Surah 37 139-148
139. So also was Yunus among those sent
140. when he ran away to a Ship laden
141. he (agreed to) cast lots and was of the defeated
142. then the big Hut (marine animal) did swallow him and he had done acts worthy of blame.
143. had it not been that he (repented) glorified God
144. he would have remained in the fish till the day of resurrection
145. but we cast him forth on the naked shore in a state of sickness
146. and we caused to grow over him a spreading plant of the Gourd kind
147. and we sent him to a hundred thousand (people) or more
148. and they believed, so we permitted them to enjoy their life for a while.
These verses are full of imagery because the Quran is primarily a recited text and as in a song or a poem, imagery brings the story to life.
But, what the Quran says is as interesting as what it does not say. The story begins of Yunus, a man sent for a purpose, running away to a ship to escape. What happens before this point is not mentioned and one may assume is not relevant to the theme of the narrative. Once on the ship, circumstances force a choice upon Yunus....again, the details are left out and we only see the action of Yunus making a choice and being defeated. Yet, what is not said is that it is God that is controlling the events/circumstances even though it may seem that Yunus has made a choice.
As we move along the narrative, there are further imagery of Yunus being swallowed, of him repenting and of God's mercy in freeing Yunus onto land and give him a covering and sustenance so he could heal. Here too we can see Yunus make a choice (v 143) and we can see the consequences of this choice(v145-146)---yet in verse 144, God adds a commentary---that had the choice been different, the consequences would have been different too. But, if the choice is between life and death is the choice illusory or real?
The story ends with Yunus completing the mission he was sent on and a large group of people receiving God's blessings. We are left with contemplating the ambiguity between God's will and limited human will in individuals and groups.
There is also a more immediate and simpler theme in this story---that repentance is the way to access God's compassion and mercy either as individuals or as groups/nations. It is simply a matter of asking God for forgiveness---and God forgives all who ask. When viewed from this perspective, the relationship between God's will and limited human free will comes into focus. In other words, it is God's will that we human beings, either as individuals or groups---willingly choose to ask for God's mercy and the circumstances in our lives will propel us in this direction through blessings or hardship so that our hearts/souls will turn in God's direction.
"Nothing that I can do or say will change the structure of the Universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes--goodwill among men and peace on earth." ----Albert Einstein
Quran Surah 5 verse 8
"oh you who believe, be steadfast witness for God in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that you deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to God. God is aware of what you do."