اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Jonah’s Character in the Quran
The noble Quran recognizes Prophet Jonah or Yunus as one of the greatest prophets in history. It not only affirms that “Indeed Jonah was one of the apostles” (al-Saffat, 139), but also includes Jonah among the esteemed ranks of the great prophets:
وَتِلْكَ حُجَّتُنَا آتَيْنَاهَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى قَوْمِهِ… وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَى وَهَارُونَ وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ؛ وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَى وَعِيسَى وَإِلْيَاسَ كُلٌّ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ؛ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَالْيَسَعَ وَيُونُسَ وَلُوطًا وَكُلًّا فَضَّلْنَا عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ
This was Our argument that We gave to Abraham against his people. … And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron—thus do We reward the virtuous—and Zechariah, John, Jesus and Ilyas—each of them among the righteous—and Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah and Lot—each We graced over all the nations. (Al-Anʿam, 83-86)
إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ وَالْأَسْبَاطِ وَعِيسَى وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَارُونَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَآتَيْنَا دَاوُودَ زَبُورًا
We have indeed revealed to you as We revealed to Noah and the prophets after him, and [as] We revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, Jesus and Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon—and We gave David the Psalms. (Al-Nisa, 163)
While the Quran does not explicitly specify the location where Jonah carried out his prophetic mission, the Bible states that his mission took place in Nineveh.
Prophet Jonah endured a challenging period, showcasing remarkable forbearance and patience, which are qualities for which he is renowned among the prophets:
Jacob, Joseph, Job, and Jonah, revered and wise,
Their patience echoed through scriptures’ sacred ties.
Jonah’s Life and Practice in the Quran and the Two Testaments
In both the Quran and the Bible, the story of Prophet Jonah commences with his departure from his town and separation from his people. It is likely that this departure followed a period of calling the people to monotheism and the worship of one God, which subsequently led to their hostility, opposition, and the persecution of Jonah. However, the Bible attributes this departure to the early stages of his prophetic mission:
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish… (Jonah 1:1-3)
The Bible does not explicitly state the reason why Jonah was reluctant to go to Nineveh. However, considering the Quranic verse that mentions Jonah’s departure in a state of anger, “And [mention] the man of the fish, when he left in rage” (al-Anbiya, 87), it becomes evident that his departure was a result of the persecutions and opposition he faced from the city’s polytheists and disbelievers, which eventually tested his patience and provoked his anger towards the people. While the Quran only mentions his departure in a state of rage, the Bible provides additional details on the matter:
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
Then the sailors said to each other, “Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity.” They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah. (Jonah 1:3-7)
The Quran highlights an important aspect of Jonah’s angry departure that serves as a pivotal point for the subsequent events. It states that he went off angrily, “thinking [or hoping] that We would not put him to hardship” (Surah Al-Anbiya, 87). This sense of optimism regarding the grace of the Lord is a powerful mindset that can potentially shield a person from enduring hardships.
Just like the Bible, the Quran also affirms that the lot fell upon Jonah:
وَإِنَّ يُونُسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ؛ إِذْ أَبَقَ إِلَى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ؛ فَسَاهَمَ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُدْحَضِينَ
Indeed Jonah was one of the apostles. When he absconded toward the laden ship, he drew lots with them and was among those to be condemned [to be thrown overboard]. (Al-Saffat, 139-141)
However, the phrasing in the Quran implies that Jonah was not the sole individual chosen by the lot to be thrown into the sea, as it states that he “was among those to be condemned.” In contrast, the Bible suggests that the lot specifically fell upon Jonah, and he alone was thrown into the sea:
So they asked him, “Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What kind of work do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?” He answered, “I am a Hebrew and I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” This terrified them and they asked, “What have you done?” (They knew he was running away from the Lord, because he had already told them so.) The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, “What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?” “Pick me up and throw me into the sea,” he replied, “and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you.” Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. Then they cried out to the Lord, “Please, Lord, do not let us die for taking this man’s life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, Lord, have done as you pleased.” Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm.