This is the 40th part of this series, reading The Qur’an; A New Translation by Abdel Haleem. We’ll occasionally compare that to other translations and with tafsirs for clarification. We’re also reading each “chapter” [surah] in order of revelation [mostly] rather than the order in which they are typically printed. If you missed some of this series, you can see:
my 2nd post on surahs 96, 68 & 73.
my 3rd post on surahs 74, 111 & 81.
my 4th post on surahs 87, 92, 89, 93, 94 & 103.
my 5th post jumping to surah 18.
my 6th post on surahs 100, 108, 102, 107, 109 & 105
my 7th post was on surahs 113, 114, 112 & 53.
my 9th post on surahs 101, 75, 104 & 77.
my 1oth post on surahs 50, 90 & 86.
my 11th post on surah 54,
my 12th post on surah 38,
my 13th post on surah 7,
my 14th post on surah 72,
my 15th post on surah 36,
my 17th post on surah 43,
my 18th post on surah 35.
my 19th post on surah 19.
my 20th post on surah 20,
my 21st post on surah 56.
my 22nd post on surah 26.
my 23rd post on surah 27.
my 24th post on surah 28.
my 25th post on surah 17.
my 26th post on surah 10.
my 27th post on surah 11.
my 28th post on surah 12.
my 29th post on surah 15.
my 30th post on surah 6.
my 31st post on surah 37.
my 32nd post on suras 31 & 34.
my 33rd post on surah 39.
my 34th post on surah 40.
my 35th post on surah 41.
my 36th post on surah 42.
my 37th post on surah 44.
my 38th post on suras 45 & 46.
and my 39th post of suras 51 & 88.
Sūrah 16 (An-Nahl) The Bee
1God’s Judgement is coming, a so do not ask to bring it on sooner. Glory be to Him! He is far above anything they join with Him!
If we say God’s judgment is coming, don’t call our bluff by asking that it be sooner.
2He sends down angels with inspiration at His command, to whichever of His servants He chooses, to give [His] warning: ‘There is no god but Me, so beware of Me.’
If that were true, we wouldn’t need to beware of God. We would all know God existed. We wouldn’t need to believe that on faith. God wouldn’t punish us for not believing if he gave us no evidence, and he would not send raving mad men as his self-appointed messengers. He wouldn’t need or use messengers.
3He created the heavens and earth for a true purpose, and He is far above whatever they join with Him! 4He created man from a drop of fluid, and yet man openly challenges Him.
We were not “created” and we did not come from a drop of fluid either, meaning sperm. The mere fallible men who wrote this story back in the 7th century didn’t yet know that women also contribute an egg.
5And livestock––He created them too. You derive warmth and other benefits from them: you get food from them; 6you find beauty in them when you bring them home to rest and when you drive them out to pasture. 7They carry your loads to lands you yourselves could not reach without great hardship––truly your Lord is kind and merciful––8horses, mules, and donkeys for you to ride and use for show, and other things you know nothing about.
We know the full evolutionary phylogeny for equines and for cattle. Neither was created by any god.
9God points out the right path, for some paths lead the wrong way: if He wished, He could guide you all.
Instead, the Qur’an expects us to believe that God chose only to guide certain people, and the rest he decided to mislead into disbelief so that he could punish us mercilessly forever in Hell.
10It is He who sends down water for you from the sky, from which comes a drink for you, and the shrubs that you feed to your animals. 11With it He grows for you grain, olives, palms, vines, and all kinds of other crops. There truly is a sign in this for those who reflect. 12By His command He has made the night and day, the sun, moon, and stars all of benefit to you. There truly are signs in this for those who use their reason.
Notice that the Qur’an doesn’t allow use of reason. Instead we are to simply assume that everything that happens in nature happens because God told it to happen, and we are not allowed to question that assumption.
13He has made of benefit to you the many-coloured things He has multiplied on the earth. There truly are signs in this for those who take it to heart. 14It is He who made the sea of benefit to you: you eat fresh fish from it and bring out jewellery to wear; you see the ships cutting through its waves so that you may go in search of His bounty and give thanks. 15He has made mountains stand firm on the earth, to prevent it shaking under you, and rivers and paths so that you may find your way, 16and landmarks and stars to guide people.
If a thing exists or happens that you like, then you are to simply assume that God did it. This is not reason,
17Can He who creates be compared to one who cannot create? Why do you not take heed?
God did not create anything. God was created by people who believed in superstition instead of science.
18If you tried to count God’s blessings, you could never take them all in: He is truly most forgiving and most merciful.
The threat of eternal damnation for disbelief proves otherwise.
19He knows what you conceal and what you reveal. 20Those they invoke beside God create nothing; they are themselves created.
Just like Al-Lah.
21They are dead, not living. They do not know when they will be raised up. 22Your God is the One God. As for those who deny the life to come, their hearts refuse to admit the truth and they are arrogant. 23There is no doubt that God knows what they conceal and what they reveal. He does not love the arrogant.
The Qur’an says there is no doubt, when in fact there is plenty of doubt. We can all see that.
24When they are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they say, ‘Ancient fables.’ 25On the Day of Resurrection they will bear the full weight of their own burden, as well as some of the burden of those they misled with no true knowledge. How terrible their burden will be! 26Those who went before them also schemed, but God attacked the very foundations of what they built. The roof fell down on them: punishment came on them from unimagined directions. 27In the end, on the Day of Resurrection, He will shame them, saying, ‘Where are these “partners” of Mine on whose account you opposed [Me]?’ Those given knowledge will say, ‘Shame and misery on the disbelievers today!’
I expect that at some point, perhaps even in the next couple centuries or so, there will be no more believers in Islam, no one who still believes in this “day of judgment” that will never come.
28Those whose lives the angels take while they are wronging themselves will show submission: ‘We were doing no evil.’ ‘Yes you were: God knows fully everything that you have done, 29so enter the gates of Hell. There you will remain– the home of the arrogant is evil indeed.’ 30But when the righteous are asked, ‘What has your Lord sent down?’ they will say, ‘All that is good.’ There is a reward in this present world for those who do good, but their home in the Hereafter is far better: the home of the righteous is excellent.
So God is only responsible for “all that is good”? I prefer the way Monty Python described that:
All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Lord God made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings.
All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Lord God made them all.
31They will enter perpetual Gardens graced with flowing streams. There they will have everything they wish.
You can have anything you wish in Muslim Heaven, except that there is no alcohol allowed, no acts of homosexuality either, and you’re not allowed to say anything controversial or that might be interpreted as offensive.
This is the way God rewards the righteous, 32those whose lives the angels take in a state of goodness. They will say to them, ‘Peace be upon you. Enter the Garden as a reward for what you have done.’ 33Are the disbelievers waiting for the angels to come to them, or your Lord’s Judgement? Those who went before them did the same. God did not wrong them; they wronged themselves. 34So the evil they had done hit them and they were surrounded by the very thing they had mocked.
Is this blaming the victim? The human authors of the Qur’an give God credit for all these things God doesn’t do, like commanding the sun to rise or the rain to fall and sunrise and other such silliness, but they completely ignore that the book they wrote also clearly indicates that God does wrong people often in these stories.
35Those who worshipped others alongside God say, ‘If God had willed, we would not have worshipped anything but Him, nor would our fathers. We would not have declared anything forbidden without His sanction.’ Those before them said the same. Are the messengers obliged to do anything other than deliver [their message] clearly?
If God really existed, we wouldn’t need or have these “messengers”.
36We sent a messenger to every community, saying, ‘Worship God and shun false gods.’
You can’t do both at the same time.
Among them were some God guided; misguidance took hold of others. So travel through the earth and see what was the fate of those who denied the truth. 37Though you [Prophet] may be eager to guide them, God does not guide those who misguide [others], nor will they have anyone to help them. 38They have sworn by God with their strongest oaths that He will not raise the dead to life. But He will– it is His binding promise, though most people do not realize it– 39in order to make clear for them what they have differed about and so that the disbelievers may realize that what they said was false.
When it is too late of course.
I wasn’t sure who “they” were supposed to be here. So I compared a couple other translations, and it seems that it is any group of unbelievers say that God will not raise the dead to life, which I am already doing. There are few things the Qur’an is right about, but this is one of them. I am indeed saying that this supposed “day of judgment” will never come. The Qur’an is obviously not true, but if it was, and this day of judgment really happened, then it would be God who wronged me, by misleading me, by “closing my ears” to this alleged “truth”. It would not be me wronging myself.
40When We will something to happen, all that We say is, ‘Be,’ and it is.
Isn’t that neat? God doesn’t even have to say “abracadabera”.
41As for those who emigrated in God’s cause after being wronged, We shall give them a good home in this world, but the reward of the Hereafter will be far greater, if they only knew it.
Not according to the way the Qur’an has already described Heaven.
42They are the ones who are steadfast and put their trust in their Lord. 43[Prophet], all the messengers We sent before you were simply men to whom We had given the Revelation: you [people] can ask those who have knowledge if you do not know. 44We sent them with clear signs and scriptures. We have sent down the message to you too [Prophet], so that you can explain to people what was sent for them, so that they may reflect. 45Are those who plan evil so sure that God will not make the earth swallow them up, that punishment will not come on them from some unimagined direction, 46that it will not catch them suddenly in the midst of their comings and goings– for they cannot frustrate God– 47or that it will not catch up with them gradually? Indeed your Lord is kind and merciful.
Indeed not. We cannot ask the prophets anything. Or rather, whenever we do ask any self-appointed prophet anything, it turns out they don’t really know whatever they pretend to. Notice also that disbelief is equivalent to “planning evil”.
48Do the [disbelievers] not observe the things that God has created, casting their shadows right and left, submitting themselves to God obediently?
We observe the things. We just don’t pretend they were created or commanded when we know better.
49It is to God that everything in the heavens and earth submits, every beast that moves, even the angels– they are free from arrogance: 50they fear their Lord above them, and they do as they are commanded.
Animals don’t worship any gods and angels don’t exist. So…
51God said, ‘Do not take two gods’– for He is the One God–‘ I alone am the One that you should hold in awe.’
One imaginary thing is just as good as a hundred imaginary things. It doesn’t matter how many gods you believe in. If you believe in any at all, then you’re not using reason.
52Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him: everlasting obedience is His right. Will you heed anyone other than God?
We don’t even need God.
53Whatever good things you possess come from God, and when hardship afflicts you, it is to Him alone you cry out for help, 54yet when He has relieved you of your hardship– lo and behold!– some of you attribute partners to your Lord. 55Let them show ingratitude for the favours We have shown them; ‘Enjoy your brief time– soon you will know.’ 56They set aside part of the sustenance We give them, for [idols] about which they have no true knowledge. By God! You will be questioned about your false inventions.
But God himself is a false invention.
57They assign daughters to God ––may He be exalted!––and the [sons] they desire to themselves.
This verse refers to pagan Arabs at that time who believed that the angels were God’s daughters.
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!
Yeah, that was pretty bad. Few pagan cultures were so misogynist as those Arabs mentioned here.
60Those who do not believe in the Hereafter should have the contemptible image, and God should have the highest one: He is the Mighty, the Wise.
Atheists are indeed held in contempt by the wanna-believers, who think that baseless, unsupported assertions qualify as truth.
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 best belongs to them. Without doubt it is the Fire that belongs to them: they will be given priority there!
What I see in this and so many other religious assertions is hatred of anyone who doesn’t want to play the same game of make-believe, whether they be of another religion, another game of make-believe, or atheists not playing any such games at all.
63By God, 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 disbelievers too, and a painful punishment awaits them all.
I often hear Christians making this same claim, that anyone who worships a different god than they do is really following Satan, and they pretend that atheists are all devil worshipers too.
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.
But no mercy to anyone who does not believe. It doesn’t matter why they don’t believe either. Nor do they have to be evil in any sense. If you don’t buy into the nonsense this particular prophet is selling, then that prophet will threaten you with eternal damnation, because he can’t give any good reason to believe. Nor would any real god ever require any of this. Then we have to mention that the scriptures were sent “only to make clear what they differ about”. There seems to be quite a bit of disagreement on those scriptures! They certainly would not have been written that way (if at all) if God really existed.
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 juice and wholesome provisions. There truly is a sign in this for people who use their reason.
No, there is no sign for people who use their reason; only for those who do not use reason, who refuse reason to blindly accept whatever credulous claims are told to them.
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.
Bees have a drinkable medicine in their bellies? I checked IslamicStudies.info and they say that “Though honey is a wholesome food with a sweet taste and has medicinal power as well, its latter quality has been mentioned only because the former is too obvious. It is used as a medicine to cure several diseases because it contains the juice and glucose of flowers and fruits in the best form.” Then I checked WebMD and saw that honey is used as an alternative or holistic medicine, and that “outside of the laboratory, claims for honey’s healthfulness are unproven”.
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.
I gotta say it really doesn’t sound like it.
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?
Because there is no god. Some people have more provisions than others for a host of reasons, and magical invisible spirits are not among them.
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?
Those who believe in God’s blessings believe in falsehood.
73Those they worship beside God have no power to provide anything for them from the heavens or the earth: they can do nothing.
Well, neither can God.
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.
With good reason. If there really was a god, and this god was worthy of worship, then he would have prohibited slavery straight away.
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?
Ideally both men would have rights, even if only one of them can be granted privilege.
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.
No god had anything to do with that.
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.
But there are no “signs” for those who do not believe, who understand aerodynamics and know how a birds’ wing provides lift, so that there definitely is something other than a god holding it up, and the Qur’an is wrong yet again.
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.
No. We do not know God’s blessings. We do not simply assume that anything nice came from your magic imaginary friend.
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.
No, that day will NOT come. 500 years from now or 5,000 years from now, that day still won’t have come.
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.
Get this? According to the Qur’an, the pagan gods are real. Odin and Zeus and Nu Qua will all disavow their worshipers, insult them, and kneel before God. Seriously?
88Because of the corruption they spread, We shall add torment upon torment for those who disbelieved and barred others from the path of God.
I’m calling your bluff. Bring it.
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.
I really wish the Qur’an would say something worthy of comment, instead of a constant stream of false claims.
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. 93If God so willed, He would have made you all one people, but He leaves to stray whoever He will and guides whoever He will. You will be questioned about your deeds. 94Do not use your oaths to deceive each other lest any foot should slip after being firmly placed and lest you should taste the penalty for having hindered others from the path of God, and suffer terrible torment. 95Do not sell for a small price any pledge made in God’s name: what God has [to give] is better for you, if you only knew. 96What you have runs out but what God has endures, and We shall certainly reward those who remain steadfast according to the best of their actions. 97To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions.
Occasionally, the Qur’an says something really stupid. But most of the time, all this book does is repeat the same empty assertions, threats and false promises over and over again. So tedious and boring.
98[Prophet], when you recite the Quran, seek God’s protection from the outcast, Satan. 99He has no power over those who believe and trust in their Lord;
It seems to me that Satan ONLY has power over those who believe and trust in God. That character has no significance at all to atheists or Hindus and so on, who understand that this supposed devil is entirely imaginary.
100his power is only over those who ally themselves with him and those who, because of him, join partners with God.
I have often been accused of aligning myself with Satan. It’s never been true. But then, what religious claim ever is?
101When We substitute one revelation for another– and God knows best what He reveals– they say, ‘You are just making it up,’ but most of them have no knowledge. 102Say that the Holy Spirit has brought the Revelation with the Truth step by step from your Lord, to strengthen the believers and as guidance and good news to the devout.
Translator Abdel Haleem says that “the Holy Spirit” is the angel, Gabriel. Finally, something of some small amount of interest. I checked with IslamicStudies.info to confirm that they interpret this the same way. Does this mean that Muslims think that the Christian concept of the Holy Ghost refers to Gabriel? Because so far, I haven’t seen anything in the Qur’an referencing that part of the alleged trinity.
103We know very well that they say, ‘It is a man who teaches him,’ but the language of the person they allude to is foreign, while this revelation is in clear Arabic.
Here again, I turned to IslamicStudies.info, because they include paragraphs of descriptions for nearly every verse. In this case, they said: “In this connection, traditions mention the names of several persons, one of whom is Jabar. According to the disbelievers of Makkah he taught the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, one thing particularly noteworthy about all these persons is that they were non Arab slaves. Whosoever he might be, the fact that he used to recite the Torah and the Gospel and had an acquaintance with the Prophet (peace be upon him). This gave an opportunity to the disbelievers for spreading this false report that it was the particular slave who was the real author of the Holy Quran.”
104If people do not believe in God’s revelation, God does not guide them, and a painful punishment awaits them. 105Falsehood is fabricated only by those who do not believe in God’s revelation: they are the liars.
I think it has already been pretty well demonstrated that those who believe in God’s revelation have fabricated quite a lot of falsehood, and have little—if any—concern for accuracy or accountability.
106With the exception of those who are forced to say they do not believe, although their hearts remain firm in faith, those who reject God after believing in Him and open their hearts to disbelief will have the wrath of God upon them and a grievous punishment awaiting them.
There are folks who are forced to say that they do not believe? Why?
107This is because they love the life of this world more than the one to come, and God does not guide those who reject Him.
In all fairness, there is only the one life that we really do have in this world, and no reason or possibility for another life after death.
108These are people whose hearts, hearing, and sight have been closed off by God: they are heedless,
See? God says he doesn’t mislead people, and then he admits that he misleads people. Or rather, the people pretending to speak for God say these things without noticing how they contradict themselves.
109and there is no doubt that they will be the losers in the Hereafter.
There is plenty of doubt that there even is a “hereafter”.
110But your Lord will be most forgiving and most merciful to those who leave their homes after persecution, then strive and remain steadfast. 111On the Day when every soul will come pleading for itself, every soul will be paid in full for all its actions– they will not be wronged.
By definition, God’s faulty judgments based only on the thought crime of disbelief means that they WILL be wronged.
112God presents the example of a town that was secure and at ease, with provisions coming to it abundantly from all places. Then it became ungrateful for God’s blessings, so God afflicted it with the garment of famine and fear, for what its people had done. 113A messenger who was one of them came to them, but they called him a liar. So punishment overwhelmed them in the midst of their evildoing.
Here again we see why no real god would send messengers who are always taken to be liars. Any omniscient deity would certainly know better before doing that the FIRST time. Yet Al-Lah complains that he keeps repeating this same mistake and can’t seem to figure out how to correct himself.
114So eat of the good and lawful things God has provided for you and be thankful for His blessings, if it is Him that you worship. 115He has forbidden you only these things: carrion, blood, pig’s meat, and animals over which any name other than God’s has been invoked. But if anyone is forced by hunger, not desiring it nor exceeding their immediate need, God is forgiving and merciful.
So British cuisine is right out.
116Do not say falsely, ‘This is lawful and that is forbidden,’ inventing a lie about God: those who invent lies about God will not prosper–
Then no priest or imam has ever prospered? I think we all know better than that.
117they may have a little enjoyment, but painful punishment awaits them. 118[Prophet], We forbade the Jews what We told you about [in an earlier revelation]. We did not wrong them; they wronged themselves.
Of course, nothing bad that God ever forces to happen is ever his fault, not even when he admits to it.
119But towards those who do wrong out of ignorance, and afterwards repent and make amends, your Lord is most forgiving and merciful.
Because all that matters is that you spread the religion.
120Abraham was truly an example: devoutly obedient to God and true in faith. He was not an idolater; 121he was thankful for the blessings of God who chose him and guided him to a straight path. 122We gave him blessings in this world, and he is among the righteous in the Hereafter.
He was a madman ready to murder his own son because of the voices in his head. Understanding that makes so much sense out of all the religions established in his name.
123Then We revealed to you [Muhammad], ‘Follow the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith who was not an idolater.’
Be ready to sacrifice your own children instead of seeking treatment when your schizophrenia acts up.
124The Sabbath was made obligatory only for those who differed about it. On the Day of Resurrection your Lord will judge between them as to their differences. 125[Prophet], call [people] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way, for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His way and who is rightly guided. 126If you [believers] have to respond to an attack, make your response proportionate, but it is best to stand fast. 127So [Prophet] be steadfast: your steadfastness comes only from God. Do not grieve over them; do not be distressed by their scheming, 128for God is with those who are mindful of Him and who do good.
Your “steadfastness” doesn’t come from your god, it comes from your being unreasonable.