This sura is a reference to events that happened in 570 ce, the year of the Prophet’s birth, when the army of Abraha (a Christian ruler of Yemen), which included war elephants, marched to attack Mecca, destroy the Ka'ba, and divert pilgrims to the new cathedral in San'a. The destruction of this army is cited here to encourage the believers and warn the disbelievers.
In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy
1 Do you [Prophet] not see how your Lord dealt with the army of the elephant? 2 Did He not utterly confound their plans? 3 He sent ranks of birds against them, 4 pelting them with pellets of hard-baked clay: 5 He made them [like] cropped stubble.
The Qur'an (Oxford World's Classics)
The Qur'an / a new translation by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, copyright © 2004 Oxford World's Classics (Oxford University Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.