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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The story of Luqman the wise from Surah Luqman (Chapter 31 of 34 verses)


Photo taken in Lodhi Garden, Delhi - Shish Gumbad, a 14th Century Tomb

The history:

Luqman (c. 1100 BC) was believed to be from Africa and a traditional Arab sage. Among the Arabs, Luqman was well known as a spiritual associate and a possible grandnephew of the Old Testament Prophet Job. His story was quite similar to the fable teller and a wisemen of Greece called Aesop (c.620-564 BC).

Similarly to Aesop, Luqman was described as a perceptive man, always watching the animals and plants of his surroundings while trying to understand the world based on what he saw. One day, whilst sleeping under a tree, an angel came to him and said Allah wanted to bestow a gift upon him, a choice of either to be a king or a wise man. Luqman chose to be a wise man, and when he woke up from his nap, he was aware that his senses and understanding had sharpened. He felt in complete harmony with nature and could understand the inner meaning of things, beyond their physical reality. Immediately he bowed down, thanked and praised Allah for this wonderful gift. Later on, Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave.

During his captivity, Luqman was denied of his freedom. He could neither move nor speak freely. This was the first trial he had to bear. He suffered his captivity patiently, for his heart was lit with faith and hope, and he was waiting for Allah's action.

The man who bought him was a good as well as an intelligent man. He treated Luqman with kindness. He noticed that Luqman was not an ordinary man and tried to test his intelligence. He ordered Luqman to slaughter a sheep and to bring its worst part to him. Luqman slaughtered the sheep and took its heart and tongue to his master. On receiving them his master smiled, fascinated by Luqman's choice of the 'worst'. He understood that Luqman was trying to convey some deep meaning, though he could not make out exactly what. From that point his owner began to take more interest in Luqman and showed more kindness to him.

A few days later, Luqman was again instructed to slaughter a sheep, but this time he was asked to take the best parts of the animal to the owner. Luqman slaughtered a sheep, and to his master's amazement, he again brought the same organs (the heart and the tongue). His master asked Luqman how the heart and the tongue could be both the worst and the best parts. The wise Luqman answered: The tongue and the heart are the sweetest parts if its owner is pure; and if he is wicked, they too are as wicked! Thereafter, Luqman's owner held him in great respect. Luqman was consulted by many people for advice, and the fame of his wisdom spread all over the country.

The Quran:

Surah Luqman reminds the believer that Allah ensures His Protection to those who remain steadfast in the salat (prayers) and give their wealth to those who are needy, granted that the intentions are pure (many times repeated in other Surah as a reminder to Muslim of their obligatory ritual). This Surah addresses the issue of the respect due to one's parents when it comes to the worship of Allah, read 31:14 "And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in effort upon effort did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal."

Important to note that Luqman the wisemen lives before the times of Christianity and Islam but the Holy Quran quotes Luqman’s advices to his beloved son in the following verses:

31:13, Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah, for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing."

31:16, "O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).

31:17, "O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.

31:18, "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster.

31:19, "And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass."

Source: Al-Quran and my favorite website, Wikipedia
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