Yunus (aws)  - Jonah - Jonas


In Christian Faith:

-          Old Testament, Book of Jonah, 2 Kings (a prophet near Nazareth during time of King Jeroboam II), New Testament

-          God orders Jonah to go to Nineveh to warn them of their wickedness but he tries to flee God’s command by going to Jaffa and getting on a ship heading to Tarshish. 

-          A huge storm comes up and the sailors casts lots to see who is to blame and Jonah’s lot is picked to which he readily agrees and tells the sailors that if they throw him overboard, the storm will end.

-          The sailors don’t immediately throw him over but when they can’t make shore, they do and the storm ends.

-          Meanwhile, Jonah is swallowed by a whale and stays in the whale for 3 days and 3 nights; all the time he was praying for self preservation and thanking God for all His blessings and at the same time promising to do what he was told in the first place.

-          When Jonah goes to Ninevah, the people readily accept the message and start to fast and repent.

-          Jonah doesn’t believe that the people were spared and that God was so merciful to these people and so he goes to hide in a cave waiting to see if God will really destroy the city after a while.

-          So God makes a plant to grow over the cave and then makes a worm bite the root which destroys the plant and leaves Jonah in the full force of the sun.

-          Jonah gets mad that the plant died and left him in the fierce sun and asks God to take him out of the world but God refuses.

-          God questions Jonah as to why he should be angry at a little plant that he did nothing to help it grow or to make it and so how does he think that God should feel over the people of Nineveh who were in the hundred thousands who were so disobedient to Him.

-          God asks Jonah, “Should I not be even more concerned about Nineveh, this enormous city? There are more than one hundred twenty thousand people in it who do not know right from wrong, as well as many animals!”


In the Christian bible (Mathew) it states,

But He [Jesus] answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented when Jonah preached to them – and now, something greater than Jonah is here!"


In Judaism,

-          Jonah is seen as one of 12 minor prophets.

-          They believe that Jonah was brought back to life by Elijah the prophet, and that was why Jonah was such a strict prophet.  The book of Jonah is read every year in Hebrew on Yom Kippur (the day of Atonement)

-          The idea gotten from Jonah’s story is the ability to repent and be forgiven by God. (Teshuva)


In Islam,

-           “And Jonah was also one of the Messengers, when he fled to the laden ship. He (agreed to) cast lots and he was of the rebutted. Then the whale swallowed him, and he was blameworthy. Had he not been of those who glorify God, he would certainly have stayed in its belly until the Day of Resurrection. So, We cast him out upon the bare shore in a state of sickness, and We caused to grow over him a marrow plant. And We sent him to a hundred thousand or more, and they believed, so We bestowed on them provision until their appointed time." (37:139-148  - Sura Assaffat)

-          As the Quran states, most towns never have all of its inhabitants believe in the message at once: “And We never sent to any town a warner, but the wealthy one among them said: 'We disbelieve in that you have been sent with'." (34:34 – Sura As-Saba)

-          “Was there any town 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 chastisement of ignominy in the life of this world, and We gave them enjoyment for a time." (10:98  - Sura Yunus)

-          Yunus (aws) fled the people the first time because he was so angry with the people.

-          Just as Yunus (aws) was leaving, the tribe’s people saw the skies turning color as if on fire and at that moment, the people remembered the people of Ad, Thamud and Noah, and immediately repented sincerely and asked Allah for His Mercy.  Allah gave them His mercy.

-          Meanwhile, Yunus (aws) boarded a ship to leave his people.

-          The sea became very stormy at night. The sailors decided to draw lots to see who to throw overboard. When the sailors drew Yunus (aws) name, they didn’t want to accept it and tried it over and over again for 3 times but finally realized that it was decreed that Yunus (aws) be thrown overboard.

-          While in the belly, Yunus (aws) glorified Allah and repented for not listening to Allah’s orders to go to Niniwah. The whale and the fishes around him also began to worship and praise Allah. Hearing Yunus’s repentance and forgave him. Allah told Jonah that if it had not been for his praying to Him, he would have stayed in the whale's stomach till the Day of Judgment.

-          And (remember) Dhun-Nun (Jonah), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him, then he called out in the darkness: 'There is no God but You. Glory be to You! I was indeed wrong.' So, We responded to his call, and rescued him from distress, thus do We rescue the believers." (21:87, 88) (Sura Anbiya)

-          When Yunus (aws) was put back onto land he was not well due to the heat and so Allah permitted a plant to grow around him to shade him. When he was well again. Allah told him to go back to his tribe because they now believed. So Yunus (aws) went back and lead his peoples


Hadith: Ibn Jareer has narrated in his book of Tafsir that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "When Allah wanted to keep Jonah in the belly of the fish. He revealed to it: 'Take him inside, but do not scratch his flesh or break his bones.' When the fish went down in the depth of the sea, Jonah heard a voice. He thought of it in his mind and said: 'What is that?' Allah revealed to him that it was the glorifying acts of sea animals. Then he glorified Allah in the belly of that fish, which the angels heard and said: 'O Lord! We hear a very weak voice in a very unusual land!' Allah said: 'This is My slave Jonah, who disobeyed me, so I detained him inside a fish in the depth of sea.' They enquired: Is he Your pious slave from whom every day and night a good deed ascended to you?' He replied: 'Yes.' So the angels then pleaded to Allah on behalf of Jonah, so Allah commanded the fish to throw him out on the shore."


Muhammad (pbuh), after 10 years of receiving the first revelation, was commanded to go to Ta’if  to spread the truth.  The people of Ta’if turned him out and so Muhammad (pbuh) took shelter in the garden of Utbah and Shaybah, two of his clansmen who felt they had to give him shelter even though they did not believe what he was preaching. When the servant Addas came to bring food for Muhammad, he told our Prophet that he was from the town of Niniwah. Upon hearing this, our Prophet commented that Niniwah was the town of Yunus, sone of Matta. Addas knew that no one else knew about Niniwah and so when he asked Muhammad (pbuh) how he knew, Muhammad told him that they were brothers as he himself was a prophet like Yunus (aws). At hearing this, Addas accepted Islam.


Facts about Yunus (aws)

-          Son of  Matta (Amittai – in Christian text meaning My Truth); Also known as Dhan-Nun in Islamic texts.

-          Born in the town of Gath Hepher near the city Mashhad which is about 5 km from Nazareth, Israel.

-          The fish threw him out near the city of Ashdod, the 5th largest city in Israel – southern district near the Mediterranean coast.

-          His burial is supposedly in Halhul, a town in the West Bank, a few km from Hebron.

-          Hadith: Muhammad (pbuh) said that “No body should claim that he is better than Jonah

-          And Jonah was also one of the Messengers." ( Holy Qur'an, 37:139).



Can the idea of the whale swallowing Yunus (aws) be true?

-         Eel-whale Basilosaurus, both because of the lesser time gap and the area (Egypt) in which its fossil remnants had been discovered

-          A fact that this event from Greek mythology supposedly occurred at the very same spot from Eastern Mediterranean coast (today's Lebanon) where Yunus (aws) embarked the ship, trying to avoid the task that Allah had given to him.

-          Yunus (aws) being swallowed was a divine miracle and thus the type of fish/whale is immaterial







Themes and concepts to take from this story

-          Allah took a moment to think of Yunus (aws) troubles (even health-wise) when He could have been thinking of the over 100 thousand people; This implies that Allah considers all people important.

-          Show patience, for your dilemma is only a small fraction of what the world is facing.

-          Man is fallible, God is infallible. Man can be cruel and unforgiving whereas Allah is merciful.

-          If we reflect even a little we shall realize that Shaitaan makes the exhortations and counsel of the Prophet (pbuh) and Imams (aws) seem insignificant and makes his own whisperings very attractive. O Allah, O Most Benevolent, O Most Merciful! O Turner of hearts, keep steadfast my heart upon Your religion.'

-          When man commits a mistake due to ignorance, he should acknowledge it as soon as he realizes his mistake. He should not be stubborn in the acceptance of his errors.

-          Sins are forgiven due to repentance and punishment averted. This is just what the learned scholar informed the nation of Yunus (aws.).

-          Do not despair from Allah even in the most difficult of circumstances and ask only Him for deliverance.

-          Allah has power over everything. He keeps whomsoever he wishes in whatever condition He pleases and gives death when ever he chooses.