reports which commend it strongly. (For details on Ribat, please see our comments under Verse 200 of Surah ‘Al-` Imran in Ma’ ariful-Qur’an, Volume II)

9. The journey to visit relatives and friends: This too has been classed as an act deserving of return and reward. A Hadith of Sahih Muslim mentions the prayer of angels in favour of those who undertake a journey to visit relatives and friends (which is valid only when the purpose of meeting them is to seek the pleasure of Allah Ta ale and not to seek any material gains). Allah knows best. (Qurtubi, p. 349-351, v. 5, Surah An-Nisa’ )

(Abridged from Ma’ariful Qur’an)

16.14 Mufti Shafi Usmani (رحمه الله) related about

ثم كلي من كل الثمرات فاسلكي سبل ربك ذللا يخرج من بطونها شراب مختلف ألوانه فيه شفاء للناس إن في ذلك لآية لقوم يتفكرون

Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought (16:69)

As for the oft-quoted statement: فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِّلنَّاسِ (in which there is cure for people), it can be said that honey is, on the one hand, an energy-giving food as well as a delicacy in terms of taste and flavor, while on the other hand, it serves as a remedial prescription for diseases too. And why not? This delicate mobile machine which goes about extracting pure and pow-erful essences from all kinds of fruits and flowers after which it returns home to store them in its safe compartments specially designed, constructed and guarded for a purpose. Now, if natural herbs and plants contain ingredients which have medicinal and curative properties, why would everything disappear from their essences?

Another distinction of the honey bee is that the Hadith mentions its superiority. The Holy Prophet said: اَلذَّبانُ کُلُّھا فِی الںَّار یَجعَلُھَا عَذَاباً لِّاَھلِ النَّارِ اِلَّاالنَّحل All bees will go to Hell (like other hurting creatures). They will be made a punishment for the people of Hell, except the honey bee (which will not go to Hell) – (Nawadir al-Usul with reference to Al-Qurtubi) According to another Hadith, he has prohibited its killing Abu Dawud.

Giving an example of the lowness of worldly life, Sayyidna Ali (رض) said: اَشرَف لِبَاس بَنِی آدَمَ فِیہِ لُعَابُ دُدَۃِ وَّ اَشرفُ شَرَابِہ رَجِیعُ نَحلَۃِ The finest dress of the progeny of Adam is saliva from a tiny in-sect and the finest of his drinks is the excrement of a bee.

(Abridged from Ma’ariful Qur’an)

16.14 Mufti Shafi Usmani (رحمه الله) related about

ادع إلى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة وجادلهم بالتي هي أحسن إن ربك هو أعلم بمن ضل عن سبيله وهو أعلم بالمهتدين

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided (16:125)

Embedded in this verse (125) there lies a whole curriculum of Da’wah and Tabligh, its principles and rules of etiquette, within the frame of a few words. As in Tafsir al-Qurtubi, when Haram ibn Hayyan’s (رح) time of death came near, his relatives asked him for some wasiyyah (order, parting advice, will). In reply, he said, “Wasiyyah? That people make for مَال mal (wealth, property, inheritance), which I do not have. But, I would still make a wasiyyah, that of the ayat of Allah, particularly that of the last verses of Surah an-Nahl – and I order you to stand firm on them.”

Calling people towards Allah دَعوَۃ اِلی اللہ : da’wah ilal-lah) has been made obligatory on the Muslim Ummah following in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) . It was said in Surah ‘Al-` Imran: وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ‌ وَيَأْمُرُ‌ونَ بِالْمَعْرُ‌وفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ‌ And there has to be a group of people from among you who call towards the good… (3:104) And in another verse, it was said: وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّـهِ And who is better in utterance than the one who called (people) towards Allah. (Ha Mim as-Sajdah/Fussilat, 41:33)

To sum up, three things have been mentioned in verse 125 as necessary for Da’wah: 1. Al-Hikmah (Wisdom) 2. Al-Maw` izah al-Hasanah (Good Counsel) 3. Al-Mujadalah – ‘billati hiya alhsan’ (Debate in the Best of Manners)

According to a narration of Sayyidna ` Abdullh ibn Masud (رض) reported in the Sahih of al-Bukhari, “The Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) had his ‘wa` z’ sessions only on some days of the week lest we get bored – and he instructed others to do the same.” Sayyidna Anas (رض) reports that the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) said: یَسِّرُو ولا تُعَسِّرُوا وَ بَزشِّر ‘ وا ولا تُنَفِّرُوا Make (things) easy and do not make (things) difficult and give (people) the good news (of mercy from Allah) and do not disappoint or alienate (them) – Sabih al Bukhari, Kitab al-` Ilm.

Imam al-Ghazali said that a person who devotes himself to the ‘ilm of din and the da’wah of haqq revolves between two destinies. Either he, following correct principles and avoiding fatal dangers, achieves the eternal good; or, otherwise, if he falls down from this station, he slides into eternal misfortune. That he would remain hanging in between these two states is too far out to entertain – because, knowledge which is not beneficial is nothing but punishment.

The Holy Prophet said:” On the day of Judgment, the person most severely punished, of all human beings, shall be an ` alim from whose knowledge Allah has not given him any benefit.”

And in another Sahih Hadith, he said: “Do not learn the ‘ilm (of din) to compete with the learned in pride and prestige nor to challenge the incompetent with it nor to make the faces of people turn towards you therewith. So whoever will do that, will be in the fire.” (Ibn Majah, from the Hadith of Sayyidna Jabir with sound chains of authority as in Takhrij al-` Iraqi ` ala al-Ihya’ )

Therefore, the standing creed (maslak) of authorities among Muslim jurists and the people on Truth (haqq) in this matter was that they never considered disputation and confrontation in intellectual issues as permissible. In the mission of inviting people to the Truth, it is enough to alert anyone considered to be in error, politely and sympathetically as a well-wisher, presenting one’s submission with necessary arguments. Then, should he accept, it is better. If otherwise, let him observe silence, totally avoiding altercation and adverse criticism.

Let us turn to Imam Malik (رح) in this matter:  Imam Malik said: “Altercation and confrontation in al-` ilm (the knowledge of din) drives away the light of knowledge from the heart of a servant.” Someone submitted: ‘There is a person. who has the knowledge of Sunnah. Can he enter into debate for the protection of Sunnah?’ He said, “No. But, he should inform the addressee about the Sunnah (as it is). Then, should he accept it, good – otherwise, let him observe silence.” (Awjaz al-Masalik Sharb al-Muwatta, v. 1, page 15)

Of particular mention is the habit of finding faults with others, mocking at them or making fun of them all in the name of open criticism. Imam Shafi` i رحمۃ اللہ علیہ said:

“When alerting someone to some mistake (the rule is:) If you talked to him privately, explained it politely, then, this is ‘advice’; and if you disgraced him publicly, this is vice.”

The publicizing of mutual defects has become so popular these days that negative advertising is being done as if it was some service rendered to the Faith. May Allah Ta’ala bless all of us the ability to serve our Faith with the best of insight into its Da’wah and its modalities.

(Abridged from Ma’ariful Qur’an)

Books on Dawah

Forty Ahadith on Dawah

Methodology of the Prophets (Manhaj-ul-Anbiya) in calling to Allah

The Da’wah to Islam

Dawah Training Course

Guide To Islam For New Muslims

16.15 Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (عليه السلام) has said that

Whoever recites Surah an-Nahl once every month, he will be safe from 70 types of diseases and will be from among the people of Jannah.


One thought on “Benefits and Virtues of Surah 16 An-Nahl

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