Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Quranic Wisdom
In chapter twenty-eight, the Quran records a story which has a great lesson for every man and woman. Qarun, or Korah, was a wealthy member of the Israeli community of ancient Egypt. When Korah became arrogant because of his wealth, some of his community members told him that arrogance would not serve him well. According to the Quranic version the story is as follows: “Korah was one of Moses’ people, but he behaved arrogantly towards them. We had given him such treasures that their very keys would have weighed down a band of strong men. His people said to him, ‘Do not exult in your riches, for God does not love the exultant. But seek the Home of the Hereafter by means of that which God has bestowed on you; do not forget to take your portion [of the Hereafter] in this world. Be good to others as God has been good to you and do not strive for evil in the land, for God does not love the evil-doers.’ But he said, ‘I have been given it only because of the knowledge I possess.’” (28:76-78)
According to the Quranic account, Korah was punished by God on account of his arrogance. This story enshrines one of the divine laws: if someone receives wealth, he should be grateful to God, otherwise he will be disgraced by God Almighty.
Any achievement in this world is due to two factors: (1) one’s own efforts, and (2) the support of the infrastructure established by God in this world. The ratio is very unequal. One’s own share is less than one per cent, while the share of the divine infrastructure is more than ninety-nine percent. This being so, it is quite unrealistic for a man or a woman to become arrogant. The only realistic behaviour for an achiever is to show complete modesty.
Arrogance means denying the bounty of God and modesty means acknowledgement of God’s contribution. According to the Quran, the arrogant should be punished for their ungratefulness and the modest should be blessed with greater bounty.
This, moreover, is directly related to personality development. Arrogance vitiates one’s personality with negativity, while modesty creates positive thinking. There is a great difference between the two: negative thinking is the source of all kinds of evils, while positive thinking is the source of all kinds of goodness. Wise men are always modest in their behaviour.