Wednesday 5 September 2018

Prophet Younis (Jonah) and Allah's Displeasure

Man has always been ungrateful and resistive to the Divine commandments and Allah has been sending prophets and messengers to guide the wronged to the righteous path. But sometimes it so happens that the stubbornness and resistance of nonbelievers makes even the prophets lose heart and abandon the mission assigned to them by Allah. And the story of Prophet Younis (peace be upon him), known and mentioned in earlier scriptures as Jonah is one such episode where a prophet abandoned his people in disgust and prayed for the wrath of Allah to befell on them.

The mention of the episode of Prophet Younis is made in Surah Yunus [10], Surah Al-Anbya [21] and Surah As-Saffat [37] of the Holy Qur'an and Hebrew Bible (Tanakh/Old Testament). Prophet Younis was a direct descendant of Prophet Yaqub (peace be upon him), also known as Jacob, has also referred to in the Qur’an by the name of Dhan-Nun (meaning The One of the Fish).

He was sent to people of Nineveh, a town in the area of Mosul in northern Iraq, for they have had turned down all earlier Divine messages and continued to be idolaters. According to the Qur’an, it had a population of around 100,000 people: And We sent him to [his people of] a hundred thousand or more [(Qur’an 37:147)]. It is said that despite his years long efforts to turn the shrouded hearts and minds of people of Nineveh in idolatry to the Divine path of righteousness, the people remained oblivious to his efforts and did not budge even a bit from their age old  beliefs and faith.

Despite his best efforts when the Prophet Younis found him failing to convince his people to leave idolatry and bring faith on monotheism and One true Allah. As all prophets and messengers are granted one supplication of their choice which Allah will fulfill, one day in deep despair prayed to Allah to bring Divine wrath on people of Nineveh. But before seeing the fulfillment of his prayer he left the city and boarded a ship out in the open seas.   

While a layman may understand Prophet Younis' departure in despair, it was not taken easily by Allah for he left a mission assigned to him half way and unfilled and leaving calling for the Divine wrath. This definitely drew extreme Divine displeasure and had severe consequences on him. The ship while sailing smoothly suddenly came under a heavy sea storm and it seemed difficult for the captain of the ship to save it from a disaster. As was then the practice in vogue of throwing someone off board to please the angry gods, everyone looked for a sinner on board. 

When they could not find any such person, Prophet Younis volunteered to be thrown off the ship for he had realized by then that he had committed a great sin by leaving the mission assigned to him half way.  Uncertain of his request, others agreed to draw lots to decide the matter. The first round resulted against Prophet Yunus, but seeing his rather elderly figure, they decided to draw the lot twice and even third time - but each time the lot drew against him. Being a prophet, he understood that this was the decree of Allah. “And indeed, Yunus was among the messengers. [Mention] when he ran away to the laden ship. And he drew lots and was among the losers.” [(Qur’an 37:139-141)].

Thus, Prophet Younis was thrown off board in the raging sea and he understood that he was to face the wrath of Allah himself for abandonment of the Divine mission. But prophet he still was and Allah would never hurt His prophets or revenge them for their humanly errors and decisions. So there came a big fish, whale as we know it today, which swallowed the prophet as a whole and he went inside its belly unhurt and alive. “Then the fish swallowed him, while he was blameworthy.” (Surah As-Saffat 37:142)

Miraculously, Prophet Younis was not pulverized, but remained whole, for the whale was not allowed by Allah to scratch his flesh or even break his bones. When he came to, he realized that he was still intact and alive. He fell in prostration and said “Oh my Lord! I have made a place of prayer where nobody else has even worshiped you.” [1]

There in the complete darkness, the Prophet of Allah begged for forgiveness and repented his actions. He repeated this humble supplication countless times over the course of the next three days and nights, and repented for his disobedience. In Holy Qur'an the prayer that Prophet Younis offered repeatedly is mentioned in Surah Al-Anbya (21:87): “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 darknesses, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.” 

The lesson thus been taught to His prophet, Allah accepted his prayer and the fish came ashore and vomited him out alive and unhurt. “So We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress. And thus We do deliver the believers (who believe in the Oneness of Allah, abstain from evil and work righteousness.)” (Surah Al-Anbya 21:88)

In the meantime, a miracle had happened to the people of Nineveh who had repented their attitude to Prophet Younis who had left in despair and begged for Divine forgiveness and pledged to leave idolatry and accept the righteous path as was propagated by Prophet Younis. Allah accepted their pledge and took them under His fold as believers.

The entire episode is a unique one in which a prophet had left his assigned mission half way, abandoned his people and efforts to bring them to the righteous path and even prayed for the wrath of Allah to befell on them. But Allah clearly demonstrated that even if prophets do their utmost to mould the hearts of people sent upon, a prophet can only make an endeavorer and no more. It is up to Allah alone Who can mould the hearts of nonbelievers  and guide them to the truth and worship of one true Allah.

This episode also shows that prophet do faulter but their true repentance is acknowledged by Allah and they are forgiven. The same goes to all those who have firm faith and belief in monotheism, and live their lives as commanded by Allah, their earnest prayers too are answered and are saved from the wrongs been done to them. 

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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