Islamic Sufism Spirituality

Story of Luqman – Stories of the Quran

Posted on: June 18, 2008


Allah the Almighty says:

{And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman AIHikmah (wisdom and religious understanding) saying: “Give thanks to Allah.”And whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his own self. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All-Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise. And (remember) when Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: “O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed. And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years -give thanks to Me and to our parents. Unto Me is the final destination. But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience.Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do. “O my son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily, Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well-Aware (of its place). “O my son! Aqim-As-Salat (perform As-Salat), enjoin (on people) Al-Ma’ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheists of all kinds and all that is evil and bad), and bear with patience whatever befalls you. Verily, these are some of the important commandments (ordered by Allah with no exemption). “And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.” “And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of the ass”}. (Luqman, 12-19)

He is Luqman Ibn ‘Anqa’ Ibn Sadun. Or, as stated by As-Suhaili from Ibn Jarir and Al-Qutaibi that he is Luqman Ibn Tharan who was from among the people of Aylah (Jerusalem).

He was a pious man who exerted himself in worship and who was blessed with wisdom. Also, it is said that he was a judge during the lifetime of Prophet Dawud (Peace be upon him). And, Allah knows best.

Narrated Sufyan Ath- Thawri from Al-Ash’ath after ‘Ikrimah on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) as saying: He was an Ethiopian slave who worked as a carpenter. Qatadah narrated from’ Abdullah Ibn Az-Zubair as saying: I asked Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah about Luqman. He said: “He was short with a flat nose. He was from Nubia”

Narrated Yahia Ibn Sa’ id Al-Ansari after Sa’ id Ibn Al-Musayib his saying: Luqman belonged to the black men of Egypt. He had thick lips and Allah the Almighty granted him wisdom but not Prophethood. Al-Awza’i said: I was told by ‘Abdur Rahman Ibn Harmalah: that a black man came to Sa’ id Ibn AIMusayib asking him for charity. Sa’ id said: do not feel distressed for your black color because there were from among the best of all people three blackmen: Bilal Ibn Rabah, Mahja’ (the freed-slave of ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab), and Luqman, the wise who was black, from Nubia and whose lips were thick.

Narrated Al-A’mash after Mujahid: Luqman was a black huge slave, thick-lipped, and crackedfooted. ‘Umar Ibn Qais said: “Luqman was a black slave, thick-lipped and cracked-footed. It happened while he was preaching some people, a man came to him and said: aren’t you the one who used to look after the sheep with me at such and such place? Luqman said: yes, I am! The man said: then, what made you of that position? Luqman said: telling the truth and keeping silent regarding what does not concern me.” (This Hadith was narrated by Ibn J arir after lbn Hamid after Al-Hakam)

Ibn Abu Hatim said: I was told by Abu Zar’ ah that he was told by Safwan after Al- W alid after ‘Abdur Rahman Ibn Abu Yazid Ibn Jabir who said: “Allah the Almighty raised Luqman’s status for his wisdom. A man used to know him saw him and said: Aren’t you the slave of so and so who used to look after my sheep not so long in the past? Luqman said: yes! The man said: What raised you to this high state I see? Luqman said: the Divine Decree, repaying the trust, telling the truth and discarding what does not concern me. “

Narrated Ibn Wahb: I was told by ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Ayyash Al-Fityani after’ Umar, the freed slave of ‘Afrah as saying: “A man came to Luqman, the wise and asked: Are you Luqman? Are you the slave of so and so? He said: “Yes!” The man said: You are the black shepherd! Luqman said: As for my black color, it is obviously apparent, so what makes you so astonished? The man said: You became frequently visited by the people who pleasingly accept your judgments! Luqman said: 0 cousin! If you do what I am telling you, you will be like this. The man said: What is it? Luqman said: Lowering my gaze, watching my tongue, eating what is lawful, keeping my chastity, undertaking my promises, fulfilling my commitments, being hospitable to guests, respecting my neighbors, and discarding what does not concern me. All these made me the one you are looking at.”

One day Abu Ad-Darda’ mentioned Luqman the wise and said: He was not granted wisdom because of wealth, children, lineage, or given habits, but he was self-restrained, taciturn, deep-thinking, and he never slept during the day. In addition, no one has ever seen him spitting, clearing his throat, squeezing the lemon, answering the call of nature, bathing, observing trivialities, or foolishly laughing. He was very eloquent and well-versed. He did not weep or cry when all his children died. Finally, he used to frequent the princes and men of authority to mediate and think thoroughly and find admonition. So, because of all these he was granted that great wisdom.

Some people claimed that he was offered Prophethood, and that he feared not to be able to carry out its requirements and obligations. Thus, he chose to have wisdom for it is easier -this cannot be totally true -and Allah knows best! ‘Ikrimah also narrated that: Luqman was a Prophet.1

1This narration is very weak for the sub-narrator, Al-Ja’ fi is mentioned by Imams Al-Bukhari and An-Nasa’i among the Weak Narrators.

However, the majority of scholars are of the view that he was a wise man and not a Prophet. Moreover, he was mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an and was highly praised by Allah the Almighty Who narrates his advice to his own son in which he says: {O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily, joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zulm (wrong) indeed}, so he forbade his son and warned him against joining others in worship with Allah. Imam Al-Bukhari said: I was told by Qutaibah after Jarir after Al-A’mash after Ibrahim after ‘Alqamah after ‘Abdullah as saying: “When the Verse: {It is those who believe and do not confuse their belief with wrong (i.e. joining others in worship with Allah} (Al-An’ am, 82) was revealed, we said: “0 Allah’s Messenger! Who is there amongst us who has not done wrong to himself?” He (Peace be upon him) replied: “It is not as you say, for ‘wrong’ in the Verse and’ do not confuse their belief with wrong’ means ‘SHIRK’ (i.e. joining others in worship with Allah). Haven’t you heard Luqman’s saying to his son, {O my son! Join not others in worship with Allah, verily joining others in worship with Allah is a great wrong indeed}.” (Luqman, 13)

Then, Allah informs us of His advice to mankind to take care of parents. He states their rights on the children and orders us to be kind with them even if they were polytheists. But, one should not obey them if they invite him to join others in worship with Allah. Then Allah resumes Luqman’s advice to his son saying: {O my son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily, Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well-Aware (of its place)}, i.e. he forbids him to do wrong to the people even in the slightest way, for Allah will bring it forth and bring him to account on the Day of Resurrection. Allah Almighty says: {Surely! Allah wrongs not even of the weight of an atom (or a small ant)} (An-Nisa’, 40) and, {And We shall set up balances of justice on the Day of Resurrection, then none will be dealt with unjustly in anything. And if

there be the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it. And Sufficient are We to take account} (Al-Anbiya’, 47) and, he told him if that wrong deed was equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, or if it was in a solid rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth for He knows its exact place, {Verily, Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well-Aware (of its place)}. Allah Almighty also says: {And with Him are the keys of the Ghaib (all that is hidden), none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in the land and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record} (Al-An’am, 59) and, {And there is nothing hidden in the heaven and the earth but it is in a Clear Book (i.e. Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz)} (An-Naml, 75) and, {the All-Knower of the Unseen, it will come to you; not even the weight of an atom (or a small ant) or less than that or greater escapes His Knowledge in .the heavens or in the earth but it is in a Clear Book (Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz)} (Saba’, 3).

As-Sadiy claimed that the rock mentioned in the Verse is that which lies beneath the seventh earth. But, this claim is totally rejected for the word “rock” is indefinite and if his claim were true, it would be “the rock”. So, “rock” here means any rock whatever and not a particular one. Narrated Abu Sa’id Al- Khudri after Prophet Muhammad (Peace be up9n him) as saying: “If any of you performs deeds in a solid rock that has no door or hole, his deeds, whatever they are, will come out (to the public).” Then, Luqman said: {O my son! Aqim-As-Sa.lah (perform As-Salah)}, i.e. perform it properly and in due time. Then, he said: {enjoin (on people) Al-Ma’ruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheists of all kinds and all that is evil and bad)},

i.e. with your full power, with your hand, tongue and if you could not, let it be with your heart (i.e. reject and resent it). Then, he advised him to observe patience saying: {and bear with patience whatever befalls you}, for if one enjoins what is good and forbids the evil, he will probably regarded as enemy to certain people (but, the final reward would surely be his). For this, he commanded him to observe patience. {Verily, these are some of the important commandments (ordered by Allah with no exemption)} that are inevitable and cannot be neglected.

Allah the Almighty says: {And turn not your face away from men with pride}, narrated Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, `Ikrimah, Sa`id Ibn Jubair, Ad-Dahhak, Yazid Ibn Al-Asam, Abu Al-Jawza’ and others: This means one shouldn’t be showy or arrogant.

Allah the Almighty says: {nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster}, here, Luqman forbids his son to strut in his walk. Allah the Almighty says: {And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height}. (Al-

Isra’, 37) i.e. you will neither be able to tread the whole earth, nor penetrate it with your fast walking or strong footsteps, nor will you be as high as mountains with your showing-off or arrogance. So, know yourself well, for you are only a human being (created to worship Allah Alone). The Prophetic Hadith states: “While a man was walking, dragging his dress with pride, he was caused to be swallowed by the earth and will go on sinking in it till the Day of Resurrection.” (Transmitted by Imam Al-Bukhari in his Sahih) Another Prophetic Hadith states that: “Beware dragging your dress with pride, for this is boastfulness which is not loved (liked) by Allah ” Allah the Almighty says: {Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster}.

After Luqman forbids his son to walk boastfully, he orders him to be moderate in his walking, saying: {And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking}, i.e. do not walk fast or too slow, rather take a course in-between, {And the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allah) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness}. (Al-Furqan, 63) Then, Luqman says: {and lower your voice}, i.e. if you talk, do not raise your voice very loudly because the braying of the ass is the harshest of all voices.

Narrated Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “When you hear the crowing of cocks, ask for Allah’s Blessings for (their crowing indicates that) they have seen an angel. And when you hear the braying of donkeys, seek Refuge with Allah from Satan for (their braying indicates) that they have seen a Satan.” (Transmitted by Imam Al-Bukhari in his Sahih). For this, it is forbidden to raise one’s voice needlessly. But, raising the voice with the Adhan (the Call to Prayer) and in the battlefield is permitted.

These are the pieces of advice given by Luqman to his son that are mentioned in the Glorious Qur’an. Many others have been mentioned in a book titled Hikmat Luqman (Luqman’s Wisdom). From this valuable book, we cite the following: Narrated Imam Ahmed that Ibn ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with both of them) said: We were told by Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) that: “Luqman, the wise used to say: If anything was entrusted to Allah, He would preserve it.”9

Narrated Ibn Hatim that Al-Qasim Ibn Mukhaimirah reported that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) said: “Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: “0 my son! Beware of masking for it is treason by night and dispraise during the day. “

Narrated Damurah after As-Sariy Ibn Yahia as saying: Luqman said to his son: “On my son! Verily, wisdom has brought the indigent to the courts of kings. “

I was told by my father after ‘Abdah lbn Sulaiman after Ibn Al-Mubarak after ‘Abdur Rahman Al-Mas’ udi after ‘Aun Ibn ‘Abdullah as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! If you come to a people’s setting, start them with salutation (Saying As-Salamu ‘Alaikum (Peace be with you)), then, take a side and do not utter a word till they speak. If you find them observing the Remembrance of Allah, join them. But, if they observe anything else, turn away from them and seek others (who remember Allah Almighty). “

I was told by my father after ‘Amr Ibn ‘Uthman after Damurah Ibn Hafs Ibn ‘Umar as saying: “Luqman placed a bag of mustards beside him and started to advise his son, giving him with every piece of advice a mustard till it all ran out. He said: 0 my son! I gave you advice that if a mountain was given, it would split. He said: then, his son was as if struck. “

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: “Take care of the black men for three from among them are of the people of Paradise: Luqman the wise, Negus and Bilal (the Caller to Prayer).” (However, this Hadith is odd and rejected).

Imam Ahmed, in his book Az-Zuhd (Asceticism), mentioned Luqman’ s biography and many other valuable things. He said: I was told by Waki’ after Sufyan after an unidentified man after Mujahid as saying: Allah’s Statement: {And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah}, i.e. wisdom and religious understanding. He added: he was not a Prophet. The same was narrated by Wahb Ibn Munabih.

Waki’ told us after Sufyan after Ash’ath after ‘Ikrimah after Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) that he said: Luqman was an Ethiopian slave.

Aswad told us after Hammad after ‘Ali Ibn Yazid after Sa’id Ibn Al-Musaiyb as saying: Luqman was a tailor.

Saiyar told us after Ja’far after Malik Ibn Dinar as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! Take Allah’s Obedience as your trade, and you will gain profits without having any merchandises.”

Yazid told us after Abul Ashhab after Muhammad Ibn Wasi’ as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! Fear Allah and do not let the people notice that you fear Him to gain honor (from them) while your heart is sinful.”

Y azid Ibn Hamn and Waki’ told us after Abul AShhab after Khalid Ar-Rab’i as saying: “Luqman was an Ethiopian slave who worked as a carpenter. One day, his master ordered him to slaughter a goat and bring him the most pleasant and delicious two parts thereof. Luqman did so and brought him the tongue and heart. The master asked: Did not you find anything more pleasant than these? Luqman said: No! After a while, the master ordered him to slaughter a goat and to throw the most malignant two parts thereof. Luqman slaughtered the goat and threw the tongue and heart. The master exclaimed and said: I ordered you to bring me the most delicious parts thereof and you brought me the tongue and heart, and I ordered you to throwaway the most malignant parts thereof and you threw the tongue and heart, how can this be? Luqman said: Nothing can be more pleasing than these if they were good, and nothing can be more malicious than these if they were malignant.”

Dawud Ibn Rashid told us after Ibn Al-Mubarak after Mu’amir after Abu ‘Uthman, a man from Basrah, as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! Do not wish for befriending a fool that he may think you approve his foolishness. And, do not take the wise man’s rage easily that he may abstain from you.”

Dawud Ibn Usaid told us after Isma’il Ibn ‘Ayyash after Damdam Ibn Zar’ah after Shuraih Ibn ‘Ubaid Al-Hadrami after ‘Abdullah Ibn Zaid as saying: Luqman said: “Verily, Allah’s Hand is on the mouths of wise men; none of them speaks but with what Allah assigned for him.”

‘Abdur Razzaq told us that he heard Ibn Juraij as saying: I used to mask my head at night and `Umar said to me: Did not you hear that Luqman had said: masking during the day is humiliation and at night is dispraise. So, why do you mask yourself at night? He said: “Luqman was not indebted.”

I was told by Hasan after Al-Junaid after Sufyan as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! I have never regretted because of keeping silent. If words are silver, silence is golden.”

I was told by ‘Abdul Samad and Waki’ after Abul Ashhab after Qatadah as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! Set apart with evil and it will set apart with you, for evil begets nothing but evil.”

Narrated Imam Ahmed: I was told by ‘Abdur Rahman Ibn Mahdi after Nafi’ Ibn ‘Umar after Ibn Abu Malikah after ‘Ubaid Ibn ‘Umair as saying: Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: “0 my son! Choose between gatherings (of people) precisely! If you find a gathering in which Allah is mentioned, sit yourself with them. Thus, if you are knowledgeable, your knowledge will benefit you; but, if you are ignorant, they will teach you; and if Allah wishes to do them good, you will be benefited therewith. 0 my son! Do not sit in a gathering in which Allah is not mentioned! Because if you are knowledgeable, your knowledge will not benefit you; and if you are ignorant, they will add to your ignorance; and if Allah wishes to afflict them with harm, you will be afflicted with them. 0 my son! Do not rejoice at seeing a strong man who sheds the blood of the faithful, for Allah appoints for him a killer that does not ever die.”

Abu Mu’awiyah told us after Hisham Ibn ‘Urwah after his father as saying: “Wisdom dictates: 0 my son: Let your speech be good and your face be smiling, you will be more loved by the people than those who give them provisions.” And, he said: “It is stated in the wisdom -or the Torah – : “Kindness is the head of wisdom.” And, he said: “It is stated in the Torah: “As you show mercy (to others), mercy will be shown to you.” And, he said: “It is stated in the wisdom: “You will gain what you give (or, harvest what you grow).” And, he said: “It is stated in the wisdom: “Love your friend and the friend of your father.”

`Abdur Razzaq told us after Mu’amir after Ayyub after Abu Qulabah as saying: Luqman was once asked: Who is the best one in terms of patience? He said: It is the one who practices no harm after observing patience. Those who asked him said: Who is the best one in terms of knowledge? He said: It is he who adds to his own knowledge through the knowledge of others. They asked: Who is the best from among the whole people? He said: It is the wealthy. They said: Is it the one who has properties and riches? He said: No! But, it is the one if whose good was sought, he would not hold it back or prevent it. And, it is the one who does not need anything from others.

Narrated Sufyan Ibn ‘Uyaynah: Luqman was asked: Who is the worst of all people? He replied: It is the one who does not feel shame if found committing a sinful deed.

Abu As-Samad told us after Malik Ibn Dianr as saying: I found some pieces of-wisdom as follows: “Allah Almighty scatters and wastes the bones of those who give religious opinions that go with the people’s lusts and desires.” And, “There is no good for you that you learn something new while you do not practice what you have learnt previously. This is like a man who gathere.d a pile of dry wood, then tried to carry it but couldn’t. Thereupon, he collected a second one.”

‘Abdullah Ibn Ahmed said: I was told by Al-Hakam Ibn Abu Zuhair Ibn Musa after Al-Faraj Ibn Fudalah after Abu Sa’id as saying: Luqman said to his son: “0 my son! Let only the pious men eat your food, and consult the scholars over your affairs.” These were what Imam Ahmed quoted from the wisdom of Luqman, and I added some that he did not transmit and indeed, he -Imam Ahmed -quoted things that I did not. And, Allah knows best!

Ibn Abu Hatim said: I was told by my father after Al-’Abbas Ibn Al-Walid after Zaid Ibn Yahya Ibn ‘Ubaid Al-Khuza’i after Sa’id Ibn Bashir after Qatadah as saying: Allah Almighty enabled Luqman to choose between Prophethood and wisdom and he (Luqman) preferred wisdom to Prophethood. Then, Gabriel came while he was asleep and poured the wisdom over him. And, he began to pronounce it the next morning.

Sa’id said: I heard Qatadah as saying: It was said to Luqman: How did you prefer wisdom to Prophethood when you were enabled to choose between them? He said: If Allah were to assign me with Prophethood, I would accept it and try hard to win His Pleasure, but He enabled me to choose. I feared of being too weak for Prophethood, so I chose wisdom.

This narration is not perfectly authentic or sound for that sub-narrator, Sa’ id Ibn Bashir, is not a trustworthy one. However, many from among our earlier scholars, foremost among whom were: Mujahid, Sa’id Ibn Al-Musayyb and Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) were of the viewpoint that Allah’s Statement that reads: {And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom)}, means: discretion and religious understanding. Thereupon, he was not a Prophet and nothing has been revealed to him Al- Wahi (Divine Inspiration).

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