A father’s golden advice
Surat Luqman is a beautiful surah containing the advice of Luqman to his son. He gave us ten wise tips to nurture our children.
Who was Luqman?
Was he a prophet or a righteous person? The majority of scholars say he was a wise man as Allah Almighty called him in the Quran.
Indeed, We blessed Luqmân with wisdom. (31:12)
Others say he was a prophet because his words are very much like prophetic guidance. Certainly we know that he was a wise, righteous and pious worshipper. His advice is like a thesis in Tarbiyah upbringing and nurturing children. They contain ten profound lessons.
Why terms of endearment are important
Luqman prefaces his advice with the endearment, ‘Ya bunay’ (O my son). When you call someone by the name they love, it tugs their heart strings, and highlights your close relationship to them. Here Luqman uses ‘my son’ to powerful effect, reminding his son of the unique father and son bond in just one phrase, before giving his advice.
The first advice – la tushrik billahi
Do not commit shirk. This is the essence of monotheism and all the messages from Adam til Muhammad (peace be on them). Worship Allah alone and seek His help, without associating partners with Him. Shirk is the greatest sin.
It is called dhulm (oppression) because the one who commits shirk causes harm to their own self, by bringing damnation upon themself. For this reason, the very advice is:
“O my dear son! Never associate ˹anything˺ with Allah, for associating ˹others with Him˺ is truly the worst of all wrongs.” (31:13)
Know your purpose in life
Guidance gives you direction in life. It gives you purpose. If you have no guidance and no direction, you have no meaningful aim in life. What is the most important thing in your life? Allah Almighty. He is your priority. If you understand this, you will be successful in all aspects of your life.
Treat parents well
The second advice is to treat your parents well. This is repeated in the Quran and throughout the sunnah. Being good to parents is always connected with observing Tawheed monotheism.
Even if parents ask you to do something that is not in line with Allah’s commands, don’t be rude to them, but follow the path of those who are close to Him. Keep repenting and coming back to Him.
Be grateful to Allah and to your parents. And do not forget the Hereafter.
Do not obey anyone when they ask you to go against Allah’s obedience.
The third advice is that Allah’s obedience is the first priority and the most important thing in your life.
But if they strive to have you associate with Me something of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. But keep them company in this life, in kindness. (31:15)
The fourth advice is to have ihsan / muraqaba, which is being in a state of watchfulness. Ihsan is part of our shariah. Though Luqman was from an earlier nation, he mentions its importance. Being aware of all we do and say and conscious that we are being watched by Allah is important because each deed, even if as tiny as a mustard seed will be brought forwards on the Day of Judgement and will be recorded either for us or against us.
Be aware of Allah
We expect children to do things because they have been told to do them, even though they may not want to, but unless children understand the aim behind it, they will not do it by themselves when their parents are not there.
For this reason, Luqman wanted to establish a strong link between his son and Allah Almighty, so that when he is alone he has ihsan – awareness of Allah. We want this for our children. No matter where they are – at university, or abroad or at work – if they know that Allah is watching them, they will do the right thing inshallah.
Pray on time
Luqman’s fifth advice is to pray on time and not to neglect prayers as this forms your connection with Allah, the One who provided you with health and wealth and sustenance. Worship Him and be grateful to Him.
Be a reformer
The sixth advice is to command what is good and forbid what is evil. Luqman is showing here the importance of ensuring your children have a strong personality.
In order to be a person who brings about goodness in the community, you cannot be shy to say the right thing, or do the right thing, or take a stand when things are not right. Of course this has to be coupled with the sense to do it the best and wisest way.
Otherwise, you act for the sake of pleasing others. Be the one who seeks Allah’s pleasure.
Encourage your children to be reformers in society, as the prophets and messengers were. This requires patience, which is a rare currency, particularly during lockdown, we have seen people lose this quality.
The seventh: Wasbir ala ma asabak – Be patient with what you have been afflicted with, because it is part of your destiny.
Be positive rather than dwelling on the negatives, and complaining about them. Face your reality and do what it takes to change calamities into opportunities.
Don’t be arrogant
The eighth: No set of people has superiority over another, so never look down on others. Don’t have any form of arrogance, whether it is in the form of racism or other feelings of superiority. Rather, love for others what you have been blessed with yourself.
In the hadith the Prophet (peace be on him) said in his Last Sermon:
All of you are from Adam and Adam has been created from dust. (Tirmidhi)
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted. (49:13)
Always walk with moderation and speak kindly
The ninth advice is not to walk on the earth with arrogance.
The tenth advice is not to raise your voice or shout or use a provocative tone. Be a gentle and kind person in your words, actions and tone. The most disliked sound is the harsh braying of the donkey.
These pieces of sound advice are the formula of tarbiyah. Each one is a standalone topic.
We want to create a strong personality and a grateful mindset in our children, and deep connectivity with Allah Almighty. We want our children to embody humility and have clear purpose, which is rooted in firm belief in the afterlife and coupled with consciousness of their outlook, attitudes and behaviour at all times.
We ask Allah to enable us to apply this beautiful advice, teach it to our children and to disseminate it. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Qiyam 7th November 2020
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