Prophet Ayyub [Job] (Peace be upon him)
And (remember) Job, when he cried to his Lord "Truly distress has seized me But Thou art the Most Merciful of those that are merciful." (al-Anbiya, 83)
Hazrat Ayyub comes from the progeny of the Prophet Ishaq (Isaac). He was sent as a prophet to the people around Damascus.1
Hz. Ayyub received divine revelation and was chosen by Allah as a prophet like the prophets Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqub, Asbat and Isa (Jesus). His prophethood was in the same period as Hz. Yaqub. His religion was also the religion of oneness like that of his ancestor Ibrahim. The principles of his religion consisted of belief in the oneness of Allah and arranging the relationships among people.
The Prophet Ayyub was a very rich person. He had a lot of children, herds of animals, vineyards and orchards.2 This richness did not cause Hazrat Ayyub to be heedless. He did not fell conceited or spoilt due to his wealth. He showed mercy to the poor and needy. He continued worshipping Allah and calling people to the right path.
TEST OF PATIENCE
Allah Almighty wanted to show Hazrat Ayyub to people as an example of patience and obedience. Therefore, Allah subjected him to a hard test. He withdrew all of the bounties and richness like children, vineyards and orchards He had given to Ayyub.3
Hazrat Ayyub did not panic, fret or complain. He continued showing patience. People were astonished when they saw his patience.
The test of the Prophet Ayyub was not confined to losing his wealth. Allah also gave him a severe illness. After that, Hazrat Ayyub could not get out of bed and work.
Hazrat Ayyub’s wife was also stoic and patient like her husband. She came from the progeny of the Prophet Yaqub. There are various narrations about her name: Rahmah, Rahima or Layla. It is said that her name was Rahmah and her parents were Zulaykha and Yusuf.4 She looked after her husband patiently, without showing any signs of depression and weariness; She served him caringly and compassionately.
Hazrat Ayyub and his wife moved to a hut away from people. They continued their lives there patiently and by thanking Allah.
Hazrat Ayyub’s illness gave him big agonies and pains. It was also a dangerous illness.5 Therefore, nobody from his relatives, neighbors and friends visited him. Ayyub and his wife earned their livelihood through the handiwork she made.
Ayyub's illness deteriorated day by day. All of his body except his tongue and heart was inflamed.
However, he did not complain about his situation at all. He thought about the reward he would get due to the illness he was suffering from. He thought about the consent of Allah and found strength for showing patience and endurance.
* * *
Many years passed like that.
There were no signs of improvement in his illness but there was no decrease in his patience. As his illness increased, his patience and endurance increased.
Satan often visited Hazrat Ayyub and tried to dissuade him from thanking and to persuade him to complain about his situation. When Satan realized that he would not be able to decrease his patience, resorted to a slier delusion. He said Hazrat Ayyub made use of his illness to make people obey and follow him. He said Hazrat Ayyub perverted his relatives, neighbors and friends.6 Hazrat Ayyub found these delusions of Satan's really harder than his illness. They gave him severe pains and agonies.
Hazrat Ayyub took refuge in Allah from these delusions of Satan's. He asked Allah to increase his patience and endurance.
Allah Almighty fulfilled this wish of Ayyub's. After that, Satan's delusions and his illness did not give him more severe pains than he could endure.
THE PRAYER OF THE PROPHET AYYUB
Allah increased the illness of Hazrat Ayyub in time. Eventually, Hazrat Ayyub could not worship Allah even with his tongue and heart, which he was able to do before.
Hazrat Ayyub never thought about his health and relaxation. The only thing he wanted was to be able to worship Allah.(*)
However, he could not worship Him even with his heart and tongue now, which frightened and panicked him. Therefore, he opened his hand and started to beg and pray Allah:
O Lord! The illness has started to harm me. It prevents my heart from worshipping you and my tongue from mentioning your names. I cannot live without worshipping and mentioning your name. I ask your mercy.7
Hazrat Ayyub did not utter this prayer for the improvement of his health and for relaxation but for worshipping Allah 8; that is, he uttered it so as not to miss worshipping. Allah accepted his pure and sincere prayer. Allah sent him the following revelation:
"O Ayyub! Strike with thy foot: here is (water) wherein to wash, cool and refreshing and (water) to drink."9
Hazrat Ayyub rushed out of the hut with the excitement caused by this order. He hit the ground with his foot in front of the hut. He saw that lucid and clear water gushed forth. He had a bath with this water and drank it. He became healthy again with the permission of Allah.10
Treatment with sulfurous and healing hot water is a method that is valid also today. This method of treatment was taught to human beings through Hazrat Ayyub, who was a hero of patience.
Hazrat Ayyub passed the test of patience. Richness, poverty and severe illness did not distort him and prevent him from worshipping Allah.
Afterwards, Allah Almighty made him a rich person again and increased his children.
* * *
The Prophet (pbuh) narrates the moment of Hazrat Ayyub’s recovery from his illness as follows:
"While Ayyub was having a bath with the miraculous water, a lot of golden locusts fell in front of him. Ayyub started to pick them and fill his pockets with them. Thereupon, Allah said,
"O Ayyub! Did I not make you rich again by returning your wealth to you? Why did you need to collect them?" The Prophet Ayyub answered as follows:
"Yes, you did, my Lord! You made me rich again. However, this does not make me feel indifferent to your bounties. I will accept whatever is granted by You because You give it. How can I refuse something given by You?"11
There is a great lesson to be taken from the words of Hazrat Ayyub. There is no drawback to liking and wanting clean and legitimate things given by Allah. The religion of Islam does not forbid having property; what it forbids is to forget Allah with the ambition of being rich.
It is approved by the religion of Islam to want to be rich and to work for it without forgetting Allah and without skipping religious duties like zakah and sadaqah.
PERMISSION FOR AYYUB
One day during Ayyub's illness, his wife delayed serving him and annoyed him. Due to this trouble, Hz. Ayyub vowed to hit her with a cane 100 times when he became well.12
After Hz. Ayyub recovered from his illness, he remembered his vow. How could he beat his compassionate and loyal wife 100 times? Was this beating going to be the reward for her good deeds and loyalty for Allah? If he broke his vow, what would happen? Allah Almighty helped him and relieved him by giving him the following order:
"O Ayyub! Take a bunch of sticks and hit your wife with it once; thus, you can keep your vow.13
Hz. Ayyub was very glad to hear this order; he picked one hundred thin sticks and formed a bunch with them. He hit his wife with it once. Thus, he hit her with one hundred sticks and kept his vow.14 When his wife saw this grace of Allah Almighty's, she felt very happy and thanked and praised her Lord, who helped them, more and became more loyal to her husband.
This method, which is referred to as "the Permission for Ayyub" in the Islamic fiqh, is sometimes used related to vows and punishments.15
DEATH OF HZ. AYYUB
It is narrated that 7 people among his nation believed in Hz. Ayyub and that he died at the age of 140 or 93.16
According to Ayni, who explained Bukhari, the grave of Hz. Ayyub is in Basna, Damascus.17
It is also narrated that Hz. Ayyub had a son called Bishr and that he became a prophet and continued his father's duty after his death.18
LESSONS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE LIFE OF THE PROPHET AYYUB
The Prophet Ayyub was a generous and merciful person. He helped the poor, guests and orphans when he was rich. He took care of them and tried to solve their problems.
He was famous for his patience and endurance.
According to a narration, he suffered from that illness for eighteen years. He never complained about it. Once, his wife said to him,
"Had you not better pray Allah Almighty and get rid of your troubles and illness?"
Hazrat Ayyub answered her as follows:
"I lived in welfare for 80 years. The period of hardship and trouble has not been that long by any means. I feel ashamed to ask Allah Almighty something like that. How can I pray Him and ask Him to remove this illness?"19
According to another narration, Hz. Ayyub uttered the following statement whenever a misfortune hit him:
“O Allah! You gave it and you took it back."
Allah Almighty set His prophets as examples in both material and spiritual matters.
Man was informed through prophets about what to do regarding all kinds of things that happen to him. Poverty, richness, illness, etc are things that can happen to man any moment.
The lives of the prophets Yusuf (Joseph) and Sulayman (Solomon) should be examples for rich people. They should try to get rid of conceitedness, arrogance, impertinence and naughtiness.
Those who are exposed to troubles and misfortunes should regard the Prophet Ayyub as an example. They should take lessons from his patience and endurance in order to put up with troubles and misfortunes firmly.
The Prophet (pbuh) stated the following regarding the issue:
"Among people, those who are exposed to troubles and misfortunes the most are prophets. After prophets come saints and then other people. Troubles and misfortunes are inflicted on a person based on the degree of his religiousness."
There are several reasons why Allah inflicts most troubles and misfortunes on His beloved servants. Some of them are as follows:
1. In our religion, worship is divided into two:
First: positive worship. Fulfilling Allah's order like prayers (salah) and fasting is regarded as positive worship.
Second: negative worship. Showing patience and endurance to the troubles and misfortunes sent by Allah is regarded as negative worship.
Negative worship is purer and more sincere than positive worship. For, man can show off while performing prayers. However, something like that is not in question when he shows patience to a misfortune. Therefore, the reward of negative worship is much greater.
This is one of the reasons why Allah sends the biggest misfortunes to His beloved servants.
For, the more a person is hit by misfortunes, the more he worships. The more he worships, the more rewards he receives.
2. Man's skills and talents can develop only through hardship and troubles.
Life becomes pure and its value increases only through misfortunes; thus, man gets rid of nonexistence and nihility.
Only through misfortunes can the negative feelings of man be tamed
If there were no misfortunes and troubles, man would act heedlessly and could forget his purpose of creation and his main duties. He could move away from good deeds by being affected by his bad feelings. Therefore, misfortunes and troubles play an important role in educating and warning man.
3. Misfortunes and troubles are also a test for man. Lofty spirits pass this test thanks to patience and consent; thus, they attain higher degrees. Mean spirits fail this test due to their disobedience and complaints.
As man is elevated spiritually and as his spiritual rank and degree increases, his test becomes more difficult. The test of an elementary school student and a university student cannot be the same. Therefore, the tests of troubles and misfortunes of Allah's beloved servants, who are like university students, will definitely be harder than those of other people.
1 C. Paşa, I, 27.
2 ibid, I, 27.
3 ibid, I, 27; M.Vehbi, IX, 3469.
4 Bilmen, III, 1611.
5 M. Vehbi, IX,3469.
6 M. Vehbi, XII, 4803.
(*} In some tafsir books, it is stated that there were worms in the wounds of Hz. Ayyub. It is unanimously agreed by Islamic scholars that prophets are free and away from the states that can disgust people. Therefore, it is definite that Hz. Ayyub is also free and away from the states that can disgust people when they are seen from outside. Then, his wounds on his body were not so open as to make people disgust. Therefore, those who looked at him could not see his chronic wounds clearly but knew that he was in pain. As a matter of fact, there are so many people with cancer and other diseases in hospitals today; their inner organs are inflamed but people cannot notice them from outside. They do not disgust people.
The state of Hz. Ayyub was like that. Those who looked at him could not see anything that would make them disgust but the microbes and worms in his wounds harmed his body including his tongue and heart. They prevented him from mentioning the names of Allah and meditating. (A. Şahin, Yeni Asya Newspaper, 24/2/1976).
7 al-Anbiya, 83.
8 Lem’alar, 14.
9 Sa’d, 42.
10 M. Vehbi, XII, 4804.
11 Tajrid, IX, 143.
12 Çantay, II, 817.
13 Sa’d, 44.
14 Çantay, II, 817.
15 Tajrid trnsl., IX, 142.
16 Bilmen, IV, 2174.
17 Tajrid, IX, 143.
18 Kısas-ı Enbiya, I, 27.
19 Bilmen, IV, 2173.
- Would you give me information about the disease of Hz. Ayyub? It is said that his body was infested by worms. So, can a prophet be disgusting to his tribe?
- Hz. Ayyub (Job) promised to flog his wife one hundred times after he got well due to a mistake she made. How can this be explained?
- Can we transform troubles, misfortunes and illnesses into good things for us? How?
- What is the wisdom behind the misfortunes that hit us unavoidably?
- Does every trouble and misfortune that hits man come because of his sin?
- How should our style (method) be in (conveying the message of Islam, propagation of Islam)? How should I convey the message of Islam to people who despise Islam?
- What would you advise me to do in order to show patience in the face of illnesses and misfortunes?
- Why was I not created as a more handsome person?
- Will you explain the hadith of “the story of a leper, a blind man and a bald-headed man” narrated by Abu Hurayra? Do the diseases of leprosy and baldness originate from the bad traits of people? How should a bald person think?
- Do we have the right to hurt people? How should we react against the insults and bad deeds that we are exposed to?