His Name, Origin, and Epithet
The scholars have differed regarding the name and lineage of Luqman the Wise in two opinions, as follows:
The first opinion is that he is Luqman bin Ba’uraa bin Nahoor bin Tarakh, and he is Azar. It is said that he was the nephew of Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him), and it is also said that he was his cousin. This is what the majority of scholars of Tafseer have agreed upon, and they relied on what was narrated by Ibn Ishaq, where he said: “And he is Luqman bin Ba’uraa bin Nahoor bin Tarakh, and he is Azar Abu Ibrahim. Wahb said: he was the nephew of Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him) and Muqatil said: It was mentioned that he was the cousin of Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him).” Imam Al-Baydawi and Al-Khazin said, “He lived until he reached the time of Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him) and gained knowledge from him. He used to issue religious rulings before him.”
The second opinion is that of Imam Ibn Kathir in his book Al-Bidayah wa An-Nihayah. He said, “He is Luqman bin `Anqa’ bin Sadun, and it is also said that he is Luqman bin Tharan. Al-Suhayli narrated this from Ibn Jarir and Al-Qutaibi. Al-Suhayli said, “He was from Nubia, from the people of Aylah (in modern-day Jordan). I say that he was a righteous man, devoted in worship, eloquent in speech, and possessed great wisdom. It is also said that he was a judge during the time of Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him). Allah knows best.”
The scholars of Tafseer differed on the name of Luqman, whether it is an Arabic or a foreign name. There are two opinions:
The first one: it is a foreign name, not inflected in Arabic due to its foreign origin. Al-Fayroozabadi said: “It is a foreign name that cannot be inflected. It is said to be Hebrew or Syriac.”
The second opinion: it is an Arabic name. Ibn Ashur said: “Luqman is a proper name derived from the Arabic اللقم. It appears that the Arabs Arabized it by using a word similar to their language as they did with Saul, whom they called Talut, and this was not due to its foreignness. It cannot be inflected due to the addition of the letters Alif and Nun.”
As for his epithet, many scholars of Tafseer have attributed the epithet “al-Hakim” (the Wise) to Luqman. It is said that Luqman al-Hakim, and this was narrated by Mujahid, Sa’id bin Jubayr, and others. This is derived from the following verse of the Qur’an: “Indeed, We blessed Luqman with wisdom, ˹saying˺, “Be grateful to Allah, for whoever is grateful, it is only for their own good. And whoever is ungrateful, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praiseworthy.” (Luqman 31:12)
His Time and Place
As for his time, reliable sources did not mention the era in which Luqman Al-Hakeem lived, but interpreters differed regarding his time in two opinions as follows:
The first opinion: The majority of the scholars of Tafseer said that Luqman Al-Hakeem lived during the time of Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him). Imam Ibn Kathir mentioned that Mujahid said: “Luqman was a judge among the Children of Israel in the time of Prophet Dawud (peace be upon him), and there is no mention of this in the books of the Israelites.”
The second opinion is that Luqman lived between the times of Prophet Isa and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them).
However, the first opinion is the most widely accepted by most scholars of Tafseer and historians and this is supported by reliable evidence. Ibn Hajar said, “In Al-Mustadrak with an authentic chain of narration from Anas, he said: ‘Luqman was with Prophet Dawud, while the latter was weaving the armor, Luqman was amazed and wanted to ask him about its usefulness but his wisdom prevented him from asking.’ This indicates clearly that he lived during the time of Prophet Dawud…Tabari and others narrated from Mujahid that he was a judge over the Children of Israel during the time of Prophet Dawud.”
Al-Hakim narrated from Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, that Lqman was with Prophet Dawud, peace be upon him, while he was making the armor and he was twisting it with his hand like this. Lqman was amazed and wanted to ask him about it, but his wisdom prevented him from doing so. When Prophet Dawud finished making the armor, he put it on himself and said, “This is a great armor for war.” Then Lqman said, “Silence is a part of wisdom and few are those who practice it so I remained silent, even though I wanted to ask you, until you satisfied me [with your explanation].”
And based on this, it is possible to estimate the time in which Luqman lived, according to the estimates of historians and contemporary scholars of the antiquities of the time of Prophet Dawud. Based on modern estimates by historians and archaeologists, it is possible that the wise Luqman lived in the 10th century BCE. This is based on the current estimation that Prophet Dawud lived in the 10th century BCE (960-1000 BCE).
As for his origin, scholars have differed on it and which country he belonged to. There are three opinions:
The first opinion is what Ja’far bin Abdullah and Saeed bin Musayyib said that Luqman was black and from Egypt, meaning that he was from the people of Nubia, which is located today in the Aswan Governorate of Egypt.
The second opinion is that he was an Ethiopian slave, as Ibn Abbas stated, and what Imam Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim narrated from Mujahid that he said, “Luqman the Wise was an Ethiopian slave with thick lips and armored feet and a judge over the Children of Israel.”
The third opinion is that Luqman was from the people of Aila, which is a city on the coast of the Red Sea, south of Syria. Some say it is at the end of Hijaz and the beginning of Sham, and it is known today as “Aqaba,” which is a port in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
The most likely opinion is that Luqman was from Nubia in Egypt, due to the abundance of narrations from the Tafseer scholars regarding this issue.
As for whether Luqman was a free man or a slave, most agree that he was a slave.
They also differed regarding his profession and there are three opinions:
The first one: he was a tailor in Egypt, as stated by Saeed bin Al-Musayyib.
The second one: he was a shepherd.
The third: he was a carpenter.
Luqman in the Qur’an
He is mentioned only twice in Surah Luqman in the Qur’an.
His Physical Attributes and Character
His Physical Attributes
He is physically often described as a black man with big lips and toughened or cracked feet.
He was a man who believed in Allah, worshipped Him and was grateful to Him. Allah had bestowed upon him wisdom, knowledge and understanding. He was a wise and righteous adviser and preacher. Imam Ibn Ashur said, “Luqman is the name of a wise and righteous man, and most of the narrations about him, although their chains of transmission may be weak, indicate that he was black. It was said that he was from the Nubian lands, and it was said that he was from Abyssinia.”
In reality, what is mentioned in the Quran is only his name, Luqman. The variations in his name, lineage and attributes have no evidence from the Quran or the Sunnah, so it is necessary to stop at that. Al-Alusi said after mentioning these differences, “I have no confidence in any of these reports, but I mention them because they were transmitted by trustworthy exegetes. I choose to believe that he was a righteous and wise man, but not a prophet.”
The Quran did not provide further details about Luqman, except that he was a man who believed in Allah, worshipped Him, was grateful to Him, and was a sincere adviser. He also had a son, whom he advised and taught. Salah Abdel Fattah Al-Khaldi said, “Our Islamic sources have not provided any certain information about what is mentioned in the Quran about him. Therefore, most of the story surrounding him is ambiguous in the Quran, and we have no evidence to clarify it. We do not know when or where he lived or the people he lived among. We do not know if he was a prophet or simply a wise scholar and believer. We only know what is mentioned in the Quran and are unaware of his words, sermons, and wisdom.”
This means that we should stop discussing what is mentioned about him in the reports and sayings because they are from Isra’iliyat and unproven narrations. We should not believe them, reject them, or transmit them. The Quran did not state that Luqman was a prophet, nor did it deny it. It remained silent on the matter, and therefore, we should not claim that he was a prophet because he might not have been one. Neither should we deny his prophethood because he might have been one. The safest approach is to stop discussing this matter and acknowledge the limitations of our knowledge, as we only know what Allah has taught us or what He has guided us to know.
Luqman al-Hakeem (may Allah be pleased with him) was one of the wise men whom Allah mentioned in the Quran. This attribute indicates his status, greatness, honor, and high position. This is what most commentators of the Qur’an have concluded, that Allah Almighty gave him wisdom, which is understanding, reason, and correctness in speech without prophecy.
Some scholars agree that Luqman was wise, righteous, and a saint, but not a prophet. Al-Baghawi said: “Scholars agree that he was wise and not a prophet, except for ‘Ikrimah, who said that Luqman was a prophet, and he was alone in this view.”
Surah Luqman in the Noble Quran was named after him, and its mention in the book of Allah is evidence of his honor and status. His name is associated with wisdom in every time and place, and he is used as an example. The fact that a surah in the Quran was named after him indicates the greatness and status of Luqman in the Quran. He is mentioned twice in the surah, which also indicates his honor and status in the sight of Allah and people.
The wisdom of Luqman is famous for its articulate sayings about the realities of situations and the hidden truths in the best of examples. Educators and people of goodness have focused on it, and it has been transmitted by wise people, historians, and the public.
I am a Pakistani-American Muslim blogger. I hold a B.S. in Information Technology and a B.A. in Islamic Studies. I am also a follower and a student of the Hanbali school of Islamic law. Read more