The Quran tells the story of Korah (Qârûn), who was a well-known man among the Children of Israel. He was blessed with enormous wealth, such that it took a band of men to merely carry the keys to his treasure chests. Many among his people admired Korah for his wealth and hoped with all their hearts that they too would be given the likes of what Korah possessed. But we're told that Korah was an ungrateful man who flaunted his wealth and status, attributing the amassing of his fortune to his sheer intelligence and talent. The knowledgeable among the Israelites, however, warned those who admired Korah that the reward with God was far better than what captured their fancies and imbibed their hearts. The warning was especially sharp since the problem with Korah was not his wealth per se, but his arrogance and the lost opportunity to have done good with his provision. In short, God caused the earth to sink beneath Korah’s feet, talking down with him his wealth and home—everything that drew the attention of his admirers and bewitched their eyes. The next morning, after having seen what had happened to Korah, the spell broke and his fans saw the folly of their infatuation. They were now grateful that they were not taken down with Korah and affirmed the fact that all wealth is from God.
The lesson to take from this archetypical treatment of Korah is actually simple but important: People must be wary about where they direct their admiration. We live in a time in which there is great pressure to love something usually for some commercial gain. It has become natural to admire the wealthy, and many do so with absolutely no idea how the wealth was attained, who was cheated, what idea was stolen, what unprincipled decisions helped secure it, and how little of it actually makes it in the hands of the needy or provoke gratitude. To “admire” something is as much of a “deed” as anything that we do with our bodies. What goes on in our minds has conditioning power. The story of Korah is told in verses 28:76-82. It is always edifying to turn to it when the material world and its miserly wielders start to catch our fancy. It is good to also remember one of the supplications of the Prophet Muhammad: "O God, bless us with love toward the needy." And this "love" may be translated into spending on their behalf, which is profoundly part of the Ramadan ethos.