Luqman and his words of wisdom - Part 1

The Lord of the worlds has made a mention of Luqman in the Holy Qur’an,

And certainly we gave wisdom to Luqman, sayings: Be grateful to Allah. And whoever is grateful, he is only grateful for his own soul and whoever is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, Praised. And when Luqman said to his son while he admonished him: O my son! Do not associate ought with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous inequity -O my son! Surely if it is the very weight of the grain of a mustard -seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it (to light); surely Allah is Knower of subtleties, Aware. O my son! Keep up prayer and enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and bear patiently that which befalls you; surely these acts require courage: And do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exulting overmuch; surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster: And pursue the right course in your going about and lower your voice; surely the most hateful of voice is braying of the asses. (31:12, 13, 16-19)

Shaykh Tabarsi says there is difference of opinion about Luqman. Some say he knew Divine Wisdom but was not a Prophet. Some say that he was a Prophet. Other commentators have said that Luqman was son of Bao’or and belonged to the Az tribe and that he was the son of the sister of the aunt of Ayyub; that he lived up to the time of Dawud and learned knowledge from him.

It is recorded in reliable sources that Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq said, “I swear by Allah and say that Allah did not give wisdom owing to his lineage, wealth, family or physique but only because he was steadfast in obeying Allah and refraining from His disobedience. He was a silent gentleman who never talked without wisdom. He possessed a peaceful heart and a thoughtful mind. His eyes were ever ready to pick up admonition and did not required others’ advice. He did not sleep in daytime. Nobody ever saw him bathing or answering nature’s calls openly like others of that time because he carried out all such affairs secretly. He had a sharp eye but he never liked to be aware of others’ secrets. He never laughed on any occasion fearing his sins nor did he frown upon anybody for his own sake. He never ridiculed anyone. He neither became overjoyed by getting any worldly gift nor became sorrowful due to losing anything. He married many women and begot many children. Many of his children died but he never wept at their loss nor counted their number to be proud (of their number). He never went away from two quarrelling persons until he made peace between them and they gave up fighting. He never got pleased with anyone’s good word unless he obtained its meaning and explanation. He also asked from whom the other person heard it. Most of the time he sat with the wise, the intelligent and jurisprudents. He used to go to the judges and the kings and the rulers only to get lesson from their conditions. While seeing the judges he used to be kind looking to their difficult duties. He was also kind toward the kings thinking that being ignorant they were running away from Allah and were loving the material world. He took lessons from their (kings) events. He also used to remember some of their undesirable things whereby he controlled his desires. He was fought his desires and kept away from conspiracies of Satan. He was treating the diseases of his soul through contemplation and by obtaining lessons from worldly people. He never moved from his place unless he had a hope of any gain by doing anything. Because of all these qualities Allah had bestowed upon him His wisdom and had made him sinless. In the middle part of a day when the rest of the people were taking rest Allah sent some of His angels to Luqman. The angels called Luqman but in such a way that he could only hear their voice without seeing them.

The angels asked him, “O Luqman! Do you wish that Allah may make you His caliph so that you may solve people affairs (disputes etc)?” Luqman replied, “If the Lord of the worlds commands me to do so I will obey Him because, if I accept it by His order, He will help me, will also teach me the necessary things for that office and he will then also protect me from making mistakes. But if He has given me an option about accepting that post I would prefer safety (I want to be excused).” The angels asked, “Why so?” Luqman replied, “Though settling people’s disputes carries much value in the sight of Allah and it has much weight in the religion of Allah, its tests and criterions are also very hard. If Allah does not help someone and leaves him on his own then oppression and darkness encircles him from all sides. Such a man is discarded. He will either make correct judgment and be saved or will make mistake and will become deviated. The one who becomes dishonorable in the world will be better off in the Hereafter because the one who orders becomes big in the eyes of the people and the one who purchases this world at the cost of the Hereafter suffers loss in both the places because this world slips away from him very soon and he had no share in the Hereafter.”

Hearing this, the angels were astonished at his wisdom and intelligence and the Lord liked their dialogue. When night fell and Luqman went to bed Allah rained the radiance of wisdom on him and made him full of light. He was asleep and Allah covered him with the cloth of wisdom. When he arose he was the wisest man of his time. He came out before the people when words of wisdom were coming out of his mouth and he was describing the Divine wisdom and intelligence and justice to all. And when he did not accept Prophethood, Allah asked the angels to invite Dawud to it. Dawud accepted and did not put forth the conditions that Luqman had submitted. So Allah made him His caliph in the world on earth. Allah, often tested those (Prophets) and on some occasions they missed the preferable (Tark al-Awla) and Allah pardoned them for it. Luqman used to meet Dawud often and give him words of wisdom and admonition. Dawud used to tell him: Congratulations! For you have been given wisdom, and tests have been lifted up from you and caliphate has been given to Dawud and he has been put to test. Luqman gave so many admonitions to his son that he became embodiment of the enlightening wisdom of Luqman.”