Legends of the Prophets

al-Nîshâpûrî, Job, in Legends of the Prophets (detail), Persia, circa 1577. MS 1, folio II:16, Spencer Collection, New York Public Library.

Seen here is an illustration from a 16th-century text by the Persian writer al-Nîshâpûrî. At the left edge, Ayyub (Job) is seated on a raised pile, with golden flames ringing his head. The angel Jibrail (Gabriel), with claw-like wings, attends to Ayyub’s suffering. A stream meanders past the scene as Ayyub’s wife Rahman (“compassion”) offers assistance. The Qur’an mentions Job several times as a prophet (Qur’an 4:163; 6:84) and also twice briefly tells a version of Job’s story, including the detail of the healing waters (Qur’an 21:83-84; 38:41-44). Later Muslim traditions, including several versions of the Legends of the Prophets (Qisas al-Anbiya), elaborate on the story of Job, adding details about the roles of Satan and Job’s wife. This image depicts a scene from one of these later traditions.


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