i have a long trunk but i am neither an elephant in a jungle nor one in a zoo. no. i lived long long ago and was very famous. a strange thing happened to me and i would like to tell you about it.
my story began in the land of abyssinia . i roamed free among the trees until the people of abyssinia caught me. when they realised how strong and powerful i was they put me in their army and i traveled with them to a country called yaman.
people were afraid of me. they used to shake with fear when they heard me coming because i caused ruin and havoc wherever i went. if i stepped on something i would smash it to pieces. that ’ s how i was able to help my people, the abyssinians, conquer the land of yaman .
in recognition of my enormous power, our commander, abraha, honoured me and made me his own special elephant. thus he refused to make me carry stones and planks of wood for his temple. he was building a huge temple that would be bigger than the temple at makkah, the temple at makkah which people came from every where to visit. in his great temple abraha built a golden kaaba. he wanted people to make their pilgrimage to it instead of to the kaaba at makkah. but people still did not come to abraraha ’ s kaaba .they carried on going to makkah.
abraha became very angry at this and decided he had to destroy the kaaba at makkah.
then only the kaaba that he had built of gold would be left and people would have to visit it.
so abraha made ready a great army to attack makkah and the people of makkah.
i was in that army of course, so that the commander abraha could ride on my back and lead his army. abraha wanted me to carry him all the way to the kaaba , the kaaba at makkah.
and when i lent my huge body against it i would knock it down and destroy it, as i had done many times to the houses of abraha ’ s enemies.
to be honest i was not happy about doing this, but i could not refuse to go with them, so off i marched with abraha ’ s army all around me. the soldiers were talking about the people of makkah and the story of the kaaba. they said it had been built by a prophet named ibrahim, peace be upon him, and that his son ismael had helped him built it. they also said that ibrahim could perform miracles, and that once, when his people threw him into a fire, he wasn ’ t burned.
i learned that his kaaba was a holy place, and that it was in the sacred house of allah, and that this sacred house was a place of safety. people enter it and no harm comes to them.
pigeons land there and no one hunts them or comes near them. it is a safe and peaceful place, a place blessed by allah. the people love it and find shelter there and pray.
i learned from the soldiers that the people of makkah were afraid when they heard about me, and realized that i was marching towards them, because they had heard of my strength and how i could knock down and destroy anything in my path.
eventually only one night remained before we reached makkah and then the kaaba would be no more and makkah would be destroyed. there was no army standing in our way to prevent us from advancing. the road was empty before us. there was no hope that makkah would be saved or the kaaba escape unharmed. everyone in the army was looking at me in admiration and many of them were saying:
“ go forward, our hero! march on, elephant abraha, mightiest of elephants.”
as we hurried on towards makkah news reached us of abdulmuttalib, the leader of makkah, and we all came to a standstill when we heard what he had said, for the words send a shiver down our spines.
we were told that when abdulmuttalib learned that abraha and his army and i would destroy the kaaba, he was not afraid. in fact he confidently said:
“ the house has a lord who will protect it”.
these mighty words spoken by abdulmuttalib made me feel afraid. can you imagine?
me, the terrifying elephant who marches through any city and in a moment turns it into rubble with not a single house left standing in it ’ s place, and now i was afraid.
in fact i was so scared by abdulmuttalib ’ s words that i became unable to walk.
i felt a great tiredness come over me. and i was not the only one. all the elephants, all the horses, all the camels, all the soldiers were unable to walk.
i was standing completely still. i could not move, as if my legs were stuck to the ground, nailed to the spot. i could not budge them a single step more along the road to makkah.
abraha and the soldiers were greatly disturbed. they turned me round to face the other direction and then i could walk. they turned me to the right and i could walk.
they turned me to the left and i moved with ease. but when they faced me in the direction of the kaaba i could not move. they beat me. they pulled me and pushed me. they burned me with fire. but despite all that i remained glued to the spot.
“i will not go to makkah,” i said. i will not demolish the kaaba whatever you do to me.” but they did not want me to retreat until i had knocked down the kaaba and destroyed makkah and scattered it ’ s people.
then suddenly an amazing thing happened. with my own eyes i saw birds covering the whole sky so that none of it could be seen. the world went dark and i could no longer tell if i was dreaming or if i was awake seeing what was happening around me. i heard the soldiers yelling:
“they are birds in huge flocks, throwing stones of baked clay.”
small stones fell down upon us, perhaps no larger than a bean or a grain of wheat.
but if even the smallest one landed on the largest elephant he fell to the ground, and even the smallest one hit the biggest camel he fell to his knees in the sand, and even the smallest one struck the strongest man he passed out and died. i found myself looking all around and shaking with fear, me, the famous elephant.
i had destroyed so many things and so many people in my life but i had never seen anything like this. suddenly i found myself falling to my knees as i saw a light in the distance stretching between the earth and the sky. the light was around makkah.
and from far away i saw abdulmuttalib, leader of the tribe of quraysh, come forward.
everyone was cheering and congratulating him, shouting "mubarak", for abraha ’ s army was finished. now it would never enter makkah and demolish the kaaba.
abdulmuttalib was telling those around him about a dream he had had in which he saw a chain of sliver come out of his back. one end of was in the earth and the other end in the sky. then after a short while, the chain turned into a tree and on one of it s leaves was a light. all the people were clinging to that leaf.
those who were listening interpreted the dream for abdulmuttalib. they said than his son abdulallah would have a son whom the people in the east and the west would follow, and they rejoiced at the good news and congratulated him and asked him:
“ what will you call him?”
he answered: “i will call him muhammad, which means ‘ he who is praised on earth and in heaven. ’ “
and with the god news of the birth of muhammad this story about me, the famous elephant, and the destruction of abraha and his great army comes to an end. makkah survives and the kaaba survives, and it will remain until the end of time, eternal and mighty, and the nation of muhammad turn towards it five times a day as they pray to allah, who sent them the prophet to guide them, may the finest of praises and peace be upon him.
"have you not seen how your lord dealt with the owners of the elephant? (1) did he not make their plot go astray? (2) and he sent against them birds, in flocks, (3) striking them with stones of baked clay. (4) and he made them like stalks of corn eaten up by cattle. (5)"
almighty allah has spoken the truth
surat al-fil (the elephant)105