Home | *Inspiration | THE LIFE OF PROPHET YUNUS


By Nasmira Firdous


Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says in the Quran
“……So relate the stories that perhaps they will give thought” (Surah Al-Araf 7:176)

Ever wondered why Quran has so many stories related to the blessed prophets, places and people who lived centuries ago? Instead of just looking at them as stories, we must realize that its Allah’s way of teaching us some extremely important lessons. The story of Prophet Yunus alayhi salaam is one of the many stories that make us think and reflect over the power of repentance, du’a and Allah’s mercy.

A Quick Summary:
Prophet Yunus alayhi salaam was sent to the people of Nineveh, a town engulfed in idol worship. When his extensive preaching fell into deaf ears, Prophet Yunus alayhi salaam left his people in haste. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says:

“And [mention] the man of the fish (Yunus), when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darknesses, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers”. (Surah Al-Anbiya 21:87)
Power of repentance:

Ibn Katheer in his book, “Stories of the Prophets” states that as soon as the blessed Prophet left, his people immediately saw the huge punishment that was going to engulf them. The skies changed color making them look like they “were on fire”. Seeing the horrific punishment that lay ahead, the people of Nineveh called out in fear and repented immediately, begging Allah subhaana wa ta’aala to send His Prophet back, to be a source of guidance and mercy. Ibn Katheer states that the cries of repentance began to get so loud that the mountains “echoed with their cries”. This sincere repentance was accepted by Allah subhaana wa ta’aala.

Let us ponder for a minute here: How often have we cried out and repented a cry that would make our hearts tremble and our limbs shiver in fear of our sins?

Allah subhaana wa ta’aala in His infinite wisdom teaches us a powerful lesson here: to repent before its too late. If you are still breathing, it’s not late yet. Let’s take a deep breath, reflect upon our sins big or small and sincerely repent right now, for we never know if we would be alive the next minute!

Power of dua:
Meanwhile, Prophet Yunus alayhi salaam was already on a ship, sailing away from his people. The sea turned extremely violent, with waves as high as mountains. The people cast their luggage off to decrease the weight in the ship. When this didn’t work out, they had to lighten the load of the ship even further by casting away one of the travelers. A lot of people were casted off the ship. Suddenly, it was Prophet Yunus’s name that came up. He accepted this to be Allah’s test so, Prophet Yunus alayhi salaam voluntarily jumped off the ship. A huge whale was already commanded by Allah subhaana wa ta’aala to swallow Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam.

Allah says:

“[Mention] when he ran away to the laden ship. And he drew lots and was among the losers. Then the fish swallowed him, while he was blameworthy.” (Surah As Saffat 37: 140-142) 
Let’s us imagine the scenario here. Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam was all alone, being left at the mercy of the huge waves, a violent sea on a dark night and was inside the belly of a whale.

If it’s difficult for you to place yourself in his shoes, let us look at it this way: How many times have we sinned and felt that we are being drowned in the ocean called “dunya” with a huge baggage of sins on our shoulders? Have we already been swallowed by our own mistakes?

The whale’s belly was secreting powerful enzymes that were peeling Prophet Yunus’s skin. This is when he made an extremely powerful du’a, a du’a for each one of us to recite many times over:

“And Zun Nun (Yunus), when he went away in wrath, so he thought that We would not straiten him, so he called out among afflictions: There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee; surely I am of those who make themselves to suffer loss (wrongdoer).” (Surah Al-Anbiya 21:87)
How many times have we acknowledged and cried out in front of our Lord that we have been one of the wrongdoers? Let’s acknowledge the fact now before the doors of repentance are closed on us!

Ibn Katheer states that power of repentance and praises by Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam were so powerful that every single creature in the sea and the angels began to pray together and praise Allah subhaana wa ta’aala asking him to bless Yunus alayhi saalam and save him.

Forgiveness is near, for those who ask for it!

Allah subhaana wa ta’aala heard His slave pray and beg for forgiveness and forgiveness was bestowed on him. Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam holds a unique distinction in the sense that he cried out for help and forgiveness in a place where no man has ever asked from: in the belly of a huge whale.

We probably do not want to be tested on those terms, but this just serves as a powerful reminder that one must never despair of the mercy of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. Indeed, Allah subhaana wa ta’alaa’s help is very near. All we have to do is call out. When was the last time you called out for His help after feeling absolutely worthless and helpless?

Ease after hardship:
The whale was then commanded to carry the Prophet to a nearby island and eject him out. His peeled skin, however, was burning intensely under the sun’s rays. Allah subhaana wa ta’aala again, out of His mercy, covered Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam with shade allowing his body and soul to heal.

Allah says:

“And had he not been of those who exalt Allah, He would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.” (Surah As Saffat 37: 143-144)
It was because of the constant prayers of Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam that Allah subhaana wa ta’aala saved him and forgave him, else Allah subhaana wa ta’aala testifies to the fact that he would have remained in the belly until the Day of Judgment.

A key lesson for us to ponder: Have we already called out and begged for Allah’s mercy and forgiveness or do we want to be left in the belly of our huge sins until the last day? Let’s say astaghfirullah before it gets too late!

The beauty of repentance and prayer:
Allah subhaana wa ta’aala responded to the people of Nineveh’s call for help and repentance. He, subhaana wa ta’aala, made thousands of people proclaim the oneness of Allah, forgiving them and the Prophet that was sent to them, giving Prophet Yunus alayhi saalam the coolness he was looking for.

Allah says:

 “And We sent him to [his people of] a hundred thousand or more. And they believed, so We gave them enjoyment [of life] for a time.” (Surah As Saffat 37 :147-48)
The unique distinction of the people of Nineveh:

Allah subhaana wa ta’aala says:

“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 Yunus (Jonah); when they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace from the life of this world..” (Surah Yunus 10:98)
While the people of Prophet Nuh alayhi saalam, Prophet Hud alayhi saalam, Saleh alayhi saalam and Prophet Lut alayhi saalam amongst others had witnessed the signs of severe punishment and were destroyed in the process. The people of Nineveh were the only ones to have witnessed Allah’s punishment and be saved from it rather than being destroyed. They were the only ones to have seen Allah’s anger, but sincere repentance that had crawled into their hearts had saved them from being destroyed as disbelievers.

A few lessons that can be drawn from the life of Prophet Yunus (AS):

· Give dawah and have faith in Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. He subhaana wa ta’aala is listening to you even if no one else is.
· Cry out for His help, irrespective of where you are.
· Repentance/tawbah are hallmarks of the believers and therefore one must never lose hope in His mercy or forgiveness
· Pray to be guided and remain steadfast in doing so.

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