FATHERHOOD AND 10 KEY VERSES FROM SURAH LUQMAN
Luqman (alayhi salam) is a character mentioned in the Quran quite briefly. However, it is an interesting conversation because he is giving advice to his son and does so in the best of ways. Revealed in the middle of the Maccan period, the surah owes its title (Luqman) to verses 12-19 where the mythological sage is spoken of as counseling his son. Luqman was a fabled sage firmly established in ancient Arabian traditions as a person who contempts the worldly honors and benefits while strives for inner perfection or to attain a sound heart.
"And certainly We gave wisdom to Luqman, saying: Be grateful to Allah. And whoever is grateful, he is only grateful for his own soul; and whoever is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-sufficient, Praised."
The surah is a profound example of the relationship between a father and a son. It is clear from the surah that is ordained upon the father by divine writ to coach and groom his offsprings and to bring them in contact with the guidance of Islam. Luqman addresses his son by using the term "يَابُنَيَّ" (oh my young son). The word يَابُنَيَّ manifests the love that Luqman possessed for his young boy. This indicates that a father should be affectionate with his children but at the same time should train them for this life and the hereafter.
In Surah Luqman, Allah mentions firstly the qualities that made him worthy of being immortalized in the Quran. They were
- He was granted wisdom from Allah.
- He was thankful for Allah’s blessings.
- He cared about his son and gave him “heart-penetrating advice” (mau’idha in the Quranic vocabulary)
The advice he gives to his son is timeless advice for all of humanity for all time. It is more of a lesson for young men and women who are just going out into the world. Allah starts the Surah by saying, These are the verses of the wise Scripture, [with] guidance and mercy for those who do good. [Quran, 31:2-3]
So what are the things that Luqman teaches his son, and what are the lessons we take for our own lives?
- My son, do not attribute any partners to God: attributing partners to Him is a terrible wrong. [Quran 31:13]
The first and most important command is that one does not do shirk. For us who are Muslims we sometimes get complacent about this idea. We think that we are not bowing down to any idols so we are safe and sound. However, shirk can invade our deeds in other ways too. We should be wary of doing deeds that are done for other than Allah. We should also be wary of leaving off obligatory actions, worrying about what people will say. Alhamdulillah that Allah has saved us from the major shirk, but we are still in danger of falling into the minor shirk of putting other people ahead of Allah in our lives.
- We have commanded people to be good to their parents: their mothers carried them, with strain upon strain, and it takes two years to wean them.[Quran 31:14]
This topic needs no introduction. The station of parents in Islam is only second to Allah and His Messenger and the five obligatory prayers. Allah reminds us to be good to our parents.
- My son, if even the weight of a mustard seed were hidden in a rock or anywhere in the heavens or earth, God would bring it [to light], for He is all subtle and all aware. [Quran 31:16]
This is where Luqman tells his son to be especially conscious of everything. Whatever happens on the earth, Allah is aware. There are two dimensions to it: We cannot hide any of our bad deeds from Allah, and we will be called to account for them. Also, the deeds of the people against us that they may “get away with” will also be judged by Allah. No one escapes from Allah’s plan.
- Keep up the prayer, my son. [Quran 31:17]
The most important of deeds, and the first that will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement. Right after mentioning about the fact that Allah knows everything, Luqman mentions prayer. Prayer helps us keep our other deeds clean of shirk, clean of any sinful behaviours and expiates for our minor sins. Prayer also helps us go through the troubles of what other people do to us. Prayer is our link to Allah.
- Command what is right; forbid what is wrong.”[Quran 31:17]
The act of dawah is an act that was done by all the prophets of Allah, peace be upon them. It is an obligation that we need to take seriously. It is also of utmost importance in helping build a community that is righteous and sincere.
- Bear anything that happens to you steadfastly.[Quran 31:17]
Constantly keeping our intentions clean for Allah, constantly being good to our parents when they are not nice to us, keeping up the prayer, doing dawah. We will sometimes fall short in our duty to Allah. Allah asks us to bear all of this patiently. Also, sometimes to cleanse us of our sins, He will put us through difficulties that purify us of our sins and purify our intentions, and He is also asking us to be steadfast for those times.
- Do not turn your nose up at people. [Quran 31:18]
Luqman first talks to his son about his spiritual purification, and about dawah. And soon after mentions problems that many duat face today. He talks about the purification of the character now. He asks his son— and by extension Allah is giving this message to us— that we do not become arrogant. Sometimes when we do all of the acts above, we will be better than many of the people who we live around. This may make us arrogant and self-righteous. Luqman cuts the bud even before his son has a chance of becoming anything like that.
- Nor walk about the place arrogantly.[Quran 31:18]
The purification of the character in Islam is such that it is not only about how we deal with others, but also about how we behave. Luqman tells his son not to have a proud gait while walking, as this is not how a believer should live. A believer is always humble.
- Go at a moderate pace.[Quran 31:18]
He asks his son to walk in a moderate pace and not in an arrogant or boastful fashion. He does not ask his son to be passive, but rather to have the balance that Islam is all about.
- And lower your voice. [Quran 31:18]
Finally, Luqman mentions that he should never raise his voice. At times in our zeal to propagate islam, we might become ill-mannered in our behaviour. Luqman gives the best advice in maintaining our manners: lower your voice. Such and many other timeless lessons are in the Quran for all of us. Part of us tapping into it is in learning the language of the Quran
The verse of the Noble Quran proclaims that when Allah desires a person amongst his servants to achieve wisdom and spiritual insight, one should not be boastful of his knowledge which was given to him by Allah rather one should thank Allah for his favors. The obedience and submission of a servant of Allah only for the benefit of his own self. Allah is in no need for a person’s prayers, worships, and submission. He was the sustainer and creator of the heavens and the earth before us and He shall remain that even after we depart from this life.
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, "O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with him] is a great injustice."
Allah Almighty is the dispenser of grace and the most merciful, yet there exists one sin which Allah the Most High shall never forgive, and that is Shirk (i.e to associate partners with Allah). Luqman told his son to indulge in shirk for it is an act of great injustice. The pagan Arabs regarded Luqman as this legendary sage who was the wisest amongst men. The Quran for this reason used Luqman’s figure to communicate to them the message of Tawhid (oneness of God).
And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him,........... Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.
Luqman coaches his son by giving him a powerful message regarding the rights of the parents. It is amongst the major duties of a Muslim to manifest good and righteous conduct towards his parents. Allah honors the mothers by describing how they carry their child in the womb despite all the suffering and pain inflicted upon them due to pregnancy. So Allah Almighty orders the Muslims to be dutiful, show good manners, and to fulfill the rights of one’s parents.
According to a vast majority of scholars, as deduced from this verse, the age a child can be breastfed is up to 2 years.
[And Luqman said], "O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight……. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.
The just attribute of Allah Almighty has been communicated by Luqman to his son in this verse. Allah is a Just Lord and will not let a righteous deed as small as a grain go in vain nor an act of evil shall go unanswered in the just court of Allah the Most merciful.
In the next verse, Luqman insists upon his son to never abandon the Salaat (obligatory prayers) and to be patient in the time of crisis for Allah loves and honors those who are patient.
And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people…….; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys."
The right to pride and boastfulness resides only with Allah the Most high. A Muslim should be humble and down to earth. Luqman advises his beloved son never to walk on the earth with pride and to not think less of someone because what you have is from Allah and He has in full authority and control over it and can take it back whenever he wants.
The message in the following verse is to never raise your voices for it too is an act of pride and boastfulness. A loudmouth here is compared with a donkey as donkeys have the loudest voices yet the least brains. Narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:
“No one will enter Paradise in whose heart is an atom’s weight of arrogance and no one will enter Hell in whose heart is an atom’s weight of faith.”At-Tirmidhi (1999)
In the second half of the Surah, Allah Almighty addresses the pagans of Macca and responds to their acts of rejecting the truth. The surah then ends by praising Allah the Lord of the heavens and the earth.