The Bee Revelation


English: Honeybee (Apis mellifera) landing on ...
A single honey bee worker produces about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

The Holy Qur’an mentions six types of revelations of Allah to His creation. The first and foremost of them is the revelation to the Prophets (1,2).

“Surely, We have sent revelation to thee, as We sent revelation to Noah and the Prophets after him; and We sent revelation to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and his children and to Jesus and Job and Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and We gave David a Book.” [Al-Nisa’, 4:164]

In addition five types of non-prophetic revelations are also mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.

1. Revelation to the Earth. “For thy Lord will have revealed about her [meaning Earth]” [Al-Zilzal, 99:06]

2. Revelation to the sky. “He revealed to each heaven its function…” [Ha Mim Al-Sajdah, 41:13]

3. Revelation to the honeybee. “And thy Lord has inspired the bee…”[Al-Nahl, 16:69]

4. Revelation to women. “And We revealed to the mother of Moses…” [Al-Qasas, 28:8]

5. Revelation to righteous people. “And when I inspired the disciples of (Jesus)…”[Al-Ma’idah, 5:112] and “As for those who say, ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ and then remain steadfast, the angels descend on them…” [Ha Mim Al-Sajdah, 41:31]

There is a another type of revelation which is to the angels, “When thy Lord revealed to the angels…” [Al-Anfal, 8:13], but I did not count it among the above list as angels do not have free will and other revelations are through this medium anyways.

The least important recipient among the non-prophetic revelations appears to be the honeybee – a mere insect. However, great discoveries have been made regarding the honeybees as an organism and it is deemed nothing less than a marvel of nature with ts organisation and hardiness unique in the animal kingdom (3). If such an ordinary insect can become a fascinating super-organism and its honey a great healing with a mere revelation, then imagine how magnificent and glorious is the revelation to the best of creation i.e. the Holy Prophet of Islam  (sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

Regarding the revelation to honeybees, Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih IV(rha) writes:

Of all the insects which pervade the world, God has picked just this one to demonstrate that when He communicates with an animal belonging to an ordinary species, how its status is lifted beyond comparison to that of the other members of the same species. What is a honey-bee after all, but a fly. Yet what a fly! It is only after the message is delivered to the honey-bee at the earliest stage of its creation and is imprinted in an intuitive language upon its genes that it begins to function as it does. It does not have to perform its functions consciously with a conscious control of its mind. The genes that teach it what to do have no mind of their own. But He who has created them has a mind and the genes simply function as slaves to His command. He has spoken Himself to demonstrate to the world that when He specifically chooses even an insignificant insect, it becomes supreme in the entire world of insects. It becomes a source of healing and cure, unlike other insects which carry and spread disease. They are poles apart in their function of life. (Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth (4))

Research on honeybees has been advocated by Huzur Aqdas (ayyadahu Allah ta’ala bi-nasrihi al-’aziz) also. Huzur Aqdas (atba) in the December 19th 2008 Friday Sermon during his discourse on the Divine attribute of Ashaafi [the healer] urging Ahmadi students to go into Honeybee Research said:

“[Summary translation] God has provided cure for every illness, and many herbs and insects contain such cures (e.g. snake’s venom). One such example is that of the honeybee, and to describe the medicinal properties of honey, the Holy Quran has used the term “shafa-un lin-naase” i.e. “Therein is cure for men” (16:70). Research on honey has provided many benefits to the world. These days, however, the honeybee is being afflicted by a certain disease-causing germ which is causing their wide-spread death and the researchers are concerned that if they cannot find a cure soon, honeybees may become extinct worldwide or in certain parts of the world in a matter of few years. Huzoor (aba) however provided his insight into this matter saying that since honey has been mentioned in the Holy Quran, which is a book for all times, it will never perish; however it may disappear from certain areas as form of punishment. Since the system of revelation is also linked to the honeybee, God will certainly make it a sign for those who believe in His Unity. Huzoor (aba) urged Ahmadis to go into research in this field and other areas, as this will give them the opportunity to firmly ground themselves in developed countries. If there are Ahmadis already working in this area (research of honeybee), they should contact Huzoor (aba) immediately. (Al-Islam summary).

Can we truly uncover the nature of this revelation via our research? How does this revelation get hard-wired in honeybees? Do honeybees still receive revelation? These are some of the questions worth pondering.

The Holy Qur’an indicates an answer to the above questions by saying:

And thy Lord has inspired the bee, saying, ‘Make thou houses in the hills and in the trees and in the trellises which they build.  ‘Then eat of every kind of fruit, and follow the ways of thy Lord that have been made easy for thee.’ There comes forth from their bellies a drink of varying hues. Therein is cure for men. Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect. [Al-Nahl, 16:69-70]

The above ‘Surely, in that is a Sign for a people who reflect’ suggests that those who will reflect on the nature of the honeybee and honey would indeed find evidence of Allah’s revelation and lessons for the righteous.

Observing the nature of the honeybees we see that the organisation and the running of the hive represents one of the most sophisticated systems in the animal kingdom and it runs like clock-work. The hive is ruled by a Queen and every individual bee has a perfectly assigned task – at no time is any of them found to be deviating from its task (if in health). Indeed it was Imam Ghazali who believed that the honeybees represent an ideal model for believers and the perfect organisation of their colony is a metaphor for a well-ordered human society (5).

Aristotle was probably the first scientist who described the zoology of honeybees in some detail in his profound work named ‘On the Parts of Animals’ (6). It was later the  Muslims building upon the works of Aristotle, who described the honeybee in much greater detail. In this regards the works of Al-Maqrizi (the book of the gift of bees’ moral teachings’), Avicenna, and Abu Bakr al-Razi reveal that Muslims had a profound understanding of this insect despite making the mistake that the honeybees are ruled by a King (and not a Queen) (5).

References

1. Haqaiq ul Furqan [Internet]. alislam.org. [cited 2011 Dec. 30];Available from: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=488&region=H2&CR=E1%2CE2%2CUR%2CV5

2. Holy Qur’an: 5 Volume Commentary [Internet]. [cited 2011 Dec. 30];Available from: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=1360&region=E1&CR=E2,UR,V5

3. Tautz J. The Buzz about Bees: Biology of a Superorganism. 1st ed. Springer; 2009.

4. The “Blind Watchmaker” Who Is Also Deaf and Dumb (continued) [Internet]. [cited 2011 Dec. 10];Available from: http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_5_section_15.html

5.  Vrolijk A, Hogendijk JP, Kruk R. O Ye Gentlemen: Arabic Studies on Science and Literary Culture, in Honor of Remke Kruk (Islamic Philosophy, Theology, and Science) (Multilingual Edition). Brill Academic Pub; 2007.

6. Aristotle. On the Parts of Animals. Kessinger Publishing; 2004.

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4 comments

  1. Very interesting! 2 questions:

    1) Where in particular is the biggest threat to the extinction or non-existence of the honeybee?
    2) Which types of honey in particular are believed to have the best healing properties (I’ve had a terrible sore throat for the past 3 weeks and am desperate for any form of cure!)

    Jazak’Allah

    1. Jazak Allah Khayr al-Jazaa’ for your questions. I notice that a lot of people read the posts of this blog but very few actually make comments. Maybe if we start a prize scheme for comments!

      Coming to your questions:
      1) Humans themselves are the biggest threat. Scientists are still not sure how honeybees are becoming extinct. Its the European honeybee which is losing on average 30 percent of hives every year in USA and Europe. There have been many theories including some sort of virus, a new bug, loss of diversity of environment, new types of pesticides used in agriculture especially Neonicotinoids that have been shown to confuse honeybees but is still extensively used, industrialisation of pollination and so forth. It is estimated if these losses continue honeybees would be wiped out from the planet by 2035.
      I think I should complete the article I was writing about this topic.

      2) This needs research and the main reason why I am interested in this topic. This blog does not provide medical advice and cannot be substitute for it. I will strongly recommend that you contact your GP. However there are some remedies I know which I have used.
      a) Hot team with honey and lemon
      b) Gargles of aspirin and salt-water
      c) Any other remedy which you can ask the elders of your family

      The honeys that you find in supermarkets are polyfloral – meaning they are a mixture of many honeys from many plants so it is difficult to tell if they are specifically good for one type of cure. You can find some mono floral honeys like manuka, thyme, acacia, buckwheat and so forth. There are websites which claim that they are all effectiveness in sore throat however proper research has not be done yet. There are two papers that I have read which show that honey are effective for cough and common cold in children. One of the studies used buckwheat honey.

      Maybe in future you can donate some money for research in this topic.

      1. Jazak’Allah for your response. Clearly there remains a wide scope for research within this area. It seems the repercussions of the honeybee potentially becoming extinct is perhaps not taken seriously enough. Is anything being done to redress this balance?

        I can barely fund myself at the moment so I’m not sure I could donate much! However I would happily volunteer myself as a test subject. The thought of tasting a selection of honey types for medical research is very appealing!

      2. rizwansafir your comment reminds me of a verse of Alexander Pope from his poem ‘On His Grotto at Twickenham’. A geological miracle of a grotto which can still be visited annually during the ‘Twitnum’ Festival. He writes:

        Let such, such only tread this sacred Floor,
        Who dare to love their Country, and be poor.

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