The example of a Believer is that of a bee

Question

Is the Hadith where a Believer is compared to the bee authentic?

Answer

This Hadith has been recorded in several Hadith collections with differences in the wording.

Imam Nasai (rahimahullah) has recorded the following version and Imam Ibn Hibban (rahimahullah) has declared it authentic:

Sayyiduna Abu Razin (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The example of a Believer is that of a bee. It only eats pure and wholesome and produces wholesome [i.e. honey]”

(As Sunanul Kubra of Imam Nasai, Hadith: 11214, Sahih Ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 247)

In Musnad Ahmad, the following version appears:

Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Amr reported that he heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) say: “…I take an oath in that Being in whose control lies the life of Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the example of a Believer is that of a bee, It eats wholesome, produces wholesome and when it lands on anything, it does not break nor ruin it [i.e. A Believer should be gentle]…”

(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 2 pg. 199, Hadith: 6872. Also see: Shu’abul Iman, Hadith: 5381 and 5382 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 10 pg. 295, Hadith: 18065 and 18066)

The commentators explain the following reasons for this simile and qualities of a bee which a believer should adopt:

  1. A bee is skillful/proficient and intelligent.
  2. A bee rarely causes harm.
  3. A bee is usually deemed insignificant i.e. A Believer should be living a simple life.
  4. A bee is content with little.
  5. A bee works at night i.e. A Believer should be engaging in ‘ibadah at night.
  6. A bee stays away from dirt and is not attracted to repulsive things [like some other insects].
  7. A bee only eats from flowers that are pure and wholesome.
  8. A bee does not scavenge and consume the food of other bees i.e. A Believer should be eating from his own earnings.
  9. A bee is subservient to the queen bee i.e. A Believer should be subservient to the Muslim ruler.
  10. A bee sometimes faces challenges and is encountered difficulties [like inclement weather etc.] Similarly, a Believer will certainly face challenges in his life; spiritual challenges as well as worldly challenges and trials.

(Refer: Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 8147 and 8153)

And Allah Ta’ala Knows best.

Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar