In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
When he called upon his Lord saying: “Verily harm has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful!”(Qur’an 21:83)
The supplication of Ayyub (Job) (Upon whom be peace), the champion of patience, is both well-tested and effective. Drawing on the verse, we should say in our supplication, “O my Lord and Sustainer! Indeed harm has afflicted me, and You are the Most Merciful of the Merciful.”
The gist of the well-known story of Job(Upon whom be peace) 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 Allah, 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 Allah:
“O Lord! Harm has afflicted me; my remembrance of You with my tongue and my worship of You with my heart will suffer.” Allah 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 Ayyub (Job) (Upon whom be peace) we have inner sicknesses of the spirit and heart. If our inner being was to be turned outward, and our outer being turned inward, we would appear more wounded and diseased than Ayyup. For each sin that we commit and each doubt that enters our mind, inflicts wounds on our heart and our spirit.
The wounds of Ayyub (Upon whom be peace) 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 Ayyup 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 sin inflicts upon us and the temptations and doubts that arise from those wounds wil –may Allah protect us- 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 Allah, and reduce it to silence.
Sin, penetrating to the heart, will blacken and darken it until it extinguishes the light of belief. Within each sin is a path leading to unbelief. Unless that sin is swiftly obliterated by seeking Allah’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 sin 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 sin 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.
Similarly, one who does not perform the obligatory prayer and fulfil his duty of worship will be affected by distress, just as he would be in case of the neglect of a minor duty toward some petty ruler. Thus, his laziness in fulfulling his obligation, despite the repeated commands of the Sovereign of Pre-Eternity, will distress him greatly, and on account of that distress will desire and say to himself: “Would that there were no such duty of worship!” In turn, there will arise from this desire a desire to deny God, and bear enmity toward Him. If some doubt concerning the existence of the Divine Being comes to his heart, he will be inclined to embrace it like a conclusive proof. 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 milions of troubles that are far more awesome. Fleeing from the bite of a gnat, he welcomes the bite of the snake.