Luqman (Arabic: لقمان, romanized: Luqmān; also known as Luqman the Wise or Luqman al-Hakeem) was a wise man after whom Surah Luqman, the 31st sura (chapter) of the Quran, was named. Luqman (c. 1100 BC) is believed to have been from Nubia or from Egypt. There are many stories about Luqman in Persian, Arabic and Turkish literature, with the primary historical sources for his life being Tafsir ibn Kathir and Stories of the Qur'an by Ibn Kathir. While the Quran does not state whether Luqman was a prophet or not, some believe him to be a prophet and thus, add the honorific ʿAlaihis Salam (A.S.) after his name.
According to the 12th ayah (verse) of Surah Luqman in the Qur'an, Luqman was bestowed with wisdom by Allah, al-Hakim (the Most Wise).
We gave wisdom to Luqmān, and said, “Be grateful to Allah;” and whoever is grateful is, in fact, grateful for his own benefit, and whoever is ungrateful, then Allah is free of all needs, worthy of all praise.
According to a Hadith in the Muwatta of Imam Malik, Luqman was asked, "What has brought you to what we see?", referring to his high rank. Luqman said, "Truthful speech, fulfilling the trust, and leaving what does not concern me." This narration has also been mentioned with different wording in another source from ibn Jarir who heard it from ibn Hamid who heard it from al-Hakam who heard it from Umar ibn Qais.
In another Hadith, it is mentioned that for some people, a high rank in Jannah has been determined. However, when that person has not acquired the good deeds to reach that high rank, Allah causes him to receive some trials or tests, which, if accepted and borne patiently, will grant him the high status.
Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave. He was deprived of his freedom and could neither move nor speak freely. However, he suffered his bondage patiently, faithful and hopeful, waiting for Allah's action. This was the first of the trials that he had to bear.
The man who bought Luqman was good-hearted and intelligent, treating Luqman with kindness. He was able to detect that Luqman was not ordinary and thus, tried to test his intelligence and discovered its reality.
One day, the man ordered Luqman to slaughter a sheep and Luqman slaughtered the sheep. Then, he ordered Luqman to bring its best parts to him and Luqman took its heart and tongue to his master. On receiving them, his master smiled, fascinated by Luqman's choice of the 'best' part of the sheep. He understood that Luqman was trying to convey some deep meaning, even though he could not make out exactly what. From that moment onwards, his owner began to take more interest in Luqman and became kinder to him than before.
A few days later, Luqman was again instructed to slaughter a sheep - which he did - but this time he was asked to take the worst parts of the animal to his master. Once again, Luqman brought the heart and the tongue - to his master's amazement. When the master mentioned this to Luqman, the wise Luqman answered, "The tongue and the heart are the sweetest parts if they are good, and nothing can be worse than these if they are wicked!" Thereafter, Luqman's owner held him in great respect. Luqman was consulted by many people for advice, and the fame of his wisdom spread all over the country.
An Arabian mythical figure named 'Luqman' also existed long before the figure of the wise 'Luqman' appeared in the Quran, resulting in considerable debate of both theological and historical nature as to the relationship of the two characters.
Some, such as 17th-century French scholar Pierre-Daniel Huet, maintain that the two are the same person, but others argue that they simply share the same name. In Arabic proverb collections, the two characters are fused, drawing from both the Quran and pre-Islamic stories, endowing Luqman with superhuman strength and lifespan. The pre-Islamic Luqman was of the Ad people, who lived in Al-Ahqaf in the Arabian peninsula, near modern-day Yemen.
Malik related to me that he heard that someone said to Luqman, "What has brought you to what we see?" meaning his high rank. Luqman said, "Truthful speech, fulfilling the trust, and leaving what does not concern me."
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘When a person does not have enough good deeds to reach a certain level in Jannah, but Allah Ta’ala wants him to attain that level, then Allah Ta’ala tests him and puts him through difficult trials so that Allah may make him reach that level (in Jannah)’ (Sahih Ibn Hibban; Al Ihsan, Hadith: 2908) Similar narrations have also been recorded in Mustadrak Hakim, Musnad Ahmad, Musnad Abu Ya’la and Al Mu’jamul Kabir of Tabarani. (Refer: Mustadrak Hakim, vol. 1 pg. 344 and Majma’uz Zawaid, vol. 2 pg. 292)
Luqmān appears in Arabic tradition as a "composite" and a "many-sided figure": (a) The pre-islamic Luqmān; (b) The Qurʾānic Luqmān; and (c) Luqmān of fables.