Friday 21 June 2019

Surah Luqman: Exegesis / Tafseer of 31st Chapter of the Holy Quran

Surah Luqman is the seventieth surah with 34 ayahs with 4 rukus, part of the 21st Juzʼ  of the Holy Qur'an. The Surah has been named Luqman after Luqman the Sage, whose admonitions to his son have been related in verses 12-19 of this Surah. According to Islamic traditional chronology (asbāb al-nuzūl), this surah was revealed in the middle of Muhammad's Meccan period, and is thus usually classified as a Meccan surah.

The surah was revealed at a time when the prosecution of Muslims was at its height and the young Muslims were asked that while they should respect their parents in every aspect, the should disobey them if they tried to lead them away from Islam, or compelled them to revert to the creed of shirk and polytheism. The same thing has been said in Surah Al-Ankabut, which indicates that both these Surahs were sent down in the same period. A study of the style and subject matter of the two Surahs on the whole, however, shows that Surah Luqman was sent down earlier, for one does not see any sign of the antagonism in its background though, contrary to this, while studying Surah Al-Ankabut one can clearly feel that the Muslims were being severely persecuted during the period of its revelation. The disbelievers have also been warned about the consequences of their actions and Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, told not to be saddened by their actions.

The focus of this sura, once broken down into its many elements, can be seen as emphasizing principles of moderation. The sura uses the mustard seed analogy to emphasize the degree to which God maintains his purview over man's actions, possibly emphasizing the fact that any evil or good deed no matter how small is recorded and will be brought out by Allah during the day of judgement.

A final point of focus for Surah Luqman comes down to the purpose of Allah's creation. It is stressed how Allah's intention through creation was to better mankind, and His signs are theoretically everywhere, from rain to vegetation. This emphasis once again reminds people of their subservience to Allah while also driving home the idea that man is meant to do good on the Earth. Man's purpose is to serve Allah, while the Earth has been created in order to facilitate man's needs.

Let us now read the translation and exegesis / tafseer in English of the Surah segmented into portions as per the subject matter. For Arabic Text, please refer to the references given at the end and may also listen to its recitation in Arabic with English subtitles:

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
Rukhu 1 [1-11]
Verses 1-11: The Surah opens with a description of the believers and strongly condemns those who attempt to lead others astray And the initial verses are about the Al Quran, "The" Book of Wisdom, a Guide and a Blessing for the Righteous:
1. Alif-Lam-Mim. الٓمّٓ‏ 
[These disjoined letters are one of the miracles of the Qur'an, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings - see our earlier post for details: Understanding the Holy Quran: Huroof Muqatta’at - Disjoined Letters]. 
The verses 2-7 explain that the Quran bears guidance and a mercy for those who lead a God-conscious life and with the Hereafter as their main focus. These are the ones who will be successful. However there are some people who are without knowledge and pay for distracting tales to lead others away from Allah. Those who distract a believer will find a humiliating torment waiting for them. When the verses are recited they turn away disdainfully as if the words are nothing but heaviness in their ears. Allah repeats His warning saying; tell them there will be a painful torment.
( 2 )   These are verses of the wise Book,
( 3 )   As guidance and mercy for the doers of good
That is, these verses give guidance to the right way and have been sent down as a mercy from God. But the people who can profit by this mercy and guidance are only those who adopt a righteous attitude, who wish to become good, who crave for their own well being, whose quality is that they avoid the evil when they are warned of it, and follow the good when they are shown the ways to it. As for the wicked and mischievous people, they will neither profit by this guidance nor receive any share from this mercy.
( 4 )   Who establish prayer and give zakat, and they, of the Hereafter, are certain [in faith].
The three qualities mentioned here mean are the basic traits of believers which lay foundation for living a good and clean life. (1) They establish the Salat which engenders God worship and piety as a permanent habit with them, (2) They pay the Zakat which strengthens the spirit of sacrifice in them, subdues the love of the world and arouses a desire for the goodwill of Allah, and (3) They believe in the Hereafter, which instills the sense of responsibility and answer-ability.

By possessing these qualities, it allows a believer who is fully conscious of the fact that he is not independent but the slave of a Master before Whom he is answerable for all his activities of life. These righteous people thus are not the kind of the righteous persons who happen to do good just by chance, who may commit evil as often and as freely as they would do good. Contrary to this, these qualities inculcate in them an enduring system of thought and morality owing to which goodness issues forth from them in a regulated and systematic manner, and the evil, if at all committed, is committed just by chance. They do not have any deep rooted motives, which might be arising from their own system of thought and morality and leading them on to the evil way under their own nature impulse.
( 5 )   Those are on [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.
In order to fully understand the traits of successful people, please To understand the real concept of the true success one should study the following verses of the Quran along with the relevant E.Ns: (Surah Al- Baqarah: Ayats 2-5), (Surah Aal-Imran: Ayats 102, 130, 200), (Surah Al-Maidah: Ayats 35, 90), (Surah Al-Anaam: Ayat 21), (Surah Al-Aaraf; Ayats 7, 8,157), (Surah At-Taubah: Ayat 88), (Surah Yunus: Ayat 17), (Surah An-Nahl: Ayat 116), (Surah Al-Hajj: Ayat 77), (Surah Al-Muminun: Ayat 117), (Surah An-Nur: Ayat 51), (Surah Ar-Rum: Ayat 38).

وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ يَّشۡتَرِىۡ لَهۡوَ الۡحَدِيۡثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنۡ سَبِيۡلِ اللّٰهِ بِغَيۡرِ عِلۡمٍ​ۖ وَّيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا ​ؕ اُولٰٓـئِكَ لَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ مُّهِيۡنٌ‏ 
( 6 )   And of the people is he who purchase the amusement of speech to mislead [others] from the way of Allah without knowledge and who takes it in ridicule. Those will have a humiliating punishment.
That is, on the one hand, there is this mercy and guidance sent down by Allah, of which some people are taking full advantage, and on the other hand, there are also some unfortunate people living side by side with the fortunate ones, who are adopting this sort of attitude as against the revelations of Allah.

The words lahv al-hadith in the text imply such a thing as may allure and absorb a listener completely and make him heedless of everything else around him. Lexically, there is nothing derogatory in these words, but in custom and usage they apply to evil and useless and vain things, such as gossip, nonsensical talk, joking and jesting, legends and tales, singing and merry making, etc.

“Purchases” alluring tales may also mean that the person concerned adopts falsehood instead of the truth, turns away from the guidance and turns to those things which can neither benefit him in the world nor in the Hereafter. But this is the metaphorical meaning. The real meaning of the sentence is that a person should purchase an absurd and useless thing for his money, and this is supported by many traditions. Ibn Hisham has related on the authority of Ibn Ishaq that when the disbelievers of Makkah could not stop the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from spreading in spite of their best efforts, Nadr bin Harith said to the people of Quraish: “The way you are counteracting this man will avail you nothing. He has lived a lifetime among you. Until now he was the most truthful and the most trustworthy person among you. Now you say that he is a sorcerer and enchanter and a poet and a madman. Who will believe all this? Don’t the people know the way the sorcerers talk? Don’t they know the enchanters and the way they conduct their business? Are they unaware of poetry and of the states of madness? Which of these accusations sticks to Muhammad (peace be upon him) by exploiting which you would turn the people’s attention away from him? Look! I will tell you how to deal with him.” Then he left Makkah for Iraq and managed to get from there legends and tales about the kings of Iran and Rustam and Isfandyar and started to arrange tale telling parties to distract the people from the Quran and to absorb them in the tales. The same tradition has been cited by Vahidi in Asbab un Nazul on the authority of Kalbi and Muqatil. And according to Ibn Abbas, Nadr had bough singing girls also for the purpose. Whenever he heard that someone was coming under the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) influence, he would impose a singing girl on him with the instruction: “Feed him and entertain him with your songs so that he is absorbed in you and distracted from the other side.”

“Without knowledge” may be connected with “buys” and also “lead astray”. In the first case, it would mean: The ignorant person buys this alluring thing and does not know that he is buying a ruinous thing at the cost of a highly valuable thing. On the one hand, there are the divine verses which are full of wisdom and guidance, which he can obtain without any cost, but he turns away from them. On the other hand, there are these absurd things, which are disastrous for his morals and he is expending his wealth to obtain them. In the second case, it would mean: He has come out to guide the people without any knowledge: he does not know what burden of sin he is taking on himself by trying to lead the people astray from Allah’s Way.

A person who wants to make fun of the divine revelations by alluring and absorbing the people in legends and tales and music, intends that the invitation of the Quran should be derided and ridiculed and laughed away. He plans to fight the religion of God with the strategy that as soon as Muhammad (peace be upon him) should come out to recite revelations of God to the people, there should be a charming, sweet-voiced damsel giving her performance in a musical concert. On the one hand, a glib tongued storyteller telling tales and legends of Iran, on the other hand, the people should become so absorbed in these cultural activities that they may not be in a mood to hear anything about God and the morals and the Hereafter.

For such People, Allah promises, punishment will be in accordance with their crime. They want to debase and disgrace Allah’s religion, His revelations and His Messenger; Allah will take on them by giving them a disgraceful torment.
( 7 )   And when our verses are recited to him, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard them, as if there was in his ears deafness. So give him tidings of a painful punishment.
In verses 8-11, there are glad tidings for those who believe and do righteous deeds that they will stay in Gardens of bliss. It has been said that it is a truthful promise from none other than Allah, the Mighty and Wise. It is He who has created the heavens without visible pillars, set the mountains upon the earth firmly so that they will not shift and spread animals of all sorts throughout the earth. He sends rain from the sky that causes all sorts of vegetable life to grow. It is then asked from the disbelievers that these have been creation of Allah; what have others that you worship created!? The disbelievers are clearly in error.
( 8 )   Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds - for them are the Gardens of Pleasure.
( 9 )   Wherein they abide eternally; [it is] the promise of Allah [which is] truth. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise.
It is being said that there can be no chance that one may not receive what Allah has promised to give as a reward for faith and righteous deeds. Moreover, Allah’s open promise to bestow this reward is entirely based on His wisdom and His justice. He does not misjudge: it cannot be that He may deprive a deserving person of his reward, and reward a non deserving one instead. The people characterized by true faith and righteous deeds indeed deserve this reward and Allah will bestow this on them only.”
( 10 )   He created the heavens without pillars that you see and has cast into the earth firmly set mountains, lest it should shift with you, and dispersed therein from every creature. And We sent down rain from the sky and made grow therein [plants] of every noble kind.
( 11 )   This is the creation of Allah. So show Me what those other than Him have created. Rather, the wrongdoers are in clear error.
After referring to His creations (verse 10), it is being said Allah alone is the Creator, and yet insist on their being the deities. If somebody has a little of the common sense, he will inevitably think how the one who has no power to create anything, and who has no share whatever in the creation of anything in the earth and heavens, can be our deity. Why should man bow before it and adore it as a deity? Does it possess any power that it could fulfill one’s needs and requirements? Even if it hears one’s prayers, what could it do to answer them when it did not have any power to create anything? For, evidently, afflictions can be removed only by him who can create something and not by him who can create nothing.”

Rukhu 2 [12-19]
From verses 12-19 the discourse changes to the wise man Luqman of the earlier days, whose wisdom was source of inspirations for the people of the time.
Herein Allah says that He gave wisdom to Luqman so that he would be grateful. Whoever is grateful and gives thanks to Allah od does so for his own welfare. Those who are ungrateful and deny Allah’s favors upon them should understand that Allah has no need of their thanks. Luqman counsels his son saying do not attribute partners to God, it is a terrible error.

Allah commands that people be good to their parents, their mothers carry their offspring with great difficulty and usually feed them from their own bodies for two years.  Allah associates gratitude towards Him with gratitude towards parents.  He says be grateful and obey them but stresses not to obey them when they ask you to commit the greatest sin of associating others with Allah.  We should not obey them in matters that go against the commandments of Allah, and do what is right, but at the same time we are expected to treat our parents with care and respect.

Verses 12-19 Luqman tells his son contain that nothing can escape Allah’s knowledge.  Even if it is as small as a mustard seed, or hidden inside a rock or is a minute speck in a vast universe,  Allah can see it clearly and is able to expose it.  Luqman then advises his son to lead a moral and upstanding life and tells him how; establish the prayer, enjoin the good, forbid the evil and bear the trials and afflictions of life with patience.  Do not turn your nose up at people contemptuously; do not walk about the land arrogantly for  Allah does not like the boastful.   Thus walk at a moderate pace and talk in a low voice because God does not like harsh voices like the braying of donkeys.  This is all sage advice for moral behaviour and interaction between people:
( 12 )   And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], "Be grateful to Allah." And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] - then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.
After presenting a rational argument to refute shirk, the Arabs are being told that this rational point of view is not being presented before them for the first time, but the wise and learned people before them also have been saying the same thing, including their own famous sage, Luqman. Therefore, they cannot refute the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message, saying, “If shirk was an irrational creed, why didn’t it strike so to somebody else before?”

“The very first demand of the wisdom and knowledge, insight and sagacity, granted by Allah was that man should have adopted the attitude of gratefulness and obedience before his Lord, and not of ingratitude and thanklessness. And this gratefulness should not have merely been lip-service but expressed and translated in thought and word and deed. One should have the conviction in the depths of his heart and mind that whatever he has gotten, has been given by God. One’s tongue should always be acknowledging the favors of God; and also practically, one should be trying to prove by carrying out His commands, by avoiding sins, by striving to achieve His good-will, by conveying His blessings and favors to His servants and by fighting those who have rebelled against Him that he is really a grateful servant of his God.”

“The one who is ungrateful and unbelieving, his unbelief is harmful to his own self. Allah does not lose anything. He is Independent and does not stand in need of anyone's gratitude. The gratitude of someone does not add anything to His Godhead, nor does anyone’s ingratitude and disbelief change the reality that whatever the servants have gotten, has been granted by Him. He is self- Praiseworthy whether someone praises Him or not. Every particle in the universe bears testimony to His Perfection and Beauty, His Creativity and Providence, and every creature is paying homage to His glory perpetually.”

A few words about Luqman: Luqman was well known as a wise and learned man in Arabia. He has been mentioned in the poetry of the pre- Islamic poets. Some educated Arabs also possessed a collection of the wise sayings of Luqman. According to traditions, three years before the Hijrah the very first person of Al-Madinah to be influenced by the Prophet (peace be upon him) was Suwaid bin Samit. He went to Makkah for Hajj. There the Prophet (peace be upon him) was as usual preaching Islam to the pilgrims coming from different places, at their residences. When Suwaid heard his speech, he submitted, “I have also gotten a thing similar to what you preach,” When the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked what it was, he said, “The roll of Luqman.” Then on the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) insisting, he read out a portion of it, whereupon the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “This discourse is fine, but that which I have is better still.” Then he recited the Quran to him, and Suwaid admitted that that was certainly better than the wisdom of Luqman.
( 13 )   And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, "O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice."
This particular admonition from the wisdom of Luqman has been cited here for two reasons: (1) He gave this admonition to his son, and obviously, no one can be insincere to his own children. A person may deceive others, may behave hypocritically towards them, but no one, not even a most depraved person, will try to deceive and defraud his own children. Therefore, Luqman’s admonishing his son thus is a clear proof of the fact that in his sight shirk was indeed the most heinous sin, and for that very reason he first admonished his dear son to refrain from this iniquity. (2) The second reason for this narration is that many parents from among the disbelievers of Makkah were compelling their children to turn away from the message of Tauhid being preached by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and remain steadfast on the creed of shirk, as is being stated in the following verses. Therefore, those foolish people are being told, as if to say, The well-known sage of your own land had wished his children well by admonishing them to avoid shirk, now you should judge it for yourself whether you are wishing your children well or ill when you compel them to follow the same creed of shirk.”

In other words when a person worships others than his Creator, he debases himself as well as makes it deserving of the punishment. Thus, the entire life of a mushrik / disbeliever becomes zulm / great injustice in every aspect and at all times and his every breath becomes an expression of injustice and iniquity.

14-15 Rights of mother and the parents: 
( 14 )   And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.
The verse does not mean that the child should be suckled necessarily for two years. In Surah Al- Baqarah it has been said: “The mothers shall suckle their children for two whole years, if the fathers desire the suckling to be completed.” (Ayat 233). Ibn Abbas from these words has concluded, and other scholars have agreed with him in this, that the shortest period of pregnancy is six months, for the Quran at another place says: “....   His bearing (in the womb) and his weaning took thirty months.” (Surah Al-Ahqaf: Ayat 15).
( 15 )   But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.
The same instructions with regard to parents is given in Surah Ankaboot (29:8) "We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents, but if they exert pressure on you to associate with Me in My Divinity any that you do not know (to be My associate), do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I shall let you know all that you have done."

According to Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Daud and Nasai, this verse was sent down in respect of Saad bin Abi Waqqas. He was in late teens when he embraced Islam. When his mother, Hamnah, daughter of Sufyan bin Umayyah (niece of Abu Sufyan), came to know that her son had become a Muslim, she said, “I will neither eat nor drink nor sit in shade unless you disown Muhammad. The rights of the mother are superior even according to Allah’s command. Therefore if you disobey me, you will be disobeying Allah too.” Saad was perplexed and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told this entire story. At that, this verse was revealed.

The other admonitions of Luqman are being narrated here to imply that like the basic beliefs, the teachings pertaining to morals that the Prophet (peace be upon him) is presenting, are not anything new in Arabia.

In verses 16-19 Advice of Luqman about moral behavior and interaction: 
( 16 )   [And Luqman said], "O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.
In this there is a subtle allusion to this that whoever will enjoin good and forbid evil, will inevitably have to face and undergo afflictions and hardships in the world.

Herein it is warned that nothing can escape Allah’s knowledge and His grasp. A seed in the rock may be hidden for you, but it is known to Allah. A particle in the heavens may be very distant for you, but for Allah it is very near. A thing lying in the layers of the earth may be lying in darkness for you but for Him it is in full light. Therefore, you cannot do anything good or bad, anywhere or any time, which may remain hidden from Allah. He is not only aware of it, but when the time for accountability comes, He will place before you a full record of each act of yours.

In the end of the verse, two attributes of Allah have been mentioned:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَطِيۡفٌ خَبِيۡرٌ‏ 
Allah is Subtle and Acquainted
( 17 )   O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination.
وَلَا تُصَعِّرۡ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمۡشِ فِى الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخۡتَالٍ فَخُوۡرٍۚ  
( 18 )   And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful.
Mukhtal in the original implies a person who has a very high opinion of himself, and fakhur is the one who boasts of his superiority over others. A man becomes haughty and arrogant and vain in his gait only when he is puffed up with pride, and wants that others should feel his superiority.

"don ot walk through the earth exultantly: What is actually meant by this is to reform the state of the self under which a person walks haughtily. The haughtiness and arrogance of a person inevitably manifests itself in his gait and style of walking, which shows the state of his mind and also the cause of his pride and haughtiness. Wealth, authority, beauty, knowledge, power and such other things cause a man to become proud and vain, and each of these gives him a special style of gait. Contrary to this, manifestation of humility in the gait is also the result of one or the other morbid mental state. Sometimes the hidden conceit of the self of a man takes on the form of ostentatious humility, piety and godliness and this is shown by his gait; and sometimes man really feels so embittered by the frustrations of the world that he adopts a sick man’s gait. What Luqman meant to say is this: “Avoid these states of the mind and self and walk the gait of a simple, honest and noble person, which neither shows any vanity and haughtiness nor weakness nor ostentatious piety and humility.”

The taste of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) great companions in this regard can be judged from a few instances. When Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) once saw a man walking with his head hung down, he shouted out to him, saying, “Walk with your head raised up. Islam is not sick.” He saw another person walking like a weak, sick man, and said, “Wretch! Do not sully our religion” Both these incidents show that in the sight of Umar religious piety did not at all require that one should walk cautiously, like the sick man and show undue humility by one’s gait. Whenever he saw a Muslim walking such a gait, he would have the apprehension that it would misrepresent Islam and would depress the other Muslims. A similar incident was once met with by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). She saw a person walking as if run down and exhausted. She asked what was the matter with him. It was said, “He is one of the reciters of the Quran (i.e. a person who remains engaged in reciting and teaching the Quran and in worship).” At this she said, “Umar was the chief of the reciters of the Quran, but as it was he would walk with a firm foot, and he would speak with force and strength, and he would give a good beating if he had to.”
( 19 )   And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys."
This does not mean that one should always speak in a low voice and should never raise one’s voice. By citing the braying of the donkeys, it has been clearly indicated what some of the tone and voice in speech is meant to be discouraged. One kind of lowness and loudness, roughness and softness, of the tone and voice is that which is needed under natural and genuine requirements. For example, when speaking to a man close at hand, or to a small group of the people, one would speak in a low voice, and when speaking to a man at a distance or to a large number of the people, one would inevitably have to speak loudly. Similar is inevitably the difference in tones depending on the occasion and situation. The tone of praise has to be different from the tone of condemnation, and of the expression of goodwill from that of indignation. This thing is in no way objectionable. Nor does the admonition of Luqman imply that one should always speak in a soft and low voice and tone regardless of the occasion and requirement. What is objectionable is that one should shout oneself hoarse and produce a voice like the donkeys’s braying in order to bully and debase and browbeat the other person.

Rukhu 3 [20-30]
Verses 20-26 are an admonition wherein Allah asks, Do you not see that everything in the heavens and earth is for the benefit of humankind.  It is self-evident but there are still those who would argue about it.  When they are told to follow God’s guidance they respond by saying that they will not but will instead follow the path trodden by their forefathers.  They say this even when Satan is inviting them to step into the Fire.  Those who submit to the will of God and live a righteous life have grasped the most trustworthy handhold, because the outcome of every matter is with God.

 If they disbelieve, do not let it grieve you (O Muhammad) for to Us (God) is their return and We will then inform them of the reality of their deeds. God knows what their hearts contain. We (God) grant them enjoyment for a little while but in the Hereafter they will be driven to an unrelenting punishment. If you ask them who created the heavens and the earth they would say ‘God’, but then they associate partners with God in worship. By acknowledging that God is the creator of everything, and then worshiping created objects, they establish proof against themselves! God is the Creator and Owner of all that is in the heavens and the earth. He needs nothing from His creation and is the Only One worthy of praise.

In that Verses 20-24 explain main reason of misguidance is the blind following of one's forefathers:
( 20 )   Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favors, [both] apparent and unapparent? But of the people is he who disputes about Allah without knowledge or guidance or an enlightening Book [from Him].
“Who disputes about Allah” means the one who wrangles and disputes about questions such as these: Does Allah exist or not? Is He One God alone, or are there other gods also? What are His attributes and what is their nature? What is the nature of His relationship with His creations etc.?

For these it said that they neither have any means of knowledge by which they might themselves have observed or experienced the reality directly, nor do they have the guidance of a guide available to them, who might have guided them after observing the reality, nor do they possess a divine Book, which might be the basis of their belief.

It is also added that it is not at all necessary that the forefathers of every person and every family and nation should have been on the right path. The mere argument that a particular way of life had been bequeathed by the elders cannot be a proof of its being right also. No sane person can commit the folly that he should blindly go on following the way of his forefathers even if they were not rightly guided, and should never bother to find out where the way is leading him.
( 21 )   And when it is said to them, "Follow what Allah has revealed," they say, "Rather, we will follow that upon which we found our fathers." Even if Satan was inviting them to the punishment of the Blaze?
( 22 )   And whoever surrenders his face to Allah while he is a doer of good - then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold. And to Allah will be the outcome of [all] matters.
“Whoever surrenders his face to Allah”: Who submits himself wholly to the service of Allah, entrusts all his affairs to Him and makes His guidance the law of his entire life.
( 23 )   And whoever has disbelieved - let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, and We will inform them of what they did. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of that within the breasts.
This means to say, “O Prophet, the one who refuses to listen to you, thinks that by rejecting Islam and insisting on unbelief he has harmed you, but in fact he has not harmed you but harmed only himself. If he does not listen to you, you need not bother yourself about him at all.”
( 24 )   We grant them enjoyment for a little; then We will force them to a massive punishment.
( 25 )   And if you asked them, "Who created the heavens and earth?" they would surely say, "Allah." Say, "[All] praise is [due] to Allah "; but most of them do not know.
Most of the people do not know what are the inevitable results and demands of accepting Allah as the Creator of the universe, and what contradicts it. When a person acknowledges Allah as the Creator of the earth and the heavens. He should also acknowledge that Allah alone is the Deity and Lord: that He alone is worthy of worship and obedience: that He alone can be invoked for needs, and no one other than Him can be the Law-Giver and Ruler of His creation. To acknowledge one as the Creator and another as the deity is contrary to reason and a contradiction in terms, which can be upheld only by an ignorant person. Likewise, it would be a contradiction in terms to believe in one Being as the Creator and to regard another from among the creation as remover of hardships or as a deity and possessor of power and authority and sovereignty, which no reasonable person will acknowledge and accept.

لِلّٰهِ مَا فِى السَّمٰوٰتِ وَالۡاَرۡضِ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡغَنِىُّ الۡحَمِيۡدُ‏   
( 26 )   To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth. Indeed, Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.
Talking of Allah's greatness and His immense attributes, the verses 27-30 explain that if all the trees on earth were pens, and the oceans were ink, replenished by seven more oceans, the writing of Allah’s Words (signs and creations) would not be exhausted. It is as easy for Allah to create and resurrect every living being as it is to create and resurrect a single soul. Allah is All-Hearing and All-Seeing. Do you not see that Allah makes the day follow the night, one after the other, over and over in a precise pattern? The sun and the moon also spin in their orbits according to Allah’s plan. Allah knows very well what you do. Allah is the truth and what they call upon besides Him is falsehood. He is the most High and the most Great:

وَلَوۡ اَنَّ مَا فِى الۡاَرۡضِ مِنۡ شَجَرَةٍ اَقۡلَامٌ وَّالۡبَحۡرُ يَمُدُّهٗ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِهٖ سَبۡعَةُ اَبۡحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتۡ كَلِمٰتُ اللّٰهِ​ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَزِيۡزٌ حَكِيۡمٌ‏ 
( 27 )   And if whatever trees upon the earth were pens and the sea [was ink], replenished thereafter by seven [more] seas, the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
“Words of Allah”: Allah’s creative works and the manifestations of His power and wisdom. This very theme has been presented in Surah Al-Kahf: Ayat 109 a little differently. A person might think there is exaggeration in this, but if one considers the matter a little deeply, one will feel that there is in tact no exaggeration whatsoever in it. All the pens that can be made from the trees of the world and all the ink that can be provided by the oceans of the world, which are replenished by seven more oceans, cannot perhaps help prepare a complete list of all the creations in the universe, not to speak of all the manifestations of Allah’s power and wisdom and creative works. When it is impossible even to count all the things found on the earth only, how can one bring into writing all the creations found in this limitless universe?

Here, the object is to make man realize that no creature can become a deity and an associate in the works of Allah, Who has brought into being such a vast Universe, Who is administering its affairs and Whose powers and resources are limitless. Not to speak of becoming an associate in the administration of this vast Kingdom, it is not within the power of any creation to obtain a mere nodding acquaintance with the minutest portion of it. How can then one imagine that one or the other creation can have any share in the divine powers and authority on the basis of which it may answer prayers and make or un-make destinies?

مَا خَلۡقُكُمۡ وَلَا بَعۡثُكُمۡ اِلَّا كَنَفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَةٍ​ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ سَمِيۡعٌۢ بَصِيۡرٌ 
( 28 )   Your creation and your resurrection will not be but as that of a single soul. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.
Of the two attributes of Allah : “He is hearing every sound in the universe distinctly at one and the same time, and no sound can absorb his hearing so completely that He may hear no other sound. Likewise, He is seeing the whole universe in each of its details as to thing and event at one and the same time and nothing can absorb His sight so completely that He may see nothing else. The same precisely is the case concerning the creation of men and their re-creation also. He can re-create instantaneously all the men who have been born since the beginning of the creation and will be born till the end of time, His creative power is not absorbed so completely in the creation of one man that He may be unable to create other men at the same time. For Him the creation of one man and of the billions of men, therefore, is equal and one and the same thing.”
( 29 )   Do you not see that Allah causes the night to enter the day and causes the day to enter the night and has subjected the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term, and that Allah, with whatever you do, is Acquainted?
That is, nothing in the world, whether the sun or the moon, or any other star or planet, in the universe, is eternal and ever-lasting. Everything has a term for it and can function only till its expiry. Everything has a beginning in time before which it was not there and an end in time after which it will not be there. This means to imply that such temporal and powerless things cannot become the deities of men.

ذٰ لِكَ بِاَنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡحَقُّ وَاَنَّ مَا يَدۡعُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهِ الۡبَاطِلُ ۙ وَاَنَّ اللّٰهَ هُوَ الۡعَلِىُّ الۡكَبِيۡرُ 
( 30 )   That is because Allah is the Truth, and that what they call upon other than Him is falsehood, and because Allah is the Most High, the Grand.
The real Sovereign is Allah. He alone is the real Owner of power and authority over the creation and its disposal.  “He is the Highest of all before Whom everything is low, and He is the Greatest of all before Whom everything is small.”

Rukhu 4 [31-34 ]
Finally the concluding verses 31-34 warn the mankind to fear that Day when no father shall avail his son nor a son his father. And let not the Shaitan deceive you concerning this fact
( 31 )   Do you not see that ships sail through the sea by the favor of Allah that He may show you of His signs? Indeed in that are signs for everyone steadfast and thankful.
Here in this verse, two qualities, that is steadfast, thankful, are mentioned. It is they who recognize the reality by these signs, they come to understand Tauhid clearly and stick to it firmly. The first quality is that they should be patient and steadfast: they should not be fickle but fine and persistent: they should remain steadfast on the righteous belief under all circumstances, pleasant or unpleasant, difficult or easy, favorable or unfavorable. They should not have the weakness that when the hard times come they Stan imploring Allah humbly, and when they change into good times, they forget Allah altogether. Or that, to the contrary, they should worship Allah in good times and start cursing Him when touched by afflictions and misfortunes. The other quality is that they should be grateful: they should not prove ungrateful and thankless: but appreciative of favor and should remain perpetually disposed from within to render thanks to the one who conferred the favor.
( 32 )   And when waves come over them like canopies, they supplicate Allah, sincere to Him in religion. But when He delivers them to the land, there are [some] of them who are moderate [in faith]. And none rejects Our signs except everyone perfidious / treacherous and ungrateful.
The two qualities, perfidious, the ungrateful, mentioned at the end of the verse are the antithesis of the two qualities mentioned in the preceding verse.

A treacherous person is he who is utterly disloyal and who has no regard for his promise and pledge, and the ungrateful he who does not acknowledge the good and the gains and the benefits received by him, and even behaves rebelliously towards his benefactor. The people having these qualities return to their disbelief, their atheism and their polytheism without any hesitation as soon as the danger has been averted. They do not admit that they had perceived some signs in their own selves as well as outside themselves of Allah’s existence and of His being only One when overwhelmed by the storm, and their invoking Allah was in fact the result of their recognition of the same reality. The atheists among them explain away their act, saying, “It was a weakness which we manifested in the state of confusion and bewilderment, whereas there exists no God, Who might have saved us from the storm: we in fact succeeded in escaping by virtue of such and such a device and means and resources.” As for the mushriks, they generally say, “We had the succor and protection of such and such a saint or god and goddess available to us by virtue of which we escaped.” Therefore, as soon as they land on the shore, they start giving thanks to these false gods and presenting offerings at their shrines. They do not bother to think that when they had lost hope, there was none beside Allah, the One, whom they might have implored and invoked for help.
( 33 )   O mankind, fear your Lord and fear a Day when no father will avail his son, nor will a son avail his father at all. Indeed, the promise of Allah is truth, so let not the worldly life delude you and be not deceived about Allah by the Deceiver.
That is, “The relationship of a person with his friend, or his leader, or his spiritual guide, etc. is not that close and intimate as the relationship that exists between the children and their parents. But on the Day of Resurrection even the son and the father will not be able to help each other. The father will not have the courage to come forward and say that he may be seized instead of the son for his sins, nor will the son have the nerve to say that he may be sent to Hell instead of the father. How can then a person expect that one will be able to avail something for the other there? Therefore, foolish is the person who spoils his Hereafter in the world for the sake of another, or adopts the way of sin and deviation by dependence on others. Here, one should keep in view the theme of verse 15, in which the children have been admonished not to accept deviation in the matter of the faith and religion on behest of the parents, though in affairs of mundane life they are duty bound to serve them as best as they can.”

Here by “Allah’s promise” is meant promise of Resurrection, when the court of Allah will be established and everyone will be called to render an account of his deeds.

The deceiver may be Satan or a man or a group of them, or even man’s own self. The reason for using this comprehensive and meaningful word in its absolute form without identifying a particular person or thing is that for different people there are different means that cause them deception. Any particular means or cause that deceived a person to be misled and misguided from the right way to the wrong way, will be deluder in his particular case.

“To deceive about Allah” are also comprehensive words, which include countless kinds of deceptions. The deceiver deceives one man with the idea that there is no God at all, and another man with the idea that God after making the world has handed over its control and administration to the men and is no more concerned with it; he misleads another one, saying, “There are some favorite ones of God: if you attain nearness to them, you will surely win your forgiveness whatever you may do, or may have done, in the world;” he deceives another one, saying, “God is All- Forgiving and All-Merciful: you may go on committing sins freely, and He will go on forgiving each sin of yours.” He gives another person the idea of determinism and misguides him, saying, “Everything that you do is preordained: if you commit evil, it is God Who makes you commit it: if you avoid goodness, it is God Who makes you avoid it.” Thus, there are countless types of such deceptions with which man is being deceived concerning God. When analyzed, it comes to light that the basic cause of all errors and sins and crimes is that man has been deceived concerning God in one way or the other, and that is how he has been misled to some ideological deviation or moral error.

This verse is, in fact an answer to the disbelievers’ question as to when the Hour of Resurrection will come, which they asked when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) mention it and the promise of the Hereafter, again and again. The Quran has answered this sometimes by citing the question and sometimes without citing it, because the addressees knew what they were asking. This is one of those verses which answer the question without citing the question itself.
( 34 )   Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.
The last verse is, in fact an answer to the disbelievers’ question as to when the Hour of Resurrection will come, which they asked when they heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) mention it and the promise of the Hereafter, again and again. The Quran has answered this sometimes by citing the question and sometimes without citing it, because the addressees knew what they were asking. This is one of those verses which answer the question without citing the question itself.
The first sentence: “Allah, with Him is the knowledge of the Hour”, is the real answer to the question. The four sentences that follow constitute the argument to support it. The argument means this: “O man, you do not have the knowledge even about those things with which you are most closely and intimately concerned in life. How then can it be possible for you to know as to when will the whole world come to an end?

  • Your prosperity and adversity mainly depend on the rain. But its control and regulation is entirely in the hand of Allah. He sends down the rain whenever and wherever and in whatever measure He pleases and withholds it whenever he pleases. You do not at all know how much of the rain will fall at a particular place at a particular time and which land will remain without it, and which land will be adversely affected in spite of it. 
  • Your wives conceive by your own sperm-drop, which perpetuates your race in the future, but you do not know what is taking shape in their wombs, and in what form and with what good or evil it will emerge. 
  • You do not even know what you are going to meet with the next day. A sudden accident can change your destiny; but you are unaware of it even a minute before its occurrence. 
  • You do not know where your present life will eventually come to an end. Allah has kept all this information within Himself alone; and has not given you any knowledge of any of these. You actually desire that you should have the knowledge of each of these things so that you may make necessary preparations beforehand, but you have no other course open to you than to depend only on Allah’s decree and disposal in these matters. 
Likewise, about the end of the world also there is no alternative but to rely on Allah’s decree and decision. The knowledge of this also has neither been given to anybody, nor can it be given. Here, another thing also should be understood well, and that is: This verse does not give a list of the unseen and hidden things, which are known to no one but Allah. 

Here only some of the most apparent things have been pointed out only to serve as an illustration. These are the things with which man is most deeply and intimately concerned, yet he is unaware of them. From this it would be wrong to conclude that these are the only five unseen and hidden things which are known to no one but Allah. As a matter of fact, ghaib applies to every such thing which is hidden from the creation but is in the knowledge of Allah, and such things are countless and limitless.

In the Surah, a number of attributes of Allah have been mentioned. See our earlier post for details on these and all 99 Attributes of Allah 

You may now like to listen to Arabic recitation of Surah Luqman with English subtitles:

You may refer to our post "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, meaning and summary / exegesis of other chapters (Though not complete but building up from 30th Juzʼ / Part backwards for chapters in 30th Juzʼ / Part are shorter and easier to understand). 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 |
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [3]
  • And the exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran are basically based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. [1]
  • In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites. 
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