Translation Chapter 16
The parable of the corrupt manager
16‘Īsā said to his disciples, ‘There was a rich man whose manager was accused of squandering his master’s possessions. 2 He summoned the manager and said to him, “What’s this I’m hearing about you? Hand over the account of your management, for you can no longer be my manager.”
3 ‘The manager said to himself, “What am I going to do? My master is taking my job away from me. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg. 4I know what I’ll do, so that when I’m dismissed as manager, people will welcome me into their homes.”
6 ‘“Three thousand litres of olive oil,” he answered.
‘“Take your bill,” the manager said to him, “sit down quickly and write on it fifteen hundred litres.”
7 ‘Then he asked another, “How much do you owe?”
‘“Thirty tons of wheat,” he replied.
‘The manager said to him, “Take your bill and write on it twenty-four.”
‘You see, the children of this age are more shrewd toward their own kind than are the children of the light.9 So I tell you, make friends for yourselves using deceitful wealth,so that when it’s spent, they will welcome you into eternal homes.
Allah and wealth
10 ‘Anyone who is trustworthy with very little will also be trustworthy with much; and anyone who is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy with deceitful wealth, who’s going to trust you with true wealth? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with what belongs to someone else, who’s going to give you what will belong to you?
13 No one can serve two masters. For a servant will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both Allah and money.’
14 The Pharisees were listening to all this and sneering at ‘Īsā, because they loved money. 15 He said to them, ‘You are the ones who make yourselves appear righteous in the sight of others; but Allah knows your hearts. What is highly valued among human beings is detestable to Allah.
16 ‘The Taurāt and the Books of the Prophetswere taught until the time of Yahyā. From that time on, the kingdom of Allahis being proclaimedand all are urged strongly to come into it.17 It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for a single pen-stroke to drop out of the Taurāt.
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus
19 ‘There was a rich man who wore expensive purplecloth and fine linen and enjoyed great luxury every day. 20 There was also a poor man named Lazarus,who was laid at the rich man’s gate and who was covered with sores. 21 He longed to eat his fill from what fell from the rich man’s table. Instead, the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 ‘The time came for the poor man to die, and he was carried by the angels to Ibrāhīm’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In barzakh, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Ibrāhīm from a great distance, and Lazarus at his side. 24 He cried out, “Father Ibrāhīm, show me some mercy and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I’m in agony in this fire.”
25 ‘But Ibrāhīm said, “Son, remember that you received your good things in your life, while Lazarus received bad things. But now he is comforted here while you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, there is a great chasm fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go across from here to you cannot do so, nor can anybody cross over from there to us.”
27 ‘The rich man said, “Then please father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 where I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they won’t also come to this place of torment.”
30 ‘“No, father Ibrāhīm,” he replied, “but if someone from the dead would go to them, they will repent.”
31 ‘Ibrāhīm said to him, “If they don’t listen to (the Taurāt of) Mūsā and the Books of the Prophets, then even if someone were to rise from the dead they will still not be convinced.”’
The manager is not praised for his corruptness but for his shrewdness or wisdom. It seems he is relying on his former master’s generosity and desire to maintain his own reputation as a generous man. The manager’s corruptness is not an example to follow – v9 implies that he is a ‘child of this age’ as opposed to a ‘child of the light’; in other words, he is an unbeliever. Instead, this story is a parable. We too have a day of reckoning coming when we will have to answer to Allah, our Master for our conduct. We have all failed in our duties to Allah SWT and deserve punishment. Our only hope is to stake our future on Allah’s mercy. The parable may also be teaching that we should use the money and resources entrusted to us for the benefit of others.
Wealth is described as ‘deceitful’ in v9 and v11. This may mean that although wealth in and of itself is not evil, it is dangerous and tends to corrupt people or deceive them into thinking that acquiring wealth is life’s ultimate goal.
‘The Taurāt and the Prophets’ was a Jewish way of referring to their Scriptures. ‘Taurāt’ refers to the Books revealed through the Prophet Mūsā (pbuh)(known in English as; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) and ‘the Prophets’ here refer to the remaining 34 books of the Scriptures which Jews call ‘the Tanakh’, and Christians call ‘the Old Testament’. Sometimes a division into three parts, Taurāt, Prophets and Zabūr was used (see Injil, Luke 24:44).
This does not mean that the Taurāt and the Prophets are no longer valid. It is clear from v17 that al-Masīh ‘Īsā (hpbuu)regards the authority of the Taurāt as eternal. What is meant here is that the Taurāt and Prophets were preparation for something which had now come with the message of the kingdom of Allah preached by ‘Īsā al-Masīh (hpbuu).
‘Produce fruits that show you have repented, and do not begin to say among yourselves, “We have Ibrāhīm as our father.” For I say to you that Allah is able from these stones to raise up children for Ibrāhīm. 9 Already, the axe is lying at the root of the trees. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is going to be cut down and thrown in the fire.’