Surat Al-Fīl (The Elephant) – سورة الفيل
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
[In the Name of ALLAH, the ENTIRELY MERCIFUL, the ESPECIALLY MERCIFUL]
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ
Alam tara kayfa faAAala rabbuka bi-as-habialfeel
Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?
Have you not considered (an interrogative meant to provoke marvel, in other words, ‘marvel at’) the way in which your Lord dealt with the Men of the Elephant?, who was named Mahmūd, and the men were Abraha, King of Yemen and his troops. He had built a church in San‘ā’ in order to divert pilgrims away from Mecca to it. A man from among the Banū Kināna defecated in it and stained its prayer niche with a deflowered virgin’s blood, in contempt of it. Abraha then swore that he would knock down the Ka‘ba. So he approached Mecca with his troops riding Yemeni elephants with Mahmūd at the vanguard. But when they turned to destroy the Ka‘ba, God unleashed upon them what He relates in His words:
أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِي تَضْلِيلٍ
Alam yajAAal kaydahum fee tadleel
Did He not make their plan into misguidance?
Did He not make — that is to say, He did [indeed] make — their stratagem, to destroy the Ka‘ba, go astray, [ending up] in failure and destruction,
وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ
Waarsala AAalayhim tayran ababeel
And He sent against them birds in flocks,
and unleashed upon them swarms of birds, [birds] in droves, one following the next (it is said there is no singular form for it [abābīl], like asātīr; but some say that the singular is abūl or ibāl or ibbīl, similar [in constructed pattern] to ‘ajūl, miftāh and sikkīn),
تَرْمِيهِم بِحِجَارَةٍ مِّن سِجِّيلٍ
Tarmeehim bihijaratin minsijjeel
Striking them with stones of hard clay,
pelting them with stones of baked clay,
فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَّأْكُولٍ
FajaAAalahum kaAAasfin ma/kool
And He made them like eaten straw.
thus making them like devoured blades?, like the leaves of crops which have been consumed, trampled and destroyed by animals. God destroyed each one of them with his own stone, inscribed with his name, larger than a lentil [in size] but smaller than a chick-pea, able to pierce through an egg, a man, or an elephant and go through the ground. This took place in the year of the Prophet’s birth (s).