The Elephant (Arabic: ألفِيل‎, al-fīl) is the 105th chapter (surah) of the Quran. It is a Meccan sura consisting of 5 verses. The surah is written in the interrogative form.

Sura 105 of the Quran
The Elephant
PositionJuzʼ 30
No. of verses5
No. of words23
No. of letters96
۝ [1] HAST thou not seen how thy LORD dealt with the masters of the elephant?o
۝ Did he not make their treacherous design an occasion of drawing them into error;
۝ and send against them flocks of birds,
۝ which casts down upon them stones of baked clay;
۝ and render them like the leaves of corn eaten by cattle?[2]

Fil means Elephant and this is the Chapter Of The Elephant

Asbab al-nuzulEdit

Taking its name from the mention of the "Army of the Elephant" in the first verse, this surah alludes to the Abyssinian campaign against Mecca possibly in the year 552 of the Christian era. Abrahah, the Christian viceroy of the Yemen (which at that time was ruled by the Abyssinians), erected a great cathedral at Sana'a, hoping thus to divert the annual Arabian pilgrimage from the Meccan sanctuary, the Kabah, to the new church. When this hope remained unfulfilled, he was determined to destroy the Kabah; and so he set out against Mecca at the head of a large army, which included several war elephants as well, and thus represented something hitherto unknown and utterly astounding to the Arabs: hence the designation of that year, by contemporaries as well as historians of later generations, as "the Year of the Elephant". Abrahah's army was destroyed on its march [3][4] - by an extremely huge flock of martin swallow birds (ababil) that dropped tiny stones onto them and turned them to ashes.[5] - and Abrahah himself died on his return to Sana.[6]

The Arabs[who?] describe the year in which this event took place as the Year of the Elephant, and in the same year, Muhammad was born. The traditionists and historians almost unanimously state that the event of the people of the elephant had occurred in Muharram and Muhammad was born in Rabi' al-awwal. A majority of them states that he took birth 50 days after the event of the elephant.[7]

Period of revelationEdit

Surahs in the Qur'an are not arranged in the chronological order of revelation[8] because order of wahy or chronological order of revelation is not a part of Quran. Muhammad told his followers sahaba the placement in Quranic order of every Wahy revealed along with the original text of Quran.[9] Wm Theodore de Bary, an East Asian studies expert, describes that "The final process of collection and codification of the Quran text was guided by one over-arching principle: God's words must not in any way be distorted or sullied by human intervention. For this reason, no serious attempt, apparently, was made to edit the numerous revelations, organize them into thematic units, or present them in chronological order ...".[10][11] Surat Al-Fil? is a Meccan sura[12] and meccan suras are chronologically earlier suras that were revealed to Muhammad at Mecca before the hijrah to Medina in 622 CE. They are typically shorter, with relatively short ayat, and mostly come near the end of the Qur'an's 114 surahs. Most of the surahs containing muqatta'at are Meccan. Henceforth apart from traditions, this surah qualifies to be Meccan typically. Most of the mufassirun[13] say that this is unanimously[14] a Meccan sura; and if it is studied against its historical background it appears that it must have been sent down in the very earliest stage at Makkah.[15]

Principal subjectEdit

The principal subject of the surah is a specific historic event. The year of Muhammad's birth is identified as 'the Year of the Elephant', when Mecca was attacked by Abraha accompanied by an elephant. Quranic exegetes interpreted that God saved the Meccans from this force by sending a swarm of birds that pelted the invaders with clay stones and destroyed them.[16][17] The army of Abraha destroyed for attacking the Kaabah[18] is a reminder and an example that Allah can save His house (Al-Ka'bah) by destroying an army of 60,000 with elephants, through a flock of birds.[19][20] The origin of the word sijjīl (i.e. Lava stone from Volcanic eruption) in verse 4 has the etymology proposed as Persian sang and gil ('stone' and 'clay'), or Aramaic sgyl ('smooth altar stone').[21] In the Quran 'sijjīl' occurs in two other verses: 11:82 and 15:74.

Theme of the surahEdit

There are almost 7 divisions in the entire Qur'an according to Themes.[22][23] The final of these 7 sections starts from surah Al-Mulk [surah number 67] to surah Al-Nas [surah number 114].[24] This final part [last 7th of the Quran] focuses on; sources of Reflection, People, their final scenes they will face on Judgment Day and Hellfire and Paradise in general[25] and Admonition to the Quraysh about their fate in the Herein and the Hereafter if they deny Muhammad, specifically.[26] In this Surah, Allah's punishment which was inflicted on the people of the elephant is referred to and described very briefly because it was an event of recent occurrence, and everyone in Makkah and Arabia was fully aware of it. That's why the Arabs believed that the Ka'bah was protected in this invasion, not by any god or goddess, but by Allah Almighty Himself. Then Allah alone was invoked by the Quraysh chiefs for help, and for quite a few years the people of Quraysh, having been impressed by this event, had worshiped none but Allah. Therefore, there was no need to mention the details in Surah Al-Feel, but only a reference to it was enough.[27] Javed Ahmad Ghamidi (b. 1951), a well-known Pakistani Muslim theologian, Quran scholar and exegete, and educationist, explains the theme of Surah Al-Fil is to inform the Quraysh that the God – Who routed His enemies in this manner before them – will also not spare them now that they too have shown enmity to Him. They will also be devastated in a similar manner.[28]

Coherence with adjacent surahsEdit

The idea of textual relation between the verses of a chapter has been discussed under various titles such as nazm and munasabah in non-English literature and coherence, text relations, intertextuality, and unity in English literature. Hamiduddin Farahi, an Islamic scholar of the Indian subcontinent, is known for his work on the concept of nazm, or coherence, in the Quran. Fakhruddin al-Razi (died 1209 CE), Zarkashi (died 1392) and several other classical as well as contemporary Quranic scholars have contributed to the studies.[29][30][31]

Connection with previous surahsEdit

In surahs Al-Qaria (No. 101) to Al-Humaza (No. 104), it is pointed to the Quraysh that they have remained so possessed with the love of wealth and children that they have grossly failed to fulfill the rights of Allah as well as their fellow beings. Despite this, they still claim to be the heirs of Abraham and Ishmael and the custodians of the Baytullah (House of God) built by them.[32]

Connection with next surahEdit

This Surah Al-Fil and the next one Quraysh both form a pair about their subject-matter according to almost all of Quranic Scholars.[33][34][35] The first surah in the current pair(105 & 106) warns the Quraysh, about the Incident of the Elephant, to fear God, while the second surah urges them to keep in mind the favors they enjoy, because of the Baytullah and consequently to give up rebelliousness against God and worship Him only. In this particular surah and its dual counterpart, Surah Quraysh which succeeds it, they are cautioned that they have been blessed with peace and sustenance, not because of their efforts or because they were entitled to them, but because of the Prophet Abraham's invocation and the blessings of the House which he built. Therefore, instead of showing vanity, it is their obligation to worship the Lord of this House, who fed them in hunger and secured them against every kind of danger.[36] In this surah 105, the Quraysh are reminded of a significant event of their history: the Almighty had helped them decidedly in combating the forces of Abrahah, who attacked the Baytullah with a sixty thousand strong army to demolish it. It was not easy for the Quraysh to face such a big army in the open, whose vanguard consisted of elephants. They had therefore sought refuge in the nearby mountains and had defended the holy land by hurling stones at the advancing enemy. This defense was indeed very frail and feeble, but the Almighty transformed it into a powerful outburst which destroyed the enemy, and their dead bodies were feasted upon by kites, vultures and crows.

A hadith about Surah Al-FilEdit

Tafsir is the Arabic word for exegesis, usually of the Qur'an. A Quranic tafsir will often explain the content and provide places and times, not contained in Quranic verses, as well as give the different views and opinions of scholars on the verse. The first and foremost exegesis/tafsir of the Qur'an is found in hadith of Muhammad.[37] Although scholars including ibn Taymiyyah claim that Muhammad has commented on the whole of the Qur'an, others including Ghazali cite the limited amount of narratives, thus indicating that he has commented only on a portion of the Qur'an.[38] Ḥadīth (حديث) is literally "speech"; recorded saying or tradition of Muhammad validated by isnad; with Sirah Rasul Allah these comprise the sunnah and reveal shariah. According to Muhammad's wife Aishah,[39][40] the life of Muhammad was practical implementation of Qur'an.[41][42][43] Therefore, a higher count of hadith elevates the importance of the surah from a certain perspective. This surah holds special esteem in hadith, due to historical context which can be observed by the related narratives.

  • Narrated Al-Muttalib bin 'Abdullah bin Qais bin Makhramah: from his father, from his grandfather, that he said: "I and the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), were born in the Year of the Elephant" - he said: "And Uthman bin Affan asked Qubath bin Ashyam, the brother of Banu Ya'mar bin Laith - 'Are you greater (in age) or the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)?'" He said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is greater than me, but I have an earlier birthday." He said: "And I saw the defecation of the birds turning green." [44]
  • The event took place at Muhassir by the Muhassab valley,[14] between Muzdalifah and Mina. According to the Sahih Muslim and Abu Dawood, in the description of Muhammad's The Farewell Pilgrimage that Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq has related from his father, Imam Muhammad al-Baqir, and he from Jabir ibn Abd-Allah, he says that when Muhammed proceeded from Muzdalifah to Mina, he increased his speed in the valley of Muhassir. Imam Al-Nawawi has explained it saying that the incident of the people of the elephant had occurred there; therefore, the pilgrims have been enjoined to pass by quickly, for Muhassir is a tormented place. Imam Malik in Mu'atta has related that Muhammad said that "the whole of Muzdalifah is a fit place for staying but one should not stay in the valley of Muhassir".[13]
  • Narrated by Miswar bin Makhrama and Marwan I (whose narrations attest each other)[45] that: Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) set out at the time of Treaty of Hudaybiyyah ... (at a place) The she-camel of the Prophet (ﷺ) sat down. The people tried their best to cause the she-camel to get up but in vain, so they said, "Al-Qaswa' (i.e. the she-camel's name) has become stubborn! Al-Qaswa' has become stubborn!" The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Al-Qaswa' has not become stubborn, for stubbornness is not her habit, but she was stopped by Him Who stopped the elephant." Then he said, "By the Name of Him in Whose Hands my soul is, if they (i.e. the Quraish infidels) ask me anything which will respect the ordinances of Allah, I will grant it to them." The Prophet (ﷺ) then rebuked the she-camel and she got up. ...[46]
  • Narrated Abu Hureyrah that: "When Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, granted Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) victory over Mecca (Conquest of Mecca), he stood before people and praised and extolled Allah and then said:[47] Verily Allah held back the elephants from Mecca and gave the domination of it to His Messenger and believers, and it (this territory) was not violable to anyone before me and it was made violable to me for an hour of a day, and it shall not be violable to anyone after me. So neither molest the game nor weed out thorns from it. And it is not lawful for anyone to pick up a thing dropped but one who makes a public announcement of it. And it a relative of anyone is killed he is entitled to opt for one of two things. Either he should be paid blood-money or he can take life as (a just retribution). ...[48][49][50]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Arabic script in Unicode symbol for a Quran verse, U+06DD, page 3, Proposal for additional Unicode characters
  2. ^ George Sale translation
  3. ^ Ibn Hisham
  4. ^ Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi I/1, 55 f
  5. ^ The Message of The Qur'an The Hundred-Fifth Surah Al-Fil (The Elephant) Note#2
  6. ^ Muhammad AsadThe Message of The Qur'an 1980
  7. ^ "105. Surah Al-Fil (The Elephant) - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an".
  8. ^ Robinson, Neal (2003). Discovering the Qur'an: A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text (PDF). Georgetown University Press. pp. 25–97. ISBN 978-1-58901-024-6.
  9. ^ Israr Ahmed – Bayan-ul-Quran – Introduction
  10. ^ Approaches to the Asian Classics, Irene Bloom, Wm Theodore de Bary, Columbia University Press, 1990, p. 65 ISBN 0-231-07005-5, 9780231070058
  11. ^ Bary, William Theodore De; Bloom, Irene (1990). Eastern Canons. ISBN 9780231070058.
  12. ^ Quran Verses in Chronological Order
  13. ^ a b Abul A'la Maududi-Tafhim-ul-Quran
  14. ^ a b Tafsir Ibn Kathir
  15. ^ Chronological Order of Quranic Surahs Archived 2018-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, by Kevin P. Edgecomb.
  16. ^ Leaman, ed. by Oliver (2008). The Qur'an : an encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-415-32639-1.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  17. ^ Mir, Mustansir (2005). "Elephants, Birds of Prey, and Heaps of Pebbles: Farāhī's Interpretation of Sūrat al-Fīl". Journal of Qur'anic Studies. 7 (1): 33–47. doi:10.3366/jqs.2005.7.1.33. JSTOR 25728163.
  18. ^ George Sale
  19. ^ Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik (translator), Al-Qur'an, the Guidance for Mankind - English with Arabic Text (Hardcover) ISBN 0-911119-80-9
  20. ^ Muhammad Asad, Al-Qur'an translation, The Message of the Qur'an, First Hardback, 1980, Dar Al-Andalus, Gibraltar, ISBN 1-904510-00-0
  21. ^ Rippin, Andrew (editor) (2007). The Blackwell Companion to the Qur'an. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 137–138. ISBN 1-4051-7844-2
  22. ^ Abdul Nasir Jangda - Tafsir lectures - Bayyinah Institute, 2300 Valley View ln. Suite 500 Irving, TX 75062
  23. ^ Tadabbur-i-Quran#Contents
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2015-12-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  25. ^
  26. ^ Esposito, John, ed. (2003), "Islahi, Amin Ahsan", The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-512558-0
  27. ^ "Surah 105. Al-Fil | Alim-Islamic Software for Quran and Hadith | Alim".
  28. ^ "Monthly Renaissance - Content".
  29. ^ El-Awa, Salwa (2005). Textual Relations in Qur'an: Relevance, Coherence and Structure. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-22747-1.
  30. ^ Mir, Mustansir (1986). Coherence in the Qur'an : a study of Islahi's concept of nazm in Tadabbur-i Qur'an. American Trust Publications. ISBN 978-0-89259-065-0.
  31. ^ Hamiduddin Farahi, translated by Tariq Mahmood Hashmi (2008). Exordium to coherence in the Quran : an English translation of Fātiḥah Niẓām al-Qurʼān (1st ed.). Lahore: al-Mawrid. ISBN 978-969-8799-57-1.
  32. ^ "Articles - Al-Mawrid".
  33. ^ Dr.Israr Ahmed
  34. ^ Muhammad Asad
  35. ^ Nouman Ali Khan
  36. ^ Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
  37. ^ Şatibi, El-muvafakat
  38. ^ Muhsin Demirci, Tefsir Usulü, 120
  39. ^ Reference : Sunan Abi Dawud 1342 In-book reference : Book 5, Hadith 93 English translation : Book 5, Hadith 1337
  40. ^ Al-Adab Al-Mufrad » Dealings with people and good character - كتاب English reference : Book 14, Hadith 308 Arabic reference : Book 1, Hadith 308
  41. ^ Sahih Al- Jami' AI-Saghir, No.4811
  42. ^ Sunan Ibn Majah 2333 In-book reference : Book 13, Hadith 26 English translation : Vol. 3, Book 13, Hadith 2333
  43. ^ Grade : Sahih (Darussalam) Reference : Sunan an-Nasa'i 1601 In-book reference : Book 20, Hadith 4 English translation : Vol. 2, Book 20, Hadith 1602
  44. ^ Jami' at-Tirmidhi - Chapters on Virtues - Grade : Sahih (Darussalam) English reference : Vol. 1, Book 46, Hadith 3619 Arabic reference : Book 49, Hadith 3979
  45. ^ Sahih Bukhari 2731, 2732 In-book reference: Book 54, Hadith 19 USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 3, Book 50, Hadith 891 (deprecated numbering scheme)
  46. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood 2765 In-book reference: Book 15, Hadith 289 English translation: Book 14, Hadith 2759
  47. ^ Sahih Muslim 1355 a In-book reference: Book 15, Hadith 509 USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 7, Hadith 3142 (deprecated numbering scheme) Report Error | Share
  48. ^ Sahih Bukhari 112 In-book reference: Book 3, Hadith 54 USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 1, Book 3, Hadith 112 (deprecated numbering scheme)
  49. ^ Bulugh al-Maram 739 In-book reference: Book 6, Hadith 32 English translation: Book 6, Hadith 758
  50. ^ Sunan Abu Dawood 2017 In-book reference: Book 11, Hadith 297 English translation: Book 10, Hadith 2012