The Event of Advancing Abraha
He said: Abul Hasan Ali b.Bilal al-Mahlabi reported to me from Abdul Wahid b. Abdullah b. Yunus al-Rabée, who reported from al-Husain b. Muhammad b. Amir, who reported from Mualla b. Muhammad al-Basri, who reported from Muhammad b. Jamhoor al-Ammi, who reported from Ja'far b. Bashir, who reported from Sulaiman b. Samáah, from Abdullah b. al-Qasim, from Abdullah b. Sinan, from Abu Abdillah Ja'far b. Muhammad, peace be upon him, from his father, from his grandfather, peace be upon them, who said:
When Abraha b. al-Sabbah, the king of Abyssinia, advanced towards Makkah to demolish the House (of Allah, i.e. Ka'bah), the Abyssinias hastened to raid it and they captured the grazing camels of Abdul Muttalib b. Hashim. Then Abdul Muttalib came to the King, seeking permission to see him, and he was granted. The king was sitting under a silken cupola on his throne. He greeted him, and Abraha returned the greeting, staring at his face. He was impressed by his (Abdul Muttalib's) grace, handsomeness and appearance. The king said: "Did your ancestors have the same light as this which I see in you and the same comeliness?" He said: "Yes, O king, all my ancestors had this light, comeliness and radiance." So Abraha said to him: "You have indeed superceded the kings in your glory and nobility! And you deserve to be the chief of your people." Then he made him sit with him on his throne, and he sent for the groom, who looked after his huge elephant. The elephant was white and huge, having two tusks studded with pearls and gems, and the king prided over other kings because of it. He said: "Bring the elephant." The groom came with the elephant, flourished with beautiful adornments. When it came to face to face with Abdul Muttalib, it bowed before him, and it had never bowed before the king. And then Allah made it utter in Arabic, so it greeted Abdul Muttalib.
When the king saw this, he was disturbed and considered it a magic. So he said: "Take back the elephant to its place." Then he turned to Abdul Muttalib and asked: "What have you come for? For I know of your generosity and your magnanimity, and I have observed your dignified appearance and comeliness which prepares me to fulfil your need. So ask of me whatever you wish." He thought Abdul Muttalib would ask him to return from Makkah. But Abdul Muttalib said: "Your people have captured my grazing camels and taken them away. So order them to return them to me." He said: The king was furious at this and said: "You have fallen in my estimate. You come to me to ask for your camels, while I am here to destroy your glory and the glory of your people, and to demolish your distinction, which distinguishes you from every other people, and that is the House which people of all lands come for pilgrimage. You did not ask me about it and your are calling for your camels?"
Abdul Muttalib said: "I am not the Lord of the House, which you intend to wreck. I am the master of my camels which have been taken away by your people! I have come to ask for that which I own, and as for the House, it has a Lord Who is All-Powerful and mightier than all His creatures, and has more authority over it than others." The king said: "Return his camels, and attack the House, breaking it stone by stone." Then Abdul Muttalib took his camels and preceded to Makkah. The king followed him with his huge elephant and the army to demolish the House. When they pushed the elephant to enter the sanctuary (of Kabah) it stopped, and when they left him, it hurriedly drew back. So Abdul Muttalib told his servants: "Bring me my son." They came with al-Abbas. He said: "I did not mean him. Bring me my son." They came with Abu Talib. He said: "I did not mean him, call my son for me." So they came with Abdullah, the father of the Prophet, peace be upon him and his progeny. When he arrived, he (i.e. Abdul Muttalib) said: "O my son, go and climb the mountain of Abu Qubais, and cast your glance towards the sea, and see what is coming from there and inform me."
He said: Abdullah climbed Abu Qubais. After a short while, he saw flights of birds coming, like a storm and darkness of the night, and descended on Abu Qubais. Then they proceeded towards the House, and circled around it seven times. Then they came to al-Safa and al-Marwah, and went to and fro seven times. Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, returned to his father and gave him the news. He said: "O my son, go and see what has become of those people, and then inform me." So he went, and saw them directed towards the army of Abyssinia. He informed Abdul Muttalib about it. Then Abdul Muttalib, may Allah bless him with mercy, proceeded exclaiming: "O people of Makkah! Go towards the army and pick up your share of the spoils." He said: They came upon the army who had become like whittled wood. And every bird had three pebbles in its beak and hands, killing every one of the army with every single pebble. As they came to see all of them, the birds had gone. And nothing like it had ever been seen before or after. When all had perished, Abdul Muttalib came to the House, and clinging to its curtains said:
"O One who held back the elephant from al-Mughammas
(i.e. a place on the road of al-Taif where Abraha's guide lived),
You indeed held it back, as if it were topsy-turvy.
In a strait in which men lose their breath."
Then he went away, commenting on the runaway Quraish, and their anxiety over the invading Abyssinians:
"The Quraishites flew when they saw the army,
and I remained alone, finding no one for comfort,
and I never heard even a whisper from them
except from my honoured and distinguished brother
(who was) made a chief and a leader among his people."
Al-Amali: The Dictations of Sheikh al-Mufid