Abraha (Arabic ابرهة; Sabean brh ʾ ) was a king of Ethiopian origin, who reigned about the middle of the 6th century on the South Arabian kingdom of Himyar. In the Arab sources, he has the nickname al - Ashram ( "the one with the severed tip of the nose "). The first epigraphic testimony, is mentioned in the Abraha, dates back to June 547, but he is probably earlier come to the rule, but not before at least 531 He ruled until November 558.


According to at- Tabari Abraha was one of the two military leaders, the Negus, the ruler of the kingdom of Aksum, sent out at the head of an army against Dhu Nuwas Himjaritenkönig. After the defeat of Dhu Nuwas and the conquest of Yemen ( 525 ) to Abraha brought to the king of Sanaa and made from Negus independent. This then sent out Aryāt against Abraha, however, the latter defeated by a trick in a duel. Abraha finally won despite formal recognition of the suzerainty of Aksum independence.

After byzantinisichen tradition continued the Aksumitenkönig Ella Asbeha after the conquest of Yemen initially a puppet king in the Himyarites one. However, this was ( 531 or 535 only ) crashed a few years later by Abraha, who made ​​himself the new king in Yemen. Attempts to subdue him failed, (see Prokopios, histories, 1, 20).

Abraha's church in Sanaa

After Abraha had consolidated his power in so far as that the Negus recognized his kingship, he built a magnificent church in Sanaa, whose name is specified in the Arabic sources with al - qalis, al - Qulais or al - Bai ʿ a. The name al - qalis here is probably derived from the Greek term ekklesia ( "church" ). Al- Azraqi (d. 837 ), the local historian of Mecca, gives a detailed description of the church. Accordingly, the building was about 24 to 30 meters high and had an entrance marble staircase, the Abraha from Ma'rib had let bring along. According to tradition, Ibn al - Kalbīs, citing the at- Tabari, Abraha also received support from the Byzantine emperor, who sent him marble, mosaics and artisans in the construction of the church. After Abraha's request, the church should be a center of pilgrimage, attracting the people from the entire Arabian Peninsula and was intended to replace the Kaaba of Mecca in this function. The church was destroyed until the middle of the 8th century. After their demolition parts thereof were reused ( capitals, column bases, wood panels ) in the Kaaba. Even today there are in Sanaa 175 meters west of the wall of the citadel a place which is called al - qalis and on which a circular depression is with foundation walls. It is believed that there was the western facade of the church built by Abraha here.


In the summer of 547 Abraha was an uprising of Arab tribes defeated. Shortly thereafter - from October 547 to January 548 - he had it repaired by the Arab tribes of the dam of Marib. In this context, the presence of ambassadors from Ethiopia and Byzantium is noted.

Around the middle of the 6th century undertook Abraha attempt the Ma ʿ add to bring a tribal confederation in Central Arabia, which was under the rule of the Lakhmids, under his control. The expedition is mentioned in a Himyarite inscription from April 552. The Arabic sources also mention a campaign Abraha against Mecca, which aimed to get the local sanctuary under his control, and mitführte in which Abraha elephants. The event was so significant that the Arabs subsequently dated the time. The year in which took place the campaign, the year of the elephant was called. In the recent research, it is assumed that mentioned in the Himyarite inscription expedition and the Elephant campaign of the Arabic sources are identical. In the Arab sources, the failure of the campaign is attributed to a whimsical intervention of God: Birds had attacked the soldiers Abraha and so forced to turn back.


After the death of his son Yaksum Abraha took control of the Abyssinian troops in Yemen. His successor was 575/76 distributed by the Himyarites Saif ibn Dhi Yazin using the Sassanids.