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Monday, October 11, 2004

the story of prophet Yunus (as)

I relate this story, which may contain some details about the origin of which I am not sure. If you find something that disturbs you, please tell me.
We know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’alaa, sent prophets (peace be upon them) to guide the human population to HIS deen (al-Islam). The Qur’an tells us of many such prophets, their people, & what happened to those people. In HIS book, Allah says that HE has exalted the names of these prophets, and HE says “salaam” on these prophets, sometimes by name, sometimes on all of them (e.g. see the 37th Surah: as-Saffat). And when you read what Allah has to say about HIS prophets, you cannot help but love them as well. I love reading about the prophets in the Qur’an. & Allah says that in paradise the residents will be addressed by Allah with “salaam”. [Surah Yaseen, Ayah 58]. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be told Salaam by Allah (swt)?

Yunus bin Matta was such a prophet sent to people of Nineveh (near present day Mosul in Northern Iraq). He is called Jonah in the Bible. Like many other non-believers before them, the people of Nineveh refused to recognize the prophet as such, & made fun of him and the message brought by him. So, after preaching for several decades, Yunus (as) complained to Allah that these people have hearts of stone, and do not listen, and they deserved Allah’s wrath. Allah told him to say to these people that Allah's punishment will visit them after three days. They again made fun of him, so he got so annoyed that he left the town for the river Euphrates.
On the next day the people of Nineveh woke up and decided they would have fun with the “so-called prophet” as they called him. Well, they could not find him, so they came back. The day after that, again they looked for Yunus (as), & when they did not find him they were a little worried that maybe the prophet was right after all, & they may be punished. On the third day, the sky filled up with dark clouds, & they realized that the Allah’s wrath will be upon them after three days, as promised. Now they remembered Yunus (as) & how he used to admonish them, & that he was telling the truth and that a prophet never lies. So, they got real frightened, and went out to the desert with their wives and children and cattle and flocks. They separated the mothers from their children, and then they beseeched Allah and pleaded to Him, with the camels and their young groaning, the cows and their calves mooing, and the sheep and their lambs bleating, so Allah spared them from the punishment.
This is the only exception in the history of mankind that a punishment once seen by a people as coming to them, and as promised to them with a deadline, has been annulled by Allah.
Allah says: Was there any town that believed (after seeing the punishment), and its faith saved it except the people of Yunus. When they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while [Surah Yunus 10:98].
Yunus (as), meanwhile, went and traveled with some people on a ship, which was tossed about on the sea. The people were afraid that they would drown, so they cast lots to choose a man whom they would throw overboard. The lot fell to Yunus, but they refused to throw him overboard. This happened a second and a third time. Allah says:
(Then he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.) [37:141]
meaning the draw went against him, so Yunus stood up, removed his garment and cast himself into the sea. Then Allah sent from the Green (Mediterranean) Sea -- a large fish (this could well be a whale) which cleaved the oceans until it came and swallowed Yunus when he threw himself into the sea. Allah inspired that large fish not to devour his flesh or break his bones, (as if HE said) Yunus is not food for you, rather your belly is a prison for him.

Yunus (as) had already realized that he had transgressed, & when he found himself in darkenss (in the belly of the fish, he cried out: "There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.'') [Surat Al-Anbiya' (21:87)]
& then Allah says: (So `We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress.) meaning, `We brought him forth from the belly of the fish and from that darkness.' (And thus We do deliver the believers.) [Surat Al-Anbiya' (21: 88)].
So Yunus (as) was relieved of his prison, & the fish gurgled him on shore.
(And thus We do deliver the believers.) means: when they are in difficulty and they call upon Us and repent to Us, especially if they call upon Us with these words at the time of distress.
The leader of the prophets encouraged us to call upon Allah with these words. Imam Ahmed records this Hadeeth
the supplication of Dhun-Nun when he was in the belly of the fish:
(There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.)
No Muslim ever prays to his Lord with these words for anything, but He will answer his prayer.)''
This Hadeeth was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and by An-Nasa'i.
So, the dua of Yunus (as) is one of four duas that are in the Qur’an as well as in the Hadeeth.
Now for some questions:
Q1. why was the prophet Yunus (as) punished?
A1: He was punished because he, as prophet of Allah, should not have assumed that he should go, but should have waited for Allah to send him instructions to leave.
Q2. does anyone know how the people of Nineveh come to realize that the prophet Yunus (as) was right?
A2: They found their prophet missing, which was uncharacteristic. The prophet Yunus would start early & start calling people of Nineveh to repent & fear Allah, but this did not happen for two days, & on the third day the sky started showing signs of Allah’s wrath.
Q3. tell us the moral(s) of the story.
A3: The moral is that one should always keep an eye on one’s own faults. If one cannot figure out why a particular hard time is being had by one, one must always be sure that it is a punishment from Allah, & one must cry out the dua of Yunus (as), and ask Allah to forgive. & the leaders must take all living beings out in the open & really cry hard, & beseech Allah to remove HIS wrath.