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Luqman (also known as Luqman the Wise, Luqmaan, Lukman, and Luqman al-Hakeem; Arabic: لقمان‎) was a wise man for whom Surah Luqman (Arabic: سورة لقمان‎), the thirty-first sura (chapter) of the Qurʼan, was named. Luqman (c. 1100 BC) is believed to be from Nubia today's Sudan.[1][2] There are many stories about Luqman in Persian, Arabic and Turkish literature and the primary historical sources are the Tafsir ibn Kathir and Stories of the Qurʼan by Ibn Kathir. The Qurʼan does not state whether or not Luqman was a prophet, but some people believe him to be a prophet and thus write Alayhis salaam (A.S.) with his name. The Baháʼí holy writings also make reference to Luqman.[3][4]

Source of Luqman's wisdom[edit]

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 that Allah wanted to bestow a gift upon Luqman: either wisdom or being king. Luqman chose wisdom, and when he woke 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.[2]


Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave. He was deprived of his freedom and 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.[1]

The Hadith teaches that for some bondsmen, a high rank has been determined. But sometimes, that bondsman has not acquired the good deeds to reach to such a high rank. Hence Allah causes him to become involved with some calamity, which if he accepts and bears patiently, he is able to reach that high position. According to the Hadith, when Luqman was teaching, he was 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]

On death[edit]

In the Baháʼí writings, Luqman presents the following analogy to his son to explain the inevitability of the afterlife: "O Son, if thou art able not to sleep, then thou art able not to die. And if thou art able not to waken after sleep, then thou shalt be able not to rise after death.” [4]

Identity of Luqman[edit]

Luqman was also the name of an Arabian mythical figure long before the Quran. There has been much debate and discussion, theologically and historically, about the relationship of the two characters. Some maintain that it's the same person, others that they simply share the same name. Arabic proverb collections actually fuse the two characters, drawing from both the Quran and pre-Islamic stories, endowing him 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.[5]


  1. ^ a b Ibn Kathir, Hafiz, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Dar-us-Salam Publications, 2000 (original ~1370)
  2. ^ a b c Al-Halawi, Ali Sayed, Stories of the Qurʼan by Ibn Kathir, Dar Al-Manarah
  3. ^ *Baháʼu'lláh (1988) [1892]. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-182-5.
  4. ^ a b *Baháʼu'lláh (1991) [1856-63]. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. ISBN 0-87743-227-9.
  5. ^ The Book of Proverbs and Arabic Proverbial Works, Volume 74
    Luqman appears in Arabic tradition as a "composite" and a "many-sided figure": (a) The pre-islamic Luqman; (b) The Qurʼanic Luqman; and (c)Luqman of fables.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barham, Francis Foster Lokman's Arabic Fables, literally translated into English (word for word), Bath, 1869, 12mo.

External links[edit]