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 Fate after Survival from the Fish’s Belly
When Jonah emerged from the belly of the fish and returned to the land, he was bestowed with God’s abundant grace. The Quran states:
فَنَبَذْنَاهُ بِالْعَرَاءِ وَهُوَ سَقِيمٌ وَأَنبَتْنَا عَلَيْهِ شَجَرَةً مِّن يَقْطِينٍ
Then We cast him on a bare shore, and he was sick. So We made a gourd plant grow above him. (Al-Saffat, 145-146)
Once again, God entrusted Jonah with the task of guiding the people of Nineveh. This time, he wholeheartedly obeyed God’s command. The Quran succinctly recounts this part of Jonah’s story by stating:
وَأَرْسَلْنَاهُ إِلَىٰ مِائَةِ أَلْفٍ أَوْ يَزِيدُونَ فَآمَنُوا فَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ
We sent him to a [community of] hundred thousand or more, and they believed [in him]. So We provided for them for a while. (Al-Saffat, 147-148)
However, the Bible presents a more detailed account of this particular episode, with variations in the sequence of events:
Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:
“By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”
When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. (Jonah 3:1-10)
But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy planta and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”
But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”
“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:1-11)
Prophet Jonah’s Practice and Conducts: Some Points
- “Badāʾ” in Divine Predestinations
The cancellation of divine punishment for Jonah’s people, which Jonah objected to, exemplifies the notion of “badāʾ.” In Islamic theology, badāʾ refers to the alteration of non-definitive predestinations by God, which can occur as a result of human volitional actions or specific exceptional events and factors.
According to Islamic beliefs, certain non-definitive divine predestinations can be altered for the better or worse based on human actions. Acts such as giving charity, maintaining family ties, showing kindness and gratitude to parents, or neglecting these actions can lead to changes in one’s destiny. This concept is reflected in the Quranic verse, “Allah eliminates what He wills or confirms” (al-Ra’d, 39).
Regarding the punishment that was destined for Jonah’s people, the concept of “badāʾ” came into play, resulting in the cancellation of the punishment. The Quran affirms this by stating:
فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ آمَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَا إِيمَانُهَا إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّا آمَنُوا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الْخِزْيِ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ
Why has there not been any town that might believe, so that its belief might benefit it, except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in the life of this world, and We provided for them for a while. (Yunus, 98)
- Divine Mercy Surpassing His Wrath
God, the Most Merciful and Compassionate, exhibits unparalleled kindness towards His creation. His benevolence surpasses that of any other being, as He lovingly nurtures and sustains His creatures with His abundant blessings. As Imam al-Sajjād beautifully expresses, “O He whose mercy has surpassed His wrath.”
- God’s Reprehension of Prophet Jonah for His Impatience
In the Quran, God reproaches Prophet Jonah for his impatience and addresses Prophet Muhammad, saying:
فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تَكُن كَصَاحِبِ الْحُوتِ إِذْ نَادَىٰ وَهُوَ مَكْظُومٌ لَّوْلَا أَن تَدَارَكَهُ نِعْمَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِ لَنُبِذَ بِالْعَرَاءِ وَهُوَ مَذْمُومٌ فَاجْتَبَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَجَعَلَهُ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
So submit patiently to the judgement of your Lord, and do not be like the Man of the Fish who called out as he choked with grief. Had it not been for a blessing that came to his rescue from his Lord, he would surely have been cast on the bare shore, being blameworthy. So his Lord chose him and made him one of the righteous.