The Story of Qarun (Korah)

Allah the Almighty says:
Now Qarun was of Musa’s folk, but he oppressed them; and We gave him so much treasure that the stores thereof would verily have been a burden for a troop of mighty men. When his own folk said unto him: Exult not; lo! 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; lo! 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 the generations before him men who were mightier than him in strength and greater in respect of 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 give like of what hath been given unto Qorah! Lo! he is lord of rare good 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 straiteneth 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 never prosper. As for that Abode of the Hereafter We assign it unto those who seek not oppression in the earth, nor yet corruption. The sequel is for those who ward off (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. (Al-Qasas, 76-84)
Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) held the opinion that Qarun was a paternal cousin to Musa (Peace be upon him). This view is supported by many other narrators, including Ibn Juraij who added that he is Qarun Ibn Yashar Ibn Qahith, while Musa (A.S.) was the son of Imran Ibn Hafith. Ibn Juraij went further and rejected the viewpoint of Ibn Ishaq that he was a paternal uncle to Musa (Peace be upon him). Qatadah said: He was called “An-Nur” (the light) for he had a melodious voice while reciting the Torah (Taurat), but he became a hypocrite just like As-Samiri who became a hypocrite too. Thus, Qarun was destroyed because of his transgression due to the wealth and riches he had. Shahr Ibn Haushab said: he dragged his garment out of pride and arrogance (conceit).
Allah the Almighty mentioned th e numerousness of his wealth and riches so that its keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. It was also said: the keys were made of leather and that they used to be carried on sixty mules. Allah knows best!
However, he was advised by the godly men from among his people saying: (Do not exult) i.e. do not be arrogant or conceited with riches, being ungrateful to Allah the Almighty.
(Verily Allah likes not those who exult (with riches, being ungrateful to Allah). “But seek with that (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter) they advise him to direct his endeavors to gain Allah’s Reward in the Hereafter as it is the best of all rewards. But, (and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world), i.e. take thereof with your money what is made lawful to you and have the possible lawful joys of this present life. And (do good as Allah has been good to you), i.e. do good to the creation of Allah Who has been good to you. And (seek not mischief in the land), i.e. do not harm the people regarding whom you were commanded to do good. If you harm them, He will punish you and take back what He has granted you
(Verily, Allah likes not the Mufsidun (those who commit great crimes and sins, oppressors, tyrants, mischief-makers, corrupts)). His answer to this good advice of his people was nothing but:
(He said: This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess), i.e. I do not need what you have said or referred to, as Allah only gave me this for He knew that I deserve it and I am really qualified thereto. Moreover, were it not for that He loves me, He would not grant or give me this.
However, Allah the Almighty refuted his statement saying: (Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount (of riches) they had collected? But the Mujrimun (criminals, disbelievers, polytheists, sinners) will not be questioned of their sins (because Allah knows them well, so they will be punished without being called to account)), i.e. We have destroyed before him generations because of their sins and bad deeds and that they were stronger than Qarun and they had more riches and children than him. So, if what he said was true, We would not punish anyone of those who had more riches than him and his wealth and riches would not be a proof of Our love or care for him. Allah the Almighty says: “And it is not your wealth, nor your children that bring you nearer to Us (i.e. please Allah), but only he who believes (in the Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds (will please Us), as for such, there will be twofold reward for what they did, and they will reside in the high dwellings Paradise) in peace and security). (Saba, 37) and, He says: (Do they think that in wealth and children with which We enlarge them. We hasten unto them with good things. Nay, (it is a Fitnah (trial) in this worldly life so that they will have no share of good things in the Hereafter) but they perceive not.” (Al-Muminun, 55,56).
Allah’s answer to Qarun’s claims confirms our interpretation of his saying, (This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess). But as for those who claimed that he was a chemist or that he knew the Greatest Name of Allah the Almighty and that he used it to collect wealth, all these are fallacies and not true. For chemistry cannot change the reality of something, and the Greatest Name is of no effect if it is pronounced by a disbeliever. And, Qarun was inherently a disbeliever and apparently a hypocrite. Moreover, the context of the advice given by his people and his answer to them do not support that claim. Almighty Allah says: (So he went forth before his people in his pomp), many interpreters mentioned that he went forth before his people in great luxuries (servants, clothes and riding animals). When those who were desirous of the life of the world saw him, they wished to have the same and wondered “What a great fortune he has!” When their saying reached the ears of the godly righteous men they said to them: (Woe to you! The reward of Allah is better for those who believe and do righteous good deeds), i.e. the reward of Allah in the Hereafter is better and higher than this.
Almighty Allah says: (and this none shall attain except those who are As-Sabirun (the patient in following the truth)), i.e. this advice, saying and high determination regarding the Hereafter in presence of the joys of this present life none shall attain except those who were guided and those whose hearts were fixed and minds made stable by the Grace of Allah the Almighty. And, nothing is better than the sayings of some of our earlier scholars who said: “Verily, Allah loves penetrative insight in time of suspicious matters and perfect reasoning in time of the presence of lusts”.
Allah the Almighty says: (So, We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place. Then, he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves), when Allah the Almighty mentioned his setting forth in his pomp, He said (So, We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place). As transmitted by Imam Al-Bukhari, Allah’s Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “While a man was walking, clad in a two-piece garment and proud of himself with his hair well combed, suddenly Allah made him sink into the earth and he will go on sinking into it till the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Narrated Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) and As-Sadiy that Qarun gave a prostitute a sum of money to say to Musa (Peace be upon him) while he is accompanied with other people that he (Musa) committed with her adultery. It is said that she did it and consequently, Musa (Peace be upon him) trembled with fear and he (A.S.) performed two Rakahs (bowing in prayer) and then said to her: By Allah! Tell me, who hired you to do this? She said: It was Qarun who hired me to do that. Then, she sought Allah’s Forgiveness and repented to Him. Upon that, he (Musa (Peace be upon him)) prostrated himself and invoked Allah against Qarun. Allah the Almighty revealed to him that He subjugated the earth to obey him. Musa (Peace be upon him) commanded the earth to swallow Qarun and his dwelling place. And it was! Allah knows best!
It was also said: That when Qarun went forth before his people in his pomp: guards, mules and clothes, he passed by Musa (Peace be upon him) while he (A.S.) was reminding the people of Allah. When the people saw him, the faces of most of them turned towards him. Musa (Peace be upon him) called him and said: Why do you do this? Qarun replied saying: O Musa! You have been favored with Prophethood and I have been favored with riches. If you want, you may go forth and invoke Allah against me, and I would invoke Him against you. Thereupon, both of them went forth and Musa (Peace be upon him) said: Would you like to begin? Qarun said: Yes, and he made his invocations but they were not answered. When Musa (Peace be upon him) invoked Allah the Almighty against him saying: O Allah! Command the earth to transgress today. Allah revealed to him that He did. Then, Musa (Peace be upon him) said: O earth! Take them! And it took them to their feet. Then, he (A.S.) said: take them! And it took them to their knees. Then, he (A.S.) said: take them! And it took them to their shoulders. Then, he (A.S.) said: O earth! Bring their riches and treasures! They were brought till they saw them, then Musa (Peace be upon him) pointed with his hand saying: Go, you sons of Laui! And they sank into the earth.
It was narrated from Qatadah that he (A.S.) said: “They would sink into the earth till the Day of Resurrection.” Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: “They sank into the earth till they reached the seventh earth.”
Allah the Almighty says: (Then he had no group or party to help him against Allah, nor was he one of those who could save themselves), i.e. he could not help himself or get help from others. Allah the Almighty states: (Then he will have no power, nor any helper). (At-Tariq, 10) When the people saw what happened to Qarun and his treasures of sinking into the earth and complete destruction, those who had desired for a position like his position the day before regretted and thanked Allah the Almighty and hence they said: (Had it not been that Allah was Gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up (also)! Know you not that the disbelievers will never be successful).
Then, Allah the Almighty informs us that (That home of the Hereafter), i.e. Paradise is prepared only for those (who rebel not against the truth with pride and oppression in the land nor do mischief by committing crimes) and then He says: (And the good end is for the Muttaqun (the pious and righteous persons)).
This story of Qarun might have taken place before they get out of Egypt for Allah the Almighty says: (So, We caused the earth to swallow him and his dwelling place), or it might have taken place after that during the Diaspora. Allah knows best!
However, Almighty Allah mentions the dispraise of Qarun in several Verses in the Glorious Quran. Allah says: “And indeed We sent Musa (Moses) with Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, .verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), and a manifest authority. To Firaun (Pharaoh), Haman and Qarun (Qorah), but they called (him): “A sorcerer, a liar!”” (Ghafir, 23, 24) and, in Surah Al-Ankabut after mentioning Ad, Thamud, Pharaoh, Haman and Qarun, He says: “And (We destroyed also) Qarun (Qorah), Firaun (Pharaoh), and Haman. And indeed Musa (Moses) came to them with lessons, clear Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.), but they were arrogant in the land, yet they could not outstrip Us (escape Our punishment). So, We punished each (of them) for his sins, of them were some on whom We sent Hasib (a violent wind with shower of stones) (as on the people of Lut (Lot)), and of them were some who were overtaken by As- Saihah (torment – awful cry, (as Thamud or Shuaib’s (A.S.) People)), and of them were some whom We caused the earth to swallow (as Qarun (Qorah)), and of them were some whom We drowned (as the people of Nuh (Noah), or Firaun (Pharaoh) and his people). It was not Allah Who wronged them, but they wronged themselves.” (Al-Ankabut, 39, 40) so, he who was swallowed by the earth was Qarun, and those whom were drowned were Pharaoh, Haman and their troops because they were sinful.
Imam Ahmed, in his Musnad, reported that once the Prophet (Peace be upon him) remembered the prayer and said: “He who observes it regularly and properly, it will be light, evidence and salvation for him on the Day of Resurrection. And, he who does not observe it regularly and properly, there will neither be for him light, nor evidence, nor salvation. And, on the Day of Resurrection, he will be (gathered) with Qarun, Firaun (Pharaoh), Haman and Ubaiy Ibn Khalaf”.