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Sūrah Luqmān Synopsis and Translation
Qur'anic Exegesis
Dr. Mustansir Mir

This translation of the 31st sūrah is an attempt to present the meaning of the Qur’ānic text in readable, idiomatic language while staying close to the original. The translation is preceded by a synopsis of the sūrah which aims at bringing out the sūrah’s argument in a clear and cogent form.

In my translation, I have not used parentheses, even in cases of Hadhf (ellipsis) in the Qur’ānic text; instead, I have explained the omission, or any other feature that called for explanation, in notes. I think it is possible, and in many cases preferable, to avoid making parenthetic additions in translation the Qur’ān. The notes are kept to a minimum, and are given not as commentary on the sūrah but in order to elucidate the primary meaning of the text.

First, Luqmān is a Middle Makkan Sūrah.

Second, the principle themes of the sūrah are monotheism and the Last Day, dealt with in sections 3 and 4, respectively (see Synopsis).

Third, it is noteworthy that, in section 3, arguments against idolatry are given, the reader or listener being expected to supply for himself arguments for monotheism. In section 4, on the other hand, arguments for the Last Day are given, the audience being expected to infer arguments against the view that life in this world is the only life there is.

Fourth, the sūrah makes an appeal to the youth. It was revealed at a time when the Islamic message had begun to draw the attention of the independently-minded Makkans, especially the youth, who were relatively free from the pull of the ancestral tradition of idol-worship and who were being put under increasing pressure by their parents and the elders of Makkah to stay within the fold of the ancestral religion. The Qur’ān is, on the one hand, encouraging the Makkan youth to think for themselves, and, on the other hand, warning the parents and the elders who were trying to stop them from converting to Islam. The story of Luqmān, an ancient sage of Arabia, is told in order to drive home the point that the wise men of Arabia taught the same message that Muhammad is teaching, and that it is strange that the present-day Makkans, who revere the memory of Luqmān just as they revere the memory of Abraham (sws), should be so diligent in persecuting their youth for turning to the religion of Abraham (sws) and Luqmān.

Fifth, the sūrah highlights the relationship between reason and revelation: through his H~ikmah (wisdom), Luqmān acquired insights essentially similar to those furnished by revelation. In other words, reason, if used properly, brings one to the threshold of revelation and points to the same conclusions that revelation presents and confirms.



I. Qur’ān guides the righteous only: 1-11

1: Sūrah’s Qur’ānic name

2-4: People who will benefit from the Qur’ān

5-7: People who will not benefit from the Qur’ān; their punishment

8-9: Believers; their reward

10-11: God’s uniqueness as Creator

II. Luqmān’s advice to his son: monotheism and the Last day: 12-19

12-13: Idolatry as a great wrong

14-15: Rights of parents, especially of mother; limits to those rights

16: Last Day

17-19: Practical piety: prayer, enjoining right and forbidding wrong, humility and modesty

III. Monotheism: argument against idolatry: 20-27

20-21: God as the sole bestower of blessings; baselessness of idolatry

22: Fate of monotheists

23-24: Fate of idolaters

25-27: Idolaters’ admission; comment

IV. Last day: argument in support: 28-34

28: Basic statement

29: Patterns in universe as proof of resurrection

30: Why resurrection is necessary

31-32: Psychological argument in support of monotheism and last day

33: God’s promise to bring about the Last Day

34: Lack of knowledge of date no proof against possibility of Last day


Text, Translation and Notes


بِسْم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الِمّ Oتِلْكَ آيَاتُ الْكِتَابِ الْحَكِيمِ Oهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً لِلْمُحْسِنِيْنَ Oالَّذِيْنَ يُقِيمُوْنَ الصَّلَوةَ وَيُؤْتُوْنَ الزَّكوةَ وَهُمْ بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ يُوقِنُوْنَ Oأُوْلَئِكَ عَلَى هُدًى مِّنْ رَّبِّهِمْ وَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ الْمُفْلِحُوْنَO وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يَّشْتَرِي لَهْوَ الْحَدِيْثِ لِيُضِلَّ عَنْ سَبِيْلِ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَّيَتَّخِذَهَا هُزُوًا أُولَئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِيْنٌ Oوَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِ آيتُنَا وَلَّى مُسْتَكْبِرًا كَأَنْ لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا كَأَنَّ فِي أُذُنَيْهِ وَقْرًا فَبَشِّرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيْمٍ Oإِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوْا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّلِحَاتِ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتُ النَّعِيمِ Oخَالِدِيْنَ فِيهَا وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقًّا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ O خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ بِغَيْرِ عَمَدٍ تَرَوْنَهَا وَأَلْقَى فِي الْأَرْضِ رَوَاسِيَ أَنْ تَمِيْدَ بِكُمْ وَبَثَّ فِيْهَا مِنْ كُلِّ دَابَّةٍ وَأَنزَلْنَا مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِنْ كُلِّ زَوْجٍ كَرِيمٍ Oهَذَا خَلْقُ اللَّهِ فَأَرُوْنِي مَاذَا خَلَقَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِ بَلِ الظَّلِمُوْنَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِيْنٍO

1A-L-M. 2These are the verses of The Wise Book, 3a guidance and a mercy for the doers of good deeds, those who establish Salāh and pay Zakāh. 4It is these people who are truly convinced of the Hereafter. 5They are upon a guidance5a from their Lord, and it is they who are going to meet with success.

6There are some people, however, who opt for frivolous talk,a so that, lacking all knowledge as they do, they might lead people astray from the Path of God, and so that they might make fun of them.b They have a humiliating punishment in store for them. 7When Our verses are recited to them, they turn away arrogantly, as if they did not hear them – as if they were hard of hearing!a Give them the good news of a tormenting punishment!

8Those who have believed and done good deeds, there are gardens of bliss for them; 9they shall live in them for ever – a true promise of God! He is the Almighty, the Wise. 10He created the heavens without any pillars you could seea: He cast mountains in the earth, lest it should go into a lurch, taking you along; and He spread in it all kinds of animals. And We sent down from the sky water, by means of which We grew in it all kinds of useful plants. 11This is the creation of God! Now show me what has been created by those other than Him? The fact is that the wrongdoers are in plain error.

5.a. upon a guidance: The indefinite article suggests magnification, ie ‘upon an excellent guidance.’

6a. That is, it is strange that, in the presence of the Qur’ān, which is full of wisdom, some people should listen to the frivolous talk of its opponents.

b. them: the object pronoun in Arabic refers to the verses of the Qur’ān, mentioned in vs. 2 of the Sūrah. Alternatively, it could refer to the ‘Path of God’, in which case ‘it’ would replace ‘them’ in translation.

7.a. as if they were hard of hearing: Literally, ‘as if there were a heaviness in their ears.’

10.a. without pillars you could see: Alternatively, ‘without pillars – you see them!’ (that is, you can see for yourselves that no pillars support the heavens).


وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا لُقْمنَ الْحِكْمَةَ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِلَّهِ وَمَنْ يَّشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ حَمِيدٌO وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَابُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ Oوَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَّفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِيْ وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيْرُO وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِيْ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِيْ الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوْفًا وَّاتَّبِعْ سَبِيْلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُوْنَ Oيَبُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِنْ تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُنْ فِيْ صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيْفٌ خَبِيرٌ O يَبُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَوةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوْفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَكَ إِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ Oوَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُوْرٍ Oوَاقْصِدْ فِيْ مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِنْ صَوْتِكَ إِنَّ أَنكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِO

12We gave Luqmān wisdom – ‘Be grateful to God!’a And he who shows gratitude does so for his own good. But he who disbelieves – God is Self-Sufficient, Praised.

13And when Luqmān said to his son – he was giving him advice – ‘My son, do not associate anything with God: such association is a great wrong indeed.’

14–a And We advised man concerning his parents – his mother bore him, suffering one debility after another, his weaning taking two years: ‘Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the return.’ 15But if they should put pressure on you to associate with Me something you have no knowledge of,do not listen to them. Associate nicely with them in the world,a though, and follow the path of those who turn to Me. Then you will come back to Me, and I shall apprise you of what you used to do.–

16‘My son, if there be something of the weight of a grain of mustard seed, be it in a rock, in the heavens, or inside the earth, God will bring it forth; God is Subtle, Aware. 17My dear son, establish S~alāh, enjoin good and forbid evil, and be steadfast in any adversity you might face; this,a indeed, is one of the acts of resolution. 18Do not be wry-faced with people, and do not walk on the ground with a swagger; God does not like anyone who is vain, conceited. 19Be modest of carriage, and keep your voice low; the most disgusting voice, indeed, is that of a donkey.’


12.a. ‘Be grateful to God!’ This is the essence of the wisdom Luqmān received from God. For wisdom begins with the offering of gratitude to God.

14.a. The whole of vss. 14-15 are parenthetical. As Amīn Ahsān Islāhī points out in his Qur’ān commentary, Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān (Lahore, 1967, 1980), 5:127, the theme of monotheism, which is a right of God upon man, and the theme of kindness towards parents, a right of men upon one another, go together in the Qur’ān. Luqmān talks about the first right, but, since he is advising his own son, he omits, out of modesty, mention of his own right as a parent. God, however, supplies the omission in the form a parenthetic remark, hence the shift of person, from ‘he’ (Luqmān) to ‘We’ (God).

15.a. Associate… world. That is, maintain good relations with them otherwise, treating them nicely in ordinary matters of this worldly life.

17.a. this: The demonstrative could refer to the act of remaining steadfast in the face of a difficulty, or it could be a compact reference to the several acts of establishing, prayer, enjoining good and forbidding evil and persevering in the face of difficulties.


أَلَمْ تَرَوْا أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُمْ مَّا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُ ظَاهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً وَمِنَ النَّاسِ مَنْ يُجَادِلُ فِيْ اللَّهِ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَّلَا هُدًى وَّلَا كِتَابٍ مُّنِيْرٍ Oوَإِذَا قِيْلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوْا مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُوْا بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا وَجَدْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ الشَّيْطَنُ يَدْعُوهُمْ إِلَى عَذَابِ السَّعِيْرِ Oوَمَنْ يُّسْلِمْ وَجْهَهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَى وَإِلَى اللَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِO وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَلَا يَحْزُنْكَ كُفْرُهُ إِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَنُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا عَمِلُوْا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِO نُمَتِّعُهُمْ قَلِيْلًا ثُمَّ نَضْطَرُّهُمْ إِلَى عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ Oوَلَئِنْ سَأَلْتَهُمْ مَّنْ خَلَقَ السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ لَيَقُوْلُنَّ اللَّهُ قُلِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُوْنَ O لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ Oوَلَوْ أَنَّ مَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَّالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيْزٌ حَكِيمٌO

20Have you not seen that God has pressed into your service what is in the heavens and what is in the earth, and has so amply bestowed on you His blessings, both obvious and hidden? And yet there are some people who would wrangle about God – without knowledge, guidance, or a book that would shed light! 21When it is said to them, ‘Follow that which God has sent down,’ they say; ‘Rather, we shall follow what we have found our forefathers practising.’ Even if Satan were inviting thema to the punishment of flames?

22One who turns his face to God in submission, being a doer of good deeds, he surely holds on to the Firm Loop.a And with god rests the conclusion of all matters.b 23But he who disbelieves, let not his disbelief grieve you. To Us is their return, and then We shall apprise them of what they have done; God is aware of the secrets of the hearts. 24We shall give them a meagre provision,a and shall then drag them over to a harsh punishment.b

25If you should ask them: ‘Who created the heavens and the earth?’ they would surely say: ‘God!’ Say: ‘Praise be to God!’ Most of them do not know, however.

26To God belongs what is in the heavens and the earth: God alone is the Self-Sufficient, Praised One. 27Even if all the trees of the earth were to become pens, and the ocean were to be subsequently augmented by seven more oceans,a the Words of Godb would not be exhausted: God is Powerful, Wise.


21.a. them: The object pronoun could refer to those being addressed by the Qur’ān or, preferably, to their forefathers, in which case their present-day followers would also be included by implication.

22.a. Loop: That is, rope-loop. The image is that of a man who grasps the loop at the end of a rope thrown to him and is thus saved from tripping, falling, or drowning.

b. And .. matters: More literally: ‘And to God will be referred the conclusion of all matters.’

27.a. the ocean … more oceans: That is, if the ocean were to become ink and, after its depletion, were to be replenished by seven more oceans of ink.

b. Words of God: The Arabic Kalimāt Allah refers to the description, which is made up of words, of the praise-worthy attributes and marvellous acts of God.


مَا خَلْقُكُمْ وَلَا بَعْثُكُمْ إِلَّا كَنَفْسٍ وَّاحِدَةٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيْعٌ بَصِيْرٌO أَلَمْ تَرَى أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُوْلِجُ اللَّيْلَ فِي النَّهَارِ وَيُوْلِجُ النَّهَارَ فِي اللَّيْلِ وَسَخَّرَ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ كُلٌّ يَّجْرِيْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى وَّأَنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُوْنَ خَبِيرٌ Oذَلِكَ بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنَّ مَا يَدْعُوْنَ مِنْ دُونِهِ الْبَاطِلُ وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْعَلِيُّ الْكَبِيرُ Oأَلَمْ تَرَى أَنَّ الْفُلْكَ تَجْرِيْ فِي الْبَحْرِ بِنِعْمَةِ اللَّهِ لِيُرِيَكُمْ مِنْ آيَاتِهِ إِنَّ فِيْ ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِكُلِّ صَبَّارٍ شَكُوْرٍ Oوَإِذَا غَشِيَهُمْ مَّوْجٌ كَالظُّلَلِ دَعَوُا اللَّهَ مُخْلِصِيْنَ لَهُ الدِّيْنَ فَلَمَّا نَجَّاهُمْ إِلَى الْبَرِّ فَمِنْهُمْ مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمَا يَجْحَدُ بِآيَاتِنَا إِلَّا كُلُّ خَتَّارٍ كَفُوْرٍ Oيَاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوْا رَبَّكُمْ وَاخْشَوْا يَوْمًا لَّا يَجْزِيْ وَالِدٌ عَنْ وَلَدِهِ وَلَا مَوْلُوْدٌ هُوَ جَازٍ عَنْ وَّالِدِهِ شَيْئًا إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ فَلَا تَغُرَّنَّكُمْ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا وَلَا يَغُرَّنَّكُمْ بِاللَّهِ الْغَرُوْرُO إِنَّ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ وَمَا تَدْرِيْ نَفْسٌ مَّاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيْمٌ خَبِيْرٌO

28Neither creating you nor raising you up is any different than a single individuala: God is One Hearing, Watching. 29Have you not seen that God injects night into day and injects day into night, and holds the sun and the moon in subjection – each coursing along up to a designated time – and that God is aware of what you do? 30This is so because God alone is the true deity and those other than God they call upon are the false ones; and He alone is the Exalted One, the Great.

31Have you not seen that ships sail in the ocean by the grace of God, in order that He might show you some of His signs? In all this there are signs for all those who are truly steadfast and grateful.

32And when they are enveloped by waves that are like canopies, they call upon God, making submission to Him exclusively. But when He conveys them safely to the land, some of them keep to the straight path.a The only people who stubbornly reject Our verses are those who are perfidious, ungrateful.

33O people, fear your Lord and dread a day when a father shall be of no avail to his child, nor is a child going to be of any avail whatsoever to his father. God’s promise is true, so life in this world must not lead you into deception; neither must the Deceivera lead you into deception about God.

34Knowledge of the Houra rests with God only. Heb sends down the rain, and Heb knows what is in the wombs. No individual knows in what land he will die. God is Knowledgeable, Aware.


28.a. Neither… individual: That is: Creating all of you or raising all of you from the dead is no more difficult for Him than creating or raising up from the dead a single individual.

32.a. some… path: The implication is that only some keep to the straight path, the rest forgetting the commitment they made.

33.a. Deceiver: Satan.

34.a. the Hour: That is, the Last Hour.

34.b.He: That is, ‘He alone’.


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