وَأَوْحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ
And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct. (Surah an-Nahl: 68)
ثُمَّ كُلِي مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا ۚ يَخْرُجُ مِن بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِّلنَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
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. (Surah an-Nahl: 69)
Allah has named an entire surah in the Qur’an after the honey bee: Surah al-Nahl. The honey bee is such an incredibly fascinating little insect. But it is only by reflecting and pondering over its life, that we will be able to draw many great lessons for ourselves!
So let’s reflect:
Lesson 1: Honey bees obey their Lord unconditionally
A bee is doing what its Lord commanded it to do.
ثُمَّ كُلِي مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا
“Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you]“
Only when it obeyed the commands of its Lord was it able produce something that was so beneficial i.e. Honey.
As believers, if we want to realize our full potential, we too need to follow the commands of our Lord. We need to follow the commands laid down to us in the Qur’an, we need to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ) and we need to obediently and humbly fulfill the purpose of our existence. And when we do this, the results will be amazing!
Lesson 2: Honey bees are great at teamwork
A colony is an incredibly high-performing network of bees, who work collectively to fulfill their mission. It’s only because they’re so good at working with each other, that they’re able to produce something that is so beneficial!
Human beings have been created to co-exist with one another as well. Whether it is within your own family, or you find yourself part of a large organisation, being a good team player is what contributes towards the success of the ultimate mission!
Lesson 3: Honey bees are focused and productive
The entire life of a bee revolves around a single important mission. It leaves its hive with a goal and comes back with a goal. It doesn’t rest, nor does it get distracted! It’s just so focused on what it has to do.
This Dunya is not without distractions. Shaytaan, our open enemy, will try to tempt us with many things and divert our attention from all that is important. However, we need to keep reminding ourselves that our purpose in life is to worship Allah, to work for the Hereafter and above all to earn His Pleasure! Whenever you find yourself losing sight of your goal, remember the honey bee! And remember your purpose!
Lesson 4: Honey bees feed on goodness.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “By the One in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, indeed, the example of the believer is like that of the bee. It feeds upon goodness, relieves a burden of goodness (honey), and when it lands on something (like a branch), it does not break it nor ruin it.” [As-Silsilah As-Saheehah]
The honey bee feeds on goodness. As believers, we need to feed on goodness too. We need to ensure that we earn a living through halal means. And we also need to ensure that we feed ourselves and our families only that which is halal and tayyib (pure and wholesome).
Lesson 5: A honey bee is empathetic and caring
From the previous hadith, we learn that when a honey bee lands on something, it doesn’t break or ruin it. When it lands on a branch, it does so softly.
Similarly, the believer as he lives and works with other people, he is caring, considerate and doesn’t harm anyone. He is very gentle, kind and graceful in everything he does. When he picks up something, he does so with gracefulness. When he walks, he walks humbly. When he opens and closes a door, he does so gently. This is the believer.
Lesson 6: Honey bees produce something beneficial
After working so hard, a honey bee produces something that is so beneficial. In fact Allah describes it as a source of Shifa (healing)!
Honey has numerous benefits. It is good for the bowel and provides relief from constipation and diarrhea.
Abu Sa’eed said: “A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: ‘My brother is suffering from loose bowels.’ He said: ‘Let him drink Honey.’ So he drank it. Then he came and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ! He has drunk honey, but it has only made him more worse.’ So the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘ Let him drink honey.’ He said: ‘So he drank it’. Then he came and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ! I gave him some more to drink, but it has only made him more worse.’ He said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Allah has told the truth, and your brother’s stomach has lied. Give him honey to drink’. So he gave him some more honey to drink and he was cured.'” [Tirmidhi]
Honey also has anti-septic properties and is great to treat burns and small wounds! It also helps with acne treatment and prevention.
For those trying to lose weight, honey is also a great alternative for refined sugar because of its low calorie content.
So as believers, the question we need to ask ourselves is ‘how are we contributing positively to the community and society that we live in?’ Are we benefiting others, are we teaching others, are we spending on others, are we feeding others. Like the honey bee, are we a source of goodness for others?
Lesson 7: Honey bees teach us that every good deed matters, no matter how small it may be
The average worker bee makes 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That’s an extremely tiny amount.
Likewise, don’t discount any good deed that you do, no matter how small it is! If it is done sincerely for the sake of Allah, He will preserve it and may even multiply its rewards!
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: “If anyone gives as Sadaqa the equivalent of a date from that (earning) earned honestly, for Allah accepts that which is lawful, the Lord would accept it with His Right Hand, and even if it is a date, it would foster in the Hand of the Lord, as one of you fosters his colt, till it becomes bigger than a mountain”. (Sahih Muslim)
Lesson 8: Honey bees produce something that is lasting
Due to its sugar content and low pH, honey has a long shelf life which means it has no expiry date (if it is sealed and preserved properly!). In fact, a few years ago, archaeologists excavating ancient Egyptian tombs, discovered honey that was thousands of years old, and it was still perfectly edible!
As believers, we have the opportunity to do good deeds that can continue to benefit us long after we are gone, in the form of Sadaqah Jaariya. For eg. contributing towards the construction of a Masjid, digging a well, teaching someone, writing something beneficial (Sahih Bukhari and Imam Malik’s Muwatta were written centuries ago, yet we are continuing to benefit from it today!). Remember if it is done sincerely for Allah and if it benefits other people, then Allah will preserve it.
Lesson 9: Honey bees teach us that as women, we have the ability to make a positive impact bi’idnillah.
What’s amazing is that Allah uses the feminine pronoun to describe the honey bee. بُطُونِهَا – “Her Bellies“. Why? Because it’s the female bees who do all the work.
A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honey bees and one queen. Worker honey bees are female and live for about 6 weeks.
When Allah says “Her Bellies” it indicates that the bee has more than one belly. What’s even more amazing is that today, researchers have discovered that the honey bee does indeed have two stomachs – one stomach for eating and the other special stomach for storing nectar from the flowers!
Lesson 10: Honey bees teach us that it takes hard work to yield positive results
Honey bees are not idle, they are hardworking. One bee has to fly about 90,000 miles – three times around the globe – to make one pound of honey. And it visits between 50 to 100 flowers during a single collection trip!
Similarly, a believer is hardworking. To enjoy the bounties and pleasures of Jannah, we need to be able to put in the effort required from us today! Remember this Dunya is for work. Rest is with the first step into Jannah!
So next time you see a bee buzzing around, take a moment to pause and reflect!