Date, Context and Theme
The scholars say that it could be a Meccan or Medinan sura so I am not sure. It felt like it was dealing with Meccan issues to me. The theme is wisdom. The Qur’an and Islamic worship are portrayed as the wise way to live.
v. 1, Mystery letters, Alif. Lam. Mim.
Vv. 2-3, the Qur’an is introduced as wisdom.
Vv. 4-11, Those who believe in the here-after will receive this guidance but the unbelievers turn away and will receive doom.
Vv. 12-34 The story of the wisdom of Luqman and it application to Muhammad’s situation.
* vv. 12-13 Luqman’s receives wisdom from God.
* Vv. 14-15 Luqman’s wisdom applied to Muhammad’s situation.
* vv. 16-20 Luqman’s conversation of wisdom to his son.
* Vv. 21-34 Luqman’s wisdom applied to Muhammad’s situation.
What I found interesting.
1. This sura was quite short and had an easy structure. My Muslim friends tell me that Luqman is a famous name in Islamic culture for wisdom. Lugman is not a person from the Christian and Jewish scriptures. Thus the Qur'an is not bound to the Jewish and Christian scriptures.
2. It is interesting to see that the word for Jihad is used of those (Meccans?) who are trying to turn the Muslims away from Allah.
But if they strive (jihad) with thee to make thee ascribe unto Me as partner that of which thou hast no knowledge, then obey them not. ... 31:15
3. We learn about what the pre-Islamic Meccans believe in these verses.
And if it be said unto them: Follow that which Allah hath revealed, they say: Nay, but we follow that wherein we found our fathers. What! Even though the devil were inviting them unto the doom of flame? 31:21
If thou shouldst ask them: Who created the heavens and the earth? they would answer: Allah. Say: Praise be to Allah! But most of them know not. 31:25
4. Some Muslims have said to me that John 21:25 is a bit ridiculous,
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:25
But there is a similar description in the Qur’an.
And if all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to help it, (were ink), the words of Allah could not be exhausted. Lo! Allah is Mighty, Wise. 31:27
5. I want to think more on this verse.
Your creation and your raising (from the dead) are only as (the creation and the raising of) a single soul. Lo! Allah is Hearer, Knower. 31:28
When it talks about creation and a “single soul” is that referring to Adam or is it describing the ease with which Allah creates and resurrects?
6. I thought that this verse beautifully preserves the ancient view that ships lead to discovery and wonder, in this case Allah's wonders. I think we do not view ships this way any more, though we may view space ships this way?
Hast thou not seen how the ships glide on the sea by Allah's grace, that He may show you of His wonders? Lo! therein indeed are portents for every steadfast, grateful (heart). 31:31