The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

Main Index
Chapter 6: Mutah and the Sword of Allah

 Part I: In the Time of the Prophet (SAWS)


Page: 2

The Christian Arabs, who were commanded by Malik bin Zafila, formed themselves into a deep mass confronting the Muslims. Some historians have given their strength as 100,000, while others have doubled that figure. These estimates are clearly mistaken. The enemy probably consisted of between 10 and 15 thousand men. In this battle the Muslims failed to gain a victory. If the enemy had been only twice their strength, they would undoubtedly have thrashed him; and an enemy had to be many times their strength to, inflict a defeat on them. It is largely on this basis that the above estimate of the enemy's strength is made.

The battle began, and both armies very quickly got to grips with each other. This was essentially a battle of guts and stamina rather than military skill. The commander himself fought at the head of his men with his standard, and after a short while Zaid was killed. As the standard fell from his hands, the second?in?command, Jafar, picked it up and continued fighting at the head of the army. After his body had been covered with scores of wounds, Jafar also fell; and the standard went down for the second time. This distressed the Muslims, for Jafar was held in great esteem and affection as a cousin of the Prophet. A certain amount of confusion became noticeable among the Muslims, but soon the third?in?command, Abdullah bin Rawahah, picked up the standard and restored order. He continued to fight until he also was killed.

Now there was real disorder in the ranks of the Muslims. A few of them fled from the scene of battle, but stopped not far from the battlefield. Others continued to offer confused resistance in twos and threes and larger groups. Fortunately the enemy did not press his advantage, for had he done so the Muslims, without a commander, could easily have been routed. Perhaps the gallantry of the Muslim commanders and the valour with which the Muslims had fought made the enemy overcautious and discouraged him from taking bold action.

When Abdullah had fallen, the standard was picked up by Thabit bin Arqam, who raised his voice and shouted, "O Muslims, agree upon a man from among you to be the commander." He then spied Khalid, who stood next to him, and offered him the standard. Khalid was conscious of the fact that as a new convert he did not hold a high position among the Muslims, and Thabit bin Arqam was a Muslim of long standing. This consideration was important. He declined the offer of Thabit, saying: "You are more deserving than I" "Not I," replied Thabit, "and none but you!" 1 This was really a windfall for the Muslims, for they knew of the personal courage and military ability of Khalid. They all agreed to his appointment, and Khalid took the standard and assumed command.

The situation now was serious and could easily have taken a turn for the worse, leading, rapidly to the total defeat of the Muslims. The commanders before Khalid had shown more valour than judgement in fighting this battle. Khalid regained control over his small army and organized it into a neatly deployed fighting force. He was faced with three choices. The first was to withdraw and save the Muslims from destruction, but this might be regarded as a defeat and he would then be blamed for having brought disgrace to Muslim arms. The second was to stay on the defensive and continue fighting; in this case the superior strength of the enemy would eventually tell and the battle end in defeat. The third was to attack and throw the enemy off balance, thus gaining more time in which to study the situation and plan the best course of action. The last choice was closest to the nature of Khalid, and this is the course that he adopted.

The Muslims attacked fiercely along the entire front. They surged forward with Khalid in the lead. The example of Khalid gave fresh courage to the Muslims, and the battle increased in violence. For some time desperate hand?to?hand fighting continued; then Qutba, commanding the Muslim right, dashed forward and killed the Christian commander, Malik, in a duel. This resulted in a setback for the enemy and led to, a certain amount of confusion. The Christian Arabs now pulled back, still fighting, with a view to gaining time for reorganization. At this moment Khalid had his tenth sword in his hand, having broken nine in fierce combat.

1. Ibn Sad: p. 638.