Not quite a fairy tale now
Jonah and The Whale
“And, verily, Jonah was one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, he agreed to cast lots and he was among the losers, then a big fish swallowed him and he had done an act worthy of blame.”, (Quran 37:139-142)Prophet Jonah (Yunus) was sent to a community in Iraq known as Nineveh, to call the people to worship One God, free from any partners, sons, daughters or co-equals and implored the people to stop worshipping idols and engaging in evil behavior. However, the people refused to listen, and tried to ignore Jonah and his words of admonishment. Jonah’s heart filled with anger towards those foolish people and decided to leave them to their inevitable misery.
“And remember when he (Jonah) went off in anger.” (Quran 21:87)
Jonah had boarded a ship in the hope that it would take him as far away from his heedless people as possible. The ship and its many passengers sailed into the calm seas. As the darkness fell around them, the sea suddenly changed. The wind began to blow violently and whipped up a storm of great magnitude. The boat shuddered and felt as if it were about to split into pieces.
It was a seafaring tradition to cast lots by writing down all the names and drawing one person to be cast overboard. The name was drawn and it was Jonah, but the people were appalled. Jonah was known to be a pious and righteous man and they did not want to throw him into the angry sea. They cast again and yet again, but both times the name drawn was Jonah’s.
Jonah, the Prophet of God knew that this was not random. He understood that this was in destiny as predetermined by God so he looked at his fellow passengers and flung himself over the side of the boat. The passengers gasped in horror as Jonah fell into the water to be scooped up in the enormous jaws of a giant fish.
In the darkness of the fish, in the darkness of the sea and in the darkness of the night Jonah raised his voice and called out his distress to God. Jonah continued praying and repeating his supplication to God. He realized his wrongdoing and begged for God’s forgiveness.
“None has the right to be worshipped but you oh God, glorified are you and truly I have been one of the wrongdoers!” (Quran 21:87)
God heard Jonah’s call and saved him from his distress. Jonah remembered God in times of ease, so God remembered Jonah in his time of distress. The supplication that Jonah used can be repeated by anybody in times of distress. God said in Quran that He saved Jonah, and thus He will save the believers.
“So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.” (Quran 21:88)
At God’s command the giant fish surfaced and ejected Jonah onto the shore.