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Ashaab-ul-Feel* and the flock of the swallows [Ababeel]

Abrahah was the King of Yemen and Habshah and he had erected a church in the city of San’ a. He had a desire that the pilgrims of Hajj, instead of going to Makka-tul-Mukarramah should visit the city of San’a; circumambulate [perform Tawaf] around this church and the congregation of Hajj should take place there. When this became known to the people of Arab, especially the tribe of Quraysh, they found it very distressing. Therefore, a person from the Quraysh tribe of Banu Kinanah became excessively raged and travelled to San’a. In retaliation, he entered the church of Abrahah and urinated and excreted there. He contaminated the church’s walls and floors with the excretion. King Abrahah became extremely infuriated over this and he swore an oath to demolish the Ka’bah. With this intention, Abrahah mobilized an army and departed. This army consisted of many elephants and their leader was a gigantic elephant whose name was Mahmud.
* (The people of the elephant)
Abrahah attacked Makka-tul-Mukarramah and captivated all the animals of the people of Makkah, among which also included the camels of (Sayyiduna) ‘Abdul Muttalib . (Sayyiduna) ‘Abdul Muttalib , the grandfather of the Beloved Rasool , was the custodian of the Ka’bah and the leader of the people of Makkah. He  was a man of strong build bearing sublime and awe-inspiring personality. He   went to Abrahah who treated him with great respect and inquired from him the purpose of his visit. In response, he asked for his camels. Hearing this, Abrahah said, ‘I am very surprised. As I have mobilized a huge army to demolish your Ka’bah which is a very sacred place for you and your ancestors. But you did not say anything as regard to it and are only asking for your camels.’ (Sayyiduna) ‘Abdul Muttalib  replied, ‘I am the owner of my camels only, so I am asking for the camels. The One Who is the Owner of Ka’bah, He Himself will protect it. I do not worry for it.’ His camels were returned by Abrahah. Then he  said to the people of Quraysh to mount on the crest of mountains and hill tops to take refuge. Therefore, they acted upon his suggestion. After this, (Sayyiduna) ‘Abdul  Muttalib  held the door of the Holy Ka’bah and desperately wept and invoked for the protection of the Ka’bah in the court of Allah  . Then he   too joined his people after completing his supplication.
In the early hours of  morning, Abrahah gathered his army and ordered an attack on the sacred Ka’bah. He stood the elephants in an order to move. However, the leader of the elephants Mahmud, who was the biggest of all, did not move towards the Ka’bah. He moved towards wherever he was directed, but when they tried directing him towards the blessed Ka’bah, he would sit down. In the meanwhile, Allah sent a flock of birds from the sea, each one holding three pebbles, two in their paws and one in their beak. The flock of swallows  [Ababeel] hailed down the stones with such intensity that the army of Abrahah lost their consciousness and started fleeing. Although the pebbles were very small in size but their impact was severe due to Divine torment. When the swallows dropped these pebbles, the pebbles penetrated the elephant riders across their metal helmets, through their heads, then through their bodies and finally through the bodies of their elephants and dropped on the ground. The name of every target person was inscribed on the pebble by which he was to be killed. In this way, the whole army of Abrahah was destroyed and the sacred Ka’bah remained secure. After this incident, the people of Arab named that particular year as ‘Aam-ul-Feel’ [the year of elephant]. The blessed birth of the Holy Rasool  took place fifty days after this incident. (Iafseer Khazaain-ul-‘lrfan, pp. 1083; part 30, Surah Al-Feel)
Narrating this incident, Allah  revealed a Surah of the Holy Quran by the name of Surah Al-Feel:
0 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?
[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)J (Part 30, Surah Al-Feel; Ayah 1-5)


 We have come to know from this event that similar to the Holy Quran, the responsibility of safeguarding the sacred Ka’bah also rests with Allah . Therefore, no evil force can destroy the Holy Quran, nor can it demolish the Ka’bah because Allah   is the Protector and Defender of both. 

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