Surah Al-Anbya (21:84)
“So We responded to [Ayyub] and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah ].”
We have Noah’s Ark. The story of Moses. Jesus of course. And finally, we have the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Learning about their lives is critical to a traditional, formal Islamic education. All these prophets’ lives provide valuable lessons that we as Muslims, can gain a lot of wisdom from. However, it seems that learning about the other messengers (bear in mind, there were hundreds of them) is often neglected. So, I am going to focus my efforts on explaining the story of one particular prophet whom you may or may not have heard about. Otherwise known as Job in the Judeo-Christian sense, Prophet Ayyub’s relationship with Allah SWT is something to aspire to in terms of his gratitude, patience, and sincerity.
Prophet Ayyub is described in the Hadith and Tafsir to have been incredibly handsome, have a wonderful family, and have a thriving business–everything one could ever want in this world. He showed immense gratitude towards Allah SWT for all of his blessings, and Allah SWT reciprocated with his praise. When Iblis, or Satan, tries to tempt him with the pleasures of this world, Prophet Ayyub is of course resilient to his offenses. Shaytan, or Iblis, grew irritated with this, questioning Prophet Ayyub’s sincerity. He claimed that the Prophet Ayyub only worshipped Allah SWT because of the favors of his wealth.
Iblis plotted to rid Job of his material possessions–his wealth and cattle were all taken away from him. He then made it so that the building that the Prophet Ayyub’s children were in collapsed, killing them all. Job’s body was then wrecked with disease to the point where he slowly lost his friends, because it was too hard for them to see him in a state of illness.
People used to want to be around Prophet Ayyub before his misfortunes, and now they were repulsed by the sight of him, claiming that, “Allah doesn’t love this man. If Allah loved him, this wouldn’t have happened to him.” Prophet Ayyub responded to this test by turning to Allah SWT for help. By doing so, it was revealed to him that striking the ground with his foot would result in a spring of water that can be used for him to wash in and drink from. This water resulted in the restoration of his health. I want to establish that getting gifted things in this world and being stripped of them are both tests.
Think of the mental state this man must have been in, and picture yourself in that same situation. You lost your career, your family, and your friends who don’t even care to see you anymore. At this point, many people would find it easy to curse the world and their circumstances, and to question why they even exist. Many attach worldly success to their self-worth, so continuous misfortunate would psychologically ruin them. The mainstream mentality is that if things are going wrong, you must be doing something wrong. Logically, this makes sense and is the case: you reap what you sow. What you put into the world is what you get out of it. However, to have this outlook on your whole life is dangerous. It is important to note that in Islam, this is not the case. What if I were to tell you that your wealth, health, etc. are all things that are affected by your relationship with Allah SWT?
It is very easy for us to be thankful to Allah SWT when times are good, but when life gets tough, we can lose our gratitude and become bitter. True gratitude is only shown when luxuries are taken away. When given bounty, it is easy to forget that Allah SWT is the reason for it: instead we give ourselves most of the credit. It is only when things are taken away can we tangibly see ourselves losing control, but that’s the biggest misconception here: we never had full control to begin with. Do you know how Prophet Ayyub responded after his bounties were taken away, and he was left suffering: “We all belong to Allah. Whatever He has given to us, was always his. If he took it away, it just returned to who it belonged to always.” Islam by definition means “submission” so by surrendering control to The Most Wise, can we continue to strive in becoming better Muslims. Only through that can we truly understand what it means to have trust, or Tawakkul, in Allah SWT.
Author’s note: I hope this story of Prophet Ayyub helped you to understand one of the messengers of Allah SWT a little bit more. They’re called messengers for a reason. They have a story to tell, and it is in our best interest to learn them.