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The Masjid Al-Haram has witnessed many attacks in the past. The most famous attack on the Kaaba was by elephants defended by Ababeel birds, as mentioned in Surah Al-Feel of the Holy Quran.
A church in Yemen
Abraha, the King of Yemen and Ethiopia, made a beautiful church in his city named Sanaa. When he learned that people from different parts of the region would flee to Makkah to perform Tawaf there, he got jealous.
He wanted people to come to Sanaa for Holy Pilgrimage. When he disclosed his wish to conduct Hajj at Sanaa, Quraish got furious. In a rage of anger, a man from Quraish went to Sanaa, entered the church, and stained the walls with impurities. He even urinated in the church.
The Attack on Makkah
Abraha then decided to destroy Makkah and take revenge for good. So, he built an army that predominantly consisted of elephants.
He led the army by riding on his vast and gigantic elephant. His particular elephant was named Mahmood. He and his army were able to attack Makkah successfully. They took hold of the animals there as well. The army of Abraha also captured the camel of Hazrat Abdul Muttalib.
Abdul Muttalib just asked for his camels
Abdul Muttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the custodian of the Holy Kaaba, was the then leader of Makkah.
When he was informed that his camel was in the custody of the Abraha army, he went there and asked for his camel.
Abraha commented that he and his army were here to destroy the Kaaba and that the custodian of the Kaaba was here to ask for his personal camels.
Allah will protect the Holy Kaaba
Abdul Muttalib said that Allah Almighty owns the Holy Kaaba and He would protect it. He got his camels back and went to Quraish and asked them to seek shelter either in caves or in mountainous valleys. The Quraish obeyed the order.
Abdul Muttalib went near the Holy Kaaba and held onto its gate, made a dua, and joined the people in caves and valleys: the following day, Abraha and his army mission to attack the Holy Kaaba. Yet, there occurred a bizarre incident. None of the elephants stood up.
The flock of Ababeel
Then came a flock of Ababeel (birds). These birds were sent by Allah Almighty and had three gravels each, two in claws and one in beak.
They flew over the army of Abraha and threw gravel on them. These tiny gravels, on the command of Allah, would fall on the military and would pierce through their bodies.
They ran for their lives, yet each stone was directed to fall on one man in the army, and this is how the army of Abraha was obliterated.
Ababeel in English
Many people ask what is the name of Ababeel in English. Ababeel in Arabic, means a flock of birds. According to Islamic belief, the Ababeel sent to destroy the army of elephants, as referred to in the Holy Quran, were unique kinds of birds that were not seen anytime before and after that incident.
Therefore, it is impossible to mention the English name of Ababeel as the birds do not exist anymore.
The Sacred Stones
One of the stones which Ababeel carried to throw on the army of elephants has been recovered from the same valley where the army stayed at that time.