The plain of Wadi Muhassar near Mina
Wadi Muhassar is a place between Mina and Muzdalifah; it is here that Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) destroyed Abraha and his army of elephants. This incident in mentioned in Surah Feel. It is sunnah for Hujjaj (pilgrims) to walk briskly pass this area as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) did as it was a place of punishment from Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He).
- Abraha al-Ashram was the viceroy of Negus, the King of Abyssinia. He was a Christian who ruled over the Yemen, building an imposing cathedral in San’a of marble and gold plated wood and naming it ‘al-Qulays’. He intended to divert the Arab pilgrimage to San’a. As a Christian, he was jealous that the Ka’bah should be the place where pilgrims gathered and he wanted this position for his church.
- In the meantime, a man from the Banu Kinana tribe entered the church and defecated in it. This threw Abraha into a towering rage and he made the fatal error of deciding to march with his army to the Ka’bah in order to demolish it.
- He set out for Mecca with a strong force that included elephants. When the army reached Wadi Muhassar, the largest of the elephants, whose name was Mehmud, sat down and refused to move further. The more it was pulled towards the Ka’bah, the more it moved backwards Strangely enough, when it was turned in any other direction (away from the Ka’bah), it ran in that direction. It was while they were here that Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) sent little birds with pebbles in their beaks. As they flew over the army, the birds released their stones, which devastated the army, causing all they struck to fall down dead. Some of them collapsed just witnessing the sight and they then made off back to San’a. Abraha’s fate was much worse. As he proceeded back to Sa’na, his flesh started wasting away and rotting. By the time he reached San’a, his fingers had already fallen off and his body was no more than a skeleton. It was there that his heart eventually collapsed and he died. This incident took place shortly before the blessed birth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).
- Referring to this episode, Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) says in Surah Feel:“Have you not seen how your Rabb dealt with the people of the elephants? Did He not lay their plans to waste and send against them flights of the birds who pelted them with clay pebbles, making them look (destroyed) like eaten fodder?” [105:1-5]
- After this miraculous incident , the fame of the Ka’bah spread far and wide, and Arabs came from all parts of the peninsula to visit the Sacred House. It was the year 571 CE., it was of such importance to the Arabs that they called it ‘The Year of the Elephant’.
- The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) was born 52-55 days after this event.