By Majed Iqbal- Inshallah you are all in the best state of health and Imaan. Please take time to send durood upon the Prophet (saw) especially on the Day of Jumah. Abu Hurayrah (ra) may Allah be pleased with him narrated Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said:
“The person who recites eighty times on Friday (the following supplication) immediately after Asr Salah, before standing up from his place, eighty years of his sins will be forgiven by Allah and the reward equivalent to eighty years of worship will be written for him: Allahuma Sallay Ala Sayyidina Muhammadin Nabiyyil Ummiyi wa Ala Aalihi Wa sallim Tasleema” [Al-Jami Al-Saghir; Allamah Sakhaawi RA in Al-Qawl al-Badee’; Imaam Daraqutni RA and Al Muassah al-Rayyan]
And continue to send durood and salaam upon the Holy Prophet (Salallahu-aleihi-wasallam) every day inshallah
The beautiful month of Ramadhan has allowed us to build a range of characteristics, deepening us in our Personality (shaksiyya) and helping us in building a stronger mentality (Aqliyya). Both of these are fundamental to building a well rounded Islamic Personality.
Key to Ramadhan are some central traits which are interlocked with our fasting. These include Patience (sabr), Steadfastness (istiqama), Reliance upon Allah (Tawakal Ala Allah) and God consciousness (Taqwa).
These themes have been central to the Prophets (anbiyaa) and their struggle to deliver the Divine message to their people. Today I wish to look at the life of Prophet Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) and highlight how the above mentioned traits are equally as central to our lives today and the world and time in which we live in as they were for the Prophets that Allah (swt) Sent.
About the people of Prophet Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) Almighty Allah said:
Was there any town community that believed after seeing the punishment, and its Faith at that moment, saved it from the punishment? (the answer is none)–except the people of Jonah; when they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the present world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while. (Ch 10:98 Quran)
Prophet Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) was from the town Of Ninaveh, whose inhabitants were idolaters (mushrik) and a people who lived a shameless life.
Prophet Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) was sent to teach them the worship of Allah. The people disliked his interference in their way of worship, so they argued.
“We and our forefathers have worshipped these gods for many years and no harm has come to us.”
* The first lesson we learn here Is that Prophet Yunus (Alayhi Salaam)engaged in Dawah with his people who held ideas, beliefs and values contrary to the commands of Allah (swt). He would explain to them the falseness of Idolatry, highlighting its irrationality and would warn them of the Akhirah.
Today, when we live in the West, we often forget that this duty of Dawah is still our responsibility. When people are stooped into intellectual idolatry of ideas like freedom which cut off the relationship of this life with the next and allows people to pursue any action if it brings happiness to them, who will challenge this and present Islam’s clear message about the true purpose of life?
Despite Yunus (Alayhi Salaam)’s persistence to convince them and remind them of the wrath of Allah (swt) for stooping into sin, they told him that they were not afraid of his threats.
“Let it happen,” they told him. Jonah was disheartened. “In that case, I will leave you to your misery!” so saying, he left Nineveh, fearing that Allah’s anger would soon follow.
* The second lesson we learn here is about Dealing with rejection. When the masses are engrossed with activities which go against the Commands of Allah (Swt), how do we keep ourselves on track? Everyone’s hitting the cinema week in week out, going out partying with mates, clubbing till the early hours of morning, dating girls and guys and on high salaries working for financial corporations stooped in interest.
You’re often the one left feeling that you’re the odd one out. The climate we live in today is that anyone who practices Islam is an extremist who have ideas that don’t sit well with Western Culture. If you say that marriage is good for society, then this is considered old school and an out of date idea. If you say you don’t drink and go to the Christmas work party or the School Prom, then you’re anti-social and a bit of a sad person. If you challenge the illegal invasions of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq then you’re an extremist, because you don’t support the British vision for Change in the world.
So most of us have dealt with rejection, especially the social pressures that we as young people feel, and we see this in the life of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam). When people start to reject you and your ideas, and isolate you as being ‘extreme’ or ‘anti-fun’, it can get tough. But it’s the mental and spiritual strength which allows a person to stand firm and deal with these situations.
However, in a turn of events, Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), after all his efforts, lost heart and decided to leave the town. People mocked his ideas and ridiculed him, remaining on the sins they were committing with no remorse or shame.
Allah (swt) addresses this incident in the Quran when he says.
“Remember Dhan Nun (Yunus), when he went off in anger, and imagined that We shall not punish him (the calamities which had befallen him)! (ch 21:87)
Hardly had Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) left the city when the skies began to change color and looked as if they were on fire. The people were filled with fear by this sight. They recalled the destruction of the people of ‘Ad, Thamud and Noah. Was theirs to be a similar fate? Slowly faith began penetrating their hearts.
The people gathered on the mountain and started to beseech Allah for His mercy and forgiveness. The mountains echoed with their cries. It was a momentous hour, filled with sincere repentance.
* This is the third lesson. Repentance can come any time. Never rule out who will be guided and who wont as this is in the hands of Allah (swt). Our duty remains to convey the Deen of Allah and work in a calculated way to have effect, but in the end leaving the results in the hands of the Almighty.
Their tawbah was accepted. Allah removed His wrath and showered His blessings upon the people once again. An entire people returned to the Deen of Allah
When the threatening storm was lifted, the people prayed for the return of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), so that he could guide them.
Meanwhile, Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), boarded a small ship in the company of other passengers. Many of us have heard of this incident. Towards the night, a horrible storm blew as if it were going to split the ship into pieces. The waves looked wild and rose up as high as mountains then plunged down like valleys, tossing the ship and sweeping over the deck.
Behind the ship, a large whale was splitting the water and opening its mouth. A command had been issued from Almighty Allah to one of the greatest whales of the sea to surface. It obeyed. The whale hurried to the surface of the sea and followed the ship as it had been commanded.
The chief crewman asked the crew to lighten the ship’s heavy load. They threw their baggage overboard, but this was not enough. Their safety lay in reducing the weight further, so they decided among themselves to lighten their load by removing at least one person.
The captain directed: We will make lots with all of the travelers’ names. The one whose name is drawn will be thrown into the sea.” Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), knew this was one of the seamen’s traditions when facing a tempest. It was a strange polytheistic tradition, but it was practiced at that time.
Here was the Nabi Of Allah (swt) , subjected to polytheistic rules that considered the sea and the wind to have gods that riot. The captain had to please these gods. Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) reluctantly participated in the lot, and his name was added to the other travelers’ names. The lot was drawn and Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) appeared.
Since they knew him to be the most honorable among them, they did not wish to throw him into the angry sea. They decided to draw a second lot. Again Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) name was drawn. They gave him a final chance and drew a third lot. Unfortunately for Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) his name came up again.
Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) realized that Allah’s hand was in all this, for he had abandoned his mission without Allah’s consent. The matter was over, and it was decided that Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) should throw himself into the water. Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) stood at the edge of the ship looking at the furious sea. It was night and there was no moon. The stars were hidden behind a black fog. But before he could be thrown overboard, Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) kept mentioning Allah’s name as he jumped into the raging sea and disappeared beneath the huge waves.
The whale found Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) floating on the waves before it. It swallowed him into its furious stomach and shut its ivory teeth on him
* This is the fourth lesson. Many of us when faced with tests and difficulties forget Allah and instead begin to question him. We often forget that life is a test and we must persevere. Look at the beautiful example of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), that when he realised that maybe Allah (swt) was not happy with him he remembered him alone in the time of difficulty and did not complain, despite facing near death, by jumping into the raging sea.
In the whale, three layers of darkness enveloped him, one above the other; the darkness of the whale’s stomach, the darkness of the bottom of the sea, the darkness of the night. Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), imaged himself to be dead, but his senses became alert when he found he could move. He knew that he was alive and imprisoned in the midst of three layers of darkness. His heart was moved by remembering Allah. His tongue released soon after saying:
None has the right to be worshipped but You (O Allah), Glorified (and Exalted) be You (above all that evil they associate with You), Truly, I have been of the wrong doers.” (Ch 21:87 Quran)
* This is the fifth lesson. Turning to Allah with a pure heart and asking him to shower his mercy upon you. In difficult times, people can resort to drugs, music, films and other entertainments to switch off from their problems. But we find from the example of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) that he turned to Allah (swt) and prayed, seeking solace.
Such was the prayer of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) that Fishes, whales, seaweeds, and all the creatures that lived in the sea heard his voice praying, heaing the celebration of Allah’s praises being issued from the whale’s stomach. All these creatures gathered around the whale and began to celebrate the praises of Allah in their turn, each in its own way and in its own language.
The whale also participated in celebrating the praises of Allah and understood that it had swallowed a prophet. Therefore it felt afraid; however, it said to itself;
“Why should I be afraid? Allah commanded me to swallow him.”
Allah Almighty saw the sincere repentance of Yunus (Alayhi Salaam), and heard his invocation in the whale’s stomach. Allah commanded the whale to surface and eject Jonah onto an island. The whale obeyed and swam to the farthest side of the ocean. Allah commanded it to rise towards the warm, refreshing sun and the pleasant earth.
Once again Almighty Allah recounts these events beutifuly and reminds us that it is because f his mercy we are spared
And, verily, Jonah was one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, he agreed to cast lots and he was among the losers, Then a big fish swallowed him and he had done an act worthy of blame. Had he not been of them who glorify Allah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick and We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand people or even more, and they believed; so We gave them enjoyment for a while. (Ch 37:139-148 Quran).
As a result of reading about this account, it is easy to fall into the error of passing a negative judgment
Ibn Abbas narrated that the Holy Prophet (SAW) said: ‘One should not say I am better than Yunus Ibn Matta‘ (Alayhi Salaam). ” (Bukhari)
But how will he go back to his town now?
* This is the sixth lesson. Always value your work and never look at things from a short term perspective. Many a time we look at the state of the Muslim Ummah and question where is the Victory Of Allah (Swt)?
After regaining his strength, Yunus (Alayhi Salaam) and found his way to his hometown, Nineveh. He was taken back to see the change that had taken place there. The entire population turned out to welcome him. They informed him that they had turned to believe in Allah. They only knew of Allah (swt) through Yunus (Alayhi Salaam). Had this Dawah not taken place then how would that nation have repented?
All together, they led a prayer of thanksgiving to Allah (swt)
We need to remember that Dawah will require a long term vision coupled with our dedicated and methodical activity. How many times have people’s narrow mindedness and hastiness led them down a path of more problems? Just take the Egyptian Elections as an example where the New President is back at Square one with no real change. So don’t under value your work by compromising Islamic Principles. Stick to them and work with the Ummah with a long term strategy and don’t get disheartened, you will see the results