Job’s Prayer

Job is the central figure of the Book of Job in the Bible. In rabbinical literature, Iyov (אִיּוֹב) is called one of the prophets of the Gentiles. In Islam, Job (أيّوب‎, Ayyūb) is considered a prophet.

Job is presented as a good and prosperous family man who is beset by Satan with God’s permission with horrendous disasters that take away all that he holds dear, including his offspring, his health, and his property. He struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties.

Prophet Job’s Prayer

Despite this phenomenon being common to all the Prophets, some false stories about Job and Moses, either borrowed from Israelite sources or misunderstandings of some Holy Book’s verses, have found their way into some commentaries on the Holy Book.

God’s Messenger says: ‘The Prophets undergo the most severe of trials; the greatest of misfortunes strike them. Then come other believers; the firmer one is in belief, the bigger his misfortune is.’ The Prophet Job is praised in the Holy Book as a steadfast, excellent servant of God, one ever-turning to his Lord (38:44). As can be deduced from the Holy Book’s verses, and mentioned in the Bible, he was afflicted with a kind of skin disease, with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head (2:7). Influenced by Israelite stories, some commentators of the Holy Book have, unfortunately, made additions that worms were produced on his sores or abscesses and, because of the bad smell emitting from those abscesses, people left him.

These additions are completely groundless. If people left the Prophet Job, this might have been due to his later poverty. For he was, in the beginning, a rich, thankful servant of God, but later lost all his wealth and children. As a Prophet, he can neither have had a repelling or disgusting appearance, with, at least, his face exempt from sores, nor have emitted bad smell. Contrary to what is written in the Bible that he cursed the day of his birth (Job, 3:1), and God openly (Job, 7:20,21), and justified himself rather than God (Job, 32:2), Job bore his afflictions for years without any objection to God. He prayed: Affliction has visited me, and You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful (21:83). God answered his prayer and removed the affliction that was upon him, and He gave him his household (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them (21:84).

The tomb of Job, outside Salalah, Oman

The tomb of Job, outside Salalah, Oman

The gist of the well-known story of Job is as follows:

While afflicted with numerous wounds and sores for a long time, he recalled the great recompense to be had for his sickness, and endured it with utmost patience. But later, when the worms generated by his wounds penetrated to his heart and his tongue, the seat of the remembrance and knowledge of God, he feared that his duty of worship would suffer. And so he said in supplication not for the sake of his own comfort, but for the sake of his worship of God:

O Lord! Harm has afflicted me; my remembrance of You with my tongue and my worship of You with my heart will suffer (21:83).

God Almighty then accepted this pure sincere, disinterested and devout supplication in the most miraculous fashion. He granted to Job perfect good health and made manifest in him all kinds of compassion.

Corresponding to the outer wounds and sicknesses of Job, we have inner sicknesses of the spirit and heart. If our inner being were to be turned outward, and our outer being turned inward, we would appear more wounded and diseased than Job. For each transgression that we commit and each doubt that enters our mind, inflicts wounds on our heart and our spirit.

The wounds of Job were of such a nature as to threaten his brief worldly life, but our inner wounds threaten our infinitely long everlasting life. We need the supplication of Job thousands of times more than he did himself. Just as the worms that arose from his wounds penetrated to his heart and tongue, so too the wounds that transgression inflicts upon us and the temptations and doubts that arise from those wounds will penetrate our inner heart, the seat of belief, and thus wound belief. Penetrating too the spiritual joy of the tongue, the interpreter of belief, they cause it to shun in revulsion the remembrance of God, and reduce it to silence.

Transgression, penetrating to the heart, will blacken and darken it until it extinguishes the light of belief. There is a path leading to unbelief within each transgression. Unless that transgression is swiftly obliterated by seeking God’s pardon, it will grow from a worm into a snake that gnaws on the heart.

For example, a man who secretly commits a shameful transgression will fear the disgrace that results if others become aware of it. Thus the existence of angels and spirit beings will be hard for him to endure, and he will long to deny it, even on the strength of the slightest indication.

Similarly, one who commits a major transgression deserving of the torment of Hell will desire the non-existence of Hell wholeheartedly, and whenever he hears of the threat of Hell-fire. He will dare to deny it on the strength of a slight indication and doubt, unless he takes up in protection the shield of repentance and seeking forgiveness.

A wide gate to destruction will be opened in front of him. The wretch does not know that although he is delivered by denial from the slight trouble of duty of worship, he has made himself, by that same denial, the target for millions of troubles that are far more awesome. Fleeing from the bite of a gnat, he welcomes the bite of the snake.

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