Part | One
The Opening of Damascus
The Inspiring History of The Sahabah’s Conquest of Syria
|01||Prelude||29||Paulus and his wife|
|02||Abu Bakr (ra) summons the Yamanis for Jihad||30||The Battle of Shakhura|
|03||Battle of Tabuk||31||Bravery of the Muslim women|
|04||Romans annihilated||32||Sahabah reach Ajnadayn|
|05||Abu Bakr (ra) summons the people of Makkah for Jihad||33||The Battle of Ajnadayn|
|06||Abu Bakr (ra) appoints ‘Amr (ra) as commander||34||Dirar’s valour|
|07||Heraclius sends 100,000 against ‘Amr.||35||Dirar and Steven duel|
|08||War in Palestine||36||The conspiracy|
|09||‘Amr’s (ra) letter to Abu ‘Ubaydah||37||David and Khalid’s dialogue|
|10||Battle of Banu Salif Hillock||38||Fruits of treachery|
|11||Khalid crosses the desert||39||Khalid and Warden’s dialogue|
|12||Busra conquered||40||Death of Warden|
|13||Story of Romanus’s wife||41||Khalid’s letter to Abu Bakr (ra)|
|14||Romans reinforce Damascus||42||Abu Bakr (ra)’s letter to Khalid|
|15||The Roman generals argue||43||Return to Damascus|
|16||Sergius’s speech to Khalid (ra)||44||The second siege of Damascus|
|17||Khalid, and Calius duel||45||The Damascenes go to Thomas|
|18||Khalid and Driel duel||46||The attack on Damascus|
|19||Battle of the Monastery||47||The night attack|
|20||The siege of Damascus||48||The surrender|
|21||Heraclius sends an army to Damascus||49||Surrender and Conquest|
|22||Khalides consults Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra)||50||Thomas leaves Damascus|
|23||Dirar’s expedition||51||Jonah and his wife|
|24||The mysterious warrior||52||Khalid’s dream|
|25||Search for Dirar||53||Yunus and the princess|
|26||Dirar’s rescue||54||Herbius is killed|
|27||Heraclius letter to Warden||55||Khalid’s gift to Heraclius|
|28||Muslims receive intelligence on Ajnadayn||56||The martyr|
57: Khalid’s letter | End of Part 1
Chapter 1 | Prelude
Abu Bakr (ra) bin Ahmad narrates from ‘Umar bin ‘Uthman bin’ Abdurahman, Nawfal bin Muhammad, Muhammad bin ‘Abdillah bin Muhammad, Rabi’ah bin ‘Uthman, Yunus bin Muhammad, Main bin Yahya bin ‘Abdillah, Muhammad bin ‘Umar ar-Rafiqi, Mu’ath bin Muhammad al-Ansri, Abdurahman bin Abdil-Aziz, Abdullah bin Majid et al:
Rasulullah (pbuh) passed away and Abu Bakr (ra) became the Khalifah, Abu Bakr (ra) eliminated the false prophets, Musaylamah and Shuja’ Walud, while Tulayhah fled to Syria. He conquered Yamahah and destroyed Banu Hanifa and the ‘Arabs submitted to him. The Khalifah then resolved to invade Syria and fight the Romans. Hence, he gathered the Sahabah (ra) and said, “O people, may Allah have mercy upon you. Remember that Allah has blessed you with Islam, made you the Ummah of Muhammad, increased your Faith and Conviction and granted you complete victory. He has said:
”Today I have perfected for you your religion and completed my favour unto you and have chosen Islam for you as a religion.” [5:3]
Know that Rasulullah. intended to wage Jihad in Syria and desired that effort should be made in that direction but then Allah recalled him to Himself. So be clear on this point, that I intend sending a Muslim army together with their families and dependants to Syria. Rasulullah (pbuh) told me before his demise,
‘I was shown the Earth and saw its East and West and that my Ummah would soon conquer whatever I was shown. ‘
So you should all come to an agreement and express your opinion to me. May Allah have mercy upon you.”
The Sahabah (ra) unanimously replied, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah (pbuh), we are under your command. We are prepared for whatever you order because Allah has made it incumbent upon us to obey you by saying:
”Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority over you …” [4:59]
Chapter | 2
Abu Bakr (ra) Summons
The Yamanis for Jihad
Abu Bakr (ra), was very pleased with this reply and therefore wrote to the kings of Yaman, the ‘Arab chiefs and the people of Makkah:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
From: ‘Abdullah al – ‘Atiq bin Abi Quhafah.
To: All Muslims.
All Praise to Allah alone and salutations to His Messenger.
Know that I intend sending an army to Syria to expel the
Disbelievers and those who do not tread the straight path from
there. Whoever amongst you intends to wage Jihad should
hasten to obey Allah and make preparations for Allah says:
”Go forth lightly armed or heavily armed and wage Jihad with your wealth and lives in the path of Allah. ..” [9:41]
Abu Bakr (ra) gave these letters to Anas bin Malik ., the attendant of Rasulullah, and awaited their reply.
Jabir bin’ Abdillah (ra) narrates:
Anas (ra) returned after a short while with the glad tidings that the people of Yaman were coming. He told Abu Bakr (ra), “Whoever I read your order out to immediately obeyed Allah and accepted your order. These people will present themselves with their equipment and war materials and armour. O Khalifah of Rasulullah (ra),. I have presented myself ahead of their coming to give you glad tidings. In obeying you they accept having their hair dishevelled and their bodies covered in dust. They are extremely brave and excellent horsemen – the chiefs of Yaman. They will soon be arriving with their families and dependants. You should prepare to meet them.
Abu Bakr (ra) was extremely pleased to hear this.
The next day, signs of the coming of the Mujahidin were seen and so the people of al-Madinah informed him. Abu Bakr (ra) es ordered them to mount their conveyances and went with them out of al-Madinah to welcome the arrivals.
Soon legion after legion of Mujahidin arrived, each tribe with their emblems and with their flags in their hands happily marching behind each other. The first Yamani tribe to come was Himyar, wearing good armour and carrying expensive swords or Arab bows. Their chief, Thul Kala’ al-Himayri ., was wearing a turban. He approached Abu Bakr (ra), greeted him, identified his abode and tribe and then recited the following poem:
Himyar is my tribe, and these people you see
Are first in battle and high in genealogy.
Lions of bravery, in courage they are leaders.
With curved blades they strike great armed warriors.
Our habit is battle, firm whether we kill or fall
Thul Kala al-Himayri is commander of all.
Our army has come and on the Roman Empire is our sight
Syria will be made home with our might.
For us is Damascus.
We will fling her people into an abyss!
Hearing this, Abu Bakr (ra) smiled and said to ‘Ali., “Abu al-Hasan, have you not heard Rasulullah saying, ‘When the Himayr come with their women carrying their children then rejoice at Allah’s help for the Muslims against all Polytheists.’ “
‘Ali. replied, “You have spoken the truth. I have indeed heard Rasulullah saying this.”
Anas (ra) narrates:
When the Himayr passed by with all their families, dependants, provisions and equipment, the Mathhij tribe came after them. They were riding extremely fine, expensive horses and carried sharp spears in their hands. Their leader, Qays bin Hubayrah al-Muradi approached Abu Bakr (ra) ., introduced himself and his tribe and then recited this poem:
Our Army hastened unto thee,
Kings of Murad are we,
We have come so that you can see,
How we kill Romans with the swords we carry.
Abu Bakr (ra) made du’a for them and they went ahead. The tribe of Tayy came next. Their chief, Habis bin Said at-Tai, wanted to dismount and walk to the Khalifah. Abu Bakr (ra) took an oath and prevented him from doing so. When Habis came near they greeted and shook hands and Abu Bakr (ra) thanked them. Next came an enormous contingent of the tribe of Azd under the command of Jundub bin ‘Amr ad-Dawsi, Amongst them was Abu Hurayrah carrying a bow and quiver. Abu Bakr (ra) burst out laughing upon seeing him like this and asked, “Why have you come? You do not know the art of warfare!”
Abu Hurayrah replied, “Firstly, I wish to participate in the reward of Jihad, and secondly, if Allah wills, Iwill get to eat Syrian fruits!
Abu Bakr (ra) laughed a lot at this reply.
After this, Banu ‘Abs arrived under the command of Maysarah bin Masruq al-‘ Absi followed by the Kinanah under Fathm bin Ashyam al-Kinani, All the tribes of Yaman who came brought their children, wealth, women, horses and camels etc. along with them. Abu Bakr (ra) was very happy to see this display and thanked Allah.
The tribes encamped separately around al-Madinah, Since the army had become numerous, food and space became insufficient. Food supplies became low and there was difficulty in finding grain and pasturage for the horses. Their chiefs therefore consulted each other and decided to ask the Khalifah to despatch them to Syria due to the problem of overcrowding at al-Madinah. They went to him, made salam and sat down.
They then looked at each other wondering who would speak first until eventually Qays bin Hubayrah said, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah, you summoned us to a task to which we responded immediately in obedience to Allah and His Rasul and out of eagerness for Jihad. Through Allah’s grace our army is prepared and all war provisions made. However, our troops are undergoing difficulty since your city cannot accommodate all the horses, mules and camels, nor are all the men’s needs fulfilled. We therefore request you to either permit us to fight, or if the decision for war has been cancelled, then permit us to return to our homeland.”
In this way each chief in his tum expressed the same idea. Upon hearing them all, Abu Bakr (ra) replied, “By Allah! I had no intention of giving you difficulty. I merely desired that all the contingents should arrive so that the army’s numbers should be completed.” They said, “There remains no tribe still to come. All have arrived. Therefore place your trust in Allah and send us.”
Chapter | 3
Battle of Tabuk
Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr (ra) immediately arose and walked to the Mujahidin camp outside al-Madinah. ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Sa’id bin Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nufayl, the tribes of Aws and Khazraj and others accompanied him. Upon seeing him the Mujahidin rejoiced and welcomed him with shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” Their shouts filled the sky and were so loud and numerous that they echoed off the mountains so that the very mountains replied, “Allahu Akbar!” to the shouts of the Mujahidin, The Khalifah climbed an elevation from where he gazed at the waves of ranks which covered every inch of the earth. His face glittered with happiness and he prayed, “O Allah, grant them patience. Help them. Do not make them prisoners in the claws of the Disbelievers.”
After this du’a he called Yazid bin Abi Sufyan (ra) and gave him a battalion flag and command over 1,000 horsemen. Thereafter, he gave a flag to al-Hijaz’s famous horseman, Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir (ra) of Banu ‘Amir tribe, also making him commander of 1,000 horsemen. Then he said to Yazid es, “Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir is a man of great status and nobility. Be acquainted with his bravery and methods of attack. I place him under you, but you are to place him in every advance group. Consult with him and act upon his consultation. Do not oppose his opinion.”
Yazid replied, “I readily accept all this.”
Yazid and Rabi’ah came on horseback at the head of the two armies to take leave of Abu Bakr (ra) who went on foot with them. Yazid said, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah, I fear Allah and feel ashamed before Him that we ride while you walk. Either mount or let us walk.” He replied, “Neither will I ride, nor will you dismount. I hope for reward from Allah by means of this walk.”
Thus he marched until Thaniyatul Wadii’ where he stopped. Yazid came and said, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah, please advise us.”
Abu Bakr (ra) said, “When you leave a place do not cause the men difficulty in marching. Do not punish your men harshly. Consult them in every matter. Do not abandon justice and stay far from injustice and tyranny because no tyrant nation has ever obtained success nor been victorious Over another nation. Act upon the Quran’s dictate:
”When you meet those who disbelieve in a battlefield, never ‘’turn your backs to them (i.e. flee). And whoever turns his back to them on such a day – unless it be a strategy of war, or a retreat to (his own) troops – has indeed drawn upon himself the wrath of Allah ..’’. [8:16-17]
That is to say, when you encounter the army of Disbelievers then do not flee for whoever flees, loses the battle. When you have obtained victory do not slay any small children, old people, women or pre-adolescents. Do not approach the harvests of trees. Crops should not be burnt nor fruit trees cut. Do not slaughter any animal which is impermissible. Do not break any agreement which you make with the enemy and after peace do not tear up your treaties. Remember that you will also meet such people who have undertaken monasticism in their monasteries, thinking this to be for the sake of Allah. Do not interfere with them for as long as as they choose this isolationism – do not destroy their monasteries and do not kill them.
You will also meet such a Satanic people who worship the Cross. They shave their heads in the middle to expose their skulls. Cut off their heads until they accept Islam or pay Jizyah disgraced. Now I place you in Allah’s hands, may He protect you.”
He then shook hands and embraced Yazid (ra) and then shook hands with Rabi’ah saying, “Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir, show your bravery and intelligence in fighting the Romans. May Allah fulfil all your desires and forgive us all.”
The Islamic army then went towards its destination while Abu Bakr (ra) and his companions returned to al-Madinah, After reaching a short distance outside al-Madinah, Yazid increased his pace. Rabi’ah (ra) objected, “Abu Bakr (ra) ordered you to go slowly without causing difficulty.”
Yazid: It is true that he commanded this, but just as he despatched us, he intends despatching other armies too. I intend reaching Syria first so that by the time the others reach us we may have gained some victories. There are three benefits in this – firstly, Allah and his Rasul’s Jit, pleasure; secondly, the Khalifah will be happy; thirdly, booty will be obtained if Allah wills.
Rabi ‘ah: As you please. All power and might belong to Allah. So they took the secondary road of Wadiyul Qura so as to reach Damascus by way of Tabuk and al-Jabiyah.
Christian ‘Arabs living in al-Madinah gave intelligence ofthis invasion to the Roman Emperor, Heraclius. He assembled the Imperial officials and said, “O Romans, know that your Empire, wealth and lives are facing impending destruction. For as long as you maintained the laws of the Gospel, you defeated whichever king attacked you and your dominations in Syria. You will recall that Kisra attacked you with the Persian army but had to flee in defeat. The Turks also attacked you but were similarly defeated.
The Jaramiqah invaded but you drove them back. Now you have brought about changes and innovations in your religion and chosen the path of tyranny. You have now become criminals in the Eyes of God and in retribution He is sending such a people against you who are of no note or rank. No nation was regarded as weaker than them so it never occurred to us that they would dare to attack us in our own territories. Actually it is nothing but famine and hunger which has driven them to us and their Prophet’s successor has sent them to snatch our lands and drive us out.”
Heraclius then told them whatever the spies had told him, to which the Imperial officials unanimously replied, “Send us against them and they will never fulfil their desires. We will drive them back to their Prophet’s’ city, demolish their Ka’bah, uproot its foundation and not spare a single one of them.”
When Heraclius observed their eager faces, weighed their plans against caution and resolution and found them ready, he chose a cavalry of 8,000 daring and brave men. Over them he appointed four great experienced commanders – Batlic; his brother Sergius; Chief of Police, Luke son of Samuel; and the Governor of Ghazzah and Ascalon, Salya. These four were the epitome of bravery and intelligence. They put on their armour, prepared their goods and displayed their adornment. The Chief Priest then prayed for their victory and assistance, “O God! Help whichever party is on the Truth.”
Incense was burned in the churches and holy water sprinkled over them. Caesar himself came to bid them farewell and so they left following Christian ‘Arab guides.
Yasir bin Husayn narrates:
Yazid bin Abi Sufyan (ra) reached Tabuk three days before the Romans. On the fourth day, the Sanabah of Rasulullah (pbuh) intended to advance but saw dust rising in the distance. Allah then inspired them with a clever strategy. Yazid bin Abi Sufyan (ra) ordered Rabi’ah bin ‘Armir to hide in ambush with 1,000 men while he himselfled 1,000 to face the enemy and drew them in rows. He gave some advice and mentioned Allah’s favours, then said, “Remember that Allah has promised you victory in most places. He has sent angels to your aid and says in the Quran:
‘’How often a small group overcame a mighty force by Allah leave? And Allah is with the patient ones.’’ [2:249J
Our Master, Rasulullah., said that Paradise lies under the shadow of swords. O my brothers, the very first army to make Jihad against the Romans is this very army of yours. Whichever Muslim army may come to join you will come to help you while you remain the original force. So it is required of you to display that which the Muslims are expecting of you. The enemy is confronting you, therefore be careful that they do not have hopes of killing you. Help Allah’s Din and He will help you.”
While Yazid (ra) was advising them, the Roman vanguard, followed by the main body arrived. Seeing a small ‘Arab force, they thought this to be the entire ‘Arab army. They shouted and said to each other, “Encircle those who have come intending to snatch your Empire, dishonour you and slay your kings. Draw help from the Cross so that it may come to your assistance.” They then attacked.
The Sababah responded with great courage and thus the battle began and endured for some time. The Romans gained the upper hand due to their greater number and thought that they would capture the Muslims, when suddenly Rabi’ ah and his men emerged riding ‘Arab horses. They loudly recited salutations on Rasulullah and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” as if they were thundering clouds.
Rabi’ah attacked fiercely and the banner of Tawheed was raised. As soon as the Romans saw the ambush they lost courage and Allah placed such terror in their hearts that they broke rank and fled. Batlic was encouraging his men to continue fighting when Rabi’ah spotted him and deduced from his demeanour that he was a commander of the army. With great daring, he speared the Roman with such force that the spear penetrated him through one side and emerged from the other. When the Romans saw him fall unconscious, they recklessly fled and abandoned the battlefield to the Sababah.
‘Abdullah bin Hilm narrates:
Allah destroyed 2,200 Romans in this battle while 120 Muslims were martyred, mostly from the Yamani tribe, Sakasik.
Sergius addressed the defeated Romans, “How can I show my face to Caesar Heraclius when the audacity of a small Muslim force has destroyed our great champions. Our blood stains the Earth and our corpses lie in heaps. I cannot return until I either avenge my brother or join him in death.” Hearing this the Romans began rebuking each other and returned to save face.
They erected their tents, arranged their equipment and prepared for a fierce fight. When all the equipment was arranged and the camp firmly entrenched, a Christian ‘Arab, Qadb bin Wathilah, was called and told, “Go to the Muslim camp and tell them to send a wise, intelligent and experienced man to us so that we may ask him what their goal is.”
Qadh reached the Muslims on a light-paced horse. When some Aws tribesmen saw him, a stranger in their midst, they asked, “What do you want here?” He replied, “Our commander of the army calls for one of your wise and experienced men so that he may investigate why you have interfered in Imperial affairs.”
Rabi’ah: I will go.
Yazid: Rabi’ah, it is not appropriate for you to go since you killed one of their great officers in yesterday’s battle.
Rabi’ah: Allah says in the Quran:
”Say: Nothing will afflict us except that which Allah has decreedfor us. He is our Protector. [9:51]
I advise you and the Muslims to closely observe me. If I attack the Romans because they betray me, then fight them too.
He then mounted his horse and, bidding the Muslims salam, made for the enemy camp. When he came near the enemy tents, Qadh said, “Honour the Imperial army by dismounting.”
Rabi’ah (ra) replied, “I am not someone who leaves honour and chooses disgrace. It can never happen that I hand over my horse to anyone else. I will not dismount at any place except the tent entrance. If this is not acceptable to you then I will fight you because you are the ones who called us – we sent no message to you whatsoever.”
Qadh informed the Romans of this. They consulted each other and said, “The ‘Arabs are firm and true in their word. Let him come as he pleases.” Thus he came mounted right up to the tents where he dismounted and, with the horse’s bridle in his hand, sat down cross-legged.
Sergius: My dear brother’ Arab, we have always considered you to be weak. It never occurred to us that we would be fighting each other and that you would in fact attack us. What is it that you want?
Rabi’ah: (ra) We desire that you accept our Din and be reciters of the same Declaration which we recite. If not, then you will have to pay Jizyah. If you have a problem with that also, then the sword is the best decider.
Sergius: What harm is there if instead you go and attack the Persians? We should make peace and befriend each other.
Rabi’ah: Compared to you Persia is further off and Allah has commanded us:
‘’Fight those Disbelievers who are nearest to you and let them find you harsh against them.’’ [9:123]
Sergius: What! Has a book been revealed to you?
Rabi’ah: Just as the Gospel was revealed to your Prophet.
Sergius: Perhaps we could make peace on these terms – we will give each of your men one dinar and a camel-load of grain; for your commander 100 dinar and 100 camel-loads of grain. We will sign a peace treaty to the effect that you will not fight us nor will we fight you.
Rabi’ah: This can never be. I have already stated that your first choice is Islam, second Jizyah, third the sword.
Sergius: We can never leave our religion and become Muslims since we do not consider any religion better than ours, and to die is better than paying you Jizyah. You cannot know how to fight better than us, for in our army are sons of Roman generals and Amalakites, men of the battlefield, all experts in both sword and spear.
He then called for a priest named Sicilia to come and debate with ‘this bedouin’.
Chapter | 4
Caesar Heraclius had sent a priest with the army who was knowledgeable in religion and debate. When he came Sergius said, “O holy father, question this man as to his religion and then tell us what you think.”
Priest: O ‘Arab brother, it is written in our Scriptures that God will send an ‘Arab prophet from the Hashimi family of the Quraysh tribe whose sign of recognition will be that God will summon him to the Heavens. Did this happen to your prophet?
Rabi’ah: Allah did indeed summon our Prophet (pbuh) to the Heavens and has mentioned in the Quran:
”Pure is that Being who took his slave on a night journey from the Sacred Masjid (in Makkah) to the Furthest Masjid (in Jerusalem) whose precincts we have blessed so that We may show him Our signs. [17:1]
Priest: It is in the Scriptures that it will be compulsory for that Prophet and his followers to fast one month of the year called ‘Ramadan’.
Rabi’ah: That is also correct. One month of fasting has been made compulsory upon us as mentioned in the Quran:
‘’Ramadan is that month in which the Qurdn was revealed. It is a guidance for humanity and distinguishes between truth and falsehood.’’. [2:185]
In another place He says:
‘’Fasting has been prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you’’. [2: 183]
Priest: We have also read in our Scriptures that if one of his followers performs a good deed, then the reward of ten good deeds is written for him. Whereas if he commits an evil, only one is written down against him.
Rabi’ah: The Quran explains it like this:
‘’He who performs good receives ten the like thereof and he who performs evil is only accountable for the like thereof and they will not be wronged.’’ [6:160]
Priest: It is written that God orders his followers to send salutation upon him.
Rabi’ah: Yes, He has ordered it in these words:
‘’Allah and His Angels send salutation upon His Prophet. ‘O you who believe convey salutations and greetings of peace upon him.’’ [33:56]
The priest was amazed to hear this answer and said to the commander of the army, “Truth is with these people.”
After this dialogue, a courtier told Sergius, “This is the bedouin who killed your brother yesterday.”
Upon hearing this, Sergius blazed with rage until his eyes turned red with fury and he intended to assault Rabi’ah., Rabi’ah (ra) however realised his intention and got up with lightning speed. He grabbed a sword and struck Sergius with such force that he fell to the ground. The Romans charged at him, so he jumped onto his horse shouting, “Is there any challenger?” and faced them for combat.
Yazid bin Abi Sufyan saw the battle and shouted, “O Muslims, the enemy has betrayed a Companion of your Prophet (pbuh). Attack at once!” The Muslims attacked and the two forces were completely interlocked. The Romans were firmly holding their battle stations when suddenly a second Muslim force under Shurahbil bin Hasanah la, the scribe of Rasulullah, arrived. When the Muslims saw their brothers coming, their spirits rose and they fought so zealously that their swords were in a constant meeting with enemy heads. Out of the 8,000 Romans, not a single one survived.
Tabuk was far from Syria so the ‘Arabs were able to pursue and slay them all and capture all their wealth, Turkish horses, tents and treasure. They met Shurahbil and his companions and exchanged salam and du‘a. After erecting camp, Shurahbil la consulted Yazid and Rabi’ah (ra), about the booty and the two agreed, “All booty captured from the Romans should be sent to the Khalifah so that the Muslims may see it. This will encourage them to participate in Jihad and send their troops here.”
Shaddad bin Aws (ra) and 500 horsemen took all the booty, except for weapons and war equipment, to the Khalifah. The remaining troops stayed at Tabuk awaiting the arrival of more Muslim armies.
When the Muslims of al-Madinah saw Shaddad bin Aws arriving with the booty, they raised cries of, “La ilaha illallah! Allahu Akbar!”
Abu Bakr enquired as to the shouting. They replied, “Shaddad has returned with booty.”
In the meantime, Shaddad (ra) and his men came, dismounted and went to the Masjid to perform Tahiyatul Masjid and offer salam at the grave of Rasulullah. They then went to Abu Bakr to give him the good news and related the whole incident with the Romans. Abu Bakr prostrated out of thanks and considered this to be a good omen. He used the booty to prepare another Muslim army and wrote to the people of Makkah to encourage them to participate in Jihad.
Chapter | 5
Abu Bakr (ra) Summons
The People of Makkah for Jihad
‘’In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful’’
From:‘ ‘Abdullah al- ‘Atiq bin Abi Quhafah
To: The people of Sacred Makkah and surrounds.
All praise belongs to Allah alone and salutation be ito His Messenger: I have prepared to wage Jihad on the enemies of the ’Muslims and to conquer Syria. I am informing you of this so that you may immediately comply with Allah s command:
‘’Go forth lightly armed or heavily armed and wage Jihad with your wealth and lives in the path of Allah. That is better for you if only you knew.’’ [9:41
This verse was revealed in your city, so you are more responsible than others to comply. Whoever shows himself true by implementing this is the best person. Whoever assists the Din of Allah will be assisted by Allah. As for him who remains aloof from this task, Allah does not care for him. Race towards a Paradise filled with grape-vines prepared by Allah for the Mujahidin, Muhajirin, and Ansdr etc. Sufficient is Allah for us, and what an excellent Disposer of affairs He is!
He stamped it with Rasulullah’s seal and sent it with ‘Abdullah bin Huthafah to Makkah. When Ibn Huthafah reached Makkah he shouted loudly. When the people had gathered around him, he read it aloud. Suhayl bin Amr, Harith bin Hisham and ‘Ikramah bin Abi Jahl stood up and said, “We accept the invitation of he who calls to Allah and His Rasul and accept the word of Rasulullah as true.”
Harith and ‘Ikramah then said, “By Allah, we will definitely help His Din. Why do we lag behind others? While it is true that they have overtaken us by reaching their goal before us and we have been deprived of that great virtue, at least we can have our names included with theirs by joining them.”
‘Ikramah (ra) took fourteen men from his tribe, Makhzum, while Suhayl bin ‘Amr went with forty youths from Banu ‘Amir, including Harith bin Hisham. Others from Makkah joined them until they became an army of 500 going to al-Madinah. Abu Bakr. wrote to the Hawazin and Thafiq tribes who sent 400 men to al-Madinah.
Abdullah bin Said narrates from Abu ‘Amir:
We were in Taif when 400 men of Hawazin and Thafiq immediately responded upon reading Abu Bakr (ra)’s letter. On the way we met the men from Makkah so that we became a total of 900. Each of us said, “I am enough to confront 900 Roman horsemen all on my own.”
When we arrived at al-Madinah, we encamped at Baqi’. Abu Bakr (ra) was informed and he ordered, “Leave your camp and go straight to where your brothers, Shurahbil bin Hasanah, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan and Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir, are.”
At that time, they were all waiting at the border. Upon reaching them, we waited there for twenty days during which time other delegations came and joined us.
Shaddad bin Aws (ra) narrates:
Abu Bakr (ra) came one day with a few Muhajirin and Ansar and gave a befitting speech while standing. After praising Allah and sending salutation on Rasulullah he said, “O people, amongst the obligations which Allah has decreed upon the Muslims is Jihad, the reward for which is very great in the Eyes of Allah. Purify your intentions and have only good desires so that your rewards may increase. O slaves of Allah, hasten to fulfil the obligation of your Rabb and the Sunnah of your True Guide. There can only be one of two outcomes to the endeavour upon which you embark – victory or martyrdom. Whoever is martyred will meet those who have died before him and his reward is upon Allah!”
‘Abdullah bin Said narrates:
Isaid to Abu ‘Amir, “Describe Abu Bakr (ra),”
He said, “He had a wheatish-coloured complexion, thin tall body and his beard was not very thick.”
Abu ‘Amir narrates:
400 men came from Hadramawt also.
Abu Bakr (ra) sent a letter to Usayd bin Salamah al-Kilabi and Banu Kilab summoning them to partake in the Jihad against Rome. Dahhak bin Sufyan bin Awf stood to address the gathered tribe, “O Banu Kilab, make fear of Allah your distinguishing sign and respond to the summons of the Khalifah by coming to the assistance of the Din of Muhammad.” An old man who had travelled several times to Syria stood up and said, “O Dahhak, you encourage us to fight such people who have prestige, power, implements of war and innumerable horses. How can the’ Arabs find the strength to fight them when we are few, hungry and weak?”
Dahhak replied, “The victories of Rasulullah were not based on numbers or implements of war but on raising the Word of Allah which is the actual reason why he was sent. You will probably recall that at Badr, Rasulullah (pbuh) had only 313 men against the Quraysh who had a numerous army, implements of war, horses, countless weapons and were short of nothing. For as long as he remained on Earth, victory and conquest were always his. Now look at his Khalifah, Abu Bakr (ra). You saw how, as soon as he was appointed, he defeated the Apostates with the sword.
Remember that for as long as you do not help the Muslims, as Himyar and Tayy are doing, you will never have respect in the eyes of the Khalifah and the Muslims. By Allah! Do not disgrace yourselves amongst the ‘Arabs. You have more horses and camels than other’ Arabs, not to mention the number of armies and weapons. Fear Allah and obey the Khalifah’s order immediately.” This speech roused Banfi Kilab who hastened to al-Madinah mounted on camels. They also brought other camels to be used as beasts of burden and had ‘Arab horses. They entered al-Madinah wearing their weapons. At that time Abu Bakr (ra) was coming out to send off an army to Syria.
He was very glad to see them and ordered them to join the rest of the army. He presented the flag to Dahhak bin Sufyan who in tum presented him with horses and camels he had brought with him to be used against Rome. Abu Bakr (ra) was happy to see all the horses reddish-white and said, “I have heard Rasulullah say that the horses of Yaman have white legs.”
The gathering army caused a noise and commotion. The children of the Muhajirin and Ansar joined them, resulting in a huge force assembling at Jurf. Abu Bakr (ra) appointed Abu ‘Ubaydah bin Jarrah as Commander-in-Chief. An honourable youth, Sa’id bin Khalid bin Sa’id bin al-‘As, had complained to Abu Bakr (ra), “When you intended to appoint my father, an officer in your army, as commander of the Reconnaissance, the Muslims objected and so you dismissed him although he had dedicated himself to the Path of Allah. Similarly I have dedicated my life to the Path of Allah and have always obeyed your summons and given you my allegiance. I have never swayed. If you should now make me commander of the Reconnaissance, I have hope that Allah will not make me helpless.”
Because he was more experienced than his father and an able horseman, Abu Bakr (ra) appointed him as the commander of Reconnaissance Forces. He gave him a flag and command over 2,000 cavalry. When ‘Umar heard of Sa’id’s request and acceptance thereof, he became angry. He went to Abu Bakr (ra) and said, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah, you are giving the flag to Sa’id whereas others are better suited than him. By Allah! I know that whatever he said against enemies was directed at none other than me.
By Allah! I have never said a word against his father nor committed any act of enmity against him.” This confused Abu Bakr (ra) since he felt bad about deposing Sa’Id as well as opposing ‘Umar (ra) because firstly, ‘Umar had firm faith in his heart; secondly, he always gave good advice and thirdly, Rasulullah held him in high esteem. Perplexed, he went to ‘Aishah and told her the whole incident. She advised, “My father, you know that ‘Umar always keeps the welfare of the Din at heart. His words are always well-intended and he bears no ill-will against any Muslim.” Abu Bclkr. called Abu Arwa ad-Dawsi and ordered him, “Go to Sa’Id bin Khalid and tell him to return the flag to me.”
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (ra) narrates:
I was also part of that army when Abu Arwa ad-Dawsi conveyed Abu Bakr (ra)’s orders to Sa’Id bin Khalid. At that time Sa’id. was leading us in Salah at al-Jurf When he heard the order, he immediately returned the flag saying, “I have dedicated my life for the service of the Din and have placed myself firmly in the Path of Allah. I will fight under the banner of Abu Bakr (ra) with a clean heart in any place and under anyone’s command.”
Chapter 6 | Abu Bakr (ra) appoints ‘Amr (ra) as commander
While Abu Bakr (ra) was pondering over who should be appointed as commander of Abu ‘Ubaydah’s Reconnaissance, Suhayl bin ‘Arm, ‘Ikramah bin Abi Jahl and Harith bin Hisham (ra) arrived. They were carrying their weapons and desired that they should be given command of the army. Abu Bakr (ra) perceived this and therefore consulted ‘Umar es who replied, “I do not find this appropriate.”
Harith turned to him and said, “O Abu Hafs (i.e. Umar), you were a sword against us before we embraced Islam. Now that Allah has guided us, you still have no regard for our relationship whereas Allah has commanded the fulfilling of relatives’ rights.”
‘Umar: I consider those who are first in Islam more appropriate.
Suhayl: If that is your criterion then we will not disobey you in any manner. However much time we spent in pre-Islam fighting against Rasfilullah ., we will now spend twice that amount and whatever effort we made fighting him, we will now double our efforts against the enemies of Allah.
‘Ikramah: ‘O people, I make you my witnesses before Allah that I dedicate myself to the Path of Allah and hand my life over to Him. Myself, my companions, my children and wealth are all for Allah. We will never leave Jihad.
Abu Bakr: ‘O Allah, grant them greater than what they expect.
Thereafter, he handed the flag to ‘Amr bin al-‘A bin Wail as-Sahmi and said, “I appoint you as commander of the army of the people of Makkah, Thaqif, Taif, Hawazin, Banu Kilab and Hadramawt. When you reach Palestine, write to Abu ‘Ubaydah, ‘If you require any assistance then I am here.’ Do not do anything without his consultation. If you separate then may Allah bless whatever the two of you intend.”
‘Amr: went to ‘Umar (ra) and said, “You know my harshness against the enemy and my patience in Jihad. It would be well if you ask the Khalifah to make me commander over Abu ‘Ubaydah. You know my rank with Rasulullah. and I hope that Allah will grant victory through me and destroy the enemy.”
‘Umar: What you say is correct and I do believe you but I cannot assent to you commanding Abu ‘Ubaydah. I consider him higher ranking than you. He preceded you in Islam and Rasulullah said, “Abu ‘Ubaydah is the trustworthy one of this Ummah.”
‘Amr: If I command him then he will not be humiliated nor will there be any decrease in his status.
‘Umar: How sad, O ‘Amr, that you desire worldly honour and prestige. Fear Allah. Choose the honour of the world to come.
‘Amr: The matter is as you have stated it.
‘Arm. ordered the army to march and so they left under his command in this order: Makkah, Banu Kilab, Aniihi, Hawazin and Thaqif The Muhajirin and Ansar stayed to join Abu ‘Ubaydah. ‘Arm (ra) made Said bin Khalid head of his Advance Reconnaissance.
Abu Darda (ra): Narrates that he was part of’ Amr’s (ra). army when it departed and heard Abu Bakr’s (ra). departing advice:
Fear Allah in secret and open. Maintain your modesty towards Him in private because He always watches you. You know very well that I have appointed you over such people who are more honourable and pious than you. Perform all acts to earn the Hereafter and to please Allah. Be like an affectionate father towards your men.
Do not race in your march. Enquire as to their welfare. Amongst them are different kinds of people includingfrail and weak ones, and you have a long journey ahead of you. Allah is the Helper of His Din and will make it triumph over every other religion even if the Polytheists dislike it. Do not take your army on the route which Yazid bin Abi Sufyan, Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir and Shurahbil bin Hasanah took. Instead, take the Aylah route and you will, if Allah wills, reach Palestine. Upon reaching there, appoint spies and informants and keep intelligence about Abu ‘Ubaydah s condition. If he is victorious then start campaigning in Palestine, otherwise if he needs assistance then send armies one after the other under Suhayl, ‘Ikramah, Harith and Sa ‘id bin Khalid.
Do not be lazy or negligent in the task to which you have been appointed. Avoid indolence as far as possible. When you see the greater enemy number do not say, “What trouble has Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafah trapped us in. He has sent us against an enemy it is impossible to fight against,” because,
O ‘Amr, you have seen many times how small numbers have taken on greater numbers of polytheists. Remember the Battle of Khaybar and you will recall how the Muslims gained victory before your very eyes.
‘O ‘Amr; there are with you such Muhajirin and Ansar who fought at Badr. Respect and honour them. Fulfil their rights and do not be arrogant in your leadership towards them thinking, “Because Abu Bakr appointed me over them I must be better than them. ” Beware the deception of the ego. Consider yourself but a fellow soldier with them. Consult them in whatever task presents itself S-alah is the greatest thing. Call the athan as soon as the time of Salah sets in.
Never pray any Salah without athan. Pray when the whole army has heard it. Those who pray with you in congregation will have attained a great virtue while those who pray in their tents will receive their full reward. Listen attentively to ambassadors and do not put them off for the sake of others. Always remain on your guard against the enemy. Emphasise the importance of reading the Qurdn to your companions. Appoint watchmen and security and oversee them.
Spend time with your companions at night. Neither punish too harshly nor give so much leeway which will embolden them against you. As far as possible avoid whipping anyone – lest he should join the enemy and help them against you. Do not investigate anyone too deeply, but accept him at face value. Make effort in your work. Have faith in Allah when facing the enemy and keep this advice in mind. Emphasise to your companions that they should not fall to extremes and if they do they should be punished. When advising them be brief.
Rectify yourself so that our subjects may be rectified, for a pious ruler is closer to Allah than an ordinary person. I have appointed you as commander over the ‘Arabs, so recognise the worth of each tribe and clan. Treat them as an affectionate father would. Investigate the condition of the whole army at the time of marching. Send scouts ahead and keep those whom you can rely upon at the back for security. Be patient when you meet the enemy and be firm.
Do not turn back and expose yourself as cowardly, weak and helpless. Quran readers should be particular in reciting the Quran. The men should be prevented from discussing the Pre-Islamic period since this will lead to enmity. Turn away from worldly beauty and adornment until you meet those who have gone before you, who died hungry. Join these people whom Allah has praised in the Quran:
‘’And we made them leaders guiding (mankind) by Our command, and revealed to them the doing of good deeds, performing salah and paying zakah and they were Our worshippers.’’ [21:73]
Abu ad-Darda (ra) narrates:
Abu ‘Ubaydah was also present when Abu Bakr (ra) was advising’ Amr bin al-‘As. Thereafter he said, “Now leave with Allah’s blessing and help. I advise you to fear Him, wage Jihad in His Path and fight the Disbelievers. Allah will certainly help the person who seeks His help.”
9,000 men under ‘Arm marched to Palestine. The previous day, the Khalifah gave Abu ‘Ubaydah Jarrah a flag and appointed him as Commander-in-Chief of all the Islamic armies. He ordered him to advance towards al-Jabiyah and said, “O Trustworthy one of this Ummah, you have heard my advice to ‘Arm bin al-‘ A. I now bid you farewell.”
Abu ‘Ubaydah then departed while Abu Bakr (ra) returned and called Khalid bin al-Walid al-Makhzumi. He appointed him commander over Lakhm and Jutham as well as a cavalry of 900 men and gave him the black banner of Rasfilullah. These 900 had demonstrated their daring and self-sacrifice in most battles they had fought with Rasulullah. Abu Bakr (ra) then said to him, “0 Abu Sulayman (i.e. Khalid), I have appointed you over this army which you must take to Aylah and Persia. I have hope in Allah that he will conquer these lands through you. If He wills you shall be assisted. “
Khalid then departed for ‘Iraq.
Ruwaym bin’ Amir narrates from Waqis bin Sayf ash-Shabkari:
I was with the army which Abu Bakr (ra) sent to Aylah and Palestine under the leadership of ‘Arm bin al-As, with Sa’id bin Khalid bin Sa’id as flag bearer. I saw him waving the flag and reciting this poem:
We are marching with a small army from the best nation, Against Disbelievers, Syria is our destination. They worship the Cross an evil people are they, I will cut them to the ground, with my sword I will slay. I will pierce them thoroughly with my spear, On the battle-field there is nothing I fear In this war Paradise is my aspiration And that with the pious be my resurrection.
Ruwaym bin ‘Amir says that he heard Marik bin Jundub narrating from reliable reporters of the conquest of Syria, that Shurahbil bin Hasanah was reciting the above poem the day Abu Bakr (ra). sent him after Yazid bin Abi Sufyan and Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir a;
Abu Bakr (ra) was making du’a for the victory of the armies he had sent to Iraq and Syria and was most anxious about them. ‘Uthman es, perceived signs of this anxiety on his face and asked, “What troubles you?”
Abu Bakr (ra): By Allah! I know well that Rasulullah’s (pbuh) words are true. There can be no doubt whatsoever that we will conquer Rome and Persia but we do not know if that will be during this war or at some other opportunity, nor do we know which army will accomplish this.
‘Uthmdn: That is true, but we should have hope in Allah.
Chapter 7 | Heraclius sends 100,000 men against’ Amr.
That night Abu Bakr (ra). dreamt that ‘Amr bin al-‘As and his men were passing through a dark, narrow mountain-pass and were greatly worried. They wanted to leave the pass. ‘Amr spurred his horse and the others followed him. Suddenly he found himself in a lush green, wide place. He encamped and found great comfort. This dream greatly pleased Abu Bdkr (ra). ‘Uthman es interpreted it as victory for ‘Amr (ra) and his army except it appeared that they would first have to undergo great difficulty.
In Pre-Islamic times and then continuing in Islam, traders would bring wheat, barley, olive-oil, raisins, apples and figs to sell in al-Madinah. These traders were present when Abu Bakr (ra) was organising and despatching the army and thus heard the orders he gave to ‘Amr bin al-‘As (ra). with regard to Aylah and Palestine. They went to inform Caesar Heraclius of this as well as of the defeat of the Romans at-Tabuk.
Heraclius assembled all his officials, war-experts and priests. He informed them of this saying, “O Romans, this is the matter of which I warned you some time ago. That Prophet’s followers will soon seize my crown and throne and rule over this land. They cut to pieces your army at Tabuk, Muhammad’s Khalifah has despatched an army which will soon arrive. You should maintain your respect and fight heart and soul to defend your religion, family, dependants, lives and wealth. If you slacken now then the ‘Arabs will capture your empire and wealth.”
This news made them cry over their dead slain at Tabuk, Heraclius rebuked them, “You are men and you cry like this? Stop, for that is women’s work. What you should now do is to gather your forces at Ajnadayn.” The Prime Minister said, “We request that those people who gave you this information be brought so that they may be questioned.” Heraclius commanded this and so a soldier brought a Christian from the tribe of Lakhm.
Heraclius: How long is it since you left al-Madinah?
Lakhmi: Twenty-five days.
Heraclius: Who is the leader of the Muslims?
Lakhmi: His name is Abu Bakr (ra), He has collected an army and has sent it against you. I have examined them properly – they are energetic, cunning, prepared and firm.
Heraclius: Have you seen this Abu Bakr (ra)?
Lakhmi: Yes, in fact he purchased a shawl from me which he draped over his shoulders. He is an ordinary looking man with nothing to distinguish him. He roams the market wearing two cloths overseeing that the strong fulfil the rights of the weak. He treats weak and strong equally.
Heraclius: Describe his features.
Lakhmi: Tall, wheat-coloured, light-cheeked, thin. His finger-joints are wide and his teeth are beautiful.
Heraclius (smiling): So that is Muhammad’s Khalifah about whom we read in the Scriptures. His successor will be black-eyed, tall, wheat-coloured like a lion. He shall conquer and expel his enemies from their lands.
Lakhmi: I have seen such a person in his company who never separates from him.
Heraclius: I am now fully convinced. Previously, I tried to make the Romans understand and invited them to salvation but none listened to me and they refused to obey. Now the Romans will be expelled very quickly from Syria. Heraclius had a golden cross made and handed it over to Rubius, the commander of the army, saying, “I have appointed you as commander of all my forces. Hasten towards the Islamic armies and prevent them from occupying Palestine because iris a beautiful, prosperous territory. In fact, our prestige and power rests on it.” Rubius organised his troops and marched to Ajnadayn that same day.
Chapter 8 | War in Palestine
‘Amr’s animals were weak and thin when he reached Palestine via the Aylah route. He encamped at a very lush place letting the horses and camels graze and so they recovered. One day the Muhajirin and Ansar gathered to consult each other on the battle when suddenly Amir bin Adi, a distinguished and pious Muslim, arrived. He knew Syria’s cities and roads well because most of his family and friends stayed there and he would often visit them. He was returning from there when the Muslims saw him and took him to Amir, what is the matther? Why are you so afraid?.
’Amir: Behind me is a Roman army mounted on very fine horses smashing aside everything in their path.
‘Amr: You have put the fear of the Disbelievers into the hearts of the Muslims. We seek Allah’s
Help against them. Tell me, how many do you estimate them at?
‘Amir: O commander, I climbed up a very hight mountain in order to estimate their numbers, Wadi al-Ahmar. A big valley in Palastine, was completely filled with their banners, sprears and crosses. I think that they are no less than 100,000. That is all I could find out. I apologise for frightening the Muslims.
‘Amr: We seek Allah’s help, for all power and might belong to him alone. ‘O people, you and I are equal in the matter of Jihad. Seek help from Allah against the enemy and fight whole-heartedly in defence of the Din. Whoever is killed from us is a martyr and whoever remains is fortunate. Now tell me your opinions.
Bedouins: ‘O commander, take us to a jungle so that we can encamp in the center. They will not have the audacity to attack us there and cannot leave their forts and towns. When they learn that we are encamped in the center of the jungle, their unity will break and they will became negligent. We will then attack and if Allah wills, we shall be successful.
Suhayl bin ‘Amr: That is a cowardly opinion.
Muhajirin and Ansar: We fought with Rasulullah and with small numbers defeated great armies. Allah has promised you victory and commanded you with patience. Only patient ones are promised goodness. The Quran says:
‘’Fight those disbelievers closest to you and let them find you fierce against them.’’ [9: 123]
And you know that we are already in enemy territory while they are thirsty for our blood.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (ra): By Allah! I will not abandon fighting and killing the Disbelievers and will not sheath my sword. Whoever wishes to may return, but remember that whoever flees from this great task can never flee from Allah.
‘Amr (ra) was pleased with what the Makkans and Ibn ‘Umar said and exclaimed, “O son of al-Faruq (i.e. ‘Umar al-Faruq), you have fulfilled my wishes and your tongue has expressed what is in my heart. I wish to send an advance-force of 1,000 youths under your command to ascertain the position and condition of their outlying forces and so that you can tell us how to fight the enemy.”
Ibn ‘Umar: Do this. My life is not so precious to me that I refrain from spending it in Allah’s Path
‘Amr had a flag made for him and sent him off with 1,000 horsemen from Bani Kilab, Taif and Thafiq. Ibn ‘Umar travelled for the rest of the day and the whole night. In the morning, he saw dust rising in the distance. He said, “This dust foretells of an army. I think that this is the Roman Reconnaissance.” He halted the army there. A group of bedouins said, “Permit us to go and investigate this dust-cloud.
Ibn ‘Umar (ra) replied, “I do not consider it appropriate to split up for as long as we are uncertain as to what this is.”
The cloud approached and then dispersed to reveal the Roman Reconnaissance of 10,000 horsemen which Rubius had sent ahead to investigate the Muslims. Ibn ‘Umar (ra) said, “Give them no respite but attack them. After all, that is why you came here. Allah will help you against them. Remember that Paradise lies beneath the shadow of swords.
The Muslims proclaimed, “Allahu Akbar! La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah!” The very trees, stones and beasts replied to their cry. They immediately launched an attack- the first being ‘Ikrama then Suhayl, then Dahhak bin Sufyan roaring his challenge.
The Muhajirin and Ansar (ra) then attacked. The two armies clashed, sword and spear doing their work.
Ibn ‘Umar (ra). narrates:
During the battle, I saw a bulky Roman horseman riding at the right and left flanks. It appeared to me that he must be the commander, although signs of fright of battle and cowardice were plainly visible on his face. His fat bulk gave him the appearance of a drunk, angry camel. I thrust my spear forward causing his horse to move back. I then held my spear back which made him think that I was fleeing and encouraged him to attack me. I put aside my spear, and drawing my sword, hacked at his spear.
The spear-point fell off leaving him with a bare stick and so I struck a second blow. By Allah! I thought I had hit a rock and when a ringing sound reached my ears, I thought that my sword had broken. However, this was not so and it was as intact as before. The severity of the blow slaughtered the enemy of Allah and I struck again at his shoulder-vein until he fell and I took off his armour. When the Disbelievers saw their leader fallen and slain, they became frightened and the Muslims began slaying them energetically. Congratulations to Dahhak bin Sufyan and Harith bin Hisham who fought solely for Allah’s pleasure. During the battle, I was entrapped in a difficult situation, but Allah soon granted the Muslims victory. Many Disbelievers were killed or captured.
The Muslims gathered all the booty together and then said to each other, “We do not know how Allah has dealt with Abdullah bin ‘Umar,” Some said, “He has been killed.” Someone said, ”No, he has been captured.” Some said, “Whatever Allah has decreed for him will be good due to his ascetism and worship.” Someone said, “If Ibn ‘Umar has been lost then this victory is not worth a strand of hair.” I was standing behind a hillock hearing all this and then shouted, “La ilaha illallah
Muhamrnadur Rasulullah,” and emerged wearing my flag. They turned to me and asked, “O commander, where were you?” I replied, “I was fighting the enemy commander,” Everyone made du’a for me and said, “Allah granted this victory through your blessing.” I said, “No, it is your good fortune.”
The Muslims gathered the booty which included horses, weapons and money and 600 captives. The following seven Muslims were martyred:
- Suraqah bin ‘Adi;
- Nawfal bin ‘Amir;
- Said bin Qays;
- Salim, the freed slave of ‘Alim bin Badr al-Yambarlu’i;
- Abdullah bin Khuwaylid al-Mazini;
- Jabir bin Rashid al-Hadrami;
- Aws bin Salamah al-Hawazini.
Ibn ‘Umar (ra) led the Salatul Janazah and they were buried.
The army cheerfully returned to ‘Amr bin al-As and reported to him. He was greatly pleased and thanked Allah. Then he called the prisoners and said, “Who amongst you knows ‘Arabic?” Three Syrians admitted to knowing ‘Arabic and so he asked them about their army and commander. They replied, “0 ‘Arabs, Heraclius has sent Rubius against you with an army of 100,000 men and has instructed him to prevent anyone from entering Aylah. Rubius’s army is hastening, hoping to reach here by tonight. There is none in the Roman Empire equal to him in the art of warfare. He is most capable of taking you on and will destroy you all.”
‘Amr (ra): I hope that Allah will slay him just as his companions have been slain.
He then presented them with Islam but none accepted, so he turned to the Muslims and said, “The Roman army will soon be arriving in Syria to take revenge. If we release these captives, they will join the Roman army. Therefore, they will all be killed. Be prepared for it is most probable that the enemy is coming against us. Ifthey confront us, then we will make life difficult for them. If they do not face us their power will decrease and if we advance against them then I have firm faith in Allah that He will grant us a victory such as that which He just gave before. Faith should always be kept in Him.”
Abu ad-Darda narrates:
That night we encamped there and in the morning we marched but a short distance when we saw the enemy approaching carrying nine crosses with 10,000 horsemen under each cross. When the two armies neared each other, we saw Rubius, who looked like a stallion, organising his army. ‘Amr too was organising his army, He put the right-flank under Dahhak bin Sufyan, the left-flank under Sa’id bin Khalid, the rear-guard under Abu ad-Darda, while he himself stood with the Muhajirin and Ansar at the centre. He ordered every Muslim to start reciting the Quran and said, “Allah is testing you in this virtuous deed so be patient in the face of difficulty and hope for reward and Paradise.”
Then he lined the men in war-formation. From a distance Rubius was observing the Muslim army, seeing that their formation was such that rein was touching rein, stirrup touching stirrup as if they were a strong fortress, and every soldier was reciting the Quran. Then he saw light shining on their horses’ foreheads. This he took as an omen of his defeat and a Muslim victory and sensed terror in the heart of every.
Roman at the Muslims. He awaited to see what the Muslims would do and his pride was shattered.
Abu ad-Darda (ra )narrates:
The ﬁrst to go forward from the Muslims was Sa‘id bin Khalid bin Sa‘id (ra) who shared a common mother with ‘Amr bin al-‘As tat. He shouted, “Is there any. challenger?” and attacked them right and left. He slew many of them and overcame their champions. Then he attacked a second time, penetrating their ranks and wreaking havoc. Eventually they gathered to attack him and martyred him.
The Muslims, especially ‘Amr as, Were grief-stricken. He said, “O no! O no! By Allah! O Sa‘id, you have shown how to sacriﬁce life in the Path of Allah. O brave Muslims, who amongst you are brave enough to join me in an attack so that I can taste my fate and meet Sa‘id?” Dahhak bin Sufyan, Dhul Kala al-Himyari, ‘Ikramah bin Abi Jahl, Harith bin Hisham, Mu‘ath bin Jabal, Abu ad- Darda, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, Wasid bin Warim, Nawfal, Sayf bin ‘Abbad al-ﬁadrami, Salim bin ‘Ubayd, the Muhajirin, the veterans of Badr etc. immediately replied, “We are present.”
Ibn ’Umar (ra) narrates:
We were seventy youths who charged so vigorously that we soon neared the enemy. However, they were like a mountain of iron and did not concern themselves about us. When we saw their ﬁrmness, we shouted at each other, “Cut down their mounts, for besides this we see no other way to destroy them.” So we speared the bellies of the horses which then fell and so they attacked us. We, in fact the whole Islamic army, responded to their attack. Our force compared to theirs was like a white mark on a black camel. Our slogan was, “There is no deity but Allah. O Rabb, help the Ummah of Muhammad, salutations and peace be upon him.”
Abu ad-Darda (ra) narrates:
We were so busy ﬁghting that we did not even recite war-poems. So tumultuous was the battle that striking a blow, we could not be sure if a Muslim or a Disbeliever was struck. Although few in number, we remained ﬁrm-footed, placing our trust in Allah. Every Muslim struck with his sword, saying ﬁrmly from his heart, “O Allah, help the Ummah of Muhammad, peace and salutation upon him and his family, against those who have taken a partner with you.”
Ibn ‘Umar (ra) narrates:
The battle continued until noon. I was reciting the du’a which Rasulullah had taught and when I looked towards the sky, I saw gates. From the gates there emerged horsemen dressed in white carrying green banners with shiny points. A proclaimer announced, “O Ummah of Muhammad, Allah has sent help to you.” I said that this victory was due to the blessing of the du’a of Rasulullah (pbuh). By the Ka’bah’s Rabb! In a short while I saw the Romans fleeing in confusion and the Muslims pursued them. An announcer proclaimed victory. Because our horses were faster, we managed to kill over 10,000 men. We pursued them until nightfall. ‘Amr was overjoyed with this victory and his heart remained with us during the pursuit in Palestine.
Amr bin ‘Itab narrates
At that moment, I saw’ Amr bin al-‘As carrying the flag in his hand and his spear was hanging from his shoulder. He was clasping his hands saying, “May Allah return what has been lost to that person who returns my people to me.” When the ‘Arabs returned he said, “Whoever made effort and underwent difficulty for Allah’s pleasure has pleased Allah. Was this victory which Allah granted you not enough that you had to go and chase them?” The Muslims replied, “We did not chase them for booty, but for Jihad.”
When they returned they were without worry, but when they started looking at each other they discovered 130 missing, including Sayf bin ‘Abbad al-Hadrami, Nawfal bin Darim, Salim bin Ruwaym, Ashab bin Shaddad, some Yamanis and bedouins of Madinah. This saddened ‘Amr but after thinking, he said to himself, “0 ‘Amr, Allah intends some good for them but you reject this.”
Then after the athan and iqamah, all those S.alah which were missed due to the battle were performed
Ibn ‘Umar narrates:
By Allah! Due to fatigue, very few performed Salah behind’ Amr , most prayed at their own places. Booty was also little. We then slept in our tents. In the morning, ‘Amr bin al-‘As called out the athan and, after the Salah, ordered the booty and bodies of the martyrs to be gathered. So the people started searching and gathered 130 martyrs, but could not find the body of Sa’id bin Khalid, ‘Amr started searching himself and then found him in a place where horses had continuously trampled the corpse, shattering the bones into small pieces seeing this, he began to weep profusely and said, “O Sa’id, may Allah, the Most Merciful Of those who show mercy, have mercy upon you. I made a promise to Him but you fulfilled it.” He put him with the other martyrs and ordered them to be buried, and then all the Muslims performed salatul Janazah. (Sa’id); was 16 -18 years old – translator s note). ‘Amr then ordered the booty to be brought to him and wrote to Abu ‘Ubaydah bin Jarrah …
Chapter 9 | Amr’s (ra) letter to Abu ‘Ubaydah
‘’In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.’’
From: ‘Amr bin al-As
To: The Trustworthy One of the Ummah, Abu ‘Ubaydah.
I praise Allah besides whom there is no other deity and send salutations on His Prophet. I had arrived in Palestine and fought against a Roman army of 100,000 men under the command of Rub ius. Allah granted us such a victory that 11,000 Romans were slain. 130 Muslims were granted martyrdom and have been buried in that part of Palestine conquered at my hands. If needed I can join you. Convey my saldm to all Muslims. Was-salam ‘Alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Amr sent this letter with Abu ‘Amir ad-Dawsi. At that time, Abu ‘Ubaydah ss was at the border and had not yet entered Syria but had divided the army as per Abu Bakr’s instructions. When Abu ‘Amir came, he thought that he was Abu Bakr (ra)’s messenger and so he asked him, “Abu ‘A.mir, in what state have you left the land?”
Abu ‘Amir: All is well and there is additional good news – this letter is from ‘Amr bin al-‘ A. describing the victory Allah granted at his hands.
Abu ‘Ubaydah read the letter and immediately fell down in prostration out of thanks.
‘’In the name of Allah, The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.’’
Abu ‘Amir: By Allah! Good, pious people have been martyred. Amongst them is Sa’ld bin Khalid bin Sa’ld.
Sa’id’s father, Khalid, was also present. He became bewildered and shrieked. He was so grieved that all the Muslims too began crying. Khalid then prepared his horse and mounted it intending to visit his son’s grave in Palestine. Abu ‘Ubaydah asked, “Where are you going, Khalid? You are one of the pillars of the Muslims.”
Khalid replied, “I intend visiting Sa’id’s grave and hope to join him too.” Abu ‘Ubaydah remained silent and then wrote the following letter to ‘Amr:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
Abu Bakr (ra) has given you orders. If he has ordered you to join
me, then come. If he has ordered you to remain where you are
then stay there. Convey my saldm to all the Muslims.
Was-salamu ‘alayka wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
He then gave the letter to Khalid bin Sa”id who went with Abu ‘Amr ad- Dawsi to ‘Amr’s army.
Chapter 10 | Battle of Banu Salif Hillock
Khalid made salam to ‘Amr and weeping, gave him the letter. ‘Amr went forward, shook his hands and seated him with honour. Thereafter, he consoled him with regard to his son and advised him to have patience.
Khalid: Did you people see that Sa’id reddened his spear and sword with the blood of Disbelievers?
Muslims: Yes, he fought bravely and really made Jihad. He was not deficient in any way.
He then asked about the location of his grave, to which he went. He stood at its side and said, “O my son, may Allah grant me patience with regard to you. Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we return. By Allah! If he grants me the necessary strength and courage, I will definitely avenge you. I trust in Allah that He will reward you well.”
Then he said to ‘Arm, “I wish to go searching the Disbelievers in a night-raid. Perhaps booty will be gained or enemy soldiers met who can be killed in revenge.”
,Arm said, “May my mother be sacrificed for you, my brother. Fighting will begin very soon. When it breaks out, you can fight whole-heartedly and not spare a single enemy.”
Khalid: I take an oath that whether anyone joins me or not, I will certainly go.
He then prepared his battle-gear intending to go alone but 300 young horsemen from the Himyar tribe went to ‘Arm and said, “Permit us to go with Khalid.” He gave permission, so they left that very day. When they arrived at a meadow, they decided to encamp there so that the horses could graze and then they would travel at night. Suddenly Khalid saw some old men in the fissure of a high mountain and said to his men, “I suspect that they are enemy spies. It should not be that the enemy descends upon us.” They replied, “They are on top of the mountain while we are here in an open field. How do we reach them?”
Khalid said, “Alright, you stay here until I return.” He then dismounted, tied his turban, strapped his sword to his shoulder and said, “We can assume that they have not yet seen us, because if they had seen us, they would not have stayed. Whoever wishes to sacrifice his life in the Path of Allah should do as I do.” Ten men got ready and went with him to the mountain. When they reached the Disbelievers they were still in their place.
Khalid exclaimed in a loud voice, “Catch them! May Allah bless your courage.” The Muslims pounced upon them, killing two and capturing four. Khalid questioned them and they replied, “We are inhabitants of Dayrul Faqi’, Jami’ah and Kafr al-‘Azizah. Since the ‘Arabs invaded our land, we have experienced great hardship and so most people have fled and taken refuge in forts. We came to take refuge here considering this mountain safe. We climbed to the top to ascertain conditions when you came and caught us.”
Khalid: Where is the Roman army?
Christians: They have reached Ajnadayn and have been placed under the governor of Palestine in order to protect Jerusalem. The army as well as refugees have gathered at Ajnadayn and some soldiers have come to us to gather army supplies. They have taken cattle and mules as beasts of burden but fear that the ‘Arabs will attack. Besides this, we know nothing except that there is no doubt that they have gone out today to gather supplies.
Khalid: By the Rabb of the Ka’bah! That is booty. 0 Lord of all the worlds, help us against those people. What road are they taking?
Christians: This very road which you are on because this is the wide road and they have gathered the supplies at a sand-hill called Tall Bani ssnr (Banu Salif’s Hillock).
Khalid: What do you say about Islam and what are your beliefs?
Christians: We only know about Christianity. We are mere farmers. Killing us will not benefit you in any way.
Khalid: They should be released.
Muslims: They should be released on condition that they take us to the supplies. They agreed to this and walked ahead. When they reached the road, Khalid sent someone to fetch all the men who were left behind in the field. When all had gathered, they moved quickly with the four Christians guiding them. When they approached the hillock, they saw the Romans loading the supplies on beasts while 600 horsemen were stationed around the hillock. Khalid called out to the Muslims, “Remember that Allah has promised you help against the enemy, and remember that Jihad has been made compulsory upon you. The enemy is in front of you. Hope for reward and make full effort. Listen carefully to what Allah says:
‘’Verily Allah loves those who fight in His Path in rows as if they are a single solid structure.’’ [61:4]
I am now going to attack them. You also attack, but none should overtake his companion.”
Hu!hifah bin Sa’id narrates:
When the Romans faced us for combat, the farmers and slaves who were with the cattle, fled. The battle ensued for some time. Thul Kala’ al-Himyari es addressed his tribe, “O people of Himyar, the gates of Heaven are open. Paradise is adorned for you. The virgin damsels of Paradise await you.” A Roman was encouraging his troops. Khalid .t;, recognised him to be the commander because of his splendid armour and mount. He went towards him and shouted threats so loudly that the enemy became frightened. Khalid .t;, said, “I am avenging Sa’Id” and thrust his spear so hard that the Roman collapsed like an iron wall. There was no soldier of Khalid, who did not kill a Roman horseman.
We killed 320 horsemen while the rest fled in defeat, leaving behind money, equipment, mules, Turkish horses and supplies, which we seized in accordance with Allah’s command. Khalid, fulfilled his promise and released the farmers. Taking the booty, he returned to ‘Arm bin al-‘As, who rejoiced at Khalid, and the Muslim’s safe return with booty. He wrote a report on the battle to Abu ‘Ubaydah es and wrote also to Abu Bakr (ra) about the victories and all the intelligence gathered on the Romans and sent it with Abu ‘Amir ad-Dawsi, When Abu ‘Amir gave Abu Bakr (ra) the letter, he read it out loud. The Muslims were overjoyed and shouted, “There is no deity but Allah! Allah is the greatest!”
Abu Bakr (ra), then asked about Abu ‘Ubaydah. Abu ‘Amir replied, “He is still encamped at the border and has not entered Syria. He heard that Caesar Heraclius has gathered a vast army at Ajniidayn and the Muslims fear defeat.” From this Abu Bakr, understood that Abu ‘Ubaydah, was too soft to fight the Romans so he consulted the Muslims about replacing him with Khalid bin al-Walid. When they replied, “This is indeed more appropriate,” he wrote the following letter of appointment to Khalid.
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
From: ‘Abdullah al- ‘Atiq bin Abi Quhafah
To: Khalid bin al- Walid
‘’As-Salamu ‘Alaykum I praise Allah besides whom there is no other deity and send salutations upon His Prophet. I appoint you as commander of the Muslim armies and command you to fight the Romans. Hasten to search for Allah s pleasure, slay the enemies and include yourself amongst those who fought in the Path of Allah.
”O you who believe! Shall I show you such a trade which will save you from a painful punishment?’’ [61:10}
You are in command of Abu ‘Ubaydah and his army.
Chapter 11 | Khalid” Crosses The Desert
Abu Bakr (ra) gave the letter to Najm bin Mafrah al-Kinani who mounted his camel and made for ‘Iraq. Khalid bin al-Walid. was close to conquering Qadisiyah whenhe received the letter. Upon reading it he said, “To obey Allah and the Khalifah of Rasulullah, is necessary.” He left that very night taking the ‘Ayn at-Tamr road and wrote to Abu ‘Ubaydah to dismiss him and inform him of his coming to Syria,
“Abu Bakr (ra) has put me in charge of the armies of Is lam. Do not move .from your place until I arrive. Was-salamu ‘Alayka.”
‘Amir bin Tufayl ad-Dawsi, a brave Muslim soldier, was sent with this letter to Syria. When Khalid reached as-Samawah he said, “0 people, water is scarce in this desert and should not be drunk too much. What is your advice?”
Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah at-Tal: ’O commander, it would be well if you act upon my opinion.
Khalid: May Allah guide you – implement whatever it is.
So he kept thirty camels thirsty for seven days and then gave them water, tied their mouths and mounted the camels and took the horses unladen. When they encamped, ten camels were slaughtered and the water that emerged from their slit bellies was filled in leather bags. When the water cooled down, it was given to the horses while the humans ate the meat. This was done at each encampment until the last camel (of the thirty) was finished and two stages of the journey were traversed without water. The lack of water made Khalid very restless and fearing their destruction, he said, “O Rafi’, the army is on the verge of death. Do you know where water can be obtained?” Rafi’ was looking around and said, “O commander, tell me when we reach Qaraqir and Sawa.”
They hastened until most reached Qaraqir and Sawa and some were left behind. When Rafi’ was told, he became very happy. He removed the edge of his turban from above his eyes, took his mount and roamed right and left. Everyone encircled him and went with him until he reached an Arak tree and shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” so the Muslims too started shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” He said, “Dig here.”
They started digging when all at once a spring gushed forth. The army encamped there and thanked Allah. They drank and gave the camels to drink. Then they sent water-filled leather bags by camel to those who were left behind. This restored their energy and so they were able to join the others. They rested there for a while and then hurried on until, when one day’s travel was left, they found at Arakah a way-station built on the road. There were sheep and camels there.
The Muslims searched for the shepherd to question him. They found him drinking wine while a manacled ‘Arab was sitting nearby, whom they realised to be ‘Amir bin Tufayl. Khalid was quickly informed. He rushed there on horseback and smiled when he saw Ibn Iufayl. He said, “O Ibn Tufayl, how did you end up caught like this?” Ibn Tufayl replied, “O commander, I came to this waystation because I was suffering from thirst and heat.
I wanted milk from this man but saw him drinking wine. So I rebuked him, ‘O enemy of Allah, you drink wine when it is forbidden.’ ‘O commander,’ he replied to me, ‘This is water not wine. Come down to me and smell it so that you can be sure that it is not wine. If it is wine then you can punish me how you like.’ I dismounted my she-camel to smell what it was when suddenly he pulled out a stick from under his armpit and hit me so hard that my skull cracked.
When I turned, he pounced on me and, tying me with a rope, said, ‘It appears that you are of the men of Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah. I am keeping you until you can be taken to my chief.’ I said, ‘Who can your chief from amongst the ‘Arabs be?’ He replied, ‘Qadh bin Wathilah.’ Sir, I have been in this condition for three days now. Whenever he drank wine, he seated me in front of him and threw the dregs on top of me.”
Khalid became so enraged that he pounded the man’s head with his sword-hilt and killed him. The Muslims confiscated the sheep and camels, dug up the foundation of the way-station and freed Ibn Tufayl. Khalid asked him, “Where is my letter?” He replied, “Tucked away in a fold of my turban. Nobody knew of it.” Khalid.s, said, “Take it immediately to Abu ‘Ubaydah and stay alert.” So he mounted and went towards Syria. Khalid ordered the army to march on.
Arakah was a dangerous place for travellers from Iraq. There the Romans would collect taxes from murderous brigands and used to appoint a governor to reside there. When the Muslims arrived, Khalid ordered them to confiscate all wealth in the place and the outskirts, and this was done. The inhabitants took refuge in a fort where there lived a Roman sage. Amongst other sciences he had studied the prophecies of war. When he saw the Muslims he turned pale and said, “I take oath by your religion! The time has come.” The people asked him, “What time?”
He replied, “These people have been mentioned in the prophecies. It is written that the first flag to come here from ‘Iraq will be a victorious flag. The destruction of the Romans will be at hand. Examine them carefully – if their flag is black, the leader is broadly built, tall, fleshy, broad shouldered, strong in appearance, pox-marked in the face and wheat-coloured, then know that he will conquer Syria.” They saw that that was his exact description so they went to the governor and said, “You know that the sage, Samuel, never utters a word without wisdom and we have seen with our very own eyes whatever he described to us. We feel that we should make peace with the ‘Arabs in order to protect our wealth, children and households.” He replied, “Let me think until morning comes.”
So the governor went home passing the whole night pondering over the issue. He was a highly intelligent man and so examining all factors, said to himself, “If! oppose the citizens it is possible that they seize me and hand me over to the’ Arabs. I know with certainty that a small ‘Arab force defeated Rubius in Palestine because terror of the ‘Arabs is so embedded in the hearts of the Romans that it will never leave.”
In the morning he summoned the citizenry and asked, “What do you intend?” They replied, “We wish to make peace with the ‘Arabs and stay here in our city.” He said, “I am but one of you and cannot oppose you.” A widely travelled and experienced man was sent to Khalid to offer peace. He accepted and spoke to him gently and politely in the hope that when the people of Sakhnah, Hawran, Palmyra and al-Qaraytayn heard of the peace, they would also accept Islamic rule. He said, “I am making peace on the conditions that I shall withdraw my army from here, that whoever wishes to join Islam will be welcomed and whoever stays on his religion will have to pay Jizyah.”
Khalid levied 2,000 dirhams and 1,000 dinars on them and signed a treaty. Before he even left there, the people of Sakhnah came to make peace. When the people of Palmyra heard about this, their governor, Karkar, gathered them and said, “I have been informed that the ‘Arabs have peacefully taken over Arakah and Sakhnah. I have heard from my own men that the ‘Arabs are peaceful, just and good natured men who deplore wickedness and corruption. Our fort is quite secure and none can penetrate it, but there is fear that our orchards and plantations will be ruined. I therefore suggest that we make peace with them. If our people are victorious then we will annul the treaty and if the ‘Arabs are victorious we will be safe.” This pleased the citizens and they prepared a feast.
Khalid arrived and they stood to serve and welcome him. He thanked them and levied three Uqiyah (367.4 g) of silver and gold and signed the peace treaty. After making peace with Sakhnah and Palmyra, Khalid bought provisions and animal fodder and then advanced on Hawran.
In the meantime, ‘Amir bin Tufayl brought the letter to Abu ‘Ubaydah Upon reading it he smiled and said, “All praise belongs to AMh alone. I gladly obey Allah and the Khalifah of Rasulullah 0. He then informed the Muslims of his dismissal and Khalid’s appointment.
Abu ‘Ubaydah had sent Shurahbil bin Hasanah to Busra with 4,000 horsemen. Upon arriving there, they pitched their tents. Both the Emperor and ordinary Romans respected its governor, Romanus. He was a scholar of the previous religious books and was bulky in physique. The Romans would come from the far-off cities of Syria to see him and hear his advice and wisdom. At that time 12,000 men were stationed at Busra. ‘Arabs from Yaman and Hijaz would come there to trade. At a special time of the year Romanus would sit in a chair placed for him so that the people could see him and benefit from his knowledge, and it was that time of the year when the Muslim army came. There were many people and upon the army’s arrival, tumult erupted. Romanus quickly mounted his horse and called out to the people who shouted back. He said, “Be quiet. I am going to the Muslim army to find out what they want.” He went and called out, “O Arabs, I am Romanus, the governor of Busra and I want to meet your leader.” Shurahbil & then came.
Romanus: Who are your people?
Shurahbil: We are the Sahabah of Muhammad O, the Messenger of Allah and the Unlettered Prophet who was prophesied in the Torah and Gospel.
Romanus: What has become of him?
Shurahbil: Abu Bakr Abdullah al-‘Atiq bin Abi Quhafah is his successor.
Romanus: I take oath by my religion that I know very well that you are on the Truth and that you will conquer ‘Iraq and Syria. However, you are few while we are many. I will do this favour to you of making peace with you. You return to your land and we shall not interfere with you. O my ‘Arab brother, Abu Bakr (ra) is my close friend. If he were present here, he would never fight against me
Shurahbil: In matters of religion he had no consideration for his own son and nephew until they embraced Islam, He has no personal choice in that Allah has ordered us to wage Jihad. We will not leave until one of three outcomes has been decided upon. Firstly, you should embrace Islam. Failing that, your second option is to pay Jizyah. If that is also not acceptable, then we will have to do battle.
Romanus: I take oath by my religion and faith that if the matter were in my hands, then I would never fight you because I know you to be upon the Truth. The Romans have gathered. Let me go to them and make them understand and see what they feel.
Shurahbil: Very good, but hurry for what we have told you about Islam, Jizyah or war still stands.
Romanus returned to his people and said, “0 upholders of Christianity and sons of baptism water, the arrival of the ‘Arabs heralds the loss of your wealth and the death of your leaders and champions. This has been foretold in your scriptures and it is imminent. You do not have Rubius’s army nor his bravery. A handful of ‘Arabs destroyed him in Palestine, massacred his champions and the rest fled in defeat. I have been informed that a man called Khalid bin al-Walid is invading from ‘Iraq. He has conquered Arakah, Sakhnah, Palmyra and Hawran and is swiftly heading here. I therefore suggest that we render Jizyah to the’ Arabs and place ourselves under their protection in order to avert this disaster.”
The Romans were so infuriated at his words that they wanted to kill him, so he quickly said, “I was merely testing your loyalty to Christianity. I am with you and will go first to confront them.” The Romans prepared for battle and donned leather armour. Seeing this, Shurahbil addressed his troops, “May Allah have mercy on you. Rasulullah (ra) has said that Paradise lies beneath the shadow of swords and that the most beloved drop unto Allah is a drop of blood shed in Allah’s Path and a tear-drop shed out of fear of Allah. Fight in all earnest and fire your arrows simultaneously so that they are not wasted.”
”O you who believe, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims.” [3:102]
Ruwaym al-’Absi narrates:
I was with Shurahbil’s army. 12,000 youths attacked us expecting victory. Compared to them, we were like a white mark on a black camel. We persevered like the man who knows he is about to die. The enemy were convinced of victory. I then saw Shurahbil raising his hands to the sky making du‘a, “O Ever-living! O Maintainer of all! O Creator of the Heavens and Earth! O Possessor of Majesty and Nobility! O Allah, you have promised us the conquest of Syria and Persia through the tongue of your Prophet. O Allah, help those who believe you to be One against those who deny You. O Allah, help us against the Disbelievers.”
By Allah! He had hardly finished his du‘a when Allah helped us. The enemy had encircled us from all four sides and were expecting imminent victory when suddenly a dust-cloud arose from the direction of Hawran. As it neared, horses could be distinguished and then a flag. We could see two horsemen, one of whom declared, “Shurahbil, receive tidings of Allah’s Din being helped. I am the well-known horseman, Khalid bin al-Walid.”
The other said, “I am ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr.” Then the tribes of Lakhm and Jutham arrived followed by the rest of the army. Rafi‘ bin ‘Umayrah at-Tai carried the flag, Ra-yatul ‘Uqab (Flag of the Eagle).
The Romans’ spirit broke as soon as they heard Khalid’s call. The Muslims exchanged salam. When Shurahbil gave Khalid salam he said, “O Shurahbil, did you not know that this is a special time when the people of Syria, Hijaz and ‘Iraq gather here? Roman troops and leaders come here so I cannot understand how it is that you have entrapped yourself like this?”
Shurahbil: I did what Abu ‘Ubaydah ordered me to do.
Khalid: He is a simple man who fears Allah. In matters of war, strategy and sophistication he is inexperienced.
He then ordered them to rest and so they encamped and comforted each other.
The next day the Roman army again came. Khalid (ra) said to his men, “The people of Busra think, ‘Their men and horses must be tired from the journey’, and advance against us. You should place your trust in Allah.”
The Muslims armed themselves and mounted their horses. He then put Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah at-Tai’ in charge of the right wing, and Dirar bin al-Azwar bin Tiiriq al-Kind! over the left wing. Qiriir was a brave young man whose intelligence and bravery was famous. The infantry was under’ Abdurahman bin Humayd al-Lakhmi, Khalid split the advance-force under Musayyab bin ‘Utbah and Math’ur bin Ghanim and said, “When I give the order, jump immediately onto your horses and attack.” Khalid and ‘Abdurahman (ra) were advising the army and intended to attack when suddenly a strong massive horseman (Romanus), on whom gold, silver, silk and rubies glittered, emerged from the Roman ranks. He stopped in between the two armies and called out in ‘Arabic in a bedouin accent.
I am the governor of Busra. None but your leader should come to combat me.
Khalid came forward.
Romanus: Are you the leader?
Khalid: Yes, the Muslims will obey me for as long as I obey Allah, If I should disobey Him, then my position is lost.
Romanus: I am of the Roman royal class and one of their sages. Truth can never be hidden from an intelligent man with foresight. I have read in the Scriptures and war prophecies that God will send a prophet from the Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe whose name will be Muhammad.
Khalid: He is our Prophet.
Romanus: Was any book revealed to him?
Khalid: Yes, the Quran,
Romanus: Has alcohol been forbidden?
Khalid: We punish whoever drinks alcohol, lash a fornicator and stone an adulterer.
Romanus: Has Salah been made compulsory upon you?
Khalid: Yes, five times a day
Romanus: Has Jihad been made compulsory?
Khalid: If Jihad was not made compulsory, then why else should we have come to fight you?
Romanus: I know that you people are on the Truth and I have great love for you. I have warned my people so that they can be safe, but they refuse to listen. I greatly fear for them.
Khalid: You should recite, “I testify that there is no deity besides Allah alone. He has no partner. And I testify that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger.” If you recite this then we and you share all benefits and loss.
Romanus: I will certainly become a Muslim but I fear that my people will kill me and enslave my women. However, I shall go to them and warn them. Perhaps Allah will guide them.
Khalid: I fear that if you return without fighting me, they may harm you. Let us pretend to fight each other so that they do not accuse you and then you can return. So they pretended to fight until Romanus said, “Attack forcefully so that I can flee the battlefield. Caesar has sent Darian to help and reinforce me. I fear that he will harm you.”
Khalid e: Allah will help me against him. He then violently attacked Romanus who fled to his people and Khalid did not ehase him. The Romans questioned Romanus as to what had oceured and so he said, “O People, the ‘Arabs are energetic and clever. You cannot win against them. They will conquer Syria and the whole Roman Empire. Fear God and obey the ‘Arabs. Enter into their protection just as Arakah, Palmyra and Hawran have done. I only desire good for you.”
They responded with threats and Abuse and would have killed him had it not been for fear of Caesar’s retaliation. They said, “Go home. We will deal with the ‘Arabs.” Romanus was happy because this was what he wanted. He went home saying to himself, “Perhaps Allah will grant Khalid victory then I and my family can go with him.”
The Romans then elected Darian and said to him, “When we have finished off the Muslims, we will take you to Heraclius to petition Romanus’s dismissal and your appointment because you are more brave and intelligent than him.” He said, “What do you wish from me?” They answered, “We want you to attack the Muslims and kill their leader. The rest of the army will then flee.”
Chapter 12 | Busra conquered
Darian donned his armour and weapons and went to the battlefield challenging Khalid. to fight him. ‘Abdurahman bin Abu Bakr said to Khalid, “You are the commander and the army remains for as long as the commander remains. I will therefore fight him.” So the duel began with both armies watching. After a short while Darian realised that he could not win, so he fled and managed to escape to the Roman army because of his faster horse. When questioned, Darian said, “He attacked me most violently and I could not maintain my position. However, you should all now attack together.”
These words made them lose heart. Khalid immediately sensed this so he, ‘Abdurahman bin Abu Bakr (ra), Dirarbin al-Azwar, Qays bin Hubayrah, Shurahbil bin Hasanah, Riifi’ bin ‘Umayrah, Musayyib bin Najiyah al-Fazari, ‘Abdurahman bin Humayd al-Lakhmi, led the Muslims in an attack. The Romans now had no choice but to remain steadfast and so advanced against the Muslims, but Roman heads and blood soon littered the ground. At the city wall, conches were sounded. The Priests raised a tumult and, looking at the sky, began praying their prayers of disbelief.
Shurahbil responded with this du’a….,
“O Allah, these impure people invoke Your curse with words of disbelief and call unto a deity besides You. There is no deity but You. We invoke Your curse with the words of ‘There is no deity but You’ and with the intercession of Muhammad – salutations and peace be upon him and his family – against Your Disbelieving enemies.”
As he was reciting the du’ii the Muslims were saying, “AmIn, AmIn” and then attacked all at once. The enemy, fearing the fall of the fort, fled covering the earth with their corpses. They were so confused that when they reached the city gates, they began killing each other in the ensuing mayhem. They entered the fort taking refuge behind its walls and towers. They raised flags and crosses and sent a message to Heraclius requesting him to send reinforcements.
‘Abdullah bin Raft’ narrates:
When they went behind the city walls, we stopped chasing them to assess the army’s condition. Finding men to be missing, we found their bodies lying in the battlefield. 320 men, mostly from Bujaylah and Hamdan were martyred. Amongst the chiefs Badr bin Hamlah (ally of Thafiq), ‘Ali bin Rifa’ah, Mazin bin ‘Awf, Sahl bin Nashit, Jabir bin Murarah, Rabi’ bin Hamid and ‘Abbad bin Bishr were martyred. Booty was gathered. Khalid (ra) led the Salatul Janazah and ordered the martyrs to be buried.
One night later’ Abdurahrnan and Ma’mar bin Rashid and 100 youths were patrolling the camp when suddenly the horses raised their forelegs and neighed. The Muslims became alert and began investigating until they spotted a cloaked figure. When ‘Abdurahman (ra) wanted to seize him, he shouted, “Wait! I am the governor of Busra, So he arrested him and took him to Khalid (ra) who recognised him and laughed.
Romanus: ‘’O Commander, my people have reviled me and ordered me to remain at home or else they will kill me. I stayed at home, but because my house is joined to the city wall, I managed to escape under cover of darkness and come to you. I wish that you send some youths with me to capture the city. Khalid prostrated out of thanks and ordered ‘Abdurahman (ra) to take 100 men and go with Romanus.
Jirar bin al-Azwar narrates:
I was amongst those who entered the city with Romanus. When we reached his house, he opened the storeroom, distributed weapons and said, “Wear Roman clothes.” We dressed in Roman garb and split into four groups of twenty-five horsemen each in every direction of the city.
‘Abdurahman (ra) said, “When you hear us saying, ‘Allahu Akbar’ then you too call out ‘Allahu Akbar’ immediately.” We arrived in our appointed place and awaited the attack. Reliable narrators state that after’ Abdurahman (ra) appointed their places and he and Romanus donned their armour, Romanus offered him a sword which he accepted.
Romanus then took him by the hand to the tower where Darian and his companions stayed. When they approached, the courtiers and guards bunched together. Darian asked, “Who are you people?”
Romanus: I am Lord Romanus.
Daria: Why have your unlucky feet come here and who is that person with you? Darian wanted to attack but instantly lost heart so ‘Abdurahman (ra) unsheathed his sword and struck him violently on the shoulder so that he fell. He then led Romanus in proclaiming, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”
Romanus: This is my friend who wishes to meet you.
Darian: You wretch! Who is he?
Romanus: This is ‘Abdurahman, the son of the Khalifah of Rasulullah It., who has come to despatch your soul to the dungeons of Hell!
The Muslims heard the raised cries of “Allahu Akbar!” in the four comers of Busra; the sound which the stones, mountains, trees, birds and Allah- fearing people made into their melody. All pious people began expressing thanks. When the Mujahidin started proclaiming, “Allahu Akbar!” their swords began drinking Roman blood. Khalid and his men responded by entering the city with shouts. When the Romans saw their city being invaded they shouted out sounds of grief. Women and children cried while youths shouted something in their language. Khalid asked Romanus to translate. He said that they were begging for safety, so Khalid ordered all swords to be immediately sheathed and they obeyed.
In the morning, the people all gathered around Khalid (ra) and said, “If only we had made peace then this would not have befallen us.”
Khalid: Whatever the Eternal Distributor distributes must be received and what Fate is written must come to pass.
Romans: Who guided you in invading our city?
Khalid felt embarrassed to mention Romanus, so Romanus himself got up and said, “O enemies of Allah and His Messenger, I am the person who performed that deed for Allah’s pleasure as Jihad in His Path.”
Romans: Have you left our religion?
Romanus: By Allah! I deny the Cross and those who worship it. Do not associate me with it. I am pleased to accept Allah as my Rabb, Islam as my Din, Muhammad It. As Prophet and Messenger, the Ka ‘bah as my direction of prayer, the Quran as Guide and the Muslims as brothers.
The Christians were furious and tried to discredit him. He sensed this and so said to Khalid, “I do not intend staying here, but will go with you until Allah grants you the conquest of all Syria. Then I will return, for everyone is naturally inclined to his homeland. “
Ma’mar bin Salim narrates from his grandfather, Lujayjah bin Mafra:
Romanus was with us in every battle. He fought severely against our enemies and was earnest in the Path of Allah until Allah granted the conquest of all Syria. Then on Abu ‘Ubaydah’s (ra) request, the Khalifah ‘Urnar ss appointed him as governor of Busra, He governed for a short while and then went to his Eternal Abode leaving behind a son who kept his memory fresh.
Chapter 13 | Story of Romanus’s wife
After the conquest, Khalid appointed some men to help gather Romanus’s belongings. Upon reaching his home, they found him arguing with his wife who was demanding a divorce. He said, “What do you want?” She replied, “The leader of your army will make the decision.” So they took her to Khalid to whom she started complaining. A Roman who knew ‘Arabic translated for them and said that she was laying a complaint against Romanus. When Khalid (ra) asked the cause, she replied, “I dreamt last night that an extremely handsome man whose face shone like the full moon came and said, ‘The ‘Arabs will conquer this and all of Syria and ‘Iraq.’ I said, ‘Who are you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad Rasulullah.’ He then offered me Islam which I accepted and then taught me two chapters of the Quran.”
Everyone was amazed and Khalid told the translator that she must recite those chapters. So she recited Surahs al-Fatihah and al-Ikhlas and renewed her declaration of Islam to Khalid. She said to Romanus, “Become Muslim or divorce me.” Khalid laughed and said, “Pure is He Who guided her.” Then he said to the translator, “Tell her that her husband embraced Islam before her.”
This gladdened her.
Khalid then imposed an amount of tax on the people of Busra that was agreeable to them and after consulting them, appointed a governor of their choice to whom they could refer all their needs. He then wrote to Abu ‘Ubaydah to inform him of the victory and stated, “I am marching to Damascus. Meet me there.”
He then wrote to Abu Bakr (ra).
As you commanded, I left for Syria where Allah granted me victory over Palmyra, Arakah, Hawran, Sakhnah and Busra. At the time of writing this report, I intend marching on Damascus, and hope for Allah s assistance. Convey my salam to all the Muslims. Was-salamu ‘alayka wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.
Chapter 14 | Romans reinforce Damascus
Khalid sent the two letters and marched on Damascus. When a pass was reached, he encamped and unfurled the Flag of the Eagle and as a result it is now called Thaniyatul ‘Uqab (Pass of the Eagle). He then marched to Ghawjah where he encamped near a monastery and to this day that place is called Dayr Khalid (Khalid’s Monastery). There he awaited Abu ‘Ubaydah es. Damascus was filled with people from the surrounding area whose number could not be counted; 12,000 alone were mounted. The city walls were decorated with flags, crosses and spears.
When Heraclius received intelligence of Khalid’s (ra) capture of Arakah, Palmyra, Hawran, Sakhnah and Busra and his march on Damascus, he gathered his officials and said, “I warned you from the very beginning, none of you listened. The ‘Arabs have captured Arakah, Palmyra, Hawran, Sakhnah and Busra and are now heading towards Damascus. If it is lost, it will be an absolute disaster because it is the only city worthy of being called ‘Paradise of Syria’.
An army, double the size ofthe ‘Arab army, will be sent to Damascus but I have to ask who amongst you will face them and defeat them? Whatever territory he liberates from’ Arab occupation will be under him and exempt from land-tax.” Lord Calius, son of Hanah, a famous and brave champion from Syria who exhibited his bravery during the Persian invasion of Syria, said, “I am enough to take them on. I will defeat them and drive them out.”
Heraclius gave him a golden cross saying, “Keep this in front of you to gain victory,” and gave him 5,000 men. Calius took the cross and departed the same day from Antioch. Upon reaching Hims, he found it to be filled with men and arms. The people came out to welcome him. The priests and monks were in front burning incense of ambergis and aloe wood.
They carried Bibles on their chests and when they approached, the army recited ‘Mass’ on them, sprinkled holy water on the general and prayed for his success. They stayed there for a day and night and then advanced towards Jawsiyah whose inhabitants similarly came out to welcome them. Then they reached Ba’labakk. The women were striking their faces in mourning. Calius asked about the cause, to which they replied, “The ‘Arabs have conquered Arakah, Palmyra, Hawran, and Busra and they are now heading for Damascus.”
Calius replied, “I have received information that the ‘Arabs are now at al-Jabiyah, It amazes me how they have managed to conquer these cities and forts.”
Ba’labakkis : Yes, there is an ‘Arab force stationed at al-Jabiyah. However, these places were conquered by a different army coming from ‘Iraq under a man called Khalid bin al-Walld.
Calius : How big is his army?
Ba ‘labakkis: 1500 men.
Calius: I take oath by my religion that I will cut off his head and hang it on my spear. He then left for Damascus.
The governor of Damascus, Uriel, was greatly revered by the Romans and had 3,000 cavalry and infantry under him. When Calius reached Damascus, the city elders came out to welcome him. He read out his letter of appointment to fight the Muslims and said, “I will fight with you against them and drive your enemies from your city on condition that Uriel is evicted from the city so that I remain in sole command.” They replied, “Our Lord, how can we do that when the enemy is almost here? Instead of evicting a leader at such a crucial time, we would rather welcome ten leaders who could help us against them.”
The governor said, “When the ‘Arabs arrive, we can take turns of one day each to fight them. Whoever defeats them will administer the city.” The elders approved of this suggestion and so the decision was made. The two leaders then went to their separate quarters carrying hatred and enmity for each other in their hearts. The Romans would leave daily from al-Jabiyah Gate for a distance of one Farsakh (5.5km) in anticipation of Abu ‘Ubaydah’s (ra) army. Instead, Khalid (ra) was first encountered in the direction of the Thaniyah Gate.
Rif’a’ah bin Muslim narrates from his grandfather:
I was in the army of Khalid bin al-Walid (ra) encamped near the monastery when suddenly Romans were seen coming like a swarm of locusts. He donned Musaylamah the Liar’s armour, tied his turban around his waist while letting one side hang and called out, “O people, may Allah have mercy on you for this is a day which will never be repeated. The enemy cavalry and infantry have arrived, do not spare a single one of them. Do Allah’s work and He will help you if you are patient. Include yourselves amongst those whose lives Allah has bought. He says:
Allah has bought the lives and property of the Believers in exchange for Paradise – they fight in the path of Allah. .. [9:111]
Remember that the army of your brother, Abu ‘Ubaydah, is soon to join you.” The Muslims mounted their horses and so the Romans, who had intended to attack now hesitated. Khalid (ra) organised the army as follows: Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah over the right-wing; Musayyib bin Najiyah al-Fazari over the left-wing; Shurahbil over the front’s right; ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr over the front’s left; Salim bin Nawfal over the rear-guard while he took charge of the centre. After appointing the generals, he said to Dirar bin al-Azwar ss, “Wage Jihad in the manner of your father and tribe.
Help Allah’s Din and He will help you. You will present yourself first for combat. Fight them with such bravery that their hearts become filled with terror and they flee.” Dirar (ra) wore dirty clothes and an old turban and mounted on a thin fast filly. He attacked so furiously that the enemy ranks were thrown into tumult. He slew their four top horsemen and then, turning to the infantry, killed six. Had the Romans not showered him with arrows and stones, he would not have returned. Khalid (ra) and the Muslims thanked him.
‘Abdurahman (ra) then donned his armour and advanced for a test of strength. Khalid said, “O Ibn Abi Bakr, terrify the enemy with your attack. Stop only when you have tom their ranks apart. Allah will bless your strength.” So he attacked in the manner of Dirar (ra) and slew enemies before returning. Khalid (ra) then attacked, displaying such exploits with his spear which utterly astonished the Romans. Calius realised from his manner that he was the commander of the Islamic army.
He saw that Khalid had seen all his signs of leadership and the cross above his head and was therefore heading his way, so he backed away. Khalid attempted to reach him, but some Romans came to block him. They threatened him and fired arrows, but he was relentless in his advance. He rode his horse which was like lightning flashing in all directions. He continued like this until he killed ten Romans and then shouted, “Is there any challenger?” but none responded.
He shouted, “Then come in pairs against me!” but none came. He then challenged four and increased his challenge right up to ten, but none even answered him, so he said, “Be destroyed! I am but one man alone on a horse. Every soldier in my army is a warrior equal to me.”
Chapter 15 | The Roman generals argue
Some people understood the challenge, while others did not. Uriel went to Calius and said, “Caesar has appointed you commander of the army to fight the ‘Arabs. The protection of the citizens and the city is your responsibility.”
Calius: Your responsibilty is more than mine because you were the governor before me. Do not delude yourself into thinking that I cannot withdraw without Caesar’s order. Why do you not go and fight the’ Arabs?
Uriel; We have an agreement that one day you will fight and one day I will fight. Today you go.
Calius; I have already said that you came to this city before me so you go first. I will fight tomorrow.
The argument became personal and protracted so the people wished to draw lots to decide which of the two should go out to fight the’ Arabs, but then Calius said, “No, it is better that we make a united attack so that they stay in awe of us -.We should not be divided.” Uriel responded, “I do not care, do as you please.” Calius then thought that if Heraclius found out about these things, he could be expelled from the court and even executed.
So he changed his mind and insisted on a lottery. His name was drawn, so Uriel said, “Display such bravery on the battlefield which the ‘Arab leaders displayed. When it is my turn, they will see which of us is braver.”
Calius donned his armour, mounted his horse and said to his men, “Focus all your attention and strength on me. If I am overpowered then come immediately to my aid and save me.”
They replied, “Cowardice drips from your words. Perhaps you will come back safely.”
Calius: I am confronting a bedouin who speaks a different language. I wish to speak to him because precaution is a strong armour. Who amongst you can translate for me?
An intelligent Christian named Sergius, who was highly eloquent, volunteered and went with him.
Chapter 16 | Sergius’s speech to Khalid
Along the way Calius said, “The ‘Arabs have a very bold leader. If I am overcome in battle you will have to help me. In exchange, I will make you my companion and minister, but do not reveal this secret – I shall delay the battle for so long that through some scheme I will return without fighting. Then when Uriel fights tomorrow he will be killed and then I will be relieved of him.”
Sergius: I know nothing of warfare but can help you with my eloquence. I shall speak for as long as is possible and will not be deficient. Is that acceptable?
Calius: Alas, you wish me to fall into enemy hands!
Sergius: And you wish to sacrifice me to save yourself. Be fair, if I am killed then what use are your rewards, honours and gifts to me? Calius kept quiet and went forward until he neared Khalid. Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah wanted to attack him, but Khalid (ra) stopped him, saying, “Stay in your place. I, the servant of Islam, am here.”
Calius said to Sergius; “Ask who they are and what they want. Threaten them with our power and large army. Find out their intentions.”
Sergius: ‘’O ‘Arab, I wish to describe a parable to you. The comparison between you and us is like that of someone who owned a flock of sheep and app(ra)inted a cowardly, weak shepherd to watch over them.
A lion broke into the pen, and because of the shepherd’s cowardice, would come daily and take a sheep. When the sheep were almost finished and the lion had become accustomed to sheep’s blood, the owner learnt about the shepherd’s laziness and cowardice and so replaced him with a brave youth who would patrol the pen all night long. As per his habit, the lion returned but the shepherd, who was waiting in ambush, killed him with his spear.
Thereafter, no beast dared attack the sheep. This is also your condition. We have been lax towards you because you are an extremely weak, naked, hungry, labouring people. You have subsisted on stolen food, barley, olive-oil and by sucking dried date-pits. You have eaten our food since you entered our territory and have become that lion. You have come as far as you can and done whatever you could. Now Caesar has sent such a person against you who cannot be compared to any human and who is not concerned as to who crosses swords with him.
He is none other than he who is with me. So beware lest you end up like the lion killed by the young shepherd. It is merely out of his compassion and pity for you that he has ordered me to speak to you. Therefore I am asking you what you want here. You are swimming in a sea whose waves will hit you until you drown and whose waters will choke you if you drink it. If you are in charge of this army then from your heart consider peace to be in your best interest before the lion comes charging from the jungle.
Chapter 17 | Khalid and Calius Duel
Khalid replied, “O enemy of Allah, you dare make an example of us? By Allah! You should realise that we consider you just as a hunter considers sparrows trapped in a net, fluttering in all directions to escape. The hunter is neither scared of their numbers nor does he let any escape. What you said of our city and famine is true, but Allah has now given us better. Instead of some grains, He has given us wheat, fruit, refined butter and honey.
This land is ours. Our Rabb gave it to us and promised it to us through the tongue of His Messenger. As to your question about what we want, it is one of three things – either accept Islam, pay Jizyah, or fight until Allah decides the outcome. You praise this wretched Calius but we take him as the lowest of the low. If he is a pillar of your empire then I am Khalid bin al-Walid, servant of Islam and conquerer of Palmyra, Arakah, Hawran, Sakhnah and Busra.”
Sergius’s face changed at hearing this eloquence and went back to Calius who said, “How sad that you attacked like a lion, then came back afraid.” Sergius replied, “I take oath by my religion that I mistook him for a vagabond but now find him to be a fighting ram, a killing horseman. This is the leader of a nation who has filled the Earth with evil, so advance and attack him.” Calius had been quaking in his saddle like a leaf blowing in the wind since he heard Khalid’s name. He said, “Tell him to postpone the battle until tomorrow.” Sergius replied, “I shall tell him, but I am not sure if he will accept,” and turned to Khalid (ra) and said, “O commander of his people, my companion told me to tell you that you should return to your army and consult them.”
Khalid: ‘O fool, you tell me this when I am the very spirit of war. To escape me is very difficult.
Then he aimed his spear at Sergius who fled. So he shouted at Calius and attacked him, but Calius moved back until he neared his camp. Khalid caught up with him so he was forced to defend himself. The soldiers also began battling, their spears flashing brighter than flames. Calius again tried to flee during the heat of the battle, but realising his intentions, Khalid • spurred his horse until they met bridle to bridle. He disabled his spear and then twirling a small spear smashed it above Calius’s throat shouting,
There is no ability to avoid evil and no power to do good except with Allah’s help the Most High, the Most Mighty!” Then Khalid grabbed him and pulled him out of his saddle. The Muslims began shouting, “Allahu Akbarl Allahu Akbar!”, while the hearts ofthe Christians quivered. The Muslims ran to Khalid ., who handed his prisoner over to them saying, “Tie his hands behind his back.” Calius began raving, so they asked Romanus, “What is he wittering?”
Romanus: He says, “Why do you tie me up when I am prepared to accept what your commander has said. Do you not want Jizyah? I will fulfil all your wishes.” When Khalid was informed, he said, “Keep him firmly tied because he is their leader.” Then he dismounted and mounted his horse, Shahri, intending to attack the Romans. The governor of Palmyra had given Shahri to him . Dirar bin al-Awzar protested, “You are tired from fighting the Roman general. Rest and permit me to go and fight.”
Khalid replied, “Rest is in the Hereafter. One will be able to relax on the Day of Judgement according to the effort done today,” and left for the battlefield. Calius shouted, “I beg you in the name of your prophet to come here. I want to tell you something.” The Muslims shouted out, so Khalid returned and asked Romanus to question him.
After speaking to him, he said, “He says, ‘I am a courtier of Heraclius who sent me here with 5,000 cavalry. When I arrived here, Uriel, the governor of Damascus, argued with me. If he comes to you in battle, you should not let him live. If he does not come, challenge him to come and kill him, for he is the leader. If you kill him Damascus is yours. Will you do this?’ “
Khalid: Romanus, tell him that I am killing whoever ascribes a partner unto Allah and attributes a son unto Him. Then he left for the battlefield reciting this war-poem:
‘O my Master! For every blessing I praise You,
‘O Bountiful One! For all you give I thank You.
After disbelief and darkness You have favoured us,
Taken us out of Doubts and Wrong s darkness.
Through Muhammad You saved us and removed what is blameable,
And made us assisted, guided and honourable.
You have named us the best of all nations,
So fulfil our intentions.
Let the Disbelievers taste
Their punishment with all haste!
When Sergius reached the Romans after fleeing from Khalid ., he was quivering, so they asked him, “What is chasing you that has terrified you so much?
Sergius : Death! Such a death which cannot be overcome. A lion which cannot be fought – the Muslim leader who went into battle taking his Lord’s name. Wherever we went, he was never lax in killing us. It was only with great effort that I managed to escape. It is better that we make peace before he comes with his whole army to attack.
Romans: ‘Owretch! You come running away from your defeat and now want to terrify us.
They would have killed him but when they saw Calius arrested, they turned to Uriel and said, “Caesar’s courtier is arrested through no fault of his own. You had an agreement amongst yourselves that he would fight one day and you the next, so now you will have to fight and kill that bedouin.”
Uriel: Bear in mind that if he is killed another ‘Arab will replace him, but if I am killed, you will be a flock of sheep without a shepherd. So it is better that we all go to attack.
Romans: We will never do that until the Day of Judgement, for thousands of lives would be sacrificed and thousands of women would become widows.
Friend of Calius: Your rank with Caesar is not equal to Calius’s. The two of you had an agreement in which he fulfilled his side. Now that he is captured, you will have to go or else we will fight you.
Uriel: It is a pity that you think that I have not gone out of fright of a bedouin. I am going now and both armies will see who is the better warrior.
Chapter 18 | Khalid’ and Uriel Duel
Uriel prepared his weapons, donned his armour, mounted a fast horse and set out to meet Khalid.
Uriel: ‘O my ‘Arab brother, come nearer so that I can tell you something.
Khalid (angry): ‘O enemy of Allah, you come so that I can break your head.
Uriel: ‘Arab brother, I am coming. So he came closer to Khalid, who sensed his fear and did not attack him.
Uriel: You have a whole army, but still such a being like yourself comes for combat? If you are overcome, then they will be like sheep without a shepherd.
Khalid: ‘Oenemy of Allah, did you not see how two of my soldiers attacked your army? Had I not prevented them, then with Allah’s help, they could have wiped your army off the face of the Earth. Every one of my soldiers considers death to be a blessing and life worthless … but who are you?
Uriel: What! You have never heard of me? I am the horseman of all horsemen, the defeater of the Turkish army and the Juramiqah.
Khalid (ra): And your name is?
Uriel: The same as the angel of death, Uriel.
Khalid (ra) (laughing): ‘O enemy of Allah, your namesake is in search of you to send you to Hell and is therefore remembering you!
Uriel: I ask you in the name of your religion, what did you do with Calius?
Khalid (ra): He is sitting there with his hands tied behind his back.
Uriel: He brings nothing but disaster. What has stopped you from killing him?
Khalid (ra): Because I want to kill you two together.
Uriel: Will you accept 1,000 Mithqal (4.4 kg) gold, ten sets of silk clothing and five horses in exchange for giving me his head?
Khalid (ra): That is the price of his blood. What is the price of your life?
Uriel (furious): What will you take?
Khalid (ra): Your disgraced head as Jizyah!
Uriel: ‘Arab brother, the more we respect you, the more you disgrace us and increase in sarcasm. Prepare for attack.
Khalid blazed like a flame and attacked Uriel who fought back. The two engaged each other for a considerable time. Uriel was such a warrior that his exploits were recited by every Syrian child. He said, “I take oath by my religion! If! wish to, I can capture you, but out of mercy I will make peace with you and your army. It is better that you voluntarily hand yourself over to me so that everyone sees you captured.”
Khalid: ‘Oenemy of Allah, you entertain such hopes when this is the group which conquered Palmyra, Hawran, Sakhnah and Busra, who sold their lives to Allah in exchange for Paradise, who have chosen the Permanent Abode above the temporary abode and who have preferred the Hereafter over the world. Now you will find out which of the two of us will conquer his enemy and his enemy’s territories and enforce his law therein.
He then increased the intensity of his combat and employed such tactics that confounded the enemy and, instead of speaking of capture, now began sweating and so said in a flattering tone, “‘Arab brother, why do you joke like this?”
Khalid: My joke is the sword’s strike, so that through it my Rabb becomes pleased with me. Be alert. I am attacking again. He struck out, but not with a firm hand, so the enemy was saved. Yet the violence of the attack so frightened him that he fled, pursued by Khalid.
I was at the centre of the army watching the two adversaries when Uriel fled and could not be caught because of his faster horse. He turned around to see Khalid left behind and so (perhaps) thought, “The bedouin fears me. I will wait here to capture him. Jesus will help me,” and so he paused there. When Khalid came close, his horse was perspiring profusely and was clearly tired.
Uriel: O ‘Arab, do not think that I went away out of fear for you. Rather, I have taken you away from your men so as to catch you.
Khalid: Allah, the Knower of the Unseen, knows best. Uriel: ‘Arab brother, it is still not too late for you to have mercy on yourself. Stop fighting and taking unnecessary risks. Surrender! However, if you really wish for death, then I am Uriel, snatcher of souls, angel of death.
Khalid: ‘O enemy of Allah, because of my slow horse you suddenly find courage? If my horse is tired, I will come on foot and kill you if you do not flee. Then he jumped off his horse like a tiger, swinging his sword. Uriel became emboldened to see him on foot and circled him like a vulture intending to kill him. But Khalid (ra) hacked at a foreleg of the horse, bringing it down to the ground. Uriel ran to his camp with Khalid (ra) in pursuit shouting, “O enemy of Allah, your namesake is becoming angry with you and wants to extract your soul. Be prepared.”
He grabbed him with one hand but then the Romans launched an attack to free their governor. Suddenly, a Muslim army arrived on the scene under the leadership of Abu ‘Ubaydah es, Khalid (ra) had earlier sent a messenger to him from Busra who had met him along the way and was still accompanying him when they came across Khalid apprehending the governor. When the people of Damascus saw the army, they became frightened and called off the assault, so Khalid (ra) arrested Uriel.
Chapter 19 | Battle of the Monastery
Abu ‘Ubaydah, intended dismounting, but Khalid, forbade him under oath because ofthe great love Rasfilullah (ra) bore for him. They met and exchanged salam.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: My son, I was overjoyed to receive the Khalifah’s order concerning you. Not a shadow of a grudge passed my heart because I know what you have achieved in Persia and ‘Arabia.
Khalid: I will do nothing without consulting you and will not blink an eyelid against you. By Allah, were it not in obedience to the Khalifah, I would never accept this post in consideration of your precedence in Islam and your being a special Sahabi of Rasttlullah.
The two shook hands and Khalid’s horse was presented to him, which he mounted. As they were riding together to the camp at the monastery, he was telling Abu ‘Ubaydah about the capture of the two generals and Allah’s help. When they arrived, the Muslims exchanged salam.
The next day both camps prepared for battle, with the Romans coming out under the command of Heraclius’s son-in-law, Thomas, a great general. Khalid es, said, “They truly fear the Muslims. Yesterday they were thoroughly humiliated and the capture of their two generals weakened them. So now we should mount a joint attack on them.”
Abu ‘Ubaydah ss : Very well, I ‘am with you. The Muslims altogether raised loudly the cry, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” until the cries reached the surrounds of Ghawtah.
With this cry on their lips, the Sahabah of Rasulullah attacked, and the teeth of the Christians rattled. The Christians were humiliated while Allah’s friends, intoxicated with Jihad considered their heads a small price to pay for their Friend’s pleasure.
Amir bin at-Tufayl narrates:
In that battle, each of us killed about ten Romans. The battle had hardly lasted an hour when they were dislodged. We chased them all the way from the Monastery to the Eastern Gate. When the Damascenes saw their cowardice, they shut the gates so as to prevent the cowards from entering.
Qays bin Hubayrah narrates:
When we reached the gate, we killed some and captured others and then returned There Khalid (ra) said to Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra), “I think that I should lay siege to the Eastern Gate and you lay siege to al-Jiibiyah Gate.” He replied, “That is truly a good idea.”
Chapter 20 | The siege of Damascus
The troops of al-Hijaz, Yaman, Hagramawt, Coastal ‘Uman, at-Taif and the surrounds of Makkah totalled 37,000 under Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra). ‘Amr bin al-‘As commanded 9,000 cavalry in Palestine, while Khalid (ra) brought 1,500 youths from the ‘Iriiq front. So the total Muslim strength in Syria was, at that time, 47,500 excluding the number ‘Umar (ra) would later send during his rule and which will be mentioned later. Khalid (ra) took half the army and laid siege to the Eastern Gate while Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) took the other half to lay siege to the al-Jiibiyah Gate. This terrified the Damascenes greatly. Khalid (ra) summoned Calius and Uriel and offered them Isliim. Upon their refusal, he ordered Dirar(ra) to execute them which was done. Reliable narraters report that Dirar bin al-Azwar (ra) killed Uriel while Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah dealt with Calius.
When the Damascenes found out, they wrote to Heraclius to inform him of the defeat and executions and added, “The ‘Arabs are laying siege to the Eastern and al-Jabiyah Gates and have with them their women and children. Most of the prosperous territories have fallen into their hands. Rescue us or we will be forced to surrender to them.” At night a rope was tied from the city walls and a messenger lowered with the letter. Heraclius was at Antioch when he received the letter. After reading it, he wept and flung it down. He called his officials and said, “0 Romans, I warned you from the beginning about these brave ‘Arabs.
From the beginning, I told you that someday they would own my crown and throne, but alas, you took my words to be a meaningless joke and on the contrary you seek my death. Now these eaters of grain, barley and dried dates have left their dry, famine-stricken land and reached a land of fruit, vegetation, trees and lush greenery and they prefer the water and climate of our lands. Now nothing can evict them except firm resolution and fierce war. Were it not a disgrace, I would abandon Syria and go to Constantinople or else it seems as if I will have to personally fight them to defend my family.”
They replied, “Their damage is not so great as to necessitate Your August Majesty’s personal involvement in battle. Warden, the governor of Hims, our bravest warrior and ablest strategist, should be sent. You have seen his exploits against the Persians during their invasion.”
When Heraclius summoned him to appoint him, he replied, “Were it not for fear of your displeasure, I would refuse this appointment because you overlooked me in favour of others and left me for last.”
Heraclius: You were kept behind for a reason; because you are my sword and refuge. You will leave immediately with 12,000 men for Ba‘labakk where the Ajnadayn army is encamped. Send part to Balqa and part to the Black Mountains with orders to prevent ‘Amr bin al-As from joining Khalid bin al-Walid.
Warden: I accept wholeheartedly. I shall not show my face until I bring you the heads of Khalid and his companions. Then I will invade al-Hijaz and level Makkah and al- Madinah to the ground.
Heraclius : I swear by the Gospel! If you fulfil your vow, I will grant you all the ‘Arab-occupied territory and appoint you as my successor.
Chapter 21 | Heraclius sends an army to Damascus
Heraclius gave Warden a robe-of-honour, a scabbard and a gold cross which had expensive rubies encrusted on the four ends and said, “Keep this in front of you at the time of combat to assist you.” Warden took the cross to a monastery where he sprinkled holy water on himself for blessing. The monks and priests prayed for his victory and burned incense. He then encamped outside the city at the Persian Gate and selected some people to accompany him. When all the preparations had been made, Heraclius accompanied him, with his officials, to the Iron Bridge from where he took the Ma‘rat route and reached Hamah. From there, he sent a message to the army at Ajnadayn, “All roads and mountain-passes should be sealed off to prevent ‘Amr bin al-’As from joining Khalid bin al-Walid.”
He then gathered all his officers and said, “I wish to ambush the Arabs and catch them all. None will be able to escape.”
All agreed, so they took the Salamiyah and Wadi al-Hayyat route and marched at night.
Shaddad bin Aws (ra)narrates:
After Khalid had executed Calius and Uriel, he ordered us to attack Damascus. Some bedouins went ahead carrying leather shields. When the enemy saw this, they started flinging stones and arrows at us. The Yamanis fired back with their arrows. The Romans began raising a cry – they were convinced that due to our impregnable siege, they would either be destroyed or made captive.
On the twentieth day of the siege, Nadi bin Murrah came and informed us that the Romans had gathered a massive force at Ajnadayn, Khalid rode to Abu ‘Ubaydah at al-Jabiyah Gate to consult him and said, “0 trustworthy one of the Ummah, I feel that we should invade Ajnadayn and after winning, return here.”
Abu ‘Ubaydah: I cannot agree.
Khalid: Why not?
Abu ‘Ubaydah: Because we have tormented the Damascenes with a complete siege which has terrified them. If we leave now, they will have an opportunity to reequip and renew their strength so that when we return it will be hard for us. Therefore, I do not feel it appropriate to move an inch from here.”
Who will inform Abu Bakr (ra) that we
Are fighting the Roman army
Allah has prohibited except that I break the Disbelievers
And relieve my spear 50 thirst with blood of Roman leaders.
Many victims will I fling to the ground
Many will weep at afriend no longer found
Khalid: I accept what you say.
He returned to the Eastern Gate and ordered all squadron officers to mount intense attacks on Damascus while he himself attacked the Eastern Gate. The people of Damascus underwent such difficulty on that day as they had never suffered before. Khalid was encouraging the Muslims while reciting this war-poem:
The Muslims increased the intensity of attack, but the Romans protected by their fortress were still holding out on the twenty-first day. Their condition deteriorated with the lengthening siege and they lost all hope of receiving reinforcements from Caesar. They sent an envoy to offer peace in exchange for 1,000 Uqiyah silver (122.5 kg), 500 Uqiyah gold (61.2 kg) and 100 cloths of brocade and said,
“Please come so that we can give you these things.”
Khalid refused, saying, “We cannot compromise on this. Your choice remains one of these three – Islam, Jizyah or battle.”
The envoy then returned to inform them.
‘Urwah bin ShaddSd narrates:
The Damascenes were more inclined to Abu ‘Ubaydah than Khalid because the former was an old man who promised peace while the latter was a threatening warrior. Khalid gave the order for attack when suddenly the Damascenes were seen clapping their hands, dancing and shouting cries of victory, so he asked the soldiers who had reached the top of the fort walls what was happening. They gestured in the direction of the mountain and Bayt Luhya, where he saw such a massive dust-cloud rising that it blackened the heavens and earth. He understood that reinforcements were arriving so he alerted the Muslims and ordered them to prepare themselves. The Muslims mounted their horses with naked blades in their hands – each division under its own commander. Then scouts came to report that a massive army was present at the mountain, most probably a Roman army. Khalid exclaimed, “There is no ability to avoid evil and no power to do good except through Allah, the Most High, the Most Mighty.”
Chapter 22 | Khalid consults Abu ’Ubaydah
Khalid spurred his horse and went to Abu ‘Ubaydah at al-Jabiyah Gate and informed him of the latest developments.
Khalid: I intend taking all the Muslims to attack the enemy. What is your opinion?
Abu rUbaydah: No, because if the Damascenes see this territory unoccupied they will take it.
Khalid: Then what should we do?
Abu ‘Ubaydah: A great brave warrior should be chosen to attack them. If he sees that his chances are good, he should proceed otherwise he should return.
Khalid: In our army there is one such person who does not fear death; an expert and brave warrior and whose father and father’s brother were both martyred in Jihad.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: Who is it?
Khalid: Dirar bin al-Azwar bin Sinan bin Tariq.
Abu ‘Ubaydah(ra): By Allah! You have chosen exactly the right man.
Khalid (ra) returned to the Eastern Gate and summoned Dirar(ra).
Dirar (ra): As-Salamu ‘Alayka.
Khalid (ra): Ibn al-Azwar, I am sending you against the enemy with 500 horsemen who have sold their lives to Allah in exchange for Paradise, who give preference to the Permanent Abode above the temporary abode and the Hereafter over this world. If you see that you stand a chance then attack, otherwise return.
Dirar (ra): Ibn al-Walid, what joy! You have made me more happy today than I have ever been. In fact, if you permit, I shall do this work on my own.
Khalid (ra): You are indeed very brave, clever and energetic but it would amount to suicide if you do not take the help I am giving you and Allah has forbidden this.
Chapter 23 |Dirar’s'” expedition
Dirar armed himself and was in a hurry to set off, but Khalid (ra) said to him, “For Allah’s sake have mercy on yourself and have patience until the squadron is ready.” Dirar replied, “By Allah! I cannot wait any longer. Whoever considers Jihad to be the best virtue can come and join me there.” So saying, he sped off until he reached Bayt Luhya where he waited until his companions arrived. When their numbers were completed, they saw the Roman army wearing glittering armour like a swarm of locusts descending from the mountain, so numerous as if they were clothing the mountain with their presence. The Sahabah (ra) said to Dirar(ra), “By Allah! What a large army. It is better that we return.”
Dirar: By Allah! I will fight in the Path of Allah treading the path of those who have turned towards Him. Allah will not find me turning my back and running away, for He Himself says,
…Do not turn your backs (to flee) from them. [8:16]
So when He has ordered this and I return, I will be disobeying him and will be a sinner.
Raft’ bin ‘Umayrah: ‘’O my people, what is there to fear from these irreligious people? Has AIHih not granted you victory in most places? Have not our small forces repelled their gigantic numbers? Victory only comes with patience. So follow the ancient pious ones by crying with all humility in front of the court of the Lord of all the Worlds, recite the du’a of King Saul’s companions when they faced Goliath:
Our RabbI Shower us with patience, make our feet firm and assist us against the Disbelievers. [2:250]
Also, recite from the Quran:
How many a small band defeated a massive army with Allah :shelp? And Allah is with the patient ones. [2:249]
This speech emboldened them, so they said, “Allah will not see us fleeing from the battle. We will definitely fight the Disbelievers.” Dirar understood that they had preferred the Hereafter over the world and so ordered them to hide in ambush near Bayt Luhya. While bare-chested, he took a long spear and mounted an ‘Arab horse to face the Romans.
Salamah bin Khuwaylid narrates:
I was with Dirar’s (ra) squadron, when bare-chested, he mounted his ‘Arabian horse desiring martyrdom. He advanced and attacked the Romans shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” The Muslims responded with shouts of, “Allahu Akbar!” which terrified the Christians. I saw Dirar (ra) riding towards the Roman vanguard where Warden was stationed with crosses and flags erected near him and a band of warriors encircled him.
They were just as willing to shed their blood for him as they were willing to shed their sweat for him. Dirar (ra) recognised him to be the general and so challenged the vanguard soldiers, “Is there any challenger?” and then recklessly moved to attack the centre-wing. Taking careful aim, he pierced the mounted flag-bearer with his lance. The Roman lost the flag and fell beneath his horse. Dirar (ra) then turned to the right and slew a Roman. Returning his gaze to the centre he saw Warden.
Near Warden there sat a Roman on a dirty white mongrel horse carrying a jewelencrusted cross. Dirar (ra) speared him in the side, reaching his intestines. The cross fell to the ground while the bearer reeled and went to Hell. Warden saw this as an omen of his own destruction and so dismounted to pick up the cross. Some Muslims hastily dismounted and encircled the cross, thus preventing him from reaching it. Dirar (ra) shouted, “O Muslims! Neither I nor you are yet entitled to that cross so do not have any desire to pick it up.
I will pick it up myself after I have finished off this Roman dog and his army.” Warden understood’ Arabic and so wanted to flee when he heard these words, but the officers said, “Where are you fleeing to, 0 our general?” Warden replied, “I am fleeing out of fear of that devil. What a disgusting sight he is. Have you ever seen anything more ugly and fearful than that?” The narrator reports that when Dirar (ra) saw him turning his back, he understood that he was fleeing. So shouting loudly at the Muslims, he straightened his spear and spurred his horse.
He was close to reaching Warden, when the Romans attacked so fiercely that his horse was stopped. At that time he was reciting this poem:
Death is a reality there is no escape I can devise
Far better than Hell-fire is Firdaws-Paradise.
This is my martyrdom so bear witness
That all this I have done for Allah ’s happiness!
‘’Verily Allah loves those who fight in His Path in rows as if they are a single solid structure.’’ [61:4]
Before any Muslim could respond, the Romans began rushing to him with great noise with the Muslims following and fighting. Warden’s son Hamran, shot an arrow into Dirar’s right-hand side, paining him and disabling his hand. Like an uncontrollable lion, Dirar pounced and thrust his spear into Hamran’s chest, piercing his heart. As he withdrew the spear, the point snapped, staying firm in the vertebrae. Seeing the spear pointless, the Romans surrounded him and, at last, managed to subdue him.
Chapter 24 | The mysterious warrior
The Sahabah took Dirar’s capture very hard and launched a fierce attack to save him but were unsuccessful. They were dislodged and started fleeing when Rafi‘ bin ‘Umayrah shouted, “Memorisers and bearers of the Quran, where are you going? Do you not know that those who flee out of fear of the enemy are showered with Allah’s anger and with defeat? That most of the gates of Paradise are open for Mujahidin and patient ones? O bearers of this Din, be patient and attack the worshippers of the cross. Bear in mind that even if your leader has been captured, Allah is still Ever- Living and watching you and I am present to take the lead in front of you.” The Muslims were galvanised and gathered under his leadership. They launched an attack in which many men and most of the Roman leaders were killed. When Khalid (ra) heard about Dirar’s (ra) capture and the Muslims’ martyrdom, he was beside himself with grief and asked, “How many Romans are there?” The informer replied, “12,000.”
Khalid: By Allah! Had I known that they are so many then 1 would never have sent my people to destruction …Who is their general?
Informer: Warden, governor of HimS. Dirar(ra) killed his son, Hamran.
Khalid: There is no ability to avoid evil and no power to do good except with Allah’s help, the Most High, the Most Mighty. Then he sent a messenger to seek Abu ‘Ubaydah’s (ra) opinion. His reply was, “Place a reliable man in charge of some men to continue the siege of the Eastern Gate while you yourself lead the attack on the enemy. I am confident that you will grind them like a mill in no time at all.” Upon receiving this message Khalid (ra) said, “By Allah! I am not of those who are miserly in spending their lives in the Path of Allah.”
He then said to Maysarah bin Masrfiq al-‘ Absi, “I am leaving you in charge of 1,000 horsemen. Do not leave your position, but make du’a and place your trust in Allah.”
Maysarah bin Masruq al- ‘Absi: I accept wholeheartedly.
Khalid then addressed the army, “Let go of the horses’ bridles and hold your spears firmly instead. When we are close to the enemy, then attack altogether. Perhaps we will rescue ..Dirar if he is still alive or else if they have martyred him, we will certainly avenge him if Allah wills. I hope that Allah will not cause us grief with regard to Dirar.”
So saying, he rode ahead of his men reciting this war-poem:
Today the truthful one will attain his goal
He is not afraid when death snatches his soul.
My spear s thirst quench will I
With blood flowing from the eye.
I will pierce both shield and helmet
And get that which yesterday the predecessors did get.
While he was reciting this poem, he suddenly saw a tall, short-necked fawn horse upon which sat a rider carrying a glittering spear. The rider’s behaviour and appearance projected a kind of wisdom and the riding-style showed bravery. The warrior held the bridle loosely but sat firmly in the saddle and wore armour covered in black cloth. A green girdle tied at the waist was spread over both his chest and back. Thus this rider rode ahead of the army like a blazing flame.
Khalid said, “I wonder who this horseman is. By Allah! He appears to be quite daring and brave.”
He continued behind the stranger heading towards the Christian camp. Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah was steadfastly holding out against the Romans when he saw Khalid’s reinforcements.
The mysterious warrior pounced on the enemy like a mighty hawk on a tiny sparrow in an attack that wreaked havoc in the Roman lines and by perpetrating a massacre penetrated to their very centre. It was like lightning striking the heads of two or four youths, then burning to ashes another five or seven and then flashing yet again.
Reaching the centre, the warrior displayed clear signs of frustration and anxiety and then began attacking again, ripping the Christian lines apart and advancing until the Muslims lost sight of this champion who all the while was growing ever more anxious. Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah and his men thought that that could only be Khalid es, Rafi’ then saw him with his men so he called out, “O brave one, who is this horseman who risks his life in Allah’s Path and slays the enemy without hesitation?”
Khalid: By Allah! I do not know. I am myself astonished at his daring and bravery.
Raft’: What an amazing man who penetrates the Roman ranks and kills them left, right and centre.
Khalid: O Muslims, rise for the defence of Islam and attack together.
The Muslims straightened their bridles, readied their spears and advanced in battleformation with Khalid in front. They were about to attack when they saw the stranger flashing at the heart of the Roman army soaked in blood and mounted on a horse drowning in perspiration. Despite trying to tum away from the approaching Romans, the Mujiihid was still single-handedly facing several Romans at the same time. Khalid (ra) and his men attacked them until they managed to bring the stranger to the Muslim ranks.
The Muslims gazed at the visible top part ofthe stranger’s face and found it to be like a crimson rose-petal dipped in blood. Khalid (ra) said, “You have offered your life in the Path of Allah and vented your anger upon the enemies – may Allah reward you well. Now remove your mouth-cover so that we can see who you are.” The mysterious warrior ignored him and went into the crowd. The crowd grabbed him and said, “0 slave of Allah, the commander of the Islamic armies speaks to you and you dare to ignore him. Go to him and tell him your name and lineage so that he can promote you.”
They too received no reply, so Khalid (ra) personally went and said, “How very sad that I and in fact all the Muslims wish to know about you but you could not care. Who are you?” He repeatedly insisted until eventually a feminine voice replied, “0 commander, I have not avoided you out of disobedience, but out of modesty for I am of those who seclude themselves behind the veil. My sorrow and broken heart forced me here.”
Khalid: Who are you?
Stranger: The captive Dirar’s sister, Khawlah bint al-Azwar. I was sitting with the women of the Mathhij tribe when I heard of I2iriir’s capture. So I immediately mounted and came here. The rest you already know. Hearing this, Khalid’s (ra) heart was struck with wonder and tears welled out profusely.
Khalid: We will attack together. I have firm conviction that Allah will let us reach your brother and free him.
Khawlah: If Allah wills then I shall be in the front line.
Chapter 25 | Search for Dirar
‘Amir bin at-Tufayl’ narrates:
I was on Khalid bin al- Walid’s right side and Khawlah was in front of him attacking. All the Muslims followed the attack. Khawlah put them to such difficulty that they started saying to each other, “If all the’ Arabs are as brave as this one then we will never be able to overcome them.”
When Khalid (ra) attacked, the Romans lost their wits and trembled. They were close to being dislodged but Warden started shouting, “My people, be careful and stand firm. If you stand firm, they will flee and the Damascenes will help us. So the Romans started putting up stiff resistance. But when Khalid and his men attacked, their feet could not remain firm and they scattered in disorder.
Khalid attempted to reach Warden but a group of brave warriors who circled their leader prevented him. The Muslims also spread out with Muslim and Christian engaged in single combat. Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah displayed exceptional bravery while Khawlah broke through several ranks to reach the centre striking out in all directions. She was searching for her brother everywhere while loudly reciting this poem:
Where is Dirar him I do not see
While he does not see my tribe and family.
o my one and only brother
And son of my own mother,
You have ended my peace of mind
And now sleep I cannot find.
All the Muslims who heard this poem wept.
The battle continued but despite extensive searching, no sign of Dirar (ra) was to be found. When the sun set, the two opposing forces returned to their own camps with the scales tipped in the Muslims’ favour and the Romans suffering a heavy toll. The Muslim victory broke the Romans’ hearts and they would have fled had it not been for their fear of Warden. Khaw lah questioned each Muslim soldier in the camp about her brother, but none had seen him – dead or alive. When she had lost all hope, she began to weep bitterly and said, “0 son of my mother! If only I had some news of you, even if it was that you were left lying in some jungle or slaughtered somewhere.
May your sister be sacrificed for you. It is most saddening that I do not even know if we will ever meet. By Allah! You have left a buming ember in your sister’s heart that will never cool. Now go and meet your father, the slayer of Disbelievers, in the presence of Muhammad. I bid you continuous salam until Judgement Day.”
This mourning reduced the Muslims to tears.
Khalid intended to launch another attack, but suddenly saw a group of Roman horsemen breaking off from the right-wing. They did not keep hold of their bridles and were coming in a hurry as if they were chasing something. Khalid (ra) called the Muslims to arms and they swiftly gathered around him. When the Roman horsemen came near they threw down their arms and came on foot begging for safety. Khalid ordered the Muslims to accept their plea and bring them to him.
Khalid: Who are you?
Romans: We are soldiers of Warden and inhabitants of’Hims, We are fully convinced
that we can bring no power against you and do not have the strength to defeat you. Grant us, our families and our children protection on the same terms which you have granted other cities. State whatever indemnity you want and our people will not oppose your terms.
Khalid: We can only make an agreement once we have reached your city, not here. In the meantime, you will stay with us until Allah makes a decision between us and the enemy.
He ordered them to be watched over and again spoke to them.
Khalid: Do you know anything about our warrior who killed your general’s son?
Romans: Are you asking about that bare-chested man who killed many of our men
including the general’s son?
Khalid: Yes, that is him.
Romans: After his capture Warden put him on a mule and sent him with 100 horsemen to Him. From there he will be sent to Heraclius to display his bravery.
Khalid was pleased to hear this and summoned Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah.
Khalid: Rafi’, you know this region’s roads and mountain-passes well. Your planning and improvising helped us to easily cross the barren plains of such places as as-Samawah. That is, when you kept the camels thirsty and then gave them to drink and tied their mouths shut so that you could slaughter ten daily to feed us and give the horses to drink from the water that then came from the bellies of the camels until we reached Arakah. You are thus a very experienced man and a distinguished planner. 100 horsemen are taking .Dirar to Him(ra). I am appointing you to pick whoever you wish to go with you in pursuit of them. I feel that you will be able to catch up to them soon and rescue him. If you achieve this you will cause great happiness and will solve a great problem.
Rafi: I readily accept.
He selected 100 horsemen and was about to depart when Khawlah found out. A wave of happiness swept her so she prepared her weapons and went to Khalid (ra) saying, “For the love of Muhammad (ra), send me with them so that I can be of assistance.” Khalid said to Rafi’, “You are well aware of her bravery, so take her with you.” He happily took her along and left.
Chapter 26 | Dirar’s” rescue
Khawlah rode behind the men, who were riding in military formation, until they reached the Salamiyah Road. Rafi’ looked around and could not find any signs of an army having passed by nor any signs of hoof-prints, so he said, “Glad tidings my friends! The enemy has not yet reached here.” He then ordered them to hide in ambush in Wadi al-Hayyat and while they were waiting they saw a dust-cloud coming. Rafi’ declared, “O young sons of Islam, be alert.” The enemy approached with Dirar in their centre reciting this poem:
Give this message to Khawlah and my family, O informer.
My hands are tied behind my back – I am a prisoner.
The Syrians surround me each a disbeliever
All of them are wearing armour.
O heart, sorrow and regret have made you dead
O tears of my manhood, down my cheeks you are shed.
Do you know if ever I will see Khawlah and my family too
And remind her of the agreement between us two?
Khawlah shouted from her hiding place, “Allah has accepted your du’a and heard your plea. I am your sister, Khawlah!” She then came charging out shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” followed by Rafi’ and the rest all shouting “Allahu Akbar!”
‘O Rabbi I thank You for accepting my prayer
You have removed my sorrow, worry and care.
You have fulfilled my desires and united my sister with me
Today my heart will be satisfied against the enemy.
Humayd bin Salim narrates:
I was part of that force who, when we started raising our voices with, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!”, Allah inspired our horses to start neighing loudly. Each of us targeted a Roman and in a short while finished them off. Allah freed .Dirar and granted us the Romans’ horses and weapons.
Rafi’ bin Qadim narrates:
While we were engaging the Romans, Khawlah rescued her brother, untied him and made salam, He congratulated and welcomed her and then mounted a horse which was roaming around. He picked up a spear and recited the following poem:
While Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah was gathering the booty, Khalid scored a resounding victory against the Romans. They began fleeing in such terror and loss of spirit that those in front did not even glance back at those behind them. Riifi’ saw them and understood what was happening. As they came he casually started arresting them one by one.
After Khalid es had despatched Rafi’, he launched an attack in which it seemed as if every Muslim was madly rushing towards martyrdom. The Romans immediately turned tail and fled, with Warden taking the unchallenged lead. The Muslims pursued them gathering booty, weapons and horses until they met Rafi’ and Diriir at Wadi al-Hayyiit. Khalid congratulated Dirar and thanked and praised Rafi’. Overjoyed, they returned to Damascus, where they informed Abu ‘Ubaydah of their victory. The conquest of Damascus was now a certainty.
Chapter 27 | Heraclius’s letter to Warden
When Heraclius heard of the Roman defeat and the great death-toll, he felt certain that his empire was coming to an end, so he wrote the following letter to Warden:
“I have been informed that a group of naked, hungry ‘Arabs have defeated you and slain your son. Jesus showed no pity to you nor to your son. Were it not for the fact that I know you to be an expert horseman, lancer and swordsman, I would have had you executed. In any case, whatever has happened has happened. I have sent an army of 90,000 to Ajnadayn. You are to go and take command of them and lead them to assist the people of Damascus. Send a detachment to fight the ‘Arabs in Palestine, separate them from the Arabs at Damascus. Defend your religion and people. ”
Warden cheered up and prepared for travel. When he reached Ajnadayn, he found the Romans in a state of great pomp, displaying their crosses. They came out to welcome him and offered condolences for his son. When he reached the tents, he read out Heraclius’s order which they readily accepted and prepared for war.
Chapter 28 | Muslims Receive Intelligence on Ajnadayn
Khalid (ra) returned to the Eastern Gate after the victory where he met ‘Abbad Bin Sa’id. Shurahbil (ra) had sent him from Busra to inform Khalid of the 90.000 Romans sent to Ajnadayn. Khalid (ra) went to Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) and said, ‘’O trustworthy one of the Ummah, this is ‘Abbad bin Said al-Hadrami. Shurahbil sent him to inform me that Heraclius has sent 90,000 men to Ajnadayn under the command of Warden.
What is your opinion?
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): Abu Sulayman, our top generals are all scattered – Shurahbil is in Busra, Mu’ath bin Jabal is in Hawran, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan is in Balqa, Nu’man bin Mughirah is in Palmyra and ‘Amr bin Al-As is in Palestine. Write to them, summoning them to us so that we can mount a joint attack. Thereafter, safety and help are in the Hands of Allah.
Khalid (ra) therefore wrote the following letter to ‘Amr (ra):
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Your Muslim brothers intend going to Ajnadayn because there are 90.000 Disbelievers there who desire to extinguish Allah’s Light, but Allah will complete His Light ever if the Disbelievers dislike it.
Therefore take your entire force and go to Ajnadayn where we will meet each other if Allah wills. Convey my salam to all Muslims.
Thereafter, he wrote similar instructions to all the above mentioned generals.
Chapter 29 | Paulus and his wife
Khalid gave orders for marching, so the tents were loaded onto camels while the sheep and booty were set aside. Khalid (ra) said to Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra), “I intend to stay at the rear-guard with the sheep, women and booty. You take the special Sahabah on reconnaissance. “
Abu ‘Ubaydah: It is better if I take the rear-guard and you the vanguard so that if you come across Warden, he will be terrified at the sight of you. Therefore do not stay with the women and goods.
Khalid: Very well, I will not oppose you.
Before leaving he addressed the Muslims as follows, “O people! You are going towards a massive force, but be brave, love death and work towards whatever Allah has decreed. He has promised victory and says in the Quran:
‘’How often a small group overcame a mighty force with Allah s leave? And Allah is with the patient ones.’’ [2:249J
Thereafter, the army marched ahead, leaving Abu ‘Ubaydah stationed at Damascus with 1,000 cavalry. The people of Damascus were overjoyed, thinking that the Muslims were fleeing in terror of the Ajnadayn army. However some intelligent ones cautioned that if they took the Ba’labakk route, then they intended to attack Ba’labakk and Him and if they took the Marjash-Shahura and Rahi; Highway then it meant that they were fleeing back to al-Hijaz and abandoning whatever they had conquered.
A great general, Paulus, son of Balca, was at Damascus. The Christians venerated him to such an extent that even Heraclius would summon him to deal with difficult embassies. An unrivalled archer – he had shot an arrow right into a massive stout tree in his garden. The arrow was still there and he wrote on the tree, “Whoever claims to be a great warrior must shoot an arrow from the other side which must enter the tree!” This was a much talked about incident amongst the commoners.
Paulus had not engaged in any combat against the Sahabah 4- since their invasion of Syria. When they withdrew, the inhabitants went to see him.
Paulus: Why have you come?
Damascenes: The ‘Arab withdrawal is a golden opportunity for you to permanently establish your prestige with Heraclius and the Syrians. Accompany us to capture any stragglers we might find, or if you feel yourself capable, we can attack them.
Paulus: The only thing that has prevented me from fighting them is your cowardice and also I see no reason to fight them.
Damascenes: We swear in the name of Christ and the Bible that we will stay with you until the last breath. None will desert. If anyone does, then feel free to kill him.
Because of their oath, Paulus went inside his house and put on his armour to join them. Seeing this, his wife asked, “Where are you going?”
Paulus: The people of Damascus have put me in charge of them. I am leading them against the ‘Arabs.
Wife: Do not do it! Stay at home and do not go needlessly against that which you are powerless against. I dreamt last night that you were holding a bow in your hand. You shot at sparrows in the sky. Some fell down wounded but then started flying again. I was amazed at them flying again when suddenly a group of eagles swooped down on you and your companions and scratched all your faces with their talons. You and your men then fled, but whoever had been scratched fell down unconscious. This sight frightened me and I awoke, fearful for your sake.
Paulus: Was I also unconscious in your dream?
Wife: I swear by God that I saw an eagle violently pecking you unconscious.
Thereupon Paulus gave her a hard smack.
Paulus: You foretell no good. Does fear of the’ Arabs sit so firmly in your heart that you now dream of them? Have no fear. I shall make their commander your attendant and his companions shepherds and pigheads.
Wife: It is your choice, I have given my advice.
Paulus ignored her and left riding accompanied by 6,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry from Damascus, all of them highly experienced. Khalid (ra) had withdrawn the army, so Paulus targeted Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) who was with the women, children and booty.
Chapter 30 | The Battle of Shakhura
Abu ‘Ubaydah and his men were mounted on camels when one of them saw a dust-cloud rising in the distance. He informed him and said, “As far as I can tell it is the dust of the enemy.” Abu ‘Ubaydah replied, “It is certainly the Damascenes, who seeing us few in number, have come to attack us.” He waited until the women’s litters and the sheep had all arrived. At the same time, the dust was increasing and voices rising. Abu ‘Ubaydah called out, “O Muslims, be alert.
The enemy have arrived.” He had hardly said this when the enemy descended upon them like pitch black darkness. Paulus was leading the 6,000 strong cavalry. When he saw Abu ‘Ubaydah, he led them against him. Simultaneously, his brother, Peter, led the infantry to the women where he captured some and then headed back for Damascus. When he reached the Istiryaq River, he stopped to receive news on Paulus. When Abu ‘Ubaydah saw this disaster he said, “Khalid was right in wanting to stay.”
Paulus advanced with marks and crosses hanging on his head. At that time, the Muslim women were very anxious while the boys were shrieking. Although 1,000 men were present, they had left to engage the Romans. Allah’s enemy, Paulus, attacked Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) who fought back.
The battle between the Sahabah(ra) and the Romans heated, dust was rising, swords were flashing so viciously that Shakhura became a bed of tulips (fallen heads like tulips red with blood? – translator’s note). Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) was in a difficult situation, but remained firm.
Suhayl bin Sabbah narrates:
I was riding a Yamani horse with white marks on its forehead and legs. I pulled the reins and let go so that it sped like a flash oflightning and, before I knew it, was close to Khalid bin al-Walld. I shouted at him, so he turned his horse in my direction and said, “What is wrong, Ibn Sabbah?”
I said, “O commander, go to Abu ‘Ubaydah and the women. An army from Damascus has attacked them and captured some women and children. Abu ‘Ubaydah is in a very tight situation and cannot hold out much longer.” He exclaimed, “Verily we belong to Allah and to Him we return. By Allah! I wanted to stay at the back, but he did not listen. But in any case, none can question Allah’s decree.”
He then ordered Rafi‘ bin ‘Umayrah to immediately take 1,000 cavalry to protect the women and ordered ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr to take 1,000 cavalry against the enemy. Then he despatched Dirar and Qays bin Hubayrah al-Muradi with 1,000 men against them. Thereafter, he went forth with the rest of the army. Abu ‘Ubaydah was fighting Paulus when the Muslims arrived. They attacked the enemies of Allah so forcefully that their crosses fell and they were convinced that they would be defeated. When Paulus saw Dirar blazing towards him, he lost his wits and shivered because he had personally seen from the top of the city walls what had happened to great warriors like Calius and Uriel and what had happened at Bayt Luhya. He recognised Dirar and said to Abu ‘Ubaydah, “O ‘Arab, I ask you for the sake of your religion to keep this devil away from me.” Dirar said, “If I do not try to catch you, then I will be a devil.”
Paulus, seeing him thrusting his spear in his direction, jumped off his horse and ran towards his army. Dirar also dismounted to chase him and shouted, “Where can you flee to when this devil is right behind you?”
Paulus said, “Spare me, O bedouin, for in sparing my life you will be saving your women and children.” So Dirar spared him and arrested him instead, while the Muslims launched such an attack which silenced the Romans.
Majid bin Ruwaym al-’Ayni narrates:
I was in the army of ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr at the battle of Shakhura. We surrounded the 6,000 Romans and massacred them.
Rifa’ah bin Qays narrates:
As far as we know, only 100 out of the 6,000 survived. It is reported that Dirar & was very upset to hear that his sister was captured and so went to Khalid and informed him. He replied, “Do not worry, we have captured their leaders. We shall go to Damascus and free our women in exchange for the prisoners.”
Then he said to Abu ‘Ubaydah, “You move slowly with the women while I go and free the captives.” He selected 2,000 horsemen to go with him while despatching the rest with Abu ‘Ubaydah for fear of an encounter with Warden.
Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah, Maysarah bin Masruq al-‘Absi, Dirar and other chiefs rode ahead of Khalid and they soon traversed the distance.
Dirar was reciting this poem as they were going:
‘O Rabb remove that from which we suffer
Do not grant me death before I see my sister.
This is my desire and wish so
Come my friends, with me to the foe.
Then my intention will find completion
If I survive (unsuccessful) shave my beard (in humiliation).
Khalid laughed at this.
They continued until they neared the Istiryaq River where they saw a dust-cloud wherein flags fluttered and swords glittered.
Khalid: This is a strange sight.
Qays: Perhaps it is the remainder of the Damascus cavalry.
Khalid: Everyone keep your spears ready until we find out what is happening.
They obeyed and went ahead.
Chapter 31 | Bravery of the Muslim women
Peter gathered the Muslim women at the river. He regarded Khawlah bint al-Azwar as the most beautiful and said to his men, “She is mine and I am hers. None of you should object.” They accepted and so each one started choosing a woman and saying, “She is mine.” They gathered the sheep and loot and awaited Paulus. The women were detained in a tent. Most of them were aged women from the tribes of Himyar, ‘Amaliqah and Tubba, who were used to riding at night and fighting ‘Arab tribesmen.
Khawlah addressed them, “O daughters of Himyar! O valuable ones of Tubba’! Does it please you to be overcome by Roman Disbelievers and be their slave-girls? What has happened to that bravery which was the talk of the slave-girls of’ Arabs and gatherings of’ Arabs? How sad that I now see you bereft of all bravery and honour. I consider death better than the humiliation of serving Romans.”
‘Afirah bint ‘Affar al-Himyariya: Whatever you have mentioned, O daughter of Azwar, about our bravery, intelligence and rank is quite true. It is also true that we are accustomed to horse-riding and putting the enemy to difficulty at night. However, what can we do when we have neither horse, nor spear, nor sword, nor any other weapon? You know very well that they came suddenly and caught us like lost sheep when we had no weapons.
Khawlah: O daughters of Tubba’, your negligence is no excuse. We can uproot the pegs and pillars of the tent and attack the wretches therewith. Perhaps Allah will grant us victory, or else at least we will attain martyrdom. In this way we will wipe the mark of disgrace from our foreheads
‘Afirah: By Allah! What a wonderful and appropriate suggestion.
So each women uprooted a peg. Khawlah bound her waist and, putting a peg on her shoulder, went ahead followed by ‘Afirah, Umm Aban bint ‘Utbah, Salamah bint Nu’man bin Muqirr and the others all shouting, “Is there any challenger?” Khawlah began instructing this female army on battle formation, “Be like the links of a chain, never separate. May Allah forbid that you separate, for then spears will pierce your breasts, swords will cut your necks, your skulls will be cut off and heaped here. She went and hit her peg so hard on a Roman’s head that he dropped down dead.
The Romans were thrown into confusion and started asking each other, “What is happening?”, when suddenly they saw peg-carrying women advancing upon them. Peter shrieked at them, “What are you doing, you wretches?” ‘Afirah replied, “We have decided that today we willl rectify your brains with these tent-pegs and shorten your life-spans, thus removing a spot of disgrace from our ancestors’ faces.”
Peter laughed and said to his people, “Shame on you. Go, spread out and catch them alive, but whoever catches Khawlah should not get any ideas.”
The Romans encircled them, but as soon as anyone came near, the women would break his horse’s legs with the pegs and when he thus fell down, would smash up his face. In this way, thirty Romans were killed and none neared them. Peter became infuriated and followed by his companions, dismounted. They walked to the women shaking their fists and swords. The women hurried towards each other and said, “Death with honour is better than life with disgrace.”
Peter expended great effort in fighting the women but achieved nothing except frustration. He saw Khawlah like a fierce lion reciting the following poem:
Himyar sand Tubba s daughters are we
For us to kill you is quite easy.
For we are the flames of war
We have for you great trouble in store.
Peter listened to her. Her beauty enticed him. He said, “O my ‘Arab woman, stop this now. I value you and will tell you my heart’s secret which is sure to please you – will it not please you that I be your master considering the fact that I am the object of desire of every Christian woman. In addition, I have farms, orchards, wealth and cattle and hold a prestigious position with Heraclius. All this will be yours if only you stop destroying yourself with your own hands.”
Khawlah retorted, “You wretched unbelieving son of an unchaste adulterer! By Allah! I will take this peg and gouge your brains out. You are not even worthy of herding my camels and sheep let alone claim to be my equal.” Peter became enraged and said to the Christians, “What greater shame can there be in all Syria and ‘Arabia if a group of women manage to overcome you. Fear Jesus Christ and Caesar Heraclius and kill them all.” The Christians became excited and attacked.
The Muslim women patiently faced the attack until they saw Khalid’s (ra) men kicking up dust, their swords glittering therein. Khalid stopped at a distance and said to his men, “Who will go and gather information for me?” Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah volunteered and went and returned to report on the women defending themselves.
Khalid: It is amazing! These are the women of the tribes of’Amaliqah and Tubba. Some are of Tubba’ bin Aqran, some of Tubba’ bin Abi Karb, some of Thu Ra’ln, some of ‘Abdul Kala’al-Mu’azhzham and some of Tubba’ bin Hassan bin Tubba’. Tubba’ bin Hassan bin Tubba’ was the man who bore witness to Muhammad (pbuh)being a Prophet before he was born. He said in his poem:
That Ahmad is Allah s Messenger is mytestification
His Ummah is named in the Psalms as Best Nation.
If I live until his time serve him I will
And be minister to the son of his uncle.
‘’O Rafi’, these women are known for their fighting. If they are really displaying such feats of bravery which you describe, then they will permanently put their stamp on the ‘Arabs and will remove the brand of weakness from the foreheads of females.
The Muslims’ faces brightened with joy at Rafiv’s report on the women’s bravery and Dirar leapt with joy. He threw off the old shawl he was wearing and grabbed his spear, intending to be the first to reach them, but Khalid (ra) called out, “Wait a while Dinir, do not be hasty. He who does a job with patience completes it, while he who hastens hardly achieves more than intentions.”
Dirar: ‘O commander, how can I be patient in helping my sister?
Khalid: If Allah wills, help and victory is at hand.
He then lined up the horses, raised the flag and going to the centre, said, “O Muslims! When you approach the enemy spread out and surround them. Have trust in Allah that He will free our women and have mercy on our children.”
They cheerfully answered him and so he rode at their head. The Christians were preoccupied with the women when the army arrived with flags fluttering. Khawlah called out, “O daughters of Tubba’, Allah has shown mercy to you and has gladdened your hearts.” When Peter saw the Islamic army arriving with all its splendour, with their spears all aligned and swords flashing, his heart trembled and his shoulders shook. The men were alarmed and looked at each other. Peter said to the women, “Since we also have daughters-in-law, daughters, mothers, sisters and aunts, my heart has been filled with love and pity for you. For the sake of the Cross I free you. When your men arrive you can tell them this.”
He grabbed his horse’s bridle intending to flee but before the horse could start galloping, he saw two riders coming from the Muslims towards him. One was wearing armour while the other was bare-chested, riding an ‘Arab horse bare-back and carrying a spear. The first was Khalid (ra), the second Dirar. When Khawlah saw her brother, she shouted, “Where were you all this time, my
brother? Allah has made us independant of your help.” Peter then shouted at her, “Go to your brother even if it will break my heart, but I hand you over to him.”
He then wanted to leave, but she went to him and said, “That you (supposedly) extend your hand in harmony and then we tum away from you is not the way of us ‘Arabs. You are but a slave of your desires and seekers of pleasure.” She then went right in front of him.
Peter: My love for you has left my heart. I do not want to see your face.
Khawlah: O but I cannot ever let go of you! She then rushed at him, while Khalid (ra), and Dirar(ra) came to join her, with the whole army coming in that direction.
Peter: O ‘Arab, take your sister. Congratulations, I give her to you.
Dirar: Very well, I accept, but at the moment I have nothing to give in exchange except the point of the spear. So take it.
When you are greeted with a greeting, greet back better than that or at least return it equally. [4:86J
He attacked and struck at his heart while Khawlah struck the horse’s leg. Dizzy, it fell down and Allah’s enemy was about to fall on the ground when Dirarstabbed him in the side, the point wriggling from place to place until he fell down on the ground dead. Khalid (ra) shouted, “Congratulations. This is such a spear whose owner is never unsuccessful.” Meanwhile, the Muslims had surrounded the Romans and killed 3,000.
Hamid bin ‘Awn ar-Raba’i narrates:
I counted that Dirar killed thirty, while his sister also killed many with her peg. I saw ‘Afirah bin ‘Affar fight more fiercely than I had ever seen her fighting before. The Muslims pursued the surviving Romans right up to Damascus. None came out to help them, instead they grew even more afraid than before. The Muslims returned, gathering booty, horses and weapons. Khalid 4» called out, “O people, hurry back to Abu ‘Ubaydah before Warden reaches him.”
Dirar (ra) had mounted Peter’s head on his spear. The Muslims marched until they reached the camp at Marj ar-Rahit where Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) had stopped. His army raised loud cries of “Allahu Akbar!” followed by Khalid’s men responding similarly. The two leaders then met and made salam. The Muslims were happy to see the women and were overjoyed at the report that was heard. It was thought that Allah’s help was with them and that the conquest of Syria was now a certainty. Thereafter Khalid (ra) summoned Paulus.
Khalid: Accept Islam or suffer the same fate as your brother.
Paulus: What has happened to him?
Khalid: He has been killed. In fact, his head is here.
He called for the head which he put in front of Paulus who wept.
Paulus: There is no pleasure left in life after my brother’s death. Let me meet him.
Musayyib bin Najiyah al-Fazari stood up and upon receiving the order, struck off Paulus’ head. The Muslims then left.
Chapter 32 | Sahabah (ra) reach Ajnadayn
It is narrated that when Shurahbil, Mu‘ath bin Jabal, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan and ‘Amr bin al-’As & received Khalid’s instructions, they immediately left with their armies for Ajnadayn and arrived there.
Safinah the servant of Rasulullah ft narrates:
I was with Mu‘ath bin Jabal when we and the other Muslim armies all arrived at the same time at Ajnadayn in the beginning of Jumada al-Ula, 13 Hijri and made salam to each other. I saw a huge Roman army. When they saw us, they paraded before us.
They lined up their infantry and cavalry who were spread out in the field of Ajnadayn – there were ninety rows with 1,000 men in each row.
Dahhak bin ’Urwah narrates:
I had gone to ‘Iraq and had seen the armies of Kisra and Jaramiqah but, by Allah, I had never seen an army as huge and as well-armed as that Roman army. We encamped there and the next day when it was barely daylight, the Romans started moving in our direction. When we saw them, we went on alert and started preparing. Khalid came to us on horseback and said, “O Muslims, you will never again see an army as huge as the one you are facing today. If you defeat them then no similar army will be able to face you until the Day of Judgement. Expend your life in the way of Jihad and in defence of the honour of Allah’s Din. Beware of deserting, for it is tantamount to flinging yourself into Hell. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder, wave your swords but do not attack until I tell you to. Keep your spirits high.”
Reliable narrators report that when Warden saw the Sahabah & of Rasulullah (pbuh) gathering for battle, he gathered all his officers and said, “O Romans, Heraclius has placed great trust in you. If you are defeated then there is no-one else who can face the ‘Arabs. They will then conquer your cities, kill your men and capture your women. You must fight courageously and with unity. Remember that you are triple their number. Every three of you will face only one of them. Finally, seek help from the Cross for it will certainly help you.”
Khalid faced the Muslims and said, “O warriors of Islam, who will go and gather intelligence on the Roman numbers, strategies and equipment?”
Dirar: O commander, I am ready for this work.
Khalid: By Allah! You are the very man, but when you reach there, do not needlessly entrap yourself for Allah says:
Do not fling yourselves into self-destruction. [2:195]
Dirar arrived there on horseback and witnessed great pomp, tents, glittering helmets and spears. Flags were fluttering like the wings of birds. Warden was examining the Muslims when suddenly he spotted Dirar and said to his officers,
“I have spotted a horseman about whom I am almost certain that he is one of their exalted chiefs. Who will go to catch him?”
Thirty youths went in pursuit. When Dirar & saw them he turned back. They carried on chasing, thinking him to be fleeing, but his intention was to separate them from their army and then fight them. When they were far enough, he turned his horse and flung a small spear at one which instantly killed him. He then attacked a second youth and penetrated into their midst like a tiger. They were terrified and began fleeing, but he went after them killing them one by one until nineteen had been killed. Then as they neared the Roman camp, he turned back and reported to Khalid who said, “Did I not forbid you from showing off your strength and attacking them?”
Dirar: They were chasing me and I feared that Allah would regard my action as fleeing. I therefore attacked them solely for His sake and I am sure that that is why He helped me. By Allah! Had I not feared your reproach I would not have returned until I had attacked every single Roman. O commander, rest assured that their whole army will be our booty.
Chapter 33 | The Battle of Ajnadayn
Khalid divided the army into four: right-wing, left-wing, centre and vanguard. Sa‘id bin ‘Amir was put in charge of the left-wing; Nu‘man bin Muqrin over the right vanguard; Shurahbil & over the left vanguard; Mu‘ath bin Jabal over the right- wing while Yazid bin Abi Sufyan was given 4,000 cavalry to protect the women and children at the back.
(The commander-in-charge would take the centre – translator’s note)
Thereafter, he went to address the women amongst whom were those whose bravery was the talk of the ‘Arabs such as ‘Afirah bint ‘Affar al-Himyariyah, Umm Aban bint ‘Utbah bin Rabi’ah who had just married and whose hands were still red with myrtle and head scented with perfume, Khawlah bint al-Azwar, Mazru‘ah bint ‘Amluq, Salama bint Zari‘ bin ‘Urwah, Layna bint Suwar, Salama bint Nu‘man and others.
Khalid: O daughters of Tubba, ‘Amaliqah and the chiefs of the Persian kings, you have achieved such feats which have made Allah and all the Muslims pleased with you, whose mention will keep your memories fresh, which have opened the gates of Paradise for you and have burnt your enemies. I am confident that if any Romans come here, you will kill them and if any Muslim deserts, you will have pegs ready (to chase him back) and show him his children and say to him, “How can you abandon them?” It will be your job to continue encouraging the men to fight.
‘Afirah: O commander, by Allah! We will be more pleased if you put us in front to fight the Romans and break their faces. We will kill them until we are all martyred and none of us remain.
Khawlah: O commander, we are not concerned about anyone’s attacks.
Khalid: May Allah reward you well.
He then returned to the men, spurring his horse to inspect them and encouraged them in the way of Jihad, “O Muslims, help the Din of Allah and He will help you. Remain steadfast in battle defending your women, children and Din. Fight whole-heartedly for there is no refuge or fort to which you can flee, nor any trench in which you can hide. Stand shoulder-to-shoulder and unsheathe your swords but do not attack until I order you to. Observe this rule of archery – when you fire it must be as one so some target or other will be hit.”
‘’Endure; be more patient than the enemy; maintain your stations; and fear Allah so that you can be successful.’’ [3:200]
The Muslims were pleased with this speech. They proceeded to string their bows, stack their arrows, unsheathe their swords and make general battle preparations. He then went to the centre of the army where he stayed for a while with ‘ Amr bin al-‘As, ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr, Qays bin Hubayrah, Rafi‘ bin ‘Umayrah, Musayyib bin Najiyah, Thul Kala‘, RabT’ah bin ‘Amir 4» and others. He then led the army in a slow advance towards the enemy.
Warden advanced with his forces when he saw the Muslims coming. The Romans filled the earth in every direction displaying flags and crosses and uttering words of disbelief. When the two armies faced each other, an aged Christian soldier wearing black armour accompanied by other Christians came out of the Roman ranks and approaching the Muslims, said in ‘Arabic, “Who is your leader? I wish to speak to him.”
Khalid came forward.
Priest: You are the leader?
Khalid (ra): These people will accept me as their leader for as long as I am obedient to Allah and maintain the Sunnah of His Messenger (ra). If I should stray for even a moment then I will have no obedience or leadership.
Priest: That is why you conquer us. If you stray even a little then you will never conquer. You have come to such lands which no king has had the audacity to come to before, let alone invade. The Persians have tried, but failed. The Jaramiqah made great but fruitless sacrifices in their invasion attempts. Now you have come. You may have made a few conquests, but conquest is a temporary matter.
Our general Warden has, out of his great compassion for you sent me with this message, “If you withdraw I will give each of your soldiers a turban, a set of clothing and a dinar; you 100 dinar and ten sets of clothing and for Abu Bakr (ra) 1,000 dinar and 100 sets of clothing.”
The number of our army is that of the number of an army of ants. Do not deceive yourself into thinking that you will defeat us like the previous armies, for Heraclius has sent unto us a great brave general and experienced priest.
Khalid: By Allah! We cannot return unless you accept one of three choices: firstly, enter our religion, believe as we believe and say as we say. If not, your second choice is to pay us Jizyah and your final choice is to fight us. As for your numbers being like an army of ants, I say that Allah has promised us victory through the tongue of His True Messenger, Muhammad (pbuh) and has also stated this promise in His Sacred Book. As for your turbans, clothing and dinar, you will soon see that they and in fact your Empire will be in our hands anyway.
Priest: Very well, I will tell the general.
He then went and told Warden who said, “Does he foresee the same fate befalling us as befell those who fought them before? With our every delay their ambitions upon the Empire and spirits increase. Caesar has sent against them the great patricians and DOW the only delay is battle.
Then we will abandon them trembling in blood and dirt.” He then gave orders for military manoeuvres putting infantry carrying small spears and bows in front of the cavalry. Mu’ath bin Jabal (ra) saw this and called out, “O Muslims, paradise is ready. The Gates of Hell are shut. The virgin damsels are adorned and waiting for you. Receive tidings of eternal life.”
’Inan bin ’Awf narrates:
I was keeping count of each footman and horseman Dirar was killing until the total reached thirty.
Zharif bin Tariq al-Yarbu‘i narrates:
He wreaked absolute havoc. His bravery and manliness really stunned them. He then removed his helmet and flung it away saying, “O Romans, I am Dirar bin al-Azwar. Yesterday I was soft with you, today I am your enemy. I am he who killed Hamran, son of Warden. Whoever denies Allah will find me to be like an incurable disease, I shall destroy him at any time, in any place.”
The soldiers recognised him and began fleeing hurriedly with him in hot pursuit. Then when the Romans came against him, he turned back. Warden asked, “Who is this bedouin?” They said, “That is the same bedouin who fights bare-chested, sometimes with a spear, sometimes without.” He took in a cold breath and said, “He is the one who decreased my family and killed my son. I say truly from the bottom of my heart that whoever takes revenge from him will get whatever he desires.” A warrior of Arahiyah quickly volunteered.
The narrator says, “That was the governor of Tiberias.”
Chapter 35 | Dirar & and Steven duel
Hilal bun Murrah narrates:
I was in the right-wing, with Romanus, governor of Busra, at my left. He said to me, “I do not know his name, but I can tell you that he is a match for Dirar.” That man then said to Warden, “I will take revenge on your behalf,” and rode off. The two opponents fought each other for more than three hours, both displaying great valour. Dirar eventually managed to pierce his armour with his spear and kill him, flinging him face-down. Warden then said, “He also failed to bring him, and even if he had brought him and I saw him with my own eyes then I would deny my own sight for certainly no human has the power to fight a devil. No, there is none besides me to fight this ugly thing.”
With these words, he dismounted his Turkish horse, put on armour and then a second pearl-encrusted coat of armour and a crown to awe Dirar . He mounted an ‘Arab horse and was about to depart when Steven, governor of ‘Amman came, kissed the stirrup and said, “I am ready to take revenge on your.
‘’Verily Allah has brought from the believers their lives and wealth in exchange for Paradise, They fight in the Path of Allah.’’ [9:111]
“May Allah bless your attack.”
Khalid: O Mu‘ath, be patient until I give some instructions. O Muslims, stand shoulder to shoulder and remember that the enemy is double our number. Stretch the fighting until the time of Salatul ‘Asr because that is the time in which our Prophet Muhammad ® obtained victory over his enemies.
Beware of deserting for Allah is watching you at all times. When you attack, then may your attack be with Allah’s blessing.
Chapter 34 | Dirar’s (ra) valour
When the two armies faced each other, the Armenians started firing arrows, killing and wounding several Muslims, but they could not retaliate because of Khalid’s instructions. Dirar & said, “What are we waiting for? Allah is watching us and showering us with His Light. Let the enemy not think that we are scared, cowardly or lax. Order the assault or else send some youth to engage them until you order the assault.”
Khalid: Dirar, you are the man for this job too.
Dirar: By Allah! I would like nothing more than that.
He donned Paulus’s armour and shut the face-guard. He also covered his horse with Peter’s horse-cover and disguised himself as a Roman before heading in their direction. He managed to penetrate right into their ranks before attacking them with his small spear. The Romans started firing arrows and throwing stones at him, but not one hit Allah’s slave, who continued ripping their ranks apart until he had slain twenty footmen and twenty horsemen, behalf against this wretch. Will you give me your daughter’s hand in marriage if! Kill or capture him?”
Warden: Most certainly, and I make the chiefs of Syria and Imperial officials my witnesses to this. Most probably, you do not need any more reliable witnesses?
Steven went out like a blazing fire to attack Dirar” saying, “O wretch! Take that which you cannot resist.”
Dirar did not understand a word of his Greek language but prepared to attack back. Steven was wearing a gold cross tied to a silver chain. When Dirar saw him kissing it, he realised that he was seeking help from it, so he said, “If you seek help from that cross against me, then I seek help from that Being who answers du’a and comes close to he who calls out unto Him,” and then attacked. The two exhibited such fighting skills which astounded everyone until Khalid shouted out, “O Ibn al-Azwar! What is this sluggishness and negligence? Why are you delaying when Hell is waiting for your opponent and Allah is watching you? Avoid cowardice and attack like a man.
Dirar began shaking with enthusiasm in his saddle and renewed his attack.
The Romans were cheering Steven on while the two combatants were engrossed in the duel until the sun reached its peak and showered its fiery rays. The men began sweating and even their horses began sweating to their tails. Steven then made signs that they should dismount and fight on foot. Dirar was about to comply when he saw Steven’s slave bringing his master an unmounted fresh horse, so he said to his horse, “Remain strong under me for a little while longer or else I will go and complain about you in front of the grave of Rasulullah (ra).”
These words made the horse neigh and stamp the ground with its foreleg .
Dirar headed towards the slave and killed him with his spear. He mounted the new horse, sending his own back to the Muslims and returned to Steven. This scene convinced the Roman that his death was imminent. Dirar perceived these thoughts from his expression and was about to attack when he saw a squadron of horsemen approaching. When Warden had seen Steven’s predicament he said to his men, “This devil is really irritating me. If I do not kill him today, I will be presenting myself for destruction. Now I will go and fight him even if the other leaders consider it a disgrace, but I do not care.”
Ten armoured men followed him wearing leg-armour and side covers and carrying steel-maces. Steven was fighting hopelessly, but when he saw Warden coming
wearing a crown and armour, followed by the ten, his hopes rose. His spirits returned and so he shouted, “Prepare for combat!”
Dirar however ignored his words and was not frightened at the new arrivals but got ready to fight them.
When Khalid saw the crown he said, “Kings wear crowns. No doubt that he is in charge and is targeting our man, so let us go and help our man. Ten of you are needed to equal them.”
He selected ten men and went off to the battlefield.
In the meantime, the Romans had reached Dirar who bravely managed to hold them off until Khalid and his ten arrived and shouted, “O Dirar, glad-tidings of Allah’s help. Do not fear the Disbelievers.”
Dirar : Is not Allah’s help (always) near?
The Muslims encircled the Romans and then each Muslim targeted one Christian with Khalid shouting at Warden,“Is there any challenger?”
Dirar continued fighting Steven who was in a bad state, with his side paralysed and hands shaking. The sight of Khalid made him senseless and turned his newfound joy into sorrow. He started looking around in all directions (for an escape) but his horse was completely immobile. Dirar understood his situation and launched another attack. Steven jumped off his horse to escape the claws of death and ran. Dirar jumped down and ran after him. When he was close enough, he threw down his spear and wrestled him. The two were grabbing each other’s faces and despite Steven being built like a solid rock and Dirar being thin and frail, Allah strengthened His slave until he managed to grab his belt near his navel, lift him up and then fling him down. Steven began shrieking, pleading for Warden to help him and said in Greek, “O commander! Save me from this situation in which I am trapped.”
Warden shouted back, “O wretch! And who is going to save me from these beasts?”
These shouts only encouraged Khalid against Warden and Dirar against Steven. Both armies were watching them, with the Romans shouting and lamenting and the Muslims shouting, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” Dirar managed to defeat Steven and sit on his chest. The defeated Roman was murmuring like a camel.
The two Romans were unable to help each other. Dirar then thrust his sword into Steven’s belly and began slitting him upwards. Steven shrieked so loudly in terror that his cries reached the skies and both armies. The Romans ran to rescue him. Seeing this, Dirar thought that to remain would mean being needlessly crushed to death by the Roman horses, so proclaiming “Allahu Akbar!”, he hacked off Steven’s head. The blood which then gushed out completely covered him as he again shouted,
“Allahu Akbar!” The Muslims then came charging shouting, “Allahu Akbar!”
Mu’ath bin Jabal (ra) attacked the right-wing and Sa’id bin ‘Amir went for the left. The Armenians and Christian ‘Arabs fired such a shower of arrows which hid the sun, so Sa’id bin Zayd bin’ Amir bin Nufayl (ra) called out, “O people, remember your death. Do not make Hell compulsory upon you by fleeing in front of Allah. O defenders of this Din! O readers of the Quran, persevere!”
These words filled them with resolution and encouragement.
The two armies fought until the time of Salatul Asr and then separated with heavy losses on both sides, but with Roman losses greater.
The Muslim martyrs on the first day were:
- Salamah bin Hisham al-Makhzumi,
- Nu’man al-‘Adawi,
- Hisham bin al-‘As at-Taymi,
- Habban bin Sufyan,
- ‘Abdullah bin’ Amr ad-Dawsi,
- Tharr bin’ Awf an-Namiri,
- Ra’b bin Rahin al-Khazraji,
- Qadim bin Miqdam az-Zuhri,
- Thul Yassar bin Khazrajah at-Tamimi,
- Hizam bin Salim al-Ghanawi,
- Sa’id bin al-‘As Abi Layla al-Kilabi,
- Hadim bin Bashir as-Saksaki,
- Umayyah bin Habib bin Yassar bin Ahad bin ‘Abdillah bin ‘Abdidar,
- Murhif bin Wathiq al-Barbuji,
- Mahalli bin Hanzhalah ath-Thaqafi,
- ‘Adi bin Yassar al-Asadi,
- Malik bin Nu’man at-Tai,
- Salim bin Talhah al-Ghiffari.
And twelve commoners (non-Sahabah? – translator s note) whose names I (al-Waqidi) do not know.
The Romans lost about 3,000 men including ten governors:
- Steven, governor of ‘Amman province;
- Marqash, son of Labna, governor of Damin, Dayr al-Harb and Nawa;
- Damdar, son of Qala, governor of Jawlan, that region which included the Cave of the Seven Sleepers;
- Levi, son of Hana, governor of Black Mountain and ‘Amilah;
- Mithar’un, son of Remus, governor of Ghazzah;
- Naja, son of’ Abdul Masih, governor of Halhul;
- Jarqiyas, son of Jarwan, prince of Yanawarmalah;
- Maryunus, governor of Balqa;
- Kurak, viceroy of Nabalus and
- an unknown prince of al-‘ Awasim.
When Warden returned to his camp, filled with terror at the Muslims, he summoned his officers for consultation.
Warden: O upholders of the Faith of Christ, how do you assess the ‘Arabs? I see them as a conquering nation, unconquerable. Their swords are sharp and cutting while yours are blunt. Their horses are energetic and enduring while yours just pant.
Their arms are hard and yours sluggish. In addition they are more obedient to their Lord than you are and have truer faith. Through your oppression, sinning and conspiring we have become disgraceful. I am fully convinced that if you stay like that then all this wealth and power will depart from you. It is therefore necessary that you wash the rust from your hearts, confess your sins with a true heart and turn in repentance to God. If you do this, then victory will be at your feet or else you will be destroyed, for God has inflicted us with a nation who up until now had no importance, about whom we never bothered or even thought about because they are hungry and naked slaves and shepherds.
They have fled from the drought and hardships of al-Hijaz and come to you. Here they are now enjoying the luxuries and fruit of your cities. Instead of barley and grain-bread, they now eat wheat-bread. Instead of vinegar and date-water they now partake of honey, butter-oil, fresh butter, figs, grapes and rare exotic things which have all fallen into their hands. To crown it all, they have taken your women, mothers and family. What I cannot understand is how you are tolerating this disgrace and disaster?
Not a single Roman remained who did not weep aloud and was not filled with regret. With anger overfilling they said, “We will fight until the last breath and remain firm until the last man. The ‘Arabs can never be so brave. We will kill them with our swords, pierce them with our spears and fire them into pieces of chaff with our arrows. That which you have mentioned will not be.”
Chapter 36 | The conspiracy
Warden was delighted with this answer and said to the patricians, “You have heard what the army has answered.”
One of them replied, “O Warden, place no reliance on the words of commoners. Understand that you have become entangled with such a people against whom no success is possible. Have you not seen with your own eyes how a single one of them is prepared to take on a whole army, is not impressed by numbers and does not return until he has killed several of us? They firmly believe what their Prophet told them – that if they kill one of us he goes to Hell but if we kill one of them he goes to Paradise. For such people life and death are equal. They have killed many of us but we have killed only a few of them. Against such people I see no hope for you unless through some scheme you can reach their leader and kill him, for then they will be defeated and flee. However, to achieve that, a plan is needed.”
Warden: What kind of scheme will work? These are people who specialise in schemes.
Patrician: Call him to have a dialogue, then when he is alone grab his throat and call out to men whom you had arranged to lay in ambush.
Warden: I can never reach him because firstly, he is a powerful, stem warrior; secondly, I cannot (bring myself to) speak to him; (thirdly), I will never be able to catch him.
Patrician: Do not worry, I will tell you of a plan which if you implement you will reach him without harm. Hide ten top warriors and then call him for talks. Sit with him near the ambush. Engross him in dialogue until he is completely at ease with you, then attack him. Call the others to help finish him off and then you will be relieved of his troubles. His men will automatically scatter until not even two will be seen together.
Warden was most delighted with this scheme and said, “Let us accomplish this work before morning ends.”
He called a Christian Syrian from Him(ra) called David and said, “I know you to be an extremely eloquent orator who is capable of proving the way of salvation and disproving the enemy. I want you to go to the ‘Arabs and ask them to put off the battle until tomorrow. In addition, their commander should come to us at the crack of dawn so that I can personally negotiate peace with him. Possibly we can achieve peace, whatever money they want we will give them.”
David: Alas, Caesar has sent you to fight the ‘Arabs, but you make peace with them. The world will brand you as a frightened coward. Never until Judgement Day will I enter into peace negotiations with them, for then Caesar will execute me.
Warden: No, shame on you! This is my plan to get their commander so that I can kill him, resulting in their dispersion and massacre.
Then he explained the whole conspiracy to him.
David: O wrongdoer, conspiracy always ends in humiliation. It is better that you fight like a man with your army and abandon this scheme.
Warden (angry): I am not asking for your opinion. I am ordering you to give my message. Do not oppose me.
David: Very well.
He left still opposing the plot in his heart and said to himself, “He speaks as if he wants to join his dead son.” He paused near the Muslim camp and shouted, “O ‘Arabs, has there not been enough bloodshed and killing? God will certainly question you about this. We should therefore come to an agreement and reach peace. Let your commander or his representative come out to speak to me.”
Chapter 37 | David and Khalid’s” dialogue
David had hardly finished speaking when the armoured Khalid (ra) flashed out riding a splendid horse with his spear pointed between the horse’s ears. The old Christian exclaimed, “0 ‘Arab, wait, be soft, I have not come for war. I am not even a soldier. I carry neither sword, nor spear. I am an envoy who has come to give you a message. So please put down your spear so that I can talk to you.”
Khalid put his spear in the saddlebow and approached David to say, “Do your job and give your message, but be honest and upright, for the truthful man stands at the gates of goodness while the liar falls into the pit of misguidance and is destroyed.”
David: O ‘Arab, you have spoken the truth. I am here because my commander dislikes bloodshed and does not wish to fight you good gentlemen and is deeply grieved at the deaths both sides have suffered. He therefore wishes to offer you a gift. You should shut the gates of bloodshed. You and your honourable companions should sign a treaty to the effect that you will not fight us, that you will not harbor any intentions against our cities and lands and no aggression will take place against our forts.
If you do this, then we will take your word as reliable and will be pleased with your actions. He also desires that you stop all fighting for the rest of the day and then meet him alone first thing tomorrow morning so that the two of you can discuss the terms of the treaty. In this way, if God wills, some good might be achieved and the bloodshed stopped.
Khalid thought for a while before replying, “If his words and reason for sending you harbour some kind of plot and scheme, then know that scheming is but a toy in my right hand – perhaps no-one has ever been born to match me in scheming. He speaks such matters which will take him to death’s door. His treachery and scheming will lead to destruction and humiliation for him and his army. However, if he is sincere then, besides accepting Islam or paying Jizyah, there is no other peaceful solution. As to his offer of money, I have no desire for it, except in the mentioned manner of Jizyah collectable at the beginning of each year.”
David disliked these words but said, “It will be as you want, but when the two of you sit together a settlement will definitely be reached. In any case, permit me to leave now.”
Khalid’s words scared David so he said to himself, “The ‘Arab speaks the truth. Warden will be killed and then it will be our tum. It is better that I tell him the truth and seek amnesty for myself and my children.” He turned to Khalid again and said, “O ‘Arab brother, I have forgotten to tell you one thing which my master told me.”
Khalid: What is it?
David: Be alert and protect your life and property because Warden has conspired against you.
Then after telling him all the details, he said, “I ask your protection for myself and my family.”
Khalid ss: If you do not spy on us or betray us in anyway then your wealth, family and children are protected.
David: If I intended treachery then why should I have told you the whole story?
Khalid: Which place has been selected for the ten Romans to hide in?
David: On the right-hand side of the army near the sand-hill.
He then took leave and left. Upon reaching Warden, he told him Khalid’s reply. Warden was pleased and said, “I am convinced that the Cross will grant me victory.” He then summoned ten warriors and ordered them to go on foot and hide in ambush. In the meantime, Khalid met Abu ‘Ubaydah on his way back. When Abu ‘Ubaydah saw him laughing, he asked, “O Abu Sulayman, may Allah keep you smiling. What is the matter?”
Khalid: told him the whole story.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: So what do you intend?
Khalid e; I am going alone.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: O Abu Sulayrnan, I take oath that you are enough for them, but Allah has ordered one not to present oneself for destruction. Instead He has commanded:
‘’And make ready against them all you can of power and steeds of war to terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy.’’ [8:60J
The enemy has readied ten men against you, so they total eleven. I will have no peace about this accursed man unless you too send ten men to hide near their ambush place, for without doubt the informer has shown you the place.
Khalid: Yes, he did.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: So? Order ten soldiers to lay in ambush nearby. Then when the accursed calls his men, you call yours. If Allah wills they will be sufficient. At the same time we will be waiting on our horses. Once you have disposed of Allah’s enemy we will attack the army. We hope that Allah will grant us victory.
Khalid: Very well, I can never oppose you. He then summoned the following ten:
- Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah at-Tai;
- Musayyib bin Najiyah al-Fazari;
- Mu’ath bin Jabal;
- Dirar bin al-Azwar;
- Sa’id bin Zayd bin ‘Amr bin Nufayl al-‘ Adawi;
- Sa’id bin’ Amir bin Jurayh;
- Aban bin ‘Uthman bin Sa’id;
- Qays bin Hubayrah;
- Zufar bin Sa’id al-Bayadi and
- ‘Adi bin Hatim at-Tai.
He told them of the Roman plot and said, “Go and hide in the low ground on the right-hand side of the hill. When I call out come and take on one Roman each, but leave Allah’s enemy, Warden, for me. If Allah wills, I will be enough for him.”
Dirar (ra): This is a delicate matter which might get out of hand. These people might prevent Warden from fighting and attack you all together and Allah forbid, harm you. It is better that we go now to their ambush place and if we find them sleeping, we can finish them off before morning without fighting. We will then hide in their place until morning when you meet Warden and then come out.
Khalid (laughing): If this is possible then do it. Take these men over whom I appoint you commander and place your trust in Allah that He will fulfil your desires. If you are successful then it will be a cause for rejoicing and a good sign.
Dirar: I have strong hope of getting them.
Chapter 38 | Fruits of treachery
They left the camp with swords drawn, bidding the Muslims salam and making du’a. Their departure was when a quarter of the night had passed . Dirar (ra) walked in front reciting this poem:
In the darkness even the Jinn are afraid of me
In this work there is nothing new to me.
Regrets to them who deceive us in ambush they are laying
Whereas we are the very roots of planning and scheming.
When it comes to pleasing his Master
A brave man does not fear or falter.
When they approached the hill, Dirar ordered them to halt and said, “Wait here until I bring back news of the Romans.” He disrobed and went slowly under the cover of the mountain and sand-hill with sword in hand. When he reached the Romans, he found them exhausted from the battle and thus all were sleeping and were not expecting an attack. He wanted to make their sleep more permanent but then thought, “Perhaps they will awaken each other during the chaos.”
So he returned to his men and said, “Glad tidings! That which you hoped for is here and that which you feared is not. Unsheathe your swords and when you reach them kill them in any way you please. Each one will select one Roman and then everyone must kill his victim simultaneously. Also, avoid any noise as far as possible.” They replied, “Very well,” took off their armour, unsheathed their swords and followed Dirar.
When they reached the enemy they readied their weapons, spread out and stood one each by each Roman. They raised their swords and then instead of awakening them, minced their necks, faces and stomachs. After the Muslims took all their weapons and goods, Dirar said, “Congratulations! This is the first victory and if Allah wills more will follow.”
The ten spent the whole night praising and thanking Allah until the sky began brightening with dawn. They then undressed and put on the Romans’ clothing and covered their faces with cloth, lest Warden should send someone who would discover them and spoil the whole plan. They flung the corpses into a hole and then waited, weapons at hand.
Chapter 39 | Khalid” and Warden’s dialogue:
After performing Salatul Fajr, Khalid organised the army for battle. He dressed in reddish clothing and put on a yellow turban. The Romans too went into battle formation and raised their crosses aloft. A horseman emerged from their centre ranks and shouted, “O Arabs, what has happened to the agreement which we agreed to yesterday? Have you broken it?”Khalid stepped forward and said, “We are not traitors.”
Roman: Warden wishes you to come to him and engage in dialogue so that it can be seen what matters you agree on.
Khalid: Go and tell him that I am coming without delay or fear.
The messenger returned to tell Allah’s enemy, who donned highly decorated armour, throat-guard, helmet and crown and then departed. When Khalid saw him with all this splendour, he said, “If Allah wills, then all that will be booty for the Muslims.”
He then said to Abu ‘Ubaydah, “Dirarhas probably reached the enemy. When you see me attack, then order the army to attack.”
He then bade the Muslims salam and left reciting this poem:
O Allah, I hand my matter over to You
If death is close then forgive me.
Guide me so that good works I do
If I am deficient then forgive me.
Polytheism with my sword I will cut
Until it is completely destroyed with my caress.
O Rabb of all the worlds! I have none but
You to call unto in the time of distress.
Naqid bin’ Alqamah ar-Raini narrates:
I was in the centre of the army with ‘Ayyad bin Ghanam when I heard Khalid reciting poetry. When Allah’s enemy, Warden, saw him and his clothing he was surprised and thought that he was coming to him. With this thought in mind, he went to the hill and dismounted his mule when he neared Khalid who also dismounted his horse. They sat near the hill. Warden held his sword out of fear of Khalid, but Khalid went to sit right in front of him.
Khalid: Say whatever you want to, but speak the truth. Understand well that you are sitting in front of a man who is not bothered with the schemes and treachery of others for he is himself a rock of the fort of planning. In any case, say what you have to.
Warden: a Khalid, the matter is between the two of us. Say what you want now and refrain from bloodshed. Remember that you will be accountable before God for all your actions and this senseless bloodshed. If it is the world that you desire and wealth that you need, we are generously prepared to give you charity and will not be miserly because we consider you to be the weakest of nations, suffering from drought and dying from starvation. Now say what is acceptable to you and be satisfied with what little we will give you.
Khalid: O Christian dog, Allah has made us independant of your charity and has permitted (the capture of) your wealth. We will divide your wealth amongst ourselves and (enslave) your wives and children. Of course if you recite, “There is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” you will become our brothers. If you refuse then you will have to pay Jizyah in a state of humiliation. If this is also not acceptable then the sword is the best decider between us. Allah will grant victory to whomsoever He chooses.
You have heard our offer with regard to you, if you reject this then we can fight, and by Allah, we certainly love to fight. As for you regarding us as weaker than you – by Allah, we regard you as equal to dogs. One thousand of you are weak against one of us. What you have mentioned are not the terms of surrender which those before you offered to us. If you regard me as a soft plump target and entertain false hopes because you see me far from my people, then do what you want. If Allah wills I will be enough for you.
Chapter 40 | Death of Warden
Warden, relying on his men laying in ambush, jumped up without drawing his sword and grabbed Khalid’s two sides. Khalid wrestled him and hit him on the side. In the scuffle that ensued, Warden called out to his men, “Run quickly! Through the blessings of the Cross, I have captured the ‘Arab commander.”
He had hardly finished his words when the Sahabah who were hiding behind the hill emerged with drawn swords, swooping out like eagles flinging off their (own) armour and the (Roman) clothing they were wearing, trying to reach them quickly. Right in front was the champion of Islam, Dirar (ra), roaring like a lion. He was naked except for his loincloth and sword in hand .
Warden saw them coming, thinking them to be his men until he saw Dirar leaping like a wolf towards him and waving his sword. He started shaking and his arm became paralysed with fear. He said to Khalid es, “I beg you in the name of your God to kill me yourself. Do not let this devil whose appearance I hate kill me.”
Khalid: Here is your killer.
Dirar arrived roaring like a lion, waving his sword and reciting this poem:
I will very soon unite Warden with his boy
The worshippers of idols will I destroy.
To please my Master this act I will do
And have my sin forgiven through its virtue.
He approached him and said, “O enemy of Allah! What has happened to your scheme against the Sahabah of Rasulullah? ” He then pointed the sword at him, but Khalid (ra) said, “O Dirar, wait a little. Do not hasten until I order you to.”
By this time, the other Sahabah arrived, each waving his sword and wanting to kill him, but Khalid (ra) ordered, “Stay in your places. Leave him until I order otherwise.”
Seeing this terrifying spectacle, Warden was so overwhelmed that he fell down begging for mercy by indicating with his finger.
Khalid: Safety is only given to such a person who is deserving, whereas you are such a person who violated the truce and harboured treachery in your heart but:
”Allah is the best of planners.” [3:54]
Hearing these words, Dirar (ra) felt that he had been given enough respite and hacked at his shoulder and removing his crown said, “He who hastens for something is most entitled to it.”
They then hacked him to pieces, reddening their swords and included his robes in the booty.
Khalid: I fear that since the Romans are awaiting their leader they might come and attack you suddenly. It is therefore better that he be beheaded right away. Then dress in the Roman’s gear and head towards the enemy. When you near them, shout, “Allahu Akbar!” When the Muslims hear, they will come and attack.
They went towards the enemy with Khalid and Dirar in front. Khalid was carrying Warden’s head on the end of his sword. When they turned and became visible after being covered by the hill, the Romans thought that they were Romans who were carrying Khalid’s head. They began cheering, clapping and displaying crosses out of joy and filling the skies with their noise.
This scene confused the Muslims into thinking that disaster had befallen Khalid. Some started making du’ii, some became terrified, some started weeping and others started screaming. When Khalid (ra) approached the enemy ranks, he held Warden’s head aloft and shouted, “O enemies of Allah, this is your general’s head and I am Khalid bin al-Walid, a Companion of the Messenger of Allah!”
He then flung the head and shouting “Allahu Akbar!”, attacked them. Then Dirar and the others followed, also reciting “Allahu Akbar!”
When Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) saw this he ordered the troops, “O defenders of the Din, attack!”
He charged, followed by the entire army. When the Romans saw what had happened to their leader, they started fleeing, but the Muslims surrounded them and killed them. There was no rock, no stone, nothing which could hide them; wherever they went they tasted iron. From midday, the swords found no rest. The Romans scattered like mad camels.
Amir bin al-Tufayl ad-Dawsi narrates:
I was in the army of Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) mounted on a horse of Damascus. We pursued the Christians until we reached a rough road where we saw a dust-cloud rising from a distance. We thought that it was reinforcements sent by Heraclius so we went on alert, but when they came near we discovered them to be an army sent by Abu Bakr (ra) (ra) to help us. Since the Romans were fleeing in the same direction as the Muslim army was coming from, they were killed and their wealth included in the booty.
Ath-Thaqafi narrates that Yunus bin ‘Abdil A’la narrated in at-Masjid at-Haram:
The army which came to reinforce the Muslims at Ajnadayn when the Christians were defeated was under the command of ‘Amr bin al-‘As (ra) bin Wail as-Sahmi, They did not arrive until the day Rome was defeated.
It is narrated that more than 50,000 of the 90,000 Romans at Ajnadayn were killed any smaller amount is impossible. In the confusion of the battle, some of them killed each other while the scattered survivors fled to Caesarea and Damascus. The Muslims gained more booty than they had ever got in any previous battle. The silver and gold crosses alone were uncountable. Khalid gathered all the booty including Warden’s crown and said, “I am not giving you a grain’s worth now, but will distribute it after the conquest of Damascus if Allah wills.”
The battle of Ajnadayn took place on Saturday 6 Jumada al-Ula 13 Hijri, 23 days before Abu Bakr (ra)’s demise.
(Abu Bakr (ra) reads Khalid’s letter one month later, so either a wrong date is given or 23 days is wrong – translator’s note)
Chapter 41 | Khalid’s letter to Abu Bakr (ra)
After the aforementioned events, Khalid wrote the following letter to Abu Bakr (ra) to inform him of the victory:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
From: Khalid bin al- Walid
To: The Khalifah of Rasulullah
I praise Allah besides whom there is no other deity and send salutations on Rasulullah.
I praise and thank Allah that the Muslims are well and the
Disbelievers destroyed. The sparks of their fire have been cooled
and they have been utterly defeated. I confronted the Roman
forces at the Field of Ajnddayn where Warden, the governor of
Hims was. Despite them making great preparations; coming out
with great pomp and splendour; raising their crosses; and
taking oaths upon their religion that they would never flee under
any condition, we attacked them relying on Allah Allah knew
what was in our hearts and granted us patience, help and
victory. Defeat encircled them and we slew them in every place,
in every ditch, in every field. When we counted their dead we
found 50,000. From the Muslims, 575 were martyred of which
20-25 were Ansdr and Himyaris, 30 from Makkah and the rest
from other peoples. I make du ‘a that Allah includes them all innthe ranks of the martyrs.
I have written this letter on Thursday 2 Jumada al-Ukhra. We
are now heading for Damascus so make du’a that Allah grants
us victory. Convey my saldm to all the Muslims.
He gave the letter to ‘Abdurahman bin Humayd saying, “Take it to al-Madinah,” while he himself headed for Damascus.
Abu Bakr (ra) would leave al-Madinah daily after Salatul Fajr for news on Syria. One day as he was leaving al-Madinah as was his habit, Ibn Humayd was seen coming. The Sahabah hurriedly asked, “From where are you coming?”
Ibn Humayd: From Syria – Allah has granted the Muslims victory.
Abu Bakr (ra) es immediately fell into prostration out of thanks. Ibn Humayd went to him and said, “O Khalifah of Rasulullah lli), lift your head for Allah has comforted you by granting the Muslims victory.”
He lifted his head and softly went through the letter and then after absorbing it, read it out to the others. This news spread like lightning throughout al-Madinah. The people eagerly ran to hear it, so he read out the letter before everyone once again.
When the people of Makkah, Hijaz and Yaman heard of the Muslim victories and booty gained from the Romans, they too yearned to go to Syria to earn (religious) reward. Thus the inhabitants, chiefs and prominent men of Makkah went to al- Madinah under the leadership of Abu Sufyan Sakhr bin Harb and Ghaydaq bin Hisham to seek permission from Abu Bakr to go to Syria. ‘Umar did not consider this appropriate and said to Abu Bakr “Actually these people bear hatred for the Muslims in their hearts, so do not give them permission. Allah’s Word is most high and theirs is most low.
They are still on their Disbelief and wish to extinguish Allah’s Light but He will complete and perfect it even if they dislike it. Our claim and declaration is that besides Allah there is no deity but these people oppose it. When Allah honoured our Din and helped implement our Laws, they became Muslims out of fear of the sword. Now that they have heard that Allah’s army has gained victory over the Romans, they have come to us to send them to the enemy so that they can equal the First Muslims, that is the Muhajirin and Ansar. I feel that you should definitely not permit them to go there.
Abu Bakr: I will not oppose you.
When the people of Makkah heard of this, they gathered and went to Abu Bakr who was with a group of Muslims in al-Masjid an-Nabawi. ‘Umar & was on his left and ‘All on his right while the Syrian conquests were being discussed. The Quraysh made salam, sat in front of him and consulted each other as to who should speak first Eventually, Abu Sufyan said to ‘Umar “O ‘Umar, it is true that in the Pre-Islamic period there existed enmity between us, but since Allah guided us, we have cleaned our hearts with regard to you because Faith wipes out Polytheism.
You on the other hand still look to the past. Why do you still keep old grudges and renewed enmity which will not be wiped away? Can we hope that you will wipe away your ill feeling towards us? We know that your rank is higher than ours and that you overtake us in Faith and Jihad. We acknowledge your status and do not deny it.”
‘Umar felt ashamed and kept quiet. He started perspiring on his forehead out of embarrassment and then said, “By Allah! I did not mean what you understand. I only wished to avoid violence and evil. You people still have within you the good manly qualities of Pre-Islamic times. You still maintain your greatness through lineage and tribe.”
Abu Sufyan: I make the Khalifah and yourself witness that I dedicate myself to the Path of Allah.
All the chiefs of Makkah made similar statements until ‘Umar became pleased and Abu Bakr made the following du’a, “O Allah, grant them better than what they hope for and desire. Grant them a good reward for what they do. Grant them victory over their enemies and do not make their enemies victorious. Indeed You have power over everything.”
After a few days, a Yamani army arrived under the command of ‘Amr bin Ma’dikarab also intending to go to Syria. While they were encamped Malik bin al-Ashtar an-Nakha’Lss arrived with the same intention. He and his family lodged by ‘Ali. Malik loved him very much and had participated with him in several expeditions during the time of Rasulullah (ra). Thus these people together with the Jurhum tribe formed an army of close to 9,000.
Chapter 42 | Abu Bakr’s letter to Khalid.
When the army was prepared, Abu Bakr (ra) wrote the following letter:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
From: Abu Bakr (ra) as-Siddiq, the Khalifah of Rasidullah
To: Khalid bin al-Walid and the other Muslims (with him).
I praise that Pure Being besides Whom there is no other deity
and send salutations on His Messenger, Muhammad I command
you to fear Allah in all conditions – in open and in secret, to be
soft with the Muslims, to take only such work from them which
they have strength to do, to overlook their faults and to consult
them in every matter. I am overjoyed to hear of the conquests
Allah has granted you, the help He has granted and the defeat
He has inflicted upon the enemy. Advance upon your horses,
conquering the lands of the Disbelievers until you reach the
Gardens of Syria (Damascus) and Allah grants you its conquest.
Thereafter advance against Hims..and Ma ‘rat then Antioch.
Salam and Allah 50 mercy and blessings be on you and all your
companions. I am sending to you the warriors of Yaman, the
lions of Nakha’ and the chiefs of Makkah. ‘Amr bin Ma’dikarab
and Malik bin al-Ashtar will be of special assistance unto you.
When you reach the great mountainous city of Antioch and find
Heraclius Caesar there make peace with him if he offers peace
and fight him if he wants to fight. Do not cross the mountains
until you have written to me. I believe that Heraclius s death is soon.
”Every soul shall taste death.” [3:185]
Abu Bakr (ra) then put the letter in an envelope and stamped it with Rasulullah’s seal. He then gave it to Ibn Humayd, saying, “You were the messenger from Syria, so you take the answer to Syria.”
He took the letter and quickly reached Syria on his camel.
Chaprer 43 | Return to Damascus
Nafi’ bin ‘Umayrah narrates:
Khalid started heading for Damascus as soon as he had sent his letter to Abu Bakr (ra). When the Damascenes heard of the slaughter of the warriors, they shut the fort out of terror. Villagers and townspeople abandoned their districts and took refuge in Damascus. The fort was prepared and swords, shields, spears and catapults put on the city walls, and flags and crosses implanted.
By the time Khalid arrived, Damascus was fully fortified. In his army was ‘Amr bin al-As and Yazid bin Abi Sufyan, with 2,000 men each (in another copy 9,000) followed by Shurahbil bin Hasanah and ‘Amir bin Rabi’ah bringing 1,000 each and then Mu’ath bin Jabal brought along another 2,000. When the Damascenes saw the Muslims coming like the waves of the sea, they felt their defeat to be imminent.
Khalid encamped at the Monastery, half a mile from Damascus and then summoning his generals, said to Abu ‘Ubaydah, “You know how these Christians betrayed and attacked us when we left. Therefore you should encamp at al-Jabiyah Gate with your troops and not give them any respite or treaty of safety lest they again do some treachery. Do not abandon your position under any circumstances. Remain close to the Gate and constantly send small parties on a rotation basis against them so that they have no respite. The long stay here and the closure of the fort should not dishearten you, there is no need to hurry. Be patient, victory is always achieved through patience. However, never abandon your position and save yourself from their treachery.”
Abu ‘Ubaydah: Very well, if Allah wills it will be so.
So saying, he took a quarter of the army and encamped at al-Jabiyah Gate where, a short distance from the gate, a Taifi tent of camel’s hair was pitched for him.
Maslamah bin ‘Awf narrates from Salim bin ‘Abdillah from Hajjaj al-Ansari:
I asked my grandfather, Rifa’ah bin ‘Asim, who was with Abu ‘Ubaydah’s army at Damascus, “Abu ‘Ubaydah had a lot of booty captured from Ajnadayn, Busra, Shakhura and Hawran from which there must have been thousands of tents. So why was that same camel-hair Taifi tent pitched for him which he first had?”
He replied, “O my son, that was due to his simplicity and humility so that he would not become involved in worldly beauty and love for it. Also, he wished to show the Romans that the Muslims were not coming out of love for the world and love of territorial expansion, but for Allah’s pleasure, desire for the Hereafter and to establish Allah’s Din.”
“O my son, the condition of the Muslims at that time was such that when they camped at any Roman city they would pitch their own old tents separately and pitch the (captured Roman) tents some distance away. Therein they would only keep horses, weapons, armour, daggers and shields and no-one would go near to them. If someone got caught in the rain, he would rather get soaked than take refuge in such a tent wherein Allah’s name alone was not taken. Our attitude to their weapons was such that we would rather wear stringed-up date-pits instead of wearing their armour.”
Chapter 44 | The second siege of Damascus
When Abu ‘Ubaydah reached al-Jabiyah Gate, he ordered an assault. Thereafter Khalid & called Yazid bin Abi Sufyan and said to him, “Attack the Small Gate with your men, but be protective over their lives. So if anyone comes out against you and you find yourselves weak, then inform me and I will immediately come to your aid.”
He then called Shurahbil bin Hasanah and said to him, “Target the gate which the governor, Thomas, is supervising, but be careful because I have heard that he is very cunning and daring. Heraclius greatly loves him due to his bravery and, in fact, gave him his daughter in marriage. If he attacks, then inform me so that I can help you if Allah wills.”
Shurahbil: There is none amongst my troops whom he can dupe.
Khalid & called ‘Amr bin al-‘As next and ordered him, “Camp at Faradis Gate and make no movement from there because I have heard that they have gathered there.”
‘Amr went there and then Qays bin Hubayrah was called and told, “Go to Fajr (in other copies ‘Kaysan’) Gate.” He too went as instructed.
The Eastern Gate remained shut without any fighting taking place there, so the ‘Arabs called it the ‘Peace Gate’.
After making the above preparations, Khalid took the remaining troops and camped at the Eastern Gate. He called Dirar^ and gave him 2,000 men and said, “Patrol all sides of the city. If any difficulty arises or a Roman spy is seen, inform me immediately so that I can take appropriate action.”
Dirar: It pains my heart to leave battle and remain in waiting.
Khalid: Alright. You may engage in battle for as long as possible.
Dirar: If that is the case, then I leave in Allah’s name.
He then left while reciting the following poem until he reached his destination like an angry lion:
O Damascus, a Dirar has come who will do you great damage,
With my sword I will turn your necks into wreckage.
It is sharp and glittering, I will set you all aright,
And drive you away through Allah’s Words might.
(Dirar literally means great harmer – translator s note).
Khalid remained at the Eastern Gate. When his men launched an attack, the Romans vowed, “We will fight to the last man and will not let our women and children fall into their hands,” and started firing arrows. Both sides fired arrows and stones from catapults to such an extent that most of the men on both sides were wounded.
‘Abdurahman bin Humayd arrived with Abu Bakr (ra)’s letter when Khalid and Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah were engaged in combat at the Eastern Gate. He headed towards the Eastern Gate where he handed the letter to Khalid who was very pleased to read it and announced to the Muslims the coming of Abu Sufyan, ‘Amr bin Ma’dikarab az-Zubaydi and their army. The news spread throughout the army.
The Muslims fought the whole day. Then at night-fall the two parties separated, with every Muslim general maintaining his position at his appointed gate. Khalid had Abu Bakr (ra)’s letter read out at each gate causing the Muslims great joy to hear of the coming reinforcements. The night was spent in anticipation of the morning’s battle while each division appointed men to guard their own camp. Dirar spent the whole night patrolling the whole army, in case the enemy should attack.
The Muslims passed the night raising their voices with the cry of, “Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” While the Romans too were calling out their special words and shouting. They hung flags from the city walls, rang bells and burnt such fires that turned the night into day.
Chapter 45 | The Damascenes go to Thomas
The Damascenes gathered by the city-chiefs and elders and said, “What should we do?” Some said, “It is better that we offer the Muslims whatever amount they want for peace.” Others supported this and said, “Yes, at Ajnadayn they were able to face armies that included patricians and the imperial family. Despite the Roman army being bigger, they ground them like grain. We do not have greater numbers here nor fighting skills, so how can we face them?” Still others opined that Heraclius’s sonin-law, Thomas, should be asked for his opinion. Whether he decided on surrender or fighting, they would agree. They went and found armed soldiers at Thomas’s gate, who asked them, “Why have you come?”
Damascenes : We wish to meet Caesar’s son-in-law.
Soldiers : We will request permission inside.
Permission was granted. They entered and kissed the ground before Thomas and remained standing until he permitted them to sit. They were clearly afraid and depressed.
Thomas : You have come on such a dark night. Why?
Damascenes : O sir, pay some attention to the disaster which afflicts us these days and please find some remedy for it. We trust you and rely on you. Either we agree to whatever the ‘Arabs demand, or you write to Caesar for reinforcements, or you yourself should defend us. Failing this, there is no averting our destruction.
Thomas (laughing) : Shame on you. You are the ones who had encouraged Damascus to defiance in the first place. I swear by Caesar’s head that I do not even consider the Muslims worthy of fighting. They cannot withstand a shower of arrows. If they come close to me then I will make their (dead) ancestors meet them and fully avenge my people. Be at ease in your city for even if the gates are opened for them, they will not have the guts to enter.
Damascenes : O sir, the Muslims are very fierce and there is more to them than you have described. Their smallest and oldest man is capable of taking on ten to 100 men. Their leader is so fierce that he cannot be confronted. If you wish to keep us and our wealth safe, then either make peace or come with us to fight them.
Thomas : My people, firstly, you are more than them; secondly, your city is well fortified and the fort is closed; thirdly, besides this city you have other cities; and fourthly, you have enough weapons, armour and equipment. On the other hand, these people are naked and bare-footed. Where do they have so much equipment?
Damascenes: O sir, they have our equipment and numerous weapons which they captured in Palestine and Busra and which they took from us at Bayt Luhya when we fought them with Calius and Uriel. Then they looted Paulus and his brother at Shakhura. That is besides what they have gained at Ajnadayn. Yes, they have taken much wealth and equipment from us but are not concerned about using it. This is because their Prophet has said that whoever of them is killed goes to Paradise forever and whichever non-Muslim is killed is flung into Hell, so they fearlessly charge, bare-chested and bare-footed so as to achieve Paradise according to what he said.
Thomas (laughing): Your simple-mindedness makes them more daring. These ideas have set in your minds, so now these subservient slave people have aimed at you. If you only fight them with a true heart then you will massacre them.
Damascenes: a sir, remove this aftliction in whatever way you choose, but remember that if you do not help us then we will open the gates for them to achieve peace.
Thomas pondered for some time and concluded that they might act upon their word, so he said, “Do not worry. Tomorrow we will go out together to fight them. We will pick out their chiefs and kill them and we will kill and drive the enemy away. However, in such a heavy battle you will have to fight and be my right hand. If you are willing to sacrifice your lives then you will be successful.
Damascenes: We will be with you, in fact we shall be ahead of you. We will keep fighting for as long as one of us remains alive.
Thomas: Very good. Utter disaster will befall the ‘Arabs.
They thanked him and left, guarding the fort the whole night. They lit fires at the towers and gates, awaiting Thomas’s orders.
On the other side, the Sahabah were turning towards Allah, reciting “Allahu Akbar!” and “La ilaha illallah!” and sending salutations on RasiHullah. Khalid had left the women and children with the booty at the Monastery while Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah stood guard the whole night with the vanguard at the Eastern Gate.
At dawn, each general led his men in alatul Fajr and after leading his men in alatul Fajr, Abu ‘Ubaydah gave orders for an assault. “Do not lose heart in the battle!” Abu ‘Ubaydah advised his men, “Whoever makes an effort today will be at ease tomorrow. Be cautious in your archery for arrows miss and hit. Do not sit on your horses, for the enemies of Allah are in a high place, thus making you easy targets. Keep helping each other and remain steadfast against the enemy.” They therefore advanced on foot, covering themselves with shields, while Yazid bin Abi Sufyan advanced on the Small Gate, Qays bin Hubayrah on the Kaysan Gate, Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah on the Eastern Gate, Shurahbil on the Thomas Gate and ‘Amr bin al- ‘A(ra)as-Sahmi on the Faradis Gate.
Rifa’ah bin Qays narrates.
I asked my father, Qays, who was present at the conquest of Damascus, “Did the Muslims attack on foot or on horseback on the day you conquered Damascus?”
He replied, “Besides Dirar’s 2,000 horsemen who were patrolling the city borders to avoid sudden enemy attacks, all the Muslims went on foot. Whenever he reached a gate he would stop and say, “Be patient, be patient against Allah’s enemies. Tomorrow on the Day of Judgement, you will be resurrected in the shade of Allah’s mercy. If they come out of the city walls then Allah is quite capable of punishing them from above or below. If Allah wills, you will conquer.”
Rifa’ah continues: The two sides engaged each other, the archers fired and the Romans fired a shower of arrows and catapulted rocks from the fort but the Muslims remained firm. Thomas then came out of the gate bearing his name. He was renowned in Damascus as a great worshipper, ascetic, warrior and sage.
No greater worshipper or ascetic could be found in the cities of the Christians, nor did they consider anyone more pious than him. Now he came in a great state, carrying a huge cross which he implanted at the tower. All the patricians and important Christians surrounded him. Someone else was carrying a Bible, which was also placed by the cross. The Christians started shouting, of which some words could be perceived.
Thomas put his hand on a verse of the Bible and said, “O God, help him who is on the truth. Grant us victory and deliver us not unto the enemy. Destroy the wrongdoers, You know them well. ‘’O God, we seek your help in the name of the Cross and through the intercession of Him who was crucified, displayed divine signs and miracles, sought Your closeness, is always with You, came to this world and then returned and brought us the Gospel from You. Grant victory to the guided ones.”
All the Christians said, “Amen.”
Rifa’ah says: Shurahbil bin Hasanah narrated that to me. At that time he and Romanus, the governor of Busra, were at the Thomas Gate. Romanus listened and translated into ‘Arabic. These words of Disbelief and accusation against ‘Isa bin Maryam enraged Shurahbil and the Muslims so they asked Allah’s protection (from such evil words) and advanced to attack. Shurahbil shouted, “0 accursed one, you have lied! ‘Isa is just like Adam according to Allah. He created him from earth, kept him alive and then took him.”
He then attacked.
Chapter 46 | The attack on Damascus
The Muslims fought more fiercely than they had ever done before and the accursed Thomas also fought fiercely with his men starting a shower of arrows and stones. Many Muslims were thus wounded, including Aban bin Sa’id bin al-‘As who was struck with a poisoned arrow. He extracted the arrow and bound the wound with his turban, but the poison had already penetrated his body and he fell face down. His comrades picked him up and took him to the army. They wanted to remove his turban to treat him, but he forbade them saying, “If you remove it, then my life will end instantly. By Allah! I have received that which I have been asking Allah for and hoping for.” They disobeyed him and untied it. They had not yet finished when he looked towards the sky, pointed his finger and said,
“I testify that there is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah: This is what the Most Gracious promised and the Messengers have been truthful, ”
….and instantly his soul departed. May Allah have mercy on him.
He had just married his cousin, Umm Aban bint ‘Utbah bin Rabi’ah, at Ajnadayn. Her hands and head still had traces of myrtle and perfume of the wedding night. She was from a greatly daring family and would herself fight on foot. When she heard of her husband’s martyrdom, she came stumbling anxious and confused and stood at his body. She remained patient in expectation of reward and said nothing besides, “Be blessed in what you have received. You have gone to the mercy of the Rabb of all the worlds and to the wide-eyed virgin damsels of Paradise.
You have gone to that Rabb of all the worlds who united us and then separated us. By Allah! Because I long for you, I will engage in Jihad to such an extent that I will be united with you. This is because neither have I seen you properly and taken comfort in you, and neither have you. Allah decided that my desire should not be fulfilled. I have made it forbidden upon myself that any man after you should touch me and I dedicate myself to the Path of Allah. I am hoping that we shall meet soon.”
It is said that no women was found who was more patient than her. The burial preparations were made with Khalid leading the Salatul Janazah and then he was buried. His grave is visited up to this day. Umm Aban did not wait at all at the grave, but armed herself with his weapons and joined the army without informing Khalid. She asked the men, “At which gate was my husband martyred?”
They replied, “At the Thomas Gate which is named after Heraclius’s son-in-law. In fact, Thomas killed your husband.”
So she went to Shurahbil’s e, army and fought fiercely. She was very good at archery.
I was that day at the Thomas Gate and saw someone in front of Thomas who was carrying a cross and gesturing to his army. He was shouting, “O God, help the Cross and help him who seeks the Cross’s protection. ‘O God, manifest his victory and increase his prestige.”
I was still looking at him when Umm Aban fired an arrow which hit its target. He dropped the cross with its glittering jewels. Every Muslim rushed to pick it up and we were showered with stones. Yet the Muslims still rushed ahead, falling over each other to be the first to get it. When Allah’s enemy, Thomas, saw the Muslims rushing in droves at the cross, he felt humiliated and sensed his destruction. He thought to himself that Heraclius would certainly discover that he had let the’ Arabs get the cross, so he tightened his belt, took his sword and shield and said to his men, “‘Whoever wants to come with me, come, and whoever wants to stay, stay. I am going to fight them and drive them off, thus giving my heart peace.”
He then ordered his men to open the gate and rushed forth. When his men saw this and realised his bravery, they all followed him and swarmed out like locusts. The Muslims were surrounding the cross, but when they saw the Romans charging they banded it over to Shurahbil (ra) and split up to take on the enemy in single combat. From above the gate and from every direction they were struck with stones and arrows, so Shurahbil e, called out, “0 Muslims, fall back to save yourselves from the arrows coming from Allah’s enemies.”
They fell back until they were safe from the arrows. Thomas came rushing after them striking left and right, bellowing like a camel with his warriors all around him. Shurahbil called out, “O people, give up your lives to seek Paradise. Please your Creator through your actions for He is not pleased with fleeing. Do not flee, but attack them and go towards them. May Allah bless you.”
The Muslims launched a vicious attack in which the two parties ended up mixed amongst each other, striking with their swords and firing arrows. When the Damascenes heard that Thomas had gone out of his gate and that the Great Cross had fallen from the bearer’s hands, they were absolutely terrified. Thomas began searching for it until he found it with Shurahbil. He could not control himself and attacked saying, “Hand over the Cross! 0 motherless one, you have met great misfortune. “
Shurahbil (ra) flung the cross and confronted Thomas. When he saw the cross lying on the ground, he and his companions shrieked terrifyingly. When Aban’s (ra) widow saw Allah’s enemy, Thomas, attacking Shurahbil (ra) she asked, “Who is that?”
Someone said, “He is Caesar’s son-in-law, your husband’s killer.”
When she heard that, she attacked fiercely until she got near enough to Thomas to shoot an arrow at him. The Romans threatened her, but she never turned to them until she had him in her target saying, “In name of Allah and through the blessings of Rasulullah.”
Thomas was reaching out to Shurahbil (ra) when her arrow struck him square in the right eye and stuck there. He fled screaming, while she tried to get another shot at him. The Romans tried to avoid their misfortune and rushed to her, so a group of Muslims ran to defend her. When she was safe, she started firing again, hitting a Christian in the chest who fell to the ground.
The first to flee that day was Thomas, shrieking all the way to the gate due to the intense pain caused by the arrow. Shurahbil (ra) called out, “Be destroyed! Catch the Roman dog. Attack the dogs to catch the enemy of Allah.”
So they attacked until they drove the Romans back to the gate where the people defended them with arrows and stones. The Muslims returned to their camp after having killed great numbers of the enemy and seizing their booty, wealth and cross.
Thomas entered the city and shut the gates. The doctors came to extract the arrow from his eye but were unsuccessful, so they sawed it off, leaving the point in his eye. They asked to take him to his house, but he refused and sat at the gate entrance until the pain subsided. They said, “Go home for the remainder of the night, for today we have suffered two tragedies – the tragedy of the Cross and the tragedy of your eye. All this has been caused by the archer. That nation is invincible, so we ask you to surrender.”
Thomas became angry and said, “Be destroyed! Should I forget about the Great Cross being taken and my eye being lost? When this news reaches Caesar, he will accuse me of weakness and helplessness. No, they will be pursued under all circumstances. I will recover my Cross and avenge my eyes with 1,000 of their eyes and take back all that they have looted. Then I will go to their master in al-Hijaz, wipe out his traces, destroy their houses, level the habitations and turn their cities into abodes of wild animals.”
The accursed one went to the top of the wall with his eye bandaged and encouraged the people, “Do not be afraid and do not fear that which has appeared to you from the ‘Arabs. I guarantee that the Cross will strike them down.”
So they became firm and launched a violent assault until Shurahbil (ra) sent a message to Khalid (ra) to inform him of the situation. The messenger said, “Thomas, the enemy of Allah, has launched a massive attack against us, so we request reinforcements because the battle is fiercer here than at the other gate.”
Khalid: All praise belongs to Allah! But how did you manage to capture the cross from the Romans?
Messenger: A man was carrying it in front of Thomas when Aban’s widow shot him with an arrow. It fell towards us so Allah’s enemy came out, but Aban’s widow shot him in the right eye.
Khalid: Thomas is greatly respected by Caesar and is the one that is preventing them from surrendering. May Allah suffice us from his evil. Return to Shurahbil and tell him, “Guard that which I have ordered you to, for every division is engaged in its own problems and cannot come to you. However, remember that I am nearby and that Dirar is patrolling the city and is therefore also there for you.”
The messenger returned and informed Shurahbil (ra) who remained patient and fought on for the rest of the day.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) rejoiced when he heard of what had occured between Shurahbil and Thomas and his capture of the cross.
Chapter 47 | The night attack
In the morning, Thomas summoned the city elders and warriors. When they arrived, he said, “O Christians, a greatly untrustworthy nation has descended upon you. They have arrived and now inhabit your lands. So how can you be so patient when your women are dishonoured and your children imprisoned? Your women are now their slave-girls and your children their slaves. The Cross did not fall except out of anger at your desire for peace with the ‘Arabs and so it had no relationship left with you. I went out against them and would not have returned until I had completely finished them off, but was struck in my eye. I will definitely take revenge and pluck out 1,000 ‘Arab eyes. I will get to the Cross and soon reclaim it from them.”
Damascenes: Here we are present before you and are pleased with whatever you are pleased with for yourself. If you order us to go out, we will go and if you order us to fight, we will fight.
Thomas: Know that he who bravely tackles war does not fear anything. I have resolved to attack tonight and catch them in their places for the night terrifies and you are better acquainted with the terrain than they are. All of you must prepare for battle tonight and go out of the gate. I shall not return until I have completed these tasks. When I have finished them off, I will take their commander as a prisoner to Caesar so that he may do with him as he pleases.
Damascenes: Out oflove and honour (we obey).
Then when they split up into groups at each gate, Thomas said, “Do not fear, for their leader is far from you. There are none here except their lower-classes and freedslaves, so grind them like you grind wheat.”
He called one group to go out from Faddis Gate against’ Amr bin al-‘As while he departed from the Thomas Gate with every great warrior. Hanging a gong on the wall he said, “The sounding of the gong will be the signal for you to rush out of the Gates and slay the sleeping enemy. If you do this, you will break them so that they will never heal again.”
They rejoiced and went to their stations, awaiting the signal to attack the Muslims. Thomas called a Roman and said to him, “Take a gong and climb up the wall with it. When you see us opening the gate, sound it lightly so that only our people can hear it.” He then led with his group, all armoured and carrying swords. He carried an Indian blade and wore a Persian helmet which Heraclius had gifted to him. The Romans kept their swords still until they reached the gate where Thomas waited for their numbers to be completed. When he saw them completed he said, “0 people! When we open the gate, rush out at full speed towards the enemy. Attack them and
place your swords in them. Do not spare anyone who begs for mercy, except the commander. If anyone sees the Cross he should grab it.”
They responded, “For love and honour!”
Thomas ordered someone to go to the man with the gong and order him to strike it lightly. He opened the gate and they rushed out against the unaware Sahabah. However, some of the Sahiibah (ra) were awake. Upon hearing the noise they woke up the others. The Muslims sprang up like striking pythons so that they were alert when the enemy arrived. They attacked the disorganised enemy with their swords under cover of darkness until Khalid heard. He stood up anxious about the yelling and shouted, “Come forth to the aid of Islaml By the Lord ofthe Ka’bah, my people have been tricked – ‘’O Allah, keep watch over them with the Eye which never sleeps. O Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”
Khalid went forth without armour or headgear, wearing only a linen Syrian robe. He and 400 horsemen rode like angry lions until they reach the Eastern Gate where they found the group fighting Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah and his men. The Muslim voices were raised with, “La ilaha illallahu!” and “Allahu Akbar!” while the enemy had been looking down from the walls and screaming since the Muslims awoke. Khalid. attacked the Romans proclaiming, “Glad tidings, ‘O Muslims. Help has come from the Rabb of all the worlds. I am the valiant horseman. I am Khalid bin al-Walid.” He attacked them, throwing their warriors to the ground and killing their men, all the while worrying about Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) and the Muslims at the other gates whose screams could be heard. The Romans, Jews and Christians were all screaming.
Sinin bin’ Awf narrates:
I asked my cousin, Qays, “Were the Jews also fighting you?” He narrated:
Yes, they were shooting arrows at us from above the walls. At that time Khalid (ra) feared what the enemy of Allah was doing to Shurahbil (ra) who was in dire straits with none other facing equal difficulty. The first to reach the Muslims was Thomas. They patiently fought him as he shouted, “Where is your despicable general who afllicted me? I am the defender of the Cross.”
He wounded several Muslims. When Shurahbil (ra) heard him he turned to him and said, “I am your man, I am your rival, I am the exterminator of you all, the seizer of your cross and the scribe of the revelation of Rasulullah (pbuh).”
Thomas sprang to him like a lion but found Shurahbil (ra) to be a fierce opponent and thus the two rivals remained fighting until half the night had passed.
Aban’s (ra) widow was in Shurahbil’s army and displayed the greatest patience while shooting her arrow. Her every arrow found its target until she killed many Romans. They began avoiding her until one Roman appeared, whom she shot in the throat. He screamed to his comrades who gathered against her and took her prisoner, while the enemy of Allah died. Shurahbil (ra) struck Thomas with a terrific blow which he blocked with his leather shield, shattering the sword.
Thomas intended laking him prisoner when two Roman horsemen grabbed him with the Muslim cavalry c(ra)ming behind them. When these Muslims attacked the Romans, Umm Aban broke free. She attacked them and called out. ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr ‘* and Aban bin ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan led the Muslims to her and killed the two Roman horsemen. Thomas returned to Damascus unsuccessful.
Tamim bin ‘Adi who witnessed the conquest of Syria narrates:
I was in the tent of Abu ‘Ubaydah who was performing S.alah when he heard a scream. He said, “There is no power to do good and no ability to avoid evil except through Allah, the Most High, the Most Mighty.” He put on his armour and called his men to prepare them. He saw the Muslims in an uproar and fighting, so he overtook both the (Roman) right-wing and left-wing advancing on the gate shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” The Muslims also began shouting, “Allahu Akbar!” When the Christians heard, they thought that the Muslims were attacking from behind so they retreated
while Abu ‘Ubaydah ‘* mowed them down.
I (al- Waqidi) have been informed that not a single Roman survived Abu ‘Ubaydah’s attack that night. During the fight, Dirar arrived soaked in blood. Khalid, said, “What has happened behind you?”
Dirar: Glad tidings, O commander, I did not come to you until I slaughtered 150 men this night and my men killed such a number which cannot be counted. I have sufficed you against the threat coming from the Small Gate against Yazid bin Abi Sufyan, Then I went to the other gates and killed many men.
Khalid was pleased with that. They then all went to Shurahbil and thanked him for what he had achieved. On that moonlit night, such events happened the like of which had not been seen before and thousands of Romans were slain.
Chapter 48 | The surrender
The city elders went to Thomas and said, “Sir, we advised you, but you did not heed us. Most of us have been killed and they have such a leader, Khalid bin al-Walid, who cannot be overcome but he is more pliant towards peace than you. So if you do not agree, we will make peace ourselves and you can do as you please. Thomas pleaded, “O my people, give me a chance until I write to Caesar to inform him of what has befallen us.” He immediately wrote the following letter:
To: Merciful Caesar
From: Your son-in-law, Thomas
The ‘Arabs have come upon us like the white of an eye
surrounding the pupil. They massacred the Ajnadayn army and
then returned to us and killed many of us. I went out against
them but lost my eye, so now I have resolved to surrender and
render Jizyah to the ‘Arabs. You should either come here
yourself or send reinforcements or order us to make peace with
them, for indeed our difficulties have intensified.
He then folded it, sealed it and sent it off.
In the morning the Muslims began preparing for battle. Khalid sent a message to each general ordering him to attack from his position. So Abu ‘Ubaydah mounted his horse and launched an attack. Matters became so bad for Damascus that the people begged Khalid (ra) for respite. He refused and insisted on battle. The situation continued like this until the siege began severely pressing the Damascenes who were waiting for Caesar’s order. They gathered and said to each other, “We cannot bear this any longer. If we go out to fight the’ Arabs they will overcome us and if we leave them the siege will just worsen. Therefore, let us agree to peace on their terms.”
An old man who had read the ancient scriptures said, “O my people, I swear by God that even if Caesar comes with his whole army, he will not be able to defend you from them. I have read in the Book that Muhammad is the seal of the Prophets and that his religion will conquer every other religion. So it will be better if you submit and give them whatever they want.” They inclined towards him because of his great learning and knowledge of predictions of the future wars and said, “What is your opinion, for that man at the Eastern Gate is a great bloodshedder.”
Old man: If you wish this, then go to the man at al-Jabiyah Gate where someone who knows’ Arabic should call out loudly, “O ‘Arabs, safety!” until we go down to them and speak to their general.
Abu Hurayrah (ra)narrates:
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) had stationed men near the gates fearing a raid like that of the previous night. That night was the tum of Banu Daws under’ Amir bin at-Tufayl ad-Dawsi (ra). While we were sitting near the gate we heard the Romans calling out, so I rushed to Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) and told him. He was pleased and said, “Go and tell them that they have our guarantee of safety.”
When I told them they asked, “Who are you?”
I said, “I am Abu Hurayrah, the Sahabi of Rasulullah (pbuh)” but even if a slave had to give you safety from us in the pre-Islamic period we would not betray you, so (think for yourselves) what our condition is now that Allah has guided us to Islam.”
So they opened the gate and 100 of their priests and elders came out, going to Abu ‘Ubaydah’s army. The Muslims went to them and took away their crosses. When they reached Abu ‘Ubaydah’s tent, he welcomed them and after seating them said, “Our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), has said, ‘When the respected one of a nation comes to you, you should honour him. ‘ “
They began speaking about peace and said, “We want you to leave our churches and not destroy them.”
Amongst the churches of that time were the Cathedral of John the Baptist, which is today the al-Jami’ al-Umawi; the Church of Mary; the Church of Hanna; the Church of the Night Market and the Church of Warning.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) said, “None will be destroyed” and wrote out the treaty of surrender and guarantee of safety without signing it or having it witnessed because he was not the commander-in-chief. They took it and said, “Come with us to the city.”
So he stood up and the following rode with him: Abu Hurayrah, Mu’ath bin Jabal, Nu’aym bin ‘Amr, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr ad-Dawsi, Ihul Kala’ al-Himyari, H.assan bin Nu’man, Jarir bin Nawfal al-Himyari, Sayf bin Salamah, Ma’rnar bin Khalifah, Rabi’ah bin Malik, al-Mughirah pin Shu’bah, Abu Lubabah bin al-Munthir, ‘Awfbin Sa’idah, ‘Amir bin Qays, ‘Ubadah bin ‘Atibah, Bishr bin ‘Amir and ‘Abdullah bin Qurt al-Asadi, totalling thirty-five senior Sahabah as well as sixty-five ordinary people. When they approached the gate, Abu ‘Ubaydah said, “I need hostages until we enter with you,” so they handed the hostages over.
It is said that Abu ‘Ubaydah had seen Rasulullah (pbuh), in a dream. Rasulullah told him, “If Allah wills you will conquer the city tonight.”
He said, “O Rasulullah, I see that you are in a hurry?”
Rasulullah: I have to attend Abu Bakr’s Salatul Janazah,
Then he awoke.
I (al-Waqidi) have been informed that when Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) entered the city of Damascus through the al-Jabiyah Gate with his companions, the monks and priests walked ahead of them, raising the Bible and burning incense of aloe-wood, ambergis, musk and frankincense. Khalid (ra) did not know because he was launching an attack.
A Roman priest named Jonah, son of Murcius, lived a house attached to the city wall joining the Eastern Gate where Khalid was. Jonah possessed the Prophecies of Daniel wherein it was written, “Allah Most High will conquer the lands through the Sahabah and their Din will triumph over every other religion.” That night he dug a hole from his house (to the outside of the city) and unknown to his family, went to the Muslim camp. He told Khalid (ra), “I have come out of my house and dug a hole (under the city wall). Iwant a guarantee of safety for myself, my family and children.”
Khalid agreed and sent with him 100 men, mostly Himyaris, and said, “When you enter the city go to the gate, break the locks and remove the chains so that we can enter if Allah wills.” So they followed onah and entered his house via the hole where they put on their armour and made preparations. Then they emerged and went to the gate where they raised cries of “Allahu Akbar!” When the Christians heard, they became alarmed. The .s.ahiibah (ra) broke the locks and cut the chains. Khalid and the Muslims entered and began killing and capturing the Romans until they reached the Church of Mary.
Chapter 49 | Surrender and Conquest
Khalid’s army met Abu ‘Ubaydah’s army at the church. Abu ‘Ubaydah’s men were walking, with the monks walking in front of them. When Abu ‘Ubaydah saw Khalid’s amazement at them having their swords sheathed, he said, “O Abu Sulayman, Allah has peacefully conquered the city through me. Allah suffices the Muslims in battle. Peace has been made.
Khalid: What peace? May Allah never rectify their condition. How can they have a peace agreement when I have conquered them by the sword and the Muslims’ swords drip with their blood and Ihave taken their children as slaves and seized their wealth?
Abu ‘Ubaydah: O commander, I entered through peaceful surrender.
Khalid: You were always so unaware. I entered with the sword through conquest and they had no defence left.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: Fear Allah, O commander. By Allah! I have accepted their surrender and implemented it. I have given them a written agreement
Khalid: You make peace with them without my instructions when I am your commander-in-chief? I will not remove my sword from them until I have finished off every last one of them.
Abu ‘Ubaydah: By Allah! I did not think that you would oppose me when I made the agreement. I held an opinion and Allah is in control of my affairs. I have spared all their lives and guaranteed them the safety of Allah and Rasulullah. All the Muslims with me were satisfied with that and treachery does not become us.
The argument intensified with everyone looking on. Abu ‘Ubaydah saw that Khalid was not shifting and that those Sahabah who were with him were’ Arab bedouins, adamant on killing the Romans and seizing their wealth. He called out, “Alas, by Allah! I gave them protection and it has been violated.” He pointed at the bedouins, once to the left and once to the right and said, “O Muslims, I take oath on behalf of Rasulullah (pbuh) that you will not do what you are doig until Khalid and I come to an agreement.”
The killing and looting stopped and the horsemen, flag-bearers and generals went to meet at the church. Amongst them were Mu’ath bin Jabal, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan, ‘Amr bin al-‘As (ra), Shurahbil bin Hasanah, Rabi’ah bin ‘Amir, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar bin al-Khattab and others. A party which included Mu’ath. and Yazid as. said, “We feel that Abu ‘Ubaydah’s treaty should be implemented and the killing halted. All the cities have not yet been conquered and Heraclius is still in Antioch.
If they find out about the surrender and its betrayal, then not a single city will surrender, whereas surrendering to you is better than killing them. (O Khalid), you keep what you have taken by the sword while Abu ‘Ubaydah administers for you his area. In the meantime, the two of you can write to the Khalifah for arbitration and we will do whatever he says.”
Khalid: I accept and grant them all temporary safety except for Thomas and Herbius.
(Thomas had appointed Herbius as sub-governor of half the city since he took power.)
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): Those two were the first to enter into the pact, so do not break my word, may Allah have mercy on you.
Khalid (ra): Were it not for your word I would have killed them, but they will have to leave the city. May Allah curse them wherever they may go.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): Then on these terms is their surrender.
Thomas and Herbius observed the argument and feared their destruction so they went with a translator to Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) and said, “What is that other one saying?”
Translator: What are you and your friend saying? Your friend intends treachery whereas we and the citizens have entered into a pact with you and he breaks it, which does not become you. So permit me and my companion to leave and go wherever we want to go to.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): At the moment you are under my protection.
Translator: We remain your responsibility for three days, in whatever direction we go in. After three days your responsibility is over. Then, whoever of you meet us after three days and overcomes us can kill us or capture us as he desires.
Khalid (ra): We accept that, but you will not carry away with you anything except your food.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): That condition will contravene the treaty because it allows them to leave with all their men and wealth.
Khalid (ra): Then I will allow it, except for weapons of which I will not let them take anything.
Thomas: We need weapons for the journey to defend ourselves until we reach our lands. Otherwise, we are now in your hands, decide what you will.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): Let each man take one weapon only – sword or spear or knife or bow.
Thomas: We are pleased with that. We do not want more than one weapon each. But I fear that man, Khalid, so I want this agreement in writing.
Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra): May your mother be bereft of you! It is not our ‘Arab way to betray or lie. Abu Sulayman’s word is his word and his promise is his promise and he only speaks the truth.
Chapter 50 | Thomas Leaves Damascus
The two Roman leaders left to gather their people and order them to evacuate Damascus. Heraclius had there a stock of about 300 bundles of brocade and golden robes. Thomas wished it all to be salvaged. He ordered a silk tent to be erected outside Damascus. The Romans came and took out the goods, wealth and bundles until they had extracted a massive amount. When Khalid (ra) saw this great quantity he said, “How great is their luggage!”
‘’And were it not that mankind would have become one
community (of disbelievers) We would have made for the
Disbelievers in the Most Gracious, silver roofs for their houses
and ladders whereby they ascend’’. [43:33]
Then he looked at them, seeing that they were like fleeing donkeys, none sparing a glance at his brother due to their intense haste. So he raised his hands skyward saying, “O Allah, make this for us, make us its owners, make these goods sustenance for the Muslims. O Allah, accept this du‘a. Verily you are the Hearer of du‘as.”
Then he said to his men, “I have an idea, will you follow me in it?”
Muslims: We will follow you and not oppose you.
Khalid: Prepare your horses and weapons, for after three days I will go with you in pursuit of these people with the hope that Allah will grant us all this wealth you see. My heart tells me that they have taken every last good robe and item out of Damascus with them.
Muslims: Do as you please, we will not object.
They then began making preparations.
Thomas and Herbius gathered the amount Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) had fined them with and gave it to him. He said, “You have fulfilled your duty, now go wherever you want to with three days’ guarantee of safety from us.”
Yazid bin Zharif narrates:
After they paid the fine, they left like a black thunder cloud. A large part of the population of Damascus left with their children, disliking to stay with the Muslims. Khalid (ra) argued with those who remained behind over the large supply of wheat and barley that remained, so Abu ‘Ubaydah said, “It belongs to the Damascenes according to the treaty.”
His party and Khalid’s party became heated in their disagreement until they agreed to write to Abu Bakr (ra) for his decision, not knowing that he had passed away on the day they had entered Damascus.
‘Atiyah bin ‘Amir narrates:
I was standing at the gate of Damascus on the day that the Romans, including Heraclius’s daughter, departed with Thomas and Herbius. I saw Dirar (ra) looking at them askance, regretful at what had not been taken from them. I said to him, “O Ibn al-Azwar, why do I see you so regretful? Does Allah not have more than that?”
Dirar: I do not want the money, but I am regretful that they are all still living and are escaping us. Abu ‘Ubaydah made a bad deal for us.
I said, “O Ibn al-Azwar, the trustworthy one of the Ummah only desired good for the Muslims by saving their blood and sparing their wives from the fatigue of war. Indeed the sanctity of one human life is better than whatever the sun has risen upon. Allah has placed mercy in the hearts of the Believers and has stated in some of His revealed books, ‘The Rabb does not have mercy on those who do not have mercy,’ and has also said:
”And reconciliation is best.” [4:128]
Dirar (ra): You have spoken the truth, but bear witness that I have no mercy for those who ascribe a wife and son unto Allah.
Chapter 51 | Jonah and his wife
‘Umar bin ‘Isi narrates from ‘Abdul Wahid bin ‘Abdullah al-Basri who narrates from Wathilah bin al-Asqa:
I was in the Damascus army of Khalid bin al-Walid (ra). It was he who put me in Dirar’s (ra) cavalry which had to patrol the city from the Eastern Gate to the Thomas Gate to the Peace Gate to al-Jabiyah Gate to the Small Gate to the Songstresses’ Gate. One day, before the conquest of Damascus, we heard the screeching of the gate. A horseman emerged whom we left until he came near. Then we seized him by the hand and said, “Say a word and we will kill you.” He was silent. Then another came out calling for the first one whom we had captured, so we said to the prisoner, “Speak to him until he comes here.” So he said in his gibberish Greek, “The bird is in the net.”
The other realised that he was captured and so returned and locked the gate. We wanted to kill the prisoner but some said, “Do not kill him until we take him to Commander Khalid.”
So we took him to Khalid who asked him, “Who are you?”
Jonah: I am from the Roman lands. I had married a girl of my nation before your invasion. I love her very much, so when the siege lengthened, I asked her family to send her to me, but they refused, saying, “We are too busy to send her to you.”
I wanted to meet her, so we agreed to meet at a recreation ground in which we used to spend time. We met there where she asked me to go with her outside the city. We opened the gate and I went out to see the situation when your men captured me. She called out to me so I said, “The bird is in the net,” to warn her against you for I feared for her. If it was someone else I would not have bothered.
Khalid: What is your opinion of Islam?
Jonah: I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Thereafter he fought with us and fought fiercely.
When we entered the city peacefully he went to seek his wife. It was said to him, “She has become a nun.” He went to her but she did not recognise him. He said, “Why have you become a nun?”
Wife: I was in love with my husband. When he was captured by the ‘Arabs, I became a nun out of grief.
Yunus (Johan): I am your husband and I have entered the religion of the ‘Arabs.
Wife: What do you want with me…?
Yunus: That you stay (with me) under Muslim rule.
Wife: I swear bt Christ that I will never do that. That is impossible.
She then left with Thomas.
Yunus went to complain to Khalid who replied, ‘’Abu ‘Ubaydah conquered the city by treaty, so you have no authority over her.’’
When he found out that Khalid was leaving in persuit of them, he said. ‘’ I will go with him, perhaps I will catch her.’’
Khalid remained unit the fourth day when Yunus, the Damascene, went to him and said. ‘O commander, did you not resolve to go in pursuit of Thomas and Herbius and take whatever is with them.
Yunus: Then what is stopping you…?
Khalid: They have gone for four days and nights and travel fast, fleeing us. We will not be able to catch tham.
Yunus: If distancenis your excuse. Then know that I know these lands best and I am the speediest traveler. If Allah wills, we will catch them, but dress like the Christian ‘Arabs of Lakhm and Jutham. Take provisions and go.
Khalid: took 4,000 cavalry and ordered them to go with light provisions. They went with Khalid and Yunus in front to act as guide, tracking down the Damascenes. Khalid had left Abu ‘Ubaydah in charge of Damascus and the Muslims.
Zayd bin Zharif narrates:
Yunus was out guide who found their tracks. They had left whatever bundles had fallen off the camels untouched. Whenever we entered a Roman town, they thought that we were Christian ‘Arabs ofLakhm and Jutham until the guide brought us close to the coast. He continued following the tracks until he found that they had come to Antioch but had not entered. Confused, he went to a nearby village to question the people. They replied that Caesar had been informed that Thomas and Herbius had surrendered Damascus to the ‘Arabs and was therefore angry at them. He did not allow them to come to him because he had gathered great armies to be sent to al-Yarmfik and feared that if the two of them spoke to the soldiers their hearts would weaken when hearing of the bravery of the ‘Arabs. He therefore sent them to Constantinople.
Yunus had separated from the Muslims to investigate.
Khalid had finished leading the Muslims in salah when Yunus returned and said, “O commander! I have led you to a dead end.”
Khalid: How is that?
Yunus: You sent me in their tracks to this place hoping to catch them, but Caesar prohibited them from entering Antioch so that they do not scare his army. He has ordered them to head for Constantinople; there is this great mountain between you and them. You are by a mountain deep in Heraclius’s territory and he is gathering an army to fight you. I fear that if you cross the mountain you will be destroyed, but the choice is yours. I have done whatever you have ordered me to.
Chapter 52 | Khalid’s” dream
Dirar (ra) narrates:
I saw Khalid’s colour change to green out of fear, a quality I did not associate with him, so I said, “O commander, what frightens you?”
Khalid: O Dirar, by Allah! I do not fear death nor being killed. What I fear is that the Muslims will suffer due to me for I have seen a frightening dream before the conquest of Damascus and await its interpretation. I hope that Allah will grant us goodness and victory over the enemy.
Dirar : Goodness! Allah willing, I only see goodness! What did you see?
Khalid: I saw us travelling in a barren land when we came across a herd of wild donkeys, big-bodied but small-hoofed. Our spears could not wound them and they were not concerned about our swords hitting them and hurting them, nor showed any anxiety whatsoever. This carried on with great effort from our side and from our horses. I then split up my men to attack them from all four sides so they shied away from us and went to mountain passes, hills and fertile valleys. We only caught a few. While we were roasting them, the others returned to fight us. I was looking at them when the mountain passes and jungles called out to the Muslims, “Mount your horses in pursuit of them. May Allah bless you.”
The Muslims and myself mounted and chased them until I caught a great donkey and killed him. The Muslims started hunting and killing until only a few were left. I was overjoyed and wanted to return with the Muslims to their homeland when I fell off my horse and my turban flew off my head. I wanted to pick it up but awoke afraid and frightened. Can any of you interpret this? I think it is about our current state.
Everyone took this badly and Khalid intended to return when ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr said, “The donkeys are the Romans we are chasing. Your falling from your horse is your decline from a high position to a low position. As for the falling of your turban, well turbans are the crowns of ‘Arabs, so it is some lowering of status you will encouter.”
Khalid: If that is the interpretation then I ask Allah to make it a matter of the world and not the Hereafter. I seek Allah’s help and rely upon Him in every matter.
Khalid, with the guide ahead, crossed the mountain. We hoped to capture the Romans the following morning and that night, it rained as if water was being poured from waterskins. Through Allah’s mercy, the rain stopped the Romans from further travel.
Rawh bin Tarif narrates:
We were travelling with the rain falling on us the whole night like water being poured from water-skins. At sunrise, Yunus said, “O commander! Halt here until I find them. They are doubtlessly close to us for I have heard their shouting.”
Khalid: Have you truly heard them, 0 Yunus?
Yunus: Yes, permit me to go and gather information on them.
Khalid turned to al-Mufrit bin Ja’dah and said, “Go with Yunus and beware of them discovering the two of you.”
Al-Mufrit: I hear and obey Allah and you.
The two left and climbed al-Abrash Mountain which the Romans call ‘Cold Mountain’.
When we reached the top, we saw a great meadow filled with much large vegetation. The Romans had been caught in the rain and their baggage was soaked. The sun was still covered so they feared it being damaged. They took out the brocade, spread it out in the meadow and then most of them slept due to the difficulty of the journey, fatigue and rain. When I saw that, I was happy and returned to Khalid (ra) leaving behind Yfmus. When he saw me alone he hurried towards me thinking Yfmus had been captured and said, “What is behind you? Tell me quickly?”
Al-Mufrit: Good (news) and booty, O commander! They are behind this mountain, soaked with rain. They are resting in the sun and have spread out their goods
Khalid (ra): May Allah bless you.
I perceived in his face great overwhelming joy and then suddenly Yunus appeared and said, “Glad tidings, O commander! They are complacent, but please order your men that whoever comes across my wife should guard her, for I want nothing from the booty besides her.”
Khalid: She is yours if Allah wills.
Khalid then divided his men into four divisions of 1,000 each, one under Dirar, one under Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah, one under’ Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr and one under himself.
Khalid: Go with the blessings of Allah, but avoid going together. Instead, each group should go in intervals.
They spread out with Dirar (ra) first attacking the complacent Romans followed by
Riifi’ bin ‘Umayrah then ‘Abdurahman, then Khalid (ra).
‘Ubayd bin Sa’id narrates:
By Allah! We were entranced by the beautiful sight when Khalid said, “Get the enemies of Allah. Do not occupy yourselves with the booty and looking at the meadow, for if Allah wills it will all be yours.” When the Romans saw the Muslim horsemen led by Khalid (ra) coming, they rushed for their weapons, mounted their horses and said to each other, “These are but a few horses which Christ has brought to you as booty, so rush to them.”
So they went forth thinking that Khalid’s (ra) squadron was alone, when Dirar (ra) emerged with 1,000 horsemen, then Rafi’ bin ‘Umayrah and then ‘Abdurahman. Each squadron spread out, surrounded the Romans and targeted a different group shouting out, “There is no deity but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!”
The horses descended upon them like a stream.
Herbius called out to their men, “Defend what you have been blessed with. They will never leave this place.”
So one group went with him while another group of 500 horsemen went against Khalid (ra) under the leadership of Thomas, carrying a golden cross encrusted with jewels. Khalid. attacked him shouting, “O enemy of Allah, did you think that you could escape us when Allah folds up the earth for us?”
Aban’s (ra) widow had pierced one of Thomas’s eyes, so Khalid. stabbed his other eye and gouged it out. He then flung him off his horse while his men attacked the Romans. ‘Abdurahman bin Abi Bakr es was most amazing. No sooner had he seen Thomas falling, than he jumped off his horse, sat on his chest, cut off his head, raised it on his spear-point and called out, “By Allah! The accursed Thomas is killed,” and then went in search of Herbius, with the Muslims cheering.
Chapter 53 | Yunus and the princess
Rift’ bin ‘Umayrah narrates:
I was in the right-wing with Khalid (ra) when I saw a horseman in Roman attire dismounting and struggling with a Roman nun who got the better of him. I went to have a better look and saw that it was Yunus struggling like a lion with his wife. I went to help him but then he pointed out a group of ten women aiming rocks at my saddle. A most beautiful woman wearing brocade threw a large rock which struck my horse’s forehead. My horse, which had partaken in the Battle of Yamamah, now fell down dead.
I ran after her and she fled like a hunted deer with the other women behind her. I caught up to them, intending to kill them. I shouted, targeting the one who killed my horse. She screamed for help when I raised my sword. I stopped and went towards her. She was wearing brocade and had on her head a net of pearls. I took her prisoner and tied her up. I retraced my steps, mounted a Roman horse and said to myself, “By Allah! I must go and see what has happened to Yunus.”
I found him crying and sitting with his wife who was covered in her own blood. I said to her, “Become a Muslim.” She replied, “By Christ, I will never join you people.” Then she took out a knife and committed suicide. I said, “Allah has given you a replacement better than her. She wears brocade, has a net of pearls on her head and is more beautiful than the moon. So take her in place of your wife.” He said, “Where is she?” I replied, “Here, this woman who is with me.”
When he saw her, her dress and her ornaments and realised how extremely beautiful she was, he began speaking to her in Greek and asked her her identity. She replied in Greek and wept. He then turned to me and exclaimed, “Do you know who this is?”
I replied, “No.”
He said, “She is Heraclius’s daughter, Thomas’s wife. Someone like me is not suited for her. Heraclius will definitely look for her and pay her ransom.”
It is narrated that the Muslims could not find Khalid (ra) or any trace of him and were greatly worried about him. He was in fact deep in battle aiming for Herbius after Thomas was killed.
While attacking in all directions, he spotted a heavily-built, redcoloured Christian whom he thought must be the accursed one, so he headed towards him on his horse with great effort to kill him. When the Christian saw him coming he fled, but Khalid hit him with his spear and he fell down on the ground on his head. Khalid pounced on him like a lion saying, “O Herbius, did you think that you could escape me? Destruction be upon you.”
The Christian knew’ Arabic and replied, “O ‘Arab, I am not Herbius so spare me and do not kill me.”
Khalid: Your only way out is to lead me to him. When you have done that, I will release you.
Christian: You are sure that you will let me go if! show him to you?
Khalid: I am sure. You will be released.
Christian: O ‘Arab brother, get off my chest so that I can show him to you.
When Khalid (ra) got off he sprang up, looked right and left and said, “Look towards the mountain. One of those horses climbing is mounted by him.” Khalid (ra) handed him over to Ibn Jabir and then gave his horse free rein in pursuit of the enemy.
He caught up to them and shouted, “Did you think that you could escape me?”
When Herbius heard him, he shouted out and turned back with the armed patricians. Khalid (ra) said, “Destruction be upon you! Do you think that Allah would not give us power over you? I am the valiant horseman, Khalid bin al-Walid.”
Then he stabbed and finished off one horseman followed by a second. Herbius called out to his men, “He is the one who turned Syria upside down, he is the invader of Busra, Hawran, Damascus and Ajnadayn. Get him.” They entertained hopes of catching him since he was alone, separated from the rest of the Muslims who were fighting and pillaging the Romans, each one concerned with his own matters. Due to the rough terrain of the mountain, the patricians dismounted and surrounded Khalid (ra) on foot. He too dismounted and stood firm and patient with sword and shield in hand to fight them.
Chapter 54 |Herbius is killed
Shaddad bin Aws (ra), who was present at the Meadow of Brocade, narrates:
Khalid (ra) said to himself, “The dream has turned out to be true.”
Then while he was busy fighting them, Herbius came from behind and struck him with his sword cutting right through his turban and helmet. Herbius’s sword then fell from his hand. Khalid feared that if he turned to Herbius the others would attack him from behind, but if he fought them, then Herbius would escape. So he began shouting, “La ilaha illallah! Allahu Akbar!” and recited salutations upon Rasulullah (pbuh) with great joy so as to deceive the Christians into thinking that he was about to receive help.
The Muslims heard a sound and came from behind the Romans shouting, “La ilaha illallah! Allahu Akbar!” One voice stood out saying, “La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah! Help has come to you from the Rabb of all the worlds. I am ‘Abdurahman bin Abu Bakr as-Siddiq.”
Khalid (ra) paid no attention to them, but began tearing the enemy ranks apart with his attacks in all directions. Upon hearing the Muslims, Herbius wanted to flee, but Khalid caught him and struck him dead in a single blow and Allah sped his soul to Hell. The Companions of Rasulullah (pbuh) then descended upon the companions of Herbius and finished off every last one of them. Dirar (ra) killed most of them. When Khalid’s (ra) anxiety left him and he saw what Dirar (ra) had achieved, he exclaimed, “May you be blessed in your every action. May you triumph in your every deed. May my Rabb keep you in a good state.”
Then he went to make salam to ‘Abdurahman (ra) and all the Muslims and asked, “How did you locate me?”
‘Abdurahman (ra): O saved one, Allah granted us victory over the Romans so we were busy in collecting the booty when suddenly a voice from the wind said, “You are busy with booty while the Romans surround Khalid!”
However, we still did not know where you were and searched for you. A Christian held captive by your men pointed your position out to us and said, “I showed him where Herbius is. He is now with him at that mountain,” and so we came to you.
Khalid (ra): He had shown us Herbius and had shown me to the Muslims, so now his rights against us have been confirmed.
He then returned with them to the Muslims who, when they saw him, rushed to him to make salam. He returned their salam and called for the Christian who had shown him Herbius and said to him, “You fulfilled your duty and now we have to fulfil our promise. At the same time, you gave us advice so now we will give you advice – if you join the Din of Salah and Fasting and the Ummah of Muhammad & you will become of the people of Paradise.”
He replied, “I have no desire to change my religion,” so Khalid & let him go.
Nawfal bin ‘Amr narrates:
I saw him mounting his horse and heading on his own to Roman territories. The booty and prisoners were all gathered as Khalid (ra) had ordered. When he witnessed their great quantity, he praised Allah abundantly and thanked Him. Then calling his guide, Prince Yunus, said to him, “What did you do to your wife?”
Yunus narrated the whole incident which astonished Khalid (ra).
Rafi’: O commander, I captured Heraclius’s daughter and gave her to him as a substitute for his wife.
Khalid: Where is she?
When she was brought before him, Khalid (ra) saw her great beauty. He turned away from her and said, “You are pure from all blemishes. O Allah, all praise belongs to You alone. You create and choose what You want to.”
And your Rabb creates what He wants to and chooses. [28:68]
“Do you (Yunus) wish to take her in place of your wife?”
Yunus: Yes, except that Heraclius will doubtlessly want to ransom her or free her violently.
Khalid: Take her for now. If he does not look for her, then she is yours and if he does then Allah will give you better than her in return.
Yunus: O commander, you are in a tight and difficult situation, so leave now before enemy forces arrive.
Khalid: Allah is for us and with us.
He then pressed forth in returning with the booty ahead of him. The Muslims were behind him, joyous at the booty obtained, their safety enjoyed and victory granted.
Chapter 55 | Khalid’s gift to Heraclius
Rawh bin ‘Atiyah narrates:
We traversed the whole road without a single Roman appearing against us, although we were right in the centre of enemy territory. Upon reaching the Small Meadow near Umm Hakim Canal, we saw dust rising from behind us, which made us apprehensive. Someone went to go and inform Khalid who said, “Who will go and investigate it for me?” A man from the Ghifar tribe, .sa’sa’ah bin Yazid said, “I, O commander.”
He got off his horse and ran ahead on foot because he was faster than a horse. He reached the dust-cloud, investigated it and returned calling out, “O commander, the Christians have caught us. They are completely covered in iron with nothing visible of their bodies except for their eyes.”
When the (Roman) cavalry neared, Khalid called Yunus the guide and instructed him, “O Yunus, go to the cavalry and see what they want.”
Yunus: I hear and obey.
He went and returned to report, “O commander, did I not tell you that Heraclius would not neglect to go in search of his daughter? He has sent this cavalry to retrieve the booty from the Muslims, but now that you are close to Damascus, they are sending a messenger to ask you to either sell the girl or to gift her back. Khalid began discussing the matter with the Muslims until an old man wearing the garb of a travelling priest came to the Muslims, who brought him before Khalid.
Khalid: Say what you have got to say.
Priest: I am the messenger of Heraclius Caesar. He says to you, “I have been informed of what you have done to my men and of your killing of Thomas, my sonin-law, and violating my sanctity. You have attained victory and safety, so do not over-step the bounds with my daughter who is with you. So now either sell my daughter or gift her back to me, for indeed generosity is in your nation’s character and nature. Remember that he who does not show mercy is not shown mercy. I also hope to reach a peace settlement with you.
Khalid: Tell your master that I shall not leave him and the Christians until I have his throne and the very ground under his feet. (O Heraclius), you know this. If you knew a way to come against us you would not have hesitated. As for your daughter take her as a present from us. Khalid then handed her over to the old man without taking anything as ransom. When the messenger informed Heraclius, he said to the Roman leaders, “This is what I was telling you about, but you did not want to accept it and wanted to kill me. Soon things will get even more serious, but this is not from you but from the Lord of Heaven.”
The Romans wept bitterly at this.
Chapter 56 | The martyr
Khalid reached Damascus where Abu ‘Ubaydah (ra) and the Muslims had lost hope over him and were greatly depressed. When Khalid arrived they came out to welcome him and the Muslims began greeting each other. Khalid found ‘Amr bin Ma’dlkarab (ra), Malik bin al-Ashtar ss and their men in Damascus. He went to Abu ‘Ubaydah who, upon being told of the expedition, was highly impressed by his exploits. He then took out the state’s one-fifth share of the booty and distributed the remainder amongst the Muslim giving Yunus something from his own share, he said, ‘’Take this and use it to get married or buy a Roman slave-girl.’’
Yunus: By Allah! I will never marry a woman of this world. I will only marry ‘Ayna the virgin damsel of Paradise.
Rafi bin ‘Umayrah narrates:
He fought with us until al-Yarmuk. There I saw him fighting earnestly in the Path of Allah, greatly inflicting the Romans until an arrow pierced his throat and he fell down dead, may Allah have mercy on him.
Then I saw him in a dream, wearing glittering clothing and golden sandals wandering in a lush garden. I said to him, ‘’How has Allah treated you?’’ He replied, ‘’He has forgiven me and given me seventy women of Paradise. Were one of them to appear in the world, the light of her face would eclipse both the sun and moon. May Allah reward you all well.’’
I replied this to Khalid (ra) who said, By Allah! That is nothing but martyrdom. How fortunate is he who attains it.
Chapter 57 | Khalid’s Letter
I (al-Waqidi) have been informed that when Khalid returned from his expedition with the booty, he desired to write to Abu Bakr (ra) of the victory and booty, thinking that he was still alive.
Abu ‘Ubaydah had not informed him (of his demise) and that ‘Umar (ra) was the new Khalifah. So he called for an ink-pot and paper and wrote:
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
To: ‘Abdullah, the Khalifah of Rasulullah.
From: His governor of Syria, Khalid bin al-Walid.
I praise Allah besides whom there is no other deity and I send
salutations upon His Prophet Muhammad.
We continued suffering from the enemy in attacking Damascus
until Allah sent down upon us His help and conquered His enemy.
Damascus was conquered with the sword from the Eastern Gate
but the Romans deceived Abu ‘Ubaydah who was at the al-Jabiyah
Gate and reached a peace agreement with him which has prevented me
from enslaving or killing them. We met him at the Church of Mary,
with priests and monks in front of him, holding the treaty.
Caesar s son-in-law, Thomas, and another man called
Herbius left the city with enormous wealth andfat bundles (of brocade}.
I followed them with an army and snatched the booty
from their hands and killed the two accursed ones.
I made Heraclius s daughter prisoner and then gifted her back to him,
returning safely. I am awaiting your orders.
Salutations and salam be on our master, Muhammad, his family and Sahabah.
He folded the letter, sealed and stamped it and sent it with ‘Abdullah bin Qurt (ra) to al-Madinah, where the new Khalifah, ‘Umar bin al-Khajjab es read the opening and said, “Do the Muslims not know that Abu Bakr (ra) has died?”
Ibn Qurt: No, O commander of the Believers.
‘Umar : I had sent a letter to Abu ‘Ubaydah with this news and also dismissing Khalid and appointing him over the Muslims, knowing him undesirous of that post. He then continued reading the letter.