The Prophet Jonah [1] had been sent to a community in Iraq. The well-known Islamic scholar, Ibn Kathir calls it Niniveh. As is the case with all of God’s prophets, Jonah came to Nineveh to ask the people to worship the One God. He spoke of a god who is free of any partner, sons, daughters or partners and urged people to stop worshiping idols and doing bad things. But people refused to listen, and tried to ignore Jonah and his admonishing words. They found the prophet Jonah a nuisance.

The behavior of his people made Jonah desperate and he decided to leave her. In conclusion, he warned her that God would punish her for her arrogant behavior, but people ridiculed him and claimed not to be afraid. Jonas heart was filled with anger against his stupid people. He made the decision to leave her to her inevitable misery. Jonah gathered his meager belongings and decided to put as much distance as possible between himself and the people he had started to despise.

„And he (Jonah) went away in anger.“ (Quran 21:87)

Ibn Kathir describes the scene in Nineveh immediately after Jonah left. The sky started to change color, it turned fiery red.

People were terrified and understood that it was only a few moments before the sinking. The entire population of Nineveh gathered on the top of a mountain and begged God for forgiveness. God accepted their repentance and He took back the curse that hung menacingly over their heads. The sky returned to normal and people returned to their homes. They prayed that Jonah would come back and show them the right path.

Meanwhile, Jonah had boarded a boat, hoping that it would take him as far away from his careless people as possible. The boat and its many passengers were sailing on the calm sea. When the darkness fell on them, the sea suddenly changed. The wind started to storm violently and increased to a storm of considerable proportions. The boat swayed and it felt like it was breaking apart. People huddled in the dark and decided to throw their luggage overboard, but it made no difference. The wind blew and the boat swayed. The passengers concluded that weight added to their dilemma, so they decided to pull lots to throw a passenger overboard.

The waves were as high as mountains and the wild storm whirled the boat up and down, as if it were as light as a match. It was a seafaring tradition that all names were written in lots and a person was drawn who was supposed to be thrown overboard.

The name was drawn and the lot fell on Jonah; people were horrified. Jonah was known as a pious and righteous man and they didn’t want to throw him into the raging sea. They threw the lots again and then again; but both times it was Jonah’s name that was drawn.

Jonah, the Prophet of God, knew that this was no accident. He understood that it was his destiny that God had predestined for him; so he looked at his travel companions and fell himself off the boat. The passengers groaned in horror as Jonah fell into the sea to be devoured by the jaws of a giant fish.

When Jonah woke up from his loss of consciousness, he thought he was dead and lying in the darkness of his grave. He felt around and he realized that this was not a grave, but the belly of a big fish. He was afraid. He felt his heart pounding with every breath he took. Jonah was in the strong, sour, digestive juices that gnawed at his skin, and he implored God. In the darkness of the fish, in the darkness of the sea and in the darkness of the night, Jonah raised his voice and cried out to God in need.

„There is no god but you. Blessed are you I have truly been one of the wicked.“ (Quran 21:87)

Jonah continued to pray and repeated his supplications to God. He saw that he had done wrong and asked God for forgiveness. Prophet Muhammad tells us that the angels make people remember God. This was what happened to the prophet Jonah. The angels heard his cry in the dark and recognized his voice. They knew the prophet Jonah and his venerable behavior in the face of hostility. The angels approached God and said, „Isn’t that the sound of your righteous servant?“

God answered yes. God had heard Jonah and released him from his distress. Jonah thought of God in good times and in his distress. The supplication that Jonah used can be repeated by anyone in distress. God says in the Quran that He has kept Jonah and so He will keep the believers. (Quran 21:88)

At the command of God, the giant fish swam to the surface and spat Jonah on the shore. Jonah’s body had been burned by the digestive juices; his skin could not protect him from the sun and the wind. Jonah was in pain and continued to plead for protection. He kept repeating his supplications and God raised a vine / tree above him that protected him from both the natural elements and food. When Jonah was better he realized that he had to go back to his people and continue the work that God had given him to do.

„And surely Jonas was one of the messengers. So he fled to the loaded ship and lost and lost in the process. And the big fish devoured him while he (Jonah, himself) rebuked. If he had not been one of those who (God ) he would surely have stayed in his belly until the day of resurrection. Then we threw him outside and he was sick. And we let a pumpkin plant grow over him. And we sent him to a hundred thousand or more (people) and they became believing, so We gave them care for a while. ” (Quran 37: 139-148).

When Jonah had recovered, he returned to Nineveh and was amazed at the change in his people. They informed Jonah of their fear when the sky turned blood red and how they had gathered and asked God for forgiveness on the mountain. Jonah lived among his people and taught them to worship the One God and live a life of piety and righteousness and more than 100,000 people in Nineveh lived in peace … for a while.

The story of the prophet Jonah teaches us to be patient, especially when we experience misfortune. It teaches us to remember God in good times and bad. It teaches us to remember God so that when we die, it will remember us. If we remember God as long as we are young, He will remember us when we are old, and if we remember Him as long as we are healthy, He will remember us when we are sick, sad, or tired. Necessity can only be remedied by turning to God sincerely.

[1] Based on the work of Imam Ibn Kathir: „The Stories of the Prophets.“


Source: https://www.islamland.com/deu/articles/der-prophet-jona