The incredible wisdom of Luqman


The story of Luqman is mentioned in Sura Luqman (31:12-19). More about Luqman is stated in Ibn Kathir’s book, “Stories of the Prophet”. A summary of that story is stated below.

Luqman Ibn ‘Anqa’ Ibn Sadun or, as stated by As-Suhaili from Ibn Jarir and Al-Qutaibi, Luqman Ibn Tharan, was from among the people of Aylah (Jerusalem). He was a pious man who exerted himself in worship and who was blessed with wisdom.

Luqman was gifted with wisdom

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

Luqman was a carpenter

Yahia Ibn Sa’ id Al-Ansari said after Sa’ id Ibn Al-Musayib that Luqman belonged to the black men of Egypt. He had thick lips and Allah the Almighty granted him wisdom but not prophethood. ‘Umar Ibn Qais and Al-A’mash narrated after Mujahid:

Luqman was a huge black slave, thicklipped. While he was preaching a man who 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 and keeping silent regarding what does not concern me.” (This Hadith was narrated by Ibn Jarir after lbn Hamid after Al-Hakam.)

"The Divine Decree, repaying the trust, telling the truth and discarding and keeping silent regarding what does not concern me" (The reason for the elevation of status of Luqman)

Ibn Wahb narrates that Luqman’s answer to the question about what had raised his status that people came to him for advice was: “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.”

Path of Goodness - Lowering gaze, watching tongue, eating what is lawful, keeping chastity, undertaking promises, fulfilling commitments, being hospitable to guests, respecting neighbors, and discarding the unconcerned

Abu Ad-Darda’ added that Luqman the wise was granted wisdom because he was self-restrained, taciturn, deep-thinking, and he never slept during the day. No one had ever seen him observing trivialities, or foolishly laughing. He was very eloquent and well-versed. He did not weep or cry when all his children died.

Luqman even used to frequent the princes and men of authority to mediate.

He even used to frequent the princes and men of authority to mediate. 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 the first act that he forbids is Shirk (joining others with Allah.)

Polytheism is forbidden

The Prophet of Allah (S.A.W.S) also referred to Luqman’s saying this 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, 31:13).

The next advice that Luqman gives to his son and to mankind is taking care of parents. He states their rights over the children and tells the children to be kind to their parents even if they were polytheists. However, it is clarified that they should not be obeyed if they are inviting to polytheism.

Man should be kind to his parents

This is followed by: “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 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.

Abu Sa’id Al- Khudri reported Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S) 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).”

Luqman’s further advice to his son is: “O my son! Aqim-As- Salah (perform As-Salah), 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 hand, with your 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 the enjoining of what is good and forbidding the evil, will probably earn enmity from those who resent being corrected (but, the final reward form Allah would surely be his). “Verily, these are some of the important commandments (ordered by Allah with no exemption).”

Bear with patience whatever befalls you, for the enjoining of what is good and forbidding the evil, will probably earn enmity from those who resent being corrected

Luqman warns his son against the sin of pride: “And turn not your face away from men with pride,” cautioning against being showy or arrogant. Further, the advice regarding one’s bearing is: “nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.”

Luqman then advises his son to be moderate in his walking: “And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, 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.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet (S.A.W.S) 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).

Other advice given by Luqman has been mentioned in a book titled Hikmat Luqman (Luqman’s Wisdom). From this valuable book, we get the following:

“On my son! Verily, wisdom has brought the indigent to the courts of kings” (narrated by Damurah after As-Sariy Ibn Yahia).

Wisdom has brought the indigent to the courts of kings

“O 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)” (narrated by ‘Abdah lbn Sulaiman after Ibn Al-Mubarak after ‘Abdur Rahman Al-Mas’ udi after ‘Aun Ibn ‘Abdullah).

“O my son! Take Allah’s Obedience as your trade, and you will gain profits without having any merchandises” (narrated by Saiyar after Ja’far after Malik Ibn Dinar).

Take Allah’s Obedience as your trade, and you will gain profits without having any merchandises

“O 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” (narrated by Abul Ashhab after Muhammad Ibn Wasi’).

“O my son! I have never regretted keeping silent. If words are silver, silence is golden” (told by Hasan after Al-Junaid after Sufyan).

If words are silver, silence is golden

“O my son! Stay away from evil and it will stay away from you, for evil begets nothing but evil” (told by ‘Abdul Samad and Waki’ after Abul Ashhab after Qatadah).

“O 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.

If you sit with people who remember Allah, your knowledge will benefit you else they will teach you if you do not know.

O 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. O 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” (narrated by Imam Ahmed after ‘Abdur Rahman Ibn Mahdi after Nafi’ Ibn ‘Umar after Ibn Abu Malikah after ‘Ubaid Ibn ‘Umair).

“O 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 of the Torah: “Kindness is the head of wisdom.”

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 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” (narrated by Abu Mu’awiyah after Hisham Ibn ‘Urwah).

Luqman advised his son not to befriend a fool for it might give him the impression that his foolishness is being approved of; and not to anger a wise man for he might distance himself (narrated by Dawud Ibn Rashid after Ibn Al-Mubarak after Mu’amir after Abu ‘Uthman).

Do not befriend a fool nor anger a wise man.

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.” Then he was asked: “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.”

Best one in terms of knowledge is the one who practices no harm after observing patience and the best one in terms of knowledge is the who adds to his own knowledge through the knowledge of others.

When 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 who is generous in doing good when others seek it from him, and, it is the one who does not need anything from others”(narrated by Abdur Razzaq after Mu’amir after Ayyub after Abu Qulabah).

Yazid Ibn Hamn and Waki’ told us after Abul AShhab about 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 from it. Luqman brought him the tongue and heart. The master asked: “Didn’t you find anything more pleasant than these?” Luqman said: “No!”

After a while, the master ordered him to slaughter a goat and to throw away two of the most malignant parts. Luqman slaughtered the goat and threw away the tongue and heart.

The master exclaimed and said: “I ordered you to bring me the most delicious parts and you brought me the tongue and heart, and I ordered you to throw away the most malignant parts and you threw away the tongue and heart, how can this be?” Luqman said: “Nothing can be more pleasing than these if they are good and nothing can be more malicious than these if they are malignant.”

Nothing can be more pleasing than Heart and tongue if they are good and nothing can be more malicious than these if they are malignant.

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: Luqman said: “Verily, Allah’s Hand is on the mouths of wise men; none of them speaks but with what Allah assigned for him.”

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 after Mu’amir after Ayyub after Abu Qulabah that according to 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 reported to us that Malik Ibn Dinar said: 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 learned previously. This is like a man who gathered a pile of dry wood, then tried to carry it but couldn’t. Thereupon, he collected a second one.”

There is no good for you that you learn something new while you do not practice what you have learned previously.

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 that Qatadah said: 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.

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. He was not a Prophet and nothing had been revealed to him Al- Wahi (Divine Inspiration).

Quranic Verses related to the story of LUQMAN [Quran: Surah Luqman (31:12-19)]

The Holy Quran

And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding) saying: “Give thanks to Allah.” And whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his ownself. 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 your 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, polytheism 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 asses.”

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People of Garden


In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious and The Most Merciful

People of Garden

People of Garden

Allah the Almighty says:

﴿إِنَّا بَلَوْنَـهُمْ كَمَا بَلَوْنَآ أَصْحَـبَ الْجَنَّةِ إِذْ أَقْسَمُواْ لَيَصْرِمُنَّهَا مُصْبِحِينَ – وَلاَ يَسْتَثْنُونَ – فَطَافَ عَلَيْهَا طَآئِفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَهُمْ نَآئِمُونَ – فَأَصْبَحَتْ كَالصَّرِيمِ – فَتَنَادَوْاْ مُصْبِحِينَ – أَنِ اغْدُواْ عَلَى حَرْثِكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَـرِمِينَ – فَانطَلَقُواْ وَهُمْ يَتَخَـفَتُونَ – أَن لاَّ يَدْخُلَنَّهَا الْيَوْمَ عَلَيْكُمْ مِّسْكِينٌ – وَغَدَوْاْ عَلَى حَرْدٍ قَـدِرِينَ – فَلَمَّا رَأَوْهَا قَالُواْ إِنَّا لَضَآلُّونَ بَلْ نَحْنُ مَحْرُومُونَ قَالَ أَوْسَطُهُمْ أَلَمْ أَقُلْ لَّكُمْ لَوْلاَ تُسَبِّحُونَ ﴾

قَالُواْ سُبْحَـنَ رَبّنَآ إِنَّا كُنَّا ظَـلِمِينَ- فَأَقْبَلَ بَعْضُهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ يَتَلَـوَمُونَ- قَالُواْ يوَيْلَنَآ إِنَّا كُنَّا طَـغِينَ- عَسَى رَبُّنَآ أَن يُبْدِلَنَا خَيْراً مّنْهَآ إِنَّآ إِلَى رَبّنَا رغِبُونَ- كَذَلِكَ الْعَذَابُ وَلَعَذَابُ الاْخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُواْ يَعْلَمُونَ-﴾

(Verily, We have tried them as We tried the people of the garden, when they swore to pluck the fruits of the (garden) in the morning. Without saying: Insha’Allah (If Allah wills). Then there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins). Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke. Saying: “Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits.” So they departed, conversing in secret low tones (saying): No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today. And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits therefrom). But when they saw the (garden), they said: “Verily, we have gone astray.” (Then they said): “Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!” The best among them said: “Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha’ Allah (If Allah wills).” They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers).” Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient). We hope that our Lord will give us in exchange a better (garden) than this. Truly, we turn to our Lord (wishing for good that He may forgive our sins and reward us in the Hereafter). Such is the punishment (in this life), but truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater if they but knew). (Al-Qur’an:68:17-33)

The People of Garden decided not to give charity from their produce

This is an example set by Allah the Almighty for the polytheists of Quraish as He favored them with sending the honorable and great Prophet, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), but they belied him and rejected what he had brought them. Almighty Allah, says:

(أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ بَدَّلُواْ نِعْمَتَ اللَّهِ كُفْرًا وَأَحَلُّواْ قَوْمَهُمْ دَارَ الْبَوَارِ – جَهَنَّمَ يَصْلَوْنَهَا وَبِئْسَ الْقَرَارُ)

(Have you not seen those who have changed the Blessings of Allah into disbelief (by denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his Message of Islam), and caused their people to dwell in the house of destruction? Hell, in which they will burn, -and what an evil place to settle in!). (Al-Qur’an-14:28,29)

Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: They are the polytheists of Quraish whom were likened to the people of the garden that contained various fruits and plants that were ripe and the time of their harvesting has come. Thus, He, Glory be His, says: {When they swore} secretly {to pluck the fruits of the (garden)} i.e. to harvest it; {in the morning} in order not to be seen by either a poor, or a needy and be forced to donate to or give them any of its fruits. So, they swore to this without saying “If Allah wills”. Consequently, Allah the Almighty disabled them and sent over their garden fire that burnt it and left nothing thereof. He, Glory be His, says: (Then, there passed by on the (garden) a visitation (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruins)).

The garden burnt in the night

Allah the Almighty says: (Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke), i.e. they got up in the morning and they called out one to another saying: {Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits}, i.e. go early to your garden and pluck the fruits before the poor and needy persons come to ask you for charity. The story goes: {So they departed, conversing in secret low tones}, i.e. talking one to another in low tones saying: {No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today}, i.e. they agreed upon that and made mutual consultations thereto. The story goes on: {And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits there from)}, i.e. they went forth with seriousness, power and strong bad intention.

`Ikrimah and Ash-Shu`abi said: {And they went in the morning with strong intention}, i.e. rage and bad intention against the poor. {But when they saw the (garden)}, i.e. when they reached their garden and found what had happened to it, upon this {they said: Verily, we have gone astray}, i.e. we have lost our way to our own garden, then they said: {Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!}, i.e. we have been punished because of our bad intentions and were deprived of the blessing of our tilth.

And, {the best among them said} Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him), Mujahid and others said: He was the best and the most moderate and just one among them all. {Did I not tell you: why say you not: Insha’Allah (If Allah wills)}, it was said: To say a good word instead of what you have intended. {They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers).” Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient)}, they regretted and showed sorrow when both could do them nothing, and they confessed their sinful deed after they had been punished and all that went in vain.

They had bad intentions - Not to give charity

It was said: That they were brothers and they inherited that garden from their late father who used to give much and much in charity. But, when they possessed the garden they denied the acting of their late father and intended to deprive the poor of its fruits. Thereupon, Allah the Almighty punished them and gave them the severest of penalties. For this, Allah the Almighty commanded that charity must be taken out of fruits and it is preferably to be paid on the day of harvesting. He says:

(كُلُواْ مِن ثَمَرِهِ إِذَآ أَثْمَرَ وَءَاتُواْ حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ)

{Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah’s Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest}. (Al Qur’an:6:141)

Pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah's Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest

It was said: They were from the Yemen, from a town called “Darwan”. It was also said: They were from Abyssinia. Allah knows best!

Allah the Almighty says: {Such is the punishment}, i.e. like this We punish those who disobey Our Command and does not show kindness to the needy from among Our creatures. {But truly the punishment of the Hereafter is greater} than that of the present life {if they but knew}.

This story resembles Allah’s Saying:

﴿وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلاً قَرْيَةً كَانَتْ ءَامِنَةً مُّطْمَئِنَّةً يَأْتِيهَا رِزْقُهَا رَغَدًا مِّن كُلِّ مَكَانٍ فَكَفَرَتْ بِأَنْعُمِ اللَّهِ فَأَذَاقَهَا اللَّهُ لِبَاسَ الْجُوعِ وَالْخَوْفِ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَصْنَعُونَ – وَلَقَدْ جَآءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَأَخَذَهُمُ الْعَذَابُ وَهُمْ ظَـلِمُونَ ﴾

{And Allah puts forward the example of a township that dwelt secure and well-content: its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favors of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) which they (its people) used to do. And verily, there had come unto them a Messenger (Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) from among themselves, but they denied him, so the torment overtook them while they were Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers)}. (Al Qur’an:16:112,113)

It was said that this example was of the people of Mecca set for themselves and verily, there is no contradiction in this. Allah knows best!

Source: Tafsir Ibn Kathir