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What is meant by the istighfar of the Prophet Jonah AS and which is more prioritized, between Sayyid al-Istighfar or the istighfar of Prophet Jonah?



Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Even from the above question, istighfar comes in various forms and recitations. Among the istighfar or supplication of the Prophet Jonah AS is when he was in the stomach of a whale. This supplication is recorded by Allah SWT in the Quran:

  • Allah SWT state:

لَّا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

"There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers."

Surah al-Anbiya’ (87)

In the commentary of Imam Ibn Kathir, the story of the Prophet Jonah AS swallowed by a whale is recorded. The Prophet Jonah AS went on a ship with his people. The boat was hit by a storm and they are all scared that their ship would sink and so they draw lots as to who would be thrown overboard to decrease their load and the Prophet Jonah AS was picked. They refused to throw him and draw the lots again. Again, Prophet Jonah AS was picked and they refused to throw him. And they draw lots once again but still for the third time Prophet Jonah AS was picked. (See Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 321/5)

Furthermore, in a hadith narrated by Imam al-Tirmizi in al-Jami’:

  • From Sa’ad bin Abi Waqas RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

دَعْوَةُ ذِي النُّونِ إِذْ دَعَا وَهُوَ فِي بَطْنِ الحُوتِ: لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنْتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ، فَإِنَّهُ لَمْ يَدْعُ بِهَا رَجُلٌ مُسْلِمٌ فِي شَيْءٍ قَطُّ إِلَّا اسْتَجَابَ اللَّهُ لَهُ

“The supplication of Dhun-Nun (Prophet Yunus) when he supplicated, while in the belly of the whale was: ‘There is none worthy of worship except You, Glory to You, Indeed, I have been of the transgressors. (Lā ilāha illā anta subḥānaka innī kuntu minaẓ-ẓālimīn)’ So indeed, no Muslim man supplicates with it for anything, ever, except Allah responds to him.”

Sunan al-Tirmizi (3505) [Syeikh Syuaib al-Arna’outh said the sanad (chain of narrators) of the hadith is hasan]

Thus, the above istighfar or supplication has its own advantages just as other istighfar according to the above hadith. To answer the question of which istighfar is prioritized, in our opinion Sayyid al-Istighfar is prioritized for the Prophet PBUH named it as the leader of all istighfar. (Refer Irsyad al-Hadith number 168)

At the same time, we are not denying the supplication of Prophet Jonah AS. However, there are manners that one should be mindful of in order for the supplication to be granted.

It is permissible for us to recite various recitations of istighfar in our lives and not just focused on one type of supplication or istighfar. The reason is, every recitation has its own advantages. There are several conditions of istighfar that is written by Ibn Hajar, which are:

  • Sincere intention
  • Tawajjuh (face only towards Allah SWT)
  • Mindful of the manners of istighfar

(See Fath al-Bari, 100/11)

May Allah SWT make us from among His slaves who always repent to him with istighfar. Amin.


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