Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ, also written as “Job” in English and أيوب in Arabic, is one of the Prophets, mentioned by name in the Quran. His name appears in the Quran four times in different surahs and Verses. Very little information is available about him in the Quran. However, we can find information about his family background and Prophet-Hood in later Islamic history.

Some Islamic commentators believe he was sent as a Prophet to his people, contrary to the other Prophets, who were usually sent to a specific community. However, Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ is commonly known as a symbol of patience and endurance. It is also a common belief that Prophet Ayyub will lead the people to the Heavens who “patiently endured.” He is known as the one who is steadfast to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, even in the worst and most challenging phase of his life.

Family Background of Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ

There are different opinions about the family lineage of Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. Some think that he was a descendant of the Prophet Ibraheem عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. According to this opinion, the family lineage is “Ibn Mose, Ibn Razeh, Ibn Esau, Ibn Isaac, Ibn Abraham.”  It is also a common belief that his mother was one of the daughters of Prophet Lut عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ.

The opinion of Prophet Ayyub, a descendant of Prophet Ibraheem, finds its evidence in verses 83 and 84 of Surah Al-An’am.

Translation

This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his people. We exalt whosoever We please in rank by degrees. Your Lord is wise and all-knowing.

And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided them, as We had guided Noah before them, and of his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus We reward those who are upright and do good.

Similarly, the 163rd verse of Surah An-Nisa also supports this opinion.

Translation –  We have sent revelations to you as We sent revelations to Noah and the prophets (who came) after him; and We sent revelations to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob, and their offspring, and to Jesus and Job, and to Jonah and Aaron and Solomon, and to David We gave the Book of Psalms,

On the evidence above referred verses from the Quran, most of the Islamic Commentators are of the view that Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was a descendant of Prophet Ibraheem عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. It is also mentioned in the Islamic traditions that his wife was a direct descendant of Prophet Yousaf عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ. He lived with his wife and fourteen children in the area currently known as Syria. Some others, though opine that he lived in Rome.

Early Life of Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ

Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was a rich man of this time. He enjoyed lots of blessings from Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى He had a lot of wealth, children, farms, and animals. Per some traditions, he has fourteen children and a very loyal and beloved wife. His wife’s name is often referred to as Rahma, though not confirmed by most of the commentators. Being a Chosen One by Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, and in the capacity of a Prophet, he used to spend most of his time in worship. He always remained thankful to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, yet remained repentant all the times.

But later on, a twist came in his life and Prophet-Hood. Ibllees (Satan), one day, heard the Angels discussing that Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ is the best person on the earth at this time. He is noble, generous, patient, and an excellent example for worshippers. He is ready to help the poor all the time. He helps the slaves; he buys them and then frees them. So, he is the best one on the earth.  Hearing all this, Satan was caught by jealousy and decided to distract him from his unshaken trust and belief in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى.

On the request of Satan, Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, the All-Knowing, allowed him to have an attempt on the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ.

Prophet Ayyub faces a testing time

Satan started his endeavor by whispering to Prophet Ayyub سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى about the good things in life. But contrary to his expectations, the Prophet remained committed to his Prayers. Satan was much disturbed on this unshaken faith of Prophet Ayyub سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. So, he complained to Allah Almighty that if, somehow, the Prophet’s wealth is taken back, he will not remain firm in his faith.

The All-Knowing allowed Satan to give it a try but told Satan that His servant has nothing to do with all these material things and that he will remain steadfast in his worship and patience, with firm belief in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. Satan thought that he could distract the Prophet by snatching his wealth, children, and animals from him.

So, the wealth of the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ started diminishing, his animals and all the children died. His farms were destroyed. But Satan could not distract him from his unwavering and unshaken loyalty and trust in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. The Prophet remained firm on his straight path. He appeared before the Prophet as an old wise man and said, “Your wealth is gone. You have lost everything. People say that this is brought to you by Allah just to please your enemies. Allah would have protected you from this miserable situation”.

But contrary to Satan’s expectations, Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ  replied, “All these were from Allah, and He has taken back what He gave to me. Allah gives to whom He likes and takes back from them when He likes.” So, the Prophet continued with his worship and remained patient and thankful to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى.

Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ faces Health Deterioration

When the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ remained steadfast to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, despite all the financial hardships, Satan again approached Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. He said, “Grant me access to his body. I will weaken him so he will be disobedient”. The All-Knowing Allah allowed him authority over his body but warned Satan not to play with heart, soul, and intellect because these are the places where all the knowledge resides.

So, the health and body of Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ started to deteriorate until only skin and bones were left, whereas the entire body of the Prophet caught several diseases. Even in this worst condition, the Prophet remained patient and firm in his trust in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. Gradually, all the relatives and community members left the Prophet alone. He was left with his beloved wife alone. They were forced to leave the city and went far away from it.

Satan then tried to separate the wife of the Prophet from him. He whispered to his wife and reminded her of their luxurious life. So, she asked the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ to request Allah to take back all these miseries from you, as you are a Prophet. The Prophet replied that Satan has misguided you. He asked her how many years we had lived a prosperous life.

She replied, almost eighty years. And how many years have passed with these miseries, asked the Prophet. She said seven years. So, the Prophet said, we have lived far less in hardship than in the happy years of our lives. Hence, it is unsuitable to ask Allah to take back these hardships. He further said, if at any stage I become healthier, I swear to punish you with 100 lashes. He then asked her to leave him alone. His wife realized her mistake and started crying, leaving him with a heavy heart.

Hardship Ends for Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ

At that stage, the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ remained steadfast. But he turned to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى to seek His mercy. The request was accepted by Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى, as narrated in verses 41 to 43 of Surah Sad.

Translation

Remember Our votary Job because he called to his Lord: “Satan has afflicted me with disease and distress.”

“Go swiftly to the spring,” (We said). “This cold water is for bathing and for drinking.”

We restored his family to him with others similar to them, as a blessing from Us and a reminder for men of wisdom

In verses 83 and 84 of surah Al-Anbiya, it is narrated as under.

Translation

(Remember) Job when he called to his Lord: “I am afflicted with distress, and You are the most compassionate of all.”

So We heard his cry and relieved him of the misery he was in. We restored his family to him, and along with them gave him others similar to them as a grace from Us and reminder for those who are obedient.

So, the Prophet regained his health. At this stage, he recalled his swear for lashing 100 strokes at his wife. He was worried about his, as he did not want to harm his beloved wife but at the same time, he wanted to fulfill his swear. Allah Commanded him to take a bundle of grass and strike them on her wife to fulfill his swear. The 44th verse of Surah Sad describes it as under

Translation

Take a handful of herbs,” (We said to him), and apply and rub them, and do not make a mistake.” We found him patient in adversity, an excellent devotee, always turning in repentance.

Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ regains his Health, Wealth and Family

So, the Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ successfully emerged from the hardships, displaying his true character as a patient, repentant, and faithful servant of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىAll his wealth was restored, and he was blessed with even more children than he had before.

The story of Prophet Ayyub عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ is an example of patience and unwavering trust in Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى. The exemplary display of the Prophet Ayyub’s patience is reflected in Urdu’s term “Sabr-e-Ayyub” (the patience of Ayyub).