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Celebrating the Bee in Islam

In the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an a chapter is dedicated to the bee, called An-Nahl. This literally translates to ‘The Bee’ & it describes the bee’s way of life, & how Muslims should be more like them.

We are celebrating the Bee in Islam.

Al Nahl, Chapter 16, 68-69, talks about a variety of topics, but Allah specifically chose the title The Bee to catch the attention of the readers. Bees are said to be Allah’s miracles; the way they function and how they behave, are to be held as an example.

The significance of Al Nahl as Chapter 16 is important. The only verse in this chapter that mentions bees is made up of 16 words & 16 different Arabic letters. Coincidentally, female bees have 16 pairs of chromosomes, whereas males have 16 chromosomes.

What is fascinating about the bees in the Qur’an is that it was written from a scientific standpoint where the colony, roles & practices of bees are observed. These characteristics & traits were used as a figure of speech for the follower reading the Qur’an.

A reason why an entire chapter in the Qur’an has been devoted to the bee is that Allah has enabled the honey bee to produce a substance within which there is a cure for all mankind. Honey.

In Surah Al Nahl, Allah is asks people to “give thought” to the attributes of the bees & embody these traits in their lives. Through their behaviour, we learn things such as to gain knowledge & reflect, to care for our community & maintain good relations.

In the scientific language all the honeybees belong to the genus Apis. The honeybee communicates with other honeybee using a dance language, which scientists have discovered to be very complicated and highly developed.

Approximately a third of all the food we eat is due to pollination from the honeybee. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss, pollution, pesticides & disease, their numbers have dwindled. Over the last decade, there has been a rise in colony collapse disorder.

If bees disappeared from the surface of the Earth, humans would have 4 years left to live. The bee has officially been declared the most important animal on Earth by the Earthwatch Institute in 2017.

Surah an-Nahl, 16. Pages from an early Ottoman Qur'an written in two different script styles, 16th century The right hand page starts with part of verse 110 from Surah an-Nahl (The Bee) and continues through to verse 122 on the left hand page.

Since 2011 the East London Mosque in England has been home to several beehives. Most of the hives are kept on the roof of the London Muslim Centre

(Khalil and Salma inspecting a hive. Pic: Jessica Chia)

This mosque in Indonesia is well-known in the community as Sarang Lebah (Honeycomb) Mosque or An-Nahl Mosque, because honeycombs inspire the architectural elements used in this building including hexagon-shaped vent blocks, similar to those of honeycombs.

The Al Nahl mosque promotes the pilgrims' essential concept, the world as a public and social entity, just like the bees, which are social creatures and hard workers, where no bees live alone. It aims to build a broader empathy for fellow human beings.

Bees lives less than 40 days, visit at least 1000 flowers & produces less than a teaspoon of honey. For us it is only a teaspoon of honey, but for the bee it is a lifetime of work Thank You Bees!


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