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Lessons from the story of the Companions of the Elephant

Tuesday 30/06/2009

Lessons and benefits to be obtained from the incident of the elephant:

1- An affirmation of the honor of the Ka‘bah - the first House to be established for people on earth for worshipping Allah The Almighty:
The honor and sanctity given to it by the Arab polytheists who considered nothing as superior to it was immense. This exalted position of the House was due to the remaining effect and influence of the religion of Ibraheem (Abraham, may Allah exalt his mention) and Ismaa‘eel (Ishmael, may Allah exalt his mention).
2- The envy and resentment the Christians had for Makkah and the Arabs:
The Arabs exalted the House, and this is why Abrahah wanted to divert the Arabs from exalting the House of Allah by building the Qullays church, and in spite of using all possible means of encouragement and intimidation, the Arabs refused to visit it, and their disapproval reached its peak when a Bedouin excreted inside it. Regarding the verse where Allah The Almighty Says(what means): {Did He not make their plan into misguidance} Ar-Raazi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said
It should be known that to make a plot is to intend, in secret, to cause harm to something or someone. However, it may be asked, “Why did Allah use the word ‘plot’ when his plan [of demolishing the Ka‘bah] was pronounced, for he stated openly that he was going to demolish it?” Let us say in reply that it is true, but what he concealed in his heart was worse than what he announced openly, for indeed he kept his envy of the Arabs a secret. It was his envy that provoked his desire to divert the honor given to them because of the Ka‘bah away from them and their town to himself and his town.
3- The extent to which one could sacrifice his life for the sake of his sacred precincts:
One of the kings of Himyar (Thu-Nafar) went forth and confronted Abrahah and his army and was taken captive. An-Nufayl bin Habeeb Al-Khath‘ami and those who gathered with him from among the tribes of Yemen also went forth to fight Abrahah but were defeated by his huge army after they had sacrificed their souls in defense of their sacred precincts. This is because mankind has an innate inclination to defend his sacred precincts and struggle for them.
4- Anguish is always the destiny of those who betray:
The traitors who co-operated with Abrahah and were his eyes and spies to guide him to the Ancient House of Allah to demolish it were cursed in this world as well as in the Hereafter: they were cursed by the people as well as by Allah The Almighty. The grave of Abu Righaal became a symbol of treachery and betrayal, and the man himself became detested by the people. Whenever anyone would pass by his grave, he would stone it.
5- The reality of the battle between Allah The Almighty and His enemies:
This was summed up in the statement of ‘Abd-Al-Muttalib: “We will not stand between him and the House, and if Allah leaves it for him [to destroy], then by Allah we have no power to protect it.” This was an accurate report of the reality of the battle between Allah The Almighty and His enemies. Regardless of how strong and large in number the forces of such enemies may be, they could not stand for a single moment against the power, onslaught and wrath of Allah The Almighty. It is He, The Almighty, who grants and takes life whenever He wills.
According to Al-Qaasimi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him Al-Qaashaani  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, “The story of the companions of the elephant is famous, and the event was very close in time to the birth of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). It was one of the signs indicative of the power of Allah and a sample of the wrath of Allah upon those who dared to contend with him by violating the sanctity of Al-Haram.”
6- People's exaltation of the House and its inhabitants:
People came to exalt the Sacred House of Allah in an ever increasing manner, which Allah The Almighty ensured in order to safeguard and protect it from the plots of those who make mischief and other evil people. The Arabs thus turned to admire the Quraysh, and said, “They are the devotees of Allah on behalf of whom Allah fought. He sufficed them against their enemies.” This was one of the signs of Allah The Almighty, and a commencement of the commissioning of a Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) to be sent, from Makkah itself, in order to purify the Ka‘bah from idols and restore it to its original supremacy and sublimity.
7- The story of the elephant is one of the indicators of Prophethood:
Some scholars such as Al-Maawardi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said that the incident of the elephant is one of the indicators of Prophethood; he stated
The signs of dominion are brilliant, and the evidences of Prophethood are obvious, and their commencement refer to their results in such a way that falsehood is not mixed with truthfulness, nor the apocryphal with the genuine. Its glad tidings and warnings are effective in accordance with its power and reach. When the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was born, the signs of his prophethood blossomed, and the indications of his blessing emerged, the greatest, the most famous and the most important of which was the story of the Companions of the Elephant. The sign of the Prophethood of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) in the story of the elephant was that it happened in the same year that the mother of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) bore him in her womb. He was born fifty days after that incident and just after the death of his father, on a Monday, the twelfth of Rabee‘ Al-Awwal. Thus, it was a sign in two ways:
The First Sign is that if the Abyssinians had been victorious, they would have taken the Arabs as captives and slaves. Instead, they were destroyed by Allah The Almighty, in order to preserve His Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) from being taken captive while he was still in his mother’s womb, and from being born as a slave.
The Second Sign is that the Quraysh did not worship Allah The Almighty such that they would deserve to have the Army of the Elephant removed from them, nor were they a people of scripture, for they either worshipped idols or were atheists or heretics who denied the resurrection. Nonetheless, Allah The Almighty did so in preparation for Islam to emerge, in support of the prophethood, and in exaltation of the Ka‘bah.
When the news of what Allah The Almighty had done to the Army of the Elephant circulated among the Arabs, they regarded the Haram (i.e., the Ka’bah) with awe, exalted it and were even readier to observe its sanctity, and all of them submitted to the Quraysh under the pretext that they were the devotees of Allah The Almighty on whose behalf He had fought and had sufficed them against the plot of their enemies. They therefore honored and exalted them even more.
In return, the Quraysh served them with Siqaayah, (providing the pilgrims with water during their stay in Makkah), Sidaanah (custodianship of the House), and Rifaadah (to gather wealth from one another every year in order to afford provisions for the pilgrims). Rifaadah was maintained by wealth to be annually given out by the Quraysh from their property in order to make food for the pilgrims during their stay at Mina. In this way, they turned into creditable chiefs and leaders who were followed, whereas the Companions of the Elephant became an example of those who had perished.
Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said
This [incident] was in the same year the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was born. The House’s neighbors were polytheists who worshipped idols, and Christianity was better than that. For this reason, it was learnt that this sign was not for the sake of the House’s neighbors as much as it was for the sake of the House itself, or for the sake of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) who was born in that year near the House, or even for the sake of both.
Whichever of them is right, it was among the indicators of his Prophethood.
Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his discussion of the Incident of the Elephant, “That was the commencement and prelude of the commissioning of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) who was born the same year, according to the predominant opinion. It is as if the statement of the Divine Power at that time was, ‘You have not been given victory, O assembly of the Quraysh, over the Abyssinians for being better than they, but rather in order to preserve the Ancient House, which We would honor and hold in the highest regard with the commissioning of the unlettered Prophet, Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) the seal of the prophets’”.
8- Allah The Almighty preserved the Ka‘bah:
Allah The Almighty did not enable the People of the Book, Abrahah and his soldiers, to demolish the Sacred House, or to take control over the Sacred land, even though it was contaminated by polytheism and the polytheists were its custodians. He did so in order to keep the House free from the dominance of the persecutors and well-guarded from the plots of the schemers, and to maintain freedom for this land which would make it fitting for the growth of the new creed, free and unrestricted, and not subject to any authority or tyrant, beyond the domination of any other religion, and so this religion could come to predominate all religions and servants and to lead mankind and not to be led by anyone. This was the ordinance of Allah The Almighty for His House and religion, and this occurred before anyone learnt that the prophet of that religion would be born in the same year.
By the revelation of this indicator, we rejoice and feel at rest in our times, for in spite of the cunning and the wickedness that the global crusaders and Zionists have for our sacred places, which we know well and which they do not cease to endeavor to deviously contrive in secret, Allah The Almighty, who protected the House from the People of the Book and from its custodians from among the polytheists would inevitably preserve it and would also preserve the town of the Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) from the plot of the plotters.
9- The event was made as a historical marker for the Arabs:
Because the Arabs considered with great seriousness and significance what happened to the Companions of the Elephant, they used it in historicizing their events, saying: “Such and such an event happened in the Year of the Elephant; so and so was born in the Year of the Elephant, such and such an occasion was many years after the Year of the Elephant”, and so on. The year of the Elephant was five hundred and seventy CE.

The story of the Companions of the Elephant – I

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