03 Nov Sūratu’l-Anbiyā’ [The Prophets]:(21:87).Part1
فَنَادَىٰ فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ
But eventually he (Jonah) called out in the veils of darkness: “There is no deity but You, All-Glorified are You (in that You are absolutely above having any defects). Surely I have been one of the wrongdoers (who have wronged themselves).” (Al-Anbiyā’ 21:87)
First of all, we should mention a point concerning Prophet Jonah, peace be upon him:
According to several traditions of the Prophet, since Jonah’s people did not believe in him, when signs of the kind of disaster which had destroyed former nations appeared, Jonah left the town where he lived without receiving any apparent command from God. Since this behavior is considered a lapse and mistake for those near-stationed to God like Prophet Jonah, Divine Destiny judged that he would be thrown into the sea, and Jonah was swallowed by a dolphin or whale. At a time when the physical means and causes were neither thinkable nor useful for salvation, Jonah became acutely aware of the omnipresence of God, Who is the Creator of causes, with a deeper Prophetic perception. Then he turned to God from the bottom of his heart and began invoking.
The Qur’ān informs us about Jonah’s invocation at that particular time and place:
“He called out in the veils of darkness: ‘Lā ilāha illā Anta’ (There is no deity but You); ‘Subhānaka’ (‘All-Glorified are You’ [in that You are absolutely above having any defects. You have neither partners nor equals nor peers in Your Essence, Attributes, and Actions. And there is none to be worshipped and sought except You. Everything happens or does not but by Your permission. Whatever You will to be, it is, and whatever You will not to be, it is not. So I have been thrown into the sea because You willed it; therefore, I can be saved only by Your Will!]); ‘Innī kuntu mina’z-zālimīn’ (Surely I have been one of the wrongdoers).”
This heartfelt supplication is both an acknowledgement of a mistake and repentance for it.
In fact, every Prophet repented his lapses in a way befitting him and in accordance with what was required of his circumstances and conditions.
For example, Prophet Adam invoked, saying:
“Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves, and if You do not forgive us and do not have mercy on us, we will surely be among those who have lost!” (Al-A‘rāf 7:23).
Similarly, Prophet Moses said in supplication:
“My Lord! Indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me” (Al-Qasas 28:16).
As for Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, I do not know of a particular supplication with the same meaning, yet he used similar words in the supplication that he taught to Abū Bakr, which is:
“My Lord! I have wronged myself much and no one can forgive sins except You. So forgive me and have mercy on me, for surely You are the All-Forgiving, the All-Compassionate.”(Bukhārī, Adhan, 149; Tawhīd, 9; Daawah, 16; Muslim, Dhikr, 47–48; Ibn Mājah, Du‘ā’, 2; Tirmidhī, Daawah, 96; Nasāī, Sahw, 59.)
If we turn back to the verse, first of all, we recognize the announcement of God’s Greatness, absolute Oneness, and Majesty: “There is no deity but You.”
Prophet Jonah declared this with the full consciousness that all the physical means and causes for salvation would be of no use at such a moment. This is very important. Actually, almost everyone, unavoidably, turns toward God directly when the means and causes are totally dysfunctional. Thus, the invocation, “All-Glorified are You. Surely I have been one of the wrongdoers!” has the meaning that was given here.
This invocation of Prophet Jonah is both an acknowledgement of one’s nothingness and a turning to God pronouncing one’s wrongdoing and attracting His compassion. In fact, one of the most effective ways of calling for and drawing God’s compassion and forgiveness is one’s confession of one’s faults or sins. This is also the way of the Prophets.