Around 6 kilometer south of Najran
city center lies one of the most historic sites of Saudi
Arabia. The site of Al-Ukhdood has traditionally been identified as the place of siege and massacre of Christians by the Jewish king
Yusuf Dhu Nuwas in the 6th century AD.
Dhu Nuwas' invitation to Judaism was rejected by the
Christian believers of Najran. He gave them a choice of life
as a Jew or death. The believers, who were around 20,000,
chose death. Thus, he dug a trench and fueled it and burned
them alive and some were slaughtered by sword. This
incident is described and condemned in the Holy Qur'an. The
traces of burning; mounts of ashes and pieces of bones can
still been seen at the archaeological site.
1. By the heaven holding giant
2. And by the Promised Day (the Day of Judgement).
3. And by the Witness and by the Witnessed.
4. Cursed were the People of the Ditch.
5. Of fire fed with fuel.
6. When they sat by it.
7. And they witnessed what they were doing against
8. And they had no fault except that they believed
in Allah, the Almighty, Worthy of all praise!
Holy Qur'an (Chapter 85; Verse 1-8)
People of the Ditch (trench) refers to the people of
Jewish King, Dhu Nuwas, who massacred the believers
(Christians) in Najran before the dawn of Islam.
Dhu Nuwas was the last king of the Himyarite
kingdom of Yemen from 515-525 AD. He was also called Phineas or
Zur'ah. He embraced Judaism and successfully propagated
the religion in Yemen. Najran was part of Yemen in
his period (and until 1937).
His siege of Najran was in the year 524-25 AD. After
5 months, the city was captured and the massacre
This is part of the outer wall of Al Ukhdood
Human bones that still remain
in the site
The massacre caused a great agitation among the Christians
around the world; and by the request of the Roman emperor,
Justin I, Ethiopian army crossed the Red Sea to Yemen
to conquer Dhu Nuwas. Preferring death to capture,
it is recorded that Dhu Nuwas rode into the sea and
Pieces of bone remains in
the mud of ash walls of the ditch. Scratching on
these walls makes the ashes to come out.