Question # 477: How many days did Prophet Yunus (alai salam) stayed in the belly of Fish?
bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: Neither the Qur’an nor any authentic hadith mentions the time duration of Prophet Yunus (عليه السلام)’s stay in the belly of the fish, therefore the Mufassiroon (exegetes) have differed over this matter. Some said three days, some said seven days, while others have said forty days.
Long Answer: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “And, verily, Yunus (Jonah) was one of the Messengers. When he ran to the laden ship, He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was among the losers, then a (big) fish swallowed him and he had done an act worthy of blame. Had he not been of them who glorify Allah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish) till the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, And We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him. And We sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or even more. And they believed; so, We gave them enjoyment for a while.” (Soorah As-Saffat, 37:139-148)
The Mufassiroon (exegetes) have differed on the time duration of Prophet Yunus (عليه السلام)’s stay in the belly of the fish. Imam Ibn Kathir (Allah have mercy on him) states in the commentary of this verse: “They differed as to how long he spent in the belly of the fish. Some said three days; this was the view of Qatadah. Some said seven days; this was the view of Ja`far As-Sadiq (رضي الله عنه). Some said forty days; this was the view of Abu Malik. Mujahid said, narrating from Ash-Sha`bi, “It swallowed him in the morning and cast him forth in the evening.” And Allah knows best how long exactly was. (Tasir Ibn Kathir)
As for the Bible, it is mentioned in the following verses that Jonah stayed in the belly of whale of three days and three nights:
- Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17, The King James Bible)
- For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12: 40, The King James Bible)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.