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Wednesday 25th of May 2022
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The Year of the Elephant

The Sacred and Holy Kabah

  • The site of The Holy Kabah is where the world was first created from.
  • It was first built by the Prophet Adam(as) with sticks and stones.
  • Then rebuilt by the Prophet Ibraheem(as) with rock.
  • All Muslims face towards the Kabah during their Prayers.
  • It is where the Muslims gather for the anual Hajj pilgrimage.
  • It is the First and most Sacred Islamic site in the world

    At that time the Yemen was under the rule of Abyssinia, and an Abyssinian named Abrahah was the vice-regent. He built a magnificent cathedral in Sana, hoping thereby to make it supersede Mecca as the great place of pilgrimage for all Arabia.

    He had marble brought to it from one of the derelict palaces of the Queen of Sheba, and he set up crosses in it of gold and of silver, and pulpits of ivory and ebony, and he wrote to his master, the Negus:

    "I have built thee a church, O King, the like of which was never built for any king before thee; and I shall not rest until I have diverted unto it the pilgrimage of the Arabs."

    Nor did he make any secret of his intention, and great was the anger of the tribes throughout Hijaz and Najd.

    Finally when a man of Kininah, a tribe akin to Quraysh, going to Sana to trade, relieved his bladder on one of the walls of the great church building before returning that night to his tribe in the desert.

    When Abrahah heard of this, he was furious and finally had the excuse he wanted, so he vowed that in revenge he would raze the Kabah to the ground; and having made his preparations he set off for Mecca with a large army, in the van of which he placed an elephant.

    Some of the Arab tribes north of Sana attempted to bar his way. but the Abyssinians put them to flight and captured their leader, Nufayl of the tribe of Khatham. By way of ransom for his life, he offered to act as their guide.

    Temple of Al-Lat Mistaken for the Kabah

    When the army reached Taif, the men of Thaqif came out to meet them, afraid that Abrahah might destroy their temple of Al-Lat in mistake for the Kabah. They hastened to point out to him that he had not yet reached his goal, and they offered him a guide for the remainder of his march.

    Although he already had Nufayl, he accepted their offer, but the man died on the way, about two miles from Mecca, at a place called Mughammis, and they buried him. Afterwards the Arabs took to stoning his grave, and the people who live there still stone it to this day.

    Abrahah reaches Mecca

    Abrahah halted at Mughammis, and sent on a detachment of horsemen to the outskirts of Mecca. They took what they could on the way, and sent back their plunder to Abrahah, including two hundred camels which were the property of Abd Al-Muttalib.

    Quraysh and other neighbouring tribes held a council of war, and decided that it was useless to try to resist the enemy. Meanwhile Abrahah sent a messenger to Mecca, bidding him to ask for the chief man there.

    He was to tell him they had not come to fight but only to destroy the temple, and if he wished to avoid all bloodshed, he must come to the Abyssinian camp.

    There had been no official chief of Quraysh since the time when thel privileges and responsibilities had been divided between the houses of Abd Ad-Dar and Abdu Manaf. But most people had their opinion as to which of the chiefs of the clans was in fact if not by right the leading man of Mecca, and on this occasion the messenger was directed to the house of Abd al-Muttalib who, together with one of his sons, went back with the messenger to the camp.

    When Abrahah saw him he was so impressed by his appearance that he rose from his royal seat to greet him and then sat beside him on the carpet, telling his interpreter to inquire if he had a favour to ask. Abd Al-Muttalib replied that Abrahah's army had taken two hundred of his camels and he asked that they should be returned to him.

    Abrabah was somewhat taken by surprise at the request, and said that he was disappointed in him, that he should be thinking of his camels rather than his religion which they had now come to destroy.

    Abd Al-Muttalib replied:

    "Alas, I am but the lord of the camels, and the temple likewise hath a Lord who will defend it."

    Abrahah replied coldly,

    "He cannot defend it against me!"

    Abd Al-Muttalib said,

    "We shall see. But now give me back my camels!"

    And Abrahah gave orders for the camels to be returned.

    Abd Al-Muttalib returned to Quraysh and advised them to withdraw to the hills above the town for safety. Then he went with some of his family and others to the Sanctuary. They stood beside him, praying to God for His hell against Abrahah and his army, and he himself took hold of the metal ring in the middle of The Holy Kabah door and said:

    "O God, thy slave had protecteth his house. Now, protect Thou, Thy House!"

    Having thus prayed, he went with the others to join the rest of Quraysh in the hills at points where they could see what took place in the valley below.

    Abrahah marches against The Sacred Kabah

    The next morning Abrahah made ready to march into the town, intending to destroy the Kabah and then return to Sana by the way they had come.

    The elephant, richly caparlsoned, was led into the front of the army, which was already drawn up; and when the mighty animal reached his position his keeper Unays turned him the same way as the troops were turned, that is towards Mecca.

    But Nufayl, the reluctant guide, had marched most of the way in the van of the army with Unays, and had learned from him some of the words of command which the elephants understood; and while the head of Unays was turned to watch for th signal to advance, Nufayl took hold of the great ear and conveyed into it; a subdued but intense imperative to kneel.

    Thereupon, to the surprise and dismay of Abrahah and the troops, the elephant slowly and deliberately knelt himself down to the ground. Unays ordered him to rise, but Nufayl word had coincided with a command more powerful than that of any man, and the elephant would not move.

    They did everything they could to bring, him to his feet; they even beat him about the head with iron bars and stuck huge iron hooks into his belly, to pull him up. But the mighty beast, in pain and bleeding remained kneeled down, like a rock.

    Then they tried the stratagem of making the whole army turn about and march a few paces in the direction of the Yemen. The animal at once rose to his feet, turned round anew followed them. Hopefully they turned him round about again, and he also turned, but no sooner was he facing Mecca than again he knelt down, refusing to proceed futher.

    This was the clearest of portents not to move one step further forward, but Abrahah was blinded by his personal ambition for the sanctuary he had built and by his determination to destroy its great rival, The Holy Kaba.

    God strikes Abrahah and his army

    If they had turned back then, perhaps they would all have escaped disaster. But suddenly it was too late: the western sky grew black, and a strange sound was heard; its volume increased as a great wave of darkness swept upon them from the direction of the sea, and the air above their heads, as high as they could see, was full of birds.

    Survivors said that they flew with a flight like that of swifts, and each bird had three pebbles the size of dried peas, one in its beak and one between the claws of each foot.

    They swooped to and fro over the ranks, pelting as they swooped, and the pebbles were so hard and launched with such velocity that they pierced even coats of mail.

    Every stone found its mark and killed its man, for as soon as a body was struck its flesh began to rot, quickly in some cases, more gradually in others.

    Not everyone was hit though, and amongst those spared were Unays and the elephant, and Nufayl, who had quietly slipped away from the army while all attention was concentrated on the elephant. He made his way unscathed to the hills above Mecca.

    After that day Quraysh were called by the Arabs as,

    "The People of God"

    They were also held in even greater respect than before, because God had answered their prayers and saved The Kabah from sure destruction. They are still honoured, but rather on account of a second greater event, no doubt not totally unconnected with the first, which took place in that same of the miracle of the Year of the Elephant.

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