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:
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.
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:
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.
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 subhaana wa ta’aala says:
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.