The Incident of the Elephant

The Incident of the Elephant
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Several miraculous incidents took place before the mission of Prophet Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). One of the most important incidents that occurred before the birth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was the attempt of Abrahah the Abyssinian to destroy the Ka‘bah. This incident is mentioned in the Quran. In the following lines, the details of this event are narrated.

Books of Seerah (the Prophet's biography) mention that Abrahah
Al-Habashi was the viceroy to An-Najaashi (Negus, King of Abyssinia) in Yemen. Abrahah saw that the Arabs venerated the Ka‘bah and went on pilgrimage to it. He became envious, and so built a big church in Sana’a so that the Arabs would perform pilgrimage to it. Having heard about that, a man from Banu Kinaanah entered the church at night and relieved himself in there. When Abrahah knew that the man who did that was an Arab from the caretakers of the Ka‘bah, he swore to destroy the Ka‘bah. He mobilized a large army and marched on towards the Ka‘bah. Elephants were among the animals that army used. Since the Arabs had never seen elephants before , they were terrorized, and only a few Arab tribes, who sanctified the Ka’bah, resisted Abrahah. The people of Makkah, on the other hand, fled to the mountains seeking fortification and they did not resist Abrahah.
 
‘Abdul-Muttalib went to Abrahah to ask him to return his camels, which were taken by the army. Abrahah said to him:
“When I saw you, I admired you, but now that you have spoken to me, I have ceased to admire you. You are asking me to return your two-hundred camels, but you do not ask me not to destroy this house of worship of your religion and the religion of your fathers!”
 
‘Abdul-Muttalib replied: "I am the lord of the camels. As for this house, there is a Lord to protect it.” Abrahah said: "It cannot be protected from me.” ‘Abdul-Muttalib said: "I have warned you." Then ‘Abdul-Muttalib chanted: “My Lord, the servant has defended his herd. My Lord, defend Your herd against their Cross. My Lord, it is You against them. If You let them destroy our direction of worship, it is up to You, my Lord.”
 
The entire tribe of Quraysh fled to the mountains seeking protection and waited to see what would befall Abrahah and his people. In the morning, Abrahah organized the army, and prepared his elephant to enter Makkah. When he reached the Muhassir Valley— between Muzdalifah and Mina— the elephant knelt down and disobeyed the order to approach Makkah. When directed to the south, east or north, the elephant obeyed and walked; but, when directed towards the Ka‘bah, it knelt down and would not budge. At that time, Allah The Almighty Sent birds in flocks throwing stones down on the army. Each bird had three stones: one in its beak; and two in its feet. These stones cut the organs of the soldiers causing them to perish.
 
As for Abrahah, Allah The Almighty made him contract a disease that made his fingertips fall off. When he reached Sana’a, he was as weak as a chick. His breast was torn apart and his heart came out, then he died. Describing the incident, Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant? Did He not make their plan into misguidance? And He sent against them birds in flocks. Striking them with stones of hard clay. And He made them like eaten straw.} [Quran 105:1-5]
 
This incident occurred in the month of Muharram, corresponding to February 571 AD, about fifty days before the birth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ). The civilized states of that time heard of the incident, especially because Abyssinia had strong relations with Rome, and Persia was the traditional enemy of Rome. Rome and Persia represented the civilized world at that time. The world knew about the importance of the Ka‘bah and knew that the Ka‘bah is The House of Allah The Almighty.
 
This incident heralded the advent of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) because he  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) was born in the same year .
 
This incident gives a lesson to any tyrant at any time. The present tense used in the first verse of the chapter of Al-Feel [The Elephant] indicates that the destiny of Abrahah applies to any tyrant.
 
Finally, the story of the Elephant clearly shows that Allah The Almighty Protects His religion when people fail to undertake their responsibility in doing so.

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