Adapted from: "Imam 'Ali's First Treatise on The Islamic Ethics and Education" by: "Zainol Aabideen Qorbani Lahiji"
The historians are not unanimous as to the status of Luqman. Was he a Prophet? When did he live? Nobody knows for sure. Most of the historians are of the belief that Luqman was a ugly-looking man from Nubia (in the Northern part of Sudan between Ethiopia and Egypt), living at the time of the Prophet David. Because of his noble thoughts, God gave him highest degree of wisdom. It is narrated from the Prophet (S) who said, "I rightfully say Luqman was not a Prophet, but he was a thoughtful obedient servant of God. He had strong faith and certainty. He loved God and God loved him, too. That is why he received the asset of wisdom from God. Luqman was sleeping when suddenly heard: ‘O Luqman, do you want to be God’s representative on earth so that you may judge among people’?
Luqman replied: ‘If God gives me option, I will not accept such a huge responsibility. But if He orders me to do so, I will whole-heartedly accept because I know if I accept such a task, He will help me not to go astray.’
The angels, whom he couldn’t see, asked Luqman: Why?
He answered: “It is the most hazardous job to judge between people. For a judge it is a formidable job. If a person is protected by God, he is saved and if he does not go the right path, he will lose the way to paradise.
A person who is ashamed here but raises his head in the Hereafter is better than a person who keeps his head high here, but is ashamed in the Hereafter. A man who sells the Hereafter for this world will have neither here nor there”.
The angels were surprised at Luqman’s reasoning. Luqman said this and fell asleep. God put the light of wisdom in his heart. When he awoke, he started talking wisely. He helped David with his wisdom. David told him, "I envy you Luqman. Now you have passed your test"53
Thus, because of Luqman’s obedience to God, he received the treasure of wisdom. God named one of the Surahs of Qur’an after him. In that surah God put some of Luqman’s advice to his children. One of which is the following:
"واِذ قال لقمانُ لإبنه وهو يَعِظُهُ يا بُنيَّ لا تُشرِك بالله اِنَّ الشِّركَ لظُلمٌ عَظِيم"
“And when Luqman said to his son while he admonished him: O my son! do not associate aught with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous iniquity” [Qur’an 31:13]
يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِنْ تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُنْ فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ. يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ. وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ. وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِنْ صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنْكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ
“O my son! Surely if it is the very weight of the grain of a mustard-seed, even though it is in (the heart of) rock, or (high above) in the heaven or (deep down) in the earth, Allah will bring it to light; Surely Allah is Knower of subtleties, Aware.
O my son! Keep up prayer and enjoin the good and forbid the evil, and bear patiently that which befalls you; surely these acts require courage. And do not turn your face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exulting overmuch; surely Allah does not love any self-conceited boaster. And pursue the right course in your going about and lower your voice; surely the most hateful of voices is braying of the asses” [Qur’an 31:16-18].
53. Tafsir Majma’ al-Bayan, vol.8, pp.315-316; Bihar al-Anwar, vol.3, p.424; Tafsir Namunah, vol.17, pp.44-46; Dehkhoda Loqat Nameh, vol.36, pp.256-260.