The Inscription that Mentions King Abraha

The Inscription that Mentions King Abraha

Around 1950, some Western archeologists discovered an amazing inscription in the middle of the Arabian desert (east of the upper Wadi Tathlith, in the Asir province; around 370 miles/ 600 km from Makkah). It was a monument clearly inscribed by a pre-Islamic dynasty, in an ancient script common to the region.

The first part of the inscription reads: "By the power of the Merciful One (Raḥmānān) and His Messiah: The King Abraha, King of Saba and Hadramawt and Dhu Raydan and Yamnat and their Arab peoples, on the coast and in the highlands..."

The inscription then mentions  the Abrahamite army which confronted Banu 'Amir and were victorious. The text then records that Abraha went to Haliban where the tribe of Ma'addum declared their allegiance to him, and then returned in the month of d-LN, in the year 662. (Note: this is the month and year in the Himyarate calendar).

This is solid evidence that Abraha himself not only existed, but was in Central Arabia; the date conversions to Gregorian are not certain (and there are a number of differing methods on how to convert dates from that obscure calendar to Gregorian) however, most put this inscription at around 550 CE.

While some have opined that this epigraph was written immediately before the attack on Makkah that the Quran/sīrah references, it is probably more likely that this was an earlier expedition. This is because the dates on this epigraph are two decades before the birth of the Prophet ﷺ; hence Abraha would have been likely been in his prime.

We know from the sīrah that Abraha was killed after the Incident of the Elephant, and it was during that same year that the Prophet ﷺ was born. This chronology would fit perfectly if Abraha passed away in his 60s or 70s, and Allah knows best.

"Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the People of the Elephant?..."

[Surah al-Fīl; 1]

Note: the inscription lettering has been made bright in the picture; the original is of course extremely difficult to read and has faded away in some areas.


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