LIVING THE LEGACY OF QAROON
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LIVING THE LEGACY OF QAROON

 

 

In the Qur’aan in Suratul Qasas, from verses 76 to 82 spanning nearly two pages, Allah Ta’ala makes mention of the story of Qaroon-a tyrant of his times. Like every Qur’aanic story, the story of Qaroon is also intended to serve as a lesson and a warning to those who on account of their insatiable greed for wealth, transgress the limits set down by Allah Ta’ala.

 

 Qaroon, who was the cousin of Nabi Moosa Alaihis Salaam, was the proud owner of a fortune so vast and plentiful that he had to allocate special rooms in his palace for housing his vast wealth. Qaroon had rooms that contained nothing but cases full of gold, other rooms housed trunks brimming with silver, and in yet more rooms were bags stuffed full of gems and precious stones. All these treasure rooms he kept locked tight with a number of keys that, when placed together, could not even be carried easily by the strongest of men. According to some commentators of the Qur'aan the keys of Qaroon’s treasure were made of leather, each key like a finger, and each key was for a separate storeroom. When he rode anywhere, the keys would be carried on sixty mules with white blazes on their foreheads and white feet.

At the end of every day, Qaroon would go home and spend hours counting and recounting his gold, silver and gems. Yet, no matter how much wealth he amassed, Qaroon was never satisfied. Every morning he woke up with an unquenchable desire to make more money to add to his already legendary hoard. He wanted nothing more than to fill every room in his palace with riches, and once he accomplished that, he wanted to build even more rooms and fill them with riches, too.

Everywhere Qaroon went, he was followed by covetous and envious eyes. Over time it became common knowledge that Qaroon was one of the richest men in Egypt. Rumour had it that his hoards of wealth rivalled that of the Pharaoh himself. Because of this, everyone always whispered and stared whenever they saw Qaroon, who on the other hand gloated at the attention given to him and happily basked in the envy of those around him. With this grew his pride and arrogance. His wealth became his power.

There was one person though who neither envied Qaroon, nor admired him. This man was Moosa Alaihis Salaam. He saw the stark contrast between Qaroon, as he gloated and greedily amassed his wealth, and the majority of the Israelites, who suffered cruelly as they were forced to work as slaves toiling for hours under the relentlessly burning sun, with a pittance for a wage. This was exploitation at its worst!

Moosa Alaihis Salaam approached Qaroon and tried speaking to him of the plight of the Israelites and the unseemliness of his unabashed glee over his riches. He reminded Qaroon that all the wealth he had was a gift from a merciful and generous Allah but this only fell on deaf ears.

 Moosa Alaihis Salaam also warned Qaroon that the prodigious fortune he had was a test from Allah Ta’ala to see if he would be grateful for it, and use it wisely, keeping some, spending some and giving some away. Or, if he would be corrupted by it, and fall victim to a blindness of the heart thereby never seeing or acknowledging the needs of the people around him.

Qaroon ignored Moosa Alaihis Salaam’s passionate words and looked admiringly at the jewellery he wore and the rich and opulent furnishings of his home instead. Moosa Alaihis Salaam eventually stopped his admonishment when he saw Qaroon’s indifference to his advices.

When Qaroon saw that Moosa Alaihis Salaam had abandoned his admonishments, He became even prouder and haughtier. To him Moosa Alaihis Salaam’s silence was a victory for him proving that he was more powerful. He arrogantly claimed that everything he owned he had earned with his wit and his knowledge, and he didn't have anyone to thank for it but himself.

Moosa Alaihis Salaam warned Qaroon that he was fooling himself if he thought he was on the right path. He reminded Qaroon of the terrible punishment that Allah Ta’ala had unleashed to others in the past who had been given great wealth - even greater than Qaroon's - and had become corrupt and selfish, turning a blind eye to the dire needs of those around them while they revelled in their wealth.

After Moosa Alaihis Salaam had left, Qaroon carelessly shrugged off the words of the Messenger of Allah Ta’ala and persisted in his evil ways. Every day was another opportunity to amass more riches which were locked away in his palace, never to see the light of day again. Day after day, month after month, more gold, silver and gemstones were added to his hoard which only gathered dust.

The people meanwhile continued to look at Qaroon with envious eyes and longing hearts. Many a man and woman said softly and wistfully, "I wish I had what Qaroon has, he's a very lucky man."

Overhearing these words, the wiser amongst them admonished them and adviced them of the reality of Qaroon’s wealth which was a curse unto him.

Nevertheless, it was difficult for people to be patient and watch Qaroon revel in his wealth while they languished in poverty and hardship. Fortunately, Musa   was there to encourage everyone and help them keep their faith and hope alive. He reminded them to be content and grateful for what they had and, sooner or later, they would realize just how much God had given them.

Then on very dark night, the slumbering town was awoken with a start. A loud indefinable rumbling sound began and grew until it became a deafening roar. The ground itself seemed to shake and turn restlessly like a sleeper suffering from some terrible nightmare. As people staggered fearfully from their beds, the roar continued and the frightful trembling of the earth increased. Just when everyone thought they would all surely die that night, the ground settled and returned to its peaceful rest.

The frightened and bewildered people carefully left their homes to see what that deafening noise and shaking had been about. The sight that met their eyes stunned them: The luxurious palace of Qaroon had been pulled apart and swallowed by the restless earth and it was now no more. Not a single piece of gold, not a solitary silver coin, nor a hint of a shining gem could be seen anywhere. Qaroon and all of his legendary wealth had been destroyed and unceremoniously buried deep within the earth.

Qaroon, the people murmured to one another in hushed voices, no doubt had been deep in the bowls of his palace counting his treasure, just as he did every night, when the disaster had struck. No one could have helped him then, they said, no one except perhaps the God he had scorned. Maybe, some mused, Qaroon hadn't had everything after all. Maybe, the people said, we are the lucky ones, not the greedy, powerless man who had fallen into the bowels of the earth along with his palace and his wealth.

Slowly, one by one, the people who had been wishing to change places with Qaroon realized something that shook them to their cores. They were all actually happy that they were not Qaroon. All the palaces and riches in the world could not have saved Qaroon from his fate, but perhaps a little prayer would have. In fervent voices, the people all whole heartedly thanked Allah Ta’ala for everything they had, no matter how humble or grand it may be.

Wealth is in itself good. In fact Qur’aan calls it Goodness in Suratul Aadiyaah. However this goodness comes only when it is utilised in ways that are pleasing to Allah Ta’ala. On the other hand wealth earned and spent in ways that earn Allah Ta’ala’s displeasure becomes a curse and is no longer regarded as goodness.

In many a wealthy man today (of course there are exceptions), lives the legacy of Qaroon. Efforts and schemes to earn and acquire more wealth even beyond one’s needs through a host of unlawful ways and means and then to amass this places one in the ilk of Qaroon, his ideologies and attitudes to wealth. It is only a matter of time when Allah Ta’ala’s whip will be sounded thereby proving the powerless nature of the amassed wealth. The warning was issued previously and reminded of over 1400 years ago. This warning still remains!

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