Sayyidina Ayyub, 'alayhis-salam, was a descendant of Sayyinda Ibrahim, 'alayhis-salam. He was the son of Mus ibn Razih ibn Al-'Ays ibn Ishaq ibn Ibrahim. He was a Prophet on whon revelation descended from Allah as is evident from the Qur'an:
"Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, the Descendants, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the book [of Psalms]."
The Qur'an tells us about him in the following verses:
"And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, 'Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.' So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah ]."
"And remember Our servant Job, when he called to his Lord, 'Indeed, Satan has touched me with hardship and torment.' [So he was told], 'Strike [the ground] with your foot; this is a [spring for] a cool bath and drink.' And We granted him his family and a like [number] with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for those of understanding. [We said], 'And take in your hand a bunch [of grass] and strike with it and do not break your oath.' Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant. Indeed, he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah ]."
Sayyidina Ayyub was a wealthy man. His wealth comprised many kinds of property like cattle, sheep and a retine of slaves. He also possessed vast pieces of land.
He had many children and a large family. But all of those things were siezed from him and his body was inflicted with different kinds of diseases so that not one of his limbs was sound except for his heart and his tonge by which he used to remember Allah. Yet he saw these hardships with patience and perserverance. He remembered Allah and mentioned Him devotedly at night and during day, in the morning and in the evening.
His illness multiplied and prolonged so long that friends and relatives parted with him. He was exiled from his city into the wilderness outside of it and away from habitation. Only his wife tended to him whilst everyone else kept themselves away. She nursed him and gave him his rights remembering his kindness to her in earlier times. She helped him even when he had to answer nature's call. Soon she had to a earn a living and she worked for it so that she could feed him in his weakness. May Allah be pleased with her and bless her.
She was patient with him over what had happened in their loss of property and children, with what had happened to her in affliction over her husband and the tightening of their financial position, and in her need to work for other people after the easy and comfortable life they had been used to. Surely we belong to Allah and to Him is our return!
It is affirmed in a hadith that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said when asked which people are the most severely tested:
"The Prophets then those nearest to them then those nearest to them. A man is tried according to his religion; if he is firm in his religion, then his trials are more severe, and if he is frail in his religion, then he is tried according to the strength of his religion. The servant shall continue to be tried until he is left walking upon the earth without any sins."
However, all the trials and hardships that Sayyidina Ayyub went through did not but increase him in patience and gratitude towards Allah. His patience became proverbial and even his affliction was cited as an example.
There are different opinions on how long he suffered but (we know) it lasted untikl he was like a skeleton. His wife once said to him, "O Ayyub! Perhaps you should pray to your Lord to give you relief?" He answered, "I lived happily for seventy years in sound health. Is it now wrong that I show patience for the sake of Allah for another seventy years?" So she contined to work for other people and tend to Ayyub. Howver the people stopped employing her because they feared she might carry on to them some part of the disease of Sayyidina Ayyub. When that happened she sold part of her hair to some ladies and bought some excellent food for her husband. He asked her how she got it and she answered that she had been in the service of some people. The next day she did the same thing and he refused to eat it until she told him how she got it. She uncovered her head and when he saw that it was shaved he turned to Allah and said, "'Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.'"
Ibn Abi Hatim has transmitted a tradition narrated by 'Abdullah ibn Ubayd ibn Umayr:
He said that Ayyub had two brothers. They came to him one day but did not go near to him because of the repulsive smell emanating from him. One them said, "If Allah had known any good in him He would not have afflicted him like that." Ayyub became more angry than he had ever before. He said, "O Allah, if You agree that I have never spent a night satiated if I knew anyone who was hungry then confirm that for me." A voice from the sky confirmed it and they heard it. He then said, "If you know that I never had clothes on me until I clothed those who had none confirm that for me." A voice from the heavens affirmed that and they heard it. He then prostrated saying, "O Allah, with Your honour I will not raise my head until You cure me." Whilst in prostration his affliction was removed.
Ibn Abi Hatim has transmitted a tradition narrated by Ibn 'Abbas:
Ayyub was given the clothing of Paradise which he wore and sat down at his corner. His wife cae but did not recognise him so she asked him, "O 'Abdullah where has the sick man who was sitting here gone?" He said, "What's with you?! I am Ayyub." She said, "Will you joke with me O 'Abdullah?!" He said, "What's wrong? I am Ayyub - Allah has returned to me my body."
Ibn 'Abbas said that Allah also returned to him his wealth and children as they were and the like of all that again!
A hadith has been narrated by Abu Hurayrah trasmitted by Ibn Abi Hatim that the Holy Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:
When Ayyub was cured golden locusts swarmed on him. He began picking them up with his hands and collecting them in his pockets. He was asked, 'O Ayyub are you not satiated?' He answered, 'O Lord who is ever satiated with Your Mercy?'"
Imam Ahmad has transmitted a hadith from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
While Ayyub was having a bath and was naked, golden locusts fell on him. He started gathering them in his clothes. So his Lord called to him, 'O Ayyub! Have I not enriched you enough to be satisfied?' He said, 'Indeed my Lord but I cannot dispense with Your blessing!"
Allah has said in the Qur'an (as mentioned in the verses before) that a spring of cold water gushed forth and Allah commanded Ayyub to wash himself with it and drink it. Allah washed away from him whatever he had of pain and disease, illness and sickness on his body both visible and invisible. He was given back his beauty and wealth until locusts of gold rained on him heavily. And Allah gave him his family. All of this was a mercy from Allah to him. It is an admonition for the worshippers so that they may remember if they are afflicted and take a lesson from it whether that affliction is physical or financial or the death of children. The example of Sayyidina Ayyub, 'alayhis-salam, the Prophet of Allah should be emulated.
It is wrong to assume, as some have, that his wife's name was Rahmah. Ibn 'Abbas said that Allah returned her to her youth and share birth to twenty-six male children. And Sayyidina Ayyub lived seventy years after that in the city of Rome on the upright religion but after him the religion of Ibrahim was corrupted.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"[We said], 'And take in your hand a bunch [of grass] and strike with it and do not break your oath' Indeed, We found him patient, an excellent servant. Indeed, he was one repeatedly turning back [to Allah]."
This was by the permission of Allah to His slave and His Messenger whereby he was absolved of his vow.
It is said that he vowed to hit his wife with a hundred stripes because she had sold her hair. But it is also said that he made this vow because she to the prompting of a devil who came to her in the guise of a doctor and prescribed to her medicine for Ayyub. When she told him about it he recognised that this was a devil and he made the vow. When Allah cured him, He directed him to tie together a hundred twigs and to strike her with the bundle once. This would be the equivalent of striking her with a hundred stripes. This was a way out for one who feared Allah and was devoted to Him. It was a befitting way out for the woman who had shown immense patience and forbearance and who was pious, truthful and guided. May Allah be pleased with her!
Many jurists rely on this verse in their rulings.
Ibn Jarir and other scholars have said that Sayyidina Ayyub was ninety-three years old when he died but some say he lived longer than that.
Al-Layth has transmitted from Mujahid (in meaning) that on the Day of Resurrection Allah will present Sulayman before the rich, Yusuf before the handsome and Ayyub before those afflicted with hardship.
When he died he entrusted his office of Prophethood to his son Humal and after him his other son Bishr became a Prophet. Many consider that his son Bishr is Dhu'l-Kifl.
From Stories of the Prophets, published by Darul-Ishaat Karachi 2000. The translation is by Rafiq Abdur-Rahman (amended slightly by SunnahOnline.com)