Luqman (alayhi salam) is a character mentioned in the Quran quite briefly. However, it is an interesting conversation because he is giving advice to his son and does so in the best of ways. In Surah Luqman, Allah mentions firstly the qualities that made him worthy of being immortalized in the Quran. They were
- He was granted wisdom from Allah.
- He was thankful for Allah’s blessings.
- He cared about his son and gave him “heart-penetrating advice” (mau’idha in the Quranic vocabulary)
The advice he gives to his son is timeless advice for all of humanity for all time. It is more of a lesson for young men and women who are just going out into the world. Allah starts the Surah by saying, These are the verses of the wise Scripture, [with] guidance and mercy for those who do good. [Quran, 31:2-3]
So what are the things that Luqman teaches his son, and what are the lessons we take for our own lives?
- My son, do not attribute any partners to God: attributing partners to Him is a terrible wrong. [Quran 31:13] The first and most important command is that one does not do shirk. For us who are Muslims we sometimes get complacent about this idea. We think that we are not bowing down to any idols so we are safe and sound. However, shirk can invade our deeds in other ways too. We should be wary of doing deeds that are done for other than Allah. We should also be wary of leaving off obligatory actions, worrying about what people will say. Alhamdulillah that Allah has saved us from the major shirk, but we are still in danger of falling into the minor shirk of putting other people ahead of Allah in our lives.
- We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and it takes two years to wean them. [Quran 31:14] This topic needs no introduction. The station of parents in Islam is only second to Allah and His Messenger and the five obligatory prayers. Allah reminds us to be good to our parents.
- My son, if even the weight of a mustard seed were hidden in a rock or anywhere in the heavens or earth, God would bring it [to light], for He is all subtle and all aware. [Quran 31:16] This is where Luqman tells his son to be especially conscious of everything. Whatever happens on the earth, Allah is aware. There are two dimensions to it: We cannot hide any of our bad deeds from Allah, and we will be called to account for them. Also, the deeds of the people against us that they may “get away with” will also be judged by Allah. No one escapes from Allah’s plan.
- Keep up the prayer, my son. [Quran 31:17] The most important of deeds, and the first that will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement. Right after mentioning about the fact that Allah knows everything, Luqman mentions prayer. Prayer helps us keep our other deeds clean of shirk, clean of any sinful behaviours and expiates for our minor sins. Prayer also helps us go through the troubles of what other people do to us. Prayer is our link to Allah.
- Command what is right; forbid what is wrong.” [Quran 31:17] The act of dawah is an act that was done by all the prophets of Allah, peace be upon them. It is an obligation that we need to take seriously. It is also of utmost importance in helping build a community that is righteous and sincere.
- Bear anything that happens to you steadfastly. [Quran 31:17] Constantly keeping our intentions clean for Allah, constantly being good to our parents when they are not nice to us, keeping up the prayer, doing dawah. . . We will sometimes fall short in our duty to Allah. Allah asks us to bear all of this patiently. Also, sometimes to cleanse us of our sins, He will put us through difficulties that purify us of our sins and purify our intentions, and He is also asking us to be steadfast for those times.
- Do not turn your nose up at people. [Quran 31:18] Luqman first talks to his son about his spiritual purification, and about dawah. And soon after mentions problems that many duat face today. He talks about the purification of the character now. He asks his son— and by extension Allah is giving this message to us— that we do not become arrogant. Sometimes when we do all of the acts above, we will be better than many of the people who we live around. This may make us arrogant and self-righteous. Luqman cuts the bud even before his son has a chance of becoming anything like that.
- Nor walk about the place arrogantly. [Quran 31:18] The purification of the character in Islam is such that it is not only about how we deal with others, but also about how we behave. Luqman tells his son not to have a proud gait while walking, as this is not how a believer should live. A believer is always humble.
- Go at a moderate pace. [Quran 31:18] He asks his son to walk in a moderate pace and not in an arrogant or boastful fashion. He does not ask his son to be passive, but rather to have the balance that Islam is all about.
- And lower your voice. [Quran 31:18] Finally, Luqman mentions that he should never raise his voice. At times in our zeal to propagate islam, we might become ill-mannered in our behaviour. Luqman gives the best advice in maintaining our manners: lower your voice.
Such and many other timeless lessons are in the Quran for all of us. Part of us tapping into it is in learning the language of the Quran