Cotton Candy at Job’s Tomb

Cotton candy vendor in the mist at Job's Tomb -- Salalah, Oman.

The Not Quite Right element in this post is almost painfully obvious:  a cotton candy vendor (among others hawking everything from nuts to clothes) has set up his cart just outside the gates of what might be the most historically plausible of several locations that claim to inter the remains of the Biblical Prophet Job, or An-Nadi Ayoob as he is called in the Qur’an.

What might not be so obvious, but are undoubtably also NQR moments, are two other things about this location and time:  the rain and the extreme length of Job’s green-draped sarcophagus.

For the first, the rain is an effect of a seasonal monsoon that touches the very southern part of Oman (Job’s tomb is cradled in the coastal mountains near Salalah) each August.  The phenomenon greens the whole area and makes it a tourist destination for vegetation-starved pilgrims from across the Arabian peninsula.  To westerners, the idea of spending a week in a light drizzle might be better satisfied by a visit to London.  But to locals, nothing seems to make them happier than a celebration, or even a roadside picnic, in the rain.

Job's 9-foot long sarcophagus.

For the second, the Prophet Job was (along with all the earliest members of homo sapiens) supposedly a giant.  Thus his sarcophagus measures about 9 feet long while a footprint alleged to be his is preserved (in concrete!) outside the shrine.

One further oddity of the tomb:  the relics of an abandoned mosque abutt the rear wall of the building.  It appears to be very ancient and, from what I could tell, it seemed that the qibla, or prayer niche, faced in a direction toward Jerusalem rather than toward Mecca.  This could possibly date the building among the very earliest in Islam, from before the time when the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) changed the direction of prayer.  Omani friends:  please comment if you have more information on this directional change.

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2 responses to “Cotton Candy at Job’s Tomb

  • fluffy

    true muslim were facing al-quds at the beginning… then allah promised mohammed of a better qiblah ( al baqarah , verse 144 ) ordered PBUH to change to Makka (the Oldest house on the earth, we believe) most surely the first house appointed for men is the one at mekka, blessed and a guidance for the nation…Aal – e imran , verse 96

    • Benjamin Buchholz

      Thank you for the verse, my friend. I looked more closely at the layout of the shrine at Job’s Tomb and I can’t really determine whether the Qiblah faces toward Makka or toward al-Quds. It would be a very important archeological discovery if it did, indeed, face that way. But I suspect it actually faces toward Makka. There isn’t much difference in the direction, really, from down by Salalah. Both are Northwest-ish. If you have a friend in Salalah who would be interested in measuring the angle of the qiblah in that old building, it would be great to find out for sure!

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