My Beloved Son
Brothers and sisters, this month’s message to you is one that was given many centuries ago by a father to his son. Oftentimes Muslims study the first verses of the passage depicting the dialogue between Luqman (A) and his son without paying close attention to the second part of advice he offers his son. Thus, I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the wisdom embedded in these two verses.
Allah (SWT) states, “My dear son! If there be something which is no more than the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be hidden in a rock, or in the skies, or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Allah is Gracious, All-Aware.” (31:16)
Luqman begins his advice to his son with the words, “My dear son,” highlighting the love and compassion Luqman expressed verbally to his son before teaching and advising him. We learn that when we seek to advise our children, our wives or husbands, or our Muslim brothers and sisters, it must stem from a deep love and concern for them to succeed in this life and the next, and not enmity or a desire to score points. We must take the time to offer them (naseeha) advice, in-person and in private with sincere intentions to guide and support them.
After capturing the attention of his son, Luqman (A) paints the image of a tiny mustard seed misplaced in a large boulder somewhere in the heavens or the earth, hidden deep in layer beneath layer. He says, “Allah will bring it forth” easily, with no hassle. Allah (SWT) is not only fully aware of what we do but is also precise in tracing every detail.
It is not enough to advise our children to be mindful of Allah (SWT) and to simply state that Allah is always watching them. We must remind them that there is nothing we can hide from Him even if we were to spend all of our time and energy burying it deep beneath the earth, Allah is aware of it and will hold us into account for it. Luqman raises his son’s awareness of Allah’s knowledge that encompasses everything and makes him conscious of His precision in exposing all sins. The image of the weightless mustard seed juxtaposed to the vast skies and earth inspire both awe and fear.
After instilling trust in Allah’s justice who will not allow a single mustard seed to escape and fear of His punishment, Luqman admonishes his son to establish prayer, “My dear son! Attend regularly to prayer, and enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and endure with fortitude whatever befalls you. These are matters that require strong resolve.” (31:17) He does not tell his son to pray, he says to establish prayer making it a solid foundation that structures his entire life. Salat reminds us of our duty to Allah (SWT) and of the day when all sins, however small, however hidden, will be exposed and judged.
An individual who establishes prayer and is conscious of Allah’s justice and judgment is one who enjoins that which is right and forbids that which is evil. It is not enough to establish prayer, prayer must influence our interactions and dealings. If our salat does not influence every part of our daily lives then it has not been established the way it should be and is merely a ritual.
Luqman continues to advise his son to endure with fortitude what befalls him, and to be patient and strong when he is tested because Luqman knows that enjoining right and forbidding evil is a lonely road taken by a few, and one which requires a strong relationship with Allah (SWT).
May Allah (SWT) make us among those who establish regular prayer, enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and may He give us the strength and patience to do so.
Sh. Jamal Said