Exposition of the Holy Quran – 31 Luqmaan (G A Parwez)
Surah 31: Luqmaan (1)
(Luqman, the Wise)
(1) Allah the all-knowing, all-wise says:
(2) These laws are from the code of life which is an embodiment of wisdom.
(3) This book contains, guidance towards a straight path for those who are desirous of spending their lives in a balanced and graceful manner, and presents means for the development of their human abilities.
(4) These are the people who establish a system wherein everyone obeys the divine laws, and which provides sustenance to all the human beings. The only people who can establish such a system are those who have implicit faith that there is life after this worldly life, deserve to live that life, and acquire the capability of progressing further through providing means of nourishment to others, as required by the divine laws (2:2-4).
(5) They follow the right path as guided by their Rabb; and they will attain a happy state and flourish (2:5).
(6) On the other hand, there are people who do not have before them any higher objective in life, and they consider this worldly life and its temporary comforts as an end in itself. In this manner, without having any knowledge or wisdom they themselves go astray and also lead other people away from the right path. They ridicule the higher values of life and the path leading towards them. These are the people whose end will be a very humiliating chastisement.
(7) Their condition is such that whenever the divine laws are presented to one of them, he turns away in extreme arrogance, as if his ears are plugged and he has heard nothing. Caution them that such an attitude will bring them grievous chastisement.
(8) On the contrary, those who are confident of the truth of Our laws and do righteous deeds to rectify human problems, shall have a life full of comfort, ease and joy, both here in this world as well as in the hereafter,
(9) This is the promise of Allah. It will appear forth to you as an absolute reality, because He alone is Almighty and His decisions are based on wisdom. Therefore, no one can dare stop it being fulfilled, or retard His plans.
(10) If you want to estimate His powers and the wisdom behind all His flawless planning, just take a look at the universe and observe how wonderfully He has placed huge celestial bodies in outer space without any visible columns. Furthermore, he has set huge mountains on earth, in spite of which it continues to rotate at its speed and you abide therein with comfort (16:15). Also, He has distributed various kinds of living creatures on earth; and He brings down rain from the clouds and grows all kinds of splendid things on it.
(11) Tell them, “This entire universe has been created by Allah Almighty. If according to your fabricated claim someone else also has similar powers, show me what they have created.” The fact is that the people, who do not keep such matters in their proper places, are most likely to commit blunders which do not need any evidence to disprove them. (If you keep the creator and the creations in their respective places, then nothing will go wrong.)
(12) We provided Luqman with the illuminating wisdom to ponder over the universe in the light of divine guidance, and thus draw correct conclusions. This was to enable him to immensely appreciate Allah’s bounties. Appreciation means spending the Almighty’s bounties according to the divine laws; and the abilities of whoever does so will receive full development. The one who goes against the divine laws himself suffers, for it brings no harm to Allah. His laws do not need any outside help to produce results. His system, with its in-built forces, continues to produce such wonderful results that it begets involuntary appreciation from all discerning persons.
(13) Luqman himself followed the divine laws and also advised his progeny to do so. He told his son, while explaining to him the philosophy and wisdom behind these laws, “O my son! (The first and foremost principle over which the whole edifice of human thought exists, is that) Do not associate anyone with the powers and authority of Allah. You should obey and follow the rule of Allah alone. Remember that when you associate anyone else with Allah, it means that you bring Allah down from His high stature, and raise the status of all other non-divine powers. This is highly unjust.” (Whatever powers to which man gives the status of God are either natural phenomenon or other human beings. All natural phenomena have been subjugated to man; and all human beings are equal. Therefore, accepting the superiority of another human being or a natural phenomenon is actually the degradation of a human being himself. So, you should never do that.)
(14) (Going further, you should consider mutual human relations. Animals do a lot when taking care of their offspring; but when the offspring grows up it does not even recognize its parents. Such should not be the case in human life. Therefore) Allah has directed man regarding his parents. (They should be given loving care because) His mother bore him while she herself became weaker. Then she suckled and nourished him for a period of two years (2:233, 46:15). Whereas man’s creation is dependent on Our law, his nourishment is also no less due to parental care. So, he should be grateful to Us as well as to his parents. Although all this happens according to Our laws (that is the embryo is formed and its growth is as per these laws), those who contribute to the means of his growth must also be rewarded. This is the need of human society.
(15) While emphasising kindness and love for parents, we also told human beings that if they try to force you to ascribe partners to Me, then do not obey them as such an attitude is based on ignorance. The fact is that there is none in the universe who can share any authority with God (29:8). You should have a very kind and affectionate relationship with them in worldly affairs, but follow the path of the one whose every step turns towards Me. Remember that you are answerable before the Almighty for every action of yours. Only He will tell you of the outcome your deeds have brought you to. (It is His Law of Mukafat which determines the results of your deeds.)
(16) Then Luqman said to his son, “O my son! Allah’s Law of Mukafat is so strong that if any action of yours is equal in size to a grain of mustard seed which is hidden in a rock anywhere in the heavens or on earth, it will be brought to light. Behold! That law knows the most minute details of everything and is fully aware of everyone’s actions.”
(17) Luqman also told him to establish the system of sala and enjoin doing what is right according to divine guidance (wahi); to forbid what it considers opprobrious; and to always stay steadfast when facing difficulties and hardships during the enforcement of this system. Remember that showing firmness in purpose during hardship and adversity requires a lot of courage and resolution.
(18) And do not treat people with contempt; and when dealing with them do not adopt an attitude that shows arrogance and insolence (17:37). Remember that Allah does not approve of the one who, out of conceit, acts in a boastful manner (53:23).
(19) Be modest in your bearing and do not shout. Keep your voice low, as you know that the most repulsive and ugliest voice is that of a donkey, which sounds so harsh to listeners.
(20) These were the conclusions reached by Luqman after pondering over his inner world and the world beyond. (O Rasool! Tell the people that the universe is also like an open book before you.) Don’t you see how, to benefit you, Allah has made everything in the universe subservient to His laws? The purpose is to provide in abundance, the means of nourishment for your development. These may be available either in a perceptible form or in the form of hidden forces. (But your complete development is not possible with material things only. It also needs divine guidance, wahi, which has been provided to you in the Qur’an, in a complete and final form.) But still there are people who argue (when asked to follow the wahi; even as they continue to take full advantage of material things.) They do so without reflecting or using wisdom. Neither do they seek guidance which ensues from a deep study of the universal system, nor do they have any code based on divine revelation. Theirs is sheer blind following of their ancestors, on the basis of which they defy the guidance provided by wahi.
(21) Hence when they are asked to follow what Allah has revealed, they say, “Nay, we shall only follow the path tread by our forefathers”, even if that path has been devised by Satan and leads them to suffering which can burn everything to ashes.
(22) (And remember! The straight path is not that which people should tread blindfolded, imitating their forefathers.) The right course is that on which one keeps his attitudes, ambitions and requirements subjected to the divine laws, and in this way leads a balanced and graceful life. Such a person has grasped the most trustworthy support which will never fail him (2:256), because everything in the universe happens according to the divine laws. (It is just not possible that anything would go wrong for a person who takes guidance from those laws.)
(23) (This is the right path of life and whoever traverses it will certainly reach his destination.) You should not get upset or worried about the attitude of whoever rejects it (as it will harm only himself.) Everyone is answerable to Our Law of Mukafat and the results of their deeds are formulated according to that law. Thus on the day of disclosure (of the results) they will themselves realize the sort of deeds they had been doing. Allah’s Law of Mukafat is fully aware, even of the secrets hidden in their hearts.
(24) (It needs to be understood that there is a time gap between actions and their resultant effects.) So let these people enjoy themselves during this short period of respite, for in the end We shall drive them towards the most unrelenting chastisement.
(25) The situation is such that if you ask them about the creator of the heavens and the earth, they will surely answer, “It is Allah.” However, when you ask them, “If everything in the outer universe is functioning according to the divine laws, why don’t you introduce these laws in your own society,” they will not agree to this. Tell them, “Whether it is the outer universe or your own social set-up, the law which deserves all appreciation and praise is that of Allah alone.” But most people do not use their intellect and reason and remain unaware of this fact (29:61).
(26) Tell them that His law is in force everywhere in the heavens and on the earth. Everything in the universe is busy fulfilling the programme ordained by Him. (Thus if He commands you to also keep your system subjected to the control of His laws, it is not because some of His programme has run into problems and He needs your help. This, in fact, is in your own interest.) He is all-sufficient. Can you see how everything in the universe is living proof, expressing praise and appreciation of His Nizam-e-Rabubiyya?
(27) The limitlessness of the universe and the divine laws is such that even if all the trees on the earth become pens and the existing oceans turn into ink, with many more added to them, they will not be sufficient to encompass all His laws (18:109). Not only are these laws forceful enough to keep this huge universe in discipline and control, they are also logical and based on wisdom. They are not being applied blindly.
(28) You can imagine how all-encompassing and limitless His laws are. The creation and resurrection of all human beings since the beginning is to Him like (the creation and resurrection of) a single soul. (And it does not end there. He continues to be) All-hearing, all-seeing. (You see individuals separately, while He sees mankind in its entirety. You see parts, while He sees the whole.)
(29) Just as your limited vision sees individuals separately and not humanity at large, you see every event on its own and not as a single, indivisible whole. For instance, you see night as one unit and day as another; but you do not reflect on how Allah’s law (of rotation) merges the night into day and the day into night. (Thus day and night become one indivisible unit.) Like the rotation of day and night, He has also subjected the sun and the moon to His laws, each running its course for a set term (13:2).
Similarly, His Law of Mukafat is always active and is fully aware of all that you do.
(30) This is so because Allah, Himself, is the absolute reality. All that He has created is also based on reality and is for producing positive and concrete results. Whatever you invoke besides Him, or consider sovereign and authoritative, is sheer falsehood. As a matter of fact the divine law is so sublime, exalted and supreme, that no other law can reach such heights.
(31) Can you not see how boats (and large ships) sail through the seas, laden with bounties produced according to His laws?
The functioning of divine laws can be similarly seen in every corner of the universe. However, only those who observe and study these things steadfastly can see it. Their untiring efforts can also certainly bear fruit in a like manner.
(32) (On one side is this external universe which keeps functioning strictly in accordance with the divine laws. It never happens that anything within it changes course of its own accord. If ever this were to happen, the system would not function even for a single day. On the other side is man, who never adheres to any one principle but keeps changing every moment. Take the example of a boat, which sails according to certain principles. However, the state of the people who travel in the boat is such that) If the furious waves engulf them from all sides, they start calling unto Allah in a very sincere and devoted manner, as if all their obedience is exclusively for Him alone; but the moment they are safely ashore, some of them stay moderate, while others openly reject His laws. The only people who behave in this way are those who hesitate to do hard labour and who want to live on deceit and craft. Therefore, they want the divine law to remain hidden (because living an honest life according to the divine laws requires a lot of integrity and hard labour).
(33) O mankind! You should always remain conscious of the divine laws and safeguard them. Dread the day when the result of your deeds will come before you. In the plight of the day neither the father will be of avail to the son nor will the son be in a position to render any help to the father. Remember that the divine Law of Mukafat is unalterable and as such do not let worldly gains delude you. All those people who want to waylay you will do their best in various ways. Beware of all their craft and tactics, lest they succeed in making you deviate from Allah’s ways!
(34) It is Allah alone Who knows when the last hour will come (although the process of compiling results continues all the time). Consider the rain for instance; although it pours down at a particular time, its process had actually started quite sometime before. Also, take the example of the birth of a child. While the birth takes place at a particular time, the child has earlier gone through various stages in the mother’s womb, and all these stages are in Allah’s knowledge.
(This knowledge can be acquired by you. But Allah Almighty knows so much more which is beyond your comprehension.) No one knows what is in store for him the next day, or where he will breathe his last; whereas Allah is all-knowing, all-aware. (Therefore, God knows when the day of decisions will be. You must believe that it will definitely come.)
(1) Who was Luqman? See Glossary item 71.
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