THE INCIDENT OF KA’ABA and THE ELEPHANTS
It is the beginning of March and the year is 570.A.D. The Arabic month is Muharram and there are fifty days remaining to come in to being the great person Muhammad sallallahu alaihe wasallam who was the essence of the mankind. There happened a great incident, which was so famous in and around the Arab peninsula that the mention of it was at the tongue of every small and big person.
The story of Ashabe Feel in brief is like that. A Governor, Abraha ruled over Yaman as a viceroy of the king of Habasha (Avicinea). He saw all Arabs
going towards Ka'aba to perform the Hajj. He desired that they should gather
in his own dominion. To achieve that purpose he conceived a plan to construct a huge church in the name of his Christian religion, in the capital Sana. The idea was that he wanted to stop the pilgrimage of Ka'aba and its Thawaf (getting round the cubical construction). The church was so high that when people try to sec its apex their caps would fall down. For this reason Arabs called it "Qalees" that is which fells the caps. Abraha decorated the church with silver, gold and precious stones. He made an announcement that all people instead of going to Makkah for Hajj should come to this newly built church in Sana and perform the same actions as they used to do in Makkah. When the Christians got political power in Yaman they wanted to annihilate the central position of Ka'aba which was established since the time of Ibraheem Alaihimussalam. He wrote to the king of Habasha whose governor he was that he will not rest until he would divert all the pilgrims from Ka'aba to Sana's church. This intention of diversion of pilgrimage from Ka'aba to Sana infuriated the Arabs very much. Obviously Abraha wanted to achieve the same result, so that by the excuse of their anger he would use it for the attacking over Ka'aba and demolishing it.
Even then the people paid no attention to it. When the Arabs, especially Quraish knew it they were highly enraged. Some of them in anger, polluted near that building with their refuse. And it is also said that some Arabs kindled fire near the building in their camp and the building of the church caught fire due to the fast winds and burnt into ashes and the whole structure of the church fell down to earth. Abraha, ferocious and enraged by this destruction, marched towards Makkah with a large army and elephants in order to demolish the Holy Ka'aba.
There was an Arab Chief, Zu-Nafar, by name, stood to confront with Abraha. Zu-Nafar collected an army and fought with him chivalrously but he could not succeed against the elephants and was compelled to surrender Abraha captured Zu-Nafar and took him along as a captive with his army and proceeded ahead. When Abraha reached the place of Khat'am tribe here the tribe's chief Mufail bin Habeeb confronted Abraha with his tribe but he could not get any success. Nufail was also captured. Abraha wanted to kill him but after a second thought kept him with the army to guide the way to Makkah. When Abraha reached near Taaif the tribe of Bani Thaqeef felt that they could not obstruct Abraha and they were Tightened that lest Abraha destroy their
idolatry of Laat. So their chief Masood came to Abraha and told him that as Abraha intended to destroy Ka'aba and his tribe did not want to check his way instead he offered to provide a guide to Abraha to show the way of Makkah. Masood gave a person named Abu Raghal to show the way to Makkah. When they reached near Makkah at a place named Maghrnas, Abu Raghal died. Later Arabs used to stone the grave of Abu Raghal due to his shameless act of guiding Abraha towards Makkah They also taunted the tribe of Bani Thaqeef for guiding the invaders
towards BaituIIah just to save their Idolatry.
Abraha made a camp near Maghmas. His soldiers gathered the animals'that were grazing near by. Among the animals which were held by Aswad bin Maqsood two hundred camels belonged to 'Abdul Mutailib the grand father of RasooluMan sallallahu 'alaihe wasallam. Abraha sent Hanata Hameri, one of his men as emissary towards Makkah so that he may proclaim that Abraha did not want to fight with the Quraish and wanted to destroy only the Ka'aba but if any body came forward to save the ka"aba he would fight with him. He also wanted to see the chief of the Quraish for negotiations. Hanata announced as he was told. Quraish took him to 'Abdul Mutallib, as he was the leader of the Quraish. Hanata gave the message of Abraha to 'Abdul Mutallib. 'Abdul Mutallib told Hanata, "by Allah we do not want to fight with Abraha and also we do not have enough power to do so. This is the sacred home of Allah and a monument of Hazrat Ibraheem (Alaihimussalam). If Allah intended to save his home Allah could do so, we are the weak." Hanata then invited 'Abdul Mutallib to come with him to Abraha.
'Abdul Mutallib went with Hanata to Abraha, 'Abdul Mutallib had a grand personality. He was very much handsome, strong, healthy and was of a very fair complexion. When Abraha saw 'Abdul Mutallib he was so impressed by his personality that he got. down from his seat and sat beside him.
Abraha asked through his interpreter that what did "Abdul Mutallib want? 'Abdul Mutallib replied that, " your men have captured my two hundred camels and I want them back". Abraha then told," I had much respect about you but you demanded only your camels. You did not mention any thing about your holy place, the House of Allah, whom I have come to destroy. What ever respect 1 had about you now I do not find it any more in my heart," 'Abdul Mutallib told him the camels were owned by him, therefore he tried to save them. The house belonged to its Master Allah Almighty and He will take care of it Himself. Also 'Abdul Mutallib offered one third of the riches of whole Hijaz if Abraha abandon his mission to which Abraha denied. 'Abdul Mutallib took his camels and got back.
When 'Abdul Mutallib came back to Makkah and saw the determination of Abraha, 'Abdul Mutallib asked the people of Makkah to vacate the place totally and go to the mountains. 'Abdul Mutallib took some people with him, came to Ka'aba, held the door of BaituIIah and wept enormously and prayed. " Ya Allah I do not have any
hope from any body save you, rescue your house from the enemies because the enemy of this house is also youi enemy, please hold him back to destroy this place and population. Then all the inhabitants went to the Hills. Then 'Abdul Mutallib left a hundred camels earmarked for sacrifice so that if the army of Abraha would touch them they would undergo the Azab of Allah.
The next day Abraha and his soldiers were all prepared for the attack on Makkah. Abraha took his elephants anc marched towards Makkah. Then came Tufail bin Habeeb, you may remember
who, had fought with Abraha and was made eaptive, he went to the big
elephant named Mahmood held, its ear and told " sit down, go back, from where you have conic, now you are in the respected city of Allah". After that Nufail released the ear of the elephant and ran away in the mountains and hid himself. As soon as the elephant hearc the message of Nufail it sat down anc would not stand whatever measures the elephant driver took to move him towards Harum. The elephant however would walk if he would be directed to the opposite side of Ka'aba or any other side of Ka'aba. Whatever it was beaten or pricked the elephant did not move at all. The people of Abraha became worried about this situation.
The army of Abraha was thinking what to do, at the same time from the side of the sea there appeared the flocks and flocks of birds. These birds a little smaller than pidgins in size over shadowed the whole army of Abraha. These birds had small pebbles of the size of the grain of gram one in the beak and two in their claws of each. These birds started dropping the pebbles on the army of Abraha. These pebbles wherever thing the came in to contact they penetrated through and the people would be killed on the spot. The army of Abraha began to run to save its lives but invain. The army people started calling Nufail for help as they have made him their guide. And the Nufail and the people of Makkah were seeing this scene from the mountains how the whole army of Abraha was destroyed by the help of celestial birds.
According to the great exponent of Quran Allama Ibne Katheer, when the big elephant Mahmood did not move ahead, they moved the other elephant at the same time a pebble was dropped over it and the elephant shrieked violently and moved back frantically. Then ail the elephants turned back and ran away but they were all hit by the pebbles and died. Abraha also was hit and his body was dropping piece by piece. In the same plight Abraha however reached the place from where he had started i.e. Sana. He was just a lump of flesh and then his heart burst in to pieces and he died an exemplary death. From this incident we should know and have a lesson that the Christian and Jews are from the beginning against our Islamic religion and their sacred places. Even today what is happening in and around the Masjid Aqsa must be an enough indication to open our eyes. Now what we have to do is, to recourse to Allah, ask His forgiveness and mend our ways so that Allah will grant us the same position as He has promised us: " you will be the superior if will become true Muslims".