‫‪The Foundations of Qur’anic Wisdom‬‬

‫)‪(Translated from the original Urdu work of Dr.Israr Ahmed – by Dr.Yousuf Raza‬‬ ‫‪In the Light of the 2 nd Ruku of Surah Luqman‬‬

‫ْ َ َ ِ ْ َ َ ِ ْ ُ ْ ّ ِ َ َ ْ ْ ُ ْ َِ َ ْ ُ ُ ْ ِ ِ َ َ ْ‬ ‫وَلقدْ آَتْيَنا ُلقمان اْلحكمة َأن اشكر ِلله ومن َيشكر فإّنما َيشكر ِلَنفسه ومن‬ ‫ََ‬ ‫َ َ َ َِ ّ ل َ َ ّ َ ِ ٌ‬ ‫وِإذ قال ُلقمان لْبِنه وهو َيعظه َيا ُبَني ل ُتشرك ‪ o‬كفر فإن الّه غِني حميد‬ ‫ّ ِْ ْ‬ ‫َ ْ َ َ ْ َ ُ ِ َ ُ َ ِ ُُ‬ ‫ّ ِ ّ ش ْ َ ُْ ٌ َ ِ ٌ‬ ‫وو ّْيَنا الْنسان ِبواِلدْيه حملْته ُأمه وهًنا على ‪ِ o‬بالله ِإن ال ّرك َلظلم عظيم‬ ‫َ َ َ َ ِ َ ََ ُ ّ ُ َ ْ ََ‬ ‫َ َص‬ ‫وِإن جاهداك ‪ o‬وهن وفصاُله في عامْين َأن اشْكر ِلي وِلواِلدْيك ِإَلي اْلمصي‬ ‫َ ْ َ َ َ َ َ ْ ٍ َِ َ ُ ِ َ َ ِ ِ ُ ْ َ َ َ َ ّ َ ِ ُ‬ ‫على َأن ُتشرك ِبي ما َلْيس َلك ِبه علم فل ُتطِعهما وصاحْبهما في الدْنَيا‬ ‫َُْ َ َ ِ َُ ِ ّ‬ ‫َ ْ ْ ِ َ َ َ َ ِ ِْ ٌ َ‬ ‫َ ْ ُ ً َ ْ َ َ َ ْ َ ّ ّ ّ َ ْ ِ ُ ُ ْ َ ُ ُ ْ َ ُ ْ ْ َُ َ‬ ‫معروفا واّتِبع سِبيل من َأَناب ِإَلي ُثم ِإَلي مرجعكم فأَنّبُئكم ِبما كْنُتم َتعملون‬ ‫َيا ُبَني ِإّنها ِإن َتك مْثقال حّبة من خردل فَتكن في صَخرة َأو في ‪o‬‬ ‫ْ ٍَ ْ ِ‬ ‫ّ َ ْ ُ ِ َ َ َ ٍ ِ ْ َ َْ ٍ َ ُ ْ ِ‬ ‫ْ ِ ْ ِ َ ُّ ّ َّ ِ ف َ ٌ‬ ‫َيا ُبَني َأقم ‪ o‬السماوات َأو في الرض َيأت ِبها الله ِإن الله َلطي ٌ خِبي‬ ‫َّ َ ِ ْ ِ‬ ‫ّ ِِ‬ ‫ّ َ َ ُ ْ َ ْ ُ ِ َ َ َ ِ ُ َ ِ َ ْ ْ ََ َ َ َ ّ َ َ ِ ْ‬ ‫الصلة وْأمر ِباْلمعروف واْنه عن اْلمْنكر واصِبر على ما َأصاَبك ِإن ذِلك من‬ ‫عزم المور ول ُتصعر خدك ِللّناس ول َتمش في الرض مرحا ِإ ّ الله ل‬ ‫ْ ِ َ َ ً ن َّ‬ ‫َ ِْ ُ ِ َ َّ ْ َ ّ َ ِ َ ْ ِ ِ‬ ‫ِ ّ ُّ ُ ْ ٍَ ُ ٍ‬ ‫واقصد في مشِيك واغضض من صوِتك ِإن ‪ُ o‬يحب كل مخَتال فخور‬ ‫َْ ِْ ِ َ ْ َ َ ْ ُ ْ ِ ْ َْ َ ّ‬ ‫ََ ْ َ ِ َ ْ ُ َ ِ ِ‬ ‫‪َ o‬أْنكر الصوات َلصوت اْلحمي‬

The first two lessons in this Short course of the Qur’an were on Surah Al-Asr and Ayat-ul-Birr. Now we embark, with the name of Allah, on the third lesson; the 2nd Ruku’ (passage) of Surah Luqman. This Surah is in the 21st Juz of the Qur’an and the 2nd Ruku’ comprises of 8 ayaat. It is the 31st Surah. Lets’ begin with a translation of this passage to get a general idea of the topics that will be covered: 031.012 And, indeed, We granted Wisdom unto Luqman: Be grateful to Allah—for he who is grateful is but grateful for the good of his own self. Whereas he who chooses to be ungrateful, verily Allah is SelfSufficient, ever to be praised.

031.013 And remember when Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: "O my son! Ascribe no partners unto Allah: for, definitely, to ascribe partners to Him is a tremendous wrong (tremendous injustice)."

031.014 And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal.

031.015 "But if they strive to make you ascribe partners with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with kindness, and follow the way of those who turn to me (in love): in the end, unto Me you all must return, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that you were doing."

031.016 "O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (good deed or bad deed) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the skies or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).

031.017 "O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever befalls you; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.

031.018 "And turn not your cheek away from people in (false) pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not any arrogant boaster.

031.019 "And be moderate in your pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass."

Al-Qur'an, 031.012-019 (Luqman [Luqman])

You probably already gathered from the translation, that these ayaat talk about the same 4 points we already spoke about in a new style and order. This is so because the Sirat-i-Mustaqim is the same and its milestones are the same. So the purpose of the Qur’an is that it expresses the same “Path of Guidance” in different styles and mannerisms. However the same basic topic is not just expressed in a different, but there are different facets of it and different ideas and important lessons also presented.

If you pay attention you would see that of the three fundamental creeds, Iman in Allah, is expressed in the most comprehensive manner; the negation and affirmation. In the affirmative aspects you see that Iman in Allah is projected by the call to be grateful to Him, and the negation is expressed by the command to refrain from associating partners with him. So if you develop within yourself that gratitude for Allah and refrain from associating anything or anyone with Him, then you would’ve achieved Iman in Allah and all its required states.

As opposed to that you would notice that Iman Bi-Risalah is not mentioned anywhere in the teachings of Luqman. None of the three components of Iman Bi-Risalah i.e. Prophets, revelations and angels find a mention. This is so because over here basic aspects of wisdom, the foundations of the Qur’anic wisdom are being mentioned with reference to a person (Luqman) who was neither a prophet nor a messenger, and neither was he the follower of any messenger or prophet. We are being taught here that if an uncorrupted human nature embarks on a journey to discover the truth, with a pure intention, then he would reach the level of Iman in Allah without the aid of revelation or prophet.

Life after death
However Iman Bil Aakhira is elaborated. The real essence of the belief in an Afterlife is the conviction that the deeds of a human being are not without consequence; both good and evil would be appropriately re-compensated. In that context one of the most important advices Luqman gives to his son is:

‫َيا ُبَني ِإّنها ِإن َتك مْثقال حّبة من خردل فَتكن في صَخرة َأو في السماوات‬ ِ َ َ ّ ِ ْ ٍَ ْ ِ ْ ُ َ ٍ َْ َ ْ ِ ٍ َ َ َ ِ ُ ْ َ ّ ٌ َ ٌ ِ َ‫ْ ِ ْ ِ َ ُّ ّ ل‬ ‫َأو في الرض َيأت ِبها الله ِإن الّه َلطيف خِبي‬ ِْ
"O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).” So this is the essence of the Iman in Al-Akhira that none of your actions are inconsequential and they will definitely amount to something. However, the Day of Judgment, Reward and Punishment, Heaven and Hell, have not been directly mentioned here. This is so because to understand those realities guidance of a Prophet or a Messenger is indispensible. Here only that aspect of Iman bil Aakhira is mentioned which a human can reach with his own wisdom without the aid of revelation and messengers, using his innate nature and uncorrupted rational faculty.

The Foundation of Wisdom
There is an innate gnosis of the Creator and Cherisher in the heart of a human, albeit sleeping. The foundation of wisdom is that the person re-awakens this gnosis in his heart and mind. The certain consequence of a healthy nature and an uncorrupted thought is gratitude. A sound mind and a correct thought process would result in the recognition of the Real Creator. In other words wisdom mandates that your sense of gratitude is focused on the Real Owner, Master, Sustainer and Cherisher. And this gratitude necessitates that the human being completely abstains from all kinds of shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) and establishes Tawhid. This is exemplified in Luqman who was granted with this wisdom and as a consequence of his uncorrupted nature and sound state of mind he attains to the gnosis of Tawhid and the sense of gratitude. So he says to his son in the most loving and affectionate manner:

ٌ ِ َ ٌ ُ ْ ّ ّ ِّ ْ ِ ْ ّ ‫َيا ُبَني ل ُتشرك ِبالله ِإن الشركَ َلظلْم عظيم‬
Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! Join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the greatest injustice."

Fulfilling Rights
We saw in Surah Al-Asr and Ayah Birr, that right after Iman, ’amal-i-Salih was mentioned. Here too the first aspect that appears after Iman in Tawheed is that of fulfilling rights; and specifically fulfilling the rights of the parents is the foremost. We see in numerous places in the Qur’an that immediately after a command to fulfill the rights of Allah by obeying and worshipping him alone with no partners we are

commanded to fulfill the rights of our parents. So we see the same over here; after Luqman’s advice to his son to establish Tawhid it is mentioned from Allah that:

َِ َ َ َ ‫ووصْيَنا الْنسان ِبوالِدْيه‬ ّ ََ
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents Similarly in Surah al-Baqarah:

‫وِإذ َأخذَنا ميَثاق َبِني ِإسراِئيل ل َتعُبدون ِإل الّه وِباْلواِلدْين ِإحساًنا‬ َ ْ ِ َ َ َ َ‫ْ َ َ ْ ُ َ ل‬ َ ِ َْ ْ َ
002.083 And remember We took a covenant from the Children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents… And in Surah al-An’aam:

‫قل َتعاَلوا َأْتل ما حرم رّبكم علْيكم َأل ُتشركوا ِبه شْيًئا وِباْلواِلدْين ِإحساًنا‬ َ ْ ِ َ َ َ َ ِ ُ ِْ ْ ُ ََ ْ ُ َ َ ّ َ َ ُ ْ َ ْ ُ
006.151 Say: "Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from": Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; And in Surah al-Isra:

‫وقضى رّبك َأل َتعُبدوا ِإل ِإّياه وِباْلواِلدْين ِإحساًنا‬ َْ ِ َ َ َُ ُ ْ َ َ َ ََ
017.023 Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents.

Special Right of the Mother
The ruku’ that we are studying gives specially emphasized the importance of the right of mothers. Allah Ī commands that after gratitude to Him, gratitude to parents should be given due importance:

ِ ِ َ َ ِ ُ َ ِ َ ٍ ْ َ ََ ْ َ ُ ّ ُ ََ َ ِ َ َ َ َ ‫ووصْيَنا الْنسان ِبواِلدْيه حملْته ُأمه وهًنا على وهن وفصاُله في عامْين َأن‬ ّ ََ ُ ِ َ ّ َ َ َ َ ُْ ْ ‫اشكر ِلي وِلواِلدْيك ِإَلي اْلمصي‬
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. Treating parents with kindness comes under the broader heading of Rights of Humans. In the course of this worldly life we become obligated with rights to a lot of our fellow beings and everyone should be concerned about fulfilling these rights; our parents are on the top of this list. Without a doubt the biggest favor on a human is that of Allah’s Ī, who is the Creator and the real Cherisher and Provider. After Allah Ī however, the biggest debt a person owes is to his parents; who raised him, fed him at the cost of their own food and comforted him at the cost of their own comfort and whenever he was in distress they were in distress for him. And from parents the mother gets precedence. Therefore after mentioning parents in this ayah special mention is given to the mother. She suffered weakness over weakness carrying the child in her womb. She nursed him for two years; the child stuck to her chest like a parasite attaining his nourishment at the cost of hers. So with these huge favors the parents and specially the mother are on top of the list a human is obligated to. To further elaborate the importance of the mother it would be appropriate to mention two ahadith. One of them states that, “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother”, implying that serving one’s mother is one of the important means of attaining paradise. In the second narration a companion ē asked the Prophet Ē, “Who is most deserving of my best treatment?” The Prophet Ē replied: “Your Mother” The companion asked again, “Then who?” he received the answer, “your mother”, he asked a third time, “Then who?” he received the answer “Your mother” the companion asked a fourth time and was answered, “Your father”. So we understand from this hadith that a mother has 3 times greater rights than a father.

A fine point
One point that deserves mention here is that in the course of Luqman’s advise to his son, after advising him not to indulge in shirk he does not mention his own rights himself. It does not behoove him to do so. Rather Allah Ī finished the subject for Luqman and inserted this factor in the course of Luqman’s advices. Now naturally a question arises here: What if these the rights of Allah and the rights of parents clash? What if the parents ask their child to commit shirk? This is a practical problem. There was a significant population of youth in the people who responded to the call of the Prophet. Of these Sa’ad bin Abi

Waqas and Mus’ab bin ‘Umair Ĕ deserve special mention here. Their mothers were polytheists. They were asking them by demanding their rights as mothers to come back to the religion of their forefathers. They even threatened hunger strikes. Naturally the rightly guided, uncorrupted natures of these youngsters were presented with a dilemma. Naturally people of their character have an awareness of their parents’ rights. The Qur’an presents the solution to this problem:

‫ِإن جاهداك على َأن ُتشرك ِبي ما َلْيس لَك ِبه علْم فل ُتطعهما‬ َ ُِْ َ ٌ ِ ِ َ َ َ َ ِْ ْ َ َ َ َ َ ْ
031.015 "But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not… As you can see it doesn’t say that all their rights are now abrogated. They will not be obeyed as far as shirk is concerned but they will be treated fairly in all other respects:

‫وصاحْبهما في الدْنَيا مَعروفا‬ ً ُْ ّ ِ َ ُ ِ َ َ
… yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration)… And it was made crystal clear that treating them well does not imply itiba’ (following) as far as that is concerned you would only follow a person who has turned his face towards Allah:

ّ َ ََْ َ ْ َ ‫واّتِبع سِبيل من َأَناب ِإَلي‬
…and follow the way of the one who turns to me… It is not obligatory to follow in the footsteps of polytheist parents in thought or practice.

Alhamdulillah we have taken a bird’s eye view of the first half, i.e. the first 4 ayaat, of this ruku. Before moving on let’s summarize what we studied so far. The first ayah introduces Luqman. With the second one his advice starts with emphatic emphasis on abstaining from polytheism. In the next two ayaat Allah Ī reminds us something which He inherently places in human beings anyway and revelation further strengthens that inherent moral value. Then it was explained what a monotheist is required to do if there is a clash between the rights of Allah and the rights of the parents. Then again Luqman’s advice to his son continues; he talks about the consequences of worldly actions i.e. Life after death. From here to the end of this ruku are some practical steps that Luqman advises.

It would be beneficial at this point to compare this ruku with the topics brought up in Surah al-Asr and Ayat-ul-Birr. We saw in Surah al-Asr that the comprehensive term Iman was used and that was further elaborated in Ayat-ul-Birr. Compared to that, here we see that as far as Iman in Allah is concerned it is presented as a call towards being grateful to Him and abstaining from polytheism. As for Iman bil Aakhirah goes it is presented in the context of meeting the consequences of actions. Then ‘Amali Salih were mentioned in one comprehensive phrase in Surah al-Asr whereas Ayah Birr spoke about three important aspects of ‘Amali Salih. Like we studied in Ayat-ul-Birr here too we see that the mention of human rights takes precedence over worship; the rights of parents are advised and emphasized before the mention of Prayer. If you continue counting the righteous acts mentioned in this ruku then you would see that humbleness, humility and modesty are stressed upon. “Sa’ar” is the name of a camel disease in which its neck becomes fixed. When arrogance enters the heart of a human then he develops a swagger in his walk and impoliteness in his tone. By virtue of Luqman’s advice these mannerisms are warned against by saying that Allah does not like the arrogant and boastful people. Furthermore balance is advocated in every facet of a person’s life. In Surah Al-Asr the criteria mentioned was Tawasi bil-Haq. Over here that is comprehensively explained by the terms, ‘Amr bil Ma’roof wa nahin ‘anil munkar. This immediately followed the command to establish prayer:

‫ُبَني َأقم الصلة وْأمر ِباْلمعروف واْنه عن اْلمْنكر َيا‬ َِ ُ ِ َ َ َ ِ َُْ ْ ُ َ َ ّ ِ ِ ّ
O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong ‘Amr bil Ma’ruf is a very pertinent term in our religion. So much so, that the purpose for the existence of this Ummah is described using these words in Surah Aali-Imran where Allah Ī says

ِ َ ُ ِ َ َ ْ َ َ ِ ُ َ َ ُ ُْ ِ ْ َ ِ ْ ٍّ َ َ ْ ُ ‫كْنُتم خْير ُأمة ُأخرجت ِللّناس َتأمرون ِباْلمعْروف وَتْنهون عن اْلمْنكر‬ ِّ َ ِْ َ ‫وُتؤمُنون ِبالله‬
003.110 Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. In Surah al-Asr the last thing mentioned was Tawasi bis-Sabr. And Luqman too advises his son thus:

ِ ُ ِ ْ َ ْ ِ َ َ ّ َ َ َ ََ ْ ْ َ ‫واصِبر على ما َأصاَبك ِإن ذِلك من عزم المور‬

and bear with patient constancy whatever befalls thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs. Commanding right and forbidding wrong is not generally tolerated well. Mockery and derision, pains, trials and tribulations are inevitable. They would have to be tolerated with patience and perseverance. This is the summary of the subjects covered under this ruku. We pray to Allah that he gives us a good share from this wisdom and that this does not just remain constrained to our minds rather it should materialize in our characteristics and attributes, our morals and behaviors, and become inseparable from our personality. Aameen!

Time to Ponder
Readers would know that it was discussed that there are two levels of understanding the Qur’an. First is Tadhakur bil Qur’an, in that you excise the lesson and gist of the ayaat and the surahs. The other is Taddabur bil Qur’an i.e. diving deep into the depths of the Qur’anic wisdom; giving each word its due right by pondering over it, the mutual relationship between the ayaat, and an attempt be made to understand the inner and outer order of the Surahs. We have done as much as was possible as far as the tadhakur was concerned now we need to turn our attention to the taddabur part. This ruku’ is important in the sense that the foundations of Qur’anic hikmah (wisdom) are determined from here. Hikmat is a word used in Urdu as well and generally it is used in conjunction with philosophy when we say falsafa-o-hikmat (Philosophy and Wisdom). But it is very important to understand the fundamental difference between them. Philosophy is solely dependent on the intellect; therefore it builds on the rules of logic. However hikmah is dependent on intuition and its structure is founded on the soundness of human nature. The role of an uncorrupted intellect is that it builds on these foundations and elevates the structure like a talented mason. The relationship between the human nature and human intellect is similar to that described in this ayah between kalima tayyibah and ‘Amali Salih:

ُ ُ َ ْ ُ ّ ُ َ َ َ ُ ّ ُ َِ ُ َ ْ ِ ‫ِإَلْيه َيصعد اْلكلم الطّيب واْلعمل الصاِلح َيرفعه‬
To Him mount up (all) Words of Purity; deeds of Righteousness raise them high. Certain truths embedded in our nature which we experience at a sub-conscious level can neither be ascertained nor refuted on the basis of logic. When intellectual thought builds on these inherent truths, the treasure earned is what will call, hikmah! Linguistically all words arising from the root ha-ka-ma have a common connotation of maturity and firmness. We have for example the word istehkam which is in common usage and indicates the strength of something. Hikmah is the maturity of the human intellect and consciousness which gives rise to an ability to differentiate right from wrong, to reach the right conclusions and to discern truths. When

these attributes come together in a human being then we can say that he has earned the quality of “wisdom” or hikmah. Allah Ī terms hikmah as a huge bounty, favor and blessing in an ayah where he says,

ُ ّ ّ ََ ً َ ً َ َ ْ ََ ََ ْ ِ َ ْ ْ ََ ُ َ ْ َ ََ ْ ِ ‫ُيؤِتي اْلحكمة من َيشاء ومن ُيؤت اْلحكمة فقد ُأوِتي خْيرا كِثيا وما َيذكر‬ ْ ِ ‫ِإل ُأوُلو الْلَباب‬
002.269 He granteth wisdom to whom He pleaseth; and he to whom wisdom is granted receiveth indeed a benefit overflowing; but none will grasp the Message but men of understanding. Therefore whoever attains wisdom attains something very precious and rare. Wisdom is of great value in our religion; the maturity and strength of the intellect, ability to discern truths and right from wrong and good from evil. So how honored is the one whom Allah honors with this honor. In the context of wisdom the Messenger Ē said:

“A word of wisdom is the lost possession of a believer; he has the greater right to it wherever he finds it.” Whenever we find something of our posesstions that we lost, we jump to take hold of it without hesitating knowing that no one can take it away from us. Similarly if a believer finds wisdom and sagacity somewhere he has more right to it than anyone else.

First Foundation of Wisdom: Gratitude
This passage of the Qur’an while speaking with reference to Luqman established two foundations of wisdom. The first is shukar, (gratitude) to the Creator. It’s appropriate at this point to understand the linguistics of the word “shukar”. Even though it’s a commonly used term in Urdu, if you ask anyone what shukar is then they would probably respond by saying shukar is shukar. Majority of people will not be able to find a synonym for it. What is shukar? Imam Raghib Asfahani beautifully expresses its meaning, “Shukar is to understand and recognize a favor or a gift and admit and express the appreciation”. The opposite of shukar is kufar. The very first ayah of this passage reads,

ٌ ِ َ ّ َ َ ‫َ َ ْ ْ ُ ْ َِ َ ْ ُ ُ ْ ِ ِ َ َ ْ َ َ َ َِ ّ ل‬ ‫ومن َيشكر فإّنما َيشكر ِلَنفسه ومن كفر فإن الّه غِني حميد‬

Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, Worthy of all praise. Kufr is normally understood as a denial or rejection of something. Like if somebody rejects a basic creed like Tawheed, or the perfect attributes of Allah or the Messengers or the finality of Prophethood or the Day of judgment or heaven or hell. This is all one hundred percent correct but literally kufar is the opposite of shukar. Shukar is to realize a blessing and express the appreciation. And kufar is to hide, to bury, so when it comes with shukar it would imply ungratefulness. If you were to deliberate a little you would realize that gratitude is innate and inseparable from a sound and uncorrupted nature (fitrah). This truth extends even to animals; if you were to feed a hungry animal you would notice that once satiated it would look up and an expression of gratitude would be visible from his appearance. That’s nature and know that the sign of a healthy nature is the presence of a sense of gratitude. If this sense is lost then the ungrateful person that would result would not even realize nor recognize if a favor is done to him. That’s the kind of person whose nature is corrupted and polluted. Arabs call a boiling spring “ ” (Al-‘ain-u-Shukra). And a “ ” (dabbatun Shakurun) is an animal that becomes fat and stout after being well-fed. So he’s called thus when the food and nourishment manifests itself in the health of that animal. Therefore shukar is that natural sense which emanates from the inside in response to a favor or blessing. Now using this natural sense of gratitude as a foundation a sound intellect will construct further. What is the reward for the intellect? That it recognizes its Real Benefactor and so his sense of gratitude inundates his heart and mind. The world, in the mind of a child, is very limited. He considers that his parents feed him, protect him, feel for him, cure my ailments and pains; therefore his sub-conscious sense of gratitude is solely focused on his parents. But as he grows older his thinking matures and his world expands he realizes that he is obligated to more than just his parents; his nation, his people, his tribe—these are all my benefactors. So the horizons of his sense of gratitude are also expanding. A child with his limited understanding thinks his parents to be the source of everything for him and he develops a sense of gratitude for them and this gradually builds up for the community, country, even to the forces of nature that are a source of provision and comfort for him. With further maturity he appreciates the earth as the source of his food, the rain which causes the dead earth to grow crops, the sun with its effects on the rain and in the nourishment of the crops as the centre of the life-giving process. So his gratitude then spreads and envelops the universe. Now if a man takes another leap with his intellect moving one step forward he would realize that the order, balance and perfection manifested in these exhibits of nature has to have one source. The energy in the sun is not just their by itself but it’s been given to it. If anything has any attribute then it’s been given to it. One Creator, One Master, One Benefactor! His blessings and favors are spread throughout the expanse of this universe. What would the result be? When the intellectual journey of the mind reaches this point then the gratitude that started with the parents, spread across to envelop the universe would now focus on One Being and the person would realize that He alone is the most deserving of this gratitude! So the product of the collaboration of the human nature and intellect

is the gnosis of the Unity of Allah Ī (Tawheed) which begets gratitude to Him. This is expressed by Allah Ī thus:

ِّ ْ ُ ْ ِ ََ ْ ِ َ َ ْ ‫وَلقد آَتْيَنا ُلقمان اْلحكمة َأن اشكر ِلله‬ ََْ
And, indeed, We granted Wisdom unto Luqman: Be grateful to Allah So we see that this ‫( أن‬so that) expresses the logical and necessary conclusion of wisdom and sagacity. َِ Therefore that intellect which does not result in the sense of gratitude swarming through your heart and mind is unworthy of being termed wisdom. Furthermore there are three levels of this gratitude. Imam Raghib very eloquently discusses this. He says that the first level is to realize and recognize the blessing. If you place a rare and priceless diamond in the hands of a child he wouldn’t recognize its worth; he’ll think of it as another rock. So the gratitude that should be engendered in him wouldn’t be because he is incapable of recognizing the favor on him. The first level, therefore, would be to realize the favor for its real worth. The second level is “Shukar-billisan” which is to express the praise and gratitude for your benefactor with your tongue; like we say “Thank you”, “shukria” or “shukran”. These would probably be one of the most oft-repeated words in a decent cultural society. The third level is Shukar-bil-Jawareh”, which is to express gratitude with your entire being. If a father gets his son a really good book and the son if he’s a decent person would thank him. But then if he consigned the book to the shelf to gather dust, and didn’t benefit from it, then that is his ingratitude. So to fulfill the right of a favor is also a part of gratitude. To summarize, human nature mandates gratitude and the wealth of a sound intellect is to recognize its Benefactor and Master. When these two come together in a person his heart overflows with gratitude towards Allah Ī and eulogies of praise and appreciation emanate from his tongue. Gratitude to Allah Ī necessitates that the person fulfills his rights to Allah Ī and the greatest right that he owes Allah Ī is what is highlighted by Luqman when he tells his son:

ٌ ِ َ ٌ ُ ْ ّ ّ ِّ ْ ِ ْ ّ ‫َيا ُبَني ل ُتشرك ِبالله ِإن الشركَ َلظلْم عظيم‬
"O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the greatest wrong-doing." The innumerable blessings that have been bestowed on a human, the favors that have been showered on him obligate him to establish Tawhid and abstain from shirk. This is an incredibly important subject.

Second Foundation of Wisdom
Let us now focus on the second foundation of Qur’anic wisdom as it appears in this passage. This has to do with “Ma’roof” and “Munkar” i.e. good and bad deeds. Qur’an tells us that the human being is

innately endowed by Allah Ī to discern between good and evil. A human does not need to be told that it is good to speak the truth and to lie is bad. Human nature recognizes truth to be good and lying to be evil; to fulfill a promise is good and not doing so is bad; being nice to your neighbors is liked and bothering them is abhorred; truthfulness and trustworthiness are noble and to betray trusts is vile. So the comprehensive term adopted by t he Qur’an that encompasses all these good actions is “Ma’roof” which literally means something that is known and recognized. On the contrary the term enveloping all evil actions is “Munkar” which means that which is foreign and abhorred by the human nature. The Miraculous Qur’an by adopting these terms thus has unveiled gems of wisdom. Not only do we understand that discernment of good from evil is inherent in the human nature but also that our natural inclination is towards good actions. A human being naturally likes and leans towards good and abhors evil. It’s true that these natural predilections may be reversed under abnormal circumstances or due to a corrupt social environment; but even still this innate nature would warn the human being and his conscious would bite him telling him that he is going down the wrong path. It would fail at even that if the conscious is desensitized with time or his innate nature dead. Anyway this is the second foundation of Qur’anic wisdom and relates to Iman bil Aakhirah (faith in the Afterlife) This would be elaborated further that if good should be compensated with good and evil with evil. If you sow wheat that is what you should reap and if you sow barley you should get barley. But in this life we usually see that good and bad are not appropriately compensated as they should be; there is a need for another world; another life. If we reject the idea of another life then we would say that good and evil are equal. And sound human nature and an uncorrupted intellect can never accept that. Both our nature and intellect are firmly grounded on this; good is good and should result in good and evil is evil and should result in evil. And this appropriate consequence of actions is what Luqman highlights when he says:

‫َيا ُبَني ِإّنها ِإن َتك مْثقال حّبة من خردل فَتكن في صَخرة َأو في السماوات‬ ِ َ َ ّ ِ ْ ٍَ ْ ِ ْ ُ َ ٍ َْ َ ْ ِ ٍ َ َ َ ِ ُ ْ َ ّ ُ‫ْ ِ ْ ِ َ ل‬ ‫َأو في الرض َيأت ِبها الّه‬ ِْ
031.016 "O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth… Actions of human beings cannot go to waste. These are those truths that Qur’an terms as Hikmah (Wisdom) and which a human being can unveil by himself. If you want to call this philosophy then we can say that the philosophical structure of the Qur’an is raised on these foundations.

Elaborating some points
A few points that we discussed under the heading of the Foundations of Qur’anic Wisdom require some further elaboration.

1. It is obligatory on man to be grateful to Allah Ī. The one who adopts this attitude of gratitude to Allah will naturally increase in his gratitude to his other benefactors as well. The Noble Messneger Ē said:

“Whoever is ungrateful to people is ungrateful to Allah” If a well is dry it doesn’t matter who tries pull water out from it they won’t be able to since there’s nothing in there to begin. Someone who is bereft of a sound nature will neither have gratitude towards Allah nor towards other people. 2. If the sense of gratitude is alive in a man then his personality will develop in the right direction. Allah is not in need of anyone’s gratitude; He is Self-Sufficient and in and of Himself praiseworthy. The person himself would benefit from having this sense and his own self, personality and character would develop on proper foundations. 3. It is imperative for a man to put himself before anyone else when involving in ‘Amar bil Ma’roof and nahi ‘anil munkar. It shouldn’t be that we encourage others to do good and not do it ourselves and stop and criticize others for evil while indulging in evil ourselves. In Surah alBaqarah where the charge-sheet is being laid out against the Bani Israil one of the offenses mentioned is exactly this:

ْ ُ ُ َ ْ َ َ ّ َ َ ُُْ ‫َأَتأمرون الّناس ِباْلِبر وَتْنسون َأْنفسَكم‬
Do ye enjoin right conduct on the people, and forget (To practise it) yourselves, A person should have both these attributes in him; he should be rectifying his own conduct and advising others at the same time. These two go hand in hand with each other and one aids the other. 4. Also understand that the word “’Amar” does not only mean command but also implies advice and suggestion. Its meaning is dependent on the context. 5. Another point to be understood is that the ahadith (narrations) of our beloved Prophet Ē predominately emphasize nahi ‘anil munkar (forbidding the evil). In a society where evil is tolerated, ignored and not stopped then that particular environment is not conducive towards good actions. Just like if a gardener ignores the weed and doesn’t take it out, it would use up all the nutrition in the soil and the atmosphere and the desired plants would not be able to grow. 6. The hadith mentioned in Muslim mentions three levels of forbidding evil.

“Whosoever of you sees an evil should change it with his hand; if he’s incapable then with his tongue; if he cannot do that then with his heart” Whenever one of you sees an evil then the highest level of action for him is that he uses his strength to forbid it. If he cannot do that then he should vocalize his displeasure and advice against it. And if the situation is not conducive then at least he should at least feel displeasure in his heart; this is the lowest level. The Messenger Ē said, “and that is the weakest level of faith”

If the feeling of displeasure is absent from the heart then one should know that there isn’t even a grain of Iman in his heart.

The Reality and types of Shirk
Alhamdulillah we have studied the second Ruku’ of Surah Luqman. Now we intend to focus on the second ayah of this ruku’ because in it is the command to establish Tawheed in the context of abstaining from shirk; the essence and foundation of our deen is Tawheed. As Luqman told his son:

ٌ ِ َ ٌ ُ ْ ّ ّ ِّ ْ ِ ْ ّ ‫َيا ُبَني ل ُتشرك ِبالله ِإن الشركَ َلظلْم عظيم‬
"O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing." The first point to be understood here is that according to the Qur’an shirk is the greatest sin and is unforgivable. This was highlighted twice in Surah An-Nisa in ayah 48 Allah Ī says:

ِّ ْ ِ ْ ْ ََ ُ َ ْ َ َ َ َ ُ َ ُ ِْ َ ِ َ َ ْ ْ ُ ِْ َّ ّ ‫ِإن الله ل َيغفر َأن ُيشرك ِبه وَيغفر ما دون ذِلك ِلمن َيشاء ومن ُيشرك ِبالله‬ ‫فقد افَترى ِإْثما عظيما‬ ً ِ َ ً َ ْ ِ ََ

004.048 Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed. In ayah 116 the same subject is repeated with the same vehemence and in the first part of the ayah the exact same words are used with last part being different:

ِّ ْ ِ ْ ْ ََ ُ َ ْ َ َ َ َ ُ َ ُ ِْ َ ِ َ َ ْ ْ ُ ِْ َّ ّ ‫ِإن الله ل َيغفر َأن ُيشرك ِبه وَيغفر ما دون ذِلك ِلمن َيشاء ومن ُيشرك ِبالله‬ ‫فقد ضل ضلل َبعيدا‬ ًِ َ ّ َ ْ ََ
004.116 Allah forgives not (The sin of) joining other gods with Him; but He forgives whom He pleases other sins than this: one who joins other gods with Allah, Hath strayed far, far away (from the right). Thereby emphasizing that the one who indulges in shirk has strayed so far away that there is no chance of any forgiveness for him,. Even people who claim to believe are susceptible to this crime as is mentioned in Surah Yousuf:

َ ُ ِ ُ ْ ُ َ ِّ ْ ُ ُ ْ ُ ِْ ََ ‫وما ُيؤمن َأكَثرهم ِبالله ِإل وهم مشْركون‬
012.106 And most of them believe not in Allah without (also) associating (other as partners) with Him! Implying that a lot of people come to believe in Allah but pure, unadulterated Tawheed is achieved by a privileged few.

Hard it is to develop that Abrahamic eye Sneaky desires sculpt idols in the heart The third important point is that this fatal disease manifests itself in different forms; it is also pertinent to note that every age has its own specific shirk. If someone is unaware of the shirk of his time then it may be well be that he is protected from all the previous day forms of shirk and may think himself to be a monotheist but unknowingly he may be indulging in the latest form of the shirk of his time. In my view the greatest and most prevalent form of shirk of our time is materialism. In our day and age there is

certain belief and reliance on material things and reliance and trust in Allah Ī, which is a necessary and inseparable component of true faith, is missing. Iqbal highlights this in this verse,

Idols you trust and God you mistrust, If this is not disbelief then what is? The essence of Iman is tawakkul (reliance) and trust in Allah and its opposite is shirk and kufr. Wisdom begets that we be wary of the different forms and understand Tawhid so well that whenever we see shirk we recognize it for what is as the verse reads in Persian:

Wear whatever guise you want to I will recognize you through your height Our eyes should be so sharp when it comes to shirki that regardless of time or place we should be able to recognize it no matter what garb Shaitan garbs it in; for that we need to really know the reality of shirk and only then will we be able to protect ourselves from it. The fourth important point, which is the logical conclusion of the first three, is that it isn’t that easy to stay completely protected from shirk. Numerous places in the Qur’an which mention Ibrahim ė end with this statement, “ “he was not of the polytheists”. To understand the significance of this “certificate” we need to remember the status and stature of Ibrahim ė. He is the ancestor of Prophet Muhammad Ē, Abu-ul-Ambia (father of prophets), Imam-un-Naas (Leader of humanity)Khalil-ullah (Friend of Allah). In our salutations to Prophet Muhammad Ē we mention Ibrahim ė as an example. After all of that we realize that the highest and greatest testimonial and certificate anyone can get is when Allah Ī says about him, “My slave was safe and secure from all aspects of shirk.” Now we need to understand what shirk really is. What does it mean to “associate partners with Allah”; an action branded as zulmi ‘azeem (greatest injustice)? In Arabic the word zulm is literally defined as, , which means to move something away from its rightful place and place it somewhere else. This act is called zulm. To place everything where it belongs is justice. Now if you pay attention you will realize there will always be one of two things involved in any kind of shirk. Either Allah Ī is relegated from His High place to that of creation and He would be attributed with an attribute of

creation would or something from creation is elevated to the level of Allah Ī and it would be attributed with an attribute of the Creator. Both these actions would fall under the category of and therefore are the greatest possible forms of zulm (injustice). Let us now briefly discuss the different types of shirk. Even though it can be categorized in different ways, but the way I will present them before you, I hope you will find it to be easy to understand and comprehensive. We can categorize it under three broad headings. First is “Shirk fi-dhat” (shirk with the Being of Allah); the worst and most open kind of shirk. Then “Shirk fi-sifaat” (shirk in the attributes of Allah); this may result from a intellectual misunderstanding. Finally ”Shirk fil-Huqooq” (shirk in the rights of Allah). Now let’s study each of these in turn.

Shirk fi-dhat
To associate someone with the Being of Allah is of two types. Ironically the worst and most heinous of these surfaced among those who were related to some prophet. The Jews designated ‘Uzair ė to be the son of Allah; the Arab Pagans, who believed in the prophethood of Ibrahim ė, considered the angels to be the daughters of Allah; the Christians not only called ‘Isa ė the son of God rather they went as far as calling him the begotten son of God. This kind of shirk calls upon the wrath of Allah Ī. This is expressed in Surah Maryam thus:

o ‫وقاُلوا اّتخذ الرحمن وََلدا‬ ً َُْ ّ ََ ََ o ‫َلقد جْئُتم شْيًئا ِإدا‬ ّ َ ْ ِ َْ o ‫َتكاد السماوات َيَتفطرن مْنه وَتْنشق الرض وَتخر اْلجَبال هدا‬ ّ َ ُ ِ ِّ َ ُ ْ ّ َ َ ُ ِ َ ْ ّ َ ُ َ َ ّ ُ َ o ‫َأن دعوا ِللرحمن وَلدا‬ ً َ ِ َْ ّ ََْ ْ o ‫وما َيْنَبغي ِللرحمن َأن َيّتخذ وَلدا‬ ً َ َ ِ ْ ِ َ ْ ّ ِ ََ
019.088 They say: "(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!" 019.089 Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!

019.090 At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, 019.091 That they should invoke a son for (Allah) Most Gracious. 019.092 For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should beget a son. The second type of shirk under this category is found in philosophical religions. Pantheism is an example. To say that God interspersed Himself into the universe and now everything that exists is a part of God is another type of shirk; one of the worst of its kind. Then there is the creed of avatar; that god takes human form or admixes with a human. This too is the heinous of the types of shirk.

Shirk fi-Sifaat
Like we said before this is more of an ‘ilmi kind of shirk. Human language has its limitations; the words we use to describe Allah are also employed to describe humans. Like we say Allah is present and we are also present. Allah is living and we are living as well. Allah hears and sees and so do we. Now the usage of similar words may cause a misunderstanding but when these words are used for Allah they carry a different connotation as compared to when they are used for the creation. We need to bear three things in mind to avoid this misunderstanding: 1. Allah’s Being and attributes are inherently His own and not given to Him by someone else; for everything other than Him their existences and attributes are granted by Allah. 2. The Being and the attributes of Allah are limitless and everything other than Him is limited and their attributes are limited. 3. Allah along with His attributes has always been and will always remain. The creation on the other hand has a beginning and an end. If these three things are kept in mind then there shouldn’t be any misunderstanding but if there is any carelessness regarding these then you will fall in shirk.

Shirk fil-‘ibadah and its branches
Now let us discuss the third category and its subtypes i.e. ascribing partners to Allah in terms of His rights. If we were to calculate the rights of Allah we would not be able to. But there is one word that can envelope all the rights and that is ’ibadah; to refrain from ‘ibadah of anyone other than Allah. To understand this category we need to understand the word ‘ibabdah in detail. The readers are requested to memorize five points in this context. The first and most important component of ‘ibadah is ‘ita’ah (obedience). Tawheed fil ‘ita’ah implies that obedience to Allah comes before obeying anyone else. All other forms of obedience submit to the obedience of Allah; if someone or something is obeyed like Allah should be obeyed then that is shirk. The Messenger Ē said,

“ “There is no obedience to creation in disobedience to the Creator”

Obedience to parents, to teachers, and even rulers is secondary to obedience to Allah. If they’re obedience involves disobeying Allah then that falls under shirk. Also note here that obedience to Allah would be in following the example of the Messenger Ē; even the Qur’an reached us through him Ē. The second component is love. Love for all else comes secondary to love for Allah. No one can be loved as is the right of Allah. Our hearts should be overflowing with love for Allah and love for all else submits to divine love. If love for something else is equal to the love for Allah then know that that is shirk. Both obedience and love are incredibly important. These are the principles which a man needs to adopt; to grasp them is the first step and once implemented they serve as the panacea for all ailments. In this category too we include love of the Messenger Ē. Like Obedience to Allah incorporates obedience to the Messenger Ē similarly love for Allah and His Messenger Ē should be the predominant emotion in one’s heart. The third component is du’a (supplication). The Messenger Ē said:

“Du’a is the essence of worship”

“Du’a is worship” Therefore you supplicate to no one but Allah. Allah commands in the Qur’an:

َ َ ً ِّ َ َ ُ ْ َ ‫ول َتدع مع الله ِإَلها آخر‬
028.088 And call not, besides Allah, on another god. This is Tawheed-fid-du’a. If you call on anyone else other than Allah then that would be shirk. The fourth component is ‘ikhlas (sincerity). If there is any intention of flaunting or showing off any of the above three components mentioned above then that is insincerity and falls under shirk.The Messenger Ē said:

“Whoever prays to show-off committed shirk; whoever fasts to show-off committed shirk; and whover gave charity to show-off committed shirk.”

This is Shirk-i-Khafi (hidden shirk). The Messenger said that if someone is praying and he notices that someone is watching me and so he prolongs his prostration then he just indulged in this kind of shirk. He was prostrating for Allah and for that person! So if ‘ibadah is done for fame and showing off then that is Shirk fil-ikhlas. To freely follow desires is also shirk. This was highlighted twice in the Qur’an. In surah al-Furqan Allah says:

ُ َ َ َُ َ َ ِ َ َ َ ‫َأرَأْيت من اّتخذ ِإَلهه هواه‬
025:043 Seest thou such a one as taketh for his god his own desires (or impulse)? And:

ُ َ َ َُ َ َ ِ َ َ َ َ ‫َأفرَأْيت من اّتخذ ِإَلهه هواه‬
045.023 Then seest thou such a one as takes as his god his own vain desire?

The word used in both these ayaat is ilaah which is the same word as in our kalima-i-tawheed when we attest that la ilaaha illallah. So we understand from this that stone idols are not the only objects of worship but the desires of the self can also be worshipped. The hidden idols of the self also include that love of wealth which causes a man to lose his sense of halal and haram (permissible and forbidden). The Messenger said:

“May the worshipper of dirham or Dinar be destroyed” Note the word the Messenger used here: ‘abd (worshipper). If a person does not distinguish whether his wealth is coming from permissible or forbidden means, whether it is rightfully his or illegitimately gotten, then this desire and love for wealth means that he is as good as worshiping it and wealth is his idol even if he is not physically bowing down to “lakshmi devi” like the Hindus. The last and final component in this context relates to the rituals of worship which are specifically reserved for Allah. No one will be prostrated to except Allah. Like Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi refused to bow down to Jahangir as was customary in that day and age. Iqbal depicts it thus:

We could only discuss the broader types of shirk; but they adequately portray how pertinent this matter is. Every Muslim should take conscious measures to protect himself from this disease. The goal should be to reach a strong level of certainty and trust in Allah. The more we have tawakkul (reliance) and trust in Allah and His Mastery the more secure we will be from all these categories of shirk. Like Iqbal said:

This one prostration that is so hard on you Delivers you from a thousand other prostrations 1. infinite where as those of others are limited

If we are saved from shirk and establish tawheed in our lives then that is enough for our salvation and success in the hereafter!

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