This story of Prophet Younus is taken from the Quran with a detailed explanation based on Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
The story of Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) is mentioned in Surat As-Saaffaat, Surah Al Anbiya and Surah Yunus. We learn the following lessons from this story:
- the need for patience in all our affairs
- the reward for acknowledging our mistakes / weakness
- repenting for the wrong done
- constantly praising Allah and seeking Allah’s forgiveness (that can then help later in challenging situations.)
Listen to a Dua in the video below
Who was prophet Younus / Jonah?
Prophet Yunus bin Matta (peace be upon him) – also referred to as Jonah, was sent by Allah to the people of Nineveh, a town in the area of Mosul in northern Iraq (see Shia presence in Iraq history). He called his people to the message of Allah and truth, but initially they rejected his message and persisted in their disbelief and wrongdoings. Disappointed and frustrated, Prophet Yunus left them in anger, threatening them with punishment after three days. However, soon Allah guided the hearts of his people and they realized their mistakes and went out to the desert asking for Allah’s forgiveness. On this, Allah spared them from the punishment. Allah says in the Quran:
“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).
Prophet Younus Story in the Quran
About Prophet Younus’s behavior, Allah says in the Quran:
“And (remember) Dhun-Nun (Prophet Yunus), when he went off in anger (this means: “Anger towards his people.)” (Surah Yunus)
About the fact that he showed impatience with his people and did not wait for Allah’s instructions, the Quran says:
“and (he) imagined that We shall not punish him!” (Surah Yunus)
Prophet Yunus, after leaving his people, went on to board a ship that got caught up in a storm and its people thought that they would drown. In such a desperate situation when the ship was being pounded by waves on all sides, and they were at risk of drowning, they drew lots to decide to throw someone out of the ship in an effort to lighten the load. The Prophet of Allah, Yunus (peace be upon him), lost the draw three times. However, the people of the ship did not want to throw him out of the ship. So, he took off his garment so that he could throw himself into the sea, and they tried to stop him. Allah says:
“Then he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.” (Surah As-Saaffaat 37:141).
After he threw himself into the sea, Allah sent from the Green Sea — according to what Ibn Masud said — a large fish which cleaved the oceans until it came and swallowed Yunus. Allah inspired that large fish not to devour his flesh or break his bones.
Prophet Younus Dua in the Quran
When in the belly of the fish, Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him) realized his mistake and called out to Allah:
“… he cried through the depths of darkness (saying): “There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.”(Surah Al Anbiya, 21:87)
Ibn Masud said regarding the `depths of darkness’ that it meant “the darkness of the belly of the fish, the darkness of the sea and the darkness of the night.” Ibn Masud, Ibn Abbas and others also said that “The fish took him through the sea, cleaving it until it reached the bottom of the sea. Yunus heard the rocks at the bottom of the sea uttering glorification of Allah, at which point he said:
“There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers” `
Awf Al-Aarabi said: “When Yunus found himself in the belly of the fish, he thought that he had died. But after he realized that he could still move his legs, he prostrated where he was, and then called out: `O Lord, I have taken a place of worship to You in a place where no other person has reached before.”’
Allah then tells us in the Quran:
“So `We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. (This means that `We brought him forth from the belly of the fish and from that darkness.’)”
“And thus We do deliver (save) the believers.” (Al Anbiya 21:87)
Dealing with stressful situations in Islam
This clearly shows that when we are in a difficulty or a distressful situation and turn to Allah and call upon Him with sincere repentance, especially with these words, Allah responds to our call. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S) also encouraged us to call upon Allah with these words. Imam Ahmad recorded that Saad bin Abi Waqqas, (may Allah be pleased with him), reported that he passed by Uthman bin Affan, (may Allah be pleased with him), in the Masjid, and greeted him, but he just stared at him and did not return the greeting. When Uthman was asked about it later, he sought Allah’s forgiveness (for not returning the greeting) and said that he had been preoccupied with what he had heard from the Messenger of Allah about the supplication and Dua of Dhun-Nun (Prophet Yunus)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.”
The Prophet (S.A.W.S) said about this Dua:
“No Muslim ever prays to his Lord with these words for anything, but He will answer his prayer.” (Recorded by At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah)
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Saad reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Whoever offers supplication in the words of the supplication of Yunus, will be answered.” Abu Saeed said: “The prophet (s) was referring to this verse:
“And thus We do deliver (save) the believers.”
Almighty Allah accepted Prophet Yunus’s supplication, and cast him on the shore and protected him there. Allah the Exalted forgave him his error of impatience in deserting his people without waiting for Allah’s instruction.
The importance of constant praising Allah
Allah also made it known that had it not been for Yunus’s (peace be upon him) sincere repentance and his invocations to Him, he would have stayed in the whale’s stomach till the Day of Judgment! The Quran says:
“Had he not been of them who glorify Allah, He would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection.” (Surah As-Saffaat, 143-144)
Summary (Prophet Younus Story)
We learn from this story that not only we should be patient in all matters of our life, but we should repent to Allah often and should constantly remember Him and say His praises as that can help save us from the tough situations in life. Finally, the Dua of Prophet Younus is not only easy to remember but its regular saying can have a very positive effect in our lives.