Will you give information about the prophet Hz. Yunus (Jonah)? Was Hz. Yunus swallowed by a fish?

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Will you give information about the prophet Hz. Yunus (Jonah)? Was Hz. Yunus swallowed by a fish?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

HZ. YUNUS (PBUH)

"So also was Jonah among those sent (by us). When he ran away (like slave from captivity) to the ship (fully) laden, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned."(as-Saffat: 37/139-141)

Where Hz. Yunus (Jonah) is mentioned in the Quran:

Hz. Yunus is mentioned in four places in the Quran: the chapters of an-Nisa, al-An'am, Yunus and as-Saffat. (1)

In two places, he is mentioned by the nicknames given to him by Allah. One of them is "Dhun-nun" (the companion of the fish). This nickname is mentioned in the chapter of al-Anbiya as follows:

"And remember Dhun-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!'"(2)

The other one is "Sahibu'l-Hut" (the owner of the fish). This nickname is mentioned in the chapter of 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, the name of Hz. Yunus is mentioned six times in the Quran: four times as "Yunus", once as "Dhunnun" and once as "Sahibu'1-Hut". (4)

The Lineage of Hz. Yunus:

Historians did not write any information about the lineage of Hz. Yunus but agreed that his name was Yunus b. Matta.

Hz. Isa (Jesus) is mentioned together with his mother in the verses of the Quran and hadiths. Hz. Yunus is mentioned as “Matta’s Son”. Some people say ‘Matta is his mother’ but it is generally agreed that Matta is his father. (see az-Zabidi, Tajrid Sarih I-XII)

The people of the book call Hz. Yunus as "Yunan b. Amtay".

Hz. Yunus is one of the prophets of Sons of Israel. His lineage dates back to Bunyamin (Benjamin), one of the sons of Hz. Yaqub (Jacob). Bunyamin is the brother of Hz. Yusuf (Joseph). (5)

The Call of Hz. Yunus:

Allah sent Hz. Yunus as a prophet to the people of "Ninova", located in Mosul, Iraq. For, idolatry had become widespread among the people of Ninova.

Hz. Yunus went to Ninova, which is one of the settlements in the region of Damascus and called the people living there to Allah. However, the people living there did not accept his call and denied his prophethood. Allah states the following regarding the situation of the majority of the people there:

"Never 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)

Hz. Yunus gave advice to the people of Ninova and called them to Allah. He lived among them for a long time. However, what he found was ears closed to the truth and covered hearts. He could not succeed in putting them in the way of Allah. Then, he warned them that they would be sent some divine wrath if they did not believe. When nothing changed after this warning, he told them that the divine wrath would come and left them angrily. It is also stated that they threatened Hz. Yunus, got furious and chased him away; consequently, Hz. Yunus escaped from them.

Hz. Yunus left that place before Allah ordered him to leave. He thought that Allah would not question him why he left that town with his family before Allah ordered him to do so and that he would not have any troubles. The following statement of Allah supports this view:

"And remember Dhun-Nun, when he departed in wrath: he imagined that We had no power over him."(7)

Hz. Yunus left that town because he got angry with the people not with his Lord. For, getting angry with his Lord would be rebellion against Allah. Besides, something like that would be contrary to the infallibility of prophets.  

Abdullah ibn Mas'ud, Mujahid and a group of Salaf said, "When Hz. Yunus left them and they deserved the wrath to be sent to them, Allah placed regret and repentance in their hearts. They repented of what they had done to their prophet and turned to Allah. They put on garments made of hair to torture their bodies. Then they begged Allah by crying. They separated animals from their youngs. They bowed down in the presence of Allah and kept silent. Man, women, sons, daughters and mothers cried all together. Small and big animals cried, too. Camels and their youngs, cows and calves, sheep and lambs mooed and baaed. They experienced terrible moments. Allah removed His wrath, which He had sent them due to wronging Hz. Yunus and which was suspending over them like the darkness of the night, from them as a necessity of His power, compassion and mercy. Thereupon, Allah stated the following:

"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)

Hz. Yunus is in the Stomach of a Fish:

When Hz. Yunus left his nation, he went to the sea side. He saw a ship that was ready to leave. He asked permission from the people of the ship to embark the ship. They understood that there was something good in him and let him embark the ship.

When the ship was in the middle of the sea, a strong wind started to blow and the sea became rough. They said,

- "There is a sinner among us."They decided to draw lots and throw the person whose name was drawn into the sea. When they drew the name of Hz. Yunus, they asked him what had happened to him. When he told them what had happened between him and his nation, they were astonished and they did not want to throw him into the sea. They decided to leave him on the shore. However, Hz. Yunus asked them to throw him into the sea so that Allah's wrath would soothe. Thereupon, they threw him into the sea. A big fish swallowed him upon the order of Allah. The fish swam around with Hz. Yunus inside it in darkness under the protection of Allah. When the miracle was completed, Allah ordered the fish not to decrease anything from the flesh of Hz. Yunus and not to break his bones.

The fish carried him alive in the darkness of the sea; in the meantime, Hz. Yunus glorified Allah and asked for forgiveness all the time.

Hz. Yunus prayed Allah as follows in the darkness of the sea:   

"'There is no god but Thou: Glory to Thee: I was indeed wrong."(al-Anbiya: 21/87) (9)

Allah accepted his prayer and saved from his troubled state. Allah ordered the fish to throw him on the shore, on a flat and wide area. Hz. Yunus thanked Allah for saving him. Allah created a tree without a trunk for him. He ate from the fruits of that tree and sat in the shade. Thus, Allah eliminated his disorder and accepted his prayer.  

Hz. Yunus realized that what happened to him was a divine warning and caused by the fact that he left his nation angrily without getting permission from Allah.

If there were a valid ijtihad regarding the issue, it could be accepted for the righteous people who wronged their own souls. However, it could not be accepted for prophets. Nevertheless, Hz. Yunus did the thing that necessitated the divine warning when he left his nation without waiting for the order of Allah. (10)

Allah narrates how Hz. Yunus embarked the ship and what happened to him after that as follows:

"So also was Jonah among those sent (by us). When he ran away (like 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 Allah, 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 Hz. Yunus got better and became strong enough to walk, he returned to his nation. He saw that his nation had repented and believed in Allah; they were waiting for him to obey him and to confirm his prophethood. He lived with them, taught them the orders and prohibitions of Allah, guided them, showed them the way to Allah and led them to the straight path.  

God Almighty gave various bounties to the people of Ninova as Hz. Yunus was among them and after him as long as they remained as believers. However, when they deviated afterwards, Allah sent them somebody who destroyed and demolished their city. 

Historians reported this incident and people who came later took lessons from it.

According to the narration of Abdullah ibn Abbas, Hz. Yunus was sent as a prophet to a nation whose population was 120.000. For Allah states the following about the number of the people of the nation to which Hz. Yunus was sent as a prophet:

"And We sent him (on a mission) to a hundred thousand (men) or more." (12)

There are also some other narrations regarding the issue. Yet, Allah knows the best. (13)

Footnotes:

(1) an-Nisa: 4/163, al-An’am: 6/86, Yunus:10/98, Saffat: 37/139

(2) al-Anbiya: 21/87-88

(3) al-Qalam: 50/48-49

(4) Muhammad Ali Sabani, Peygamberler Tarihi, Ahsen Publications: 673-674.

(5) Muhammad Ali Sabani, Peygamberler Tarihi, Ahsen Publications: 674.

(6) Saba: 34/34

(7) al-Anbiya: 21/87

(8) Yunus: 10/98

(9) It is stated in a hadith that the prayer of a person who utters the prayer of Hz Yunus will definitely be accepted.  see Musnad: 1/170; Hakim, Mustadrak, 2/488; Münziri. Terğib, 2/583

(10) This information was quoted from Abdurrahman Habannaka's book called "al-Aqidatu'1-Islamiyya".

(11) as-Saffat, 37/139-148

(12) as-Saffat, 37/147

(13) Muhammad Ali Sabani, Peygamberler Tarihi, Ahsen Publications: 676-679.

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