Surah al-Fil was revealed in reference to events which are said to have happened in 570 CE, the year Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was born. The Christian ruler of Yemen at the time, Abrahah, attacked Mecca with his army (including war elephants, hence the Surah’s name) and attempted to destroy the Ka’abah.

The conflict between Yemen and Mecca began when Abrahah insisted that pilgrims going to Mecca should divert themselves from the Ka’abah to his new cathedral in Sana’a. This request was rejected by the Arab tribes, including the Quraysh. When the Yemeni custodians heard of this, they proclaimed that they would tear down the Ka’abah. Abrahah prepared a huge army and charged towards Mecca with the intention of destroying the Ka’abah. 

This article provides full translation and tafsir of Surah al-Fil, and narrates how Allah dealt with the army of Abrahah.

Translation and Tafsir of Surah al-Fil

First up, the full Arabic text of Surah al-Fil:

surah-al-fil-full-arabic

Translation

  1. Do you (Prophet) not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant?
  2. Did He not utterly confound their plans?
  3. He sent flocks of birds against them,
  4. Pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay:
  5. He made them (like) cropped stubble.

And now, on to the Tafsir of Surah al-Fil.

Tafsir

1. Do you (Prophet) not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant?

This surah recounts a blessing given to the Quraysh by Allah as He favoured them and defended them from the army of Abrahah.

 2. Did He not utterly confound their plans?

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  Allah destroyed Abrahah’s army and preserved the Ka’abah.

3. He sent flocks of birds against them,

4. Pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay:

Allah sent birds, each of which was carrying three small stones with their feet and their beaks. They gathered in rows over the heads of the army and then threw the stones onto the army below them. The stones were increased in force by a strong wind sent by Allah, piercing the bodies of the men below and they were destroyed piece by piece. None of the men returned to their land without injury and Abrahah died when he reached Sana’a after telling the story of the battle.

5. He made them (like) cropped stubble.

All that remained after the battle were the remnants of the annihilation of an army that intended to destroy something as sacred as the Ka’abah.

Featured Image (C) Shabnam Mayet