The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 11: The Gathering Storm

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy


Page: 4

As the Muslims gathered to take the oath of allegiance, Abu Bakr made the first speech of his caliphate-a speech that further emphasised his modesty and humility and gave no promise of strength. He said:

"Praise be to Allah! I am now in authority over you, but I am not the best among you. If I act virtuously, help me. If I act wrongfully, correct me. Truth is honesty, falsehood is treachery.
The weak among you is strong in my sight, until I give him what is due to him, if Allah wills it. And the strong among you is weak in my sight, until I take what is due from him, if Allah wills it.
Let none among you abjure the holy war in the way of Allah, for no people do so but Allah strikes them with disgrace. And among no people does vice become general but Allah inflicts upon them terrible punishment.
Obey me while I obey Allah and His Messenger; and if I disobey Allah and His Messenger, you are not obliged to follow me.
Forget not your prayers. May Allah have mercy upon you!"

Abu Bakr's virtues and outstanding services to Islam were well known. His personal courage, his devotion to the Prophet, who had given him the title of the Truthful One, his high moral principles and his faith as one of the staunchest of believers were unquestioned. As the third male to embrace Islam his position among the Blessed Ten was high indeed. 2 But did such virtues make for leadership in troubled times? And then there was the departure of the Army of Usama, which further imperilled Madinah and increased the alarm of the Muslims.

About the middle of May 632, the Holy Prophet, now ailing, had ordered a large expedition to be prepared for the invasion of Jordan. Every body was to join it. As commander of the expedition, he appointed Usama-a young man of twenty-two. Usama was the son of Zaid bin Harithah, the Prophet's freedman, who had been the first of the Muslim commanders to fall at the Battle of Mutah. Although Usama was common-born and enjoyed no family standing among the Quraish, the Prophet put him in command over all the older and more distinguished warriors from the best clans. The warriors gathered at a campsite just west of Uhud, and the force thus concentrated became known as the Army of Usama. This was the last expedition ordered by the Prophet; and it could mean war with the Romans.

Usama was given the Jordanian area of Mutah as his geographical objective. "Go to the place where your father was killed", ordered the Holy Prophet. "Raid those territories. Go fast; take guides with you and send your scouts and agents ahead of you." 3 Shortly before his death the Prophet remarked, "Remember to despatch the Army of Usama!" 4 The army was still in camp when, on Monday, June 5, 632, (the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 11 Hijri) the Holy Prophet passed away. On the same day Abu Bakr, son of Abu Quhafa, became caliph.

The following day Caliph Abu Bakr issued instructions for the Army of Usama to prepare for the march. All the distinguished Companions who were available for war were sent to join the Army in its camp and serve under the command of the youthful Usama. Even Umar, one of Abu Bakr's closest friends, was sent to the camp.

For the next few days the preparations continued even as reports of the rapid spread of the apostasy arrived. Then a group of prominent Muslims came to the Caliph. "Will you send away the Army of Usama when most Arabs have revolted, and disruption raises its head everywhere?" they protested. "The Muslims are few. The unbelievers are many. The army must not be sent away!"

Abu Bakr was adamant. "Even if wild dogs rove around the feet of the wives of the Messenger of Allah (SAWS)," he replied, "I would still despatch the Army of Usama as ordered by the Prophet." 5

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 450.
2. The first was Ali, the second Zaid bin Harithah.
3. Ibn Sad: p. 707.
4. Ibid: p. 709.
5. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 461.