Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(He said) Korah said: (I have been given it) this wealth (only on account of knowledge I possess) because Allah knows that I deserve it; it is also said that this means: he made gold from his knowledge of alchemy. (Knew he not) i.e. Korah (that Allah had destroyed already of the generations before him men who were mightier than Him in strength) who were physically stronger than him (and greater about following) and greater in respect to the wealth and men they had? (The guilty are not questioned of their sins) the idolaters will not be asked on the Day of Judgement about their sins because they will be known through distinct marks.
He said, ‘In fact I have been given it, that is, [this] wealth, because of knowledge I possess’, in other words, in return for it — he was the most knowledgeable of the Children of Israel in the Torah, after Moses and Aaron. God, exalted be He, says: Does he not know that God had already destroyed before him generations, communities, of men stronger than him in might and greater in the amassing?, of wealth; in other words, he does know this. And God destroys them, and the guilty will not be questioned about their sins, because of God’s knowledge of these [sins], and so they will be admitted into the Fire without a reckoning.
Allah informs us how Qarun responded to the exhortations of his people when they sought to guide him
قَالَ إِنَّمَآ أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عِندِى
(He said: "This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess.'') meaning, `I have no need of your advice; Allah has only given me this wealth because He knows that I deserve it and because He loves me. ' In other words: `He has given it to me because He knows that I am fit for this.' This is like the Ayat:
(When harm touches man, he calls upon Us; then when We have changed it into a favor from Us, he says: "Only because of knowledge I obtained it.'') (39:49) An alternative interpretation of this Ayah says that the meaning is: "Only because of what Allah knows about me did I obtain this favor.'' This is like His saying:
(And truly, if We give him a taste of mercy from Us, after some adversity has touched him, he is sure to say: "This is from me.'') (41:50) meaning, "I deserved it.'' Imam `Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam explained this Ayah very well. Concerning the phrase,
قَالَ إِنَّمَآ أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ عِندِى
(He said: "This has been given to me only because of the knowledge I possess.'') He said: "Were it not for the fact that Allah is pleased with me and knows my virtue, He would not have given me this wealth.'' And He said:
(Did he not know that Allah had destroyed before him generations, men who were stronger than him in might and greater in the amount they had collected) This is what those who have little knowledge say when they see a person whom Allah has granted a lot of wealth; they say that if he did not deserve it, Allah would not have given it to him.
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."
[He said] ‘In fact I have been given it [this wealth] because of knowledge I possess…’He said:No one who has regard for himself will triumph; nor a state come into being for anyone who claims to possess it. The fortunate person is he who averts his eye from [looking upon] his states and acts; ⸢to him is opened⸣ the way of receiving grace (faḍl) and being gracious to [others] (ifḍāl), whilst keeping sight of God’s favour in [the accomplishment of] all acts. The wretched person, on the other hand, is the one who makes himself, his states (aḥwāl) and his deeds beautiful [in his eyes], to the point where he becomes proud of them, and then claims [responsibility for] them himself. His disgrace will ruin him one day if it does not ruin him in the present. See how God spoke of Korah with His words: I have been given it [this wealth] because of knowledge I possess, that is, merit (faḍl). This was because he was the most learned among them with regard to the Torah. He claimed merit for himself and so God made the earth beneath him swallow him up. This is the outer meaning [of the verse]. But just how many a person has sunk low through vices (ashrār), whilst being quite unaware of [what he is doing]. Sinking low [through] vices means a person’s being deprived of [divine] protection (ʿiṣma) and being left to his own power (ḥawl) and strength (quwwa), so that his tongue is loosened and he starts to utter great claims. It also means he will be blind to God’s favour, and fail to show gratitude for what he has been given. At this point it will be time for [his] demise.His words, Exalted is He: