Whois services do usually run on TCP port 43, by default.
Post a dump of your iptables and someone may be able to point out the problem, if it is truly a firewall issue.
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# who CAN BE pinged
# who can ping
#or to allow it to the world
for pingable in $PINGABLE; do
for pingers in $PINGERS; do
iptables -A INPUT -j ACCEPT -s $pingers -d $pingable -i eth0 -m state --state NEW -p icmp --icmp-type ping
Keep in mind that I may not have any clue what I am talking about. This is important thing for server admin, and you migh want to check on it.