In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
BEING THE SECOND SERMON FOR THE MONTH OF RABI’UL AWWAL, DATED RABI’UL AWWAL 11TH, 1444 AH (7TH OCTOBER, 2022 CE).
All Praises belong to Allah, the Powerful, the Mighty. He (Allah) Who destroyed the ancient ‘Ad (people), and Thamud (people). He spared none of them. And He destroyed the overthrown cities [of Sodom to which Prophet Lout (Lot) was sent]. So, they were completely covered with that which overwhelms (when the punishment befalls). Then which of the favors of your Lord do you doubt? I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah. He has no partner. He repelled the people of the elephant and made their plot to go wrong (astray). I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and His Messenger. His birth coincided with the incident of the elephant, as a lesson and an admonition. May the salutations and peace and peace of Allah be upon him and all the prophets and messengers, and may Allah be pleased with and grant a lot of peace to all his companions, the followers and those who followed them in goodness until the Day of Judgment.
Servants of Allah! I enjoin myself and you to adhere to the fear of Allah, for the garment of piety is the best garment, and the people of piety will be in gardens with rivers (in paradise). With piety, Allah makes a way out of every distress, and provides provision from where the one provided does not expect, and whoever fears Allah, He makes a criterion for him and expiates his sins and maximizes his reward.
O Muslims! We are in the month of the Prophet’s birth, and the scholars have singled it out for a reminder of the Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and the purpose of his mission, even though the reminder should be every-time, not specific to a particular month to the exclusion of other months. Thus, the topic of our sermon today is – The Mercy and Guide: The Story of the People of the Elephant in the Year of the Prophet’s Birth ﷺ.
And the story is mentioned in a surah from the Book of Allah. It is a short sura, but it has a great story. The surah has a great significance, foretelling the end of injustice and the destruction of the arrogant…not with any human authority or power, but with the power and might of Allah alone…The surah affirms that there is no power above Allah’s power…and that the forces of injustice, no matter how tyrannical and oppressive, will end in annihilation.
Al-Hakim narrated a summary of story of the people of the elephant and authenticated it – and others added more – on the authority of Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, who said: “The companion of the elephant (Abraah ibn al -Sabah Abu Yaksuum) came upon them (the people of Makkah) and he had with him elephants, until they got close to Makkah – when Abdul-Mutallib, the grandfather of the Prophet, ﷺ went to meet them and said to their leader, “What brought you to us, why did you not send for us and we will bring you everything you wanted? ”, then he said, “I was told of this house, which anyone that enters it finds security, so I came to frighten its people.” The he said, “We will bring you everything you want, so go back.”” But he refused and insisted on entering it Then Abdul Mutallib said: “This is the house of Allah Ta’alah, no one is given authority over it”. Then they said, “we will not go back until we destroy it.” So he continued moving towards the House. Abd al-Muttalib stayed back and stood on a mountain and said: I will not witness the destruction of this house and its people. Then he said:
“Oh Allah! There is no matter more important to any man right now than the defense of his livestock and property….So, O my Lord! Defend Your property.
Their cross and their cunning ….will not be victorious over your wisdom…
Oh Allah, if you do… then order what seems best to you.”
When the army reached the Haram, the elephant knelt and Allah restrained him from Makkah, and it refused to enter the Haram. They turned it away from the Haram and it hurried up, then thye turned it back toward the Haram and it refused to move. Allah made their plot to go wrong astray. Then came like a cloud from the direction of the sea, small, white birds, “Abaabeel”, having nostrils like the nostrils of birds, and palms like the palms of dogs. In their mouths are stones like chickpeas, black with a red splash, in the beak of each of them there is a stone, and two stones in two legs (of clay), so they approached until they cast a shade over them and started stoning them with it, and the stones did not hit anything but smashed it, and it made the elephant to roar, and Allah made them like an eaten straw. No stone fell on any of them except that the place is cut into two. That was the first thing that was like smallpox. It was not all of them that were affected. They were afflicted with itching and no one of them scratched his skin except his flesh fell off. Abu Yaksum was hit in his body and he fled, and whenever he came in contact with the ground, some of his flesh fell, until he came to his people and told them the news, then he wasted away.
And Allah sent a torrent to them, and it took them and threw them into the sea, and the elephant’s tail remained green after a year, and some were standing on it looking at it, including Qubaath ibn Asheem, the brother of Bani Ya’amar ibn Laith and his mother. The elephant groomer and its guide lived in Makkah for more than fifty years after this incident, but they were blind, and ‘Aaishah, may Allah be pleased with her, saw them while they were blind and paralyzed, seeking food from people.”
At the dawn of that great day on which Allah repelled the plot of the people of the elephant, Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) was born, on the twelfth of the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal.
Yes: The elephant incident was a prelude to the birth of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), a precursor, and a prelude to his mission and what would be his affair in the sacred land.
Ibn Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, says: “The matter of the elephant was a prelude that Allah put forward for his Prophet and His House. Otherwise, the people of the elephant were Christians of the People of the Book, and their religion was better than the religion of the people of Makkah at that time, who were worshipping idols, but Allah gave them victory over the People of the Book in a victory that had no human input as a precursor and forerunner to the Prophet c who came from Makkah, and out of veneration for the Sacred House.”
The incident of the elephant was one of the miracles of Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and evidence of his prophethood. How could he not it has indeed been revealed to him by his Lord telling him about this real story, and confirming to the people of Makkah what they had seen with their own eyes. Al-Qurtubi, may Allah have mercy on him, said: Our scholars said: “The story of the elephant later was one of the miracles of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) though it was before him, because it was an affirmation of his ummah and a prelude to his affairs. And when the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) recited to them Surat Al-Fil, a large number of those who witnessed that incident was in Makkah, and that is why He (Allah), Glorified He is, said: “Have you not seen?”
O Muslims: The incident of the elephant confirms that all power of belongs to Allah… and that the strength of human beings, no matter how much, becomes insignificant in front of Allah’s power. The incident also shows the weakness of human beings, no matter how compelling before Allah’s authority.
Yes: Abraha threatened and swore to demolish the Kaaba and to send the Arabs on pilgrimage to the Al-Qalays church () which he built in Sana’a, and he wrote to his master in Abyssinia saying: I have built for you, O king, a church the like of which has not been built for a king before you, and I am not finished until I send the Arabs there for pilgrimage… When the fervor overtook one of the Arabs, he went and did something in this church that caused Abraha to become angry, and he formed a great army led by elephants, and his anger increased when he sent to Bani Kinaana – the tribe of the man who had done something in the church – asking them to make pilgrimage to the church, and Banu Kinaana killed his messenger. So the Abyssinians equipped the Christians and marched forth under the leadership of Abraha with a very big army. The Arabs heard about his coming and his goal. They held the House of Allah with great esteem and saw fighting Abraha and confronting him as a duty upon them, even if they were much smaller in power and number than him. They faced him in war, but he overpowered them and defeated all of them who rebelled against him, until he reached the House of Allah… Human protection ended without stopping him, and only divine power remained, and there was no aid or helper capable of repelling the oppressors.
And by which means the Quraysh with the weakness of their strength… or the weakness of their belief that they could withstand an army that destroyed the armies before them… It was Abdul Muttalib’s intelligence to ask his people to leave the vicinity of the Ka’abah, as they did not confront Abraha and his army, and he says his famous saying: “I am the owner of the camels and the House has a Lord who protects it.” And to entrust the protection of the house to his Lord and the one who ordered its construction, and so it was, the soldiers of heaven came bearing the painful punishment for these arrogant people. It was the end for these people, but their end was not the beginning of the destruction of nations and unjust forces, for they were preceded by forces that were destroyed, villages were destroyed, and their homes are lonely ruins that tell their story, as Allah Ta’alah said: (َكَمْ أَهْلَكْنَا مِنْ قَرْيَةٍ بَطِرَتْ مَعِيشَتَهَا فَتِلْكَ مَسَاكِنُهُمْ لَمْ تُسْكَنْ مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً وَكُنَّا نَحْنُ الْوَارِثِينَ)) “And how many a town (population) have We destroyed, which were thankless for its means of livelihood (disobeyed Allah, and His Messengers, by doing evil deeds and crimes)! And those are their dwellings, which have not been inhabited after them except a little. And verily! We have been the inheritors.” (Al-Qasas: 58), and the people of the Elephant are just one of the examples of the perished oppressors. We seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Shaytaan. أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحابِ الْفِيلِ (1) أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِي تَضْلِيلٍ (2) وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْراً أَبابِيلَ (3) تَرْمِيهِمْ بِحِجارَةٍ مِنْ سِجِّيلٍ (4) فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَأْكُولٍ (5)
“Have you not seen ˹O Prophet˺ how your Lord dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not frustrate their scheme? For He sent against them flocks of birds, that pelted them with stones of baked clay, leaving them like chewed up straw.” (Suratul Fil: 1-5)
Servants of Allah! The incident of the elephant does not mean that muslims should fail to do what is necessary to repel and fight falsehood and its people. Rather the instruction is clear: “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.” (Al-Anfaal: 60). It emphasizes not to surrender to falsehood no matter how widespread its propagators, and emphasizes not to despair of Allah’s victory when muslims are weak – if they are true to their Creator. It also strengthens the absence of frustration when seeing the major powers oppress and conquer, do and undo.
Among the indications of the incident of the people of the Elephant is that the belief in the invincibility of a force, no matter how powerful and its enduring, is a false belief that is belied by reality, and the order of the universe testifies to its contrary, with the power of Allah… Or where is the A’ad, the like of which was not created on the land?
All praises are due to Allah, who made Makkah a safe city in response to the prayer of His Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, when he said as the Creator mentions in the Holy Qur’an thus: (وَإِذْ قالَ إِبْراهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هذا بَلَداً آمِناً وَارْزُقْ أَهْلَهُ مِنَ الثَّمَراتِ مَنْ آمَنَ مِنْهُمْ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ) “And ˹remember˺ when Abraham said, “My Lord, make this city ˹of Mecca˺ secure and provide fruits to its people—those among them who believe in Allah and the Last Day.” (Al-Baqarah: 126) (وَإِذْ قالَ إِبْراهِيمُ رَبِّ اجْعَلْ هَذَا الْبَلَدَ آمِناً وَاجْنُبْنِي وَبَنِيَّ أَنْ نَعْبُدَ الْأَصْنامَ) “˹Remember˺ when Abraham prayed, “My Lord! Make this city ˹of Mecca˺ secure, and keep me and my children away from the worship of idols.” (Ibrahim: 35)
May the most complete Blessings and Peace be upon the master of the messengers, and the best of creation, Muhammad bn Abdullah, who said regarding his birth place, in demonstration of his love and compassion towards it thus: “By Allah, I will leave you, and I know that you are the most beloved place to Allah, and the most honourable before Allah, and if not that your people forced me out of you, I wouldn’t have left.” May the peace be upon his household, companions and those who follow their footsteps till the day of judgement.
Servants of Allah, our beloved country Nigeria is 62 years after its independence from the British colonialists, and after these years, what is the state of the country and how were the conditions of the citizens until now? There is no doubt that the challenges facing the country have not ceased, the citizens demands are still increasing, and some citizens are still leaving the country in search of a better opportunity in other countries, and with these negatives, there is no denying the clear positives in various fields – such as agriculture, basic social facilities, road construction and others.
That is why we advise ourselves to fear Allah, the Almighty, in the right piety, to be thankful for His bounties, to be patient with His affliction, and to pray to Him, just as we advise everyone to love the country and to place it at the right level that befits it.
It is not hidden from anyone what the homeland deserves love, dignity, sanctity and virtue, and why not, it is the birthplace of man, the place in which he is brought up. Therefore, it is our duty to preserve the dignity and reputation of the homeland and wish it all the best and repel all evil and aggression from it, and we strive in everything that leads to its revival and growth. The Prophet (pbuh) manifested his love for Makkah at the point of leaving it as he said: “How sweet of a land you are and how dear you are to me, and if it were not that my people expelled me from you, I would not have lived in other than you.” (Tirmidhi)
The love of the homeland in Islam: It is the individual’s love for his homeland and country, strengthening the bond between the people of the one homeland, and his fulfillment of the legitimate rights of his homeland as established in Islam, and to accomplish it, that he loves his homeland. This is the nature of man. Allah created it to love the land and homes. Al-Ghazali said: “Humans are familiar with their land, even if it is a savage wilderness. Love of homeland is an innate instinct in the soul, which makes a person feels at home to perpetuate stay in it, and yearns for it if he is absent from it, and defends it if it is attacked, and gets angry for it if it is humiliated.”
Dear Servants of Allah, the love of the homeland in Islam: does not mean: (‘Asabiyyah) tribalism, which is intended to divide the nation into antagonistic sects, plotting against each other as stated in the hadith: One who fights under the banner of a people who ate blind (to the cause for which they are fighting. i. e. do not know whether their cause is just or otherwise), who gets flared up with family pride, calls, (people) to fight for their. family honour, and supports his kith and kin (i. e. fights not for the cause of Allah but for the sake of this family or tribe) -if he is killed (in this fight), he dies as one belonging to the days of Jhiliyya.”
Love of the homeland in Islam: does not mean: following the people wherever they went, or to support in any case; rather, it means: justice and fairness.
And it was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is it tribalism if a man loves his people?’ He said: ‘No, rather tribalism is when a man helps his people to do wrong.” (Narrated by Ahmad and Ibn Majah)
The love of the homeland in Islam: does not mean: separation from the body of the Islamic nation, or forgetting the principle of humanity, or not to support the oppressed, or not to help the distressed, or not to help the distressed, as long as it is not within the boundaries of the homeland, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”. (Agreed upon)
A Muslim loves his country, does everything good for his country, is dedicated to serving it, and sacrifices to defend it. The Muslim works for the nation, grieves for its grief, rejoices for its joy, defends it, and strives for its unity.
Finally, It is worthy of note, the death of Sheikh Abdul Ghaniy Nurain Aboto al-Adabi, one of the prominent preachers in our country. He and his companions passed away while they were returning from a missionary journey, on Saturday October 1, 2022. He left behind a great void in the Nigerian Islamic community, and many benefited from his lectures, including the inculcation of pure faith and sound behavior We beseech Allah, the Almighty to forgive him and have mercy on him and to admit him into His vast gardens with his close friends among the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous, such are best of companions.
O Allah, honor Islam and Muslims, O Allah, honor Islam and Muslims, O Allah, bring security, safety and stability to our country Nigeria and all Muslim lands. Oh Allah, protect our country and the country of the Muslims from every trial, O Possessor of Majesty and Honor. Oh Allah, whoever wants our country and the country of the Muslims for evil, then occupy it with himself, Oh Allah, whoever wants evil for our country in its religion or its world affairs, then occupy it in itself, and make his destruction in his plot, O Lord of the worlds, Oh Allah, whoever wants evil for the Muslims’ countries, occupy him in itself, Oh Allah, nullify his plan, Oh Allah, make his destruction in his plots, O Lord of the worlds.