Rafed English

The Event of Aam-ul-Feel

Meanwhile a rumour spread among the people that Abraha had decided to demolish the Ka'aba. This caused a commotion among certain Arab people, and one Arab, hearing of Abraha's intention, went to Yemen, entered the church at night and polluted it with- his urine. This incident enraged Abraha and the Christians. They told him that, that was how much the Arabs respected his Church! Abraha asked what was the reason for that? They replied because they were devoted to Ka'aba in their heart of hearts and the news that you intended to destroy the Ka'aba had reached them. Abraha said that if that was the way it was, when it was no more than a rumour, then he was decided to destroy Ka'aba. He mobilised his forces and proceeded towards Mecca, and on his way vanquished all the Arab tribes that offered any resistance.

On approaching Mecca he sent a messenger to find out whoever was the chief of Mecca and to summon him. He was informed that the chief of Mecca was an old man named Abdul-Mutallib. But before he could be contacted, Abraha's soldiers plundered all the sheep, cows and camels around Mecca including two hundred camels belonging to Abdul-Mutallib. After consulting his friends Abdul-Mut.allib decided to pay a visit to Abraha. The latter arranged a formal audience, sitting upon a throne and surrounded by his officers. It is said that when Abdul-Mutallib entered, Abraha was so impressed by his dignity and bearing that he descended from his throne, sat down on a mattress and asked Abdul-Mutallib to sit beside him. This dignified carriage is what the historians call the radiance of prophethood in the bodies of the prophet's ancestors.

Abraha said to him: "I have no issue with the people of Mecca. I have only come to destroy the Ka'aba, and if you do not confront me, I will carry out this task and turn back, without shedding any blood." Abdul-Mutallib advised him against his intention, but he refused to change his mind. Abdul-Mutallib then asked him why had he been summoned there, Abraha said that he had come to see him, did he want anything of him. He had thought that Abdul-Mut.allib might come up with some bargaining to save Ka'aba. Abdul-Mutallib said that he had no request to make except to demand the return of his two hundred camels which had been seized. Abraha expressed surprise at this trifling request, and said that he had expected him to intercede for the city and its people and Ka'aba. Abdul-Mutallib answered the reason why he did not intercede for the Ka'aba was that he realised that the people of Mecca had no power to resist Abraha's forces, and Ka'aba had its owner who is Allah and He would take care of His own house. Abraha was moved at these words, but he felt that he had come to carry out a mission. So he ordered the return of Abdul-Mutallib's camels to him, and warned the people of Mecca to evacuate the city and take refuge in the neighbouring hills. The people evacuated the city at once to prevent the loss of life, and Abraha prepared to demolish the Ka'aba with the aid of his army and the elephants which he had brought with him. This story has been narrated differently by Arab and European historians. The Greek and European version is that an epidemic of typhoid and smallpox at that time so annihilated Abraha's army that they could not carry out the attack.

But the Islamic historian's version which is based on the Qur'an and what eye-witnesses had reported, is, according to the Arab captives in Abraha's army, that a vast flock of small birds like swallows, carrying pebbles in their beaks darkened the sky and pelted them down upon the heads of Abraha's army causing deep puncture-like wounds killing many It is also said that at the same time for the first time in Arabia, the diseases of typhoid and smallpox appeared in Arabia affecting the whole army. Abraha himself suffered from smallpox, and remained alive only until he reached Yemen and died there. This is the theme mentioned in the holy Qur'an, Chapter 105 'Feel' (Elephant) as follows:

"Have you not considered how your Lord dealt with the possessors of the elephant? Did He not cause their war to end in confusion, and send down (to prey) upon them birds in flocks, casting stones of baked clay, so He rendered them like straw eaten up?"

There is a perfect harmony between what the Greek historian who is the original source of European version, and Islamic historians who have narrated this episode except that the Greek historian makes no mention of the birds. It needs no emphasis however, that the report of eye-witnesses would be far more reliable than the narration of a historian sitting hundreds of miles away from the scene of occurrence and above all the text of the holy Qur'an itself leaves no room for doubt.

Anyhow, Abraha and his Abyssinian army returned to Yemen, and this part of Arabia, namely Mecca and Medina, remained as before. 69 But despite the strained relations between the Abyssinian government and the people of Mecca and Medina, trade relations continued between them until the birth of Islam.

69. The Abyssinians ruled over Yemen for 72 years, namely Eryat for 20 years, Abraha (killer of Eryat) for 23 years, Yeksoom son of Abraha for 17 years, Massrouq another son of Abraha for 12 years when Vahraz with his Iranian army killed him in the year 570 A.D. Yaqubi's History, Vol. 1, p. 204.

Adapted from the book: "Background of the Birth of Islam" by: "S. T. H. Khwarazmi"

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