Jonah/Yunus In The Quran

Sura Al Saaffat, Chapter 37, ayats 139-148 briefly describe the biography of the Prophet Yunus (as). Yunus’ land of origin is pinpointed in aya 146 which states: “We caused a gourd tree (shajarata min yaqtin) to grow over him.” Gourds do not grow on trees. However, trees are used to support gourd plants as the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria). In the case of aya 146, the Quran makes it very clear that the particular tree under which Yunus was thrown was a gourd producing tree. According to Wikipedia, there is only one tree on planet Earth which produces gourds and that tree is Dendrosicyos socotranus, the cucumber tree. The species is endemic to the island of Socotra in Yemen, and is the only species in the Cucurbitaceae to grow in a tree form. So, Yunus is from Yemen and he was sent to his own people, but, for reasons unknown, attempted to escape his prophetic mission by boarding a ship laden with merchandise.

It appears that an Arabian humpback whale (hwt in Arabic – these whales inhabit the Arabian Sea) actually tried to eat Jonah but spat him out on the island of Socotra. Such an event happened June 11th, 2021 to a lobster fisherman, Michael Packard, from Provincetown, Massachusetts. The humpback whale spat him out in the water and he survived with minor injuries. It appears that whales do not like the taste of human flesh. In any case, the Arabic word ‘ltqamah’ in this story would mean that, ‘he (the whale/hwt) swept him up’ (into his maw).” This act of sweeping food into it the mouth accurately describes the method by which humpback whales sweep food into their mouths.

This feeding habits of the humpback whale is a very recent observation which makes the description of the whale’s method of sweeping Yunus into its maw another miracle of the Quran!!! It appears that Yunus was swept up by a whale as was Michael Packard of Provincetown, MA who survived a similar incident while he was fishing off of Cape Cod. Therefore, the Quran describes Yunus’ ordeal with the whale, as one in which he was swept into the whale’s maw. Yunus recuperated or revived from his ordeal beneath the shade of the ‘cucumber tree’. Yunus, having learned his lesson, returned to the mainland to execute the divine mission with which he was entrusted.

The case seems to be that Yunus was a Yemeni merchant trading with neighboring kingdoms which would explain his journey by ship in the Arabian Sea, the habitat of the Arabian humpback whale. It would also explain why he ended up in Yemen to preach to more than 100 thousand. According to Wikipedia: “With its long sea border between eastern and western civilizations, Yemen has long existed at a crossroads of cultures with a strategic location in terms of trade on the west of the Arabian Peninsula. Large settlements for their era existed in the mountains of northern Yemen as early as 5000 BCE.” The Yunus story explain why Yunus landed on Socotra underneath Dendrosicyos socotranus, the cucumber tree.

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