The Abyssinians ruled Yemen after Himyar, and when Abrahah Al-Ashram became king, he built a huge church, called Al-Qullais, in San’a’ beside Ghumdân, the like of which had never been seen at that time. He built it of marble and gold-plated wood. His aim was to divert the pilgrimage of the Arabs to his church and to abolish the Hajj to the Ka’bah. When news of that spread among the Arabs, a man from Kinânah got very angry. He went to Al-Qullais and defecated in it at night, then he fled home.
When news of that reached Abrahah, he became very angry and swore to go to the Ka’bah and destroy it. This year was called the Year of the Elephant. Abrahah set out of San’a’ to Khath’am, then to At-Tâ’if, from where he sent a man of his people to Makkah Al-Mukarramah, who confiscated the wealth of its people, including two hundred camels belonging to ‘Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim, and brought it to Abrahah. Then Abrahah sent another man to Makkah and told him : “Ask about the leader of this city”.
So he asked, and he was told about ‘Abdul-Muttalib. He told him : “the king says that he has not come to wage war on you, he has only come to destroy this House”. ‘Abdul-Muttalib said to him : “By Allâh, we do not want to fight him and we do not have the power to do so. This is the sacred house of Allâh, and the House of His Close Friend Ibrâhim. If He does not protect it, it is His House and sanctuary, and if He protects it, it will not be us who defended it”. Then ‘Abdul-Muttalib went with the envoy of Abrahah to meet the king. When permission was asked for ‘Abdul-Muttalib to enter, they said to Abrahah. “This is the leader of the Quarish”, so he allowed him to enter. When Abrahah saw him he was impressed by him.
He did not want the Abyssinians to see him sitting next to him on his throne. So Abrahah came down from his throne and sat on the carpet beside ‘Abdul-Muttalib and asked him, “What do you want?” ‘Abdul-Muttalib spoke about his camels which had been taken. Abrahah said : “I admired you when I first saw you, but now I have changed my mind. You spoke about two hundred camels that I took from you, you ignored the House that is the focal point of your religion and that of your forefathers which I have come to destroy, and you do not speak about it!”
‘Abdul-Muttalib said : “I am the owner of the camels, and the House has an Owner Who will protect it”. So ‘Abdul-Muttalib went back to Quarish and told them what had happened. He told them to go out of Makkah and seek refuge in the mountains and passes, fearing the attack of the army which outnumbered Quarish. Then ‘Abdul-Muttalib took hold of the door-handle of the Ka’bah, and some of Quarish stood with him, praying to Allâh and seeking His help against Abrahah and his army. ‘Abdul-Muttalib said, whilst holding on to door-handle of the Ka’bah :
“O Allâh, any slave of Yours would protect his position, so protect Your House. Do not let their cross or their power defeat Your power. But if You are going to let them destroy our Qiblah, there must be a reason for that”.
When Abrahah prepared to enter Makkah with his largest elephant, seeking to destroy the Ka’bah, every time they made the elephant to face Makkah, it sat down and refused to move, but when they made it face another direction it started to run. Whilst that was going on, Allâh sent against them birds in flocks, each of them carrying three stones, one in its beak and two in its feet, with which they pelted them. These stones were like chickpeas or lentils, and no sooner was any one of them were struck. Then Allâh sent a flood which washed them into the sea. Those who were spared, turned and fled with Abrahah to Yemen. His body had started, to disintegrate, but he did not die in San’a’ until his chest had fallen away from his heart. His son Yaksum succeeded him as king in 571 CE.
Based on the importance of this event, the Arabs started to date their history from this point. And Allâh says :
1. “Have you (O Muhammad سصلى الله عليه وسلم ) not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? [The elephant army which came from Yemen under the command of Abrahah Al-Ashram intending to destroy the Ka’bah at Makkah.
2. Did He not make their ploy go astray?
3. And He sent against them birds, in flocks.
4. Striking them with stones of Sijjil (baked clay)
5. And He made them like (an empty field of) stalks (of which the corn) has been eaten up (by cattle)
[Al Fil 105 : 1-5]
By means of the defeat of the Abyssinians, Allâh protected His sacred House from being destroyed, and it subsequently became the Qiblah for Muslim in all parts of the globe.
1. Atlas on the Prophet’s Biography - Places, Nations, Landmark : Compiled by Dr Shawqi Abu Khalil.
2. The Noble Qur’an, English Translation, Dr Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali & Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan.
Categories: Al Quran