Allah (SwT) Almighty has stated,
Remember Our servant Job (Ayyub) when he called on his Lord: Satan has afflicted me with toil and torment (Qur’an, 38:41).
Job was son of Amoos son of Tarih son of Room son of Ayees son of Abraham (‘a). Allah (SwT) bestowed on him a great deal of wealth: cattle, money, and land. In addition to that, Allah (SwT) blessed him with a good number of offspring, men and women, and he used to be God-fearing, compassionate towards the poor, supportive of the widows and orphans, and generous to his guest. He used to seek travellers to help them, and he used to be quite grateful for all the blessings which Allah (SwT) had bestowed on him, following His commandments in their regard.
He proved to be a formidable foe of Iblis by not yielding to conceit, arrogance, merry-making or forgetfulness about Allah (SwT)’s commandments relevant to our life on this earth as may be the case with others on becoming wealthy. There were three persons with him who believed in him and who came to know his virtues: a man from Yemen named Eleifen, and two men from his own country: one named Malik and the other Zafir, and each one of them had reached the age of maturity and wisdom.
Gabriel enjoyed a status of being near to Allah (SwT) and of being virtuous like no other angel. Gabriel was charged with recording everyone’s statements. So, when a servant of Allah (SwT) praises his Lord, what he says will be recorded first by Gabriel then by Michael and the angels around him who are near to Allah (SwT) and who surround the Throne.
If that statement is propagated among the angels near to Allah (SwT), those who reside in the heavens will be required to bless him, and when he is blessed by the angels of the heavens, Gabriel will instruct the angels of the earth to do likewise.
Iblis was never prohibited from being present anywhere in the seven heavens, and he used to be wherever and whenever he pleased. This is how he was able to reach Adam (‘a) and succeed in getting him dismissed from Paradise.
When Allah (SwT) Almighty raised Jesus (‘a) Christ to heavens, Iblis was prohibited from reaching the fourth heavens, so he used to make his mischievous schemes in the first three heavens. But when Allah (SwT) sent Muhammad (S) as His Messenger, Iblis was then prohibited from those three, too. He and his army, therefore, are prohibited from reaching any of the heavens till the Day of Resurrection
“... except those who steal a hearing and are followed by a clear dart of lightning” (Qur’an, 15:18).
Iblis heard how the angels were responding and blessing Job whenever Allah (SwT) mentioned him and praised him, and he was overcome with spite and jealousy, so he swiftly ascended and stood where he used to stand to petition his Maker.
He said,”Lord! I have looked into the affairs of Your servant Job, and I have found him to be a servant on whom You have bestowed Your blessings; he has expressed his gratitude for that, and You granted him good health, and he praised You for it. Then I noticed that You have not put him to test by exposing him to hardship or tribulation, while I am the foremost in my ability to do just that. If You afflict him with an affliction, he will surely disbelieve in You and forget all about You.
Allah (SwT) Almighty said,”Go to him, for I have given you a free hand over his wealth.” Iblis, the open enemy of Allah (SwT) and mankind, went to earth and gathered the mightiest among his devils and said to them,”What do you have of might and knowledge, for I have been given a free hand over Job’s wealth?
The disappearance of one’s wealth is surely the worst of all calamities and the trial which men cannot withstand.” One of the mighty devils said,”I have the ability to turn myself, if I wish, into a hurricane of fire that can consume everything in its way.” Iblis said to him,”Then go to his camels and burn them and their shepherds as well.”
So that devil set out and approached the camels just as they had started grazing. People suddenly felt the earth underneath them explode into a ball of fire blown in the wind, burning everyone and everything in its way. He kept doing that till he burnt everyone, including the shepherds.
Once that devil finished, Iblis himself assumed the form of their main shepherd and sought Job and found him standing saying his prayers. He said to him,”O Job!” He responded by saying,”At your service!” Iblis said,”Do you know what your God, the One Whom you chose and adored, has done to your camels and their shepherds?” Job said,”They are His wealth which He lent me, and He is more worthy of them than I.
If He wills, He may leave such wealth [for me to enjoy], or He may take it away. I am convinced and pleased with my conviction that I and everything I own are doomed with death and extinction.” Iblis said,”Your God has sent over them a fire from the sky which burnt all of them, and people remained puzzled and bewildered about them. Some of them said, ‘Job did not really worship anything, and he was only conceited,’ while others said, ‘If the God Job, Whom he has been worshipping, is able to do anything at all,
He would have prohibited the burning of the camels that belonged to His servant.’ Still others were saying, ‘Rather, He is the One Who has done this in order to please his enemy and sadden his friend.’”
“Praise to Allah (SwT),” said Job,”Who has granted me and whenever He pleases takes it away from me. Naked did I leave my mother’s womb, and naked shall I be returned to the grave, and naked shall I be returned to my Lord.
You should not feel pleased when Allah (SwT) loans you a loan, nor should you despair when He takes away what He had loaned you, for He is more worthy than you regarding your own self and everything He had given you. If Allah (SwT) had known any good in you, O servant of His, He would have taken your soul away as He had taken the souls of others and made you a martyr among the martyrs, but He knew that there is evil in you, so He delayed you and rid you of tribulation just as the pure grain is separated from everything else.”
Having heard all of that, Iblis went back to his followers disappointed, feeling humiliated. He said to them,”What might and knowledge is there with you, for I have not been able to cause him to be angry?” One of their mighty ones said,”I have the ability, if I wish, to let out a cry which, when one hears it, his soul will immediately leave his body.” Iblis said to him,”Then go to his cattle and put an end to them and to their shepherds.” So the devil set out and approached the cattle till he stood in their midst. He cried out and all the cattle as well as their shepherds died instantly. Iblis then went out disguised as the caretaker of all the shepherds and came to Job who was then standing saying his prayers.
He said to him as he had said before. Job answered him just as he had done before, so Iblis went back to his fellows again and said,”What might is there with you, for I have not been able to grieve Job yet?” One of their mighty ones said to him,”I have the ability, if I wish, to turn myself into a storm that can dry up everything in its way till it is reduces it to naught.”
Iblis said to him,”Then go to his acres and all his lands and do what you can.” So the devil set out and approached the land as its tillers’ children played. Before they knew it, a storm blew up and dried everything in its way as if it had never been there in the first place.
Iblis this time went out assuming the form of their caretaker and approached Job as he was standing saying his prayers. He said to him something similar to what he had said the first time and Job answered him just as he had answered him the first time. Iblis kept thus ruining Job’s wealth one item after another till he finished them off, all of them.
Whenever Job came to know about the destruction of one of the items of his wealth, he praised Allah (SwT) and glorified Him and demonstrated his acceptance of destiny. His determination to persevere increased till there was nothing left for him of all his fortune. Having seen that he had ruined all Job’s wealth without being successful in any of his vile attempts, Iblis felt very much annoyed, so he swiftly ascended the heavens and stood where he used to stand to make a plea.
He said,”Lord! Job is of the view that so long as You keep his health and his offspring, that by itself is a fortune to him; so, are You going to grant me a free hand to deal with his offspring, for it is a trial that causes people to stray, and the calamity about which men cannot be patient?” Allah (SwT) Almighty said,”Set out, for I have granted you a free hand over his offspring.”
Iblis went and lifted the mansion where Job’s family lived, then he turned it upside down. Then he went to Job assuming the form of the mentor who was teaching them wisdom, with his head wounded and blood running down his head.
He told him about what had happened adding,”O Job! If only you could see with your own eyes how your children have been hurt, how the mansion was turned upside-down, with them being inside it, and how their heads became overturned, their blood and brains running down their nostrils and lips..., if you only saw how their stomachs were gouged, and their insides scattered around.., your heart would surely have been rent to pieces...!”
He kept saying so and repeating it till Job’s heart softened; he cried and took a handful of dust and put it on his head whereupon Iblis took that opportunity to swiftly ascend with the news of Job’s impatience, feeling glad about seeing him finally breaking down.
But it did not take Job long before he returned to himself and contemplated on his condition; so, he sought Allah (SwT)’s forgiveness and thanked Him anyway. Both angels charged with accompanying him all safeguarding his life till the time for its termination were swifter than Iblis, and Allah (SwT) knows what exactly happened. Iblis stood disappointed, humiliated, and said,”Lord! What has made the importance of wealth and children insignificant in the eyes of Job is the fact that he sees that no matter how You permit him to enjoy himself, You can always bring wealth and children back to him; so, are You going to permit me to have a free hand over his soul and body, for I can prove to You that if You try him in his body, he will forget You and disbelieve in You and renounce Your blessing on him?” Allah (SwT) Almighty said, “Set out, for I have granted you authority over all part of his body, but you have no authority over his tongue, heart, or mind.”
Allah (SwT) knew more than anyone else that He was not permitting Iblis to have a free hand over Job except so that it would be a means of mercy for him, to increase his share of rewards, and to make him a role model for all those who persevere and a remembrance for the pious whenever they are afflicted with an affliction, so that they may follow his example of perseverance in the hope of receiving their rewards.
The enemy of Allah (SwT) swiftly descended and found Job prostrating. Before Job raised his head, Iblis approached him from the ground from the spot where he had placed his face, and blew into his nostrils one blow whereby he burnt his body. He was stunned, and from his head to his feet there were abscesses as huge as animal humps, all full of puss, and he was afflicted with an uncontrollable itch.
He scratched his body with his nails till his nails fell off. Then he scratched with a wooden piece till he cut it, then with a brick of baked clay and rough stones. He kept scratching till his flesh fell off into pieces, changed color and started stinking.
The people of the village dismissed him from their village, put him on a pile of garbage, and made a shack for him there. With the exception of his wife Rahmah daughter of Ifrathim son of Joseph son of Jacob, peace be on them, nobody else cared about him. Despite all this calamity, Job did not cease mentioning the Name of Allah (SwT) Almighty, praising Him, and persevering regarding his affliction.
So the enemy of Allah (SwT) Iblis let out one cry whereby he assembled a group of his hosts from all parts of the earth because of his frustration at seeing how patient and persevering Job was.
Having assembled around Iblis, the devils asked him,”What do you need?!” He said,”This servant of Allah (SwT) has made me run out of tricks. I had asked my Lord to grant me a free hand over his wealth and children, and I left him neither wealth nor children, yet all of that did not increase him except perseverance and praises for Allah (SwT).
Then I was granted authority over his body, and I left him looking like puss himself, thrown on a pile of garbage, and nobody cares to come near him except his wife, and my Lord has now seen me for what I am! Now I need your help to deal with him.”
They said to him,”Where is your scheming? Where is your knowledge whereby you caused past generations to perish?” He said,”All of it did not work with Job; so, you tell me now what you suggest that I should do.” They said,”We suggest you approach him in the same manner whereby you approached Adam (‘a) when you succeeded in having him dismissed from Paradise. Where did you approach him from?” He said,”From his wife.” They said,”Then do likewise with Job: Approach him from his wife, for he is not able to go against her will, and nobody else but she comes near him.” He agreed and set out till he came to Job’s wife who was begging for alms.
He assumed the form of a man and said to her,”Where is your husband, O bondmaid of Allah (SwT)?” She said,”There he is scratching his abscess as the worms feast on his flesh.” Having heard that answer from her, he raised his hope that that was an indication of her impatience with her husband. He insinuated to her, reminding her of the good life and of the wealth she used to enjoy.
He brought her memories of the good looks and youth of Job and how much harm has now afflicted him and how his condition was hopeless. According to al-Hassan, she screamed, whereupon Iblis knew that she had lost all her patience, so he brought her a goat and said to her,”Let Job slaughter this goat for me, and he will heal.” She came screaming and said to Job,”O Job! For how long will your God keep tormenting you and not have mercy on you?! Where is our wealth?! Where are the cattle?!
Where are the children and the friends?! Where is your beautiful outfit?! Everything has changed and become like ashes..., and where is your healthy body?! It has worn out and worms are now eating it up! Slaughter this goat and rest yourself!”
Job said to her,”The enemy of Allah (SwT) has approached you and blew of his breath in you, and you responded! Woe unto you! Do you see how now you cry for wealth, children, and health?! Who bestowed them on us?” She said,”Allah (SwT).” He asked her,”For how long did He permit us to enjoy them?” She said, “For eighty years.” He said,”How long has it been since Allah (SwT) tested us with this trial?” She said,”Seven years.”
He said,”Woe unto you then! By Allah (SwT), you have not been fair or just to your Lord! Why can’t you be patient regarding this affliction whereby He has tried us for eighty years just as we were tried with ease? By Allah (SwT), if Allah (SwT) heals me, I will whip you one hundred lashes for telling me to slaughter something not for the Name of Allah (SwT), and the food and drink which you will bring me will be prohibited for me;
I shall not taste anything you will bring me after having said what you have said; so, get away from me; I do not ever wish to see you again.” Thus did he dismiss her. Having seen how he dismissed his wife although he had nothing to eat nor drink, nor any friend to rely on, Job prostrated to Allah (SwT) and said,
“Lord! Harm has afflicted me...” (Qur’an, 21:83).
Then he referred his affair to his Lord and submitted thus:
“... and You are the most Merciful of the merciful ones” (Qur’an, 21:83).
He was ordered to raise his head since his supplication was honored, to run where a spring gushed forth for him. He washed; none of the signs of his illness remained, and Allah (SwT) removed his ailment. Then he kicked the ground whereupon another spring gushed forth for him, and he drank of it, and all the ailments in his stomach disappeared.
He stood looking very healthy, and he was given a good outfit. He kept looking right and left and he could see that Allah (SwT) Almighty had given him back twice as much as he had lost. He came out and sat in an honorable fashion as his wife kept asking herself whether she should let him die of starvation.
He had not eaten or drunk anything since the time he had dismissed her.”Will he wander around and be eaten by the wild beasts?”, she asked herself.”By Allah (SwT), I shall go back to him,” she said, and she did.
This time she did not see the same pile of garbage nor the sight with which she had become familiar for so many years; everything seemed to have changed. She kept wandering around the place where the pile of garbage was, crying. Job was witnessing all of that. She esteemed the person wearing that outfit too much to ask him about her husband, so he sent her someone who brought her to him, and he asked her,”What do you want, O bondmaid of Allah (SwT)?” She wept and said,”I want that afflicted person who was an outcast thrown on a pile of garbage in this place...
I do not know whether he wandered around or what happened to him.” Job, peace with him, asked her,”If you see him, can you recognize him?” She said,”Can I...?! How can I not?” Then she kept looking at him while being in a state of awe... After a while she said,”Had he been enjoying his normal health, he would most certainly have looked, more than any of Allah (SwT)’s creation, just like you.” He said,”Then I am Job! You required me to slaughter something for Iblis; so I obeyed Allah (SwT) and disobeyed the devil, and He has brought me back what you can see.”
Job suffered for seven long years. He overcame Iblis, cursed him, and did not enable him to have any influence over him. According to one narrative, it was then that Iblis approached Job’s wife looking far more than ordinary human beings would look in physique and elegance, riding in a chariot which no human had ever seen, with all signs of pomp, power, and prestige, glowing with glory and beauty, and so did everything around him.
He said to her,”Are you the wife of Job the afflicted man?” She said,”Yes.” He said,”Do you recognize me?” She said,”No.” He said,”I am the god of earth, and I am the one who did to your husband what I have done because he worshipped the God of the heavens and did not worship me and thus angered me. If he prostrates only once to me, I will bring you back all what you both have lost of wealth and children, for they are all with me.”
Then he showed her all of them in the heart of the valley where they had met. Then he said to her,”If only your husband eats food on which the Name of Allah (SwT) was not invoked, he will surely be healed from the affliction in which he finds himself, and Allah (SwT) knows best.”
I have read in some books that Iblis said to Rahmah,”If you wish, prostrate for me once so that I bring your children and wealth back and heal your husband,” so she went back to Job and told him of what Iblis had said to her and what he had wanted. Job said,”The enemy of Allah (SwT) wanted to divert you from your creed.” Then Job at that moment said,
“Harm has afflicted me...” (Qur’an, 21:83)
because Iblis was ambitious to have his wife prostrate to him, and he invited both of them to be unfaithful to their Lord. Some scholars say that Allah (SwT) Almighty was Merciful unto Rahmah, Job’s wife, due to her patience with him, and He wanted to lighten her burden and, at the same time, free Job from his oath; so, He said,
“And take in your hand a green branch and [lightly, symbolically] beat her with it and do not break your oath” (Qur’an, 38:44).
She used to earn her living by working for others and thus be able to buy him food and bring it to him, so when her affliction was prolonged, people were tired of her, and nobody wanted to employ her. One day, she felt hungry and found nothing to eat all. She could not do anything except pulling a lock of her hair and selling it for one loaf which she wanted to share with her husband who noticed what had happened to her hair. On coming to know of what she had done, he said,
“Harm has afflicted me...” (Qur’an, 21:83).
Allah (SwT) Almighty has said,
And Ayyub cried out to his Lord (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful. Therefore We responded to him and removed what harm he had had and We bestowed on him his family and the like (of their number) with them: a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers. (Qur’an, 21:83-84)
And remember Our servant Ayyub when he called on his Lord: Satan has afflicted me with toil and torment. Urge with your foot; here is a cool washing-place and a drink. And We gave him his family and the like of them with them as a mercy from Us, and as a reminder for those with understanding. And take in your hand a green branch and beat her with it and do not break your oath; surely We found him patient, most excellent servant! Surely he was frequent in returning (to Allah ). (Qur’an, 38:41-44)