Surah Al Qasas (No. 28) Verses 76-85
The Story of Qaroon
THE STORY OF QAROON
There are important lessons for us to in the story of Qaroon mentioned in Surah Al-Qasas (XXVIII- verses 76 to 85) which Pickthall has rendered into English as follows:
"Verily, Qaroon was of Moses folk, but he oppressed them; and We gave him so much treasure the keys thereof would verily have been a burden for a troop of mighty men. When his own folk said unto him: "Exult not; verily Allah loveth not the exultant;
"But seek the abode of the hereafter in that which Allah hath given thee, and neglect not thy portion of the world, and be thou kind even as Allah hath been kind to thee, and seek not corruption in the earth; verily Allah loveth not corrupters;
"He said: 'I have been given it only on account of knowledge I possess. Knew he not that Allah had destroyed already of generation before him men who were mightier than him in strength and greater in respect following? The guilty are not questioned of their sins.
"Then went he forth before his people in his pomp. Those who were desirous of the life of the world said:
"'Ah, would that unto us had been given the like of what hath been given unto Qaroon! Verily, he is endowed with mighty fortune."
"But those who had been given knowledge said:
"'Woe unto you! The reward of Allah for him who believeth and doeth right is better, and only the steadfast will obtain it.'
"So we caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then he had no host to help him against Allah, nor was he of those who can save themselves.
"And morning found those who had coveted his place but yesterday crying:
"'Ah, welladay! Allah enlargeth the provision for whom He will of His slaves and straighteneth it (for whom He will). If Allah had not been gracious unto us He would have caused it to swallow us (also). Ah, welladay! the disbelievers shall not prosper.
"As for that abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor corruption. The sequel is for those who ward of (evil).
"Whoso bringeth a good deed, he will have better than the same; while as for him who bringeth an ill deed, those who do ill deeds will be requited only what they did.
"Verily, He Who hath given thee the Quran for the law will surely bring thee home again. Say:
"'My Lord is best aware of him who bringeth guidance and him who is in error manifest.'"
- I have substituted the word 'keys' for the word 'stores' in the translation to bring it in accordance with the translations of Shah Waliullah and Shah Rafiuddin whose authority must, in my opinion, prevail.
- Qaroon's wealth is proverbial. Instead of thanking Allah for his abundance of wealth he acted unjustly and oppressed his people. They advised him not to exult in his wealth and, instead, to employ it in good deeds seeking the pleasure of Allah and the abode of the Hereafter. This advice was accompanied by the significant remark that he should not neglect his portion of this world. The teachings of the Quran strike a happy mean between spiritual and material welfare, and forbid nothing that is truly good for us in this world. Believers are urged again and again to seek Allah's bounties through Sabr, which means steadfast endeavours as Shah Abdul Qadir explains in Muzahul Quran. The gift of wealth carries with it duties and responsibilities:
"And strain not thine eyes after that which We cause some amongst them to enjoy, the splendour of the life of the world, that We may try them thereby. The provision of thy Lord is better and more lasting." (XX- 131)
A believer is grateful to his Lord for such wealth as He may be pleased to give him, and it is his endeavour to do good to Allah's creatures as Allah has done good to him. Wealth is sometimes employed in the pursuit of sinful pleasure, or for causing corruption in the pursuit of more wealth. A believer must be ever careful to avoid any such misuse of Allah's bounty. There is no sin in the pursuit of wealth if it does not lead to any deviation from the Sirat-i-Mustaqim or the path of moral rectitude. Sirat-i-Mustaqim, which is specifically defined in verses 152 to 154 of Surah Al- Anaam - VI, means Islam, as the Prophet (Peace and Blessing be upon him) is reported by Hazrat Abdullah Ibni Masood to have said.
- Qaroon's claim that his treasures had been given to him only on account of the knowledge he possessed was an empty boast in which he ignored the all-pervading supremacy of Divine dispensation. It is important to remember how the mighty with all their vast resources and splendour, have sometimes been engulfed in sudden disaster and reduced to utter helplessness. A believer does not hanker after worldly power mainly for the sake of it. His ideal is excellence in good deeds and wealth is of value to him only to the extent that is helpful in the attainment of his ideal. Mere worldly splendour is bound, sooner or later , to fade:
"But the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better for resort." (XIX - 47).
"Allah increaseth in right guidance those who walk aright, and the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better for resort. (XIX-47)
Those who have knowledge and wisdom realise that worldly splendour is transient and that Allah enlargeth the provision for whom He will and straightens it for whom He pleases.
- For a believer who has faith in the Hereafter it is easy to see that ultimate success is for those who ward off evil, and those who wish to be haughty seek oppression or corruption.
- When the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) performed the Hijrat by leaving Mecca, where he and his followers were being subjected to cruel persecution, for Medina he may have doubted if he would ever return to Mecca. He was given the assurance that He who had in His great mercy given him the Quran for the law will also bring him back to his home. The promise was fulfilled within eight years, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came back to Mecca and defeated utterly the enemies of Islam with all their superiority in numbers and material resources.
"Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away." (VVII-81).
- A Muslim having the Quran for his guide is justly confident of being rightly guided, but the teachings of the Quran do not permit him to be arrogant, or thoughtlessly to condemn others who may appear to hold views different from his. We are told in the Quran that Allah is the best judge of differences and that he will judge on the Day of Judgment. We are repeatedly urged at the same time to ponder and reflect, and act with deliberate wisdom.
- Wealth is a trial but not a thing to be despised. It is a thing to be thankful for when acquired by legitimate means. The way to express gratitude for Allah's gifts is to make the best use of them. What is forbidden is greed and corruption. The evident purpose of the ordinances of the Quran relating to Zakat, prohibition of usury and interest and rules of inheritance is to secure justice in the distribution of wealth. Extravagance and waste are also condemned:
"Verily, squanderers were ever brothers of the devils and the devil was ever an ingrate to his Lord" (XVII-27)
"Verily, He loveth not the extravagant" (VII-31)
It is one of the merits of believers that:
"When they spend, are neither prodigal nor grudging and there is ever firm station between the two" (XXV-67)
Freedom from greed is a condition of prosperity:
"And who so is saved from his own greed, such are the prosperous" (LXIV-16)
It is a well-known fact that the greedy business man misses the richer prizes in commerce and industry, and is apt too often to suffer disaster through his greed. It is important for every believer to remember that his first duty is to Allah. He must have ever before him the believer's ideal of good deeds. In the pursuit of wealth he must guard against temptation to deviate from the path of moral rectitude. The ultimate success is for those who ward off evil. The way of life taught by the Quran would, if followed in the right spirit, promote peace, and prosperity of all mankind:
"So set thy purpose for religion as a man by nature upright - the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah's creation. That is their right religion, but most men know not - Turning unto Him (only); and be careful of your duty unto Him, and establish Salat and be not of those who are Mushrikeen; of those who split up their religion and become schismatics, each sect exulting in its tenets" (XXX 30 to 32).