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Lessons from Surah Luqman

Salman Rasheed


The writer is a Karachi-based research analyst and political consultant.

Surah Luqman is the 31st Surah of the Holy Quran and contains 34 ayaat. Allah (SWT) revealed this surah to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the middle of his Meccan period. This surah takes its name from the wise man mentioned in it, Luqman.  Ayaat 12th-19th comprises of the advice Luqman extends to his son. The 10 pieces of advice that Luqman gives to his son focus on how to attain success in this life and on the Day of Judgement, which remains relevant to this day.

“O my son! Join not in worship others with God. Verily, joining others in worship with God is a great wrong indeed.” (Quran Surah Luqman: Ayat 13). Luqman by addressing his son as “my son” rather than by name serves two purposes, one to emphasise the familial bond, and two, to catch his son’s attention so that he will listen closely to what Luqman has to say. 

This ayat teaches us that the one who links others with God does the greatest wrong or injustice to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Also, that person commits a great wrong to himself because he offers himself up to the possibility of Allah’s (SWT) anger and endless punishment.

The next advice is mentioned in Ayat 14, “And We have commanded people to ˹honour˺ their parents. Their mothers bore them through hardship upon hardship, and their weaning takes two years. So be grateful to Me and your parents. To Me is the final return.” Luqman is telling his son that the rights of the parents are as important as worshipping Allah (SWT) and that honoring the parents is significant to the Islamic way of life.

Also, in the second part of this ayat, Allah (SWT) explains the difficulties mothers especially endure raising their children and demands that the child gives thanks to his parents. Allah (SWT) reminds us then that it is to Him that we will return and thus, our first loyalty solely belongs to Allah (SWT), followed by devotion and kindness to our parents.

Ayat 16 alludes to the third piece of advice, “O my dear son! ˹Even˺ if a deed were the weight of a mustard seed—be it ˹hidden˺ in a rock or in the heavens or the earth—Allah will bring it forth. Surely Allah is Most Subtle, All-Aware.” Luqman reminds his son of the strength and power that belongs to Allah (SWT). Allah’s (SWT) knowledge is perfect, anything that occurs or will occur in this world is already known by Him.

The first part of Ayat 17 mentions the fourth piece of advice, “O my dear son! Establish prayer…”  Luqman advises his son not just to regularly perform the prayersat the right time but perfect them.  The Arabic word for prayer is salah, which means connection and so prayer or salah is the way to maintain our connection with Allah (SWT).

The second part of Ayat 17 is the fifth piece of guidance, “…encourage what is good and forbid what is evil…”  To enjoin the good and forbid the evil is a basic responsibility of every believer according to his or her ability.

The latter part of Ayat 17 reveals the sixth piece of advice, “…endure patiently whatever befalls you. Surely this is a resolve to aspire to.” Luqman recommends his son to exercise patience when dealing with people regarding the prayers and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil as well as in all matters.

The advice that Luqman gave his son is beneficial for our youth to become better human beings.

The first half of Ayat 18 mentions the seventh piece of guidance, “And do not turn your nose up to people….” Luqman is teaching his son not to be arrogant and that humility is the best quality a person should aimfor, as humility can lead us to Jannah whereas arrogance can lead us to Hell.  The Prophet (SAW) was never arrogant or conceited when interacting with others.

The continuation of Ayat 18 is the eighth piece of advice, “nor walk pridefully upon the earth. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful.”  Walking with pride or insolence is another form of arrogance.  Again, Luqman is emphasizing the importance of humility, as all people are equal in the eyes of Allah (SWT); the only thing that differentiates them is piety.

The first sentence of Ayat 19 reveals the ninth piece of guidance, “Be moderate in your pace.”  Luqman is advising his son that patience and humbleness should be a person’s normal character and behavior.

The remainder of Ayat 19 is the tenth and final piece of advice, “And lower your voice, for the ugliest of all voices, is certainly the braying of donkeys.”  Luqman is explaining that being loud and harsh is a terrible trait that offends and alienates people.

Luqman’s brief but powerful story in the Quran provides a great example for Muslims to follow, but it is also full of practical advice that we can use in our daily lives. The advice that Luqman gave his son is beneficial for our youth to become better human beings.

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