Incident of the People of the Elephants

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Seerah

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 →

The auspicious birth

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Seerah

At the break of dawn on Monday the 8th of Rabi Ul-Awwal, corresponding to April 570 A.D., in the Holy city of Makkah Mukarramah, in the house of Abu Taalib, the greatest of mankind, the leader of the progeny of Aadam, Muhammad Mustafa (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) entered this world.

It is famously recorded in the books of history that the birth of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) occurred on the 12th of Rabi Ul-Awwal. However, according to the most preferred view of the Muhadditheen and Historians, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was born on the 8th of Rabi Ul-Awwal.[1]

 

THE EVENTS THAT UNFOLDED AT THE TIME OF THE BIRTH OF NABI (SALLALLAHU ALAIHI WASALLAM):

THE EAST AND WEST BECOME ILLUMINATED

The mother of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), Aamina bintu Wahb mentioned: “At the time of the birth of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), I witnessed a light emerge with him as he separated from my womb, which illuminated the entire expanse between the east and west. After being placed on the ground, I saw him fall in prostration. He then took a handful of sand and looked up raising his shahaadah (index) finger towards the sky.”[2]

In some narrations, it is stated that Hadhrat Aamina says: “When I looked at the light which had emerged from within me at the time of the birth of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), I noticed that rays of Noor (light) were streaming from the face of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and a unique fragrance was emanating from his blessed body.”[3]

Rasulullah’s (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) raising his shahaadah (index) finger towards the sky at the time of his birth was in expression of tauheed (oneness of Allah Ta’aala) and ultimate submission to the Lord of the worlds.

 

THE ILLUMINATION OF THE CASTLES OF SYRIA

Irbaadh ibnu Saariya (Radiallahu Anhu) narrates that when Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was born his mother saw a light, which illuminated the palaces of Syria. Another narration states that the castles of Busra (a city in Syria) were illuminated.[4]

The palaces of Syria becoming illuminated with noor at the birth of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was, in actual fact, an indication that Syria will be conquered by the Muslims and become the centre of hidaayah(guidance). Hence, it was witnessed thereafter that the regions extending from Makkah Mukarramah to Syria were conquered by the Muslims in the very lifetime of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). Some Ulama explain that from amongst the places that became radiant with light, in particular, were the palaces of Busra (a city in Syria). The apparent reason for this is that from all the regions of Syria, Busra was the very first Syrian city to be conquered and blessed with the radiance of prophethood and spiritual guidance.

Ka’b Ahbaar narrates that the following distinct signs of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) have been mentioned in the previous scriptures:

“Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah will be born in Makkah Mukarramah, migrate to Yathrib (Madinah Munawwarah) and his reign will extend over Shaam (Syria).”[5]

Continue reading The auspicious birth →

The Collapse of the Fourteen Towers of Kisra’s Palace

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Seerah

On the eve of the birth of Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), an earthquake shook the palace of Kisra, the Persian King, causing fourteen towers of the palace to collapse. The fire in the temple of Persia, which had been burning continuously for a thousand years was suddenly extinguished and Lake Saawah unexpectedly dried up.

The Persian king Kisra was extremely distressed but royal pride would not allow him to expose his fears. Eventually he summoned his advisors, courtiers and ministers of state and intended convening a meeting to discuss the causes for the unusual events and rare phenomena. Amidst the discussions, news of the fire in the temple reached the court and which only intensified Kisra’s apprehension and increased his anxiety. It was just then that the Mubidhan (the Persian supreme judge) stood up and revealed to the assembly his peculiar vision, which he was shown the previous night. He exclaimed, “Last night I saw a dream wherein I was shown a herd of strong, powerful camels. I saw them travel with great speed dragging along with them Arabian horses until they crossed over the Tigris River and spread throughout the world.” Kisra enquired from the Mubidhan as to what was the interpretation of the dream. The Mubidhan replied, “It is likely that a matter of great significance is about to occur in Arabia. In order to allay your fears I advise you to send a message to your governor in Hiyra asking him to despatch a learned scholar of Arab decent in order to investigate the matter further.” He further remarked that the Arab scholars possess a great deal of knowledge with regard to the current events.

Kisra accepted his advice and sent a message to Nu’man ibn Mundhir, instructing him to despatch an eminent scholar who would be able to adequately answer his questions. Nu’man bin Mundhir immediately sent a prominent and knowledgeable scholar by the name of Abdul Maseeh Ghassaani to Kisra. When Abdul Maseeh arrived in the court of Kisra, Kisra said to him: “Do you possess sufficient knowledge in order to be able to answer all that I wish to ask you?” Abdul Maseeh replied: “Put forward your questions and if I possess the knowledge I will answer you and if I do not possess the knowledge I will guide you to someone more knowledgeable than myself.” Kisra then related all the events that surprisingly occurred in the span of one night. Abdul Maseeh thought for a while and not having the answers to the queries of Kisra felt it best to refer this matter to his uncle ‘Sateeh’. So he said to the king, Kisra, “Perhaps my uncle Sateeh has knowledge of the answers to your questions.”

Sateeh was amongst the most learned men of that time who lived in the famous city of Jaabiyah, in the upper portion of Syria. Kisra, without any delay, commissioned Abdul Maseeh to personally go to his uncle and return with his view on the matter. Abdul Maseeh immediately set out for Shaam (Syria) and reaching Jaabiyah, he found his uncle, Sateeh, in the throes of death. However, being conscious of his surroundings Abdul Maseeh greeted him while reciting poetry. When Sateeh heard him reciting the couplets he turned towards him and said: “Abdul Maseeh, mounted on a speedy camel hastens to Sateeh, as death approaches him. The king of Bani Saasaan (Kisra) has commissioned you to enquire about the earthquake that shook the palace causing fourteen towers to collapse, the sacred fire that has blown out, and the dream of the Mubidhan, in which powerfully built camels were dragging Arabian horses across the Tigris, and thereafter spread throughout the world. O Abdul Maseeh! Listen attentively! When the divine speech (i.e. the word of Allah Ta’aala, the Qur’aan) is recited in abundance, and when the personality carrying the staff appears and when the valley of Samawa begins to flow with water and Lake Saawah dries up, and when the Persian fire becomes extinguished, then Syria will no longer remain Syria for Sateeh. For only a few more years a counted number of men and women from the Sassanidae dynasty (fourteen in number conforming to the total number of pillars that collapsed) will rule and what is to come is as good as here.” With these words Sateeh breathed his last.

Abdul Maseeh returned to Kisra and fully apprised him of all that had transpired. Kisra assumed that time was on his side and said: “The elapse of fourteen kingdoms takes a long time.” But little did he know that time was running out and in a short span of four years ten kingdoms passed. The reign of the remaining four leaders ended with the Khilaafat of Hadhrat Uthmaan (Radiallahu Anhu).

Note: The words “the personality carrying the staff”, was with reference to Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). As it is known that Rasulullah (Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam) would walk with a staff and use it as a sutrah (barrier) during Salaah when out on a journey.

“The personality carrying the staff” appears in Kisra’s dream

Allamah Tabri (Rahmatullahi Alaihi) has written that the Persian king, Abrawez ibn Hurmuz had once seen a dream wherein he was ordered to hand over whatever was in his hand to the person standing before him holding a staff. The King was extremely pertubed by this dream as the dream implied that he will lose his power and kingdom. It was not long thereafter that his governor, Nu’man ibn Mundhir, informed him that the final prophet has appeared in Makkah. It was then that the king was convinced that his kingdom would soon be conquered by the final prophet.[1]


[1]al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah 2/249 (dar al-Kutub al-‘Ihmiyyah), as-Seerah al-Halabiyyah 1/73 (dar Ihyaa at-Turaath al-‘Arabiy)