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Luqman (also transliterated Lukman, Locman, or Lokman Hekim, Arabic: لقمان‎) was a Muslim holy man for whom Surat Luqman (Arabic: سورة لقمان‎), the thirty-first sura (chapter) of the Qur'an, was named. Luqman (c. 1100 BC) was believed to be from Nubia, present-day Ethiopia. There are many Luqman stories in Arabic and Turkish literature. Turks say that he could cure all ills except a broken heart. Luqman is also credited as the author of Fables of the Sun and the Wind, Peacock and the Jackdaw and several other stories.

According to the legend, Luqman, who could understand the language of the flowers and grasses, after seeing all the world, settled in Mopsuestia (Turkish: Misis - Yakapinar) which is between Adana and Ceyhan in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. The natives asked for an elixir of immortality. When Luqman was looking for a plant for the medicine, a plant began to speak: "I am the cure for mortality." So Luqman broke off a piece of the plant and started making the medicine, writing the recipe in a notebook. After making the elixir, an invisible hand dropped the plant and the formula into the wild waters of Ceyhan River from Mopsuestia Bridge. Luqman immediately threw himself into the river but could not find the notebook. When the summer came and the waters of the river were low, he continued searching along the riverbank. At last, he found a page of his notebook in a barley field. The people of the area today, believing that the soil of the barley field is sacred, use the sandy soil as a home remedy for stomach ache. It is said that the life of Luqman is worth the life of nine eagles; he died after the last of the nine eagles, which he was feeding, died. Because an eagle's life is eighty years, it was thought that he had lived 560 years; hence, he is considered a symbol of long life. The Quran does not state whether or not he was a prophet, but some people believe him to be a prophet and thus write Alayhis salaam (A.S.) with his name.

Contents

Surat Luqman

Surat Luqman, a Meccan surah, is the 31st surah (chapter) of the Qur'an with 34 ayat (verses). This surah reminds the believer that God 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. This sura also tackles the issue of the respect due to one's parents when it comes to the worship of God. "And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents - His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years - Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying." (Ayah 14) God acknowledges the authority parents have over their children--the mother for bearing the child throughout the hardship of pregnancy and labor. But when the parents are leading their children astray from the true worship of God, God says, "But if they strive with thee to make thee ascribe unto Me as partner that of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who repenteth unto Me. Then unto Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what ye used to do." (Ayah 15) But God reminds the believer, "Lo! Allah! With Him is knowledge of the Hour. He sendeth down the rain, and knoweth that which is in the wombs. No soul knoweth what it will earn to-morrow, and no soul knoweth in what land it will die. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware." (Ayah 34) [1]

Luqman was described as a perceptive man, always watching the animals and plants of his surroundings, and he tried 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 Luqman: either to be a king or a wise man. Luqman chose to be a wise man, and when he woke up from his slumber, 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. Unfortunately, Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave. His master was a kind man and ordered that immediately after his death, Luqman should be freed. Once he became a free man, Luqman travelled and settled in the district of the Elah and Midian. He was appointed as a judge during King David's time. According to Sunni belief, Luqman was once asked, "What has brought you to be like this?" meaning his high rank. Luqman said, "Truthful speech, fulfilling the trust, and leaving what does not concern me."[2]

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Slavery

Luqman was captured by slave traders who invaded Africa. They sold him as a slave. He was deprived of his freedom. He could neither move nor speak freely. This was the first trial he had to bear. He suffered his bondage 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 was able to detect 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 this moment 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, 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.

Freedom

The kind owner had instructed his family to free Luqman after the owner's death. When his owner died, Luqman was granted freedom. Luqman travelled on and eventually settled among the Bani lsraeel. He was appointed as judge during the rule of Prophet Dawood, and was respected by all for his wise and fair judgements. He married and raised a family. Luqman gave his son the following advice which is recorded in the Qur'an:

"To Believe in Allah, and to be sincere in devotion to Him. Never associate partners with Allah, for associating anyone with Him is the greatest sin; not only is it a sin against Allah but also against oneself. Love and show obedience to parents even if they are unbelievers. If, however, a parent's way of life were to lead one to become an unbeliever then the path of goodness which leads to Allah should be followed , for one is answerable to Allah alone. Rizq (provisions), ability and authority come from Allah. These things are in His hands and not in the hands of parents or anyone else. Show gratitude to Allah by obeying him. Live your life on the principle of: Encouraging what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Tackle wrong deeds in society with patience. Be humble in dealing with others, both in speech and behaviour, and do not turn your face away when talking to others, for Allah does not love the boastful and arrogant." (Quran, 31:13-19)

Luqman's advice to his son

  • O my son, associate not any one with Allah. Undoubtedly, the association with Allah is a tremendous wrong.
  • O my son! The evil if it be even to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, then it be in a rock or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Undoubtedly Allah is Knower of every subtlety, beware.
  • O my son! Establish prayer and bid doing good and forbid evil and be patient with whatever befalls you. Undoubtedly, these are affairs of determination.
  • And make not your cheek crooked while talking to anyone and walk not in the earth struttingly. Without doubt Allah loves not any arrogant boaster.
  • And walk moderately and lower your voice to some extent. Without doubt of all voices, the most hideous voice is of a donkey.
Ar-Rum The Qur'an - Sura 31 Next Sura:
As-Sajda
Arabic text

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References


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

LUQMAN, or Lokman, the name of two, if not of three (cf. note to Terminal Essay in Sir Rd. Burton's translation of the Arabian Nights), persons famous in Arabian tradition. The one was of the family of 'Ad, and is said to have built the great dike of Marib and to have received the gift of life as long as that of seven vultures, each of which lived eighty years. The name of the seventh vulture - Lubad - occurs in proverbial literature. The name of the second Luqman, called "Luqman the Sage," occurs in the Koran (31, s s). Two accounts of him are current in Arabian literature. According to Mas`udi (i. s so) he was a Nubian freedman who lived in the time of David in the district of Elah and Midian. According to some commentators on the Koran (e.g., Baidawi) he was the son of Ba ` ura, one of the sons of Job's sister or maternal aunt. Derenbourg in his Fables de Loqmdn le sage (1850) identifies Ba`ura with Beoi, and believes the name Luqman to be a translation of Balaam. The grave of Luqman was shown on the east coast of the lake of Tiberias, also in Yemen (cf. Yaqut, vol. iii. p. 512).

The so-called Fables of Luqman are known to have existed in the 13th century, but are not mentioned by any Arabian writer. They were edited by Erpenius (Leiden, 1615) and have been reprinted many times. For the relation of these to similar literature in other lands, see J. Jacobs's edition of Caxton's Fables of Aesop, vol. i. (London, 1889). The name of Luqman also occurs in many old verses, anecdotes and proverbs; cf. G. Freytag's Arabum Proverbia (Bonn, 1838-1843) and such Arabian writers as Tabari, Mas`udi, Damiri and the Kitab al-Mu`ammarin (ed. by I. Goldziher, Leiden, 1899). (G. W. T.)


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