The Story of Yunus AS
Not all the stories and events that took place with different Prophets over the ages are found in the Quran, but those are present are the ones Allah (SWT) has decided to record for all eternity. From the recorded stories and events, we can understand that these are very significant for humans to understand one aspect of life or another. Many stories of the Prophets of the past were revealed in the Quran by Allah (SWT) so that their knowledge may strengthen the hearts of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the Muslims and so that they may learn from them.
”And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.” (Quran Surah Hud Ayah 11:120)
Within the different stories found in the Quran is also present the events of the life of Prophet Yunus (AS), otherwise known as Jonah. Like the rest of the stories in the Quran, this event is not also present in its entire entirety in one spot but is found at places where Allah (SWT) willed it. There are many lessons that can be found in the life of Prophet Yunus (AS). There is an entire surah in the Quran that is named after this prophet. However there is no mention of the prophet in the surah except near the very end.
”Then has there not been a [single] city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time.” (Quran Surah Yunus Ayah 10:98)
Prophet Yunus (AS) was sent to the people of Naynawa (Nineveh) in Mosul which is in the north of modern day Iraq. These people did not believe in the message of the Prophet regarding the oneness of Allah (SWT). Prophet Yunus (AS) became annoyed with his people that they had not accepted the message and left them. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran,
”Then be patient for the decision of your Lord, [O Muhammad], and be not like the companion of the fish when he called out while he was distressed.” (Quran Surah Qalam Ayah 68:48)
This is the point in tale that we have to learn about patience when preaching people towards the way of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) is here teaching Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and by extension to all Muslims to be patient and not be hasty like Prophet Yunus (AS) because it is Allah (SWT) that guides. Prophet Yunus (AS) had realized that the punishment of Allah (SWT) would now come so decided to board a ship and leave with a few companions. The ship was caught in a storm and the people decided that there was too much weight and somebody had to be thrown overboard. Lots were drawed three times and through Allah’s will it was Prophet Yunus (AS) who drew three times. He went to the sea, and in Surah Saffat Allah (SWT) mentions what happened to Prophet Yunus (AS) later.
”And indeed, Jonah was among the messengers.
[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.” (Quran Surah Saffat Ayah 37:139-142)
Prophet Yunus (AS) was swallowed alive by a huge fish where he was stuck. It was in that place that he realized that his mistake and made supplication to Allah (SWT) for forgiveness and his prayer was answered hence this event teaches us the importance of believing in Allah (SWT) and His divine decree and have patience.
”And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darkness, 'There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.'”
”So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.” (Quran Surah Anbiya Ayah 21:87-88)