And whatsoever He has created for you on this earth of varying colors [and qualities from vegetation and fruits, etc. (botanical life) and from animal (zoological life)]. Verily! In this is a sign for people who remember. The Holy Quran 16:13

Fundamentals of Wisdom in Light of Surat Luqman - Part 2

Transcript of the Friday Sermon delivered by Dr. Munawar Haque on Dec 02, 2016

Brothers and sisters! Today’s khutba is a continuation (i.e., Part 2) of my previous khutba on the fundamentals of wisdom in light of verses 12 to 19 of Surat Luqman. We had discussed verse 12 of this surah and seen how man using his pure nature guided by human reasoning in the right direction, begins to reach the universal truths and realities of this universe. Today’s discussion will focus on verses 13 to 16 of this surah.

وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ

“When Luqman said to his son, counseling him, ´My son, do not associate anything with Allah. Associating others with Him is zulm (a terrible wrong).” (Luqman, 31:13).

The word Zulm literally means placing a thing where it does not belong. It also means committing wrong or injustice. When the verse 6 of Surat al-An’am was revealed, and the verse says,

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ

“It is those who have faith, and do not mix their faith with wrongdoing, that will be secure, and it is they who are rightly guided” (al-An’am, 6:82), the companions of the Prophet (SAW) got extremely concerned because this basically meant that only those people who believe and then don’t pollute their belief with any form of zulm or wrong doing will be entitled to peace, tranquility, and security. 

They approached the Prophet (SAW) and said to him that there was none among them who did not commit any wrong. The Prophet (SAW) made it clear that zulm here meant associating others with Allah (i.e., shirk), as is mentioned in Surat Luqman, إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ “Associating others with Allah is a terrible wrong” (Luqman, 31:13).

Committing shirk is the biggest injustice. Such was the advice that the wise Luqman was giving to his son by way of a will or wasiyyah. He was passing on to his son the wisdom that Allah had granted him. Since Allah is free of all needs, what good could be done to Allah for His countless blessings and bounties? It is not possible to praise and thank Him enough for what He has blessed us with. There is nothing that we can return to Him other than to submit to Him and not associate partners with Him. We should never downgrade Him to the level of creatures or elevate creatures to His level. Allah (SWT) is one and unique in every respect.

There is nothing like Him. Any figment of imagination regarding the Essence and Being of Allah and comparing Him with anyone or anything is completely ruled out.    

 لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْبَصِيرُ

“There is nothing like Him: He is the All Hearing, the All Seeing” (al-Shura, 42:11).

It is important to understand that theoretically, there could be two types of arguments against shirk. Firstly, Allah has not revealed in any of His scriptures to associate anything or anyone in His Godhood (Uluhiyyah) or Lordship (Rububiyyah). Had He done so, humans would have been obliged to worship them too. Allah asks the Prophet (SAW) to declare, 

قُلْ إِن كَانَ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ وَلَدٌ فَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْعَابِدِينَ

“Say, If the All-Merciful had a son, I would be the first to worship him” (al-Zukhraf, 43:81).

Secondly, there is no intellectual argument that can support shirk. This whole universe is centrally controlled; one wisdom, one planning, and one mind at work. And, with the advance of science, we now know more thoroughly about the universe being one integrated organic whole. This is why we are commanded not to associate anything or anyone about which we have neither knowledge nor proof, with Allah (SWT).

Just after Luqman advises his son to commit himself to tawhid and to refrain from shirk, Allah (SWT) enjoins man regarding his parents.

وَوَصَّيْنَا الإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

“We have commanded man to care for his parents. His mother carried him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; all will return to Me.” (Luqman, 31:14).

There is an observable pattern found in the Qur’an that the command to fulfill the rights of Allah is usually followed immediately by the command to fulfill the rights of one’s parents. Among the rights due to people (Huqooq ul-‘Ibad), parents deserve the highest level of respect, regard, obedience and gratefulness from their children. In his modesty, Luqman did not tell his son about being grateful to his parents. It was Allah who injected this note to tell Luqman’s son and others that they should be good to their parents.

We should always keep in mind the favors they have done for us. They looked after us. They sacrificed their rest and comfort for our sake; they worked hard to feed us. They looked after us when we were sick. So we have to be thankful to them. We should try to reciprocate their favors with best of our abilities, love and affection. Allah is the Creator and Sustainer. He created our parents; so ultimate gratitude is for Him. We should be grateful to Allah (SWT) by not doing shirk and then we should be thankful to our parents by treating them in the best possible way. When it comes to the question of obedience, it is primarily to Allah and to His messenger, but when there is a question of being grateful and thankful, it comes down directly after Allah to the parents. Verse 83 of Surat al-Baqarah says,

وَإِذْ أَخَذْنَا مِيثَاقَ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ لا تَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّهَ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا

 “Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and show kindness to your parents” (al-Isra’, 17:23).

While enjoining man to treat both his parents kindly, the mother’s role of carrying the child in her womb and breast-feeding it are highlighted in verse 14 of Surat Luqman.  As pregnancy proceeds, the mother begins to experience weakness because the embryo feeds on her blood. Her energy gets sapped and sucked out from within by the embryo which is developing in her womb. After her child’s birth, she suckles it. The weaning period is two years.  She has to undergo all these hardships for her child’s sake. That is why the rights of the mother as compared to the rights of the father are much greater on the children.

It is reported that a person came to Allah’s Messenger (SAW) and asked, “Who among the people is most deserving of a fine treatment from me?” He said, “Your mother” The man again asked, “Who next?” “Your mother,” replied the Prophet (SAW). The man asked, “Who next?” The Prophet (SAW) again said, “Your mother.” The man again asked, “Then who?” Thereupon the Prophet peace be upon him said, “Then your father.”

During the Meccan period of the Prophethood of Muhammad (SAW), it so happened that some parents who had not embraced Islam were very annoyed with their children who had embraced Islam. The parents asserted their rights over their children and demanded them to abandon Islam and come back to the pagan deen of their forefathers. For the youth who had become Muslims, it was a very challenging situation that called for resolving a conflict between the rights of Allah and the rights of parents.  Should they obey their parents and be grateful to them by acceding to their request or should they decline their parent’ request and remain firm on Islam?

Revelations came to the effect that children should not obey their parents if they were compelled by them to commit shirk with Allah. They should keep on following the path of those who had turned towards Allah. However, they were instructed to keep on being good and kind to their parents in worldly matters. This is addressed in verse 15 of Surat Luqman.

  وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“But if they compel you to  associate with me of which you have no knowledge or proof, then don’t obey them, but keep their company in this world with kindness, and follow the path of those only who have turned towards me” (Luqman, 31:15). This makes it clear that if there are two conflicting rights such as the right of parents conflicting with the right of Allah, then Allah's right take precedence over the parents’ right. Allah’s right is supreme over all other rights.

أَقُولُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللَّهَ لِي وَلَكُمْ وَلِسَائِرِ المُسْلِمينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتْ فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهْ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ 

الحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على سيد المرسلين وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين

In verse16 of the surah, Luqman goes on to advise his son, and says, 

يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِنْ تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُنْ فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ

“My son, even if something weighs as little as a mustard-seed and is inside a rock or anywhere else in the heavens or earth, Allah will bring it out. Allah is subtle and All-Aware” (Luqman, 31:16). The reference here is being made to the smallest possible good or bad action that will be brought forth despite it being hidden in any conceivable place—in a rock or in the heavens or in the earth. The smallness of the size of the action has been likened to the smallness of a grain of mustard seed that in those times, when the Qur’an was being revealed, was considered to be the minutest thing possible. We are told in Surat al-Dhariyat that man will see his smallest possible evil or good deed on the Day of Judgment.

فَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًا يَرَهُ () وَمَنْ يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ شَرًّا يَرَهُ ()

“Whoever has done an atom’s-weight of good will see it; while whoever has done an atom´s weight of evil will see it” (al-Zalzalah, 99:7-8). Human deeds will not go unaccounted for, howsoever small they might be and wherever they might have been committed. Allah is Latif means He is subtle and sublime; knowing all subtleties, however insignificant, small or hidden they might be. Allah is Khabeer means He is aware of everything.

Man by his very nature knows what is good and what is evil. He knows that to speak the truth is good, and to tell a lie is evil. Similarly fulfilling an agreement is good and backing out of it or breaching it is bad.  Behaving well with one’s neighbor is good and behaving otherwise is bad. This shows that the basic moral and ethical values are known to human nature. The good is pleasant and acceptable to human nature while evil is unacceptable and unpleasant to human nature.

May Allah give us the tawfiq to take heed and live by the teachings of Islam. 


بَارَكَ اللهُ لِي وَلَكُمْ فِي الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِيْمِ. وَنَفَعَنِي وَاِيِّاكُمْ بِمَا فِيْهِ مِنَ الآيَاتِ وَالذِّكْرِ الْحَكِيْمِ