بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All the Prophets (as) except Mohammed (saw) are descendants of Isaac (as) and each of the Prophets had a lesson to teach humanity. So Yunus (Jonah) (as) for example, taught us never to get sick of calling people to the truth, because we never know what Allah has planned. Ayyoub (or Job) (as) taught us the faith of the patient.
Prophet Ayyoub (as) was blessed as most of the people he was sent to were believers i.e. had faith, and they loved him. Allah (swt) gifted him with tremendous fortunes. No one was given blessings as Ayyoub (as).
This story is for the people who suffer; those who have heavy financial burdens, those tested with ill health, those with difficult family members, the wives with abusive husbands; and it is for those with incredible blessings, who cannot imagine that their blessings can be taken away in a moment. All of us are addressed in Ayyoub’s story, for it is an example for humanity until Judgment Day.
Ayyoub’s (as) Blessings
Allah (swt) bestowed upon him:
1) Great riches, immeasurable treasures and vast lands at his disposal. The village that he was in was small, but he was wealthy as he possessed great immense lands.
2) Hundreds of servants
3) A beautiful, good and pious wife
4) Superb health and excellent physical strength. He was known to hardly ever get sick.
5) 14 children
6) He had faith and a people who were believers as well
7) Companions everywhere and the love of the people around him
8) He had all the livestock and means of transport e.g. Horses
Ayyoub (as) was given economic, physical and social stability. And these were his blessings for 50 years. But Allah (swt) wanted to test him as a lesson for us- and this is when the tribulations began.
The Tribulations Begin
1) First, Allah tested him with his wealth. His lands became dry and barren and so all his riches disappeared as he depended on the land for his wealth. And so he became poor.
2) His 14 children died.
3) He lost all his livestock.
4) He slowly had to sell all his slaves in order to eat.
5) Then, he caught a terrible illness and was crippled. He was confined to one place.
6) His friends that loved him so much before began to believe that his illness was contagious, and so they left him. He remained alone, and no one remained loyal to him except his wife and two of his friends. The rest of the world isolated him.
It is important to remember here that Ayyoub (as) was a prophet, and he was inflicted with all of this. There are many people nowadays when they are tested with some harm, question God and wonder what they might have done to anger Him. Allah (swt) says with regards to this:
“Now, as for man, when his Lord trieth him, giving him honour and gifts then saith he, (puffed up), “My Lord hath honoured me. But when He trieth him, restricting his subsistence for him, then saith he (in despair), “My Lord hath humiliated me!” (89.15-16)
These verses shows that when Allah (swt) gives us blessings, it does not necessarily mean that He is pleased with us; similarly, when we are inflicted with something we see as bad, it may not be that Allah (swt) is angry with us. Both can be tribulations. After these verses Allah (swt) poses the question
“And Hell, that Day, is brought (face to face),- on that Day will man remember, but how will that remembrance profit him?” (89.23)
What does man remember? That his blessings did not mean that Allah (swt) was pleased with him and thus he should have been more careful with them and should have thanked Allah (swt) for them, nor did the tribulations mean that Allah (swt) was angry with him and thus he should have remained patient and refrained from questing God’s will, as the story of Ayyoub (as) shows us.
The Prophet Ayyoub (as) lost everything; he was poor, he no means of transport and no livestock, and his friends left him. There is an important lesson in this and it should be an illustration that we learn from and apply; that we should think of the way we choose our friends, and should not be delighted with the limelight and attention that people give us; because all of this can disappear in a second and Allah is Al-Qaadir (The Able and the All-Powerful). Our blessings should not make us succumb to this life and forget about our Creator. This is one of the reasons why Allah (swt) tests us- it is as though He tells us to look at these catastrophes, to look at how people suffer, to look at the problems… and then asks us “And still you want the material pleasures of this world?” We should want and work for the afterlife and the Paradise that God (swt) has created for us.
This does not mean that we should not be affected by world affairs, or that we should not work for the betterment of the earth or that we should not excel at what we do- but we must remember that what we do is for the sake of Allah (swt). We must remember to hold the world in our hands and not in our hearts, because that is the only way that we can master it without becoming attached to it. We must remember that everything can vanish in the blink of an eye. Everything belongs to Allah (swt)- if Allah takes away our riches it is only because they belong to Him- He gave them to us and has a right to take them away, and if He takes away our loved ones it is only because “…to Allah we belong and to Him we return…” (2.156). This is what the story of Ayyoub (as) teaches us- to never be assured with this world and what we have, for it is all temporary.
The only person left taking care of Ayyoub (as) was his wife. She had to use her own money to buy food. And when her money ran out, she began serving people to make money to feed herself and her bedridden husband. And the ordeal continued- for 18 years.
So for those of you being tested, remember that Ayyoub (as) suffered more- and he was a prophet. It is as though Allah (swt) is showing us this to serve as a reminder, that not all tribulations are because Allah (swt) is angry, for Ayyoub (as) was loved by his Lord and still he suffered. No one has suffered as much as he did and no one ever will, and despite this he was still the Imam of the Patient.
It is remarkable how, when people tire of trying so hard and want a solution, and are told to be patient; they are exasperated and ask for something ‘practical’ that can help them literally. They ignore the fact that sometimes patience is the key. The Prophet Mohammed (saw) has told us that “Patience is light” (Muslim), and many scholars such as Abi Ad-Dunya have said that “Patience is half of faith (Eman)”. For those that say they must make money in ways that are not permissible by this religion to live comfortably, then be patient. For those who say that wearing that hijaab is difficult and that they are discriminated against, then be patient. If you are patient in your worship of God, then He is with you as “… surely Allah is with the patient” (2.153) and He will help you out of it as a reward because “…whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him” (65:3)
There is nothing in existence that does not require patience. Leaving that which is forbidden requires patience; being obedient to Allah (swt) requires patience; praying fajr requires patience; honoring parents requires patience; facing tribulations needs patience; honoring Islam needs patience; liberating Palestine needs patience- for patience is the key to all these cases. Allah built this universe on patience- grass grows gradually, the sun rises gradually, and Allah (swt) created the earth and the heavens in 6 days. He could have told it “Be!” and it would have; but Allah (swt) shows us that patience is the foundation of the universe. Even economic prosperity, constructing buildings and starting a business all need patience. Every deprivation in this world is because of impatience- people fornicate because they cannot wait for marriage and people steal because they cannot wait for an honest means alleviate themselves financially.
It is as though Allah (swt) has sent us Ayyoub (as) as a prophet to teach us this. With all the other prophets we have heard of their dealings with their people, but with Ayyoub (as) we are told of his tribulations and his patience in the face of them. It is to tell us that this characteristic is so important, that Allah (swt) tests a prophet for 18 years with it just to show us. The patience of Ayyoub (as) is reiterated numerously in the Qur’an, and no trait has been mentioned as much patience- 90 times. Not even trustworthiness, nor truthfulness, nor honesty have been repeated to this extent.
The most beautiful thing about patience in the Qur’an is that it is always followed with hope. Allah (swt) says:
و لنبلونكم بشيء من الخوف والجوع ونقص من الأموال والأنفس والثمرات وبشر الصابرين>>
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2.155)
It is as though Allah (swt) is telling us that if we are patient with the tribulations mentioned above, then we are rewarded with him. Ayyoub (as) was tested for 18yrs; he was poor, his 14 children died and his wife had to work as a servant and she was the wife of a prophet. Then He proceeds with telling us:
<انما يوفى الصابرون أجورهم بغير حساب>
“…those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!” (39.10)
We can see real life situations that act as proof of this verse. A story was related by Amr Khaled where a young man went into a mosque and approached the sheikh. This young man was married, and he complained to the sheikh that he hated his wife and wanted to divorce her; yet he feared that if he would go ahead and do so he would have wronged her.
So the sheikh responded with the verse above, saying after it “if you are patient, then you can be free on Judgment Day.” After seeing this young man again after a month, he was asked whether he divorced his wife or not. He replied with “I knew I was at an ultimatum and I thought; do I choose to go to Heaven without being accounted for, or do I choose happiness in this life and divorce her? I chose patience, I chose Heaven. I swear by God that after I chose my path, I now feel like I cannot let go of her and I love her more than I could ever describe. I sometimes sit wondering how I could ever have thought of divorcing her. It is as though Allah (swt) told me “You were patient, so I am not just going to give you happiness in the afterlife; I’ll give it to you in this life as well” For Allah is Al-Kareem (The Generous).
Allah (swt) tells us:
<واستعينوا بالصبر والصلاة وإنها لكبيرة الا على الخاشعين>
“And seek assistance through patience and prayer, and most surely it is a hard thing except for the humble ones” (2.45)
It is hard, but it ultimately our aid, and Allah (swt) says:
<فاصبر ان العاقبة للمتقين>
“So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for those conscious of Allah” (11:49).
This is reiterated in the saying of the Prophet Mohammed (saw):
<واعلم أن النصر مع الصبر>
The Prophet (PBUH) says, “You should know that victory comes with patience.”
(Sahih al-Albany, 315).
Before continuing with Ayyoub’s (as) story, it is important to stop and reflect on Allah’s name As-Saboor (The Patient). If there was nothing else sweet about patience save that it is one of Allah’s (swt) Beautiful Names, it should be enough for us to try and emulate it- for who is more patient than Allah with His servants?
The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said:
<ما أعطي عبد عطاء أوسع ولا أفضل من الصبر>
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “No one would be given better and weightier blessing than patience.”
So the tribulations continued with Ayyoub (as), and his wife grew tired. She said to him “Are you not a Messenger?”
He said “Yes”
“Then why do you not supplicate? Ask Allah to relieve us of the suffering that we are in”
He asked her “How long has Allah blessed us before this?”
She replied “50 years”
“And how long have we been suffering?”
“By Allah, our Lord has blessed us for 50 years; do we not have patience for the same amount of time? By Allah, I will not invoke my Lord until I live with troubles like I have lived with blessings.”
And he would not speak except with “Alhamdulilah- all praise and thanks are due to Allah”.
More time passed until his wife grew angry. She said to him “I swore on you to invoke Allah! Until when must we remain in this torment?!”
He said “Woe unto you! Do you anger Allah (swt)? By Allah, if He cures me of my afflictions, I will beat you 100 times!” He was angry with her because she questioned Allah’s will once during all these years; so what of the people who question Allah’s will for every tiny hardship? What of those who sit and complain over meaningless things?
And so the afflictions persisted, until no one wanted to even employ his wife because they thought that she must have caught Ayyoub’s (as) disease as well. And so Ayyoub (as) and his wife had no source of income. What remained were his two friends. When narrating this story to the Companions, Mohammed (saw) said:
<إن نبي الله أيوب لبث في البلاء 18 عاماً فرفضه القريب والبعيد إلا رجلين من إخوانه, قال أحدهما لصاحبه ذات يوم أرى أن أيوب أذنب ذنباً في حق الله لن يغفره الله له أبداً. فقال له لم؟ قال ألم ترى ما به من بلاء لم يرحمه الله عز وجل 18 عاماً…>
“The Apostle of Allah Ayyoub lived with tribulations for 18 years, those close to him and those far from him rejected him [i.e. stayed away from him] except two of his kinsmen. One of them said to the other one day: ‘I see that Ayyoub has committed a great sin against Allah and He will never forgive him for it’.
The other said: ‘Why do you say that?’
He replied: ‘Do you not see what he has been afflicted with? And Allah has not shown him mercy for 18 years!’
So these two men went to visit Ayyoub (as) and one of them said to him, ‘Do you know what your friend has said? He says that you have committed a grave sin against Allah, and He will never forgive you for it’.
Ayyoub (as) said, ‘About what you say, I do not know. But what I do know is that when I would pass by two men fighting, I would go home and pray to Allah to reconcile them, and I would give in charity on their behalf so that Allah is not disobeyed on earth.’
And that affected them deeply”
It hurt Ayyoub(as) that this is what his friends thought, after all the troubles he went through.
One day, his wife came to him with food. He asked her, “Where have you come by this food and we do not own anything?” And it was a lot of food. She did not respond. So he persisted, but she did not reply. And he persisted further, and it turned out she had cut off her hair and sold it, and used the money to buy some food for Ayyoub (as). This incident should remind us of the things we have- have we ever gone hungry? Our refrigerators are full, and yet we complain. This was not the state of Ayyoub (as), a noble prophet, whose wife had to sell her hair in order to feed him.
When he discovered this, he was pained and it moved him deeply, so he invoked Allah (swt). After 18 years, he finally supplicated; yet even his du’aa was amazing:
<وأيوب إذ نادا ربه أني مسني الضر وأنت أرحم الراحمين>
“And (remember) Ayyoub, when he cried to his Lord, “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.” (21:83)
It was amazing in that it was not a complaint; he did not talk of his suffering for 18 years, nor did he say “O Allah, You have inflicted me with so and so”- he did not attribute any evil to Allah (swt). In another aya, he says that it is from the Shaytaan. And what happened after this du’aa? Allah (swt) says:
<فاستجبنا له وكشفنا ما به من ضر>
<Therefore We responded to him and took off what harm he had>
Allah (swt) responded to him, and took away his suffering. He said to Ayyoub (as):
<Strike with thy foot: here is (water) wherein to wash, cool and refreshing, and (water) to drink.>
Allah (swt) told Ayyoub (as) to stamp his feet on the ground, and water shot out. We need to stop here- why did Allah (swt) make Ayyoub (as) stamp his feet, even though he was sick and could hardly move? He could have told the water “Be!” and it would have; but He made Ayyoub (as) stamp his feet to teach us, that we must couple du’aa with action. We must pray to Allah (swt) and recognize that we depend on Him, but we must use the blessings that He gave us to achieve that which we asked for because He gave it to us for a reason. And so Ayyoub (as) stamped his feet, and water shot out of the ground. He was told to wash himself with this water and drink it, to cure him of all external and internal diseases and illnesses.
When the Prophet (pbuh) was relating this story he said:
“Whenever Ayyoub went outdoors to the ‘toilet’ he leaned on his wife, and then hid from her. She led him back usually holding his hand. One time he was late [in returning to her]. He returned to his wife much better than he was [in shining white robes and perfect, young-looking body] so she said ‘Allah bless you! Have you seen the afflicted prophet of Allah who was here before?’ Then she looked at him closely and said ‘I swear I’ve never met anyone who looked like him as much as you do, before he was afflicted’. ‘Can’t you recognize me?’ he asked. ‘No,’ she said. ‘It is me, Ayyoub,’ he answered.”
The Blessings Return
With Ayyoub (as), we can see how fast Allah (swt) can return our blessings. After He cured him, He returned to him his health and his strength better than he had before the tribulations began. It is as though Allah (swt) was returning to him the 18 years that he spent in suffering, and we can learn from this. Some people, when they are old , give up on life because they feel there is nothing more for them- but we never know what Allah (swt) has planned for us. He may choose to bless us in our last year of our life more than we have been blessed for the 50 years that we have lived. This is to show you that everything is in His hands- a man with millions of dirhams may be dissatisfied where a man with a thousand may be happy, because it is Allah (swt) who allows us to enjoy what we have.
Secondly, the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) tells us:
<وأرسل عليه سحابتين على أرضيه فإذا بسحابة تمر على الأرض التي كان يزرعها قمحاً فأنثرت ذهباً حتى امتلأ الحقل. وأما السحابة الأخرى فمرت على حقل الشعير فأمطرت فضة.>
“Allah sent two clouds over his lands; one cloud passed over the wheat field and rained gold until the field was filled, while the other passed over the barley field and rained silver”
This is to show us that Allah (swt) makes up for every moment of patience and it is as though Ayyoub (as) was never tested.
Thirdly, Allah (swt) tells us:
<وآتيناه أهله ومثلهم معهم رحمة من عندنا>
<…and We gave him his family and the like of them with them: a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers> (21.84)
His wife was given back her youth, and she gave birth to 26 children after that. Allah (swt) gave Ayyoub (as) back what he lost but multiplied. The Prophet Mohammed (saw) also said:
“When the Prophet Ayyoub was taking a bath naked, golden locusts began to fall on him. Ayyoub started collecting them in his clothes. His Lord addressed him, ‘O Ayyoub! Haven’t I given you enough so that you are not in need of them?’ Ayyoub replied, ‘Yes!’ By Your Honor (power)! But I cannot dispense with Your Blessings.’ “(Al-Bukhari)
These are some of the miracles Allah gave to Ayyoub (as), just as Moses, Noah and the other prophets (as) were given miracles.
“And take in thy hand a little grass, and strike therewith: and break not (thy oath).” (38:44)
Allah (swt) told Ayyoub (as) to take a hundred blades of grass, and to strike her once gently. This is how Allah (swt) makes things easy for His slave, because of His love for another slave i.e. Ayyoub’s (as) wife. Because she was also patient and suffered with Ayyoub (as), Allah (swt) has put a verse in the Qur’an regarding her.
Allah (swt) sums up this story beautifully:
<إنا وجدناه صابراً نعم العبد إنه أواب>
< Surely We found him patient; most excellent the servant! Surely he was frequent in returning (to Allah)!>
What are the lessons that we should take from this?
1- Patience: Be patient with what has afflicted you, and remember how Allah (swt) tested Ayyoub (as) who was a beloved prophet.
2- Du’aa: Never forget to ask Allah (swt) and invoke Him, because surely only He can give and only He takes away.
3- Action: Couple your patience and du’a with action. You can be patient with not having a job in the sense that you are not angry and you do not seek illegitimate means of sustenance, and you pray to Allah to help you find a job; but you also go out and try to find a suitable job.
4- Appreciation: Be thankful for the blessings you have, no matter how small they seem. Remember that there are people starving as in Africa, people living under constant oppression as in Palestine, and people afflicted suddenly with a natural disaster who lose everything, as in Indonesia.