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
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
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
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
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.)
THE WHALE TAKES HIM IN
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
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
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.)