Luqman, the wise, is known in history for his understanding, knowledge, and eloquence. As the Quran states: “And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (wisdom and religious understanding, etc.)…” (Luqman 31:12) He was a righteous servant of Allah (swt). His full name was Luqman bin Anqa bin Sadun, and he was a dark-skinned slave from Ethiopia. He was a carpenter by profession.
The name of Luqman’s son was Tharan. To Luqman, he was also the closest and most beloved of all people, who deserved to be given the best knowledge. Even today, Luqman’s wise counsel for Tharan is quoted and reflected upon for guidance. What was so dazzling about Luqman’s advice for his son? And how many of us impart the same to our offspring today?
“…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.’” (Luqman 31:13)
This wise father attached his son to the mighty source of man’s ultimate success – His Lord. Luqman knew that if Tharan’s relationship with his Creator was firmly positioned, he would have few worries left. He also clearly stated the supreme oppression that man can commit, which is to associate partners with Allah (swt), and grant honour and obedience which is due to Him (swt) to others who are mere creations.
“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.” (Luqman 31:14)
Immediately after the rights of Allah (swt) is the command to honour one’s parents. A sound reasoning has been offered, mentioning the pain mothers endure in pregnancy, labour, and lactation, which involves physical and emotional suffering. Allah (swt) reminds children about these favours, so they become humble, grateful, and dutiful. Further, another reminder is given that every soul has to return to its true Master.
“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.” (Luqman 31:15)
In case the parents are disbelievers, they need not be followed in religion; however, they still have the right to be respected and given kind treatment by their children. This Ayah was revealed for Sad bin Malik (rtam). He honoured his mother greatly. But when he embraced Islam, his mother pressurized Sad (rtam) to renounce his faith, saying she would starve herself to death if he did not leave Islam. She stayed hungry for two days and nights, after which Sad (rtam) told her that even if she had one hundred souls, and they were to depart one after the other, he would not give up Islam. It was up to her to eat or not to eat. His mother surrendered and finally ate.
“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 on the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily Allah is Subtle (in bringing out that grain), Well-Aware (of its place).” (Luqman 31:16)
Luqman ignited Taqwa in his son’s heart. He made him realize that even if a wrong action or sin was equal to the size of a grain of mustard seed, it will be brought forth on the Day of Resurrection. Then it will be placed in the scales of justice, and everyone will be rewarded or punished for their actions. Allah’s (swt) knowledge is subtle, for nothing is hidden from Him, no matter how minute. He is also well-informed about the smallest of things, even if it is the footsteps of an ant in the darkest night.
“O my son! Aqim-is-Salat (perform As-Salat), enjoin (people) for Al-Maruf (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.” (Luqman 31:17)
Luqman apprised Tharan to offer prayer properly at the appointed times to the best of his ability and strength. As a father, he perceived that if his son stood for the truth and negated falsehood, he would inevitably encounter harm and annoyance from people. In all such instances, he was to practice patience as it was the most significant learning of life.
“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.” (Luqman 31:18)
If ever his son succeeded in this world to assume a prominent or important position, how was he to behave with others? Luqman commanded his son never to turn his face away from others, when they were speaking to him or when he was addressing them. He taught him social etiquette – to be gentle with others and to greet them with a cheerful face. He explained that Allah (swt) detested arrogance in any form. His son should never show off and admire himself or belittle others.
“And be moderate in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of the asses.” (Luqman 31:19)
Luqman even told his son how to walk in a way that it is neither too lazy nor too swift; he instructed him to be moderate as such a gait shows a flexible and adjustable temperament. He advised Tharan not to exaggerate in his speaking, and not to raise his voice unnecessarily. When a person raises his voice, the resulting noise is like the sound of a donkey, and this is hateful to Allah (swt).
Usually, when parents offer advice to their kids, their concerns are mostly worldly. It may be related to career counselling, marriage options, investment opportunities, etc. How many of us consider revitalizing their faith in the Lord or apprising our children of their accountability before Allah (swt)?
Luqman offered to his son a priority list. His entire advice is based on Allah’s (swt) pleasure – it details the order in which significance and value needs to be attached to everything in life. It is a blue print for a magnificent character and a lofty existence. Tharan was meant to be an original masterpiece with his own voice and actions – not like the product of today’s globalized society that talks, walks, sounds, thinks, and acts uniformly. He was distinct just as his father Luqman was – a dark-skinned Nubian with thick lips and an ordinary status in the world. However, he had an extraordinary place with Allah (swt) who had the 31st Surah of the Quran named after Luqman, the wise.