Could you please give information about Prophet Jonah (YUNUS)? (Upon whom be peace)
“So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned.” (as-Saffat, 37:139-141)
How Prophet Jonah is Mentioned in the Quran:
Prophet Jonah’s name is mentioned in four places in the Quran, namely the chapters an-Nisa, al-An’am, Yunus (Jonah) and as-Saffat. (1)
He is mentioned with the nickname given to him by Allah in two places. One of them is “Zun-nun (having the fish). This nickname of his is mentioned in chapter al-Anbiya as follows:
“And remember Zun-nun, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong! So We listened to him: and delivered him from distress: and thus do We deliver those who have faith.” (2)
And the other is “Sahibu’l-Hut” (companion of the fish). This nickname is mentioned in chapter al-Qalam as follows:
“So wait with patience for the Command of thy Lord, and be not like the Companion of the Fish,- when he cried out in agony. Had not Grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore, in disgrace.” (3)
As it is seen, Prophet Jonah’s name is mentioned in six places totally in the Quran as Yunus (Jonah) four times, with the nickname Zun-nun in one place and with the other nickname “Sahibu’l-Hut” in one place. (4)
Prophet Jonah’s Lineage:
Historians have not recorded any information on Prophet Jonah’s lineage. However, they have agreed that his name is Yunus bin Matta: Matthew (Matta’s son).
Prophet Jesus is always mentioned with his mother’s name in the Quranic verses and hadiths. And Prophet Jonah is mentioned as “Matta’s son”. Although some say Matta is his mother, it is more acceptable that it is his father’s name. (see Az-Zabidi, Tajrid-i Sarih I-XII).
The people of the Book named Prophet Jonah as “Yunan bin Amtay”.
Prophet Jonah is one of the prophets of Israelites. His lineage dates back to Benjamin, a son of Prophet Jacob. And Benjamin is a biological brother of Prophet Joseph. (5)
Prophet Jonah’s Call:
Allah the Supreme sent Jonah to the people of “Ninova” living in area called Musul in Iraq as a prophet, because idolatry had entered the society of Ninova and worshipping idols had spread widely.
Prophet Jonah went to Ninova from regions in Damascus and called people there to belief in Allah. However, people did not accept his call and denied his prophethood. Allah the Supreme states the situation of the majority of people in such land as follows:
“Whenever did We send a warner to a population, but the wealthy ones among them said: "We believe not in the (Message) with which ye have been sent." (6)
Prophet Jonah advised the people of Ninova, preached to them and called them to belief in Allah. He stayed amongst them like that for years. However, Jonah did not see anything but ears dumb for the truth and covered hearts in them. He could not manage to guide them to the way of Allah. Later, he swore to them that a divine wrath would punish them if they did not believe in Allah. It did not make any change to his people and thus he left them angrily, promising them that the divine wrath was going to come upon them in three days. In addition to this, it is also said that they threatened Jonah, got angry with him and chased him away; and eventually Prophet Jonah ran away from that place.
Prophet Jonah had left them before he was ordered to go away from there by Allah because, he thought that Allah would not call him to account when he left them with his family before he was ordered and that He would not persecute him… The following statement of Allah the Supreme’s supports this view:
“And remember Zun-nun, when he departed in wrath: He imagined that We had no power over him! But he cried through the depths of darkness, "There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong!” (7)
Prophet Jonah left that place not because he was angry with his Lord but with his people. If he was angry with his Lord, it would be considered a rebellion against Allah. Moreover, such an attitude is contradictory to the innocence and purity of prophets.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, Mujahid and a group of predecessors said: “When Jonah left them and went away and when they deserved to be punished, Allah placed regret and repentance in their hearts. They regretted what they had done to their prophets and turned to Allah. And they wore clothes made of bristle in order to give themselves pain. Then they begged their Lord for forgiveness. They separated animals and their cubs from each other. They bowed in regret and kept silent in the presence of Allah. Men, women, boys, girls and mothers all cried and wailed. Little and big animals, sheep and saddle beasts all cried out. Camels and their cubs, cows and calves, sheep and lambs mooed and baaed. They all experienced a very frightening time. Allah, with His might, mercy and compassion, removed the wrath lingering above them like a dark night because of what they had done to Prophet Jonah. For this reason, Allah the Supreme said:
“Why was there not a single township (among those We warned), which believed,- so its faith should have profited it,- except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the penalty of ignominy in the life of the present, and permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while.” (8)
Prophet Jonah in the Stomach of the Fish:
Prophet Jonah left his people and went to the seaside. There, he found a ship ready to set sail. He asked permission of people aboard to board on the ship. They understood that there was goodness with him and they let him board on the ship. When they reached the middle of the sea, a violent wind started to blow and the sea started to wave. Upon this, they said:
“There is a sinner amongst us.”
They decided to draw lots and throw the loser into the sea. Jonah lost and they asked him what had happened. When he told them what had happened between him and his people, they were surprised and did not want to throw him into the sea. They decided to leave him on a coast. However, Jonah wanted them to throw him into the sea so that Allah would remove the wrath upon them. And they threw him into the sea. A large fish swallowed him with the command of Allah. The fish took Jonah through darkness under Allah’s protection and supervision. When the miracle was complete, Allah ordered the fish not to harm Jonah’s flesh and bones.
The fish carried him and took him through under the sea as he was alive and invocating Allah and repenting.
Prophet Jonah, in the depths of the sea, supplicated by saying: “There is no god but thou: glory to thee: I was indeed wrong” (al-Anbiya, 21:87). (9)
Allah accepted his supplication and saved him from grief. Allah ordered the fish to leave him on a flat and wide area on a coast. Jonah gave thanks to Allah because he was saved. Allah made a tree without trunk grow over him. And he ate that tree’s fruits and sat in its shadow. So, Allah relieved his pain and accepted his supplication.
Jonah understood that all those happened to him was a divine warning to him because he left his people because he was angry with them without Allah’s permission.
Although this rule was valid for him in this matter, it can be considered for righteous servants who treat themselves unfairly. Yet, it can never be considered to be valid for prophets. However, Jonah, by leaving his people without waiting for Allah’s order, committed something which required divine warning. (10)
Allah the Supreme narrates how Jonah boarded on the ship and what happened to him later as follows:
“So also was Jonah among those sent (by Us). When he ran away (like a slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned: Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified God, he would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness, and We caused to grow, over him, a spreading plant of the gourd kind. And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more. And they believed; so We permitted them to enjoy (their life) for a while.” (11)
When Jonah gained his health and was strong enough to walk, he returned to his people. He found that his people had repented and believed in Allah and had been waiting for their prophet in order to follow and obey him. He stayed with them, taught them Allah’s orders and prohibitions, guided them, show them the way leading to Allah and enabled them to find the right way.
Allah endowed various boons and blessings upon the people of Ninova during the time when Jonah was with them and they stayed on the right way. However, when they strayed, Allah sent them a man who destroyed their city.
Historians recorded these events and people, who were supposed to learn, learnt lessons from them.
According to a narration by Abdullah ibn Abbas, Jonah was sent to a tribe whose population was 120.000 people as a prophet because, Allah the Supreme says about the population of the tribe which he was sent as a prophet to, as follows:
“We sent Jonah as prophet to a hundred thousand or more people”. (12)
Moreover, there are some other narrations regarding the matter. Allah knows the truth the best. (13)
(1) an-Nisa: 4/163. al-An’am.6/86; Yunus, 10/98; as-Saffat 37/139
(2) al-Anbiya: 21/87-88
(3) al-Qalam: 50/48-49
(4) Muhammed Ali Sabuni, Peygamberler Tarihî, Ahsen Yayınları: 673-674.
(5) Muhammed Ali Sâbûnî, Peygamberler Tarihî, Ahsen Yayınları: 674.
(6) Saba: 34/34
(7) al-Anbiya: 21/87
(8) Yunus: 10/98
(9) In a hadith; it was stated that the supplication of one who prays with the supplication of Jonah will be accepted. see: Musnad: 1/170; Hakim, Mustadrak, 2/488; Munziri. Targhib, 2/583
(10) This information was taken from Abdurrahman Habannaka's book named "al-Aqidatu'1-Islamiyya".
(11) As-Saaffat: 37/139-148
(12) As-Saaffat: 37/147
(13) Muhammed Ali Sâbûnî, Peygamberler Tarihî, Ahsen Yayınları: 676-679.
- Who are the prophets mentioned in the Quran?
- Could you give information about the Prophet’s wives and his polygamy?
- Can you give some information about the children of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?
- Can you give me some brief information about Prophet Abraham's (pbuh) life?
- That the News He gave about the Future Turned out to be True Proves His Prophethood.