The Quran

Commentaries for 21.87

Al Anbiya (The prophets) - الأنبياء

21.87 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And (mention) Dhu'l-Nun) and mention the person of the whale, i.e. Jonah the son of Mathew (Matta), (when he went off in anger) with the king (and deemed that We had no power over him) i.e. to punish him, (but he cried out in the darkness) the darkness of the sea and the darkness of the whele's entrails and the darkness of its belly, (saying: There is no God save Thee. Be Thou glorified!) I repent to You (I have been a wrong-doer) I wronged myself when I became angry with Your command.
21.87-88 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
And Dhu'l-Nūn, when he went forth wrathful and thought that We would not have power over him. Then he called out in the darknesses, “There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee! Surely I am one of the wrongdoers.” So We responded to him and delivered him from sorrow.
God has friends who would begin to lament from the lack of trial if for the blink of an eye the assistance of the army of trial were cut off from their days-just as the folk of the world grieve at the lack of blessings, they begin to wail from the lack of trial. The more they see the blows of the times and of trial, the more they are passionate for their trial. The hotter the flames of their passion, then, like moths, the more they are entranced by their trouble.
The Pir of the Tariqah said, “O God, may the pain I have never get better! This pain is right for me. When someone is in pain and content with pain, what is the reckoning? O God, my story is this that I recount. What is the answer to this poor wretch stricken by pain?”
The tale they tell about the days and the state of that exalted one of the road, that chosen one of the King, Jonah the prophet, has exactly this attribute. He was a man cleansed by the crucible of trial, ground down by the millstone of tribulation, his head struck by the whip of rebuke without special favor. The more his liver was turned into kabob in the incense-burner of trial, the more he became passionate for his trial, for when he was shown the moon-like beauty of passion for the Haqiqah, he was shown it in the street of trial and the room of tribulation. The traditions narrate that “When God loves a servant, trial is poured down all over him.”
Riẓwān and all the slave-boys are servants of the dust under the feet of the folk of trial. The beginningless welcome and the unseen request are prepared in the name of the folk of trial. The divine love is the food of the secret cores of the folk of trial. The lordly gentleness and mercy are trustees specific to the folk of trial.
The eternal attributes are the supplies and provisions of the folk of trial. The pure, incomparable Essence is witnessed by the hearts of the folk of trial. He loves them, and they love Him [5:54] is the pavilion of the Unseen's gift and bestowal for the folk of trial.
Their Lord will pour for them [76:21] is the end and outcome of the folk of trial.
“There is no god but Thou, glory be to Thee! Surely I am one of the wrongdoers.” So We responded to him. In terms of allusion He is reporting that whenever any servant supplicates with a supplication within which are found three things, that supplication will be linked to response. First is tawḤīd, second is the declaration of incomparability, and third is acknowledgement of one's sins. Thus Jonah the prophet began with tawḤīd, saying, “There is no god but Thou.” Then he joined it to the declaration of incomparability, saying, “Glory be to Thee!” Then he acknowledged his own sin, saying “Surely I am one of the wrongdoers.” Once these three traits were gathered together in his supplication, the response came from the Divine Presence: “So We responded to him and delivered him from sorrow.”
TawḤīd is that you say with the tongue that God is one and you know with the heart that He is one-one in Essence, one in attributes, exempt from attachments, hallowed beyond blights, and incomparable with intermixings. None but He is worthy of gratitude and being owed for favors, no one but He has power and strength, from no one else come granting and bestowal.
Know also that tawḤīd becomes sound when someone has a limpid heart, a high aspiration, and an empty breast; he has not become prey of this world, nor is he shackled to the afterworld. Nothing hangs on to him, nor is he mixed with anything. Then the beauty of tawḤīd is unveiled to him and he is described as perceiving its secret.
Dhu'l-Nūn Miṣrī was seen in a dream, with an approved state and praiseworthy days. It was said to him, “O Dhu'l-Nūn, what is your state and where have your days taken you? Where is your spirit, and what have you found in the Friend's dealings with you?”
He answered, “I asked for three wishes from the Friend. He gave two of them and therein fulfilled my hope. I am waiting for the third.
One is that I said, 'O King, before the angel of death becomes aware of my work, take up my spirit and do not leave me with him.' He fulfilled my hope. Another is that I said, 'O King, place me in the garden of approval without any obligation toward Riẓwān, and do not turn me over to anyone.' He did that and He completed His blessings toward me with His bounty. My third wish, for which I am waiting, is that I said, 'O King, give me permission to say Your name in the field of Your majesty in the row of the sincerely truthful and the tawḤīd-voicers, to run in the majestic house of all those in union with You, to keep on shouting in the assembly of Your recognizers, and to keep on circumambulating the Kaabah of union with You.' I hope that He will also respond to this.”
21.87 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And, mention, Dhū’l-Nūn, the one of the whale, namely, Jonah son of Amittai (Yūnus bin Mattā) when he went off enraged ([Dhā’l-Nūn] is substituted by [the clause idh dhahaba mughādiban]) by his people, that is, furious with them because of what he had suffered at their hands — even though he had not been granted permission [by God to go off as he did] — thinking that We had no power over him, that is, that We could [not] compel him to [submit to] Our decree in the way that We did by imprisoning him inside the stomach of the whale; or that We could [not] make circumstances difficult for him. Then he cried out in the darknesses, [through] the darkness of the night, the darkness of the sea and the darkness of the whale’s stomach, that: ‘There is no god except You! Glory be to You! I have indeed been one of the wrongdoers’, for leaving my people without [Your] permission.
21.87-88 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Yunus
This story is mentioned here, and in Surat As-Saffat and Surah Nun. Yunus bin Matta, upon him be peace, was sent by Allah to the people of Nineveh, which was a town in the area of Mawsil in northern Iraq. He called them to Allah, but they rejected him and persisted in their disbelief. So he left them in anger, threatening them with punishment after three days. When they realized that he was telling the truth and that a Prophet never lies, they went out to the desert with their children and cattle and flocks. They separated the mothers from their children, then they beseeched Allah and pleaded to Him, with the camels and their young groaning, the cows and their calves mooing, and the sheep and their lambs bleating, so Allah spared them from the punishment. Allah says:
فَلَوْلاَ كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ ءَامَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَآ إِيمَانُهَا إِلاَّ قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّآ ءَامَنُواْ كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ الخِزْىِ فِى الْحَيَوةَ الدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَاهُمْ إِلَى حِينٍ
(Was there any town that believed (after seeing the punishment), and its faith saved it Except the people of Yunus; when they believed, We removed from them the torment of disgrace in the life of the world, and permitted them to enjoy for a while) 10:98. Yunus, meanwhile, went and traveled with some people on a ship, which was tossed about on the sea. The people were afraid that they would drown, so they cast lots to choose a man whom they would throw overboard. The lot fell to Yunus, but they refused to throw him overboard. This happened a second and a third time. Allah says:
فَسَـهَمَ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُدْحَضِينَ
(Then he (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers.) 37:141 meaning, the draw went against him, so Yunus stood up, removed his garment and cast himself into the sea. Then Allah sent from the Green Sea -- according to what Ibn Mas`ud said -- a large fish which cleaved the oceans until it came and swallowed Yunus when he threw himself into the sea. Allah inspired that large fish not to devour his flesh or break his bones, (as if He said) Yunus is not food for you, rather your belly is a prison for him.
وَذَا النُّونِ
(And (remember) Dhun-Nun,) Here Nun refers to the fish; it is correct for it to be attributed to him here.
إِذ ذَّهَبَ مُغَـضِباً
(when he went off in anger,) Ad-Dahhak said: "Anger towards his people.''
فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ
(and imagined that We shall not punish him!) meaning, constrict him in the belly of the fish. Something similar to this was reported from Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others. This was the view favored by Ibn Jarir, and he quoted as evidence for that the Ayah:
وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّآ ءَاتَاهُ اللَّهُ لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ مَآ ءَاتَاهَا سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْراً
(and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. Allah will grant after hardship, ease) 65:7.
فَنَادَى فِى الظُّلُمَـتِ أَن لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ
(But he cried through the depths of darkness (saying): "There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.'') Ibn Mas`ud said regarding the `depths of darkness': "The darkness of the belly of the fish, the darkness of the sea and the darkness of the night.'' This was also narrated from Ibn `Abbas, `Amr bin Maymun, Sa`id bin Jubayr, Muhammad bin Ka`b, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan and Qatadah. Salim bin Abu Al-Ja`d said: "The darkness of the fish in the belly of another fish in the darkness of the sea.'' Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas and others said: "This was because the fish took him through the sea, cleaving it until it reached the bottom of the sea. Yunus heard the rocks at the bottom of the sea uttering glorification of Allah, at which point he said:
لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ
(There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers)'' `Awf Al-A`rabi said: "When Yunus found himself in the belly of the fish, he thought that he had died. Then he moved his legs. When he moved his legs, he prostrated where he was, then he called out: `O Lord, I have taken a place of worship to You in a place which no other person has reached.'''
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَـهُ مِنَ الْغَمِّ
(So `We answered his call, and delivered him from the distress.) means, `We brought him forth from the belly of the fish and from that darkness.'
وَكَذلِكَ نُنجِـى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
(And thus We do deliver the believers.) means, when they are in difficulty and they call upon Us and repent to Us, especially if they call upon Us with these words at the time of distress. The leader of the Prophets encouraged us to call upon Allah with these words. Imam Ahmad recorded that Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "I passed by `Uthman bin `Affan, may Allah be pleased with him, in the Masjid, and greeted him. He stared at me but did not return my Salam. I went to `Umar bin Al-Khattab and said: `O Commander of the faithful, has something happened in Islam' I said that twice. He said, `No, why do you ask' I said, `I passed by `Uthman a short while ago in the Masjid and greeted him, and he stared at me but he did not return my Salam.' `Umar sent for `Uthman and asked him, `Why did you not return your brother's Salam' He said, `That is not true.' Sa`d said, `Yes it is.' It reached the point where they both swore oaths. Then `Uthman remembered and said, `Yes, you are right, I seek the forgiveness of Allah and I repent to Him. You passed by me a short while ago but I was preoccupied with thoughts of something I had heard from the Messenger of Allah, which I never think of but a veil comes down over my eyes and my heart.' Sa`d said: `And I will tell you what it was. The Messenger of Allah told us the first part of the supplication then a bedouin came and kept him busy, then the Messenger of Allah got up and I followed him. When I felt worried that he would enter his house, I stamped my feet. I turned to the Messenger of Allah, who said,
«مَنْ هَذَا، أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ؟»
(Who is this Abu Ishaq) I said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah.'' He said,
«فَمَه»
(What is the matter) I said, "Nothing, by Allah, except that you told us the first part of the supplication, then this bedouin came and kept you busy.'' He said,
«نَعَمْ دَعْوَةُ ذِي النُّونِ إِذْ هُوَ فِي بَطْنِ الْحُوتِ
(Yes, the supplicaiton of Dhun-Nun when he was in the belly of the fish:
لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ
(There is no God but You, Glorified be You! Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers.)
فَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَدْعُ بِهَا مُسْلِمٌ رَبَّهُ فِي شَيْءٍ قَطُّ إِلَّا اسْتَجَابَ لَه»
No Muslim ever prays to his Lord with these words for anything, but He will answer his prayer.)'' It was also recorded by At-Tirmidhi, and by An-Nasa'i in Al-Yawm wal-Laylah. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Sa`d said that the Messenger of Allah said:
«مَنْ دَعَا بِدُعَاءِ يُونُسَ اسْتُجِيبَ لَه»
(Whoever offers supplication in the words of the supplication of Yunus, will be answered.) Abu Sa`id said: "He was referring to:
وَكَذلِكَ نُنجِـى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
(And thus We do deliver the believers.)''
21.87-88 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
That is, Jonah. Literally Zun-Nun means “the man of the fish." He was called so because he was devoured by a fish by the Command of Allah. (Also See XXXVII:142 and X:98 and its E.N.'s 98-100).
Prophet Jonah left his people before he received Allah's Command for migration.
He presumed that he should leave, the place which was going to be visited by the scourge of Allah. This was not by itself an offence but it was an offence for a Prophet to leave the place of his Mission without the permission of Allah.
"....darkness": the darkness in the belly of the fish and the darkness of the sea over and above it."