SHAFAQNA- Although there are ample references to Luqman’s wisdom in the books and in the poems of the past poets, we will present here some aspects of his wisdom as narrated in the books of traditions:
a) “O my son! Do not let your heart be concerned with people’s pleasure, and their praise or blame. A person will attain nothing from that although he may make the utmost efforts in it.” His son said, “Father, what does this mean? I would like to see some examples of it in words or deeds.” Luqman replied: “Let us go out”. They went out together with one animal to ride on. Luqman rode on the animal leaving his son to walk behind him. They passed a group of people who said: “This old man is hard-hearted, with little compassion. He rides the animal although he is stronger than the boy, and he makes the boy walk behind him! This is an evil arrangement!”
Luqman told his son: “Did you hear them, and their censure of my riding and your walking”? He said: “Yes, I did”.
Then Luqman told his son: “Now you ride, my son, and I will walk”. So the son rode the animal and Luqman walked. They passed another group of people who said: “An evil father and an evil son! The father has not trained his son. The son rides while the father walks behind him, whereas the father is more worthy of respect and of riding the animal. As for the son, he has been disrespectful to his father because of this. Therefore, both of them 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 mounted the animal and passed by a group of people who said: “There is no mercy in the hearts of these two riders and God will not bless them. They are breaking the back of the animal by overloading it. It was better for one of them to walk and one to ride”.
Luqman asked his son: “Did you hear”? He said: “Yes”.
Then Luqman said: “Let us both dismount and let the animal walk without a rider”. They drove the animal on before them while they walked. They passed a group of people who said: “How strange these two are! They have an animal, but they walk”. They blamed these two for that, just as others had blamed them previously. Then Luqman said to his son: “Can you make people pleased with you? Thus, do not pay any attention to them; rather, occupy yourself with God’s pleasure. That will be a source of prosperity both here and in the Hereafter”.54
b) My son! I learned seven thousand pieces of wisdom. You memorize only four of them and you may enter the paradise with me. Strengthen your ship since the sea ahead of you is deep; lighten the load of your sins since you have a rough course ahead of you; increase your provisions since you have a long journey; have sincerity in your actions since the accountant is sharp.”55
c) My son! If you doubt death, take sleep away from yourself; you will not be able to do that. If you doubt the Day of Resurrection, take wakefulness away from yourself; and you cannot do this. When you think over these issues, you will understand that your soul is in the hand of One other than you. Sleep is only in the same position as death and awakening after sleep is like resurrection after death.56
d) My son! The world is a deep sea in which an immense number of people are drowned. Use your faith in God as your ship in this sea; let trust in God be your sails; let your provision be God-wariness; if you cross this sea safely, it is because of God’s Mercy, and if you are destroyed, it is because of your own sins.57
e) O my son! Be fearful of God to such an extent that if you go before Him on the Day of Judgment with all the good that jinn and men have performed, you still fear He may punish you; and hope from God to such an extent that if you come before Him on the Day of Judgment having committed the sins of all jinn and men, you still hope that He will forgive you.58
f) O my son! Everything has a sign by which it is recognized:
For religion there are three signs: knowledge, faith and acting on it.
For faith there are three signs: faith in God, His Books and His Prophets.
For a scholar there are three signs: knowledge of God, of what He has made obligatory and what He dislikes.
For one who labours (according to God’s commands) there are three signs: prayer, fasting and zakat (statutory Islamic levy on specified items to be used for Muslims’ welfare).
For a Mutakallif (a person who is not qualified for a job, but accepts it anyway) there are three signs: he quarrels with his superiors: he tells things he does not know; and he tries to do something he is not qualified for.
For a wrongdoer there are three signs: He wrongs his superiors through disobedience; he wrongs his inferiors through overcoming them, and he aids other wrongdoers.
For the sinner there are three signs: he is treacherous, he lies, and he acts in opposition to his words.
For a hypocrite there are three signs: his tongue contradicts his heart, his heart contradicts his actions and his outer self contradicts his inner self.
For an envious person there are three signs: He backbites in one’s absence, flatters in one’s presence and rejoices in the misfortunes of others.
For a squanderer there are three signs: He sells things that are not his; wears what is not his, and eats what is not his.
For a lazy person there are three signs: He procrastinates affairs so much that he is neglectful; he is neglectful until he is wasteful and he is wasteful until he sins.
For a heedless one there are three signs: negligence, diversion and forgetfulness.59
54. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13, p.434.
55. Bihar, vol.13, p.432.
56. Bihar, vol.13, p.417.
57. Bihar, vol.13, p.411.
58. Bihar, vol.13, p.412.
59. Bihar al-Anwar, vol.13, p.415.
Adapted from: “Imam ‘Ali’s First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education” by: “Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji”