At night, the people saw that Sayyiduna Yunus has left the city. And indeed in the morning, the signs of the Divine torment appeared because black clouds started emerging from all four sides and darkness fell over the whole city with a smoke from everywhere. Witnessing this, the people of the city realised that the torment will now definitely strike them. Therefore, in the quest of Sayyiduna Yunus, the people started searching for him but Sayyiduna Yunus could not be found far and wide. Now the people of the city became even more terrified. Therefore, they started trembling in the fear of Allah . They all took their women, children along with their cattle,
wearing threadbare and torn clothes and went to the jungle crying and repenting. They sincerely conunitted to embrace faith in Sayyiduna Yunus .Husbands separated from wives and mothers separated from their children and all of them engaged in seeking absolution and were weeping bitterly in the court of Allah . They started seeking pardon for all the oppression and violations regarding mutual rights.
In short, all of them repented sincerely and promised Allah that they have firm belief in the message of Allah brought by Sayyiduna Yunus . Allah had mercy on the sincere repenting of the inhabitants of the city and the torment turned away. All of a sudden, the hazy clouds and smoke disappeared and all of the people came back to the city and resumed living with peace and comfort. Allah described this event in Holy Quran in the following words:
So why has there not been (people of) a village, who should have believed? So its belief would have benefited it. Yes; the nation of Yunus. When they accepted faith, We removed the disgraceful punishment from them in the life of this world, and let them benefit for a while.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 11, Surah Yunus, Ayah 98)
It means that it does not benefit the people to embrace faith once the Divine torment from Allah has commenced. But despite the clouds of the Divine torment commenced towards the people of Sayyiduna Yunus, the torment was still withdrawn from them upon embracing the true faith.
Du’ a for redemption from torment
It is mentioned in Tabarani that when the signs of the Divine torment were at onset in the city of Naynawa and Sayyiduna Yunus was not found by the people even after thorough search; the people of the city became worried and they approached the famous religious scholar of the city who was a faithful believer and a spiritual luminary of those times. They all entreated him. He advised them to supplicate after reciting the following invocation:
However, after the withdrawal of the torment, when Sayyiduna Yunus arrived near the city, he did not find any signs of the torment on the city. The people asked him to join his people. He replied, ‘How can I go back to my people? I had left the city after revealing the news of the Divine torment to them but same did not happen. Now those people will kill me considering me a liar.’
Out of anger, Sayyiduna Yunusleft the city and embarked a boat. When the boat reached in the middle of the sea, it stopped. According to an established tradition those times only that boat would jam in the midst of the sea that carry some fugitive slave. Therefore, the passengers held a draw and the name of Sayyiduna Yunus came out. The passengers threw him into the sea and departed. When Sayyiduna Yunus fell down into the water, a fish swallowed him at once and he became confined in the stomach of the fish where there was an utter darkness. Under these circumstances, he commenced invoking:
(Part 17, Surah Al-Anbiyah, Ayah 87)
By virtue of this invocation, Allah blessed him freedom from that dark cell and the fish ejected him out of her mouth at the bank of the sea. He had gone very weak by that time. By the grace of Allah , the plant of gourd grew there and he used to take rest under its shade. Afterwards, when he regained some energy, he went back to his people and all of the people treated him with utmost love and reverence and embraced faith unto him. ([afseer As-Saawi, vol. 3, pp. 893; part 11, Surah Yunus, Ayah 98)
The Holy Quran has mentioned this wonderful event of Sayyiduna Yunus in the following words:
And indeed Yunus is of the Messengers. When he left towards the loaded ship. So he drew lots (as to who should be thrown into the sea), therefore he became amongst those who were pushed into the sea. The fish then swallowed him and he was blaming himself. And had he not been of those who glorify (Allah). He would have definitely remained in its belly till the day when the people will be raised. Then We cast him (out of the fish’s belly) on the shore and he was ill. And We grew a tree of gourd (as a miraculous shelter) above him. And We sent him towards a hundred thousand people, rather more. So they believed, We therefore gave them benefit (enjoyment of life)for a while.
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part 23, Surah As-Saffaat, Ayah 139-148)
1. From the event of the people of Naynawa, the moral lesson we get is that whenever any calamity strikes any nation in the form of a torment, then the only remedy is to engage in supplications after repenting. One can then hope that the Most Merciful Allah will shower His blessings and the torment will be withdrawn.
2. From the heart-trembling trials faced by Sayyiduna Yunus, we learnt how Allah puts his chosen people into trial. But when these chosen people observe steadfastness and do not become negligent in the remembrance of Allah despite being struck with troubles; then Allah arranges means of their salvation from the unseen that are beyond imagination.
Just ponder over the fact that when the people of the boat threw Sayyiduna Yunus into the sea, were there any means for his survival and safety? Then the fish swallowed him. Now who was the saviour of his life? But when he invoked Aayat-e-Karimah under those circumstances, Allah kept him alive and safe even inside the stomach of the fish. Moreover, Allah rescued him from the stomach of the fish towards a field. Afterwards, Allah bestowed him with good health and peace and took him back to his native land and more than one hundred thousand people embraced the right path by virtue of his preaching.