The Story of Prophet Yunus (Jonah)
Did you know?
1) Prophet Yunus was given the title Dhan-Nun which means Friend of Nun Fish. An-Nun means big fish which is a whale. Jonah was appointed as the prophet of God and God sent him to the Mosul people in Iraq also known as Nineveh.
2) Mosul consists of more than 100 thousand people. Jonah called on the people of Mosul to worship Allah and not other than Him. Many times the prophet Jonah called on his people to believe in God, but like the previous prophets, the people of the prophet Jonah rejected the teachings of Islam. Prophet Jonah warned the Mosul people to fear God’s punishment but equally, they still refused.
3) The Prophet Jonah became angry and despairing to preach to the stubborn Mosul people. Jonah decided to go far from Mosul to preach to other races. He believed that there were more other races who could be guided to the path of God. So the prophet Jonah began his journey to the sea to cross the sea to go to another country.
4) Meanwhile, while the prophet Jonah was on his way to the seashore, God brought His punishment to the people of Mosul. The bright sky became pitch dark and terrifying. The whole Mosul tribe of 100 thousand more people all looked at the sky at once and they began to cry in fear. They knew the punishment of Allah was coming upon them and they remembered the story of the people of Lut, about how Allah punished them. And they remembered the warnings that the prophet Jonah often spoke of God’s punishment. All the Mosul people are aware of what they should do, which is to repent to God. They sincerely repented and all wept, both men, women and children. Jonah was the only prophet where all his people repented and believed in God. So Allah withdrew His punishment because none of them did not repent to Allah – Refer to the Quran (10:98).
5) Jonah did not know what had happened to his people during his journey. Arriving at the sea shore, there is a loaded ship. Jonah jumped into the ship and the ship began its journey – Refer to the Quran (37: 140). Suddenly the wind began to blow hard and a storm began to come. The loaded ship began to shake and enter the water. They began to sink little by little. The people on board tried to reduce the load by throwing out all the goods in the ship but the ship sank.
6) They had to reduce the number of people on board. To be fair, they revoked the name and the name that came out must have jumped off the ship. When the name was removed, the prophet Jonah came out. They saw that the prophet Jonah looked like a pious man, knowledgeable and still young, not many young people like this. A waste if left to die. So they decided to cancel the draw and pull it out again. The second time, the name of the prophet Jonah came out. The third time, also the name of the prophet Jonah that came out. Jonah realized that this was not a coincidence, but a provision of Allah – Refer to the Quran (37: 141). So the prophet Jonah jumped into the sea.
7) As soon as the prophet Jonah entered the sea, Allah commanded the nun to swallow it – Refer to the Quran (37: 142). In the process of being swallowed, the prophet Jonah fainted. Allah says, “Then if he is not from those who always remember Allah (with remembrance and glorification); of course he will stay in the belly of the fish until the day man is raised from the grave. ” – Refer to the Quran (37: 143-144).
8) The nun swims to the dark sea floor. Jonah woke up when he heard the sounds in the sea. He asked Allah the sound of what he was hearing and Allah replied that that was the sound of the rosary of rocks and fish in the sea. The Prophet Jonah prostrated to God in a state of repentance and said, “I prostrate in these darknesss (darkness in the belly of the fish, the darkness of the seabed and the darkness of the night). Lo! There is no god save thee. Glory be to You, help me! Indeed, I am from those who wronged themselves. ” – Refer to the Quran (21:87).
9) Prophet Jonah lived in the belly of a nun for 40 days (some say at least 3 days, wallahualam). For 40 days the prophet Jonah glorified and prayed to God until he became weaker. Finally, God granted his prayer. The nun vomited the prophet Jonah on the beach and the prophet Jonah came out in a state of sickness – Refer to the Quran (37: 145). It is said that his body was soft and his skin was full of rashes. Then Allah planted a circular tree next to the place where the prophet Jonah lay – Refer to the Quran (37: 146). Jonah got food from the plant and when its broad leaves touched the skin of Jonah, it felt very soft and comfortable. It also served as a shelter while the prophet Jonah healed himself.
10) When the prophet Jonah was healed, he returned to Mosul and was surprised to see that all his people had believed in God. May Allah grant them happiness for a time – Refer to the Quran (37: 148).
Detailed of Story
Description of Jonah’s People
Prophet Jonah (Yunus) 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.” Al-Quran [10: 98]
The inhabitants of the town of Nineveh were idolators 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 People
Try as he might to convince them of the foolishness of idolatry and of the goodness of Allah’s laws, they 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 soon follow.
”And (remember) Dhan-Nun (Jonah), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (i.e., the calamities which had befallen him)! Al-Quran [21:87]
The People are Forgiven
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 repentance.
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 deck.
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 commanded.
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 Sea
The captain directed: “We will make lots with all 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 Jonah
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 darkness.
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 imagined 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 was released soon after saying:
“La ilaha illa Anta (none has the right to be worshipped but You (0, Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You above all that (evil) they associate with You. Truly, I have been of the wrong-doers.” Al-Quran [21:87]
Jonah continued praying to Allah, repeating this invocation. Fishes, whales, sea-weeds, 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 rays 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 Story
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.” Al-Quran [37: 139-148]
Jonah’s People – Changed
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.
Prophet Muhammad’s Saying About Jonah (PBUT)
Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: “The prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘One should not say that I am better than Jonah Ibn Matta.” (Sahih Al Bukhari)