Only fifty five days before the birth of the Holy Nabi صَلَّی اللّٰہُ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلِہٖ وَسَلَّم, ‘Abrahah’ – the king of Yemen – attacked Makkah with an ‘Army of Elephants’ in order to demolish the Holy Ka’bah. In fact, ‘Abrahah’ had got a splendid church built in San’a – the capital of Yemen. He wanted the Arabs to come to Yemen and perform the ‘Hajj’ of the church instead of the Holy Ka’bah. When the people of Makkah became aware of it, a person from the tribe of ‘Kinanah’ became extremely angry.
He went to Yemen and defecated1 in the church, making it soiled [i.e. dirty]. When ‘Abrahah’ heard about it, he lost his temper and attacked Makkah along with an army of elephants in order to demolish the Holy Ka’bah. His front line troops captured all the camels and cattle of the people of Makkah including 200 or 400 camels of ‘Abdul Muttalib.2
(Zurqaani ‘alal Mawahib, vol. 1, pp. 85)
Deeply saddened by it, ‘Abdul Muttalib went to the troops of Abrahah in order to discuss this matter. When Abrahah became aware that the chief of the ‘Quraysh’ had come to meet him, he called ‘Abdul Muttalib to his tent. Seeing a tall, dignified and extremely handsome person with the Noor of Nubuwwah shining from his forehead, Abrahah became overawed. Involuntarily getting up from his royal throne in respect, Abrahah had ‘Abdul Muttalib sit next to him and said, ‘O the chief of the Quraysh! Why have you come here?’ ‘Abdul Muttalib replied, ‘Your troops have captured our camels and goats, etc. We want to get them back.’
Listening to it, Abrahah said: O the chief of the Quraysh! I assumed, ‘You are a brave and great individual but you have lost your prestige in my eyes by asking me to give back your camels. What is the worth of camels and goats compared to your Ka’bah which I have come to demolish? You have not even mentioned it.’ ‘Abdul Muttalib replied, ‘I am the owner of my camels. The Ka’bah is not my house. It is the House of the Almighty Who will Himself protect it. I am not concerned at all about the Ka’bah.’ 3
Listening to it, Abrahah said in an aggressive and threatening tone, ‘O the chief of Makkah! Listen! I will knock it down, wiping it off the face of the earth. The people of Makkah have desecrated [i.e. disrespected] my church. I will certainly demolish the Ka’bah to take revenge. ‘Abdul Muttalib said, ‘It is a matter between you and the Almighty! Who am I to intercede with you?’ After the conversation ended, Abrahah ordered that all animals be given back. Thus ‘Abdul Muttalib returned to his home along with all the camels and goats.
He then advised the people of Makkah to go out of Makkah with their belongings and cattle and climb the peaks of mountains or take refuge in valleys.4
Taking some of his family members with him, he then went to the Holy Ka’bah and prayed extremely beseechingly and tearfully in the Divine court, holding the door of the Ka’bah:
لَا ھُمَّ اِنَّ المَرءَ یَمنَعُ رَحلَهٗ فَمنَع رِحَالَكَ وَانصُر عَلٰی اٰلِ الصَّلِیبِ وَ عَابِدِیهِ اَلیَومَ اٰلَكَ
‘O Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ! Indeed everyone protects his house. Therefore, You also protect Your House and help Your obedient bondmen who are being threatened to be attacked by the people of the cross (i.e. the Christians).’
Finishing his prayer, ‘Abdul Muttalib along with his family members climbed the mountain peak in order to see the manifestation of the Divine Power.5
At daybreak, Abrahah along with his troops and elephants moved towards the Holy Ka’bah in order to demolish it. As he reached the place ‘Mughammas’ [مُغَمَّس], the elephant, Mahmood, on which Abrahah was riding, suddenly sat down. Although every possible effort was made to make it get up but it did not.6
All of a sudden, the signs of Divine wrath appeared in the form of birds. Flocks of small birds each of which had three pebbles in their beaks and claws each flew towards the Haram of the Ka’bah from the sea. These large flocks of birds stoned the army of Abrahah so fiercely that his troops and elephants became totally powerless. Whenever any pebble fell on the head of any elephant-rider, it would rip into him as well as the elephant. This stoning from birds was a severe Divine punishment. None of the soldiers of the army of Abrahah remained alive. All of them including Abrahah and elephants were killed and doomed in such a way that their bodies were torn into pieces, lying on the ground. Mentioning this incident, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ has said in the Holy Quran in Surah Al-Feel:
اَلَمْ تَرَ كَیْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِاَصْحٰبِ الْفِیْلِؕ(۱) اَلَمْ یَجْعَلْ كَیْدَهُمْ فِیْ تَضْلِیْلٍۙ(۲) وَّ اَرْسَلَ عَلَیْهِمْ طَیْرًا اَبَابِیْلَۙ(۳) تَرْمِیْهِمْ بِحِجَارَةٍ مِّنْ سِجِّیْلٍﭪ(۴) فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَّاْكُوْلٍ۠(۵)
O Beloved, did you not see how your Lord dealt with the people of the elephant? Did He not put their trick into devastation? And sent swarms of birds over them. Striking them with stones of baked clay. So He made them like the leftover consumed leaves of harvest?
(Part 30, Surah Al-Feel, Ayah 1-5)
After Abrahah and his troops met their doom, ‘Abdul Muttalib came down from the mountain and thanked Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. This Karamah [i.e. miracle] of ‘Abdul Muttalib became very famous. All Arabs began to consider him as an honourable and pious saint.7