THIS CHAPTER was revealed after (Drawn Up In) Ranks 37 and before Sheba 34. It consists of four sections which embrace 34 Meccan verses (except that the poem on "God's Words" in section III dates from a later period in Madina).
Among the Arabs Luqman was a spiritual associate and possible grandnephew of the Old Testament prophet Job, and similar to the fableteller and wise man of Greece called Aesop. He is in fact the traditional Arab sage who fills much the same place in Arab folklore as Aesop (OR the 'Ethiopian') did among the Greeks.
From now on the chapters become shorter. This one is full of fine thoughts, including a Polonius-style speech to the wiseman's son. Towards the end, it also has two hymns, one on "God's Words" (III) and the other on "God the All-Knowing" (IV).
In the name of God, the Mercy-giving, the Merciful!
(I) *A. L. M.
* These are verses from the Wise Book, * [offered] as guidance and mercy for those who act kindly, * who keep up prayer, pay the welfare tax and are convinced about the Hereafter. ** Those hold on to guidance from their Lord; such will be prosperous.
* Some men buy up sporting tales to mislead [others] from God's way without having any knowledge, and they take it [all] as a joke. Those shall have shameful torment. * Whenever Our verses are recited to him, he turns around disdainfully as if he had not even heard them, just as if both his ears were hard of hearing. Announce painful torment to him!
The Skeptic's Challenge
* The ones who believe and perform honorable deeds will have gardens of Bliss * to live in for ever. * God's promise is true, and He is the Powerful, the Wise. ** He has created the heavens without any visible support. He has cast headlands on the earth lest it sway with you, and dispersed all kinds of animals throughout it. We send water down from the sky with which We grow every type of noble species. * This is God's creation. Show me what those others besides Him have created! Indeed, wrongdoers are in obvious error.
Luqman's Advice to His Son
(II) * We gave Luqman wisdom:
"Give thanks to God. Anyone who gives thanks, merely gives thanks for his own sake; while anyone who is ungrateful [will find] God is Transcendent, Praiseworthy."
Association is a Serious Sin
* Thus Luqman told his son as he was instructing him: "My dear son, do not associate anything [in your worship] of God [Alone]. Association is such a serious wrong!"
Respect for Parents
* (We have commissioned (every)man to [look after] his parents: his mother bears him with one fainting spell after another fainting spell, while his weaning takes two years. Thank Me as well as your parents; towards Me lies the Goal! ** Yet if either of them should strive to make you associate anything with Me which you have no knowledge about, do not obey them although you should (still) keep company with both of them properly during [their life in] this world. Follow the way of anyone who feels concerned about Me. Then to Me will be your return and I shall notify you about whatever you have been doing.)
* "My dear son, if there existed the weight of a mustard seed, and it lay in some boulder in either Heaven or Earth, God would still bring it forth. God is so Gracious, Informed.
* "My dear son, keep up prayer, command what is proper and forbid dishonor. Endure patiently whatever may afflict you; for that shows determination in [handling] matters. * Do not sneer down your cheek at other men nor walk brashly around the earth: God does not love every swaggering boaster. * Act modestly in the way you walk, and lower your voice:
The ugliest sound is a donkey's voice!
(III)** Do you not see how God has harnessed whatever is in Heaven and whatever is on Earth for you? He has lavished His favor on you both publicly and privately. Yet some men will still argue about God without having any knowledge or guidance, nor any enlightening Book! * Whenever they are told: "Follow whatever God has sent down," they say: "Rather we follow what we found our forefathers doing." Even though Satan has been inviting them to the torment of the Blaze?
Tolerance Towards Disbelievers
* Anyone who commits his person peacefully to God and acts kindly has grasped the Firmest Handle! Towards God lies the destiny of matters. No matter who disbelieves, do not let his disbelief sadden you; to Us will be their return and We shall notify them about whatever they have done. God is Aware of what is on people's minds. * We will let them enjoy themselves for a little while; then We will drive them along to stern torment.
** If you should ask them who created Heaven and Earth, they would say: "God." SAY: "Praise be to God!" However most of them do not realize it, * God owns whatever is in Heaven and Earth; God is Transcendent, Praiseworthy.
* If only the trees on earth were pens
and the [inky] sea were later on
replenished with seven other seas,
God's words would never be exhausted;
God is Powerful, Wise!
* Your creation and your rebirth
[happen] only as with a single soul.
God is Alert, Observant.
* Have you not seen how God
wraps night up in daylight
and wraps daylight up in night?
He regulates the sun and moon:
each runs along on a fixed course.
God is Informed about anything you do!
** That is because God is the Truth
while anything they appeal to
instead of Him is false.
God is the Sublime, the Great!
(IV) * Have you not seen ships sailing along at sea because of God's favor, so He may show you some of His signs? In that are signs for every [person who is] persevering, grateful.
* Whenever waves cover them like awnings, they appeal to God sincerely; religion belongs to Him! Yet once He delivers them to land, some of them act disinterested. It is only every ungrateful swindler who repudiates Our signs.
* Mankind, heed your Lord and dread the day when no parent will make amends for his child nor will any offspring make amends in any way for his parent. God's promise is true, so do not let worldly life deceive you, nor even let the Deceiver deceive you concerning God.
God the All-Knowing
* God has knowledge about the Hour.
He sends down showers and knows
whatever wombs contains. Yet no person knows
what he will earn tomorrow,
nor does any person know
in what land he will die.
Still, God is Aware, Informed!