We all know that Adam (A.S) was the first human being. He was also the first prophet that Allah (S.W.T) sent to the earth.
Adam (A.S) had many children. And they, in turn, had many children, who also had many children. Soon there were lots and lots of people that spread out to live in many different parts of the earth.
Some people began to forget the message of Allah. They had started listening to the Shaitan and following his ways. To remind them of what they had forgotten, Allah (S.W.T) began to send prophets one after another. One of these was Yunus (A.S). Allah (S.W.T) sent him to a place called Nineveh. He had given Yunus (A.S) the important message of telling the people that there is no God but Allah and that He is the only One. For many years Yunus (A.S) told the people how to be good and how to please Allah (S.W.T). If they had listened to their prophet and obeyed him it would have been for their own good.
But sadly, the people of Nineveh did not want to understand the message of Yunus (A.S). Try as he might, they refused to follow the message and they did not want to give up their old ways. Then, one day after having tried very hard for so many years Yunus (A.S) became angry with his people, and decided to leave Nineveh altogether.
He reached the shores of the sea where a ship was docked, ready to set sail. Travelers were boarding to make the journey across the sea to lands that lay beyond. Yunus (A.S) boarded the ship along with everyone else.
But wait! Something does not seem right here.
There had been no command from Allah (S.W.T) that allowed Yunus (A.S) to leave Nineveh. Nor had Allah (S.W.T) sent any punishment on the people of Nineveh. Yunus (A.S) had been hasty. Prophets have to look for Allah’s instructions and they cannot just leave their people on their own. What was going to happen now?
When the ship reached the middle of the sea, the winds grew stronger making the water rough and choppy. The waves became gigantic and began to rise like mountains dashing furiously against the ship, pushing and rocking it with deadly force, this way and that. The people held on for their dear life. The crew on board called out to the people that the boat was going to capsize if it wasn’t made lighter. The passengers would have to throw their belongings overboard. The people scrambled hastily to follow the orders of the captain and his crew, and in order to save their lives, they quickly dumped their precious luggage into the sea. But, all their efforts did nothing to calm the sea and the ship continued to toss dangerously on the angry waters. There seemed little hope of any of the travelers surviving.
Everyone thought that there was probably a slave on board the ship who had run away from his master. In those days it was thought to be very wrong to do such a thing. Until the slave was taken off the ship, they would all continue to ride the angry waves fearing for their lives. The question was: who could it possibly be?
Yunus (A.S) thought that it must be him. He had not waited to learn what Allah wanted from him. Without waiting for Allah’s command, he had left Nineveh.
He told the people aboard the ship that it was indeed he who had left without informing his Master. He asked the crew to throw him into the sea. But the people knew Yunus (A.S) and thought him to be a good man who could not possibly have run away from his master. They did not agree to throw him overboard. They decided to make lots with all the travelers’ names. The one whose name was drawn would be thrown into the sea. The first time, it was Yunus (A.S)’s name that was drawn. To be certain. the people drew once more. Once again Yunus (A.S)’s name appeared. When, for the third time, the lot was drawn, it still contained prophet Yunus’ name.
Now, what were they going to do?
The people realized that this was what Allah (S.W.T) wanted. With a heavy heart, the people helped Yunus (A.S) jump into the angry sea. As soon as they did so the sea became calm once more. A huge whale swam close to Yunus (A.S), and in one big gulp, it swallowed him whole.
Yunus (A.S) knew that it was by the will of Allah (S.W.T) that he had been swallowed by the whale. It was dark enough inside the stomach that Yunus (A.S) could not see anything. There was no way that Yunus (A.S) could try to get out from where he was. How could he? Why had this happened? Yunus (A.S) was very sorry, indeed. He asked Allah (S.W.T) to forgive him. He made a dua from deep within the belly of the whale, “There is no God but You Allah, Glory be to You. Indeed I am among the wrongdoers.” If someone does something wrong and he truly, with his heart, asks Allah (S.W.T) to forgive him, Allah (SW.T) in His kindness, forgives him.
Prophet Yunus was chosen by Allah (S.W.T) to be His messenger and he was a very pious and good human being. The people of Nineveh had not listened to him when he told them to follow the message of Allah. But by leaving without Allah (S.W.T)’s orders, he knew that he had made a mistake. Allah (S.W.T) heard his prayer and forgave him. We must remember that Allah is At-Tawwab, The forgiver, and He loves to forgive. By Allah’s will, the whale delivered Yunus (A.S) on the shores of an island. Yunus (A.S) had become weak because he had not seen light in the darkness of the stomach of the whale that he had lived in for quite some time. With Allah (S.W.T)’s command, a vine grew for Yunus (A.S) to eat from and grow strong again.
Let us see what happened to the people of Nineveh after Yunus (A.S) had left them.
Signs of punishment from Allah had started to appear in the sky. The sky had changed color and looked like it was on fire. The people were filled with fear. They now realized that Yunus (A.S) had been telling the truth all along. He must indeed be the prophet of Allah and his forewarnings about the punishment had been correct. They were wrong to not have listened to him. If Yunus (A.S) was angry with them, then surely, Allah (S.W.T) must be angry with them as well.
In earlier times, when the people had not listened to the prophets, Allah had sent the punishment on them – in the form of an earthquake, a storm or something else. When the people remembered what had happened to those who disobeyed Allah previously, they became truly scared. They wanted to go and find Yunus (A.S) and admit their wrongdoing before him. But Yunus (A.S) was nowhere to be found. Worried and scared, all the people of Nineveh collected together under the open sky. They all asked Allah to forgive them. “Oh, Allah forgive us. We will not disobey you. Whatever You command we will obey You”.
Allah (S.W.T) is Ar-Rahman. He is Merciful towards his slaves.
Allah (S.W.T) is At-Tawwab. He forgives His slaves.
Allah forgave the people of Nineveh because they had decided to change their ways and become good people. The punishment was not going to be sent to them anymore. The angry clouds that had scared the people of Nineveh disappeared from the sky.
A few days later when Yunus (A.S) regained his strength, Allah (S.W.T) sent him back to the people of Nineveh from where he had left in anger. When the people saw him, they rejoiced in happiness. They accepted the message of Yunus (A.S) and followed his ways.
Allah (S.W.T) was now pleased with them.
Written by: Naima Sohaib
Translated by: Sana Dossul
Translated from: Urdu (“مچھلی کے پیٹ میں”)