Tumult of the Year of the Elephant
By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani
When a great event takes place in a nation, its root-cause is at times religious and occasionally national and political. It is usually admired by the masses and is for this reason treated to be the starting point of their history for past and future events. For example, the movement of Prophet Musa, the birth of Prophet 'Isa and the migration of the Prophet of Islam are the starting points of history for the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims respectively and the followers of these religions reckon the events of their lives with reference to these happenings.
At times, some nations, in spite of possessing a basic history, also treat some particular events to be the starting points of their history. As we find the great French Revolution and the October 1917 Communist Revolution in the Soviet Union are the starting points of history for many events in the Western countries. Uncivilized nations, which are deprived of such political and religious movements, naturally consider unusual events to be the bases of their history. For this reason, the Arabs of the age of ignorance, on account of their not possessing a proper civilisation, considered unpleasant occurrences like wars, earthquakes, famines and other unusual phenomena as the measure and origin of their history. In this way we observe, in the pages of history, a number of starting points for the history of the Arabs, the last of which was the disturbance of the Year of the Elephant viz. the attack by Abraha to destroy the Ka'bah, which became the starting point of history for other events. We give below a detailed account and analysis of this great event, which occurred in 570 A.D., to be the year of the birth of the Prophet of Islam.
THE ORIGIN OF THIS EVENT
The event of the 'People of the Elephant' has been mentioned briefly in the Holy Qur'an and we shall, after narrating the story, mention the verses which have been revealed about it. The historians have stated the origin of the event to be as follows: After strengthening the capital of his government, Zu Nuwas, the King of Yemen, passed, during one of his journeys, through the city of Yathrib (Madina). At that time Yathrib enjoyed a high religious position. A group of the Jews had concentrated at that place and had built a number of synagogues at different points in the city. The opportunist Jews accorded a warm welcome to the king and invited him to their own faith so that, under the protection of his government, they might remain safe from attacks by the Roman Christians and the Arab idolaters Their efforts in this regard were fruitful. Zu Nuwas embraced the Jewish religion and made maximum efforts for its advancement. Many persons became inclined to him on account of fear. Some were awarded severe punishments on account of differences. However, the people of Najran, who were converted to Christianity some time earlier, were not prepared at any cost to forsake their religion and follow the teachings of the religion of the Jews. The King of Yemen was very much annoyed on account of their disobedience and defiance and came up with a large army to suppress the rebels. The commander of the army encamped by the side of the city of Najran, dug a ditch there, lit up a huge fire in it and threatened his opponents with burning. The brave people of Najran, who had firm faith in Christianity were not, however, dismayed. They welcomed death and burning with open arms and their bodies were devoured by the flames of fire.
The great Muslim historian Ibn Athir Jazari writes thus: In the meantime one of the residents of Najran named Daws went post-haste to Caesar, the Roman Emperor, who was a great supporter of Christianity in those days, and informed him about the happening. He also requested the Emperor to punish the blood-thirsty man who had extinguished the lamp of guidance in Najran and to establish firmly the tottering pillars of Christianity in that area. The Roman ruler expressed his grief and sympathy and said: "As the principal seat of my government is far away from your country I am writing to the Negus, the King of Ethiopia, to take revenge on that cruel person for killing the people of Najran. The Najrani took Caesar's letter and proceeded to Ethiopia as quickly as possible. On reaching there he related the complete story to the Negus. The sense of honour of the king of Ethiopia was roused. He despatched an army exceeding seventy thousand men to Yemen under the command of an African named Abraha Ashram. The organized and well-equipped Ethiopian army crossed the sea and pitched its tents on the coast of Yemen. Zu Nuwas was taken unawares. All his activities proved to be of no avail and no reply was received by him to the letters which he had written to the tribal chiefs requesting them to take part in the battle. One brief attack was sufficient to pull down the foundation of his government and the populous country of Yemen came in the possession of the Government of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian king appointed the commander of the army, Abraha, as viceroy of that area.
Abraha was very happy for having taken revenge and achieved victory and began leading a free life. In order to win the favour of the King of Ethiopia he constructed a splendid Church at San'a which had no parallel at that time for its grandeur. Then he wrote a letter to the Negus on these lines: "In compliance with the wishes of your Majesty the construction of the Church has been completed. I hope that it will be possible for me to make the people of Yemen abandon the pilgrimage of the Ka'bah, whose place will now be taken by this Church". When the contents of the letter became known, there was a very unfavourable reaction amongst the Arab tribes. So much so that one night a woman of the tribe of Bani Afqam polluted the precincts of the Church. This act, which showed grave disrepect, contempt and enmity on the part of Arabs for Abraha's Church, made the government of the time very much excited. Besides this, the more Abraha endeavoured to increase the apparent adornment and decoration of the Church the more the people were attached to the Ka'bah. These developments made Abraha swear that he would destroy the Ka'bah. He organized an army for this purpose, put fighter elephants in the fore-front, and decided to pull down the House, the foundation of which had been laid by the champion of Divine monotheism Prophet Ibrahim.
The chiefs of Arabia realized that the situation was delicate and dangerous and took it for certain that the independence and individuality of the Arab nation was bound to collapse. The past victories of Abraha also kept them from taking any useful decision. Nevertheless, some zealous chiefs of the tribes who were facing Abraha fought with great bravery. For example, Zu Nafar, who was one of the nobles of Yemen, exhorted his people, with fiery speeches, to defend the Sanctuary (the Ka'bah). However, the immense army of Abraha soon cut down their organized ranks. Thereafter Nafil son of Habib put up a fierce fight, but his people also met with defeat. He himself was captured and requested Abraha for forgiveness. Abraha agreed to grant his request on the condition that he should guide his forces to Makkah. Thus Nafil became his attendant and led him upto Ta'if. There he entrusted the job to one of his friends named Ayurghal. The new guide led them upto Mughmas - a place near Makkah - and there Abraha's army encamped. According to an old custom Abraha ordered one of his officers to plunder the camels and other domestic animals of Tahamah. Out of the camels so plundered 200 of them belonged to Abdul Muttalib. Later Abraha ordered another officer named Hanatah to carry his message to the chief of the Quraysh. He addressed Hanatah with these words: "I can visualize the actual scene of the destruction of the Ka'bah. It is also certain that in the first instance Quraysh will resist. However, to ensure that their blood is not shed you should proceed to Makkah immediately. There you should contact the chief of Quraysh and tell him that my object is to destroy the Ka'bah and if Quraysh do not resist they will remain safe from molestation"
The messenger sent by Abraha arrived in Makkah and saw various groups of Quraysh discussing the matter at different places. On his enquiring about the Chief of Quraysh he was led to the house of Abdul Muttalib. After hearing Abraha's message Abdul Muttalib spoke thus: "We are not at all inclined to fight. The Ka'bah is the House of Allah. It is the House which was founded by Prophet Ibrahim. Allah will do whatever He deems fit".
Abraha's officer also expressed pleasure on hearing the soft and conciliatory words of the Chief of Quraysh which were indicative of his spiritual faith. He, therefore, requested Abdul Muttalib to agree to accompany him to the camp of Abraha.
ABDUL MUTTALIB GOES TO THE CAMP OFABRAHA
Abdul Muttalib proceeded to the camp of Abraha accompanied by a few of his sons. The sobriety, grace, and dignity of the leader of Quraysh made Abraha admire and respect him. So much so that he descended from his throne, took the hand of Abdul Muttalib in his own hand and made him sit by his side. Then he very respectfully enquired from Abdul Muttalib, through an interpreter, as to why he had some there and what he wished. He said in reply: "The camels of Tahamah, which also include two hundred camels belonging to me, have been seized by your soldiers. I would ask you to give orders that those camels should be returned to their owners". Abraha replied "Your luminous bearing possessing a holy aspect made me consider you to be a very great man. However, the request made by you for insignificant things has diminished your worth in my eyes. Keeping in view the fact that I have come to demolish and destroy the sanctuary of your ancestors, I was expecting that you would talk about the Ka'bah and request me to desist from accomplishing my object which will deal a deadly blow to your independence and political and religious life. I did not hope that you would talk about a few insignificant and worthless camels and intercede in that behalf". In reply to Abraha's remarks Abdul Muttalib spoke a sentence, whose value and worth is still preserved. He said: "I am the owner of the camels. The House too has a Master who forestalls every intrusion upon it". On hearing this Abraha shook his head and said proudly "There is none so powerful as to keep me from achieving my object". Then he ordered that the plundered property should be returned to the owners.
QURAYSH AWAIT ABDUL MUTTALIB'S RETURN
Quraysh were anxiously awaiting Abdul Muttlib's return to. learn about the result of his talk with Abraha. So, when he met the Qurayshite chiefs, he said to then "Take refuge immediately in the valleys and on the hills along with your animals so that you may be safe from every harm". Soon thereafter the people abandoned their homes and found shelter in the hills. At night all the hills and valleys were resounding with the cries of children, the lamentations of women and the noise made by the animals. In the very middle of that night Abdul Muttalib and some other Qurayshites descended the summit of a hill and reached the gate of the Ka'bah. He (Abdul Mutallib), with flowing tears and burning heart, held the chain of the gate of the Ka'bah in his hand and recited a few verses addressing the Almighty. He spoke thus: "O Allah! We do not pin our faith on anyone except You, for remaining immune from their mischief and harm.
O Lord! Hold them back from your Sanctuary. The enemy of the Ka'bah is he who is inimical to you.
O Nourisher! Cut off their hands so that they may not pollute Your House.
I have right over my own property, so I am endeavouring for its safety.
However, safety of Your House is Your responsibility.
Don't let that day come when the Cross becomes victorious over it, and the inhabitants of their lands encroach upon Your land and conquer it".
Then he released the chain of the gate of the Ka'bah and took shelter on the summit of a hill to watch the developments.
Early in the morning Abraha and his forces got ready to march towards Makkah. All of a sudden, however, a flock of birds appeared from the side of the sea, holding tiny stones in their beaks and claws. The shadow of the black birds made the sky above the encampment dark and their small and apparently insignificant weapons produced a very strange effect. The birds, armed with small stones, showered those stones under the command of the Almighty on the army of Abraha in such a manner that their heads were broken and their flesh was severed from their bodies.
One of the stones hit Abraha on his head, whereupon fear overpowered him and he began to tremble. He became sure that the wrath of the Almighty had descended on him. Then he cast an eye on his soldiers and observed that their bodies had fallen on earth like the leaves of the trees. He, therefore, immediately ordered those who had remained safe to return to Yemen and to proceed to San'a through the way they had come. The remaining army moved towards San'a but, while on their way, most of the soldiers perished on account of wounds and fear. And even Abraha reached San'a in such a condition that the flesh of his body was turn off and he died a very queer death.
This dreadful and strange event became known throughout the world. The Holy Qur'an narrates the story of the "People of the Elephant" in these words: Have you not considered how Allah dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not foil their evil plots by sending against them flocks of swallows which pelted them with claystones, so that they became like left-over grass grazed by cattle. (Surah al-Fil, 105: 2 - 5).
What has been narrated In these pages is a gist of lslamic history on the subject and that which has been stated specifically in the Holy Qur'an. Now we shall study the comments made by the great Egyptian exegete Muhammad Abdoh and the famous scholar, Dr Haikal, former Education Minister of Egypt.
A THEORETICAL DISCUSSION ABOUT MIRACLES
Recent surprising advancement of man in various branches of physical sciences and coming to an end of the life of many scientific hypotheses, created a strange tumult in the western countries. Although the explanation for these changes lay in scientific transition and revolved on the pivot of physical sciences alone (for example, Ptolemy's theorem was falsified) and did not have the least connection with religious beliefs, they created a strange pessimism amongst different classes about the theories and beliefs which had still survived. The secret of this pessimism lay in the fact that when the scholars saw that the old theories which had ruled human thought and centres of learning for centuries stood falsified now, with the strong hand of knowledge and the might of experimentation, and, moreover, no information was available about different heavenly spheres and minute movements and centrality of earth, and also about scores of other theories; they thought to themselves that no one knows the remaining religious and scientific theories might also be like the other ones? This way of thinking gradually sowed the seeds of doubt in the minds of most of the scholars of physical sciences and within a short time this doubt grew and spread to all the European scientific circles of that day like a contagious disease.
Furthermore 'Inquisition' (Department for the investigation of beliefs) and the severity of the Church authorities had full share in the germination, rather the growth of this pessimism, because the scholars of that time who succeeded in discovering some scientific theory were being annihilated by the Church with torments and torture. And it goes without saying that such pressure and persecution must have had a bad reaction and it was predicted from that very day that if at any time these scholars gained power and made sufficient progress in the physical field they would say good bye to religion and piety on account of the wrong policy of the Popes.
By chance matters did come to such a pass. As knowledge with regard to various matters increased and the scholars penetrated more and more into the inter-relationship of physical beings, disclosed the secrets which had remained hidden from man for ages, and gained knowledge about the causes of many natural phenomena like earthquakes and rain as well as causes of various diseases, they devoted comparatively lesser attention to metaphysical matters. (Origin, Resurrection, miracles and unusual performances by the Prophets etc.) and the number of sceptics and deniers increased day after day.
The self-conceit and pride with regard to their learning, which some scholars harboured in their minds, and the pressure exerted by the Popes and the priests, became the cause for some scientists looking upon all religious matters with contempt and disregard. They were no longer agreeable that the names of Torah or Evangel should be mentioned. According to them the event of Prophet Musa's rod and his luminous hand should be treated as a mere story and the breath of Prophet 'Isa which brought to life many dead persons with the permission of Allah was also, mere fiction. It so happened because pride on account of advancement of scientific knowledge and the memories of the pressures to which they were subjected in the past made them think within themselves 'How can it be possible that in the absence of a natural cause a piece of wood should assume the shape of a dragon or dead persons may come to life by means of a prayer?' The scholars who were intoxicated with their successes in the field of science thought that they had acquired the key for all branches of knowledge and had understood the relations between all beings and occurrences. It was for this reason that they could not find the least connection between a piece of dry wood and a boa or between the prayer and attention of a person on the one hand and coming to life of dead persons on the other. Hence they either viewed these matters with doubt and hesitation or denied them totally.
WAY OF THINKING OF SOME SCHOLARS
Nowadays this way of thinking, with slight modifications, has been adopted by some Egyptian scholars. These scholars, who are in fact a link between the centres of learning of the East and the West and have for years been transferring, earlier than anybody else, the knowledge and the ways of thinking of the West to the East and are truly considered to be a bridge of learning and educational relationship between these two blocs, have been influence more than anyone else by this way of thinking (of course with particular modifications ) and follow this method in the matter of explanation and analysis of historical and scientific problems.
Some of them have chosen a method by which they wish to keep satisfied the Muslims who believe in the obvious meanings of the Holy Qur'an and of the decisive Ahadith (reports) and also to adopt the view-point of scientists, or, at least, not to express an opinion which cannot be explained in the light of the laws of physical sciences.
On the one hand they see that the Holy Quran comprises a chain of undeniable miracles and this Heavenly Book is the final authority for the Muslims, and whatever it says is correct and in conformity with facts. On the other hand they find that the physical sciences and the supporters of material learning do not recognize these phenomena which, according to their own thinking (which insists on a natural cause for every natural event), are at variance with scientific laws.
As a consequence of these two factors, none of which, according to their belief, is flexible, they have adopted a course by means of which they wish to keep both the groups satisfied ... viz. they safeguard the apparent meanings of the Holy Qur 'an and the decisive reports and also do not say anything against the scientific laws. Accordingly, they endeavour to explain away the miracles and unusual performances of the Prophets according to modern scientific standards and account for the miracles in such a way that they appear to be natural occurrences. In this way they have safeguarded the respect due to the Holy Qur'an and the decisive reports, and have also freed themselves from every kind of pessimism and protest. We narrate below, as a specimen, the explanation offered by Muhammad Abdoh, the famous, Egyptian scholar, about the event of the 'People of the Elephant', which has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.
"It was the disease of smallpox and typhoid fever, caused by petrified dust, which spread in Abraha's army through insects like mosquitoes and flies. And by 'clay-stones' is meant petrified infected clay which the wind scatters everywhere and thus contaminates the feet of those insects. As a consequence of the contact of those insects with the human bodies the germs are transferred to the pores of human skin and make painful and dirty wounds appear on it. And these germs are the strong divine soldiers which are called 'microbes' in scientific terminology".
A modern writer says in support of the view expressed by the afore-said scholar that the word 'Tayr' used in the Holy Qur'an means anything which flies and includes mosquitoes and flies.
Before we take into consideration the remarks of the afore-said writers we consider it necessary to reproduce once again the verses revealed in connection with the 'People of the Elephant'. Almighty Allah says thus in Surah al-Fil: Have you not considered how Allah dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not foil their evil plots by sending against them flocks of swallows which pelted them with claystones, so that they became like left-over grass grazed by cattle. (105: 1- 5)
On the face of it, these verses show that the people of Abraha were subjected to Divine wrath and the only cause of their death was these clay-stones which the birds were carrying and which were pelted on their heads, faces and bodies. A deep and minute study of these verses leads us to believe that the death of those people took place on account of these very unnatural weapons (apparently worthless and insignificant claystones but in fact very powerful and destructive things). As such these Divine verses cannot be interpreted to carry any meanings given to them by means of an explanation which is at variance with their apparent text, unless a positive proof about the correctness of such an explanation is advanced.
NOTABLE POINTS WITH REGARD TO THE ABOVE-MENTIONED EXPLANATION
1. The above-mentioned explanation, too, cannot manifest the entire event to be natural and some points still remain in the story which can be explained by advancing unnatural reasons. Thus even if we suppose that the death and annihilation of those people took place on account of microbes of smallpox and typhoid fever, the question remains as to how and by what means and as a result of whose guidance and training did these birds come to know that microbes of smallpox and typhoid fever had settled themselves in these clay-stones at that particular time, and instead of going in search of their sustenance, they flocked together towards the clay-stones and holding them in their beaks pelted them at Abraha's people like an army attacking its enemy? In the circumstances can we treat the entire event as usual and natural? If we are prepared to admit that all these things happened in accordance with Allah's command and that a supernatural power was at work in this event where does the necessity lie that we should consider only a part of that event as natural and run after explaining away its causes.
2. The minute animals called 'microbes" which are enemies of entire mankind did not then have any relationship with anyone. As such how can this thing be explained that they attacked only Abraha's army and ignored the Makkans? The history books which we possess at present are unanimous that all losses were sustained by Abraha's soldiers and the Quraysh and the Arabs did not experience even the slightest harm, although smallpox and typhoid fever are contagious diseases and various natural factors transfer them from place to place and at times it so happens that they ruin the entire country. In the circumstances can the event in question be treated as something usual?
3. Diversity of opinions of those, who have furnished this explanation, about the genus of the microbes, itself weakens their proposition. At times they say that they were the germs of cholera and occasionally they assert that they were those of smallpox and typhoid fever, whereas we have not yet found any authentic and reliable document concerning this dispute. Amongst the exegetes only Akramah, who himself is an object of dispute amongst the scholars, has considered this probable and, amongst the historians, Ibn Athir, while quoting this probability as a weak statement, has straightaway proceeded to refute it.
Most strange is the explanation given by the author of 'Hayat-i Muhammad' (Dr Haikal, former Egyptian Education Minister), while narrating the story of the 'People of the Elephant'. Notwithstanding the fact that the object before his eyes is the verse 'We sent against them flocks of birds', he, after quoting Surah al-Fil, says thus about the death of the army of Abraha: "Perhaps cholera germs came with the wind and from sea-side". Now if wind had brought the cholera germs why were the birds flying on their heads? Moreover, the birds were pelting clay-stones at them; - now what part did those clay-stones play in their death? Hence, we should not follow this way of thinking and unnecessarily explain the great miracles of the Prophets and great spiritual people in this manner. In principle, the attitude of religion in these matters, towards the physical sciences, whose sphere is limited to the usual relations of natural phenomena, is two fold. We should not, therefore, abandon our established religious principles to please a few people whose religious knowledge is insignificant and who do not possess information about matters of this type, especially when we are under no obligation to do so.
TWO IMPORTANT POINTS
We would like to mention the two important points here.
1. There should be no misunderstanding about the fact that by the above remarks we do not want to correct and explain the things which people attribute to the Prophets and religious leaders by way of hearsay - things which are not supported by any authentic evidence and have usually a superstitious aspect. What we mean to say is that according to the authentic evidence, which we have in hand, the Prophets of Allah performed some unusual acts to prove their relationship with the supernatural world. Our aim is to defend these kinds of miracles.
2. We do not at all say that a miracle is an exception to the law of cause and effect. We fully respect this law and believe that all events of this world have causes and no phenomenon makes its appearance without a cause. However, what we say is that it is not necessary that the causes of the miracles should belong to the category of usual and material causes. thence, the miracles and unusual acts of the Prophets have causes which do not conform with the usual natural causes and everyone is not familiar with these mysteries.
AFTER THE DEFEAT OF ABRAHA
The tumult of the 'Year of the Elephant', Abraha's death and the destruction of the enemies of the Ka'bah and Quraysh, made the Makkans and the Ka'bah very honourable in the eyes of the Arab world. Now no one could dare think of attacking Quraysh or doing them any harm or destroying the House of Allah.
The common thinking was to this effect, that: "Allah has, for the sake of the honour of His House and for the honour and greatness of Quraysh, made their sworn enemy roll in dust and blood. In view of this Divine decree Quraysh and the Ka'bah have become respectable in the eyes of the People". They seldom reflected that this development had taken place simply for the sake of the protection of the Ka'bah and the greatness or smallness of Quraysh had nothing to do with it.
This is proved by the fact that the enemy chiefs of that area had attacked Quraysh several times but had never been faced with such a situation.
This victory and success, which was secured without any toil and without even a drop of the blood of Quraysh being shed, created new thoughts in their minds and their conceit, pride and heedlessness increased. They now began to believe in the limitations of others, because they considered themselves to be the distinguished group among the Arabs and thought that they alone were the object of attention of three hundred and sixty idols and enjoyed their support.
From the day they became unrestrained their revelry and voluptuousness knew no bounds. They quaffed cup after cup of palm-date wine and occasionally indulged in wine-drinking in the precincts of the Ka'bah, and according to their idiom, 'spent the best days of their lives' in the neighbourhood of idols made of stone and wood which pertained to the Arab tribes. In these assemblies everyone who had heard any story about the Manzariyans of Hirah and the Ghassaniyans of Syria and the Yemenite tribes, narrated it to others and they believed that they owed their own happy lives to the attention of idols which had humiliated ordinary Arabs as compared with them and had granted them (i.e. Quraysh) superiority over all others.
IMAGINARY FRONTIERS OF QURAYSH
God forbid that this two-footed being (man) should one day find the horizon of life clear and may assume himself to be of an imaginary privileged class. It is on that day that he appropriates existence and life to himself and does not believe that his fellow-beings are at all entitled in the least to any life and worth.
In order to prove their greatness and superiority over others Quraysh decided on that day that they would not extend the least respect to the people of "Hil" (the area extending upto four leagues from the Ka'bah in all the four sides is called "Haram" and the area beyond that limit is called "Hil"), because, according to them, others were dependent on their Sanctuary and had seen with their own eyes that they (Quraysh) were the object of the favours of the gods of the Ka'bah. From that time onwards Quraysh began meting our harsh treatment to others. Exercising perfect dictatorship they decided that whenever the people of "HiI" came to perform pilgrimage they should not utilize the edibles brought by them but should obtain food from the people of the "Haram". They also decided that at the time of going round the Ka'bah only the local dress of the Makkans, which had a national aspect, should be worn. If a person could not afford to wear that dress it was necessary for him to perform the pilgrimage without wearing any clothes. As regards some Arabs of high rank who did not agree to this arrangement it was decided that after going round the Ka'bah they should take off their clothes and throw them away and nobody was permitted to touch those clothes. As regards women, however, they were obliged, in all circumstances, to go round the Ka'bah unclad. They could cover only the sides of their heads with a piece of cloth and were required to hum some particular verses.
After the event relating to Abraha, who was himself a Christian, no Jew or Christian was permitted to enter Makkah, except as a hired worker of Makkan. In that case also it was obligatory upon him not to utter even a word about his faith and religion.
Things had come to such a pass that they had abandoned some of the ceremonies of Haj, which were to be performed outside the sanctuary. For example, they were not prepared to perform the ceremony of staying at 'Arafah (it is a place beyond the "Haram" where the Hajis are required to stay till sun-set on the 9th of the month of Zil Hijjah.
And this was in spite of the fact that their ancestors (the descendants of Isma'il) considered stay at 'Arafah to be a part of the ceremonies of Haj and for their entire apparent superiority Quraysh were indebted to the Ka'bah and to these very Haj ceremonies, because it was on this account that the people were obliged to come to this barren place every year. But for the sanctuary no one would have been inclined to visit this place even once throughout one's life.
From the point of view of social accountability such corruption and discrimination is unavoidable. It was therefore necessary that the environment of Makkah should have been submerged in corruption and pollution so that the world should have become ready for a basic revolution and a penetrating movement.
All these privations, feasting and drinking and lack of restraint were making the environment more and more ready for the appearance of a great reformer of the world and it was not without reason that when Waraqah bin Nawfal, the sage of Arabia, who had embraced Christianity during the last days of his life and had acquired knowledge of the contents of the Evangel, spoke about Allah and the Prophets, he had to face the wrath of the Firaun of Makkah in the person of Abu Sufyan who used to say "We Makkans don't stand in need of Allah or the Prophets, as we enjoy the mercy and favours of our idols"
 Tarikh-i Kamil, vol. I, page 253 onwards.
 Seerah-i Ibn Hisham, vol. I, pp. 43 - 62; Faza-il Shazan, pp. 52 - 64, Biharul Anwar, vol. XV, pp. 146 - 155, and Tarikh-i Kamil, vol. I, pp. 260 - 263.
 Tarikh-i Kamil, vol. I, page 263.
 Tarikh-i Kimil by Ibn Athir, vol. I, page 266.