Surah Anbiya Ayat 69, 87, 88 In Arabic
قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ﴿69﴾
وَذَا النُّونِ إِذْ ذَهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا فَظَنَّ أَنْ لَنْ نَقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَنْ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ ﴿87﴾
فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ وَنَجَّيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْغَمِّ ۚ وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُنْجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿88﴾
Surah Anbiya Ayat 69, 87, 88 Transliteration
(69) Qulnaa yaa naaru koonee bardanw wa salaaman ‘alaaa Ibraaheem
(87) Wa Zan Nooni iz zahaba mughaadiban fa zannaa al lan naqdira ‘alaihi fanaadaa fiz zulumaati al laaa ilaaha illaaa Anta Subhaanaka innee kuntu minaz zaalimeen
(88) Fastajabnaa lahoo wa najjainaahu minal ghamm; wa kazaalika nunjil mu’mineen
Surah Anbiya Ayat 69, 87, 88 Translation
(69) We said: O fire, be coolness and peace for Abraham,
And (mention) Dhu’n-Nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no Allah save Thee. Be Thou Glorified! Lo! I have been a wrong-doer.
(88) Then we heard his prayer and saved him from the anguish. Thus we save believers.
Surah Anbiya Ayat 69 Explanation
قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ (We said, “0 fire, be cold and safe for Ibrahim.” – 21:69) As stated above, one explanation of the fire becoming cool and comfortable for Sayyidna Ibrahim (عليه السلام) could be that it ceased to be fire and changed into a pleasant breeze. However, the more plausible explanation is that the fire remained as fire but did not touch the body of Sayyidna Ibrahim (عليه السلام) ، although it burnt other things around him, so much so that it even burnt down the rope which bound him.
According to some historic versions he remained in the fire for seven days and used to recall that those seven days were the most comfortable time of his entire life. (Mazhari)
Surah Anbiya Ayat 87 Explanation
وَذَا النُّونِ (21:87) The story of Sayyidna Yunus Ibn Matta (عليه السلام) appears in the Holy Qur’an in Surah Yanus, Surah Al-Anbiya’, Surah As-Saffat and Surah Nun. At some places he is mentioned by his real name and at others by the title as Dhunnun or Sahihul Hut. The meaning of Nun and Hut both is fish. Thus, Dhunnun and Sahibul Hut can be translated as man of the fish. Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) remained inside the stomach of a fish for a few days in very odd circumstances by the will of Allah. It is because of this episode that he is sometimes referred to as Dhunnun or Sahib Al-Hut.
The Story of Yunus (عليه السلام)
According to the commentary by Ibn Kathir, Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) was sent to preach Allah’s message among the people of Nineveh which is a township in the region of Mousel. Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) invited them towards Islam and asked them to follow the true religion and perform good deeds, but they rejected his call and behaved in an arrogant and defiant manner. Being dejected and annoyed, Yunus (عليه السلام) left the place after warning them that Allah’s wrath would descend upon them within three days. After he had departed from the township, the people realized that his warning might come true. (According to some versions they had actually seen the signs of the impending disaster). So they repented and asked pardon for their sins and the entire population retired to a forest with their cattle and animals.
Then they started lamenting and bewailing and invoked Allah’s forgiveness and protection. Allah Ta’ala accepted their sincere contrition and wailing over their sins and released them from the fear of the impending disaster. While all these events were taking place, Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) waited expecting the news about the destruction of his people. But when he learnt that the storm had passed and his people were safe and sound, he worried that they would regard him as a liar. According to some versions, it was customary with his people to execute a person if he was proved a liar. (Mazhari). Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) ، therefore, feared for his life and decided to go away to some other place rather than returning to his own people. He came across a river on his way and boarded a boat to cross it. While crossing the river it so happened that the boat was caught in a whirlpool and was in danger of sinking. The boatmen decided that if one of the passengers was off loaded from the boat the chances were that the rest of them would be saved from drowning. So they cast lots to decide as to who should be off-loaded. As luck would have it they drew the name of Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) .
It seems that the boatmen were aware of his exalted position and they refused to throw him in the river. The lot was drawn a second and then a third time and his name was drawn on both occasions. This episode has been mentioned elsewhere in the Holy Qur’an in the following words: فَسَاهَمَ فَكَانَ مِنَ الْمُدْحَضِينَ (and cast lots, and was of the rebutted – 37:141). Thereupon Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) got up, took off the extra clothes which he was wearing and threw himself in the river. Immediately a fish from the Caspian Sea arrived on the scene as commanded by Allah Ta’ala and swallowed Yonus (عليه السلام) . (as reported by Ibn Masud (رض) . The fish was further commanded by Allah Ta’ ala that he was not to be taken for food, that no harm was to be done to his body (both flesh and bones) and that he was only to be held as a prisoner in its stomach for a few days. (Ibn Kathir)
There are references in the Qur’an that Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) earned Allah Ta` a1a’s displeasure when he left his people without His specific command and his stay for a few days in the stomach of the fish was a sign of Allah’s displeasure for his lapse.
It is safe to assume that the warning of Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) to his people about their imminent destruction within three days was not the outcome of his own judgment but was based on Divine revelations. Similarly, his dissociation from his people was nothing new and was in line with the practice of other prophets in similar situations and must, therefore, also have been done by the command and approval from Allah Ta` ala. So, upto this point there seems nothing to be wrong in his conduct which would deserve Allah Ta’ ala’s displeasure. But later on when Allah Ta’ ala accepted the genuine remorse and repentance of the people and released them from the fear of destruction, it was to be expected that Yunus (عليه السلام) would return to his people.
But his decision not to return to them and go away from them was based on his own judgment (اِجتِھَاد). He reasoned that if he returned to them, they would regard him as a liar and his teachings would be rendered ineffectual and fruitless. There was also the danger that he might have been taken and executed. For these reasons he was hopeful that his parting with his people would not be a reprehensible act before Allah Ta` ala. Although his decision to migrate was based on his personal judgment (Ijtihad اِجتِھَاد) without waiting for a clear direction from Allah Ta` ala, yet it did not constitute a sin. Nevertheless for a prophet to take a decision on his own without waiting for the revelation (وَحِی) from Allah Ta’ ala was not liked by Him. This was not a crime but an act which was not desirable. The status of the prophets and His closed ones is highly exalted and it is expected of them not to indulge even in such undesirable acts. The slightest lapse on their part is subjected to Allah’s displeasure and reproach from Him, and that is why he faced this hardship.
It is quoted in Tafsir al-Qurtubi from al-Qushairi that this had happened to Yunus (عليه السلام) when the tempest was removed from his people, which was against his wish and that his stay in the stomach of the fish for a few days was more of a reformatory measure than punishment, as sometimes people warn their young children and take reformatory measures against them. (Qurtubi)
After learning the background of the episode it would be easier to understand the meanings of the verses which is as follows:
ذَّهَبَ مُغَاضِبًا (he walked away in anger 21:87) It is obvious that the anger was against his own people. Sayyidna Ibn ` Abbas (رض) has explained it as such.
فَظَنَّ أَن لَّن نَّقْدِرَ عَلَيْهِ thought We will never put him to trouble – 21:87) Lexically the word نَّقْدِرَ has three different meanings: If it is derived from the meaning would be that Sayyidna Yunus (عليه السلام) imagined that Allah Ta` a1a would not be able to gain mastery over him. This is obviously an unacceptable explanation as no Muslim can ever entertain such thoughts in his mind, least of all a prophet of Allah. Alternatively if it is considered that the word نَّقْدِرَ is derived from قَدر then the meaning would be to straighten or narrow down, as the Qur’an says:
اللَّـهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَيَقْدِرُ لَهُ (Allah extends provision to whom He wills and straitens it.) The Imams of Tafsir Ata’, Said Ibn Jubair, Hasan Basri and many other scholars have adopted this interpretation, and therefore the meaning of the verse would be that Yunus (عليه السلام) thought that he would not be put in a straitened condition by Allah Ta` a1a if he abandoned his people. This second explanation is adopted by most commentators (and the translation of the text as appeared above is based on it). The third possibility is that نَقدِر is a derivative of تَقدِیر in which case the verse would mean that Yunus (عليه السلام) was sure that he would not be blamed if he dissociated himself from his people. Qatadah, Mujahid and Farra’ have adopted this explanation.
Surah Anbiya Ayat 88 Explanation
The prayer of Yunus (عليه السلام) is invoked by all people at all times and for all their needs
وَكَذَٰلِكَ نُنجِي الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (And this is how We rescue the believers – 21:88.) That is, just as We released Yunus (عليه السلام) from his misery and distress, so do We deliver other believers (مُؤْمِنِينَ ) when they turn towards Us repenting their sins sincerely.
According to a hadith of the Holy Prophet (صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم) if a Muslim prays to Allah Ta` a1a for the grant of a wish in the words used by Yunus (عليه السلام) when he was in the stomach of the fish i.e. لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ (21:87) He would accept his prayer and grant his wish. (Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Mahari)
[From Ma’ariful Quran English by Mufti Taqi Uthmani]
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