Dua of Yunus (Jonah) – My Islam
Story behind the Prophetic du’a of Yunus
In the Qur’an, it refers to Prophet Yunus (as) by the name Dhul nun meaning the companion of the fish or the man of the fish.
The story behind this nickname is because he had denied Allah’s command. As a punishment, Allah sent a whale to come and swallow him whole. A quick summary of the story of Yunus (as), Allah appointed him to guide the lost community of Nineveh, what we know of as Northern-Iraq.
Allah’s instructions were clear, to guide the lost community back to Allah and Islam. But like all the Prophets before him, he had a difficult time and the people denied his message. Eventually, Yunus (as) rationalized that many other communities needed saving. If these people were not receptive to his calling then he would devout his time and energy elsewhere. So, he left. It is said in Surah Saffat Yunus, “…ran away to the laden ship.” (37:140).
The ship was “laden” meaning fully loaded or heavy so when the storm gathered, they found their ship was slowly sinking. One by one they threw any luggage to lighten the load on the ship, but still, it was far too heavy.
Once they had thrown everything off, they realized the only way to save the ship was to throw a man overboard.
No one wanted to volunteer, so they decided the most impartial way to decide who would get booted off was a game like straws or picking a name out the hat where everyone had an equal chance of losing.
The first name that was drawn was Yunus (as) “And he drew lots and was among the losers.” (37:141) But for whatever reason, perhaps the people on the ship liked Yunus (as) as he was kind, pious, and a morale booster for the ship crew, so they drew a second and third time. Each time, Yunus (as) name was drawn, Yunus (as) knew this was a sign from Allah that he could not escape. Shortly thereafter he found himself trying to survive in the treacherous waters. It is here Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala commanded for a whale to surface and swallow the Prophet whole.
The verse in the Qur’an states that he was in “darknesses” as in layers of darkness, the first being night, second being buried deep within the ocean waters, and the third darkness was suffocating inside the belly of the whale. It is in this darkness he cried out to Allah, “There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.” (21:87) We’re told because of the fact Prophet Yunus (as) used to constantly remember and worship Allah, that he built a lot of goodwill. Now, when he needed Allah’s help the most, Allah responded to it, “So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers.” (21:88)