A Sleepless Man Who Will Not Let Anyone Sleep
His story is a rather perplexing one. He was the deadly enemy of Muslims in the Battle of Uhud and the deadly enemy of the enemies of Islam in the remaining Muslim battles.
I feel at a loss concerning where to begin and what to begin with. He himself hardly believed that his life had really begun until that day on which he shook hands with the Prophet as a sign of his allegiance to him. If he could have ruled out all the years, even the days that preceeded that day, he would not have thought twice.
Let us then begin with that part of his life which he himself loved most. Let us begin from that glorious moment when his heart was affected by Allah and his spirit was blessed by the Most Merciful. Thus, it overflowed with devotion to His religion. His Prophet and to a memorable martyrdom in the way of the truth. This martyrdom enabled him to erase the burdens of his advocation of falsehood in the past.
One day, he sat alone in deep thought concerning that new religion that was gaining momentum and gaining ground every day. He wished that Allah, the All-Knower of what is hidden and unseen, would guide him to the right path. His blessed heart was revived by the glad tidings of certainty. Therefore, he said to himself, “By Allah, it is crystal clear now. This man is indeed a Prophet, so how long shall I procrastinate. By Allah, I will go and submit myself to Islam.”
Now, let us hear him (May Allah be pleased with him) narrate his blessed visit to the Prophet (PBUH) and his journey from Makkah to Al-Madiinah to join the ranks of the believers: I hoped to find an escort, and I ran into ‘Uthmaan Ibn Talhah and when I told him about my intention, he agreed to escort me. We traveled shortly before daybreak and as we reached the plain, we ran into ‘Amr Ibn AI-‘Aas.
After we had exchanged greetings, he asked us about our destination, and when we told him, it turned out that he himself was going to the same place to submit himself to Islam. The three of us arrived at Al-Madiinah on the first day of Safar in the eighth year. As soon as I laid my eyes on the Prophet, I said, “Peace be upon the Prophet,” so he greeted me with a bright face. Immediately, I submitted myself to Islam and bore witness to the truth. Finally, the Prophet (PBUH) said, “I knew that you have an open mind and I prayed that it would lead you to safety.” I took my oath of allegiance to the Prophet then asked him, “Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I have committed to hinder men from the path of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Islam erases all the wrongdoings committed before it.” Yet I pleaded with him, “Please pray for me.” Finally, he supplicated Allah, “0 Allah, forgive Khaalid for all the wrongdoings he committed before he embraced Islam.” Then ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas and ‘Uthmaan Ibn Talhah stepped forward and submitted themselves to Islam and gave their oath of allegiance to the Prophet.
Notice these words “Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I have committed in the past to hinder men from the path of Allah.” Now, whoever has the perception and insight to read between the lines will find the true meaning of these words of Khaalid, who became the sword of Allah and the hero of Islam.
When we come across various incidents in the course of his life story, these words are our key to understanding and elucidation.
For the time being, let us accompany Khaalid, who had just embraced Islam, and watch the Quraish’s great warrior who had always held the reins of leadership. Let us see the subtlest of Arabs in the art of attack and retreat as he turned his back on the idols of his ancestors and the glory of his people, and welcomed, along with the Prophet and the Muslims, the advent of a new world that Allah had destined to rise under the standard of Muhammad and the slogan of monotheism.
Let us hear the Muslim Khaalid’s impressive story. To start with, do you recall the story of the three martyrs of the Battle of Mu’tah ? They were Zaid Ibn Haarithah, Ja’far Ibn Abi Taalib and ‘Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah. They were the heroes of the Battle of Mu’tah in Syria, in which the Romans mobilized 200,000 warriors. Nevertheless, the Muslims achieved unprecedented victory.
Do you recall the glorious, sad words with which the Prophet announced the sad news of the death of the three commanders of the battle? “Zaid Ibn Haarithah took the standard and fought holding it until he died as a martyr; then Ja’ar took it and fought clinging to it until he won martyrdom; and finally, “Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah gripped it and held it fast until he won martyrdom.”
This is only part of the Prophet’s speech, which I have written before, but now I find it appropriate to write the rest of the story:
“Then it was gripped by a sword of the swords of Allah and he fought until he achieved victory.”
“Who was that hero? He was Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid, who threw himself into the battlefield as if he were an ordinary soldier under the three commanders whom the Prophet assigned. The first commander was Zaid Ibn Haarithah, the second was Ja’far Ibn Abi Taalib, and the third was ‘Abdullah Ibn Rawaahah. They won martyrdom in the same order on the vicious battlefield.
After the last commander had won martyrdom, Thaabit Ibn Aqram took the standard with his right hand and raised it high amidst the Muslim army. His purpose was to stop any potential disarray inside the lines. Thaabit then carried the standard and hastened towards Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid and said, “Take the standard, Abu Sulaimaan.” Khaalid thought that he did not deserve to take it since he had newly embraced Islam. He had no right to preside over an army that included the An’aar and Muhaajiruun who had preceded him in embracing Islam.
These qualities of decorum, modesty, and gratitude were becoming of Khaalid’s worthiness. He said, “I will not dare to hold it. Go on, hold it, for you deserve it better than me. First, you are older. Second, you witnessed the Battle of Bad.” Thaabit answered, “Come on, take it, you know the art of fighting far better than me. By Allah, I only held it to give it to you.” Then he called on the Muslims, “Do you vote for Khaalid’s command?” They readily answered, “Yes, we do!”
At that moment, the great warrior mounted his horse and thrust the standard forward with his right hand as if he were knocking on closed doors that had been closed for too long and whose time had finally come to be flung wide open. So this act was to lead the hero to a long but passable road on which he would leap during the Prophet’s life and after his death until destiny brought his ingenuity to its inevitable end.
Although Khaalid was in charge of the army command, hardly any military expertise could change the already determined outcome of the battle, turning defeat into victory or turning victory into defeat. The only thing that a genius could manage to do was to prevent more casualties or damage in the Muslim army from occurring and end the battle with the remainder of the army intact. Sometimes a great commander must resort to that kind of preventive retreat measure that will prevent the annihilation of the rest of his striking force on the battlefield. However, such a retreat was potentially impossible, yet if the saying, “Nothing stands in the way of a fearless heart” is true, there was no one more fearless and ingenious than Khaalid.
Instantly, The Sword of Allah flung himself into the vast battlefield. His eyes were as sharp as a hawk’s. His mind worked quickly, turning over all the potentialities in his mind. While the fierce fight raged, Khaalid quickly split his army into groups, with each assigned a certain task. He used his incredible expertise and outstanding craftiness to open a wide space within the Roman army through which the whole Muslim army retreated intact. This narrow escape was credited to the ingenuity of a Muslim hero. m this battle, the Prophet gave Khaalid the great epithet “The Sword of Allah”.
Shortly thereafter, the Quraish violated their treaty with the Prophet (PBUH) and the Muslims marched under Khaalid’s command to conquer Makkah. The Prophet assigned the command of the right flank of the army to Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid.
Khaalid entered Makkah as one of the commanders of the Muslim army and the Muslim nation. He recalled his youth when he galloped across its plains and mountains as one of the commanders of the army of paganism and polytheism. Khaalid stood there recollecting his childhood days playing on its wonderful pastures and his youthful memories of its wild entertainment. These memories of the past weighed down on him, and he was filled with remorse for his wasted life in which he worshipped inanimate and helpless idols.
But before he bit the tips of his fingers in remorse, he was overpowered by the magnificence and spell of this scene of the glorious light that approached Makkah and swept away all that came before it. The astounding scene of the weak and oppressed people, on whose bodies the marks of torture and horror still showed, was magnificent as they returned to the land they had been unjustly driven out of. Only this time, they returned on horseback under the fluttering standard of Islam. Their whispers at Daar Al-Arqam’s house yesterday turned today into loud and glorious shouts of “Allahu akbar (Allah is the Greatest)”, that shook Makkah and the victorious cry “There is no god but Allah”, with which the entire universe seemed to be celebrating a feast day.
How did this miracle come about? What is the explanation of what had happened? Simply, there was no logical or rational explanation whatsoever, but the power of the verse that the victorious marching soldiers repeated with their “There is no god but Allah” and “Allahu akbar” as they looked with joy at one another and said, < (It is ) a Promise of Allah, and Allah fails not in His Promise > (30:6).
Then Khaalid raised his head and watched in reverence, joy and satisfaction as the standard of Islam fluttered on the horizon. He said to himself, “Indeed, it is a promise of Allah and Allah fails not in His promise.” Then he bent his head in gratitude and thanks for Allah’s blessing that had guided him to Islam and made him one of thoee who would usher Islam into Makkah rather than one of those who would be spurred by this conquest to submit themselves to Islam.
Khaalid was always near the Prophet. He devoted his excellent abilities to the service of the religion he firmly believed in and devoted his life to. After the glorious Prophet had died and Abu Bakr became the caliph,the sly and treacherous cyclone of those who apostatized from Islam shrouded the new religion with its deafening roar and devastating outbreak. Abu Bakr, quickly chose the hero of the battlefields and man of the hour, namely Abu Sulaimaan, The Sword of Allah, Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid. It is true that Abu Bakr himself was at the head of the first army that fought against the apostates,nevertheless, he saved Khaalid for the decisive day and Khaalid was truly the mastermind and inspired hero of the last crucial battle that was considered the most dangerous of all the apostasy battles.
When the apostate armies were taking measures to perfect their large conspiracy, the great Caliph Abu Bakr insisted on taking the lead of the Muslim army. The leaders of the Companions tried desperately to persuade him not to, yet his decision was final. Perhaps he meant to give the cause for which he mobilized and rallied this army a special importance, tinged with sanctity. He could not achieve his aim except by his actual participation in the deadly battle and his direct command of some or all of the Muslim troops. It was a battle between the power of belief against the power of apostasy and darkness.
The outbreak of apostasy posed serious threats, inspite of the fact that it started as an accidental insubordination. Soon, the opportunists and the malicious enemies of Islam, whether from the Arab tribes or from across the borders where the power of Romans and Persians perched, seized their last opportunity to hinder the sweeping tide of Islam. Therefore, they instigated mutiny and chaos from behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, mutiny flowed like an electric current through the Arab tribes, like Asad, Ghatfaan, ‘Abs, Tii, Dhubyaan, then Bani ‘Aamar, Hawaazin, Sulaim and Bani Tamiim. Hardly had the skirmishes started with limited numbers of soldiers than they were reinforced with enormous armies, often of thousands of warriors. The people of Bahrain, Oman and Al-Mahrah responded to this horrible plot.
Suddenly, Islam was facing a dangerous predicament, and the apostate enemy closed in upon the believers. But Abu Bakr was ready for them. He mobilized the Muslim armies and marched to where the armies of Bani “Abs, Bani Murah and Bani Dhubyaan gathered.
The battle started and went on for a long time before the Muslims achieved a great victory. No sooner had the victorious Muslim army reached Al-Madiinah than the caliph sent it on another expedition. News spread that the armies of the apostates were increasing in number and weapons by the hour.
Abu Bakr marched at the head of the second army, only this time, the prominent Companions lost their patience and clung to their opinion that the caliph should remain in Al-Madiinah. Accordingly, Imam ‘Ally stood in Abu Bakr’s way as he was marching at the head of the army and held the reins of his she camel and asked, “Where to, Caliph of the Prophet? I will tell you the same words that the Prophet told you in the Battle of Uhud: Sheathe your sword, Abu Bakr, and don’t expose us to such a tragic loss at this critical time.”
The caliph had to comply with this consensus. Therefore, he split the army into eleven divisions and assigned a certain role for each one. Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid would be the commander over a large division. When the caliph gave every commander his standard, he addressed Khaalid saying, “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Khaalid is truly an excellent slave of Allah and a brother of the same tribe. He is a sword of Allah unsheathed against disbelievers and hypocrites.'”
Khaalid and his army fought one battle after another and achieved one victory after another until they reached the crucial battle.
It was in the Battle of Al-Yamaamah that Bani Haniifah and their allies from the Arab tribes organized one of the most dangerous armies of the apostasy, led by Musailamah the Liar. A number of Muslim forces tried to defeat Musailamah’s army but failed. Finally the caliph ordered Khaalid to march to where Bani Haniifah was camped.
No sooner had Musailamah heard that Khaalid was on his way to fight him than he reorganized his army, turning it into a devastating and horrible enemy machine. Both armies met in fierce combat. When you read the history of the Prophet (PBUH) a perplexing awe will take hold of you, for you will find yourself watching a battle that resembles our modern battles in its atrocity and horrors, though it differs in weapons and tactics.
Khaalid’s army stopped at a sand dune that overlooked Al-Yamaamah. At the same time, Musailamah marched haughtily and with great might followed by endless waves of his soldiers. Khaalid assigned the brigades and standard to the commanders of his army. As the two armies clashed in a terrible, large-scale, devastating war, the Muslim martyrs fell one by one like roses in a garden on which a stubborn tempest blew! Immediately Khaalid realized that the enemy was about to win the battle, so he galloped up a nearby hill and surveyed the battlefield. He realized that his soldiers morale was waning under the pressure of the blitz of Musailamah’s army.
Instantly, he decided to trigger a new feeling of responsibility inside the Muslim army, so he summoned the flanks and reorganized their positions on the battlefield. He cried out victoriously, “Fight together in your own groups and let us see who will surpass the other and win the field.” They all obeyed and reorganized themselves in their own groups. Thus, the Muhaajiruun fought under their i taidard, the Ansaar fought under theirs, and every group fought under its standard. It became fairly easy to determine where defect came from. As a result, the Muslims were charged with admirable enthusiasm, firmness, and determination.
Every now and then, Khaalid was careful to cry out, “Allahu akbar” and “There is no god but Allah.” He ordered his army in such a way that he turned the swords of his men into an inevitable victory that no one could escape. It was striking that, in a few minutes, the Muslim army turned the tables on Musailamah’s army. Musailamah’s soldiers fell in tens of hundreds and thousands like flies that were suffocated by the deadly spray of a pesticide. Khaalid ordered his soldiers with a kind of enthusiasm that flowed into them like an electric current. This was a manifestation of his striking genius. This was the manner in which the most decisive and fierce battle of apostasy was conducted. In the end, Musailamah was slain and the bodies of his men were scattered on the battlefield. Finally, the standard of the liar imposter was buried forever.
On hearing the good news, the caliph offered the Prayer of Thanksgiving to Allah the Great and Most High for bestowing victory on the hands of this hero.
Abu Bakr had enough discernment and insight to realize the danger of the evil powers that perched on the borders, threatening the promising future of Islam and Muslims. These evil powers were the Persians in Iraq and the Romans in Syria. These two dwindling empires that clung tenaciously to the distorted remnant of their past glory were not only afflicting the people of Iraq and Syria with horrible torment, but also manipulating them. Notwithstanding the fact that the majority populations were Arabs, they instigated them to fight Muslim Arabs who carried the standard of the new religion which sought to pull down the vestiges of the ancient world and eradicate the decay and corruption in which it was steeped. The great and blessed caliph sent his orders to Khaalid to march towards Iraq, so the hero did so.
I wish that I were given more space to follow up in detail the proceedings of his magnificent victory.
Upon arriving in Iraq, the first thing that Khaalid did was to dispatch messages to every governor and deputy who ruled the provinces and cities of Iraq in the name of the emperor. These messages were as follows: In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficient, the Most Merciful. Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid sends this message to the satraps of Persia. Peace will be upon him who follows the guidance. All praises and thanks be to Allah Who dispersed your power and thwarted your deceitful plots. On the one hand, he who performs our prayers directing his face to our Qiblah to face the Sacred Mosque in Makkah and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim. He has the same rights and duties that we have. On the other hand, if you do not want to embrace Islam, then as soon as you receive my message, send over the jizyah (tax levied upon non-Muslim people who are under the protection of a Muslim government) and I give you my word that I will respect and honor this covenant. But if you do not agree to either choice, then, by Allah,1 will send to you people who crave death as much as you crave life.
Khaalid’s scouts whom he planted everywhere warned him against the enormity of the armies that were organized by the commanders of Persia in Iraq. As usual, Khaalid did not waste much time. Therefore, he flung his soldiers against the falsehood of disbelief so as to devastate it.
Victory followed him wherever he went, from Al-Ubullah, to As-Sadiir, An-Najaf, Al-Hiirah, Al-Anbaar then Al-Kaadhimiyah. There was one victory procession after another. The glad tidings of Khaalid’s arrival blew like a fresh breeze wherever he went to usher in Islam. The weak and oppressed people found sanctuary in the new religion that saved them from the occupation and oppression of the Persians.
It was impressive that Khaalid’s first order to his troops was, “Do not attack or hurt the peasants. Leave them to work at peace unless some of them attack you. Only then, I permit you to defend yourselves.”
He marched on with his victorious army, swept his enemies, and cut through their ranks like a knife cutting through melting butter. The Aadhaan resounded everywhere. I wonder if it had reached the Romans in Syria? Did they realize that cries of “Allah is the Greatest” signaled the end of their deteriorating civilizations? Indeed, they must have heard. In fact, the Aadhaan cast terror into them, yet in a desperate attempt to recapture the phantom of their empire, they decided heedlessly to fight a battle of despair and perdition.
Abu Bakr Ag-Siddiiq mobilized his armies and chose a group of his prominent commanders such as Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah, ‘Amr Ibn Abbaas, Yaziid Ibn Abi Sufyaan and Mu’aawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyaan to lead them.
When the Roman emperor heard the news of the mobilization of these armies, he advised his ministers and commanders to make peace with the Muslims to avoid inevitable defeat. However, his ministers and commanders insisted on fighting and maintained, “By our Lord, we will make Abu Bakr’s hair stand on end before his horses breed in our land.” Consequently, they mobilized an army estimated at 240,000 warriors.
The Muslim commanders dispatched this terrifying news to Abu Bakr, who pledged, “By Allah, I will rid them of their doubts through Khaalid.” Thus, the antidote of their evil suggestions of mutiny, aggression, and disbelief, namely Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid, was ordered to go on an expedition to Syria, where he was to command the Muslim armies.
Khaalid promptly acted upon his orders and left Iraq under Al-Muthannaa Ibn Haarithah’s supervision and marched with his troops until they reached the Muslim headquarters in Syria. His ingenuity enabled him to organize the Muslim armies and coordinate their different positions in no time. Shortly before the outbreak of war, he addressed his warriors after he had praised and thanked Allah, saying, “This is Allah’s day. On this day, we must not give way to pride not let injustice overrule. I advise you to purify your jihaad and your deeds for Allah. Let us take turns in command. Let each and everyone of us take over the command for a day.”
“This is Allah’s day.” What a wonderful onset! “We must not give way to pride nor let injustice overrule.” This sentence is even more graceful, adequate, and awesome. On the one hand, the great leader was not lacking in self-denial and cleverness, for inspite of the fact that the caliph had assigned the command of the army to him, he did not want to give Satan a chance to whisper in the breasts of his soldiers. Therefore, he relinquished his absolute hold on the army to every soldier in the ranks even though he was already the commander. Thus, the commander of the army rotated from day to day.
The enormous and well-equipped Roman army was really terrifying. On the other hand, the Roman commander realized that time was in the Muslims’ favor, for they were given to protracted battles which would guarantee their victory. Therefore, he decided to mobilize all their troops for a quick battle to finish off the Arabs once and for all.
Undoubtedly the courageous Muslims, on that day, were gripped by fear and anxiety, yet in such predicaments they always resorted to their faith, in which they found hope and victory. Notwithstanding the might of the Roman armies, the experienced Abu Bakr had firm belief in Khaalid’s abilities; therefore he said, “Khaalid is the man for it. By Allah, I will rid them of their doubts with Khaalid.”
Let the Romans parade their terrifying, enormous forces, for the Muslims had the antidote. Ibn Al-Waliid mobilized and rallied his army, then divided it into brigades. He laid out a new plan for attack and defense that adhered to the Roman war strategy and tactics with which he was well-acquainted from his past experience with the Persians. He was ready for all possibilities. Strangely enough, the battle raged exactly as he had imagined it would, step by step and one fight after another. If he had actually counted the number of strokes of swords, he would not have been much more accurate. Before the two armies clashed, he was worried about the possibility that some of the soldiers, especially those who had newly embraced Islam, might flee upon seeing the terrifying and enormous Roman army.
Khaalid believed that the ingenuity of victory and firmness were one and the same. He believed that the Muslim army could not afford the loss of even one of its soldiers, for it was enough to spread malignant panic and havoc inside the army, which was something that even the entire Roman army could not succeed in doing. In consequence, he was extremely firm concerning anyone who deserted his post and weapon and ran away. In the Battle of Yarmuuk, in particular, and afterwards, his troops took their positions. He called the Muslim women and, for the first time, gave them swords. He ordered them to stand at the rear of the lines to “Kill anyone who flees.” It was the magic touch of a mastermind.
Shortly before the battle erupted, the Roman commander asked Khaalid to show himself, for he wanted a few words with him. Khaalid rode towards him, then they galloped to the area that separated the two armies. Mahan, the Roman commander, addressed Khaalid saying, “We know that nothing but weariness and hunger made you leave your country and go on this expedition. If you wish, we shall give ten dinars, clothes, and food to every one of you, on one condition, that you return to your country and next year we will do the same.”
Khaalid gnashed his teeth, as he was provoked by his flagrant lack of manners, yet he repressed himself and answered confidently, “We didn’t leave our country out of hunger as you said, but we heard that Roman blood is very delicious and tasty, so we have decided to quench our thirst with it.”
Swiftly, the hero rode back to the ranks of his army and raised the Muslim standard to the full length of his arm, then he launched the attack.
Allahuakbar! Let the breeze of Paradise blow!
At once, his army was like a missile as it charged into the battlefield. They met in an extraordinary, monstrous, and deadly combat. The Romans rushed into the battlefield with an enormous number, yet they found that their foes were not an easy prey. The self-sacrifice and firmness that the Muslims displayed on that day were impressive.
In the first place, one of the Muslim soldiers rushed to Abu “Ubaidah Ibn Al-jarraah (May Allah be pleased with him) during the battle and said, “I have set my mind on martyrdom. Do you want me to take a message to the Prophet (PBUH) when I meet him?” Abu ‘Ubaidah answered, “Yes, tell him we have indeed found true what our Lord had promised us.”
Immediately, the man darted like an arrow into the horrors of the battlefield. He craved death; therefore, he fought fiercely with one sword while thousands of swords were thrusted into him until he won martyrdom.
Secondly, “Ikramah Ibn Abu Jahl — yes, he was the son of the infamous Abu Jahl. He called out to the Muslims when the Romans were killing anyone who came within the sweep of their swords and said, “I fought against the Prophet before Allah guided me to Islam, so how can I possibly be afraid of fighting Allah’s enemy after I submitted myself to Islam?”
Then he cried out, “Who gives me the pledge to death?” He was given the pledge to death by a group of Muslims. Then they broke through the enemy lines. They preferred martyrdom to victory. Allah accepted the bargain they had concluded through their pledge and they won martyrdom.
Thirdly, other Muslims were badly wounded and water was brought so that they might quench their thirst, yet when it was offered to the first one, he pointed to his brother who was lying next to him more seriously wounded and who was more thirsty. Again, when this brother was offered water, he in his turn pointed to his brother. Finally, the majority of them died thirsty after they had demonstrated an incredible example of self-denial and self-sacrifice. Indeed, the Battle of Al-Yarmuuk witnessed unprecedented and unmatched instances of self-sacrifice.
Among these striking masterpieces of self-sacrifice exhibited by the determined will of the Muslims was the extraordinary portrait of Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid at the head of only 100 soldiers who flung themselves against 40,000 Romans. Khaalid kept calling out to his 100 soldiers saying, “By Allah, the Romans seemed to have lost their patience and courage, therefore I pray to Allah to let you have the upper hand over them.”
How could 100 soldiers have the upper hand over 40,000? It is, indeed, incredible! Yet, were not the hearts of these 100 soldiers filled with faith in Allah the Most High, the Most Great? Were they not filled with faith in His trustworthy and honest Prophet (PBUH)? Were they not filled with faith in that cause which represents the most persistent vital issue in life? This cause represents piety and righteousness. And was not their Caliph Abu Bakr As-Siddiiq (Allah be pleased with him) the man who, while his flags were raised above the whole world, sat there in Al-Madiinah, the new capital of the new world, milking with his own hands the ewes of widows and kneading with his own hands the bread of orphans? Was not their Commander Khaalid Ibn Al-Waliid the antidote for the doubts of tyranny, arrogance, oppression, and transgression? Was not the Sword of Allah drawn against the powers of backwardness, decay, and disbelief? Were not all these portraits a depiction of truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
So let the breeze of victory blow! Let it blow strong, mighty, and victorious!
Khaalid’s ingenuity impressed the Roman officers and commanders so much so that Jerjah, a Roman commander, asked Khaalid to show himself during a rest in the fighting. When they met, the Roman commander asked him, “Khaalid, tell me the truth and do not lie, for the freeman doesn’t lie. Did Allah send down on your Prophet a heavenly sword and he gave it to you, so that it enables you to kill anyone who comes within its sweep?” Khaalid answered, “No.” The man exclaimed,” Then why do they call you the Sword of Allah?” Khaalid explained, “Allah sent His Prophet to us. Some of us believed in him and others disbelieved in him. I was among the disbelievers until Allah guided my heart to Islam and to His Prophet (PBUH) and I gave him my allegiance. Therefore, the Prophet supplicated Allah for me and said, ‘You are the Sword of Allah.'” The Roman commander asked, “What do you invits people to?” Khaalid answered, “We invite people to monotheism and to Islam.” He asked, “Does anyone who submits himself to Islam have the same reward as you?” Khaalid answered,” Yes, and even better.” Jerjah exclaimed, “How, when you embraced Islam before he did?”
Khaalid answered, “We lived with the Prophet and saw with our own eyes his signs and miracles. Now anyone who had the chance to see what we saw and hear what we heard was expected to submit himself to Islam sooner or later. As for you who did not see or hear him, if despite this you believe in him and in the unseen, you will find better and greater reward if you purify your conscience and intentions to Allah.”
The Roman commander cried out as he urged his horse closer to Khaalid and stood next to him, “Please, Khaalid, teach me Islam!” He submitted himself to Islam and prayed two rak’ahs. Soon, combat erupted and once again, the Roman Jerjah fought, but this time on the Muslim side until he won martyrdom.
Now, let us watch closely how human greatness was manifested in one of its most remarkable scenes. The first version narrated by the historian said that while Khaalid was commanding the Muslim army in this bloody and crucial war and wresting victory out of the claws of the Romans with admirable master strokes, the new caliph, “Umar Ibn Al-Khaltaab, Commander of the Faithful, dispatched a message to him in which he saluted the Muslim army and announced the sad news of Abu Bakr’s death (May Allah be pleased with him). Then he ordered Khaalid to give up his command to Abu ‘Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah. Khaalid read the message and supplicated Allah to have mercy on Abu Bakr and bestow His guidance on ‘Umar. Then he strictly ordered the messenger not to tell anyone about the purport of the message and not to leave his place or communicate with anyone.
Then Khaalid resumed his command of the combat and concealed the news of Abu Bakr’s death and ‘Umar’s orders until they had achieved victory. Finally, the hour of victory came and the Romans were defeated.
It was only then that the hero approached Abu ‘Ubaidah and saluted him. At first, Abu “Ubaidah thought that he did so in jest, yet he soon realized how serious and true this news was. Instantly, he kissed Khaalid between his eyes and praised his greatness.
The second version of the same incident is that the message was sent to Abu’Ubaidah, who concealed the news from Khaalid until the burden of war was over. Which of the two versions is authentic is not our concern here. The only thing that interests us here is Khaalid’s conduct, which was superb in both versions.
I cannot think of a situation in which Khaalid manifested more loyalty and sincerity than this one. It did not matter to him whether he was a commander or a soldier. Both ranks were one and the same to him as long as they enabled him to carry out his duties towards Allah Whom he believed in, the Prophet (PBUH) whom he gave allegiance to, and, finally, towards the religion which he embraced. This great self-control of Khaalid and of other Muslims was not possible without the help and guidance of the unique type of caliphs who were at the head of the Muslim nation at that time. These caliphs were Abu Bakr and ‘Umar. The mere mention of either name conjures up all the unique and great traits created in mankind.
Notwithstanding the fact that Khaalid and “Umar were not exactly best friends, “Umar’s decency, justice, and remarkable greatness were not in the least questioned by Khaalid. Hence, his decisions and judgments were not questioned. The unbiased conscience of the man who issued these orders reached the apex of piety, steadfastness, and veracity.
‘Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, had nothing against Khaalid but his overburdening and sharp sword.
He vented these reservations when he suggested to Abu Bakr that Khaalid should be dismissed after the death of Maalik Ibn Nuwairah. He said, “Khaalid’s sword is overburdening.” He meant that it was swift, sharp, and harsh. The Caliph As-Siddiiq said, “I would not sheathe what Allah had unsheathed against the disbelievers.”
Notice that “Umar did not say that Khaalid was overburdening but used “overburdening” to describe the sword rather than the man. Not only did these words manifest the elevated politeness of the Commander of the Faithful but also his profound appreciation of Khaalid.
Khaalid was a man of war from head to toe. He dedicated his whole life before and after his Islam to becoming a shrewd and daring knight. Even his environment and the way he was brought up were devoted to that ultimate goal.
Whenever he traveled back in time, he saw the wars he waged against the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions and the strokes of his sword that had slain believers and worshipers. Those memories agitated him and made him conscience – stricken. Therefore, his sword longed to devastate the pillars of disbelief to compensate for his wrongdoings in the past.
I think you still remember what went on between Khaalid and the Prophet (PBUH) at the beginning of this chapter, particularly when Khaalid asked the Prophet, “Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I committed to hinder men from Allah’s path.” You also remember that even when the Prophet told him that Islam erases all the wrongdoings committed before it, he pleaded with him until he finally promised him to ask Allah’s forgiveness for him for all the mischief he had committed before he submitted himself to Islam.
Surely when the sword is carried by such an extraordinary knight as Khaalid and thrust upon the commands of a conscience, revived by the warmth of purification, sacrifice, and absolute loyalty to a religion that was surrounded by conspiracy and animosity, it will be impossible ifpr this sword to throw aside its strict principles or its spontaneous sharpness.
For instance, when the Prophet (PBUH) sent him to some Arab tribes after the conquest of Makkah, he said to him, “I am sending you there not as a warrior, but as a Muslim who invites to the way of Allah.” Unfortunately, his sword got the better of him and forced him into the role of the warrior, obliterating the role of the Muslim who invites to the way of Allah that the Prophet (PBUH) had ordered him to follow. When the Prophet (PBUH) heard what Khaalid had done, he was stricken with anxiety and pain. Then he turned in the direction of the Qiblah and raised his hands in supplication and apology to Allah and said, “0 Allah, I free myself from blame for what Khaalid has committed.” Then he sent ‘Ali (radhiAllahu anhu) to give compensatory blood-money to the family of the deceased.
Narrators said that Khaalid absolved himself from blame when he said that ‘Abd Allah Ibn Hudhaafah As-Sahmii told him, “The Prophet has ordered you to attack them for their rejection of Islam.”
m spite of that, Khaalid possessed superhuman energy. He was overtaken by an irresistible urge to devastate the idolatry of the ancient world. If we watched him pulling down the ‘Uzzaa idol which the Prophet (PBUH) ordered him to destroy, we would see that the resentment and wrath he showed while striking were so aggressive and violent that he did not seem to be striking at a mass of rock but at a whole army, cutting the throats of its soldiers and spreading death everywhere. For he kept striking with his right hand, then with his left hand, then with his foot. He yelled at the scattered rubble and dust, ‘”Uzzaa, I don’t believe in you! Glory is not to be yours! I can see that Allah has humilitated you!”
We will always repeat the words of ‘Umar the Commander of the Faithful about Khaalid: “Women who give birth to men like Khaalid are extremely rare,” as well as our earnest wish along with “Umar that his sword would lose its rashness.
On the day of his death, ‘Umar cried excessively. Later, people learned that his grief was not only caused by his personal loss, but also by the loss of his last chance to return the command to Khaalid now that people were no longer infatuated with him. The reasons behind his dismissal were now gone. Only this time, unfortunately, the man was gone too.
Indeed, the great hero rushed to take his place in Paradise. For it was about time he caught his breath, considering the fact that no one on earth had been more restless than he. It was really about time his exhausted body would sleep for a while, considering that he was described by his friends and enemies alike as “A sleepless man who would not let anyone sleep.”
If it were for him to decide, he would have chosen to live on until he had demolished all the decaying ruins of the ancient world and continued his jihaad in the way of Allah and Islam.
The sweet fragrance of this man’s spirit will linger forever more whenever horses neigh and the edge of swords glitter and the standards of monotheism flutter over Muslim armies. He used to say, “Nothing is dearer to me than a frosty night in the company of an infantry of Muhaajiruun when we are to attack the disbelievers in the morning. Not even the night in which I was wedded to a new bride or received the glad tidings of the birth of a new child.”
Therefore, the tragedy of his life, in his opinion, was dying in bed after he had spent his entire life on horseback, raising his glittering sword. It was difficult for him to accept that he was to die in bed after all the battles he had fought next to the Prophet (PBUH), and after he had annihilated the Roman and Persian empires and after he had galloped to Iraq where he achieved one victory after another until he had liberated it. Then he had turned to Syria where he had achieved one victory after another until he had set it free from the bonds of disbelief.
mspite of his position as a commander, he was so modest that if you had seen him you would not have distinguished him from among his soldiers, yet at the same time, you would have known at once that he must be a commander from the way he shouldered responsibilities and set himself as a grod example.
Again, the tragedy of this hero’s life was dying in bed. He said as his tears flowed, “All the battles I fought in left my body scarred with wounds and stabs everywhere, yet here I am dying in bed as if I had never witnessed war before. I hope that the cowards will not have a day’s rest even after I am dead.”
These words were becoming of such a man. When the moment of departure was close, he dictated his will. Can you guess to whom he left all his valuables? It was to ‘Umar Ibn Al Khattaab himself. Can you guess what were his valuables? They were his horse and his weapon. And what? He had nothing else to bequeath but his horse and weapon.
Thus, his only obsession while he was alive was achieving victory over the enemies of truth. He was not in the least obsessed with life, with all its splendors and luxury. There was one thing that he obsessively cherished and treasured. It was his helmet. He lost it in the Battle of Al-Yarmuuk, and he exhausted himself and others in searching for it. When he was criticized for that, he said, “I keep it for luck, for it has some hairs of the Prophet’s forehead. It makes me feel optimistic that victory is within reach.”
Finally, the body of the hero left his home carried on the shoulders of his companions. The deceased’s mother took one last look at the hero, her eyes full of determination tinged with sadness as she commended him to Allah’s protection and said, “There are far, far better than a thousand men who flung themselves into the battlefield. Do you ask me about his valor? He was much more courageous than a huge lion that protects its cubs in the time of danger. Do you ask me about his generosity? He was far more generous than an overwhelming torrential rain that slides down from the mountains.”
“Umar’s heart throbbed and his eyes flowed with tears when he heard her recite these lines of poetry: “You spoke the truth. By Allah, he was everything you said he was.”
The hero was buried. His companions stood at his grave in reverence. They felt that the whole universe was so peaceful, humble, and silent that it seemed as if the whole world went into mourning.
I imagine that this awesome stillness was broken only by the neighing of a horse that tugged at its halter and went to its master’s grave guided by his scent. As it reached the silent congregation and the moist grave, it shook its head and neighed sharply as it used to do when the hero was on its back devastating the thrones of Persia and Rome, curing the delusions of paganism and oppression, and eliminating the powers of backwardness and disbelief to pave the way for Islam. As it fixed its eyes on the grave, it kept on raising and lowering its head as if it were bidding its last farewell to its master and hero. Then it stood still with its head raised, yet its eyes flowed with tears. Khaalid bequeathed it along with his weapons to ‘Umar in the way of Allah. Yet who is valiant and great enough to deserve to mount it after Khaalid?
Alas, you hero of all victory, the dawn of all nights. You soared with your army above the horrors of war when you said to your soldiers, “The darkest hour is that before dawn.” This became a saying afterwards.
May Allah bless your morning, Abu Sulaimaan. May Allah bestow glory, praise, and eternity on you, Khaalid.
Let us now repeat after ‘Umar the Commander of the Faithful the sweet elegy with which he paid his last farewell to Khaalid: “May Allah have mercy on you, Abu Sulaimaan. What you have now is far better than what you had in life, for you are now with Allah. You were honored in life and content in death.”