The incident of the people of the elephants occurred approximately fifty five days prior to the birth of Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam). An entire Surah of the Qur’aan Shareef has been dedicated to this incident, the details of which have been recorded in the books of Tafseer, Hadith and Seerat.
The incident of the people of the elephants was in actual fact a divine declaration and a discreet sign indicating towards the imminent arrival of the seal of Prophets, the Final Messenger, Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam. The divine protection which was extended to the Quraish was simply due to the fact that the final messenger, who was about to set foot on this earth, was to come from this very tribe (the Quraish). Otherwise, in terms of religious belief the Emperors of Abyssinia and Yemen were better than the Quraish of Makkah Mukarramah, as they were the people of the book while the Quraish were idolaters.
Mu’jizah and Irhaas
The miraculous feat that manifests at the hands of a Prophet after he is commissioned with prophethood is referred to as a mu’jizah. On the other hand, the extraordinary event that transpires at the hands of a Prophet prior to prophethood is referred to as irhaas. Likewise, the sign that marks the coming of the Nabi is also referred to as Irhaas. Literally, the word Irhaas means a foundation or basis. Hence, such extraordinary phenomena formed the basis heralding the advent of prophethood.
Abraha’s launching an attack on the people of Makkah Mukarramah and his subsequent annihilation occurred in the month of Muharram prior to the blessed birth of Nabi Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam.
A brief account of the incident
Abraha was the governer of Yemen appointed by Najaashi (Negus). Seeing the Arabs travelling from far and wide to Makkah Mukarramah to perform Tawaaf of the Baitullah, Abraha burned with envy. Hence, he decided to erect a unique and magnificent church in the name of Christianity. His aim and goal was to make his church the centre of pilgrimage instead of the Ka’bah. Thus, he went ahead with his mission and erected a beautiful church in San’aa, the capital city of Yemen. He then began preventing the people of Yemen from visiting Makkah Mukarramah and ordered them to take his church as a substitute for the simple Ka’bah. Ibn Kathir reported that Abraha acquired most of the precious adornments for the church from the palace of Bilqis.
When the news of the newly constructed church reached the Arabs, they were infuriated and enraged. A person from the tribe of Kinaanah, driven by sentiments and emotions, set out with the intention of disgracing Abraha. He came close to the Ka’bah of Abraha and defecated in the area around it. Some reports explain that a few Arab youngsters lit a fire in the vicinity of the church. A gust of wind blew a burning ember from the fire onto the wooden structure causing it to be set alight. No sooner did Abraha learn of this he, in a fit of anger and rage, vowed to demolish the Holy Ka’bah and raze it to the ground. Continue reading Incident of the People of the Elephants →