History of the Prophets

by Maulana Muhammad Ali


References to Jonah are more frequent and he is mentioned in one of the earliest revelations, where the Holy prophet is told to bear persecution patiently and not to be like Jonah, who is called

“the companion of the fish” (The Holy Quran, 68:48–50).

The whole is explained in another early revelation (The Holy Quran, 37:139–148), but later than that referred to above. Jonah flies from his people, and 68:48 shows that he fled before he received the Divine commandment to fly. He comes to a boat and is cast into the river. A fish draws him into its mouth. The word used by the Holy Quran does not necessarily mean devoured. There is no mention of his remaining in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, all that is said being:

“But had he not been of those who glorify (Us), he would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised” (The Holy Quran, 37:143–144),

i.e., would have been devoured and met death in its belly. Apparently, therefore, he was not devoured by the fish.

He was saved and sent to a hundred thousand people (The Holy Quran, 37:147). In 10:98 we are told that the people of Jonah believed in him and profited by their faith.

References mentioned above:

“And Jonah was surely of those sent.

When he fled to the laden ship,

So he shared with others but was of those cast away.

So the fish took him into its mouth while he was blamable.

But had he not been of those who glorify (Us),

He would have tarried in its belly till the day when they are raised.

Then We cast him on the naked shore, while he was sick.

And We caused a gourd to grow up for him.

And We sent him to a hundred thousand or more.

And they believed, so We gave them provision till a time.” (The Holy Quran, 37:139–148)

“So wait patiently for the judgment of thy Lord, and be not like the Companion of the fish, when he cried while he was in distress.” (The Holy Quran, 68:48)

“And We sent him to a hundred thousand or more.” (The Holy Quran, 37:147)

“And why was there not a town which believed, so that their belief should have profited them, but the people of Jonah? When they believed, We removed from them the chastisement of disgrace in this world’s life, and We gave them provision for a while.” (The Holy Quran, 10:98)