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The Wisdom of Luqman and the Honor of Being Wise

Luqman was not a Prophet  yet he is honored in the Qur’an as a wise man. Wisdom is declared to be an extremely good thing and is said to be a gift from Allah. Allah grants wisdom to whomever He wills. And he to whom wisdom is granted is granted good in abundance.
Qur’an Surah Baqarah 2:269.
“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.”
According to many commentators, and scholars of Qur’an, Luqman was an Ethiopian slave and worked as a carpenter. Luqman was not a handsome man, he does not fit into the description of  good looks of modern times. Rather he short and black, with a flat nose, says Ibn Kathir. Ibn Jareer reported that Luqman was an Ethiopian slave.
Once his master said to him:
“Slaughter this sheep for us and bring the best two pieces from it.”
So he brought the tongue and heart.
Time passed and few weeks later the master repeated his order with a little difference. Bring two worst pieces of meat. Even this time Luqman brought the same; the tongue and the heart. His master was surprised. So Luqman clarified. There is nothing better if these two are good and there is nothing worse if these two are bad.
This is the wisdom.
If we want to go to the root of all wisdom we read in Qur’an, Surah Luqman from verse no. 12 to 19
“And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], “Be grateful to Allah.” And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy. 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 great injustice.” And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. [And Luqman said], “O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted. O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination. And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys.”
We see the wise advice he begins from. “Yaa bunayya!!” Bunayya is an affectionate way of addressing your son – do not commit shirk, surely shirk is the biggest atrocity. But before that he takes an advice from Allah and heeds to it. Show gratitude to Allah. The next session of wisdom is to show gratitude towards our parents. Another gem of wisdom which remains wise even today, ever fresh. The rest of the few  verses go on to tell us about personality development.
The moral of the story of Luqman is simple but motivating wisdom. It is not a monopoly of educated, graduates, rich or good looking people. If a carpenter of Ethiopia can be wise so can a tailor from India, or a cashier from the US. Wisdom has nothing to do with good looks. If a flat nosed slave can be wise, so can a dark south Indian, or a broke, disheveled man on a street corner in NYC. Wisdom comes from Allah and it begins by being grateful to Allah and clinging to Tawheed, the monotheism of Islam.
May Allah make us Wise. Ameen
Author : NIsaar Nadiadwala
writes and speaks  on Islam and Muslims.
He can be reached at

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