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      In the northern part of Mesopotamia there used to be a big empire called Assyria and its biggest town called Ney'nawa (Nineveh).  Nineveh was a big city, rich and dynamic.  The people, however, were disbelievers and lived in wicked ways and wor­shipped idols.  They were almost similar to those living in southern Mesopotamia at the time of Ibrahim.  When a society lives in sin and people act evil and bad Allah chooses a Prophet for them.  He did just that for Nineveh.  Allah chose Yunus (Jonah), who was nick‑named Saahib al Hoot.  This means the one of the whale affair.


YUNUS IN NINEVAH   go to top of page

      Prophet Yunus preached in Nineveh, traveling from neighbor­hood to neighborhood reminding the people of Allah, to heed Him, and to have faith in Him.  He kept remin­ding them to change their lifestyles, to be righteous, and to live decently.  Most people paid no attention to Yunus.  Only a few listened, and fewer believed in his call.

      After a few years, Prophet Yunus ran out of patience.  To run out of patience is not proper for a Prophet since a Prophet is a superstar, a man whom Allah chooses and is to be the example.  A Prophet is the best example to man, and should persevere and be patient.

      But Prophet Yunus left town in disgust and asked Allah to send His anger and punishment on Nineveh. (Surah 21: Ayah  87)


HE GOES TO THE SEA   go to top of page

      Yunus went west to the sea, as far away from Nineveh as possible.  He was very upset with the people, but more so with himself for giving in and leaving.  He felt very guilty.

Yunus joined the crew of a ship that sailed soon after his arrival.  The sea was calm and the waves were not rough.  The wind at first was fair and it blew against the sails gently.  Not too long afterwards, however, the wind picked up and the sea became very rough.  The ship rocked back and forth making people dizzy and sick to their stomachs, they were gripped with fear.  It was very scary and most thought the ship would capsize any moment.  They thought everyone was going to drown or be eaten by the fish.

Being superstitious, the sailors wanted to find the person who brought them bad luck.  Yunus, being a Prophet, was supposed to do otherwise, to advise them about how wrong it was to be super­stitious.  He was supposed to give them advice toward faith in Allah (swt), but instead Yunus joined them and agreed to draw lots to see which man brought bad luck!  Drawing lots is a form of gambling and something evil people should not do.  Religion is a serious matter, and a righteous person does not do something like this let alone a Prophet.

Anyway the sailors and Yunus drew lots as the boat was violently rocked

by the mighty waves.  And when they drew the lots the lot fell on Yunus.  This meant to the sailors that Yunus was the one who brought them the bad luck.

Yunus knew his mistake and he knew that he should have done differently.  It was a moment of distress, but that was no excuse for a Prophet.


YUNUS IS THROWN TO THE SEA   go to top of page

    The sailors grabbed Yunus by the hands and feet and threw him in the ferocious sea, and Yunus was swallowed by the angry waters.  At that point Yunus asked Allah's forgive­ness and mercy. (Surah  68:  Ayah  48-50.)



    It was at this critical moment that a huge whale dashed toward Yunus by Allah's order.  The whale took Yunus in without hurting him and later regurgitated him upon the shore.  Yunus swallowed a good deal of sea water and felt dizzy and sick to his stomach.  Yunus was left on the shore feeling weak and moribund—he could hardly move his arms or legs or even lift his head.

    The sun broke through the clouds and it hurt him so, and Yunus could hardly stand it.  A gourd plant was nearby and its large leaves shaded him, protecting him from the hot sun.  It helped him slowly feel better.  Between the breeze and the shade of the gourd leaves, Yunus' condition gradually improved. (Surah  37:  Ayah  143-148.)


BACK TO VIGOR AGAIN   go to top of page

    Prophet Yunus became lively again by now and his mind was focused on his people.  He realized he abandoned them simply because he was not patient enough.  Now he is ready to return and spread Allah's Word with all his power.  He felt differently this time, and decided to do much better.

    As soon as able to travel, Yunus took to the road and returned to Nineveh.  He preached there with zeal and met great success.  People listened to him and they became believ­ers.  He was delighted.

    Allah's Word spread through Nineveh and most people enjoyed being righteous and living a good life.  They stopped living in an evil way and tried to follow the right path. (Surah  37:  Ayah  147-148.)


YUNUS (a.s).   go to top of page



  1. Becomes Prophet in Nineveh, delivers Message

  2. Impatient with people, leaves the area

  3. Goes to sea, participates in lot drawing

  4. Thrown in the sea; taken in by huge whale

  5. Never despairing, he continues to pray

  6. Recovers under the gourd plant on the shore

  7. Back to his people, spreading the Message

  8. People believe, Nineveh prospers

Yunus' impatience led to trouble, but by Allah's mercy he was saved.  Yunus realized his mistake, returned to his people and successfully delivered the Message of Allah again.



QUESTIONS   go to top of page

  1. What is Assyria?

  2. What is Nineveh?

  3. Who is Saahib al Hoot?

  4. In which part of Mesopotamia was Prophet Yunus active

  5. How successful was Prophet Yunus with the people at first?

  6. Where did Yunus go after he gave up his duties?

  7. Describe the sea and what happened to the ship Yunus was in?

  8. What is meant by drawing lots?

  9. Why did the sailors throw Yunus into the sea?

  10. How was Prophet Yunus saved from drowning?

  11. How large do you think was the whale which swallowed Yunus?

  12. How long was Yunus inside the whale?

  13. What did Yunus do while inside the whale?

  14. Where did the whale dispose of Yunus?

  15. How was Yunus feeling after the storm?

  16. How did the gourd plant protect Yunus?

  17. Where did Yunus go after recovering from his ordeal?

  18. How successful was Yunus in Nineveh the second time?

  19. How receptive were the people of Yunus the second time?

  20. How did the people behave once they became believers?