Prophet Yunus (Jonah)
Prophet Jonah (Yunus) (pbuh) also known as Dhan-Nun.
About his people Almighty Allah said:
"Was there any town community
that believed after seeing the punishment, and its Faith at that
moment, saved it from the punishment? (the answer is none)--except the
people of Jonah; when they believed, We removed from them the torment
of disgrace in the life of the present world, and permitted them to
enjoy for a while. (Ch 10:98 Quran)
The inhabitants of the town of Nineveh were idolaters
who lived a shameless life. Prophet Jonah (pbuh) was sent to teach them
the worship of Allah. The people disliked his interference in their way
of worship, so they argued. "We and our forefathers have worshipped
these gods for many years and no harm has come to us."
Jonah Leaves His
Try as he might to convince them of the foolishness of
idolatry and of the goodness of Allah's laws, the ignored him. He
warned them that if they kept on with their foolishness, Allah's
punishment would soon follow. Instead of fearing Allah, they told Jonah
that they were not afraid of his threats. "Let it happen," they told
him. Jonah was disheartened. "in that case, I will leave you to your
misery!" so saying, he left Nineveh, fearing that Allah's anger would
"Remember Dhan Nun (Jonah), when he went off in
and imagined that We shall not punish him (the calamities which had
befallen him)! (ch 21:87)
The People are
Hardly had he left the city when the skies began to
change color and looked as if they were on fire. The people were filled
with fear by this sight. They recalled the destruction of the people of
'Ad, Thamud and Noah. Was theirs to be a similar fate? Slowly faith
penetrated their hearts. They all gathered on the mountain and started
to beseech Allah for His mercy and forgiveness. The mountains echoed
with their cries. It was a momentous hour, filled with sincere
Allah removed His wrath and showered His blessings upon
them once again. When the threatening storm was lifted, they prayed for
the return of Jonah so that he could guide them.
The Storm at Sea
Meanwhile, Jonah had boarded a small ship in the
company of other passengers. It sailed all day in calm waters with a
good wind blowing at the sails. When night came, the sea suddenly
changed. A horrible storm blew as if it were going to split the ship
into pieces. The waves looked wild. They rose up as high as mountains
then plunged down like valleys, tossing the ship and sweeping over the
Behind the ship, a large whale was splitting the water
and opening its mouth. A command had been issued from Almighty Allah to
one of the greatest whales of the sea to surface. It obeyed. The whale
hurried to the surface of the sea and followed the ship as it had been
The tempest continued and the chief crewman asked the
crew to lighten the ship's heavy load. They threw their baggage
overboard, but this was not enough. Their safety lay in reducing the
weight further, so they decided among themselves to lighten their load
by removing at least one person.
Jonah Jumps into the
The captain directed: We will make lots with all of the
travelers' names. The one whose name is drawn will be thrown into the
sea." Jonah knew this was one of the seamen's traditions when facing a
tempest. It was a strange polytheistic tradition, but it was practiced
at that time. Jonah's affliction and crisis began.
Here was the prophet, subjected to polytheistic rules
that considered the sea and the wind to have gods that riot. The
captain had to please these gods. Jonah reluctantly participated in the
lot, and his name was added to the other travelers' names. The lot was
drawn and "Jonah" appeared.
Since they knew him to be the most honorable among
them, they did not wish to throw him into the angry sea. Therefore,
they decided to draw a second lot. Again Jonah's name was drawn. They
gave him a final chance and drew a third lot. Unfortunately for Jonah,
his name came up again.
Jonah realized that Allah's hand was in all this, for
he had abandoned his mission without Allah's consent. The matter was
over, and it was decided that Jonah should throw himself into the
water. Jonah stood at the edge of the ship looking at the furious sea.
It was night and there was no moon. The stars were hidden behind a
black fog. But before he could be thrown overboard, Jonah kept
mentioning Allah's name as he jumped into the raging sea and
disappeared beneath the huge waves.
The Whale Swallows
The whale found Jonah floating on the waves before it.
It swallowed Jonah into its furious stomach and shut its ivory teeth on
him as if they were white bolts locking the door of his prison. The
whale dived to the bottom of the sea, the sea that runs in the abyss of
Three layers of darkness enveloped him, one above the
other; the darkness of the whale's stomach, the darkness of the bottom
of the sea, the darkness of the night. Jonah imaged himself to be dead,
but his senses became alert when he found he could move. He knew that
he was alive and imprisoned in the midst of three layers of darkness.
His heart was moved by remembering Allah. His tongue released soon
" La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be
worshipped but You (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all
that evil they associate with You), Truly, I have been of the wrong
doers." (Ch 21:87 Quran)
Jonah continued praying to Allah, repeating this
invocation. Fishes, whales, seaweeds, and all the creatures that lived
in the sea heard the voice of Jonah praying, heard the celebration of
Allah's praises issuing from the whale's stomach. All these creatures
gathered around the whale and began to celebrate the praises of Allah
in their turn, each in its own way and in its own language.
The whale also participated in celebrating the praises
of Allah and understood that it had swallowed a prophet. Therefore it
felt afraid; however, it said to itself; "Why should I be afraid? Allah
commanded me to swallow him."
Allah Forgives Jonah
Allah Almighty saw the sincere repentance of Jonah and
heard his invocation in the whale's stomach. Allah commanded the whale
to surface and eject Jonah onto an island. The whale obeyed and swam to
the farthest side of the ocean. Allah commanded it to rise towards the
warm, refreshing sun and the pleasant earth.
The whale ejected Jonah onto a remote island. His body
was inflamed because of the acids inside the whale's stomach. He was
ill, and when the sun rose, its ray burned his inflamed body so that he
was on the verge of screaming for the pain. However, he endured the
pain and continued to repeat his invocation to Allah.
Almighty Allah caused a vine to grow to considerable
length over him for protection. Then Allah Exalted caused Jonah to
recover and forgave him. Allah told Jonah that if it had not been for
his praying to Him, he would have stayed in the whale's stomach till
the Day of Judgment.
Summary of Jonah's
Almighty Allah recounted:
" And, verily, Jonah was
one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, he agreed to cast
lots and he was among the losers, Then a big fish swallowed him and he
had done an act worthy of blame. Had he not been of them who glorify
Allah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till
the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while
he was sick and We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We
sent him to a hundred thousand people or even more, and they believed;
so We gave them enjoyment for a while. (Ch 37:139-148 Quran).
Jonah's People -
Gradually he regained his strength and found his way to
his hometown, Nineveh. He was pleasantly surprised to notice the change
that had taken place there. The entire population turned out to welcome
him. They informed him that they had turned to believe in Allah.
Together they led a prayer of thanksgiving to their Merciful Lord.
Saying About Jonah (PBUT)
Ibn Abbas narrated: "The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
'One should not say I am better than Jonah Ibn Matta.'" (Sahih Bukhari).