Alif Lam Mim. 3579
These are Verses of the Wise Book, 3580
A Guide and a Mercy to the Doers of Good, 3581
Those who establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity and have (in their hearts) the assurance of the Hereafter. 3582
These are on (true) guidance from their Lord; and these are the ones who will prosper. 3583
But there are among men those who purchase idle tales without knowledge (or meaning) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allah and throw ridicule (on the Path): for such there will be a humiliating Penalty. 3584
When Our Signs are rehearsed to such a one he turns away in arrogance as if he heard them not as if there were deafness in both his ears: announce to him a grievous Penalty. 3585
For those who believe and work righteous deeds there will be Gardens of Bliss.
To dwell therein. The promise of Allah is true: and He is Exalted in power Wise. 3586
He created the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; He set on the earth mountains standing firm lest it should shake with you; and He scattered through it beasts of all kinds. We send down rain from the sky and produce on the earth every kind of noble creature in pairs. 3587 3588 3589 3590 3591
Such is the Creation of Allah: now show Me what is there that others besides Him have created: nay but the Transgressors are in manifest error. 3592
We bestowed (in the past) wisdom on Luqman: "Show (thy) gratitude to Allah." Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful verily Allah is free of all wants worthy of all praise. 3593 3594
Behold Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! Join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing." 3595
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. 3596
"But if they strive to make the join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration) and follow the way of those who turn to Me (in love): in the End the return of you all is to Me and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did." 3597 3598 3599
"O my son!" (said Luqman) "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries (and) is well-acquainted (with them). 3600 3601 3602
"O my son! establish regular prayer enjoin what is just and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.
"And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster. 3603
"And be moderate in thy pace and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass." 3604
Do ye not see that Allah has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth and has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure (both) seen and unseen? Yet there are among men those who dispute about Allah without knowledge and without guidance and without a Book to enlighten them! 3605 3606 3607
When they are told to follow the (revelation) that Allah has sent down they say: "Nay we shall follow the ways that we found our fathers (following)." What! even if it is Satan beckoning them to the Penalty of the (Blazing) Fire! 3608
Whoever submits his whole self to Allah and is a doer of good has grasped indeed the most trustworthy hand-hold: and with Allah rests the End and Decision of (all) affairs. 3609 3610
But if any reject Faith let not his rejection grieve thee: to Us is their return and We shall tell them the truth of their deeds: for Allah knows well all that is in (men's) hearts. 3611
We grant them their pleasure for a little while: in the end shall We drive them to a chastisement unrelenting. 3612
If thou ask them who it is that created the heavens and the earth they will certainly say "Allah." Say: "Praise be to Allah!" But most of them understand not. 3613 3614
To Allah belong all things in heaven and earth: verily Allah is He (that is) free of all wants worthy of all praise. 3615
And if all the trees on earth were pens and the Ocean (were ink) with seven Oceans behind it to add to its (supply) yet would not the Words of Allah be exhausted (in the writing): for Allah is Exalted in power Full of Wisdom. 3616
And your creation or your resurrection is in no wise but as an individual soul: for Allah is He Who hears and sees (all things). 3617
Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and He merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His Law) each running its course for a term appointed: and that Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do? 3618
That is because Allah is the (only) Reality and because whatever else they invoke besides Him is Falsehood; and because Allah He is the Most High Most Great. 3619
Seest thou not that the ships sail through the Ocean by the grace of Allah? That He may show you of His Signs? Verily in this are Signs for all who constantly persevere and give thanks. 3620
When a wave covers them like the canopy (of clouds) they call to Allah offering Him sincere devotion. But when He has delivered them safely to land there are among them those that halt between (right and wrong). But none reject Our Signs except only a perfidious ungrateful (wretch)! 3621 3622
O mankind! do your duty to your Lord and fear (the coming of) a Day when no father can avail aught for his son nor a son avail aught for his father. Verily the promise of Allah is true: let not then this present life deceive you nor let the Chief Deceiver deceive you about Allah. 3623 3624
Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does anyone know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: nor does anyone know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things). 3625 3626 3627
See n. 25 to ii. 1 and Introduction to S. xxx.
This Sura relates to Wisdom, and the Qur-an is appropriately called the Wise Book, or the Book of Wisdom. In verse 12 below there is a reference to Luqman the Wise. "Wise" in this sense (Hakim) means not only a man versed in knowledge human and divine, but one carrying out in practical conduct ('amal) the right course in life to the utmost of his power. His knowledge is correct and practical, but not necessarily complete: for no man is perfect. Such an ideal involves the conception of a man of heroic action as well as of deep and workman-like knowledge of nature and human nature,-not merely dreams or speculation. That ideal was fulfilled in a most remarkable degree in the holy Prophet, and in the sacred Book which was revealed through him. "The Wise Book" (Kilab-ul-hakim) is one of the titles of the Qur-an.
A guide to all, and, to those who accept its guidance, a source of mercy as leading them to Salvation.
The righteous are distinguished here by three marks, which are summed up in the phrase "doers of good", viz.: (1) they yearn towards Allah in duty, love, and prayer, (2) they love and serve their fellow-men in charity, (3) they win peace and rest for themselves in the assured hope of the Future.
They get these blessings because they submit their will to Allah's Will and receive His guidance. They will do well in this life (from the highest standpoint) and they will reach their true Goal in the Future.
Life is taken seriously by men who realize the issues that hang upon it. But there are men of a frivolous turn of mind who prefer idle tales to true Realities and they are justly rebuked here. In the time of the holy Prophet there was a pagan Nadhr ibn al-Harith who preferred Persian romances to the Message of Allah, and turned away ignorant men from the preaching of Allah's Word.
Such men behave as if they had heard nothing of serious import, or laugh at serious teaching. The loss will be their own. They will miss the higher things of life and be left out of Allah's blessings. Ignorance and arrogance are in most cases the causes of their fall.
He is Exalted in power, and can carry out His Will, and nothing can stop the carrying out of His promise. He is also infinitely Wise: His promise is therefore full of meaning: it is not merely without purpose: it has a place in the Universal Plan.
Cf. xiii. 2 and n. 1800.
Cf. xvi. 15 and n. 2038.
Cf. ii. 164 and n. 166.
Note the change of the pronoun at this stage in the verse. Before this, Allah was spoken of in the third person, "He", and the acts of Creation referred to were acts that in the main were completed when the universe as we see it came into being, though its slow age-long evolution continues. After this, Allah speaks in the first person "We", the plural of honor, as explained before (see n. 56 to ii. 38); and the processes spoken of are those that go on continually before us, as in the case of rain and the growth of the vegetable kingdom. In some way the creation of the heavens and the earth and animal life on it may be considered impersonal to man, while the processes of rain and vegetation may be considered in special personal relationship to him.
I think that sex life in plants is referred to, as in xiii. 3, where see n. 1804, though the pairs here may refer to animals also. "Noble" (karim) may refer to the more beneficent plants and trees (and animals), which Allah has created for man's use.
The transition from "We" in the last verse to "Me" in this verse means a still more personal relation to Allah:(see n. 56 to ii. 38): as we are now asked about the true worship of Allah, as against the false worship of others besides Allah.
The sage Luqman, after whom this Sura is called, belongs to Arab tradition. Very little is known of his life. He is usually associated with a long life, and his title is Mu'ammar (the long-lived). He is referred by some to the age of the 'Ad people, for whom see n. 1040 to vii. 65. He is the type of perfect wisdom. It is said that he belonged to a humble station in life, being a slave or a carpenter, and that he refused worldly power and a kingdom. Many instructive apologies are credited to him, similar to Aesop's Fables in Greek tradition. The identification of Luqman and Aesop has no historical foundation, though it is true that the traditions about them have influenced each other.
Cf. xiv. 8. The basis of the moral Law is man's own good, and not any benefit to Allah, for Allah is above all needs, and "worthy of all praise"; i.e., even in praising Him, we do not advance His glory. When we obey His Will, we bring our position into conformity with our own nature as made by Him.
Luqman is held up as a pattern of wisdom, because he realized the best in a wise life in this world, as based upon the highest Hope in the inner life. To him, as in Islam, true human wisdom is also divine wisdom: the two cannot be separated. The beginning of all wisdom, therefore, is conformity with the Will of Allah (xxxi. 12). That means that we must understand our relations to Him and worship Him aright (xxxi. 13). Then we must be good to mankind, beginning with our own parents (xxxi. 14). For the two duties are not diverse, but one. Where they appear to conflict, there is something wrong with the human will (see n. 3597).
The set of milk teeth in a human child is completed at the age of two years, which is therefore the natural extreme limit for breast-feeding. In our artificial life the duration is much less.
Where the duty to man conflicts with the duty to Allah, it means that there is something wrong with the human will, and we should obey Allah rather than man. But even here, it does not mean that we should be arrogant or insolent. To parents and those in authority, we must be kind, considerate, and courteous, even where they command things which we should not do and therefore disobedience becomes our highest duty. The worship of things other than Allah is the worship of false things, things which are alien to our true knowledge, things that go against our own pure nature as created by Allah.
In any apparent conflict of duties our standard should be Allah's Will, as declared to us by His command. That is the way of those who love Allah: and their motive in disobedience to parents or human authority where disobedience is necessary by Allah's Law is not self willed rebellion or defiance, but love of Allah, which means the true love of man in the highest sense of the word. And the reason we should give is: "Both you and I have to return to Allah; therefore not only must I follow Allah's Will, but you must command nothing against Allah's Will."
These conflicts may appear to us strange and puzzling in this life. But in Allah's Presence we shall see their real meaning and significance. It may be that that was one way in which our true mettle could be tested: for it is not easy to disobey and love man at the same time.
Verses 14-15 are not the direct speech of Luqman but flow by way of commentary on his teaching. He was speaking as a father to his son, and he could not very well urge respect for himself and draw the son's attention to the limitations of filial obedience. These verses may be supposed to be general directions flowing from Luqman's teaching to men, and not directed to his son; though in either case, as Luqman got wisdom from Allah, it is divine principles that are enunciated.
The mustard-seed is proverbially a small, minute thing, that people may ordinarily pass by. Not so Allah. Further emphasis is laid by supposing the mustard-seed to be hidden beneath a rock or in the cleft of a rock, or to be lost in the spacious expanse of the earth or of the heavens. To Allah everything is known, and He will bring it forth, i. e., take account of it.
For Latif as a title applied to Allah, see n. 2844 to xxii. 63.
The word "cheek" in English, too, means arrogance or effrontery, with a slightly different shade added, viz.: effrontery from one in an inferior position to one in a superior position. The Arabic usage is wider, and includes smug self-satisfaction and a sense of lofty Superiority.
The "Golden Mean" is the pivot of the philosophy of Luqman as it is of the philosophy of Aristotle and indeed of Islam. And it flows naturally from a true understanding of our relation to Allah and His universe and to our fellow-creatures, especially man. In all things be moderate. Do not go the pace, and do not be stationary or slow. Do not be talkative and do not be silent. Do not be loud and do not be timid or half-hearted. Do not be too confident, and do not be cowed down. If you have patience, it is to give you constancy and determination, that you may bravely carry on the struggle of life. If you have humility, it is to save you from unseemly swagger, not to curb your right spirit and your reasoned determination.
Allah's Creation is independent of man. But Allah, in His infinite mercy, has given man the faculty to subdue the forces of nature and to penetrate through high mysteries with his powers of reason and insight. But this is not merely a question of power. For in His Universal Plan, all are safeguarded. But man's destiny, as far as we can see, is noble to the highest degree.
Allah's grace and bounties work for us at all times. Sometimes we see them, and sometimes we do not. In things which we can apprehend with our senses, we can see Allah's grace, but even in them, sometimes it works beyond the sphere of our knowledge. In the inner or spiritual world, sometimes, when our vision is clear, we can see it working, and often we are not conscious of it. But it works all the same.
Such men lack knowledge, as they make no use of their intellects but are swayed by their passions; they lack guidance, as they are impatient of control; and the fruits of revelation, or spiritual insight, do not reach them, as they reject Faith and Revelation.
They do not realize that in the spiritual world, as in the physical world, there is constant progress for the live ones: they are spiritually dead, as they are content to stand on ancestral ways, many of them evil, and leading to perdition.
Cf. ii. 256 and n. 301.
Cf. xxii. 41. Everything goes back to Allah. He is our final Goal, as He is the final Goal of all things.
The man of God should not grieve because people reject Faith. He should do his duty and leave the rest to Allah. Every soul must return to Allah for his reckoning. Allah knows everything, and His Universal Plan is full of wisdom.
Cf ii. 126. The respite in this life is of short duration. The ultimate Penalty of Evil is such as cannot be quenched. Cf. xiv. 17. It will be too late then to repent.
Cf xxiii. 84-89, and xxix. 61 and n. 3493. Men will acknowledge that Allah created the heavens and the earth, and yet fail to understand the love and goodness of Allah in continuing to cherish and maintain them with His gifts. Even if they allow this, they sometimes yet fall short of the corollary, that He is the only One to be worshipped, and run after their own false gods in the shapes of their fancies and lusts. They do not do the duties which, if they rightly understood their own nature and position, they should take a delight in doing.
This ejaculation expresses our satisfaction that at least this is recognized, that the Creator of the whole world is Allah. It is a pity that they do not go further and recognize other facts and duties (see the last note).
Cf. above, xxxi. 12. There was begun the argument about showing gratitude to Allah, introducing Luqman's teaching and philosophy. Such gratitude is shown by our understanding His love and doing our duty to Him by serving our fellow-men. For Allah Himself is Free from all wants and is in no way dependent on our service. That argument has been illustrated in various ways. But now we are told that it can never be completed, for no human tongue or human resources can be adequate either to praise him or to expound His Word.
"Words of Allah": his wonderful Signs and Commandments are infinite and cannot be expressed if all the trees were made into pens, and all the wide Ocean, multiplied seven times, were made into ink. Any Book of His Revelation would deal with matters which man can understand and use in his life: there are things that man can never fathom. Nor would any praise that we could write with infinite resources be adequate to describe His power, glory, and wisdom.
Allah's greatness and infinitude are such that He can create and cherish not only a whole mass, but each individual soul, and He can follow its history and doings until the final Judgment. This shows not only Allah's glory and Omniscience and Omnipotence: it also shows the value of each individual soul in His eyes, and lifts individual responsibility right up into relations with Him.
Cf. xxii. 61 and n. 2841. Even when we can form a conception of Allah's infinitude by His dealings with each individual in His Creation as in verse 28 above, it is still inadequate. What is an individual himself? What is his relation to the universal Laws of Allah? In outer nature we can see that there is no clear-cut line between night and day: each merges into the other. Yet the sun and moon obey definite laws. Though they seem to go on for ever, yet their existence and duration themselves are but an atom in Allah's great universe. How much more "merging" and imperceptible gradation there is in the inner and spiritual world? Our actions themselves cannot be classified and ticketed and labelled when examined in relation to motives and circumstances. Yet they are like an open book before Allah.
Cf. xxii. 62 and note 2842 and 2843. All the wonderful complexities, gradations, and nuances, that we find in Creation, are yet blended in one harmonious whole, that obeys Law and exemplifies Order. They therefore point to the One True God. He is the only Eternal Reality. Anything put up in competition or equality with Him is only Falsehood. For He is higher and greater than anything we can imagine.
Even the things that man makes are, as using the forces of Nature, evidence of the grace of Allah, Who has subdued these wonderful forces to the use of man. But this gift of mastery can only be understood and appreciated by constant perseverance, combined with a recognition of the divine gifts ("giving thanks"). Sabbar is an intensive form from sabr and I have indicated it by the adverb "constantly".
Cf. vii. 29. Unlike the people mentioned in the last verse, who constantly seek Allah's help and give thanks for His mercies by using them aright and doing their duty, there is a class of men whose worship is merely inspired by terror. When they are in physical danger-the only kind of danger they appreciate,-e.g., in a storm at sea, they genuinely think of Allah. But once the danger is past, they become indifferent or wish to appear good while dallying with evil. See next verse.
They halt between two opinions. They are not against good, but they will not eschew evil. They are a contrast to those who "constantly persevere and give thanks". But such an attitude amounts really to "perfidious ingratitude".
On the Day of Reckoning no one can help another. The most loving father cannot help his son or be a substitute for him, and vice versa. Each will have his own personal responsibilities.
The Chief Deceiver is Satan. It may make us forget that Time is fleeting and delude us by suggesting that the Reckoning may not come, whereas it is certain to come, because Allah's promise is true. We must not play with Time nor be deceived by appearances. The Day may come to-day or to-morrow or when we least expect it.
The question of Knowledge or Mystery governs both clauses here, viz.: Rain and Wombs. In fact it governs all the five things mentioned in this verse: viz. (1) the Hour; (2) Rain; (3) the Birth of a new Life (Wombs); (4) our Physical Life from day to day; (5) our Death. See n. 3627 below. As regards Rain we are asked to contemplate how and when it is sent down. The moisture may be sucked up by the sun's heat in the Arabian Sea or the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean near East Africa, or in the Lake Region in Central Africa. The winds drive it hither and thither across thousands of miles, or it may be, only short distances. "The wind bloweth where it listeth." No doubt it obeys certain physical Laws established by Allah, but how these Laws are interlocked, one with another! Meteorology, gravity, hydrostatics and dynamics, climatology, hygrometry, and a dozen other sciences are involved, and no man can completely master all of them, and yet this relates to only one of the millions of facts in physical nature, which are governed by Allah's Knowledge and Law. The whole vegetable kingdom is primarily affected by Rain. The mention of Wombs brings in the mystery of animal Life, Embryology, Sex, and a thousand other things. Who can tell-to take man alone-how long it will remain in the womb, whether it will be born alive, what sort of a new individual it will be,-a blessing or a curse to its parents, or to Society?
"Earn" here, as elsewhere, means not only "earn one's livelihood" in a physical sense, but also to reap the consequences (good or ill) of one's conduct generally. The whole sentence practically means; "no man knows what the morrow may bring forth."
See the five Mysteries summed up in n. 3625 above. The argument is about the mystery of Time and Knowledge. We are supposed to know things in ordinary life. But what does that knowledge amount to in reality? Only a superficial acquaintance with things. And Time is even more uncertain. In the case of rain, which causes vegetable life to spring up, or in the case of new animal life, can we answer with precision questions as to When or How or Wherefore? So about questions of our life from day to day or of our death. These are great mysteries, and full knowledge is with Allah only. How much more so in the case of the Ma'ad, the Final House, when all true values will be restored and the balance redressed? It is certain, but the When and the How are known to Allah alone.