An Account of Qarun
Hayat Al-Qulub Vol. 1,
By: Allamah Muhammad Baqir Al-Majlisi
The Almighty has said in Surah Qasas, “Verily Qarun belonged to the community of Musa. 28:76-83”
Imam as-Sadiq is reported to have said that he was the son of Musa’s aunt. Some have said he was the son of his uncle. Fa Baghaa Alaihim (so he rebelled against them and committed excesses). There is a difference of opinion about the nature of his rebellion. Some people say that when they were living in Egypt, the Pharaoh had made him the ruler (governor) of The Israelites and that he had oppressed them at that time. Some say he was keeping his dress about a foot higher than others and some have said that he was proud and showing arrogance because of his richness and wealth.
So he rebelled against them and committed excesses.
There is a difference of opinion about the nature of his rebellion. Some people say that when they were living in Egypt, the Pharaoh had made him the ruler (governor) of The Israelites and that he had oppressed them at that time. Some say he was proud keeping his dress about a foot higher than others and some have said that he was proud and showing arrogance because of his richness and wealth.
And We had given him treasures the keys to which proved difficult even for a strong group to lift.
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has said Usbah (group) consists of ten or fifteen men. Some have said the number was ten or forty while some others have opined that the number was forty. Some have said sixty and some seventy. It is mentioned in the narrations that the keys of his treasures were being loaded on sixty asses and that no key was larger than a finger but as they were of iron they were very heavy, he got it made of wood. When it too proved much heavy, he made them of leather.
When his community told him, “Do not be haughty and do not show arrogance because of your wealth. Allah does not like those who are pleased solely with the worldly wealth and its beauty.” Some say that Musa had said, “Seek the House in the hereafter with what Allah has given to you. And do not forget your share in the worldly material that is either earned for the hereafter or be content with taking according to your need. And behave benevolently with people and be kind to them, as Allah has been Kind to you. And do not try to create trouble and mischief in the world. Verily Allah does not befriend the mischief-makers. He said no one has given me this wealth. I have earned it with the knowledge, which I possess. ‘Ali ibn Ibrahim says the meaning of what he said was that “I have earned this wealth due to my knowledge of chemistry. It is said that Musa had thought him this Alchemy and according to some his thinking was that his since I was superior to you in knowledge Allah gave me this wealth and status. In the opinion of some he meant by saying Ilm (knowledge) was the knowledge of business trade and agriculture and other occupations. Did he not understand that Allah had destroyed, centuries ago, those who were much wealthier and superior in army? And the criminals and the deniers will not be questioned in the Resurrection Day about their sins because Allah already knows their deeds.
So Qarun came before his community with his adornments, that is he had worn clothes of various colors which he was dragging on the ground arrogantly with pride. Some have said he came with 4000 mounted men and that the saddles of his horses were of gold and red clothes covered them and more than 3000 beautiful slave girls were with him reading Kabood (black and blues) white asses and that all were in red attires. Some have said 70000 persons were with him and that all of them were dressed in red. That those who loved the world (on seeing him) said, How nice would it have been had we also been given what Qarun has been given.
Verily he is the fortunate man in the world. And those were given knowledge by and who believed in the hereafter said, “woe unto you! The reward of the hereafter is better for the one who believes and who does good deeds and such good sense is given to the one who gives up the world and a remains patient.” And so we pushed Qarun and his house in the earth. So there was no group to save him from the Divine punishment and he himself could not remove the chastisement from him. And those who yesterday were longing for the status of Qarun woke up next morning to exclaim, “Verily Allah, according to His wisdom, widens the provision of the one whom he wishes and narrows for one whom He wills.
Had He not been kind to us and had we continued to keep our eyes on his wealth, surely we would have also been pushed into the earth. Surely thankless people do not prosper or the deniers will not get salvation in the hereafter. We build this house of the hereafter for those who do not seek to be high and great nor is spread mischief in the land and the good end only for the righteous.”
‘Ali ibn Ibrahim has narrated that what caused Qarun to be destroyed was that when Musa brought The Israelites from the river and when Allah showered His blessings on them fully, he ordered them to fight with the Amaaliqah. They did not obey. So it was decided that they should wander with anxiety in the desert of Tiyah for forty years. They used to get up in the beginning of the night and to recite Torah and prayers weeping. Qarun was also among them, he was also reciting Torah. No one had a voice sweeter than him. He was called Manonnon because of his melodious recitation. He knew Alchemy and practiced it. When the affair of The Israelites got lengthy, they began to repent and to weep with humility. But Qarun did not like to join them in penitence. As Musa liked him he went to him and asked him, “How is it that your people are busy in repentance and you are sitting here? Go and join them. Otherwise Divine punishment will fall on you.”
He paid no attention to the advice of Musa and began to ridicule him. Musa became sorrowful and returned and sat nearby. He was wearing a gown made of hair and was holding a staff. Musa became very angry. He had hair on his shoulders, which used to become stiff and come out of his clothing. Blood also used to ooze therefrom Musa said, “My Lord! If You do not frown upon Qarun because of me, then I am not your messenger.”
The Lord revealed to him that, “I have made the skies and the land subservient to you. Ask them do whatever you like.” Qarun had closed the gates of his palace for Musa. Hearing about it Musa came there pointed toward the gates and all of them opened due to his miracle. He entered the palace. When Qarun saw Musa he understood that he had come to punish him. So he said, “O Musa! I appeal to you for the sake of my right owing to relationship with you, be kind to me. Musa said, “O son of Laadi! Do not talk with me.” Then he commanded the earth to devour Qarun. So the palace and all that was in it went down in the ground and Qarun was also thrust into the earth up to his things. He began to weep and gave Musa a swearing for mercy. Musa again retorted, “O son of Laadi! Do not talk with me.”
He appealed repeatedly but to no avail, until he disappeared beneath the ground. When Musa came to his place of worship Almighty Allah said, “O son of Laadi! Do not talk with me.” Musa understood that Allah was angry with him for not being kind to Qarun. Musa said, “My Lord! Qarun asked of me without mentioning without Your name. Had he sworn by you I would have been kind to him. I would have accepted it.” The Lord again said the same thing in reply which Musa had given to Qarun. Then Musa said, “My Lord! Had I known that Your pleasure was in accepting his wish I would have accepted it.” Allah said, “O Musa! I swear by My Might, Grace and Greatness, had Qarun begged for mercy from Me as he did from you I would have accepted it. But since he had asked for your help and had resorted to you, I left him to you. O son of ‘Imran! Do not be afraid of death because I have fixed the time of death for every living being and have provided a place of comfort for you. If you see it and reach it, your eyes would become bright.
Thereafter Musa went to Toor mountain one day along with Yusha‘. When they reached Mt. Toor, they saw a man walking with a shovel and a basket. Being asked as to where he was going he replied, “A friend of Allah has died and I want to prepare a grave for him.” Musa asked what he was doing? He said, “I want to ensure that the grave is all right.” Musa said, “I am going therein.” So Musa went in the grave and slept there in and liked it. The angel of death arrived and retrieved his soul then and there. The mountain got leveled and the grave disappeared.
It is mentioned in a reliable tradition that Imam as-Sadiq said, “When Yunus was in the belly of a fish, he reached the spot where Qarun was pushed into the earth due to the curse from Musa, Allah had appointed an angel to push him in the ground daily up to a depth of a man’s height. Yunus was remembering and hallowing Allah in the belly of the fish. When Qarun heard that human voice he requested the angel to give him some respite as he was hearing a human voice. Almighty Allah ordered the angel to give the requested respite. Then Qarun addressed Yunus and asked, “Who are you?” He replied, “I am a sinner, Yunus son of Matta who has erred.” Qarun asked where is the oft-angering, for the cause of Allah, that is Musa son of ‘Imran? Yunus replied, “Alas he has passed away from the world long ago. Then what about that man who was very kind to his community.” That is, Harun. Yunus replied, “He also expired.” Then Qarun asked, “How about Kulthum daughter of ‘Imran who was named (for marriage) with me? Yunus replied, “Alas! No one from the progeny of ‘Imran remains.” Qarun said, “Very sorry for the family of ‘Imran!” Allah liked this sorrow very much and, as a reward, ordered that angel to stop punishing him until the world existed.
Al-Qutb al-Rawandi and Thalabi have narrated that the Almighty Allah revealed to Musa to order The Israelites to stick four blue-black ropes with their sheets in every side and also to hang a heavenly rope. Musa called The Israelites and said, “Allah has ordered that you should stick ropes of sky color to your chadors so that you may remember Allah whenever you see them. Very soon he will reveal his book for you.” Hearing this Qarun said rebelliously, the master (Musa) is saying all these things to his slaves so that he may remain distinct among others. When Musa came out of the river with The Israelites he entrusted the governance and administration of the sacrificial place and its trusteeship to Harun where The Israelites were sacrificing their offerings and were placing them in the slaughter house and where a heavenly fire used to come and burn them. Qarun developed jealousy against Harun. He said to Musa, “You took up Messengership and gave jasoorah to Harun? No share for me even though I recite Torah better than both of you?”
Musa said, “By Allah! I did not give Jasoorah to Harun. Allah gave it to him.” Qarun said, “By Allah! I will never testify to it unless and until you give some evidence or argument.” Hearing this Musa gathered the chiefs of The Israelites and asked all of them to bring their staves. Musa placed all the staves during the night. Next day he ordered them to remove them. When they were brought out there was no change in any of them but the staff of the Harun had become green and leaves like the leaves of almond had sprouted from it. Musa said, “O Qarun! Can you now understand that the distinction of Harun is God-given? Qarun said, “This trick is no greater than magic.” Then he stood up angrily and separated himself along with his men from the army of Musa. Even then Musa continued to behave with him kindly and maintained relations. He continued to give trouble and pain to Musa and his rebellion and ego multiplied daily until he built a house and fixed golden swords on its walls.
The Israelites used to come to him every morning. He was feeding them and all of them were ridiculing Musa. This continued until Allah sent the commandment collecting Zakat on Musa so that he may collect it from the rich among The Israelites. Musa went to Qarun and asked him to give Zakat at the rate of one Dinar for every thousand Dinars, one sheep for every thousand sheep and thus for all of his wealth. Qarun went to home and calculated. He felt that he was losing much money, which he disliked to part with. So he was not prepared to pay Zakat. The Israelites told him, “You are our chief and elder. We shall do whatever you order.” He said, “Call such and such prostitute. We shall hatch a conspiracy in collusion with her so that she may make an allegation of adultery on Musa. Thereby The Israelites will hate Musa. Thus we shall get rid of him.” Qarun promised to give that prostitute one thousand gold coins or a golden plate or whatever she demanded on condition that she makes an allegation of adultery on Musa next day before The Israelites. She agreed.
Next day Qarun came along with The Israelites to Musa and told him, “The people who have gathered at your residence want you to come out and teach them commandments of the shari‘ah (religion) to them.” Musa came out and went up the pulpit, read out sermon and said, “Anyone who commits a theft will get his hand cut and I shall give 80 lashes to the one who commits an indecent deed and if an unmarried man commits adultery I will give him 100 lashes and if he had a wife I will stone him to death.” Qarun spoke up, “Even if it be you?” Musa said, “Yes.” Finally, that woman was called. Musa asked her, “Did I commit adultery with you? Tell the truth swearing by the Lord Who split the river for The Israelites and Who sent down Torah on me.” That woman said, “No, these people are lying. Rather Qarun has lured me with money and wanted me to make a false allegation against you.” Hearing this Qarun bowed down his head and The Israelites were dumbfounded. Musa fell down in prostration before Allah and weeping said, “My Lord! Your enemy is bent upon harming me and wants to dishonor me and give me power over him.” Almighty Allah revealed to Musa, “Lift up your head from prostration and order whatever you wish to the earth. It will obey your command.”
Musa told The Israelites, “Almighty Allah has given me power over Qarun as he had appointed me over the Pharaoh.” Then he ordered them that who is his (Qarun’s companion) may remain with him and who does not like him may get separated from him. All except two persons separated from Qarun. Musa ordered the earth to swallow him. He went down in the ground. Musa said, “Swallow more of him.” He went down up to his thighs. Then Qarun went on giving him the oath of mercy.
According to some narrations he gave oaths seventy times but Musa did not pay attention to him until they were pushed in the earth completely. Allah revealed to Musa, “They requested for mercy seventy times but you did not hear them. By My Grandeur! Had they appealed to Me like that, even once, they would have found My help.” Then The Israelites told Musa to pray for Qarun’s destruction and for his sinking into the earth so that it may take possession of the wealth of Qarun. Musa prayed to Allah, whereby all the wealth and property, mansions, treasures etc also went down the earth.
 It is mentioned in many tradition that Amir al-Mu’minin and all the pious Imam have said that the Pharaoh of this Ummah was the first oppressor and the second was its Haman and third was Qarun and this hadith also support those traditions according to which what had happened in The Israelites will also happen in this Ummah too. A little pondering will show how similar is the state of those three hypocrites to the aforesaid three person because, if the Pharaoh claimed to be God without right the first grabbed Caliphate and it too is sheer Polytheism and it is a confrontation with the holy and the sacred God and just as the Pharaoh intended to obey Musa but Haman obstructed him likewise he was saying AQEELOONI (lift up hands from me) and was apparently showing repentance but the second hypocrites was coming in the way. Just as those along with their companions were drowned in the apparent sea and were openly destroyed likewise all of there drowned themselves in the ocean of deviation and blasphemy and were caught by eternal destruction and in the time of Raj‘ah will get drowned in the water of sword of al-Qa’im the family of Muhammad. And the similarity between the third hypocrite with Qarun in the matter of mutual gathering of wealth, temptation and worldly decoration and adoration etc is not hidden from any intelligent fellow. If Qarun had blood relation with Musa, he too was having casual rather apparent family relation with the Prophet of Allah and if he was pushed in the earth due to the curse of Musa along with his wealth so this was also destroyed due to the curse of Amir al-Mu’minin and the Emir said in his first sermon after getting back Caliphate that Almighty Allah destroyed the Pharaoh and Haman and Qarun. If you ponder over their conditions you will also find other similar causes also which will be, God-willing- described at appropriate places. I suffice here only with some hints.