AND [remember] Job, when he cried out to his Sus-tainer, "Affliction has befallen me: but Thou art the most merciful of the merciful!"78
The story of Job (Ayyub in Arabic), describing his erstwhile happiness and prosperity, his subsequent trials and tribulations, the loss of all his children and his property, his own loathsome illness and utter despair and, finally, God's reward of his patience in adversity, is given in full in the Old Testament (The Book of Job). This Biblical, highly philosophical epic is most probably a Hebrew translation or paraphrase - still evident in the language employed-of an ancient Naba-taean (i.e., North-Arabian) poem, for "Job, the author of the finest piece of poetry that the ancient Semitic world produced, was an Arab, not a Jew, as the form of his name (Iyyob) and the scene of his book, North Arabia, indicate" (Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, London 1937, pp. 42-43). Since God "spoke" to him, Job ranks in the Qur'an among the prophets, personifying the supreme virtue of patience in adversity (sabr).