Advocates of Divine Message
Al-Anbiya (The Prophets) Sura 21: Verses 87-88
"And remember Dhul-Nun, when he went away in anger, thinking that We would not force him into a tight situation! But then he cried out in the deep darkness: 'There is no deity other than You! Limitless are You in Your glory! I have done wrong indeed!' So We responded to him and delivered him from his distress. Thus do We deliver those who have faith."
Prophet Jonah, peace be upon him, is here called Dhul-Nun, which means 'man of the whale' because he was swallowed by the whale and then thrown out. He was sent to a particular city, and he called on its people to believe in God, but they rejected both him and his message.
Angry and frustrated he walked away, and found himself sometime later by the sea, where he saw a laden boat. He boarded it. When the boat was in the middle of the sea, it was apparent that its load was too heavy. The shipmaster said that one passenger must be thrown overboard in order to give the rest a chance to survive. They all drew lots and the draw fell to Jonah. The other passengers threw him into the sea, or he might have jumped overboard. It was then that the whale swallowed him and he found himself in a most tight situation. At this moment he cried out to God for help. God answered his prayer and saved him from the distress he was suffering.
There are in Jonah's story some significant points we need to reflect upon:
The advocates of a message must be ready to bear the burden involved in such advocacy, remain patient in the face of rejection and vicious opposition. They must continue to present their message to people and call on them to believe in it, time after time.
Such advocates cannot give in to despair. They cannot give up on people, believing that they will never respond to the truth, no matter how much opposition they face, and how often they are rejected and accused of falsehood.
The way a message must follow in order to touch people's hearts is neither easy nor comfortable. Positive responses may not be forthcoming. A touch on every sensitive receptor must be made to try to find the effective nerve.
It is easy for an advocate of the divine message to be angry when people turn away from him. To give up and quit is always easy. It may enable us to cool down. But of what service is that to the message itself? It is the message that is most important, not its advocate.
We must discharge our duty however hard the opposition we may face. We then leave the matter to God, and He gives guidance to whomever He pleases.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 12, pp. 65-58