31. Luqman

This sūrah of 34 verses was revealed in Makkah. It begins by affirming the wisdom of the Qur’ān, and offers pearls of wisdom narrated by Luqman. It also mentions some virtues of the believers; presents evidence of God’s Power and Oneness; emphasizes the essential need of human beings for God’s Religion; and ends by stating that some matters are bound to remain unknown to humankind.

In the Name of God, the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate.

1. Alif. Lām. Mīm.

2. These are the Revelations of the Book full of wisdom,

3. A guidance and mercy for those devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing them.

4. They establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and pay what is due to the needy out of their belongings, and in the Hereafter they have certainty of faith.

5. Those stand on true guidance (originating in this Book) from their Lord; and they are those who are the prosperous.

6. Among the people is one who pays for idle tales and diverting talk to lead people astray from (the Qur’ān, which is) God’s way, without knowledge, and makes a mockery of it (the Qur’ān). For such (a man), there is a shameful, humiliating punishment.

7. When our Revelations are recited to such a one, he turns away in arrogance as if he had not heard them, as if there were heaviness in his ears. So give him the glad tidings of a painful punishment.

8. As against this, those who believe and do good, righteous deeds, for them are Gardens of bounty and blessing,

9. To abide therein. This is a promise of God in truth. He is the All-Glorious with irresistible might, the All-Wise.

10. He has created the heavens without pillars you can see;1 and He has set up firm mountains on earth lest it should shake you with its movement, and dispersed thereon all kinds of living creatures. We also send down water from the sky, and cause every noble kind of vegetation rich in color, scent, flavor, and fruit) to grow on earth in pairs.

11. This is God’s creation; now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created. No, indeed; but the wrongdoers (who deny God or associate partners with Him) are lost in obvious error.

12. We surely granted wisdom2 to Luqmān,3 and said: “Give thanks to God.” Whoever gives thanks to God, gives thanks but for (the good of) his own soul; and whoever is ungrateful, surely God is the All-Wealthy and Self-Sufficient (absolutely independent of the whole creation), All-Praiseworthy.

13. (Remember) when Luqmān said to his son by way of advice and instruction: “My dear son! Do not associate partners with God. Surely associating partners with God is indeed a tremendous wrong.”

14. We have enjoined on human in respect with his parents: his mother bore him in strain upon strain, and his weaning was in two years. (So, O human,) be thankful to Me and to your parents. To Me is the final homecoming.

15. But if they strive with you to make you associate with Me something of which you certainly have no knowledge (and which is absolutely contrary to Knowledge), do not obey them. Even then, treat them with kindness and due consideration in respect of (the life of) this world. Follow the way of him who has turned to Me with utmost sincerity and committed himself to seeking My approval. Then (O all human beings), to Me is your return, and then I will make you understand all that you were doing (and call you to account).

16. “My dear son! Whether good or evil, if a deed should have the weight of only a mustard-seed, and though it be kept hidden in a rock, in the heavens or in the earth, God brings it to light (for judgment). Surely God is All-Subtle (penetrating to the most minute dimensions of all things), All-Aware.

17. “My dear son! Establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, enjoin and promote what is right and good, and forbid and try to prevent the evil, and bear patiently whatever may befall you. Surely (all of) that is among greatly meritorious things requiring great resolution to fulfill.

18. “Do not turn your face from people in scornful pride, nor move on earth haughtily. Surely God does not love anyone proud and boastful.

19. “Be modest in your bearing, and subdue your voice. For certain, the most repugnant of voices is the braying of donkeys.”

20. Do you not see that God has made all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth of service to you, and lavished on you His favors, outward and inward? And yet, among people are those who dispute about God without having any true knowledge or any true guidance, or an enlightening Divine Book.4

21. When such people are told to follow what God has sent down, they say: “No, but we follow that (the traditions, customs, beliefs, and practices) which we found our forefathers in.” What! Even if Satan is inviting them to the punishment of the Blaze (by suggesting to them the way of their forefathers)?

22. (The truth is that) whoever submits his whole being to God and is devoted to doing good, aware that God is seeing him, he has indeed taken hold of the firm, unbreakable handle. With God rests the outcome for all matters.

23. Then whoever disbelieves, let his unbelief not grieve you. To us is their final return, and We will make them understand all that they did (and call them to account for it). Surely God has full knowledge of what lies hidden in the bosoms.

24. We will (continue to) provide for them to enjoy themselves for a short while (in this life); then We will compel them to a harsh punishment.

25. If you should ask them who has created the heavens and the earth, they would certainly say, “God.” Say: “All praise and gratitude are for God,” (seeing that even those who associate partners with God feel compelled to acknowledge Him as the Creator; that recognition indeed destroys the foundations of polytheism).5 But most of them do not know (what that recognition of theirs implies).

26. To God belongs whatever is in the heavens and on the earth (over which He has full and exclusive authority; and, therefore, He alone is to be worshipped and none other). God is He Who is the All-Wealthy and Self-Sufficient (absolutely independent of the whole creation), All-Praiseworthy (to Whom all praise and thanks belong and are due).

27. If all the trees on the earth were pens, and all the sea (were ink), with seven more seas added thereto, the words of God (Hic decrees, the acts of all His Names and Attributes manifested as His commandments, and the events and creatures He creates) would not be exhausted in the writing. Surely God is the All-Glorious with irresistible might (Whom none can frustrate, and Whom nothing can tire), the All-Wise.

28. Your creation and your resurrection are but as (the creation and resurrection) of a single soul.6 Surely God is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.

29. Do you not consider that God makes the night pass into the day and makes the day pass into the night (and so makes each grow longer or shorter), and that He has made the sun and the moon subservient to His command (at your service), each running its course for a term appointed (by Him)? And surely God is fully aware of all that you do.

30. That (is so) because God is He Who is the Absolute Truth and Ever-Constant (Whose decrees and deeds are all true and in absolute accord with one another), and all that they invoke (as deities) apart from Him is sheer falsehood; and because God is He Who is the All-Exalted, the All-Great.

31. Do you not consider that the ships run on the sea by God’s favor, that He may show you some of His signs? Surely in that are signs (to know Him for His Munificence, Knowledge, Power, Wisdom and way of acting) for all who are greatly patient (in adversity) and greatly grateful (for His favors).

32. When the waves overwhelm them like a canopy (of dark clouds), they call upon God sincerely believing in Him alone (as the only Deity, Lord and Sovereign). But when He brings them safe to land, some of them are lukewarm, wavering between faith and unbelief. None opposes or rejects Our signs (knowingly) unless he is perfidious, ungrateful.

33. O humankind! Keep from disobedience to your Lord in reverence for Him to deserve His protection, and fear a Day when no parent will be able to avail his child, nor a child avail his parent, in anything. God’s promise (of the Last Judgment) is certainly true. So do not let the present, worldly life delude you, nor let any deluder (including especially Satan) delude you (in your conceptions) about God.

34. With God alone rests the knowledge of the Last Hour (when it will come). He sends down rain (just at the time and place He alone knows), and He alone knows what is in the wombs. No soul knows what it will reap tomorrow, and no soul knows in what place it will die.7 Surely God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.

The Qur'an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English

1. For an explanation of this statement, see 13: 2, note 1.

2. For an explanation of wisdom, see sūrah 2: 129, note 108, and 269, note 159.

3. Luqmān is one of the three persons – the other two being Dhu’l-Qarnayn and ‘Uzayr – mentioned in the Qur’ān about whom it is not clear whether they were Prophets or not. Luqmān was widely known in Arabia before the advent of Islam for his wisdom and spiritual maturity. Some traditions say that he was from Abyssinia and lived in Egypt (al-Mawdūdī, Tafhīm, “Sūrah Luqmān,” note 17). According to some other traditions, he was the nephew of Prophet Ayyūb (Job), upon him be peace, and lived long enough to see Prophet Dāwūd (David) and Prophet Yūnus (Jonah), upon them both be peace (Yazır, 6: 3842).

4. On knowledge and guidance, see 22: 8, note 2.

5. Being the Creator means owning the creation, having the sole authority to judge and administrate, and deserving worship. Moreover, as there is only One Creator, He can have no need to have a partner in administrating what He has created, or to share His authority over it. So, this single reality destroys the foundations of any other ideology or system which offers partnership with God in His being the sole Deity deserving worship and obedience, in His Lordship and sovereignty over the creation. Even though certain modern systems of thought and scientific materialism try to find a source for creation, such efforts are only ideological and artificial. In fact, they must acknowledge the existence of the One Creator; and, in actual fact, many or most of them do acknowledge this, consciously or unconsciously, yet they stubbornly insist on saying otherwise. On the other hand, some think that acknowledging the Creator is the “easy way out.” But it is the denial of Him which amounts to trying to escape reality and take shelter in that which is psychologically easier. It is also a device of human presumption and arrogance, to avoid a properly rooted moral responsibility, and to conform to the cultural temperament of the age, which boasts of unrestricted human autonomy in all spheres of life – something that is neither real nor credible, and whose consequences for the moral, socio-economic and physical environment that we inhabit are proving catastrophic.

6. The Eternal Divine Power is essential to the Divine Essence; it is an indispensable attribute of Divinity. Any limitation of capacity is inconceivable of God, for this would presuppose the existence of two opposites in the Infinite Being. Since this is impossible, and since impotence cannot occur in the Divine Essence, nothing can interfere with the Divine Power. Since impotence cannot be existent in the Divine Power, It can have no degrees, for such degrees of a thing’s existence, attributes and potentialities come about only through the intervention of opposites. Degrees of temperature occur because of the intervention of cold, and degrees of beauty exist because of the intervention of ugliness. This is true of all qualities in the universe. Contingent things and beings contain opposites, for they do not exist essentially of themselves and no undiluted quality is essential to their existence. As the world of contingencies contains degrees and graduations, it is subject to change and transformation.

Since the Eternal Divine Power contains no degrees, it is equally easy for It to create or bring into existence particles and galaxies. Resurrecting all of humankind is as easy for the Divine Power as reviving one person, and creating the whole of spring is as easy as creating one flower. If creation or resurrection were ascribed to causes, creating a flower would be as difficult as creating spring. But if there is only One Creator, for Him, creating all things is as easy as creating one thing.

As an analogy, the sun is one being, but is universal through its effects on each and every thing on the earth. Everything functions as if it were a throne for the sun. The sun is manifested in all objects with all its attributes, and so encompasses all that confronts it; with all or many of its attributes it is manifested in one single object and in all objects simultaneously, and so is present with many or all of its attributes in each and every item.

The Most Holy Being is absolutely transcendent and free of matter, time, and space, and is exalted above and exempt from any restriction, as well as from the darkness of density and compactness. His Attributes are all-embracing. Nothing can escape or hide from His manifestation with all His Attributes, particularly His universal Will, absolute Power, and all-encompassing Knowledge. Nothing is difficult for Him.

The sun’s unrestricted light and immaterial reflection make it nearer to every thing and every being than itself, although everything is far from it. In the same way, the All-Powerful One is infinitely near to everything and infinitely able to do anything He wills concerning them (The Words, “The 16th and 29th Word,” 210–211, 542–545).

7. This verse explains five things of which God alone has exact knowledge. Although the time of rain can be guessed to a certain extent, it is no more than a guess that can be made after the signs of the rain have appeared and, therefore, it is not foreknowledge. The statement referring to what is in the wombs does not merely relate to the sex of the embryo in the womb, but also to its future physical traits; to its inborn capacities and character; and to the question of whether it will be born, and if it is born, what role it will play in life; etc.

As pointed out in note 3 to 3: 3, it is of great significance that the Qur’ān praises the believers first of all for their faith in the Unseen (ghayb). This means that existence is not restricted to what is sensed and observed. This corporeal realm is, according to the measures particular to it, the manifestation of the unseen and unobservable, and it is only one of the numerous realms. The truth or full reality of every phenomenon in this world lies in the world of the Unseen. So, by mentioning five things included in the Unseen in this verse, the Qur’ān draws our attention to God’s absolute, all-encompassing Knowledge vis-à-vis the restricted knowledge of humankind. Human existence is restricted in many respects. Human beings have no dominion over the operation of even their own bodies, let alone over the world as a whole. They cannot prevent themselves from getting hungry and thirsty; they have no part in determining their parents, or the time and place of their birth, nor their physique or physical structure; nor do they know when and where they will die. In addition, they have no knowledge of the future and, in most cases, cannot acquire true knowledge of the past or even of the present. But just as the creation is a whole with all its parts interrelated, time and space also comprise a whole whose parts are linked to one another. Every event in the human realm is not independent of those who do it, or of the time or the place when and where it occurs, or even of the past and the future. So how can a being who is deprived of the exact knowledge of itself, of the other members of its kind, of both time and space, with all their parts, and of its environment, with its relation to the other parts of the universe, claim to order or have authority over its life, as well the lives of others, or dare to give order to the world according to its own will? As this is the truth of the matter, it is only God Who has full knowledge of everything, of all of time and place, and of every being with all its relations to others, time and space. Thus, it is only God Who can have, and Who has, the right to order the life of all creatures.

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