Islam is one of the top world religions with millions and more followers with origin in the Middle East that is currently unstable due to clash of belief systems or something else. Who knows? But, let’s strip back all of what we know about muslims and Islam and go back to its origin. Forget racism and islamophobia, let’s put that to the side and take a quick look into one of the least explored parts of Islam. Whether you’re an atheist or a strict believer, history is fascinating! History is the base for sociology and philosophy, it’s what has shaped us and, if we read into it closely, how we will go on to be.
In the southern Arabian Peninsula years were commonly named after great battles or major deaths in the area. It is widely accepted that the Prophet Muhammad was born in the ‘Year of the Elephant’ that loaned its name from the Ethiopian Abraha’s attempt at attacking and destroying The Ka’ba/Cube of Mecca with war elephants in his army. The reasons for his attempts are disputed but it is commonly agreed it was an act to oppose the pagans in Mecca and to avert more people to his church.
Abraha sent forward an army to invade the area right before their stop to Mecca in their advance. They seized hundreds of camels, including those of Abdul Muttalib’s (Muhammad’s grandfather), who was called to Abraha’s tent. In their meeting, Abraha explained that he wanted to demolish The Ka’ba/Cube of Mecca and would spare the inhabitants if they did not interfere. Abdul Muttalib did not contest this and solely asked for his camels back, which in turn took Abraha aback. He was expecting resistance but Abdul Muttalib explained that they do not fight in the name of God and just like his purpose is to save his own belongings, God would surely protect his own house.
According to the Quran, Abraha led his army with elephants against Mecca which were met with swallows stoning them from above and defeating them. In their beaks and claws they were carrying clay that many believe to have been glowing hot and taken directly from hell. It is also said that one of the eight elephants, Mahmud (any connection to the word mammoth?), halted at the entrance to Mecca and refused to enter. Some historians and scientists attribute this to an erruption of smallpox in the elephants.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
1. Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the masters of the elephant? 2. Did He not make their scheming go astray, 3. and send against them birds in swarms, 4. pelting them with stones of baked clay, 5. such that He made them like devoured husks? – The Holy Quran, Chapter 105, ‘The Elephant’
Excerpt From: Seyyed Hossein Nasr. “The Study Quran.”
Later the same year(some say a decade later), a boy is born, quickly orphaned, and taken in by his grandfather Abdul Muttalib. On his deathbed, Abdul Muttalib is said to have told his son Abu Talib to take extra care of Muhammed and prophesied that one of his grandchildren would be a Prophet of God.
The Life of Muhammad The Prophet by Allamah Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi
The Study Quran by Seyyed Hossein Nasr Ch. 105
Extra: Did I use a picture from LOTR? BET!