NAME: الفيل, Al-Feel.
Name taken from Verse 1 where there is a mention of the word ”Feel”.
١ أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ
1 Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?
ENGLISH NAME: The Elephant.
CHAPTER NUMBER: 105
SURAH FEEL TOTAL VERSES: 5
SURAH FEEL TOTAL WORDS: 23
TOTAL UNIQUE WORDS WITHOUT REPETITION: 22
TOTAL LETTERS: 97
Meccan, Approx. 613 – 615 AD.
God, Companions of the Elephants, Flocks of Birds.
SURAH FEEL MAIN TOPICS:
A Narration Of King Of Yemen Abraha Who Attacked On Mecca With His Elephants. And How God Destroyed Him By Small Birds.
SURAH FEEL KEY VERSES:
٣ وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ
3 And He sent against them birds in flocks,
٥ فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَأْكُولٍ
5 And He made them like eaten straw.
SUMMARY OF TOPICS
1-2(God Asks People to Consider How God Dealt with the Companions of the Elephants And Failed Them in Their Plans), 3-5(And How God Destroyed Them By Small Birds).
SURAH FEEL BRIEF COMMENTARY & BACKGROUND
This Surah has 5 verses. It takes its name from verse 1: “أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ” (Have you not considered, how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?) where the word “الفيل” meaning “The Elephant” appears. This Surah was revealed in Mecca most probably during the early days of Muhammad’s proclamation of his Prophethood.
The primary subject of the Surah is a historical event. The year in which prophet Muhammad born is known as عام الفيل “the Year of the Elephant.” This is because this was the year when Mecca was attacked by Abrahah, the governor of Yemen accompanied by elephants. God saved the Meccans from his force by sending a flock of birds that hit the invaders with stones of “سِجِّيلٍ” In the Quran, the word “سِجِّيلٍ” occurs in two other verses Surah Hud 11:82 and Surah Hijr 15:74 which mean stones of layered hard clay. The event of the people of the elephant had occurred in Muharram 570 AD, and prophet Muhammad was born the same year in Rabi al awwal.
In this Surah, this event is narrated very briefly because it was an event still fresh in the minds of those residing in Mecca and the surrounding regions.
As discussed in the summary of Surah Burooj Dhu Nuas, the last king of Himyar, who was a polytheist, killed thousands of Christians. The incident reported to Caesar the Byzantine Emperor who wrote to Najashi, the king of Ethiopia (Abyssinia), who then sent Abrahah bin As-Sabah, along with a great army. He defeated the Himyar King and thus, the Ethiopians were free to rule Yemen, with Abrahah as its governors. He established a grand and expensive church in its capital Sana because he had seen the love and passion the Yemeni Arabs had for their Holy House at Mecca, and he hoped to attract them away from there and to his capital at Sana. If the Arabs performed the pilgrimage in Sana instead of Mecca, it would turn the monetary benefits to Yemen.
This did not happen, and Abrahah decided to attack Mecca. He arranged an army, that also included 13 elephants, intending to demolish the Kaaba. On his campaign, he succeeded in overcoming all the Arab armies until he reached Mecca.
Then he sent his bands on an assault to catch the camels and other grazing animals of the Meccans, which they did, including about 200 camels belonging to Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad. Then Abrahah sent a messenger to enter Makkah, commanding him to bring the leader of the Quraysh to him. When Abdul Muttalib came, Abrahah was impressed by him, because Abdul Muttalib was a tall and handsome man. So Abrahah descended from his seat and sat with him and asked him to tell what he wants. Abdul-Muttalib replied, “I want the king to return my camels, which he has taken from me, which are 200 in number.” Abrahah said, “I was impressed by you when I saw you, but now I withdraw from you after you have spoken to me. You are asking me about 200 camels which I have taken from you, and you leave the matter of a house which is the basis of the religion of your fathers” Abdul Muttalib said to him, “Indeed, I am the Lord of the camels. As for the House, it has its Lord Who will defend it.”
Abdul-Muttalib then returned to his people and ordered them to leave Mecca and seek shelter at the top of the mountains. Then he called upon God to give them victory over Abrahah and his army. Abdul Muttalib said while hanging on to the ring of the Kaaba’s door, “There is no matter more important to any man right now than the defense of his livestock and property. So, O my Lord! Defend Your property.
After That, Abrahah’s armies marched towards the city, God intervened. It is said that the head of elephants sat down and refused to move towards the city. The elephant handlers tried all they could to make the elephant drive, but he refused. When he was prompted to move in another direction, the elephant advanced, but when turned towards Mecca, he refused. Then God saved the Meccans from this force by sending a flock of birds that hit the invaders with stones of “سِجِّيلٍ” and turn them like eaten straw.
As per traditions, the event took place at Muhassir by the Muhassab valley between Muzdalifah and Mina. Traditions state that when Prophet Muhammed proceeded from Muzdalifah to Mina, he increased his speed in the valley of Muhassir. Al Nawawi has explained it saying that the incident of the people of the elephant had occurred there, therefore, the pilgrims have been enjoined to pass by quickly, for Muhassir is a tormented place. It is stated in Muatta that Muhammad said that “the whole of Muzdalifah is a fit place for staying, but one should not stay in the valley of Muhassir.”