Luqman The Wise

Luqman (لقمان, Luqmān; also known as Luqman the Wise or Luqman al-Hakeem) was a wise man after whom Surah Luqman, the 31st sura (chapter) of the Quran, was named. Luqman (c. 1100 BC) is believed to have been from Nubia or from Egypt. There are many stories about Luqman in Persian, Arabic and Turkish literature, with the primary historical sources for his life being Tafsir ibn Kathir and Stories of the Qur’an by Ibn Kathir. While the Quran does not state whether Luqman was a prophet or not, some believe him to be a prophet and thus, add the honorific ʿAlaihis Salam (A.S.) after his name.

Source of Luqman’s wisdom

According to the 12th ayah (verse) of Surah Luqman in the Qur’an, Luqman was bestowed with wisdom by Allah, al-Hakim (the Most Wise).

We gave wisdom to Luqmān, and said, “Be grateful to Allah;” and whoever is grateful is, in fact, grateful for his own benefit, and whoever is ungrateful, then Allah is free of all needs, worthy of all praise.

— Surah Luqman Quran 31:12

According to a Hadith in the Muwatta of Imam Malik, Luqman was asked, “What has brought you to what we see?”, referring to his high rank. Luqman said, “Truthful speech, fulfilling the trust, and leaving what does not concern me.” This narration has also been mentioned with different wording in another source from ibn Jarir who heard it from ibn Hamid who heard it from al-Hakam who heard it from Umar ibn Qais.

In another Hadith, it is mentioned that for some people, a high rank in Jannah has been determined. However, when that person has not acquired the good deeds to reach that high rank, Allah causes him to receive some trials or tests, which, if accepted and borne patiently, will grant him the high status.

Islamic drawing, a Madrasa

Islamic drawing, a Madrasa


Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave. He was deprived of his freedom and could neither move nor speak freely. However, he suffered his bondage patiently, faithful and hopeful, waiting for Allah’s action. This was the first of the trials that he had to bear.

The man who bought Luqman was good-hearted and intelligent, treating Luqman with kindness. He was able to detect that Luqman was not ordinary and thus, tried to test his intelligence and discovered its reality.

One day, the man ordered Luqman to slaughter a sheep and Luqman slaughtered the sheep. Then, he ordered Luqman to bring its best parts to him and Luqman took its heart and tongue to his master. On receiving them, his master smiled, fascinated by Luqman’s choice of the ‘best’ part of the sheep. He understood that Luqman was trying to convey some deep meaning, even though he could not make out exactly what. From that moment onwards, his owner began to take more interest in Luqman and became kinder to him than before.

A few days later, Luqman was again instructed to slaughter a sheep – which he did – but this time he was asked to take the worst parts of the animal to his master. Once again, Luqman brought the heart and the tongue – to his master’s amazement. When the master mentioned this to Luqman, the wise Luqman answered, “The tongue and the heart are the sweetest parts if they are good, and nothing can be worse than these if they are 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.

Identity of Luqman

An Arabian mythical figure named ‘Luqman’ also existed long before the figure of the wise ‘Luqman’ appeared in the Quran, resulting in the considerable debate of both theological and historical nature as to the relationship of the two characters.

Some, such as 17th-century French scholar Pierre-Daniel Huet, maintain that the two are the same person, but others argue that they simply share the same name. In Arabic proverb collections, the two characters are fused, drawing from both the Quran and pre-Islamic stories, endowing Luqman with superhuman strength and lifespan. The pre-Islamic Luqman was of the Ad people, who lived in Al-Ahqaf in the Arabian peninsula, near modern-day Yemen.

Luqman and his son

Once, Hazrat Luqman said to his son:

“O my son! Do not rely on people’s praise or slander. Although you spend every ounce of your strength, you will not succeed in this affair”.

His son said:

“Father! I don’t understand a word of what you are saying. I want to see some samples”.

Luqman replied:

“Let us walk”.

They started while having one animal to ride on. Now Luqman rode on the animal, while the son was walking. People seeing this said:

“How cruel is this old man. Although he is strong, he lets his son walk!”
Luqman told his son:

“Did you hear?” He replied: “Yes, I did”.

Then Luqman told his son:

“Now, you ride the animal and I will follow”.

The son rode the animal and Luqman was walking. People said this time:

“These father and son are bad people. The father has not trained his son. His son is riding. The father, who should get respect, is walking. The son is bad because God will punish him for this act of his. Therefore, both are wrong-doers!”

Luqman asked his son:

“Did you hear?” He replied: “Yes”.

Then Luqman said:

“Let us both ride on the animal”.

They both rode on it. People then complained:

“There is no mercy in the hearts of these two riders. God will not bless them. They are breaking the back of the animal. They have overloaded it. It was better for one of them to walk and the other to ride”.

Luqman told his son:

“Did you hear?” He said: “Yes”.

Then Luqman said:

“Let us both of us walk”.

They started walking. They heard people say:

“It is strange that they have an animal but they walk.”

Then Luqman said to his son:

“Can you make people agree with you? Thus, do not look for people’s consent, look for God’s consent. That will be a source of prosperity both here and in the hereafter”.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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