Seerah episode 7: Invasion of the Elephants

Abraha starts marching to Makkah with his army of 60,000 soldiers & a dozen elephants.

Abraha took elephants for 2 reasons:
Elephants will act as his bulldozers. They’d walk through & trample the towns.
Arabs had never seen elephants before, so to introduce a dozen mighty beasts to them would be to introduce shock & fear to the Arabs – to make them run for the hills.

As Abraha is traveling north, he’s meeting the Arabs. Arabs see him traveling with such a large army, so they’re rallying to defend the Kab’ah. For all the Arabs, the Ka’bah was their sacred place, so defending the Ka’bah would be defending their honor as well.

Abraha would tell the Arabs exactly why the Abyssinians were here – to defend the honor of his church Qullays after an Arab man desecrated the church, so that the Arabs would understand that if this happened to the Kab’ah, the Arabs would be knocking on the Abyssinians’ door as well

— One of the people that Abraha comes across is Dhu Nafr, the ruler of the boundary of the Yemen/Hejaz region

Abraha’s army easily ran over Dhu Nafr’s army. Dhu Nafr was brought to Abraha, who was about to issue the order to kill the defeated ruler. Dhu Nafr pleaded with Abraha. “Listen King, don’t kill me. Leaving me alive might end up working for you.” Dhu Nafr said that keeping him alive would serve some benefit to Abraha.

Abraha’s army continue the journey to the Kab’ah, with Dhu Nafr tagging along as a his prisoner.

— As Abraha continues the journey, he came across the two tribes Shahran & Nahez. Their leader was Nufail bin Habib, who rallied the tribes to fight against Abraha. Of course, Abraha easily defeats them & takes Nufail as a prisoner too.

Now Abraha has ran over 2 armies, so he’s developing a bit of a reputation. As Abraha kept proceeding forward, the other Arab tribes who were originally going to put up a fight don’t even bother resisting. They just let Abraha walk on by.

— Abraha crosses Ta’if.
The leader of Takheef tribe, Mas’ood, says, “Oh king, we’re your slaves (we’re at your service). We will obey you and by the way, we have no disagreement with you. We have no affiliation with the Kab’ah.” Because they have their own idols and as mentioned in previous episodes, they sort of have their own Kaabah that they make tawaf. Tai’f was where the major idol of Al-lat was located (a shrine).
Abraha gets a guy named Abu Rehal who’s a human map; he knows all the roads & routes. Knows everybody along the way like a scout.

— Interesting history about Abu Rehal
Abu Rehal leads Abraha to Makkah. They reach a place outside of Makkah called Al Muhammas. Abu Rehal gets fever; he died & gets buried there. Much later in history, Abu Rehal is seen as a traitor to Arabs. Because he was the one that showed the way to Mecca.
People would go & do jamaarat & pretty much defile (spit & dump animal intestines) on Abu Rehal’s grave, because he was someone who turned his back on the House of Allah & his people.

The ruins of Thamood are in al-Hejaz. There was also a man named Abu Rehal who was a notorious individual in the tribe of Thamood. He’d discourage people from worshipping God & respecting & listening to prophet Saleh. We was involved in the killing of the camel. Azab was sent to the people. He wasn’t killed along with the rest of the people. He was one of the few survivors. When people later found out who he was, he was stoned to death because they said he was the reason that the azab was sent to his people.

Basically, Abu Rehal was not a good name. 2 guys named Abu Rehal were men with questionable character.
— Now Abraha & army of 60,000 soldiers are parked just outside of Makkah.

Abraha sends a Habeshi man, al-Aswad bin Maqsood, to deliver a message to the Arabs outside of Makkah: “Let them know that I [Abraha] am not there to shed blood. I’m here to knock down the Kab’ah – that’s it. If you don’t resist, no one will get hurt. Just clear my path.”

Abraha’s army started to raid people’s houses & camels. They find a pasture with 200 camels roaming about. They kill the shepherd & bring the camels back to the camp, intending to feast.
— As mentioned before, in pre-Islamic society, there was no king to unify all the tribes & clans, but in Makkah, by default, if you had an issue about anything, you’d go to Abdul Mutallib.

The Habeshi man talks to Abdul Mutallib. Abdul Mutallib then goes on to talk to the leaders of Quraysh. At first they’re all excited to fight Abraha, but realize they don’t have the means or resources to defeat Abraha, so they ask Abdul Mutallib (Shaybat ibn Hashim) to reason with Abraha. Abdul Mutallib then asks Al-Aswad bin Maqsood for a meeting with Abraha.
Al-Aswad agreed, & goes to talk with Sa’is al Fil (named Unais, the elephant breeder).
Abdul Mutallib goes to talk with Abraha & spots Dhu Nafr. Abdul Mutallib asks Dhu Nafr to help the Arabs out. Dhu Nafr responds, “How is a prisoner supposed to help you when he’s tied up by the king? He could kill me in the morning or in the evening. But I can try to get you through the door to meet with the king.”

— Abdul Mutallib meets up with Abraha
Abdul Mutallib had a great physical presence about him. He was a natural born leader. As soon as Abraha sees Abdul Mutallib, Abraha sees a respected, dignified man and is in complete awe & respect of the leader of Quraysh.

Abraha gets up from his throne to sit on the ground next to Abdul Mutallib as a gesture of respect. Abdul Mutallib tells Abraha, “I have 200 camels, but they were raided by your soldiers. I just want my camels back.”

Abraha was pretty shocked by that request. Here he was to destroy the Ka’bah, but this man is here to talk about camels! Foolish man. Abraha tells Abdul Mutallib, “When you walked through the door, I was instantly in awe of you. Here’s an actual leader. But now when I hear you talk, I am dumbfounded. Are you really here to talk about camels? You don’t want to talk about the Ka’bah, the center point of your religion and the religion of your forefathers? Your whole identity is based out of that. You don’t want to talk about that?”

Abdul Mutallib responds with his famous statement: “What I want you to understand is that I’m the owner of these camels, so they’re my responsibility. I’m here to defend my property. What you’re not realizing is that the house you’re going to attack also has an owner, a master, and He’ll take care of it. I am the lord of these camels. This House has a Lord who will defend it.” That’s deep and profound words that came out of Abdul Mutallib.

Abraha, though taken back, said, “Nothing’s going to stop me! Do you see my army? Do you see my elephants?! Nothing’s capable of stopping me.” Abdul Mutallib basically shrugs, saying, “Okay cool. You and the Raab can take it up. I don’t know what’s gonna stop you. It’s between you and Him.” Abraha then gives the camels back to Abdul Mutallib

— Abdul Mutallib goes back to Quraysh. Tells them what’s up. And he suggested to them to take take refuge outside Mecca. They head out for the mountains & camp there, waiting for the fight to blow over. As they’re leaving, Abdul Mutallib goes to the door of the Ka’bah, and holds the ring (door handle of Ka’bah), and recites some supplication/poetry.
“Oh Allah, stop them (lahum). Lahum, lahum. Please, defend your home. Oh Allah, do not let their cross hang here. All their energy is being spent to attack You, not just Your four walls. But if You decide to leave it be, then let it be.” Abdul Mutallib then goes toward the mountains with the rest of his tribe.

— Abraha approaches the Kab’ah with his army
Nufail, the prisoner who was defeated & captured, had been hanging around Unais (the elephant breeder) a lot. Nufail picked up on how to communicate with the elephants.
Nufail goes up to the biggest elephant, the leader of the dozen, called Mahmud, the one that Abraha would ride on.

Nufail gets Mahmud’s attention & speaks into the elephant’s ear. “Listen. You’re about to go & attack the House & Place that belongs to my Creator & your Creator. Ubrook, Ya Mahmud, ubrook (sit down). Go back to where you came from. You’re treading on the sacred ground of Allah. Ubrook.”

Boorok al ibl – camels have distinct behavior, like dogs in sense of loyalty & sentimental to his master, but at same time, they are very noble. If someone mistreats a camel, camel won’t stand for it. It sits down & refuses to get back up. You can’t make the camel get back up again – it would just ignores you. When it’s angry, it’s angry. With that, Nufail walks away.

— Then Mahmud just parks it. He sits down & refuses to get back up (just like a camel). This goes completely against an elephant’s behavior, because it’s a trained animal.

Now everyone’s confused. Abraha’s angry & called Unais. “What’s wrong with your elephant? Get your act together!” Unais tries all of his tricks together but Mahmud won’t get up. Unais thought that something must have spooked Mahmud, so he turns the elephant over to all other sides where Mahmud walks, but if he’s turned toward Makkah, he’d sit back down again & refuse to get up
— Abraha decides, “Forget it”, then marches with his army toward Makkah

Allah sends very unique small birds (sort of like sparrows) that were coming from the seaside. They literally came out of the blue. Narrations says the birds carried 3 stones (size of chickpeas) – 2 in claws & 1 in beak.

Basically the birds obliterated Abraha’ army. Stones were basically bullets that would cut through & burn through flesh. Abraha was hit by the stones a few times along with others. He was able to escape that place, but he fell very sick & his body started to rot.
Narrations specifically mention that Abraha’s fingers & toes rotted & started to fall off. By the time he reached back to the center of his kingdom, he was a vegetable. Soon after he reached Yemen, he died.

Just a depiction

— Aisha (ra) is born about 40+ years after the Invasion of the Elephants. The elephant breeder, Unais, & his assistant were still in Makkah. Aisha recalled seeing them beg on the corners (they had gone blind in the attack)
— After the army was destroyed & people retreated, there were a large number of dead bodies & dead elephants lying around in Makkah. Shortly after Abraha’s defeat, there was a huge storm & there was a huge flood, which carried all the bodies away from Makkah.

Link to the podcase

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s