Just pause for a moment and imagine that you lose all your money and property, all your possessions in an instant. You lose everything you have! What would you do?
Some of us will look at others enjoying their lives and get extremely jealous or maybe depressed, and sit somewhere totally broken from the inside, wondering why did all of this happen to me? Why me? Why not someone else? Why would Allah (SWT) let this happen to me? Why did Allah (SWT) not do justice? Why not someone ‘worse’ than me? We would be having thoughts similar to these. And some of us who are the so-called “deendar” (religious people) of nowadays would turn towards Allah (SWT) and start praying, begging to Allah (SWT) to replace something better with what has been lost. But none of us would be anywhere near to the man whose patience the Quran has praised and has set as an exemplar to follow: Hazrat Ayub (AS).
He had everything—children, family, gardens, wealth and plenty of riches. He was also a patient, steadfast, thankful and repentant worshipper. One day Iblis (Satan) heard the angels praising Hazrat Ayub (AS) about how despite his immense wealth, he had never been selfish or haughty, his family, the needy and the servants all had a share in his wealth, and that whoever received his charity was given an impression that the receiver was doing Hazrat Ayub (AS) a favor. Upon hearing this, Iblis became annoyed and decided to mislead him. At first, Iblis would come during his prayer and distract him by whispering in his heart about all the good things in life as he does to all of us, but Hazrat Ayub (AS) was a true believer and held this firm belief that while praying he was standing in front of the King to whom he had totally submitted and presented himself. Therefore he remained unaffected by the whisperings of the Satan.
Disappointed, Satan said to Allah (SWT) that the man was worshipping Him (SWT) sincerely because He (SWT) had given him plenty of riches. Allah (SWT) said that the worship of that devotee stemmed from the heart and had nothing to do with the material gifts given to him. To make Satan feel the depth of sincerity, Allah (SWT) gave Satan the permission to do whatever Satan liked with the wealth of Hazrat Ayub (AS). Delighted, Satan gathered his followers and set about to destroy the wealth, cattle, farms, and gardens of Hazrat Ayub AS. After destroying all of it, he appeared in the form of a wise old man and said, “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.” The extremely sincere devotee, Hazrat Ayub AS said, “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,” and then he prostrated before his Lord.
Extremely disappointed, Satan called out to Allah (SWT) and said that Hazrat Ayub (AS) is only hiding his grief, for he places great store on his children and the real test of a parent is through his children, so he would reject You (SWT) if he loses his children. Allah (SWT) warned Satan that it would not reduce his patience and level of devotion, and gave Satan the permission to do whatever he wanted with his children. Satan and his followers brought the house in which his children lived crashing down, killing them all. Just imagine the pain when a person witnesses the feeble and naïve souls of their own children escaping their bodies in such a brutal way. Imagine, we get depressed on just small losses, how would we react if all this started happening to us? Disguised as a sympathizer, Satan said, “the circumstances under which your children died were sad. Surely, your Lord is not rewarding you properly for all your prayers.” The faithful believer of Allah (SWT), Hazrat Ayub AS replied, disappointing Satan once again: “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.” Saying this he prostrated to his Lord.
Extremely vexed, Satan again called on Allah (SWT) and said that as long Your (SWT) servant stays healthy he has the hope of regaining his wealth and producing more children. Satan now wanted to even remove the hope from that man’s heart. Allah (SWT) granted Iblis his third 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.”
Satan inflicted Hazrat Ayub AS’ body with a disease that not only brought weakness but reduced his body to an ugly combination of bones and skin. When Ayub AS was inflicted with this disease, his friends became disgusted and his close relatives stopped meeting him. Hazrat Ayub (AS) had lost everything. Hope is what keeps us going in our lives, the very thought that maybe the future is better. And Hazrat Ayub (AS) had lost it and just imagine how painful it is when your friends ignore you for one day. We get angry with them, it is frustrating. Not only this, your close relatives stop meeting you. This person has lost both these things, not for a day but forever, along with all his children and wealth and has no hope to get all that back.
These circumstances are enough to turn the most pious among us into an utterly thankless person and a man with the weakest faith. But Hazrat Ayub (AS) was not even ready to reduce his repentance, prayers and his thankfulness. His wife requested him to pray to Allah (SWT) to remove the troubles. He told his wife that he lived eighty years in good health and riches and it had been only seven years in suffering, so he felt ashamed in calling upon Allah (SWT) to remove the hardship. Such was his level of thankfulness that even in the time of that suffering instead of feeling sad about his state, he was remembering the good old times and thanking Allah (SWT) for it. This shows that Hazrat Ayub AS realized that none of which he possessed was his own although he earned that with his own hands. Yet he not only knew but he believed that none of that was his own. Imagine that whenever he would have looked at the gardens he owned, he would have felt at no level that it was his own gardens. Hazrat Ayub (AS) would feel no pride and no self-confidence or self-glorification by feeling the power of possession of all his wealth because he knew that it was not his but was Allah’s (SWT) wealth which he had been given for just a short time to use so all he felt was gratitude towards Allah (SWT).
Now, do not think that he was able to go through all that because he was a prophet of Allah (SWT). Hazrat Ayub (AS) was no superhero but was a human being like us and had similar feelings and needs. What differentiates him from us is his level of faith in Allah (SWT). The only reason why he was able to remain cool and calm in such extremely troubling conditions was his faith in Allah (SWT). No matter whatever strikes one in life everyone can avoid depression just if one has faith in Allah (SWT). If we have such faith then life is very easy for us. This story is mentioned in the Quran and some of the details mentioned above are taken from Ibn Kathir. The Quran mentions this story for you and me because it is very much possible for us to follow such an example, though some effort is required. If we make dua to Allah (SWT) to increase our faith, then that is the biggest thing in this world we can make dua for. If we just have firm faith in our heart then the rest of the actions will automatically flow out of it. We will not indulge in sins because we would have firm faith that Allah (SWT) is watching us, we will automatically have good manners, humble personality and a selflessly giving heart just because of our faith. Faith is the key to immense, resolute peace and tranquility in this world and the ultimate success in the Hereafter.
By Hassaan Ahmed Usmani