According to some accounts, Allah accepted their repentance and in time, their gardens were restored back to their former glory. This time, the brothers, having learnt their lesson, were careful to continue acting out as their father wished, and gave in charity generously and never deprived the poor anymore after that. Allahu Alam (Allah knows best).
Lessons to be Learnt
Everyone is tried by Allah, some with a heavy examination. Some of us are tried in hardship and some of us are tried in ease. Some of us are tried with the things that we love.
For the brothers, their beloved garden of fruit was their trial. They became stingy and greedy, when the correct action would have been to attribute all the yield to the generosity of Allah and to display their gratitude by offering part of the harvest to the poor. The constitution as commanded by Allah to bless one’s income is to take care of the needy, putting their needs above his. The brothers, who were already wealthy in their own right and did not want for anything, flagrantly disobeyed this command.
When their stinginess increased to the extent that they wanted to take extra effort just to deprive the poor, Allah punished them. He took away the source of their arrogance and income. This was their torture for them on this earth, and the Qur'an warns us of a more grievous torture in the hereafter.
The stingy are cheap on themselves, miserable and never contented. They constantly worry and fear that they will not have enough. It does not matter how much money they have in their accounts and how vast their assets are. Their lack of gratitude makes them constantly feel in poverty, and therefore unwilling to share any of their assets with those who are genuinely in need. In being so calculative, tight fisted and fearful of their provision, the stingy lack the trust in Allah to provide for them, which often is a self-fulfilling wish.
Stinginess has two prices: Allah will send him a calamity in this life, and in the hereafter, he will be punished with what he was stingy with.
And let not those who [greedily] withhold what Allah has given them of His bounty ever think that it is better for them. Rather, it is worse for them. Their necks will be encircled by what they withheld on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allah belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. And Allah, with what you do, is [fully] Acquainted. (Al Qur’an 3:180)
The story of Qarun also comes to mind, for the behavior of the brothers bore similarity to Qarun’s, even though their wealth was of a lesser degree. They suffered the disease and the trial of the rich people in claiming their wealth was due to their intelligence and effort, when in reality, all ability and bounty originates from Allah. This then leads to selfishness and stinginess.
The brother who took the middle path also had all his crops destroyed. Had he spoken out against the oppression and plots of his brothers, the outcome might have been different. Similar to the story of The Sabbath Breakers, one who does not actively prevent a wrong will suffer the same consequences as the wrongdoers. Hence, we should not be a part of any wrongdoing, oppression or zulm, rather, we should speak the truth and warn others (in the manner prescribed by Islam) to desist from their wrongdoing.
Here, not only was the dissenting brother passive, he eventually participated in the wrongdoing, which is why he was not spared from Allah's punishment. On the contrary, one who advises and warns others, and does his share of preventing the wrongdoing, will be spared. Apply this to our own personal interactions, when we see our friends indulging in wrongdoing, do we encourage, discourage or participate?
May Allah protect us from stinginess, greed and arrogance, and may He give us the strength and ability to command the right and to prohibit the wrong.
Please note: there is specific protocol under Islam when commanding the right and forbidding the wrong. Please consult with a learned person or a scholar so that when implementing this duty, we do it in the correct way and with wisdom.