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Qarun

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Qārūn b. Yaṣ-hura, Korah (Arabic: قارون بن یصْهُرَ) was among rich people of Banu Israel. For his wrong-doing, the Qur'an mentioned him beside Pharaoh and Haman. He was first among the major rebels against prophet Moses (a), but finally believed in him and left Egypt together with Banu Israel. After a while, Qarun began disobedience which led to his punishment and his death. In the Torah, the story of Qar'un and his challenge with prophet Moses (a) is mentioned.

Identity

Qarun b. Yas-hura was among famous people at the time of prophet Moses (a) and his name is mentioned four times in the Qur'an.

Although Qarun was among Israelites and according to some sources, he was the prophet Moses's (a) uncle's son and according to some other sources his aunt's son, but turned to a rebel against prophet Moses (a). For his wrong-doings, the Qur'an mentioned him beside Pharaoh and Haman, "Certainly We sent Moses with Our signs and a manifest authority to Pharaoh, Haman and Korah, but they said, A magician and a mendacious liar".(Qur'an 40:23-24)[1]

Some sources mentioned Qarun, an agent of Pharaoh among Israelites who did terrible oppressions against them. Some exegetes considered Qarun an example of the verse, "O you who have faith! Do not be like those who offended Moses, whereat Allah cleared him of what they alleged, and he was distinguished in Allah's sight." (Qur'an 33:69)[2]

Wealth of Qarun

The Qur'an describes the wealth of Qarun, "We had given him so much treasures that their chests indeed proved heavy for a band of stalwarts" (Qur'an 28:76).[3][Note 1] Also the verse, "So he emerged before his people in his finery." (Qur'an 28:79)[4] shows that he did not hesitate to show off his wealth and boast about it. Such expressions in the Qur'an - which are rare even such infrequently – as well as a great deal of narrations and historical reports about the wealth of Qarun, have made him a symbol of wealth.

Faith in Prophet Moses (a)

Before the exodus of Israelites toward the Promised Land, Qarun believed in Moses (a) and gradually gained a social position among Israelites and they even considered him knowledgeable about Torah. Qarun had a good voice and recited Torah to Israelites beautifully. He left Egypt together with Israelites and moved toward the Promised Land; however, due to their disobedience in war, God made them wander in the desert for many years.

Disobedience and Divine Punishment

With the passage of time, Qarun began disobedience and incurred the wrath of God and His Prophet (a). Of all the verses of the Qur'an about him, it can be learned that his disobedience was mostly because of his vanity and conceit.

The Qur'an has described the divine punishment which caused destruction of Qarun as follows, "So We caused the earth to swallow him and his house".(Qur'an 28:81)[5]

In narrations, some issues are mentioned as examples of Qarun's disobedience:

Not paying Zakat and also slandering Moses (a)

When paying Zakat was determined as an obligation for Israelites, Qarun went to Moses (a) and agreed to pay zakat. He then went to his house and found that it will be a great amount after he calculated it, Thus he gathered some of Israelites (who were his advocates) and said, "O Banu Israel, Moses (a) ordered you to some actions and you obeyed and now he (a) wants to take your properties, Take that certain prostitute and give her a salary to accuses Moses (a)."

Moses (a) said, whoever commits adultery while he has a wife, we will stone him to death.

Qarun told Moses (a), [is that the ruling], even if you commit it?!

Moses (a) said, "even if I commit it."

Qarun said, "Banu Israel believe that you have committed adultery with that certain prostitute."

Moses (a) said, "bring her here. If she says so, I will accept it." Then, they brought her.

Moses (a) asked her, "do you accept what they say?"

She said, "No, they are lying. They gave me a salary to accuse you. So, Moses (a) cursed them and the earth swallowed them in.

Separating from Repenters and annoying Moses (a)

During the wandering period in the deserts, Israelites were repenting so that God forgave them. But after a while, Qarun left repenters. Prophet Moses (a) who loved Qarun, went to him and said, "O Qarun! Your people are repenting, but you left them. Join them, otherwise divine punishment will be inflicted upon you." Qarun mocked him and ordered to pour ashes on Moses (a). The earth swallowed Qarun and his properties and castle.

Although the Qur'an is silent about the place of the event, whether it happened to Qarun in Egypt or Sinai desert; but, from hadiths, commentaries and the Torah, it can be learned that the punishment of God was afflicted upon the Qarun in Sinai desert.[Note 2]

Qarun in the Torah

Torah mentioned Qarun as Korah. According to the Torah, Korah and his followers believed that God was among Israelites and thus, there was no need to leadership and prophethood of Moses (a) and Harun (a) (Aaron):

"Two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. They assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"[6]

Korah and his relatives had good positions and God assigned some acts of worship to them: "Is it too little for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to allow you to approach him in order to perform the duties of the LORD's tabernacle, and to stand before the congregation and serve them? He has allowed you to approach him, and all your brother Levites with you; yet you seek the priesthood as well!"[7]

Finally, God punished Korah and his followers because of their disobedience and significant troubles they made:

"As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households — everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly." [8]

Notes

  1. وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ بِآيَاتِنَا وَسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَهَامَانَ وَقَارُونَ فَقَالُوا سَاحِرٌ كَذَّابٌ
  2. الَّذِينَ آذَوْا مُوسَىٰ
  3. وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ مَا إِنَّ مَفَاتِحَهُ لَتَنُوءُ بِالْعُصْبَةِ أُولِي الْقُوَّةِ
  4. فَخَرَجَ عَلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فِي زِينَتِهِ
  5. فَخَسَفْنَا بِهِ وَبِدَارِهِ الْأَرْضَ
  6. (Numbers:16 2-3)
  7. (Numbers:16 9-10)
  8. (Numbers:16 31-33)
  1. There different opinions about the meaning of this verse; as some exegetes interpreted "mafatih" as the "boxes". Thus, the meaning of the verse will be that Qarun had so much gold, silver and precious properties that a band of stalwarts carried with difficulty. Some other commentaries considered it referring to the keys of boxes.
  2. Some researchers considered it possible that these events happened in Egypt and Qarun was afflicted by punishment of God in Egypt, "Israelites lived in Sinai desert as nomads and there were not a lot of means available for gaining wealth there. Also, Israelites had erected tents which were the base for their councils for consulting and judgment, etc.; however, the phrase "so we caused the earth to swallow him and his house" (Qur'an 28:81) shows that Qarun had a magnificent house, thus, there is a possibility that his story happened in Egypt.

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from قارون in Farsi WikiShia.
  • THE BIBLE.with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books.ZAINE RIDLING.New Revised Standard Version.Copyright ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.