Thursday, August 19, 2004

The Story of Job

Job (upon whom be peace) was a prophet, a descendant of Abraham (upon whom be peace) through his son Isaac (upon whom be peace). God gave Job everything that people desire on earth. He gave him wisdom and piety, the love and respect of people, much wealth, land and cattle, a large family and many friends. Job was ever grateful for all the blessings that had been bestowed upon him, and praised God much.

Such humble, sincere and devout worship of God enraged Satan, who tried in every way possible to turn Job away from remembering his Lord. But no matter how hard he tried, Job remained steadfast in his faith. Not for a moment did he turn away from worshipping God. Satan could not believe that he had managed to lead Adam astray in Paradise and had not been able to succeed with Job. Satan then swore that he would redouble his efforts.

God was well aware of Job's inner strength, for He knows and understands the capabilities of all His creatures. He, therefore, set such tests for Job as might have weakened the faith of other believers, because He knew that Job would withstand the trials with patience and fortitude, and thereby become an example for all generations to come.

God sent Job one trial after another. Within a very short period of time, Job had lost all of his property and had become poor. He then lost his family and friends, and because he had become poor and destitute, many people left him. The trials became even harder when Job suffered a severe illness. His body became very weak, he lost all his strength, and he was in great pain.

Satan could not accept his failure to turn Job away from the worship of God. He had interpreted Job's devotion to God as a fear of losing what he possessed if he stopped worshipping God. Satan thought that Job was more attached to his possessions than he was to God Himself. He was. therefore, delighted when Job's circumstances changed to poverty and ill-health, and he saw in this opportunity to finally turn Job away from God. So Satan went to Job and whispered to him, "You were always grateful to God for all the favours He gave you. You used to invoke Him all the time. Now, will you still thank Him for all the sufferings he has inflicted upon you?"

Job was deeply angered at Satan's attempt to trick him and to turn him away from the worship of God. At once, in response to Satan's whisperings, he bowed down to the ground before God, thanking Him and seeking His protection. And thus, Job, despite what had befallen him, continued to worship God and to praise Him just as much as he had done when he had been healthy, rich and surrounded by his family and friends.

The only person who had remained with Job was his wife. She took care of him, consoled him and saw to all of his needs. When they had no money left, she went out to work as a servant in order to provide for her husband. But there came a time when even she could not find work, and when there was nothing to eat at home. All that Job's wife had left was her beautiful long hair; and this she did not hesitate to cut off and sell in order to buy food for Job. His wife, like himself, was extremely patient in spite of all that had happened to them.

When Satan had no success in tempting Job, he turned his attention on Job's wife, and sought to destroy Job through her. As Job's illness became worse, and his anguished wife desperate, Satan would remind her of the luxurious life she had once known, and tried to convince her that Job's illness would never end. Finally, one day, Job's wife was feeling vulnerable, and, in sa moment of weakness, she went to her husband and asked him how much longer God's trials would last. She said, "When will God put an end to your suffering?" Angered by Satan's deception, and his wife's yielding to it, Job ordered his wife to leave him at once, saying that he would no longer accept food or drink from her.

Job was now all alone. As his suffering and loneliness worsened, he humbly turned to God, not in complaint but in prayer, saying:

"Truly distress has seized me, but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful." (Qur'an 21:83)

God saw that no trial would turn Job away from worshipping Him, and so He brought Job's trials to an end:

We listened to Him, We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his people to him, and doubled their number, as a grace from Ourself, and as a reminder for all who serve Us. (Qur'an 21:84)

God ordered Job to

"Strike with your foot; here is water in which to wash, cool and refreshing, and water to drink." (Qur'an 38:42)

Job struck the ground as commanded, and a spring of water gushed forth. Job quenched his thirst and bathed the sores that covered his body. No sooner had he done so than his disease disappeared! He was healed and his body was restored to its former strength.

Meanwhile, Job's wife was beside herself with worry. She could not bear the idea of her husband all alone in his illness. She thought to herself, "I will just go and have a look, from a distance, and see how he is." As Job's wife approached, she saw Job himself coming towards her. To her amazement, he suffered no illness and was in perfect health. Only a few hours ago, she had left him in a most pitiful state, riddled with disease and unable to walk. Now, here he was, safe and healthy! Job explained to his wife how God had healed him, and she fell to her knees and bowed her head in gratitude to God for His great mercy.

God's mercy has no bounds. Not only did He cure Job's illness, but He restored to him his family and friends, and blessed him with even more than he had had before.

Job's life is an excellent example of piety and patience; and everyone should follow his example when they suffer any loss of health, wealth or of family. God concluded the story of Job as follows:

We found him steadfast, how excellent a slave! He was ever turning in repentance to his Lord.) (Qur'an 38:44)

This was excerpted from The Lives of the Prophets by Leila Azzam. Job is known in Arabic as Ayyub.

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