How often we forget the blessings of Allah. This forgetfulness leads us to stinginess and pride. Our nature and with the less fortunate change as if they are people who have no worth.

A story mentioned in Surah Al-Qalam of the Qur’an about certain brothers who inherited a garden is a great reminder for all of us. Ibn Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) said the polytheists of Quraish were likened to the people of the garden. The garden had trees and plants of various fruits, and the time for harvest had come.

Allah said: “When they swore” secretly “to pluck the fruits of the (garden)” i.e. to harvest it; “in the morning” to avoid being seen by the poor and needy, lest they should be forced to give them some fruits in charity.

So, the young men swore without saying Insha Allah (If Allah wills). Consequently, Allah the Almighty foiled their plans and sent over their garden a fire that burnt it and left nothing behind.

Allah said: “Then, there passed by on the (garden) something (fire) from your Lord at night and burnt it while they were asleep. So the (garden) became black by the morning, like a pitch dark night (in complete ruin).” “Then they called out one to another as soon as the morning broke,” i.e. they got up in the morning and told each other: “Go to your tilth in the morning, if you would pluck the fruits,” i.e. go early to your garden and pluck the fruits before the poor and needy come asking you for charity.

“So they departed, conversing in secret low tones,” “No Miskin (poor man) shall enter upon you into it today,” “And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power (to prevent the poor taking anything of the fruits therefrom).” Ikrimah and Ash-Shu’abi said they went with rage and bad intention against the poor. “But when they saw the (garden),” “they said: Verily, we have gone astray”, i.e. we have lost our way to our own garden. Then they realized: “Nay! Indeed we are deprived of (the fruits)!”, i.e. we have been punished because of our bad intentions and were deprived of the blessing of our tilth.

And, “the best among them said” (Ibn Abbas, Mujahid and others said he was the best and the most moderate and just one among them).

“Did I not tell you: why do you not say: Insha’Allah (If Allah wills).” Meaning, to say a good word instead of what you have intended.

“They said: “Glory to Our Lord! Verily, we have been Zalimun (wrong-doers).” Then they turned one against another, blaming. They said: “Woe to us! Verily, we were Taghun (transgressors and disobedient),” They regretted and showed sorrow but it could not help them. They confessed their sin after they had been punished.

The men are said to be brothers who inherited that garden from their late father who used to give a lot in charity. But, when they inherited the garden they stopped giving in charity and intended to deprive the poor of its fruits. Thereupon, Allah the Almighty punished them and meted out to them the severest of penalties.

Allah has commanded that Zakah must be taken out on agricultural produce and should preferably be paid on the day of harvesting. He says: “Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof (its Zakah, according to Allah’s Orders l/lOth or 1/20th) on the day of its harvest.” (Qur’an, 6:141)

– Stories of the Qur’an by Ibn Katheer