Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(Now Korah was of Moses folk) He was Moses' cousin, (but he oppressed them) but he transgressed against Moses, Aaron and their folk. He said: “Moses has been given messengership and Aaron religious authority while have nothing; this I will not accept”, and he rejected Moses' prophethood (and We gave him so much treasure) wealth (that the stores thereof) the keys of his stores (would verily have been a burden for a troop of mighty men) 40 men carried the keys of his stores. (When his own folk) the folk of Moses (said unto him: Exult not) do not be too proud nor associate partners with Allah; (lo! Allah loveth not the exultant) Allah does not love those who are too proud because of their wealth;
Indeed Korah belonged to the people of Moses — [being] his paternal and maternal cousin, and he had believed in him [in Moses] — but he became insolent towards them, through [his] disdain, haughtiness and great wealth. For We had given him so many treasures that [the number of] their keys would verily have burdened a group of strong men, in other words, they would have been too heavy for such [men] (the bā’ of [bi’l-‘usbati, ‘a group’] is to render transitive [the intransitive] verb); the number of such [men required] is estimated to be 70, 40 or 10; other estimates are also given. Mention, when his people, the believers among the Children of Israel, said to him, ‘Do not be exultant, in [your] great wealth, an exultation of insolence; truly God does not love the exultant, in such [things];
(Verily, Qarun was of Musa's people,) "He was the son of his paternal uncle.'' This was also the view of Ibrahim An-Nakha`i, `Abdullah bin Al-Harith bin Nawfal, Sammak bin Harb, Qatadah, Malik bin Dinar, Ibn Jurayj and others; they all said that he was the cousin of Musa, peace be upon him. Ibn Jurayj said: "He was Qarun bin Yashar bin Qahith, and Musa was the son of `Imran bin Qahith.
وَءَاتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ
(And We gave him of the treasures,) meaning, of wealth;
(that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men.) Groups of strong men would not have been able to carry them because they were so many. Al-A`mash narrated from Khaythamah, "The keys of Qarun'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.'' Other views were also given, and Allah knows best.
(Remember when his people said to him: "Do not exult. Verily, Allah likes not those who exult.'') means, the righteous ones among his people exhorted him. By way of sincere advice and guidance, they said: "Do not exult in what you have,'' meaning, `do not be arrogant and proud of your wealth.'
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْفَرِحِينَ
(Verily, Allah likes not those who exult.) Ibn `Abbas said, "This means, those who rejoice and gloat.'' Mujahid said, "It means those who are insolent and reckless, and do not thank Allah for what He has given them.'' His saying:
(But seek, with that which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world;) means, `use this great wealth and immense blessing Allah has given you to worship your Lord and draw closer to Him by doing a variety of good deeds which will earn you reward in this world and the Hereafter.'
وَلاَ تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا
(and forget not your portion of lawful enjoyment in this world;) `That which Allah has permitted of food, drink, clothing, dwelling places and women. Your Lord has rights over you, your self has rights over you, your family has rights over you, and your visitors have rights over you. So give each of them their due.'
وَأَحْسِن كَمَآ أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ
(and be generous as Allah has been generous to you, ) `Be generous to His creatures, as He has been generous to you.'
وَلاَ تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِى الاٌّرْضِ
(and seek not mischief in the land.) meaning: `do not let your aim be to spread corruption on earth and do harm to Allah's creation.'
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
(Verily, Allah likes not the mischief-makers.)
Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This fact also is being related in continuation of the answer to the excuse which has been the theme of the discourse from verse 57 onward. In this regard, one should bear in mind the fact that the people who feared that the Holy Prophet Muhammad's message would affect the overall national interests adversely were, in fact, the big money owners, money-lenders and capitalists of Makkah, who by virtue of their international trade and money-lending business had become the Korahs of their time. These were the people who thought that the real truth was to earn and amass maximum wealth. Anything that seemed to vitiate this object was an untruth which could not be accepted in any case. On the other hand, there were the common people who looked with longing eyes at these magnates and earnestly desired that they should also attain the same heights as those people had attained. In an atmosphere charged with the love of money, as it was, people considered it to be a weighty argument that if the invitation of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be Allah's peace) towards Tauhid and the Hereafter and the moral code was accepted it would spell ruin for the Quraish not only commercially but economically too.
Qarun who has been called Korah in the Bible and the Talmud was a first cousin of the Prophet Moses. According to the account of descent given in Exodus (ti: 18-21) the fathers of the Prophet Moses and Korah were real brothers. At another place in the Qur'an it has been stated that this man had joined with Pharaoh in spite of being an Israelite and become one of his favorites; so much so that one of the two ring-leaders of opposition to Prophet Moses after Pharaoh was this same Korah: "We sent Moses to Pharaoh and Haman and Korah with Our Signs and a clear authority of appointment, but they said, `He is a sorcerer, a liar'." (Al-Mu'min :23-24).
From this it follows that Korah had rebelled against his own people and become a supporter of the hostile forces which were bent upon wiping out the Israelites. On account of this rebellion against his own people he had attained a high place with Pharaoh and the two persons, besides Pharaoh, to whom the Prophet Moses had been sent were Pharaoh's minister, Haman, and this Israelite capitalist, Korah. All other chiefs and couriers were of inferior status, who were not worth mentioning. The same position of Korah has been alluded to in Al' Ankabut: 39.
In the story related of him in the Bible (Num., ch. 16), there is no mention of this man's wealth. But according to the Jewish traditions, he possessed immense wealth, so much so that three hundred mules were required to carry the keys of his treasures. (Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. VII, p. 556). Though greatly exaggerated this statement shows that even according to the Israelite traditions, Korah was a very wealthy man of his time.
The words of the Text can have two meanings: (1) "Whatever I have obtained is by virtue of my own ability. It is not a bounty which somebody else might have given me as a favor without my deserving it as a right, and now I may have to render thanks for it by giving a portion of it to those who have not been given anything, as a favor, or give some of it in charity so that the bounty is not withdrawn from me." (2) "I think God has given me this wealth in view of my qualities and excellences Had I not been a likable person, He would not have given me all this. That He has bestowed on me all kinds of blessings is a proof that I am His favorite and he approves of the way of life that I am following."
That is, "Did this person who was proud of being so knowledgeable and wise and well-informed and capable never know that people with greater wealth and grandeur and power and might than him had lived before him in the world, and Allah at last, had annihilated them completely? if capability and skill and competence are the only factors conducive to worldly progress, then why didn't these virtues avail them when they were destroyed? And if the worldly progress of a person is a sure proof that Allah is pleased with him and approves of his deeds and qualities, then why were those people doomed to destruction at all?"
That is, "The criminals have always been claiming to be the best people, who are free from every evil, but their punishment is not dependent on their own confessions. Whenever they are seized; they are not seized on the basis of their own confessions of sins, etc."
…‘Do not gloat, for God does not like people who gloat…’ He said:Whoever rejoices without good reason, will draw upon himself sorrow without end. There is no comfort [or rest] for the believer, save in the encounter with God, Mighty and Majestic is He.It was related of al-Aʿmash that he said, ‘We were witness to a funeral procession and did not know to whom we should offer our condolences due to the grief of all the people [present].’His words, Exalted is He: