This article focuses on Surah Al-Fil from several aspects. We will discuss in brief the place of Surah Al-Fil revelation (Makki or Madani), the meaning of Al-Fil, and its order of revelation. In addition, we will discuss Surah Al-Fil Asbab al-nuzul, Surah Al-Fil Maksud, Surah Al-Fil translation, transliteration in English, and Importance of Surah Al-Fil Tafseer. The article will discuss in brief a few lessons and benefits of Surah Al-Fil as well.
Here we will learn the following:
Introduction to Surah Al-Fil
Surah Al-Fil is a Makki Surah that was revealed before Surah Al-Falaq and after Surah Al-Kafirun. Actually, it is the 19th Surah according to the order of revelation. In Mushaf (Quranic book), It is one of the short Surahs of the 30th Juz’.
Importance of Surah Al-Fil narrates an interesting story that once happened in Makkah during the year of Prophet Muhammad’s birth (PBUH). It indicates how Allah (SWT) protected his holy Kaaba and defended against its enemies.
‘Al-Fil’ is an Arabic word that means the elephant. That is a referral to the story of Abraha Al-Habashy, who aimed to destroy The Kaaba with the help of an elephant, as we will further discuss in Surah Al-Fil Tafseer.
Why Was Surah Al-Fil Revealed (Asbab al-nuzul)?
Importance of Surah Al-Fil was revealed as a narration of one of the past stories that involve great lessons and life applications. Allah (SWT) reveals past stories for people to learn and understand His message.
Allah says in the Quran: “We relate to you ˹O Prophet˺ the best of stories through Our revelation of this Quran, though before this you were totally unaware ˹of them˺.” (Quran 12:3)
Surah Al-Fil narrates the story of those who aimed at the destruction of Allah’s holy masjid and how they were severely punished.
What is The Maksud of Surah Al-Fil?
The Maksud of Surah Al-Fil is the clarification of the sacredness of Al-Kabba and the holy masjid in Makkah.
Likewise, Allah (SWT) clarifies the sacredness of Muslims and believers, as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, referring to The Kaaba: “… The sanctity of the believer is greater before Allah than your sanctity, his blood and his wealth”. Sunan Ibn Majah 3932
Importance of Surah Al-Fil narrates the severe punishment of those who violated and invaded the Kaaba aiming at its destruction. It shows that Allah (SWT) protects His Kaaba and his servants (believers).
What Is Surah Al-Fil Translation and Transliteration in English (Verse by Verse)?
Surah Al-Fil is a short Lesson of Surah Al-Fil that consists of short, brief, comprehensive, and highly linguistic five verses. It does not include the name of Allah or any of his attributes, just as mentioned in Tafseer Surah Al-Kafirun.
It is simple, uncomplicated, and easy to memorize and understand for both adults and children.
surah al fil
surah al fil transliteration
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَـٰبِ ٱلْفِيلِ
Alam tara kaifa fa’ala rabbuka bi ashaabil feel
Have you not considered, [O Muhammad], how your Lord dealt with the companions of the elephant?
أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِى تَضْلِيلٍۢ
Alam yaj’al kaidahum fee tadleel
Did He not make their plan into misguidance?
وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ
Wa arsala ‘alaihim tairan abaabeel
And He sent against them birds in flocks,
تَرْمِيهِم بِحِجَارَةٍۢ مِّن سِجِّيلٍۢ
Tarmeehim bihijaaratim min sijjeel
Striking them with stones of hard clay,
فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍۢ مَّأْكُولٍۭ
Faja ‘alahum ka’asfim m’akool
And He made them like eaten straw.
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What is the Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil and its Meaning in English (Verse by Verse)?
In the following few paragraphs, we will discuss Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil verse by verse.
A. Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil Verse #1
‘Alam tara’ means: haven’t you seen? It is a type of exclamation in which Allah (SWT) indicates how strange is the story of the following verses.
‘kaifa fa’ala rabbuka bi ashaabil feel’ is the completion of ‘alam tara,’ which means: haven’t you seen what your Rabb (Lord) did with the companions of the elephant (O Muhammad)?
The elephant story took place in Makkah in the year of the prophet’s (PBUH) birth. It was around 571 A.C, which was called historically among Arabs: ‘The Year of Al-Fil (The Elephant)’.
The story started when Abraha Al-Habashi -a Christian leader- built a huge Church in Yemen in order for Arabs to head there for pilgrimage instead of the sacred Kaaba in The Holy Masjid of Makkah. Arabs refused to obey him and soon rejected his offer. The Holy Masjid was a sacred and glorified place for all Arabs -whether before or after Islam- where they could not replace it with any other.
Soon after, Abraha Al-Habashi prepared an army with huge elephants for the vindictive purpose of destroying The Kaaba. He passed by several towns in The Arabian Peninsula, where he took over and defeated all those who stood in front of his army.
When Abraha Al-Habashi reached Makkah, he captured 200 camels for Abd Al-Muttalib (Quraish/Makkah leader and The Prophet’s grandpa) and much of the Meccan people’s money. Then, Abraha asked for Makkah leader Abd Al-Muttalib.
When Abd Al-Muttalib entered, Abraha respected and honored him greatly, so he stepped down from his throne and sat beside him. Abd Al-Muttalib then spoke, asking Abraha to return his camels. Abraha was amazed by his request, as he imagined the leader of the Quraish tribe and Makkah would ask him to reverse his decision to damage the Kaaba. Abd Al-Muttalib then replied: “I am the lord of Camels. However, the sacred masjid has a Rabb, lord (Allah), to protect it”.
B. Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil Verse #2
‘Alam yaj’al kaidahum fee tadleel’ is an acknowledgment question. Allah said: ‘Didn’t we make their plan misguided?’ which acknowledges that their plan was erroneous and led them astray.
It was narrated that Abraha moved forward with his army and a huge elephant to break down the Kaaba. However, the elephant refused to step forward anymore, although they tried convincing him in several ways.
C. Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil Verse #3
Starting from this verse, Allah describes their severe and painful punishment.
‘Wa arsala’ alaihim’ means he sent them, ‘tairan abaabeel’ means many birds (huge flocks coming from everywhere).
D. Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil Verse #4
‘Tarmeehim bihijaaratim’ means the birds threw them from above in the sky with stones carried in their claws’ min sijjeel,’ which means made of hard clay or, in another meaning, originated from a valley in Hell.
E. Tafseer of Surah Al-Fil Verse #5
‘Faja’ alahum‘ means it made them like ‘ka ‘asfim m’akool’ means the hay or stray that is eaten. The parts of eaten straw are separated in the chaos, which describes how their bodies were damaged as a punishment for their purpose of damaging Allah’s sacred Kaaba.
You can also find the tafseer of the following surahs helpful:
- Maksud And Tafseer of Surah Al-Fatiha With Transliteration
- Learn All You Need to Know About Tafseer Surah Al-Ikhlas
- Best Tafseer Surah Al-Naas – Maksud, Benefits, And Lessons
- The benefits and Virtues of Surah Al-Masad – Comprehensive Tafseer
- Top Benefits and Virtues of Surah Al-Nasr – Comprehensive Tafseer
- Tafseer Surah Al-Kawthar, Asbab Al-Nuzul, Maksud, Lessons, & Benefits
What Are the Lessons of Surah Al-Fil and Life Applications?
The lessons of Surah Al-Fil are numerous and vital. The Learn to Recite Surah Al-Fil mainly focuses on the power of Allah and His protection.
1. Allah is The Powerful and The Omnipotent
Despite the huge number of Abraha’s army and its most effective arms and weapons, he could not achieve his purpose of destroying Allah’s holy Kaaba. Allah is The Most Powerful and The Omnipotent. No one can stand in front of the will or power of Allah, no matter his strength or power. That is an important lesson for every Muslim to realize Allah’s unlimited Power and Strength.
2. Allah Punishes Those Who Cause His Sacred Places Harm
The Kaaba and The Holy Masjid in Makkah are among the sacred places of Allah. Allah defends his sacred places and protects them. A Muslim should honor Allah’s sacred places and feel its greatness in his heart. Allah said in the Quran: “That is so. And whoever honours the symbols of Allah, it is certainly out of the piety of the heart.” (Quran 22:32)
3. Allah Punishes Those Who Cause His Believers Harm
As we previously mentioned in Surah Al-Fil Maksud, the sanctity of the believer is far much greater than that of Al-Kaaba. Allah (SWT) had defended the Kaaba; likewise, He (SWT) would protect his believers and defend them. Allah said in the Quran: “Indeed, Allah defends those who believe.” (Quran 22:38).
What Are the Benefits of Surah Al-Fil?
Surah Al-Fil’s benefit is that its recitation and understanding are worth a great reward from Allah as one of the Surahs of the holy Quran. There is no known specific benefit or virtue of Surah Al-Fil. However, it is considered one of the stories narrated in the Quran that Allah said about “the best of stories” (Quran 12:3)
Conclusion | What Is The General Meaning of Surah Al-Fil?
Surah Al-Fil is one of the short Makki Surahs revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) before Hijra. It is among the Surahs that narrates a beneficial story of the past for people to learn its message and ponder.
Lesson of Surah Al-Fil narrates the story of the companions of the elephant that happened in the year of The Prophet’s (PBUH) birth. It talks about Abraha Al-Habashi and his army, which aimed at destroying Allah’s sacred Kaaba for the purpose of directing the Arabs’ pilgrimage to his Church in Yemen. However, Allah misguided their plan and punished them with flocks of birds that threw them with stones of hard clay till they perished.
Lesson of Surah Al-Fil is a lesson for every person on the power of Allah and that He (SWT) protects His sacred places and, most importantly, His believers.
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