The Patience of Ayyub

February 22, 2018
Amal Al-Sibai

Saudi Gazette

Every person is faced with trials and tribulations at one point or another in their lives. It is patience that helps the believer cope. When calamity befalls a patient believer, it does not crush him. Instead, the believer endures, persists, and has hope in the mercy of Allah and the rewards that are awaiting him on the Day of Judgment.

Patience is a virtue that you can work on to develop.

There is much to learn from the story of Prophet Ayyub, as he is the ideal example of the afflicted believer who remained patient and faithful to His Lord.

Prophet Ayyub (peace be upon him) was mentioned in the Holy Qur’an four times. He resided in the region that is now Syria. Prior to his illness, Prophet Ayyub was an extremely wealthy man. He possessed treasures of gold and silver, and he owned land, farms, fields, and cattle. He also had many children.

Scholars say that the illness overtook Prophet Ayyub when he was seventy years old. The illness was so severe; historians have written that not a single limb of Ayyub was free from disease except his tongue and his heart, which he used for the remembrance of Allah. He lost his children and his whole family except his wife who remained devoted to him.

Historians have recorded different durations and the extent of the Prophet’s illness. Some claimed his illness lasted three years, others claim seven years, and others claim eighteen years. Regardless of the exact number of years, we can certainly know that Prophet Ayyub patiently bore his illness for a very long time.

Never did Prophet Ayyub lament, grow angry, or reject the fate which Allah had decreed for him. Day and night, throughout the pain and difficult times, Prophet Ayyub would praise his Lord.

What inspired such patience? Why did he not lose it?

Prophets and pious believers know that Allah tests His servants with trials and tribulations to test their patience, raise their rank in Paradise, and erase the sins they have committed. In fact, calamities that befall a Muslim should not be perceived as a disaster that will ruin his/her life, but as a sign that Allah loves him/her. For some Muslims, it is the wake-up call they need to turn to Allah and repent, which is actually a blessing in disguise.

The companion, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas asked, “O Messenger of Allah, which of the people are most sorely tested?” He said, “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is strong, he will be tested more severely, and if his religious commitment is weak, he will be tested in accordance with his religious commitment. Calamity will keep befalling a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him.”

Both were very patient, Prophet Ayyub and his wife. She took care of her husband, served him single-handedly, and worked in the village to earn a livelihood to feed herself and her husband. One day, she asked her husband why he did not supplicate to Allah to relieve him of his illness.

Prophet Ayyub replied, “I lived for seventy years in prosperity and health why shouldn’t I be patient for the sake of Allah for seventy years.”

After realizing the physical toll his situation had taken on his wife, Prophet Ayyub raised his hands and supplicated to Allah, without complaining to anyone else. Making duaa does not contradict being patient at all. A believer is encouraged to make duaa to Allah but to be wary of complaining and grumbling to people.

“And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, ‘Indeed, adversity has touched me, and You are the most merciful of the merciful.’” (Qur’an 21:83)

After turning to Allah, calling fervently upon Allah, and supplicating, without becoming disgruntled or dissatisfied with the decree of Allah, Ayyub’s call was answered. Allah directed Prophet Ayyub to drink from and bathe in a cool spring. He was cured and his body healed.

“[So he was told], ‘Strike [the ground] with your foot; this is a [spring for a] cool bath and drink.’” (Qur’an 38:42)

Not only was Prophet Ayyub cured but Allah also restored his wife’s youth.

What we learn from the story of Prophet Ayyub is true patience and acceptance, while still seeking refuge in Allah and turning to Allah for help.

We will encounter hardships, but we must deal with our hardships as a test, as an opportunity to exhibit patience and firm belief in Allah.

How do we pass these tests? Only if we are patient will the calamity serve as expiation of sins and higher rewards. If we respond to the tests with discontent, rage, constant complaining to every person we meet, and vulgar behavior, we fail the test.

What do we say when we are faced with difficulty or grief or injury or illness? We should say, “Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.”

The collective Muslim community is being tested in these times, may Allah grant us patience.

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