Holy Land: Job and His Family

Iblis makes an appearance in this story, which is the Arabic name for the Devil, also known as Shaytan (compare English "Satan"). There are many legends about Iblis in the Islamic tradition; you can read more about that at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Holy Land Folklore unit. Story source: Folk-lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian and Jewish by J. E. Hanauer (1907).

Job and His Family

AYÛB, on whom be Peace, was a very rich man with a large family. In order to prove the sincerity of his professed piety, Allah deprived him, not only of all his worldly possessions and his children, but of his health as well. He was afflicted with a skin disease so loathsome that, on account of the smell from his ulcers, nobody but his wife would come within fifty yards of him.

In spite of these misfortunes the Patriarch continued to serve Allah and to give Him thanks as in the day of prosperity. His patience, though great, did not equal that of his wife, who was a daughter of Ephraim the son of Joseph, or else of Manasseh. She not only nursed her husband with great devotion but supported him by her earnings, and, when she could get no work, used to carry him about on her back in an abâyeh while she begged from door to door. This she did for seven years without a murmur.

One day, when she had been forced to leave her husband for a short time, Iblìs appeared to her and promised that if she would worship him, he would cure her husband and restore his lost possessions. The woman, sorely tempted, went to ask leave of Ayûb, who was so angry with her for daring to parley with the devil that he swore, if Allah would restore him to health, to give her a hundred lashes. He then uttered this prayer: "O my Lord, verily evil hath afflicted me: but Thou art the most merciful of those who show mercy."

Hereupon Allah sent Gabriel, who took Ayûb by the hand and raised him. At the same instant the fountain which supplies the Bìr Ayûb in the valley below Jerusalem sprang up at the Patriarch's feet. The latter, by the Angel's direction, immediately drank thereof, and the worms in his wounds at once fell from his body, and when he had bathed in the fountain, his former health and beauty were restored.

Allah then restored his children to life and made his wife so young and handsome that she bore him twenty-six sons. To enable the Patriarch to support so large a family, and also to compensate him for the loss of his wealth, the threshing-floors close to Bìr Ayûb, which belonged to him, were filled with gold and silver coinage rained down by two clouds sent for the purpose.

Softened by these evidences of the Almighty's mercy, Ayûb began to regret his rash oath but could not see how to evade its performance. In this difficulty Gabriel came again to his relief. At the Angel's suggestion, the Patriarch took a palm branch which had a hundred fronds, and giving his wife one tap with it, considered that she had received the promised beating.

Next: Lokman

(500 words)

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