The name “An-Nahl” has been taken from verse 68 “Your Râbb has inspired this thing to the bee (An-Nahl) that build honeycombs (hive) in the mountains, and in the trees, and on the creeper (branches) over the fences”. This is only symbolic and not the topic of main discussion.
Period of Revelation:
We get an idea about the period of its revelation from different internal evidences. For example:
1. The wordings in verse 41 “Those people who have migrated for the sake of Allâh after suffering, WE will give them good residence in this world and the reward of the Hereafter is surely greater”; clearly show that the migration to Habash had taken place.
2. In verse 106 “Whoever commits infidelity (Kufr) after bringing Faith (if he/she) has been forced and his/her heart is satisfied on the Faith (then it is okay)” shows, at that time the persecution of the Muslims were at its height and a question aroused that if anyone accepts Kufr under unbearable torture in helplessness situation – how that person should be treated.
3. The verses 112-114 clearly points towards the severe famine that had struck Makkah, after the appointment of the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as a Messenger of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala – it had ended at the time of revelation of this Sûrah.
4. The verse 115 of this Sûrah has been referenced in Sûrah Al-An’âm verse 119, and other verse 118 of this Sûrah has been referenced in Sûrah Al-An’âm verse 146. This is a proof that both of these Sûrahs (Al-An’âm and An-Nahl) were revealed in the same period.
From the evidences it is clear that period of revelation of this Sûrah is the last period of stay of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in Makkah. The same thing is confirmed by the style of the speech of this Sûrah.
Topic and Main Theme:
The topics of the Sûrah include:
Negation of shirk,
Confirmation of Tauhid,
Warning about the consequences of rejecting the invitation of Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and
Scolding on the opposition and hostility against the Truth.
The Sûrah begins with direct warning without any preamble. The disbelievers of Makkah used to say repeatedly, “when we have rejected and openly opposing you then why the curse of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala does not come of which you are warning us”. They used to say these words repeatedly in their each conversation – to them it was a clear proof that Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not the Messenger of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala. On this it has been said, O’ foolish people! The Wrath of Allâh subhaana wa ta’aala is right on your heads now don’t make haste for its coming, instead whatever respite you have, benefit from it and try to understand the Truth. Right after it the speech for advice starts immediately, and the following topics come repeatedly, one after the other: