Abraha was the king of Yemen and Ethiopia. He had built a church in his city San’a and it was his wish that people must come to San’a and make its Tawaaf instead of going to Makkah Mukarramah to make Hajj. He had plans to establish a fair of Hajj.
The Arabs, and especially, the Quraish did not like the idea, therefore a man from Banu Kinanah, a tribe of Quraish, became very angry and travelled all the way to San’a and urinated in the church of Abraha and messed its walls with impurities. This enraged Abraha and he took an oath to abolish Makkah Mukarramah and travelled with his army with this intention.
His army consisted of a lot of elephants and they were led by his personal elephant by the name of Mahmood who was very gigantic. Abraha attacked on Makkah Mukarramah and captured all their animals including the camels of Hazrat Abdul Muttalib who is the grandfather of our beloved Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon Him. He was the custodian of the Holy Ka’bah and the leader of the people of Makkah Mukarramah. He was a very authoritative and strong man. He approached Abraha, upon which, Abraha welcomed him with honour and asked him the reason for his visit. He replied, “Return to me my camels.” He said, “I am surprised that I have come here to destroy the Ka’bah which is very holy to you and your ancestors yet you do not discuss anything about that, and instead, you are asking me for your camels!” He replied, “I am the owner of my camels, therefore I am asking for them, and the owner of the Holy Ka’bah will defend it. I have nothing to worry about that.”
Abraha returned his camels, and then he addressed the Quraish, “Go and take shelter in the caves of mountains and its valleys.” They obeyed him on his advice after which he held onto the gate of the Holy Ka’bah and cried and made Du’a. After making Du’a, he also climbed the mountain with his people.
Early in the morning, Abraha commanded his army to attack on the Holy Ka’bah. They were unable to make the elephants stand but their biggest elephant Mahmood did not walk towards the Ka’bah. He would walk in any other direction but when they turned his face towards the Ka’bah he would sit and would not get up.
Allah Almighty sent a flock of birds from the ocean and they all came with gravels; two in their claws and one in the beak. The flock of Ababeel began to throw the stones on Abraha’s army so fiercely that his army was forced to step back and run away. The stones were small but they were the stones of Allah’s torment. The stones pierced through their bodies and then fell on the ground. Each stone contained the name of its target and in this manner, the entire army of Abraha was destroyed and the Holy Ka’bah was protected.
The year in which this incident occurred, people of Arabia call it “’Aam Al-Feel” (The Year of Elephant) and the Holy Prophet – may Allah send peace and blessings upon Him – was born 50 days after the incident.
(Khazaain Al-‘Irfaan p. 1083)
Allah Almighty revealed a Surah in the Holy Quran describing this incident:
اَلَمْ تَرَ کَیۡفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّکَ بِاَصْحٰبِ الْفِیۡلِ ؕ﴿۱﴾
‘O beloved! Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the men of the Elephant?
اَلَمْ یَجْعَلْ کَیۡدَہُمْ فِیۡ تَضْلِیۡلٍ ۙ﴿۲﴾
Did He not cause their device to be ruined?.
وَّ اَرْسَلَ عَلَیۡہِمْ طَیۡرًا اَبَابِیۡلَ ۙ﴿۳﴾
And He sent against them flocks of birds.
تَرْمِیۡہِمۡ بِحِجَارَۃٍ مِّنۡ سِجِّیۡلٍ ﴿۴﴾۪ۙ
Striking them against stones of baked clay.
فَجَعَلَہُمْ کَعَصْفٍ مَّاۡکُوۡلٍ ٪﴿۵﴾
And thus made them like broken straw eaten up.
(Al-Feel 105, Verse 1-5)
It unfolds that, like the responsibility of protecting the Holy Quran, Allah Almighty has also taken the responsibility of protecting the Holy Ka’bah upon Himself, so that no evil force may neither destroy the Holy Quran nor the Holy Ka’bah because Allah Almighty is their protector.
And Allah Almighty Knows Best!
(Ajaibul Quran 224-227)