And your Lord inspired to the bee, Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct. 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. [Surat An-Naĥl (The Bee) Quran, 16:68-69]
The above are among of the most poetic and mysterious ayaat in the Quran, the kind of verses one can return to again and again, finding new meanings as we apply them to different aspects of our lives. Just for today let’s have a look at what meanings they hold for those who pursue halal labour.
And your Lord inspired to the bee . . . Good work is inspired by Allah.
It is Allah who inspires the work leading to the creation of good things. The word “inspire,” according to Merriam-Webster, has at its essence the meaning “to breathe into.” When Allah inspired the bee, He breathed into the bee just enough of His divine power to allow the bee to make something beautiful.
Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct . . . Good work begins with finding a good space.
How many times have we at Understand Quran Academy reminded you that in order to study the Quran well you must find a safe, quiet place to study? This advice is based on the understanding that all work needs a proper environment, one protected from predators, natural disaster, distractions, and anything else that might jeopardise the accomplishment of your work. And don’t forget that this space is provided to you by Allah Himself!
Then eat from all the fruits . . . The worker must be fed well.
Good things don’t emerge from a vaccuum, except with Allah (swt). Allah has provided good, nutritious food for workers in order to enable them to do their best work. Those who work should take good care of their health, and no one should prevent them from partaking of healthy nourishment, physical or spiritual.
. . . and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you] . . . What’s the point of embarking on a big, difficult project, your eyes glowing with the anticipation of a grand success, if you don’t follow the ways of your Lord? As human beings we’re so easily distracted by the illusory glory of material wealth that we forget ourselves and stoop to acts of dishonesty, jealousy, and egotism. Think about it— even bees are smarter than that!
. . . There emerges from their bellies a drink . . . Your work emerges from your very being. It carries a piece of your essence with it. When you release your work into the world, remember that no sacrifice that you made to ensure the goodness of this work will ever be wasted.
There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people . . . Good work is beautiful and healing. Whether or not you see it now, your work— whether it be study, research, carpentry, masonry, writing novels, farming, keeping a home, playing the tuba, keeping accounts, etc.— is more beautiful and healing the more it is in keeping with the teachings of Allah.
Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.
Today before you begin your work take some time to reflect on what an honour and privilege it is to be guided in your work by your creator, and think about how you can work harder toward beauty and healing.
May your minds be opened and your hearts blessed,
The Understand Quran Academy Team