Surah al-Fil: “The Chapter of the Elephant”

Surah al-Fil is the 105th Surah of The Quran. Also referred to as “The Chapter of the Elephant”, al-Fil alludes to the Abyssinian campaign against Mecca. Surah al-Fil consists of just five Ayahs, and is believed to be a Meccan Surah.

Historical Background

It is narrated that Abrahah, the Abyssinian Viceroy of Yemen, had erected a cathedral at Sana’a. His intention was to divert the annual pilgrimage from the Ka’bah in Mecca to his new cathedral in Sana’a. When the plan failed, Abrahah decided to march towards Mecca with the aim of destroying the Ka’bah.

Abrahah’s large army included several war elephants as well — something that was generally unknown to Arabs of that time. However, by the Grace of Allah, his army was destroyed en route to Ka’bah, by a huge flock of swallow birds (“Ababil”) that dropped tiny figs and stones on Abrahah’s troops.

This incident became so famous among the Arabs, that the year of its occurrence came to be known as Year of the Elephant. It is widely accepted by several scholars that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born in the same year, a few months after the incident.

Surah al-Fil in Arabic

As stated above, Surah al-Fil consists of just five Ayahs. Here is the full text of Surah al-Fil in Arabic:

Surah al-Fil in Arabic

English Translation

And now, the English translation of Surah al-Fil (Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall):

  1. Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant?
  2. Did He not bring their stratagem to naught,
  3. And send against them swarms of flying creatures,
  4. Which pelted them with stones of baked clay,
  5. And made them like green crops devoured (by cattle)?

Surah al-Fil in Pictures

Now, we are presenting each verse of Surah al-Fil as a separate image. Feel free to share these with your family and friends.

Ayah 01

Surah al-Fil Ayah 01

Ayah 02

Surah al-Fil Ayah 02

Ayah 03

Surah al-Fil Ayah 03

Ayah 04

Surah al-Fil Ayah 04

Ayah 05

Surah al-Fil Ayah 05

Appraisal

The message in Surah al-Fil is clear — there is no power on earth that can go against the Will of Allah. Abrahah, in spite of all his military prowess and might, failed to harm the Ka’bah, and his mighty elephant-army was destroyed by small birds.

The defense of the then-Quraysh was nothing in comparison to Abrahah’s army; in fact, many Quraysh had sought refuge in the mountains as they could not stand a chance against an army whose vanguard comprised of elephants. As such, it was only by the Grace of Allah that the Ka’bah was defended, and Abrahah was humbled.

You can read detailed Tafsir of Surah al-Fil on this page.

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Text by Sufyan bin Uzayr / Images by Tarannum Afrin

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