Saturday, January 17, 2009

Qur'an: The Elephant

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

Do you [Prophet] not see how your Lord dealth with the army of the elephant? Did he not utterly confound their plans? He sent ranks of birds against them, pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay: He made them [like] cropped stubble.

*First, these are the Quraysh? Christians from Abraha of Yemen? Is there more to the story?

Second, okay, I'm not saying they are theologically, religiously the same, but so far we've got something like an impricatory psalm, and now a tale of deliverance from enemies at a holy site...are we sure the Prophet is not a little bit like King David?

Also, ranks of birds?


Anonymous said...

Your point of view is interesting. I hope you will write more on how you interpret the surahs.

Here the theme is of an omnipotent God who is a master planner.(--- everything is in his control).

The incident happened in 570 CE. (Islam did not exist). The Kaba was a pagan (polytheist) shrine. The question arises---why would God want to protect a polytheist shrine? Man's power is nothing against the power of God---his plans will prevail.

As to your question about the Quraish---Yes--they would have been among the tribes in Mecca. Abraha Ashram was an Abyssinian governor of Yemen.

The use of birds makes it clear who the victory belongs to---not to the tribes of Mecca---but to God.

Curious Monk said...

Fascinating. I had assumed that by this time the Kaba would have been monotheist under the Prophet's influence.

So the Prophet - and what is the proper way for a nonbeliever to refer to him?- so the Prophet by the will of Alla defended defended a pagan shrine? Or was there no fighting? The text isn't neccesarily clear.

If so, more people should probably know about this!

Anonymous said...

Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) recieved his first revelation (and thus his Prophethood) in 611 CE. in the cave of Hira. (He was around 40 or so at that time---I think?) Before that he was an ordinary bussnessman /trader (He was also a spiritual seeker.)

Mecca became monotheist around 630 CE when the Meccans surrendered to Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) without bloodshed and voluntarily entered Islam.

I think the incident (of the surah) took place in a field or space outside of Mecca--Abraha's army was on its way?--I have to double check this info. No one was defending the Kaba at that time. The story is that a horde of birds pelted the elephants and soldiers with clay/stones and this frightened both soldiers and animals and they ran off.

You can address the Prophet any way you are comfortable--using the title or the title before the name would be respectful. (We muslims add a further "peace be upon him" phrase at the end ---to all Prophets --- because of the trials and hardhips that they went through in order to guide us.)

The Quran has different titles of Prophets though this will not come through in the translation. Some Prophets are "Rasul" ---they come with a revelation/book and with Law. And "Nabi" is a Prophet (messenger of God) but does not come with a new Law. Apart from these, there are the "righteous" or "Imam" who are wisdom teachers who continue the teachings of the Prophets. Curiously, in the Quran, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) is referred to as "Masih" -it is usually translated as "Christ" in english.