Qarun and his downfall

إِنَّ قَارُونَ كَانَ مِن قَوْمِ مُوسَىٰ فَبَغَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ مَا إِنَّ مَفَاتِحَهُ لَتَنُوءُ بِالْعُصْبَةِ أُولِي الْقُوَّةِ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ قَوْمُهُ لَا تَفْرَحْ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَرِحِينَ

Indeed, Qarun was from the people of Moses, but he tyrannized them. And We gave him of treasures whose keys would burden a band of strong men; thereupon his people said to him, “Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant. [al Qasas: 76]

وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ

But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” [al Qasas: 77]

In the story of Qarun, we see an example of the helplessness of the human being despite his wealth and resources.

Qarun was from Bani Israeel. In other words he was a Muslim and he was also extremely wealthy. He was so wealthy, that it is said that the keys to his treasures would be carried by a group of 40 people. Because of his immense wealth, he was told to pay zakath, but out of arrogance he refused and left his people to join forces with Firawn.

So instead of being grateful for his blessings and spending them in the way of Allah and helping the destitute, he thought highly of himself and abandoned his people. And it is also said that Qarun was appointed as the tax collector by Firawn and instead of being lenient with the Bani Israeel, he was very oppressive.

There were still some good people amongst the Bani Israeel who enjoined good and forbade evil, and so they noticed Qarun’s behavior and began to admonish him.

“Do not exult. Indeed, Allah does not like the exultant.”

And they went on to tell him that instead of boasting and showing off, to spend his wealth in the right way.

“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter”

To seek through what Allah has given him, the home of the hereafter. To seek Jannah and Allah’s pleasure through these blessings. Spend in acts of obedience and not just on fulfilling desires and physical pleasures.

Wealth is not inherently evil. What makes it good or bad is how that wealth is used. If upon receiving wealth a person becomes arrogant, boastful and looks down on people, then that is bad for him. But if through that wealth, he earns the akhirah, then that is good for him. So it depends on a person’s intention and behavior.

“do not forget your share of the world.”

So these people from the Bani Israeel were advising Qarun to spend in the right way (seeking the Akhirah), but at the same time to keep a share for the Dunya as well, as there should be a moderation to spending. It’s not that you spend all your wealth in charity and then become poor yourself. No. Rather spend in the way of Allah, in acts of obedience, but enjoy your share of the Dunya within the limits that Allah has set. That’s moderation.  

 And then they continue to advise him by saying:

“And do good as Allah has done good to you.”

Do good to others, be generous to others – just has Allah has been generous to you. Bring delight to others, as Allah has brought delight to you.

“And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters”

Don’t abuse your money and your blessings. And on Earth there are two kinds of Fasad (corruption). One is to do with misappropriating and abusing the resources Allah has given in pursuit of personal selfish gains. And secondly, fasad among the people i.e. oppressing them and depriving them of their rights.

When a person hoards everything to himself, then this leads to corruption and chaos. So what we need to realize is that this Dunya is a land of investment. We need to use the blessings and resources of this world, to earn the blessings of the Hereafter.  

Abu Dharr (ra) said, “The Prophet (saw) said, ‘The wealthy persons would have little (reward) on the Day of Resurrection except upon whom Allah conferred goodness. He dispensed it to his right, left, in front of him and at his back (just as the wind diffuses fragrance) and did good with it (riches)’.” [al-Bukhari]

Blessings don’t necessarily refer to wealth. It could be other things too. So if you have ample amount of time on your hands, don’t hoard it to yourself, rather spend some time with others. If you have a specific skill or talent, then use those in the Way of Allah.

The Prophet (saw) said, “Allah gives special blessings to some of His servants in order to benefit His creation through them. If he spends, then his blessings remain safe, and if he withholds, then Allah takes it away from him and gives to others.” [al-Silsilah al-Saheehah]

 So next time you don’t feel like something good, think about this! There’s a great chance of Allah taking your blessing and giving it to someone else.

But Qarun didn’t heed the advice of his people. Instead he became more arrogant.

قَالَ إِنَّمَا أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ عِندِي ۚ أَوَلَمْ يَعْلَمْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ أَهْلَكَ مِن قَبْلِهِ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مَنْ هُوَ أَشَدُّ مِنْهُ قُوَّةً وَأَكْثَرُ جَمْعًا ۚ وَلَا يُسْأَلُ عَن ذُنُوبِهِمُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ

He said, “I was only given it because of knowledge I have.” Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him of generations those who were greater than him in power and greater in accumulation [of wealth]? But the criminals, about their sins, will not be asked. [al Qasas: 78]

فَخَرَجَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فِي زِينَتِهِ ۖ قَالَ الَّذِينَ يُرِيدُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا يَا لَيْتَ لَنَا مِثْلَ مَا أُوتِيَ قَارُونُ إِنَّهُ لَذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ

So he came out before his people in his adornment. Those who desired the worldly life said, “Oh, would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune.” [al Qasas: 79]

Qarun thought that all the wealth he had was because of his own efforts, and didn’t attribute his blessings to Allah. He thought that it was because of his efforts and intelligence that he had all that he had.

So in a great display of arrogance and with the intention of showing off, he came before his people in all his worldly splendor. This was part of his rebellion – they advised him, but he only grew in his arrogance.

So all eyes were on him and one group – speicifically the group that desired the Dunya – began to long for all that he had

“Oh, would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune.”

So for these people, their ultimate goal was the Dunya. Their ambitions were only limited to the Dunya.  When they saw Qarun with all his treasures, they thought Qarun was a man of great fortune and so they wished for something similar. The one who looks at the luxuries of another and thinks that such a person is so fortunate – then he has no lofty ambitions in life. Because he thinks the Dunya is everything. He is not looking beyond it, at the ultimate prize which is Jannah. In the sight of Allah, the truly fortunate one is the one who enters Jannah. The one who attains Allah’s pleasure. The gold standard is not this Dunya.

When we find ourselves wishing for what other people have, whether it is a nice house, or a car or jewelry, then this shows that the love of the Dunya is embedded in our hearts.

Anas reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying: The son of Adam grows old, but two (desires) in him remain young: desire for wealth and desire for life [Sahih Muslim]

How intense is this desire?

Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If Adam’s son had a valley full of gold, he would like to have two valleys [Sahih al Bukhari]

People are so busy in their pursuits for earning more money and in their pursuits for worldly pleasure. Its insatiable. It doesn’t satisfy them. They look at others and want more and more and more.

The only things worth envying – is a person having wealth and spending that wealth in the cause of Allah. And a person having knowledge that he implements. As for everything else, it is not worth envying.  

So Qarun flaunted his wealth before the people. And the group that had a love for this Dunya, desired what he had. But there was another group.  

وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ وَيْلَكُمْ ثَوَابُ اللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنْ آمَنَ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَلَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الصَّابِرُونَ

But those who had been given knowledge said, “Woe to you! The reward of Allah is better for he who believes and does righteousness. And none are granted it except the patient.” [al Qasas: 80]

The second group of people had knowledge. They knew and understood the reality of things. They knew the reality of the life of this world and that of the akhirah. They were able to distinguish between right and wrong. So they don’t get swayed and deluded by the Dunya. They see it for what it really is. This is the difference between the people of knowledge and the general masses.

So these people admonished the previous group, who were so dazzled by the wealth of Qarun.

“Woe to you!” So they are saying this to their faces. As, what are you being greedy for? You are envying Qarun, is he even worth envy? Where are your senses?

 “The reward of Allah is better”

The reward of Allah in the dunya, in the form of the pleasure and the tranquility a person feels when worshiping Him and loving Him, and turning to Him, and his reward in the akhirah and  all of what Jannah contains is better.

It is better than what these people are wishing for, it is better than what they desire, it is better than all that Qarun had. The reward of Allah is better.

But for whom? 

“for he who believes and does righteousness. And none are granted it except the patient.”

Even if you have little wealth, but you are righteous, then what Allah will give you later will be much better than what Qarun has.

That is why it is so important that we seek refuge in Allah from such a wealth that would corrupt us.  

And none is granted this supreme reward, except the patient ones. Those who are firm in their worship in every situation. Those who are steadfast in their adherence to the commands of Allah. Those who refrain from disobedience. Those who are patient in resisting the attractions and temptations of this world, because they don’t want it to distract them from fulfilling the purpose for which they were created.

So those who have this patience, they are the ones who are given precedence to Allah’s reward over the fleeting gains of this Dunya.

So what happened to Qarun. After his arrogant display, the punishment soon came down upon him.  

فَخَسَفْنَا بِهِ وَبِدَارِهِ الْأَرْضَ فَمَا كَانَ لَهُ مِن فِئَةٍ يَنصُرُونَهُ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُنتَصِرِينَ

And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves. [al Qasas: 81]

وَأَصْبَحَ الَّذِينَ تَمَنَّوْا مَكَانَهُ بِالْأَمْسِ يَقُولُونَ وَيْكَأَنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ ۖ لَوْلَا أَن مَّنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْنَا لَخَسَفَ بِنَا ۖ وَيْكَأَنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And those who had wished for his position the previous day began to say, “Oh, how Allah extends provision to whom He wills of His servants and restricts it! If not that Allah had conferred favor on us, He would have caused it to swallow us. Oh, how the disbelievers do not succeed!” [al Qasas: 82]

Allah caused the earth to sink in with him along with his home. And this recompense exactly matched his actions. He put himself above the servants of Allah, by looking down on the people, as a result Allah made him sink to the lowest of the low. This is the punishment for arrogance

 The Prophet (saw) said, “While a man was dragging his lower garment, he was swallowed up and he will remain sinking down into the earth until the Day of Resurrection.” [al-Bukhari]

The Prophet (saw) said, “When a man among the people who came before you went out wearing two green garments, walking proudly and arrogantly, Allah commanded the earth to swallow him up, and he will remain sinking down into it until the Day of Resurrection.” [Musnad Ahmed]

So Qarun could not help himself, neither could anyone help him.

All his wealth and resources and his servants and the things that he boasted – nothing could be of any use to him at this time.

 And the group of people who just earlier wished that they could be like him, who considered him fortunate, those very people knew they were mistaken in thinking this way. And were it not for the kindness and mercy of Allah, then they two would have been swallowed up by the Earth this way

Qarun was from the people of Musa (as), he was from the Muslims, but his Islam was not acceptable. He refused to pay the zakath, he refused to give the haqq of people through the wealth that Allah had given him. He was haughty, rebellious and arrogant. And so he was destroyed.  

The destruction of Qarun, was a punishment for him and also an admonition for others.  If Allah has given you wealth, resources or any form of blessing, use it in the right way. In obedience to Allah.

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