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Luqman: The Wise.

The figure of Luqman al-Hakim (The Wise) has played a major role throughout centuries in outlining the borders to become al-Insan al-Kamil, The Most Perfect Human, with his pious lessons. Also accepted by the pre-Islamic era of Arabia in a similar fashion, there are many arguments claiming whether he was a prophet or not, though the most common tale relates his choice to obtain wisdom over kingship or prophecy once asked by Angel Gabriel, out of fear that he can not fulfill the responsibilities of these titles.

Born into a Nubian family of Southern Egypt, Luqman al-Hakim shared a similar fate with the men of his race during the pre-common era, suffering bondage as a slave deprived of the freedom to move and speak freely. This was the first of many trials Luqman al-Hakim patiently endured in reaching the state worthy of his epithet. His impenetrable faith in God set him aside from the remnants of his people, giving him a rare eloquence in his speaking and acting to an unseen degree even amongst the priveleged slave-holders of then Arabian Peninsula. His righteous qualities earned him the Divine Wisdom attributable to those who pursue this path, as elucidated in the following verse of the Qur’an: “Allah gives wisdom to whom he wills, and whomever has been given wisdom has certainly been given abundant good; and none will acknowledge except those of righteous qualities,” (Qur’an, 2:269). Accentuating the paramountcy that Allah surely bestows his blessings upon those of righteous qualities, who seek Divine decrees through the knowledge and remembrance of Allah, since those who are not concerned with the matter nonetheless are already far from even acknowledging the absence of, or the blessing that lies within the abundance of Wisdom.

Surely, Luqman al-Hakim was amongst those with righteous qualities, and had earned the decree of Divine Wisdom, followed by a verse in a Qur’anic chapter dedicated to his name, Surah Luqman, where it states:

“And indeed We bestowed upon Luqman Al-Hikmah (Divine Wisdom) saying: “Give thanks to Allah,” and whoever gives thanks, he gives thanks for (the good of) his own self. And whoever is unthankful, then verily, Allah is All-Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise,” (Qur’an, 31:12). This Divine recognizance raised Luqman to a rank of which his love for God reciprocated, leading to his adoption of the title al-Hakim. However, it is crucial for one to understand the “Divine” aspect of wisdom, which ties into the remembrance and gratitude of Allah, as corpulence of information alone is not enough to make one “wise”. A more accurate translation of “hikmah” can rather be understood in the context of “deep [pious] understanding, true faith, sensible intelligence, acting with decorum,” and, for lack of a better word, executing the collection of these righteous qualities, or rather instrumentalizing them, in the most proper settings within the limitations of Allah, in reaching one’s best potential. Therefore one who does not appropriately utilize their knowledge / wisdom to reach a higher state of consciousness can not possess hikmah though they know so much— and similar to how one should reflect the qualities of the Divine to thank God, to thank Him in this context is through utilizing wisdom within a Divine milieu. Yet even “thanking Allah” is done for one’s own sake, as surely He is “free from all needs.”

Illuminated by the light of this Divine Wisdom, Luqman’s “shine” was noticeable to everyone including his masters during his term of slavery, who sought his wisdom and paid their respects, which later resulted in him regaining independence, and freely preach his lessons in public.

On one of those days, one of Luqman’s previous masters recognized him and asked, “Aren’t you the slave that used to look after my sheep not so long ago,” to which Luqman responded, “Yes!” The man then asked, “What raised you to this high decree I see?” Luqman answered infamously, “Living in remembrance of the Divine, repaying trust, telling the truth, and abstaining from that which does not concern me.” Though self-explanatory, Luqman’s first principle to live in the remembrance of Divine reiterates the importance of recognizing the sorcerer of all wisdom once more, highlighting the much simpler yet chief elements assumed trivial by society. Meaning, regardless of how often people claim to have obtained these attributes, and therefore view them insignificant next to the worldly possessions they seek to bring them the virtue of Luqman, are reminded by him that merit solely lies beneath faith adjoined by simplicity.

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