The story of Luqman from the Quran (and Ibn Kathir)


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.

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.”

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.)

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.” 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. 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.)

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. 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).” 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).
◾“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).
◾“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).
◾“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.
◾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.” 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).
◾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.” 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.”
◾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.”
◾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 Dianr 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…