Download PDF: [S] The WIsdom of a Slave

The famous Tabaa’e, Makhul, mentions that the Hakeen Luqman was a Nubian who came from an area in Egypt where the Nubians originated from. (Mu’jamul Buldaan)


It is also mentioned that Almighty Allah had blessed him with immense wisdom and intelligence. He was once a slave and the Bani Israel had purchased him for a few grams of gold. He then began to work in the house of his master.


The owner of Hakeem Luqmah liked playing chess and through this game, he also used to gamble. Outside the house, ran a small river. Once, while this owner was playing chess with his opponent, they had a bet that whoever loses this game would have to drink all the water in the river. At the same time, if the person who lost could not do this, then he would have to pay a penalty which would be described by the winner. It so happened that the owner of Luqman lost this match.


When the winner saw this, he mentioned to the owner of Luqman, “You have lost the match and you will have to either drink the water of the entire river or agree on a Fidyah which I will nominate.”


The owner of Luqman asked him what Fidyah he would be happy with. He replied, “My payment is that I will remove both your eyes and I will also become the owner of all of your property”.


The owner of Luqman asked that he be given a day to think about this. This was agreed upon. Now, obviously, the owner of Luqman was extremely worried. He was once sitting in this worried state when Luqman arrived in the house.


It was also the habit of both master and slave that whenever they sat together, they used to discuss words of wisdom and other issues, however, the master was extremely silent on that day. When Luqman asked his master about what problem he had, the master did not reply. He then asked his master this question two or three times and mentioned that perchance he might have a solution to his problems. But if he did not reveal the true story, he would not be able to come up with a solution.


When the master saw the insistence of Luqman, he told him that had happened when he was playing chess and the bet which he had lost. Luqman heard this story and assured his master that he had a solution to this problem. When his master asked him the solution, he replied, “When the winner of this game approaches you to drink the water of this river, you must ask him whether you must drink the water on both sides of the river or the water in the middle of the river. When he hears these words, he will definitely tell you to drink the water which is on the side or the bank of the river. When he tells you this, you must tell him to hold the water in the middle of the river so that you can drink the water on the bank of the river. In this manner, you will be free of your bet because obviously, he will never be able to hold back the water from the middle of the river.”


When his master heard this solution he was very happy. The next day when this person arrived to claim his prize, the master asked him whether he wanted him to drink the water from the river bank or from the middle of the river. Obviously, he mentioned that he wanted him to drink the water from the banks of the river. The master of Luqman then asked him to first hold back the water from the middle of the river so that he could complete his task. When the person replied that he could not hold back the water from the middle of the river, immediately the master of Luqman replied, “If you cannot do this, then I cannot drink this water and in this way, both of our conditions cannot be met and completed.” In this manner, the person became free of his debt. In fact, the master of Luqman became so happy with him that he immediately released Luqman. (Akhbaarul Azkiyah ibn Jouzi)