MOSUL, Iraq — Members of a militant Muslim group have blown up what are said to be the tombs of the biblical prophets Jonah and Daniel, according to reports.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is said to be responsible for the explosions, which took place on Thursday. The tomb of Jonah was located inside of an Islamic mosque called Mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul.
In the Old Testament Scriptures, Jonah was commanded by God to go to Ninevah in preach to the people to repent of their sins, lest He destroy their city. Jonah, disliking the people of Ninevah, disobeyed God’s order as he wanted to see the wicked punished. He boarded a ship to Tarshish instead, but when God sent a storm that threatened those on board, he asked that he be thrown into the sea.
Jonah’s life was spared as he was swallowed by a great fish or whale, and was spit out three days later after he cried out to God. He then went to the people of Ninevah as commanded and began to preach in the streets. The king of the nation listened, and ordered that all of Ninevah seek God and turn from their evil ways. In turn, God spared the nation from destruction.
God then taught Jonah a lesson in compassion as Jonah had struggled with accepting the mercy of God upon repentant sinners like the people of Ninevah. Mosul, where Jonah is buried, is not far from Ninevah.
According to reports, ISIS, which has taken over several cities in Iraq in recent weeks, claimed that the mosque site that housed Jonah’s tomb “had become a place for apostasy, not prayer.” The location was a popular site that many came to visit to see the burial place of the biblical Jonah and reflect upon his life lessons.
ISIS planted explosives around the tomb Thursday and forbade any civilians from utilizing the mosque as it was being rigged for destruction.
An amateur online video, which has yet to be confirmed as authentic, shows the explosion as a man declares in Arabic, “No, no, no. Prophet Jonah is gone. These scoundrels.”
Al-Sumaria News also reported on Thursday that local Mosul official Zuhair al-Chalabi told the outlet that ISIS likewise “implanted explosives around Prophet Daniel’s tomb in Mosul and blasted it, leading to its destruction.”
Daniel, also written about in the Old Testament, served as a government official in Babylon and was highly favored by King Darius. However, there were those who disliked Daniel, who asked the king that he issue a decree that anyone who prays to anyone other than King Darius for thirty days be thrown in the lion’s den. Daniel refused to obey the law, which he believed violated God’s law, and continued to pray to the Lord.
He was convicted and thrown into the lion’s den, where God protected him from harm. Upon his release, King Darius ordered that those who had concocted the law be thrown to the lions and decreed that all those within his kingdom must reverence Daniel’s God.
There is dispute over where Daniel is actually buried, as some believe his body is in Susa, Iran, rather than in Iraq.
Sam Hardy, a professor at the American University of Rome, told the Washington Post this week following the explosions that ISIS seeks to destroy “[b]asically pretty much anything in the Bible.”
“It indicates they are going for total eradication not just of their enemies but even of the possibility of people living together under their rule,” he said of recent attacks.
Christians and Catholics alike have been fleeing Mosul in recent weeks after reportedly being given an ultimatum by ISIS to convert to Islam, pay a fine or die.