The Wisdom of Luqman

Luqman [the wise] (alaihissalam) is a well-known sage, whose advice to his son has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an. Luqman's sayings and the words of advice he gave to his son, contain rare wisdom, and quite a number of Traditions refer to "Luqman's advice to his son".

One of these are: "O my dear son, sit in the company of the Ulema (religious scholars) frequently and listen carefully to what the wise men say, for Allah gives life to the dead hearts by the 'Nur (light)' of wisdom, just as He revives the dead earth by heavy life-giving rains."

They relate that once a stranger passed by Luqman (alaihissalam) while he was sitting among his followers. The man said, addressing Luqman, "Aren't you the bondsman of such and such tribe." He replied," Yes, I was." The stranger asked again, "Aren't you the one who used to graze the goats near such and such hill?" Luqman replied, "Yes, I am the same person." The man then said, "Then what has brought you to this noble position?" Luqman (alaihissalam) replied, "I was very particular about a few things and I observed them on all occasions, viz. Fear of Allah, truthfulness in speech, fulfilling a trust and avoiding useless talk."

Luqman advised his son, "My son entertain good expectations from Allah without losing fear of His punishment. A fear of His punishment should make you despair of His Mercy." His son replied, "The heart is one. How can it contain hope and fear at one and the same time?" Luqman (alaihissalam) responded, "A believer is such as if he possessed two hearts: one teeming with hope and the other equally full of fear."

He exhorts his son to recite "Rebi Aghfirlee" (O my Lord, forgive my sins) frequently. For, there are certain hours during which Allah's special favors descend upon His men and everybody is granted whatever he asks from Allah.

He says: "My dear son no one can perform good deeds unless he possesses a firm belief in Allah. If a person's heart is unsound, he is very weak in performing good actions."

"My dear son, if Satan (the Devil) were to create doubts in your mind, let your firm belief overpower him and silence his whispers; and if he tempts you to be negligent in virtues, defeat him with remembrance of the grave and the Day of Resurrection; if he (the Devil) tempts you towards the joys of this world or makes you afraid of the hardships of this life, say to him, 'One must inevitably leave this world (neither the luxuries nor the hardships of this life are enduring).'"

He says: "My dear son, he who tells a lie loses the freshness of face, he who cultivates bad habits will ever remain sad; it is far easier to move huge mountains from one place to another than to reform the ignorant stupid."

He says: "My dear son, abstain from telling lies; for lies soon arouse enmity and hatred for the liar."

"My dear son, be very particular about attending funeral prayers and avoid attending festivities. For, funerals remind one of the Hereafter and festivities divert One's attention towards this world."

"My dear son, do not eat anything, when your stomach is full; it is better to put food before a dog than to overeat."

"My dear son, don't be so sweet that people swallow you up, nor so bitter that they spit you out."

"My dear son, do not be less capable (in devotions) than a roster which starts crowing at early dawn and you be laying asleep in bed."

"My dear son, don't delay Taubah (Repentance), for death may take you unaware."

"My dear son, do not make friends with stupid people, lest you should develop a liking for their foolish talk. And do not incur the enmity of a wise man, lest he should turn away from you in disgust (and you should he deprived of getting the benefit of his wisdom)."

"My dear son, let no one but the pious partake of your food and always consult Ulama (religious scholars) in your affairs."

Someone asked Luqman (alaihissalam), "Who is the worst of men?" He replied, "The one who does not mind being watched while doing an evil deed."

He says: "My dear son, associate frequently with the pious for, in this way alone, you can attain to the virtues that they possess. Besides, when Allah's special favors descend upon these beings you will also be able to receive your share of blessings; for when it rains; showers fall on all sides of the house."

"My dear son, avoid the company of the wicked people, for no good can be expected to come out of associating with them. Moreover, if at any time, Allah's punishment befalls them, you will also he affected by it."

He says: "A father's punishment is as beneficial for a child as is the water for the fields."

He says: "My dear son, since the day you were born, everyday, you are getting closer to the Hereafter with your back towards this world. So, your abode in the Hereafter is far nearer to you (because you are advancing towards it everyday, at all times) than your house in this world (because you are moving farther and farther away from it day by day)."

He says, "My dear son, avoid incurring debts; for a debt is a humiliation by day and a grief by night. (One is disgraced when the creditors make demands by day, and one spends the night in grief, worrying about his debts.)"

"My dear son, entertain hopes of mercy from Allah, but let not your hopes make you bold in committing sins; be fearful of Allah but let not your fear make you despair of His mercy."

"My dear son, if someone comes to you with the complaint that so and so has taken both his eyes and you actually see both his eyes missing, do not form any judgement about the person until you have heard the other side. For, this man might have hit the other person first and taken out four eyes earlier."

When the last hour came for Luqman, he said to his son, "My dear son, I have given you a lot of advice during my lifetime; now that I am leaving the world, I would like to advise you about six points:

(1) Busy yourself in the affairs of this world to the extent of the remaining period of your life (which is nothing when measured against the eternity of the Akhirah (the Hereafter).

(2) Worship Allah according to the measure of your dependency on Him (and, obviously, one needs His help in everything).

(3) Make preparations for the Hereafter according to the extent of your stay in that world (and, obviously, one shall have to stay there eternally, for there is no other place to go to after death).

(4) Continue to struggle for redemption from Hell-fire till you are sure you have attained it. (It is common knowledge that, if someone is under trial for a grievous offence, he continues to make efforts for his acquittal till he is sure that the case is going be decided in his favor.)

(5) If you have the audacity to indulge in sins, do so to the extent that you can endure Hell-fire (for, punishment of sins is dictated by law and you are never sure whether the Sovereign, however infinite His mercy may he, will grant you mercy petition.)

(6) When you want to commit a sin, look for a hiding place that is not being watched by Allah and His angels (for, everybody knows the consequences of engaging in a revolt before the eyes of the Sovereign Himself or in the presence of his secret agents.)


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May / June 1998
Muharram 1419
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