Question: What was the reason for Hadrat Ayyûb’s getting ill and becoming the object of various trials and tribulations?
As Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm stood for salât (ritual prayer), he would completely break off his connections with the worldly life and focus his mind on Allahu ta’âlâ alone. When Allahu ta’âlâ praised his patience in acts of worship and righteous deeds, all angels in the heavens and on earth came to pay him a visit. Becoming jealous of Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm, the Devil pleaded with Allahu ta’âlâ:
“O my Rabb! What virtue did You bestow on him that angels came to visit him?”
“Ayyûb is My patient servant. Even these favors are few for My patient servants.”
“O my Rabb! Whether he is patient is dependent on my testing him. Let me put him to a test.
“O the cursed one! Test him.”
A hadîth-i sharîf declares:
(As the doubtful gold is examined by means of fire, so people are tested by means of troubles and disasters.) [Tabarânî]
Upon obtaining permission, the Devil went near Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm. He laid his hand on his property first so that he (Hadrat Ayyûb) might lose patience and get out of hand. Accordingly, he killed all his sheep and goats that were grazing on the mountain and came before him. He found him prostrating and said:
“O Ayyûb! You are still busy worshiping. But your Lord raged at you and obliterated all your sheep and goats. Are you still worshiping him?”
Having made the salâm and completed the salât, Hadrat Ayyûb stated:
“You are saying that all my sheep and goats have been destroyed totally. What connection do I have with them? I am just a weak servant, a slave. What does a slave possess? All property and goods belong to his Master. If the Master has destroyed His own sheep and goats, what is it to me? I am a slave, and I am cognizant of my slavery.”
Afterwards, when he got back to worship again, the Devil felt miserable. This time, he laid his hand upon Hadrat Ayyûb’s children. He slew all ten children of Hadrat Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm, went near him, and said:
“O Ayyûb! Your acts of worship have no value in the sight of Allah as much as the wing of a fly. You incurred His wrath, so He slaughtered all your children.”
“What connection do I have with my children? It is He who creates, gives life, keeps alive, and takes life. The decree belongs to Allahu ta’âlâ, the Subduer.”
Once again, he started salât. The Devil felt utterly sad because he could not get what he expected. Thereupon, He prayed to Allahu ta’âlâ:
“O my Lord! I found your servant Ayyûb long-suffering. Though I destroyed his property and children, I failed to divert his heart away from You. Grant me permission so that I will rub his body and make him ill. Let us see whether he will endure patiently this time.”
“Go and do whatever you like.”
When Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm was making prostration, the Devil blew into his nose, whereupon his whole body melted and became as if a poisonous snake bit it. He was covered with sores. Despite these, he neither heaved a sigh nor uttered a single word of complaint. The Devil disguised himself as a doctor and came to him. He said, “If you have any trouble, tell me, and I will cure it right away.” He did not manifest his trouble and did not express any feelings of dissatisfaction. He lay ill for seven years. Nevertheless, he would worship his Lord as much as he could.
It is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(Some people turn away from the remembrance of Allah when they attain various blessings. And they despair [of Allah’s mercy] when an evil [such as illness and poverty] touches them.) [Sûrat-ul-Isrâ’ 83]
Because Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm displayed patience by not despairing of Allahu ta’âlâ’s mercy and thus got through the test successfully, all his property and children were restored to him. Allahu ta’âlâ is with the patient. Those who bear with His destiny and decree will attain endless blessings. As a matter of fact, it is purported in the Qur’ân al-karîm:
(The patient will be rewarded without measure.) [Sûrat-uz-Zumar 10]
A hadîth-i sharîf states:
(Allahu ta’âlâ declared: “Whoever experiences a calamity affecting his body or his children or his property and endures it with a beautiful patience, I will be ashamed to call him to account on the Day of Resurrection.”) [Hakim]
When Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm was given back his health, property, and children, he cried by letting out a deep sigh before dawn at that night. As he was asked the reason why, he answered:
(Each night before dawn, I would hear a voice saying, “O our sick servant! How are you?” Now this time has come. I am crying because I have heard no voice.) [R. Nâsihîn]
Hadrat Ayyûb’s crying
Question: It is written in a Qur’ân translation I have read that Hadrat Ayyûb is complaining of his illness. Is it true for a prophet to complain of an illness? Or is there a mistake in the translation?
As we have written numbers of times, we do not advise anyone to read any of the translations that are done under the name of Qur’ân translations because the Qur’ân al-karîm cannot be rendered either in short or at length. However, fully qualified Islamic scholars do its tafsîr and ta’wîl in light of naql. Islam cannot be learned from translations.
The 44th verse of Sâd Sûra purports, “We found Ayyûb patient [in the face of calamities that befell his property, his life, and his household]. What a good servant he was! He would always turn to Allah and take refuge in Him.” Janâb-i Haqq (Allahu ta’âlâ) extols the patience of Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm and says, “What a good servant he was!” If Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm had expressed displeasure with his illness, Allahu ta’âlâ would not have extolled him.
The scholars elucidate this point as follows:
It is considered as a complaint to tell people your illness by moaning. But to tell a doctor it is not like telling people it. Shedding tears in solitude by saying, “O my Lord! I cannot perform my acts of worship because of my illness,” is not an act of complaint because of illness, but a presentation of your state because of failing to perform acts of worship; it is to make an apology in a sense. There is no religious obstacle to presenting your state to Allahu ta’âlâ and praying to Him. As a matter of fact, the Qur’an al-karîm informs us about the fact that Ya’qûb ‘alaihis-salâm said, “I present my great anguish and sorrow only to Allah [not others]” [Sûrat-u Yûsuf 86].
He did not lament his illness
Undoubtedly, it is our master the Prophet who knew the Qur’ân al-karîm best and who interpreted it. When the same question was asked to him, he said the following in response to it:
(I swear to Allahu ta’âlâ that Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm did not wail or whine about his illness. As he suffered this affliction for seven years, seven months, seven days, and seven hours, he could not perform salât by standing and fell to the ground. When he got into trouble in worship, “Truly the illness has fallen on me,” he said.)
The Devil, in order to deceive Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm, came near him and said, “If you want rid of this calamity that has struck your property, your life, and your household, prostrate yourself before me, so that I will restore you to your former condition.” This heavy statement of the Devil’s deeply offended Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm. Having realized that he was subjected to a dreadful ordeal, he said, “Truly, the illness has fallen on me.”
As his illness lingered on, his acquaintances distanced themselves from him more and more, except his faithful wife. She had a cottage built beside the city. She would buy and bring her needs from the city. One day, at the time when she went to the city, Hadrat Jabrâil gave Hadrat Ayyûb glade tidings of Allahu ta’âlâ’s grace:
(O Ayyûb! I gave you affliction, and you endured it with patience. Now ask whatever you like of Me, and I will grant it.)
Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm, in turn, exposed his state, as it is mentioned in the Qur’anic verse, and prayed. Janâb-i Haqq declared, “We accepted his prayer” (Al-Anbiyâ’ 84).
Water gushed from the ground
As it is narrated in Sâd Sûra, Jabrâil ‘alaihis-salâm commanded Hadrat Ayyûb to strike his foot on the ground. When he stamped his foot, clear water issued from the earth. This water would be cold when it was used to satisfy thirst and hot when it was used for bathing. When he took a sip from this water and poured some on his head, he was freed from illness right away and regained his strength. He became a young man. Hadrat Jabrâil dressed him with clean and precious clothes.
Soon after, as his wife returned from the city with food, she burst into tears when she did not see him in bed. While she was shrieking by saying, “What happened to my ill husband? Did beasts take him away?” Hadrat Ayyûb called out to him:
“O lady! Who are you looking for?”
“I had an ill husband, my life companion. I have lost him.”
“What was his name?”
“It was patient Ayyûb.”
“What was he like?”
“When he was healthy, he was very much like you.”
“O Rahima! I am that Ayyûb who was subjected to that affliction.”
He cried with his wife in gratitude to Allahu ta’âlâ. When they came to the city, they saw that their ramshackle house had been renewed, that their seven sons and three daughters—who had died previously—were returned to life, that their camels, sheep, and all of their other property—which had been destroyed—were given back. Moreover, they found their warehouse full of gold and silver. His wife became youthful, and gave birth to 26 children. (R. Nâsihîn, Tibyan)
Question: Is it true that the sores of Hadrat Ayyûb were infested with worms?
Yes, it is true. Although some people claim that a malady of this sort does not befall prophets, there is no such thing that the sores of prophets cannot be infested with worms. Prophethood has seven peculiarities:
1. Amânah (trustworthiness),
2. Sidq (veracity, truthfulness),
3. Tabligh (communication of Allahu ta’âlâ’s orders),
4. Adâlah (justness),
5. Ismah (being free from committing sins),
6. Fatânah (super intelligence),
7. Amn-ul ‘azl (security against dismissal from prophethood).
His sores’ being infested with worms is not contrary to the peculiarities of prophethood. Hadrat Alâaddin-i Attâr, a great savant, declared as well the fact that the sores of Ayyûb ‘alaihis-salâm were infested with worms. (Se’âdet-i Ebediyye)