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The Story of Yunus: Lessons of Trials, Dawah and Patience For Our Lives Today

Not all the narratives of the prophets of Islam can be found within the Qur’an but the ones that are present within the speech of Allah have been placed there by him, the Most High for a reason. Allah revealed many stories regarding previous prophets within the Qur’an to strengthen the heart of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the believers,

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And each story We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers.” [1]

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From the narratives mentioned in the Qur’an is the story of Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and just as with many other narratives of previous prophets and messengers, his story is disseminated in different parts of the Qur’an. This is from the wisdom of Allah, he chose where to place each verse in the Qur’an. There are many lessons that we can derive from the life of prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). In the Qur’an, there is a whole Surah named after this great prophet; Surah Yunus, the 10th Chapter of the Qur’an, consisting of 109 verses. However, throughout this whole Surah, no mention is made of Prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) except right towards the end of the Surah, in verse number 98,10:98

”Then has there not been a [single] city that believed so its faith benefited it except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the punishment of disgrace in worldly life and gave them enjoyment for a time.” [2]

Throughout this long Surah, only one verse out of the 109 verses make mention of the nation Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent to despite the Surah being named after him. The prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was sent to the people of Naynawa (Nineveh) in Mosul (modern day Northern Iraq) [3]. This group of people did not believe in his message of Tawheed at first but later they did as described in this verse. When Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) found that his people had disbelieved, he was perturbed and annoyed because they had rejected his call and so he left them. Allah says,

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”Then be patient for the decision of your Lord, [O Muhammad], and be not like the companion of the fish when he called out while he was distressed.” [4]

At this junction, there is a lesson for us to understand in giving Dawah, and that is patience. Allah is teaching the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and by extension, us that be patient when calling to Allah and do not be hasty like Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) because there will be people who will disbelieve because it is Allah who guides,

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”Indeed, [O Muhammad], you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. And He is most knowing of the guided.” [5]

Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) realised that the punishment of Allah was approaching and so he decided to board a ship and leave with a few companions. Whilst sailing, the ship began to toss and turn due to the heavy tides. At this moment, they realise that there’s too many of them on the ship and someone needs to be thrown overboard. As you can expect, no one wanted to be that individual. So they decided to draw lots and the one who drew three times would be hurled overboard. Allah willed that Yunus (Alyhis salam) was to draw the lots three times and so he lost. He took of his garment and threw himself overboard. In Surah Saffat, after mentioning the stories of prophets Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Haroon, Ilyas and Lut 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Allah narrates what happened to Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) after he threw himself overboard,

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”And indeed, Jonah was among the messengers.

[Mention] when he ran away to the laden ship.

And he drew lots and was among the losers.

Then the fish swallowed him, while he was blameworthy.” [6]

Allah willed that he be swallowed by a huge fish; a whale, hence the prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is also known as the ‘Companion of the Whale’ in the Qur’an. What happened next? He was stuck in the belly of the whale and Allah inspired the whale, his creation to not devour Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) but rather, to imprison him [7]. In this time of difficulty and hardship, he called out to Allah with an amazing call, so comprehensive in meaning that Allah has preserved this call within the Qur’an,

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And [mention] the man of the fish, when he went off in anger and thought that We would not decree [anything] upon him. And he called out within the darkness, ‘There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.’”

So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.” [8]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “When it occurred to the Prophet Yunus, to call upon Allah in these words when he was in the belly of the great fish, he said,

‘La ilaha illa Anta, You are glorified! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.’

This call went and hovered around the (mighty) Throne, and the angels said, ‘O Lord, this is the voice of one who is weak but known, in a faraway strange land.’

Allah, May He be exalted, said, ‘How do you know this?’

They said, ‘O Lord, who is he?’

Allah, May He be exalted, said, ‘My servant Yunus.’

They said, ‘Your servant Yunus, from whom there kept coming acceptable deeds and supplications which were answered!’

They said, ‘O Lord, will You not have mercy on him for what he did during his time of ease, and save him from this trial and tribulation?’

He said, ‘Of course.’’

So, He commanded the great fish, and it cast him forth on the naked shore.” [9]

This dua is so valuable that the prophet said, “Whoever offers supplication in the words of the supplication of Yunus, will be answered.” [10]

Allah carries on in Surah Saffat,

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And had he not been of those who exalt Allah,

He would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are resurrected.

But We threw him onto the open shore while he was ill.” [11]

In the belly of the whale, prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) called upon Allah by admitting his sins and weaknesses. It was only Allah who could save him and so he was desperate for the help of Allah. Allah states in the verses above from Surah Saffat, that it was because of his remembrance of Allah that Allah had saved him. He remembered Allah in times of ease and so Allah favoured him in times of difficulty. We as Muslims living in the 21st century can take a great lesson from this. In our daily lives, we face many problems; financial difficulties, family feuds, hardships at work or university, and the list goes on. Whatever the issue is, we all have our own individual obstacles. However, we fail to realise that the solution to all these problems are within our reach; turning back to Allah. It is Allah who willed for us to be in these difficult situations and it is he, the Most High who can give us respite from these shackles of life. Just as the prophet Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) turned to Allah in a time of difficulty, we too need to flee to Allah and beg him for help for we are his slaves and Allah the Most High always responds to his slaves, we just need to envelope three characteristics; faith , reliance and patience. One of the most famous pieces of advice the Prophet (Peace be upon him) offered to his cousin Abdullah Ibn Abbas raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was, “Remember Allah during times of ease and He will remember you during times of difficulty”. [12]

To conclude the story, Allah caused the whale to release Yunus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) back to his people who by that time realised his message and believed. This was the only nation who turned to Allah after their disobedience and repented,

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“And We sent him to [his people of] a hundred thousand or more.

And they believed, so We gave them enjoyment [of life] for a time.” [13]

References

[1] Surah Hud 11:120
[2] Surah Yunus 10:98
[3] Tafsir Ibn Kathir 10:98
[4] Surah Qalam 68:48
[5] Surah Qasas 28:56
[6] Surah Saffat  37:139-142
[7] Tafsir Ibn Kathir 37:139-142
[8] Surah Anbiya 21:87-88
[9] Tafsir Ibn Kathir 21:87-88
[10] Jami’ Tirmidhi No. 3505
[11] Surah Saffat 37:143-145
[12] Araba’een An-Nawawi No. 19
[13] Surah Saffat 37:147-148

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Ibrahim Khan was blessed to have been able to memorize the Qur’an in the UK and then went on to study Aqeedah, Fiqh, Hadith with different teachers and scholars (some from which visited the UK from abroad).

5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Avatar

    UmmA

    October 5, 2016 at 9:28 PM

    SubhaanAllah! May this article be a source of Sadaqah Jaariyah for you.

  2. Avatar

    Umm Hadi

    October 9, 2016 at 1:04 PM

    Masha Allah….Barak Allahu fee

  3. Avatar

    fc

    November 21, 2016 at 8:02 PM

    Anyone better than him???

  4. Avatar

    Ebrahim Marong

    December 7, 2016 at 5:43 PM

    Barak’Allahu fee

  5. Avatar

    Sadia baig

    July 28, 2017 at 2:45 PM

    Indeed the story of Yunus (A.S) teaches us the lesson of sacrifice ! may ALLAH gives us the patience like him (ameen)

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#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 10: The Dua’ of Umm Salama

Now that we have learnt about a good word, let’s talk about the dua’ of Umm Salama.

Today I’m going to share with you a story of a very important woman in Islamic history named Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her). She was a female companion, which means she was a sahaabiya (female companion)

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was one of the first people to embrace Islam and she was one of the few Muslims who actually performed the hijrah twice. 

Question: Who can tell me what a hijrah is?

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A hijrah is when someone leaves a place they are in for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). The first hijrah was to Ethiopia, where a just Christian ruler named Najashi took in a group of Muslims and took good care of them. 

So Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went to Ethiopia. After some time living there, they really wanted to go back to Mecca so that they could be next to the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and learn everything about Islam. As they waited patiently, news traveled all the way to Africa saying that the Muslims were no longer getting persecuted because Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) and Hamza raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), the uncle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), had embraced Islam. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) decided to return back to Mecca, and when they did, they realized that it was only a rumor and that the Muslims were still being tortured by Quraysh. So, when the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructed all of the Muslims of Mecca to leave to Madina for the second hijrah, they wasted no time getting ready. 

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Question: Do you see how they were so active and didn’t take their Islam for granted?

As Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was about to mount her camel, her tribe, the Banu Makhzum, came and told Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that they would not allow him to take Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) to Madina. Then Abu Salama’s tribe, the Banu Asad, takes Salama, his child, away.  Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) could not defend himself against all of these men, so he sets off to Madina.

In just one day Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) lost her husband and her child, and she suffers so much because of it. She is in a lot of pain. After some time her cousin starts to feel sorry for her and speaks to the tribes on her behalf. He is then able to reunite her with her son. Then after a year of waiting, Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is finally able to meet her husband in Madina. 

Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) was known to be a very caring husband and courageous man. He fought in the Battle of Badr as well as in the Battle of Uhud. In Uhud, he received a wound that he wasn’t able to recover from. 

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was so sad the day Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) died, but the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) taught her to recite a beautiful dua’:

إِنَّا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيرا منها 

“We belong to Allah and to Allah is our return. Oh Allah, reward me for my calamity, and replace my loss with something better.”

Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) recited this dua’, but in her mind she thought, “Who can be better than Abu Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)?” 

After a few months passed, Umar ibn al-Khattab raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but she said no. 

Then, Abu Bakr raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), but again she said no. 

Then, the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) proposed to Umm Salama raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and she accepted. So now, she was not only the mother of Salama, but the mother of all of the believers until the end of time! 

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This Eid And Beyond Boycott Goods Made With Enslaved Labor Of Uyghurs Even If It Is Your Favorite Brand

Bidding farewell to Ramadan, celebrating Eid?

Well, the Muslims of East Turkestan under Chinese occupation had neither Ramadan nor will they have Eid…

Not only that, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) run government has transferred Uyghurs and other ethnic minority citizens from East Turkestan to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Nike, Gap, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, Carters and others. Read Uyghurs for Sale for more information

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CCP is also pressuring governments across the world to extradite Uyghurs back to occupied East Turkestan.

Here is what you can do to help them:

Action Items

  1. Keep making dua for the oppressed of East Turkistan and the world.
  2. Boycott Chinese products! Do not be complicit in slave labour. Start with focusing on the companies in the graphic. Share it with #SewnWithtTears, #StopChina, #BoycottChina. Write to them and demand that they do better.
  3. Raise awareness on the plight of Uyghurs and the East Turkistani cause. Learn more at SaveUighur.org
  4. Work towards reducing your country’s economic dependence on China.
  5. Build alliances with all people of conscience to demand a cessation of China’s oppression of all faith groups, be it Muslim Uyghur, Hui; Chinese Christian; or Tibetan Buddhist.
  6. Encourage and promote fairer trade and commerce with Muslims and others rather than China.
  7. Inquire about Uyghur diaspora members in your area. Organize to help out orphans, widows, and students.
  8. Pressure governments to provide legal protection to Uyghur refugees-exiles by granting either citizenship or refugee/asylee status. Stop the “extradition/repatriation” of Uyghurs to China!
  9. Get your universities/endowments to divest from China. Raise awareness about Chinese espionage and hired guns in academia. Demand academic and financial support for Uyghur scholars and students. Request more academic attention and funds for Central Asian, Uyghur, Turkistani studies. 

Read a greater discussion of action items in A Response to Habib Ali Al-Jifri’s Comments on the Uyghurs, which also contains a greater discussion on East Turkistan’s history and its current situation. A condensed Arabic version of the article can be found here

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 9: A Good Word

Now that we have learnt about the life of this world, let’s talk about a good word.

I want you all to close your eyes and think of a beautiful tree. 

Question: Who can tell me what their tree looks like? Is the tree big and strong? Does it have lots of branches and leaves? Does it have fruit?

Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something really nice to you.

Question:  What are some of the nice statements you remember people telling you?

Question: How did those statements make you feel?

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Yes, they fill us up with a warm feeling. We may have felt proud of ourselves and we may have felt loved. Do you know that Allah [wt] describes a good word to a good tree? 

In Surah Ibrahim, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ 

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تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا ۗ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ 

Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches [high] in the sky? [Surah Ibrahim; 24]

It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded. [Surah Ibrahim; 25]

Question: Now, I want you to think of a time when someone said something mean to you. How did that make you feel?

It’s not fun to remember the mean stuff right? Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) continues in Surah Ibrahim and says:

وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِن فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِن قَرَارٍ

And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. [Surah Ibrahim; 26] 

Question: What do you think are good words we can use to build strong, firmly rooted trees?

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