Will you give some information about Qarun?

The Details of the Question
Will you give some information about Qarun?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

He is the person who is mentioned in three verses of the Quran and who is the symbol of richness and conceitedness due to richness. There are several narrations most of which are of Jewish origin, about him. It is widely accepted that Korah, whose story is narrated in Numbers, 16 in the Bible, is the same as Qarun.   

The verses of the Quran in which Qarun is mentioned and his story is narrated are as follows:

"Of old We sent Moses with Our Signs and Authority manifest, to Pharaoh, Haman, and Qarun; but they called (him) 'a sorcerer telling lies'. " (al-Mu'min, 40/23, 24)

"(Remember also) Qarun, Pharaoh, and Haman: there came to them Moses with Clear Signs, but they behaved with insolence on the earth; yet they could not overreach (Us)." (al-Ankabut, 29/39)

"Qarun was doubtless, of the people of Moses; but he acted insolently towards them: such were the treasures We had bestowed on him, that their very keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men: behold, his people said to him: "Exult not, for Allah loveth not those who exult (in riches). "But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief." He said: "This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge which I have." Did he not know that Allah had destroyed, before him (whole) generations― which were superior to him in strength and greater in amount (of riches) they had collected? But the wicked are not called (immediately) to account for their sins. So he went forth among his people in the (pride of his worldly) glitter. Said those whose aim is the life of this World: "Oh that we had the like of what Qarun has got! for he is truly a lord of mighty good fortune."But those who had been granted (true) knowledge said: "Alas for you! the reward of Allah (in the Hereafter) is best for those who believe and work righteousness: but this none shall attain, save those who steadfastly persevere (in good). "Then We caused the earth to swallow him up and his house; and he had not (the least little) party to help him against Allah, nor could he defend himself. And those who had envied his position the day before began to say on the morrow: "Ah! it is indeed Allah Who enlarges the provision or restricts it, to any of His servants He pleases! Had it not been that Allah was gracious to us, He could have caused the earth to swallow us up! Ah! Those who reject Allah will assuredly never prosper." (al-Qasas, 28/76-82).

The first piece of information determined from the verses of the Quran is that he was a member of Hz. Musa's nation. The second point is that he had some relationships with the Pharaoh and Haman. Besides, his great wealth, his insolence and conceitedness in the presence of his nation, ignoring the advice of people, and being punished by Allah by being swallowed by the earth with all of his property are other remarkable issues. There are some other important issues to be taken into considerations along with the ones mentioned above. It will be possible to realize some of the reasons why this story is mentioned in the Quran if it is researched in detail by taking those points into consideration. We can deal with those points as follows:

Qarun, who was a member of Hz. Musa's nation, exceeded the boundaries and started to act as he wished. What caused him to do so was his wealth. He boasted and showed off due to his wealth. He probably did some more things because he was warned by some people in his nation. It is understood that Qarun demanded some things based on the wealth he had. What could these demands be? They were to call other people to exceed the boundaries and to follow him.

Besides, it is necessary to consider that this call was not a personal call related to Qarun himself only. It brings into mind some other interpretations since his name is mentioned with the Pharaoh and Haman. 

It is possible to think as follows: Since Hz. Musa, who was sent to the Pharaoh and Haman, was also sent to Qarun, it means that all of these three people have something in common in terms of deviation and mischief and that they cooperated. It is impossible for a member of Children of Israel to become so rich in Egypt in a period when the members of Children of Israel were despised and oppressed by the Pharaoh and when some of them were killed unjustly without cooperating with the Pharaoh and the people around him. Thus, it is clear that Qarun tried to persuade his nation to cooperate with him by using his wealth.       

That some people from his nation wanted for themselves what was given to Qarun and regarded it as something great and that others from his nation who were given knowledge warned him by saying that Allah would give rewards for belief and good deeds can be regarded as the clues of propaganda and anti-propaganda. The nation was asked to show patience.   

This cooperation and calling other people from his nation to cooperate is only one aspect of the mischief of Qarun. Another aspect of his is more remarkable and interesting. This phenomenon, which is interesting in terms of contemporary ideas and beliefs, is observed related to the connection between knowledge and wealth.  

When Qarun boasted of his wealth, his nation warned him as follows: "Seek the hereafter with what Allah gave you." Qarun said, "This wealth was given to me due to my knowledge." In the last verse of the story, it is emphasized that Allah enlarges the provision of anyone He wishes or restricts it. When we study these three points together, we can determine the following:

When his nation reminded Qarun that his wealth was given to him by Allah, Qarun said it was given to him due to his knowledge. Thus, he established a connection between "wealth and knowledge", by excluding the fact that it was given by Allah. This statement is the same as the statement that those who suffer from the disease of economy frequently utter today. Allah criticizes Qarun, who thought his wealth was a result of his knowledge, not the favor of Allah, stating that He eliminated stronger and wealthier people before Qarun.  

As it is stated, this age and the diagnosis of the disease of this age is seen here along with the warning of punishment and disaster for those who think wealth is a result of their own knowledge and skill. 

It is understood that one of the reasons why Qarun was punished by being swallowed by the earth is his cooperation with the Pharaoh and another reason is that he deified knowledge by attributing his wealth, which was given to him by Allah, to his own knowledge.

It is generally accepted that Korah, who is mentioned in the Bible, is the same person as Qarun, who is mentioned in the Quran, but when the Quran and the Bible are studied together, this view becomes invalid.   

When the incident is viewed under the light of the knowledge given in the Quran, it is necessary to think that Qarun lived and was eliminated before Children of Israel exited from Egypt. There are two reasons for it:  

Firstly, as it can clearly be seen in the story of Samiri, Children of Israel did not show much interest in wealth, splendor and gold after they left Egypt; they even threw their gold objects and other jewelry into the fire when Samiri asked them to do so. It is not possible to think that the people who underwent this psychology would envy the wealth of somebody else and like it. Besides, there is not enough evidence indicating that a rich person had a group of strong men to carry the keys of his treasure in a nation that was migrating with a lot of difficulties. If we think that the house (mansion) that was swallowed by the earth could not be a tent, the issue becomes clearer.

Secondly, in the first verse that we quoted at the beginning, the order is "the Pharaoh, Haman and Qarun" but in the second verse, the order is "Qarun, the Pharaoh and Haman". In the first one, the people to whom the prophet was sent are listed; in the second one, those who were destroyed are listed. In the first one, the order is in the ascending form; it does not exist in the second one. This difference indicates that Qarun was destroyed before the Pharaoh. Since the Pharaoh was destroyed while Children of Israel leaving Egypt, it can be said that Qarun was destroyed while they were in Egypt.

The verses of the Quran can be interpreted like that but it is stated in the Bible that Korah, who is usually regarded as Qarun, was destroyed after Children of Israel left Egypt. In the story of Korah narrated in Numbers, 16 in the Bible, the wealth of Korah is not mentioned. It is narrated that Korah and his men revolted against Musa due to prophecy. Korah and his men opposed Hz. Musa because Korah wanted a better position and more authority from Hz. Musa. After their rebellion, Korah, his men, his household and his tent were swallowed by the earth. The only similarity between the two incidents is that they were swallowed by the earth. It will not be enough to say that Qarun and Korah are the same person when the other differences are taken into consideration. Both Qarun and Korah might have been swallowed by the earth. It is possible that both Qarun, who cooperated with the Pharaoh and who attributed his wealth to his own knowledge by excluding the favor of Allah, and Korah, who rebelled against Hz. Musa in order to be the leader, were punished by Allah separately, one before and the other after leaving Egypt.

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