Tuesday 24 July 2018

The Holy Quran (Summary): Chapter 105 Sūrat al-Fīl (The Elephant)

Sūrat al-Fīl (pronounced as feel) is one of the sūrahs of the Holy Qur'an that were revealed in Makkah and is in the 30th part of the Holy Qur'an with its five verses. This  sūrah in fact is the narration of an actual event that occurred in 570 AD, months before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This sūrah is called "The Elephant" because a large army under the command of Abraha Al-Ashram, the Christian viceroy of Yemen (then ruled by the Abyssinians) which came with the intention to destroy the Ka’bah at Makkah. Since the invading army also included battle elephants, the sūrah is appropriately named.

Before I give out the summary of this sūrah, please read its English translation to know how this event has been described in the Holy Qur'an: 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"
  • “Have you (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) not seen how your Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant? 
  • Did He not make their plot go astray?
  • And He sent against them birds, (Martin swallows) in flocks.
  • Striking them with stones of Sijjil (baked clay).
  • And He made them like (an empty field of) stalks (of which the corn has been eaten up by cattle)”
This sūrah was revealed to apprise the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) of this historic event in which Allah saved its house, Ka'bah from destruction at the hands of the Christians. Although, Ka'bah was then under the control of pagans of Makkah, it has been built by Prophets Abraham and Ismael (may peace be upon them) as House of Allah thousands of years ago and Prophet Abraham had prayed to Alla for its safety and security.

After the death of Prophet Ismael, the message of Allah gradually faded away and the pagans of Makkah started to prevail till Ka'bah came under their control. Thus while Makkah became a thriving trade center of the whole of Arabia, Ka'bah became the center for annual pilgrimage of non believers and became an idol house.

Jealous of people of Makkah for their thriving trade, King Abraha built a huge cathedral in San'a and hoped they he would be able to divert trade towards his country. But this did not happen for pagans Ka'bah was more holier than a Christian church. This infuriated Abraha  and he led a huge army to destroy Ka'bah. When the Arabs saw a huge army with big beasts (elephants) they had never seen before, they panicked and prayed to their gods for security of Ka'bah, while throwing away the towel. Although Ka'bah wasn't house of Allah anymore for it it had become a idol worshiping place, Allah remembered his promise with Prophet Abraham for its security.

Thus when the Abraha and its army approached Makkah, instead of armies of pagans, a large number of small birds appeared on the sky, quoted in history as Martin swallows carrying small pebbles of baked clay and threw on the invading army. Although these small pebbles could not have had inflicted any damage or casualties to the army of horses and elephants, they did not know that these pebbles had the divine force embedded in them. So when these hit the Abraha army, it killed them instantaneously and as the last verse of the sūrah says:  "It left an empty field of stalks (of which the corn has been eaten up by cattle).” Abraha too was fatally wounded and died.

The Arabs described the year as the Year of Elephants for a long time.The pagans too understood that the victory was not due to their gods, bu Allah and secretly acknowledged it too. For it was in fact Allah that saved His house (Al-Ka'bah) by destroying the large Abraha army that included elephants, through a flock of tiny birds carrying small pebbles. 

Professor Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a well-known Pakistani Muslim theologian, Quran scholar and exegete, and educationist, explains the theme of Surah al-Fil is to inform the Quraysh that the God – Who routed His enemies in this manner before them – will also not spare them now that they too have shown enmity to Him. They will also be devastated in a similar manner. [3]

It may be added for information that in November and December 1979 a group dissidents fully armed entered the courtyard of Ka'bah and captured it. Allah again saved His house when commandos of Pakistan Army were called by Saudi government who cleared the Ka'bah of all the miscreants, killing many of them and capturing the rest. [4]

Please listen to recitation of Surat al Fil with English subtitles:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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