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October 19 , 2009

Islam Fairy Tales Vol 5 Prophet Jonah (Yunus) & The Whale Fish

Islam Fairy Tales, #5


Prophet Jonah or Yunus is highly important in Islam as a prophet who was faithful to God and delivered His messages. In Islam, Jonah is also called Dhul-Nun meaning The One of the Whale). Chapter 10 of the Qur'an is named Jonah, although in this chapter only verse 98 refers to him directly. It is said in Muslim tradition that Jonah came from the tribe of Benjamin and that his father was Amittai.

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Once long ago, in ancient Japan, in the town of Kumamoto, there lived a young samurai, who had a great devotion to the sport of fishing. Armed with his large basket and tackle, he would often start out in the early morning and pass the whole day at his favourite pastime, returning home only at nightfall. One fine day he had…

Jonah's Qur'anic narrative is extremely similar to the Hebrew Bible story. The Qur'an describes Jonah as a righteous preacher of the message of God but a messenger who, one day, fled from his mission because of its overwhelming difficulty. The Qur'an says that Jonah made it onto a ship but, because of the powerfully stormy weather, the men aboard the ship suggested casting lots to throw off the individual responsible. When the lots were cast three times and Jonah's name came out each time, he was thrown into the open ocean that night. A gigantic fish came and swallowed him, and Jonah remained in the belly of the fish repenting and glorifying God.

God forgave Jonah out of His mercy and kindness for the man, and because he knew that Jonah was, at heart, one of the best of men. Therefore, the fish cast Jonah out onto dry land, with Jonah in a state of sickness. God caused a plant to grow where Jonah was lying to provide shade and comfort for him. After Jonah got up, fresh and well, God told him to go back and preach in his land. As the Qur'an says:

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. (Qur'an, chapter 37 (As-Saaffat), verse 145–148)

As I turned around in the surging sea, my body formed the shape of the Arabic letter (Noon) on the water. I bent my body and struck the turbulent ocean tides with my tail with a sound like rolling thunder.

{Then the whale swallowed him, and he was blameworthy. Had he not been of those who glorify Allah, he would certainly have stayed in its belly until the Day of Resurrection (As-Saffat: 142-144)

After my tail struck the water, it surged forth in waves, leaping again to the surface of the sea like a giant waterfall. All things turn downward on both land and sea including the breath of creatures, the falling fruit and gushing waterfalls. The great whale of the sea breathes out forming a waterfall that churns upward then spirals down again into the sea from whence it came. The whale does not need hands to propel the water that surges around it. Every splashing gush of water propelled by the movement of the massive whale praises and glorifies Allah, the Creator of all things.

I hit the waves again using my tail and listened to the sound carried by the wind as it exploded into the air like the first one.

I know that when I collide with the waves, the sound of the clash can be heard from miles away and frightens thousands of creatures in the sea but in fact, this is simply a small part of the power of Allah, as the sea and wind trembles with fear in front of the Owner of all power.

In spite of being the most powerful creature in the sea, I am weaker than running water in front of Allah. I may be the giant of the sea but my true crown is made of truthfulness and the richness of reality. Both these things, the truth and reality, constitute the supreme power that can be found in Allah's creation. I was crowned in the water with my ability to bend myself in all kinds of shapes. I was given that might, which even I myself cannot comprehend but my whole being bows down before it.

I moved my tail and sped off…

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