Ayoub (pbuh) was repentant, remembering Allah with thankfulness, patience, and steadfastness. This was the cause of his rescue and the secret of Allah's praising him. A group of angels were discussing Allah's other human creatures, how those who were humble earned Allah's pleasure, while those who were arrogant incurred His displeasure. One of the angels remarked: "The best creature on earth today is Ayoub, a man of noble character who displays great patience and always remembers his Generous Lord. He is an excellent model for the worshippers of Allah. In return, his Lord has blessed him with a long life and plenty of servants, as well as the needy and the poor share in his good fortune; he feeds and clothes the poor and buys slaves to set them free. He makes those who receive his charity feel as if they are favouring him so kind and gentle is he."
Iblis' Jealousy of Ayoub
Iblis overhearing all of this, became annoyed. He planned to tempt Ayoub to corruption and disbelief, so he hastened to him. He tried to distract Ayoub from his prayers by whispering him about the good things in life but Ayoub was a true believer and would not let evil thoughts tempt him. This disturbed Iblis even more; thus he began to hate Ayoub even more.
Iblis Destroys Ayoub's Wealth
Iblis complained to Allah about Ayoub. He said that although he was continuously glorifying Allah he was not doing so out of his sincerity but to satisfy Allah so that his wealth should not be taken away. It was all a show, all out of greed. "If You remove his wealth then You will find that his tongue will no longer mention Your name and his praying will stop." Allah told Iblis that Ayoub was one of His most sincere devotees. He did not worship Him because of the favours; his worship stemmed from his heart and had nothing to do with material things. But to prove to Iblis the depth of Ayoub's sincerity and patience, Allah allowed him to do whatever he and his helpers wished with Ayoub's wealth. Iblis was very happy. he gathered his helpers and set about destroying Ayoub's cattle, servants and farms until he was left with no possessions. Rubbing his hands in glee, Iblis appeared before Ayoub in the guise of a wise old man and said to him: "All your wealth is lost, some people say that it is because you gave too much charity and that you are wasting your time with your continuous prayers to Allah. Others say that Allah has brought this upon you in order to please your enemies. If Allah had the capacity to prevent harm, then He would have protected your wealth." True to his belief, Ayoub replied: "What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for a while. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills." With these words, Ayoub again prostrated to his Lord.
Iblis Destroys Ayoub's Children
When Iblis saw this, he felt frustrated, so he again addressed Allah: "I have stripped Ayoub of all his possessions, but he still remains grateful to You. However, he is only hiding his disappointment, for he places great store by his many children. The real test of a parent is through his children. You will see how Ayoub will reject You." Allah granted Iblis authority but warned him that it would not reduce Ayoub's faith in His Lord nor his patience. Iblis again gathered his helpers and set about his evil deeds. He shook the fountain of the house in which Ayoub's children were living and sent the building crashing, killing all of them. Then he went to Ayoub disguised as a man who had come to sympathise with him. In a comforting tone he said to Ayoub: "The circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers." Having said this, Iblis waited anxiously hoping Ayoub was now ready to reject Allah. But again, Ayoub disappointed him by replying: "Allah sometimes gives and sometimes takes. He is sometimes pleased and sometimes displeased with our deeds. Whether a thing is beneficial or harmful to me, I will remain firm in my belief and remain thankful to my Creator." then Ayoub prostrated to his Lord. At this Iblis was extremely angry.
Iblis Destroys Ayoub's Health
Iblis called on Allah. "O my Lord, Ayoub's wealth is gone, his children are dead, and he is still healthy in body, and as long as he enjoys good health he will continue to worship You in the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more children. Grant me authority over his body so that I may weaken it. He will surely neglect worshipping You and will thus become disobedient." Allah wanted to teach Iblis a lesson that Ayoub was a devoted servant of his Lord so He granted Iblis his 3rd request but placed a condition: "I give you authority over his body but not over his soul, intellect or heart, for in these places reside the knowledge of Me and My religion." Armed with this new authority, Iblis began to take revenge on Ayoub's body and filled it with disease until it was reduced to mere skin and bone and he suffered severe pain. But through all the suffering Ayoub remained strong in his faith, patiently bearing all the hardships without complaining. Allah's righteous servant did not despair or turn to others for help but remained hopeful of Allah's mercy. Even close relatives and friends deserted him. Only his kind, loving wife stayed with him. In his hour of need, she showered her kindness on him and cared for him. She remained his sole companion and comforter through the many years of suffering.
Ayoub's Life - Summary
Ibn Asaker narrated: "Ayoub was a man having much wealth of all kinds; beats, slaves, sheep, vast lands of Haran and many children. All those favours were taken from him and he was physically afflicted as well. Never a single organ was sound except his heart and tongue, with both of which he glorified Allah, the Almighty all the time day and night. His disease lasted for a long time until his visitors felt disgusted with him. His friends kept away from him and people abstained from visiting him. No one felt sympathy for him except his wife. She took good care of him, knowing his former charity and pity for her."
Ayoub's Prayer for Mercy
Therefore, Iblis became desperate. He consulted his helpers, but they could not advise him. They asked "How is it that your cleverness cannot work against Ayoub, yet you succeeded in misleading Adam the father of man, out of Paradise?" Iblis went to Ayoub's wife in the form of a man. "Where is your husband?" he asked her. She pointed to an almost lifeless form crumbled on the bed and said: "There he is, suspended between life and death." Iblis reminded her of the days, when Ayoub had good health, wealth and children. Suddenly, the painful memory of years of hardship overcame her, and she burst into tears. She said to Ayoub:
"How long are you going to bear this torture from our Lord? Are we to remain without wealth, children or friends forever? Why don't you call upon Allah to remove this suffering?"
Ayoub sighed, and in a soft voice replied : "Iblis must have whispered to you and made you dissatisfied. Tell me how long did I enjoy good health and riches?"
She replied: "eighty years."
Then Ayoub replied: "How long am I suffering like this?"
She said: "seven years."
Ayoub then told her: "In that case I am ashamed to call on my Lord to remove the hardship, for I have not suffered longer than the years of good health and plenty. It seems your faith has weakened and you are dissatisfied with the fate of Allah. If I ever regain health, I swear I will punish you with a hundred strokes! From this day onward, I forbid myself to eat or drink anything by your hand. Leave me alone and let my Lord do with me as He pleases."
Ayoub's Health is Restored
Crying bitterly and with a heavy heart, she had no choice but to leave him and seek shelter elsewhere. In this helpless sate, Ayoub turned to Allah, not to complain but to seek His mercy:
"Verily! distress has seized me and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy." so We answered his call, and we removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him (that he had lost), and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all who worship Us." (Ch 21:83-84)
Almighty Allah also instructed:
"Remember Our slave Ayoub, when he invoked His Lord saying: "Verily! Satan has touched me with distress (by losing my health) and torment (by losing my wealth)!" Allah said to him: "Strike the ground with your foot: This is a spring of water to wash in and cool and a refreshing drink." And We gave him back his family, and along with them the like thereof as a Mercy from Us, and a reminder for those who understand." (Ch 38:41-43)
Ayoub obeyed and almost immediately his good health was restored. Meanwhile, his faithful wife could not longer bear to be parted from her husband and returned to him to beg his forgiveness, desiring to serve him. On entering her house, she was amazed at the sudden change: Ayoub was again healthy! She embraced him and thanked Allah for His mercy. Ayoub was not worried, for he had taken an oath to punish her with a hundred strokes if he had regained health but he had no desire to hurt her. He knew if he did not fulfill the oath, he would be guilty of breaking a promise to Allah. Therefore in His wisdom and mercy, Allah came to the assistance of His faithful servant and advised him: "take in your hand a bundle of thin grass and strike therewith your wife, and break not your oath.
" Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft returning in repentance to Us!" (Ch 38:44)