The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 12: Abu Bakr Strikes

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy

 

Page: 3

The capture of Zhu Qissa took place on or about July 30, 632 (the 8th of Jamadi-ul-Awwal, 11 Hijri). Abu Bakr left Numan bin Muqaran with a detachment to hold Zhu Qissa, and with the rest of his force rode back to Madinah. On August 2, the Army of Usama returned to Madinah; the capital of Islam was no longer in danger.

On leaving Madinah, Usama had marched to Tabuk. Most of the tribes in this region opposed him fiercely; but Usama, with the zeal and vigour of youth, swept across the land with fire and sword. He raided far and wide in the region of Northern Arabia, starting with the Quza'a, who scattered under the blows of his columns and then made their way to Daumat-ul-Jandal (where Khalid had captured Ukaidar two years before). Usama killed all those who fought him and burnt orchards and villages, leaving in his wake 'a hurricane of smoke.' 1

As a result of his operations several tribes resubmitted to Madinah and re-embraced Islam. But the Quza'a remained rebellious and unrepentant, and had to be dealt with again a short while later by Amr bin Al Aas.

Usama next marched to Mutah, fought the Christian Arabs of the tribes of Kalb and Ghasan and avenged the death of his father. There was, however, no major battle. Then he returned to Madinah, bringing with him a large number of captives and a considerable amount of wealth, part of which comprised the spoils of war and part the taxes paid by the repentant tribes. The Army of Usama was warmly welcomed by Abu Bakr and the people of Madinah, to whom its return brought comfort and assurance. It had been away for 40 days.

After the defeat of the apostates at Zhu Qissa, several apostate clans turned viciously upon those of their members who remained Muslims and slaughtered them. The killing was done mercilessly, some Muslims being burnt alive and others thrown from the tops of cliffs. Abu Bakr heard the news of these atrocities with cold anger, and swore that he would kill every infidel who had murdered a Muslim and carry fire and sword to every apostate clan.

Things were now looking up for the Muslims. The recent victories of Abu Bakr, though not decisive, had raised spirits. Some of the apostate tribes living near Madinah had repented, rejoined the faith and paid their taxes and more. The Army of Usama was back with captives and wealth. The coffers of the Muslim State were full again, providing a sound financial base for all-out war against the enemies of Islam.

But Abu Bakr decided that he needed more time before launching a general offensive, in order to rest and re-equip the Army of Usama. He consequently ordered Usama to rest his men at Madinah and while doing so also ensure the safety of the capital. His own hastily scraped together force had now begun to feel like an army; and he decided to use this army, while the Army of Usama rested and re-equipped, to fight another offensive battle against the apostates gathered at Abraq. Now Abu Bakr really prepared for war, not only to punish the tribes for the heinous crime of apostasy, but also to avenge the innocent blood of the faithful Muslims who had been murdered by the apostates.

When Abu Bakr announced his intention of leading his army to Abraq, Muslim elders tried to restrain him. "May Allah bless you, O Caliph of the Messenger of Allah!" they said. "Do not endanger yourself by leading the army in person. If you should be killed, it would upset the order of things. Your very existence is a source of trouble to the unbelievers. Appoint another to command the army. Then, if he is killed, you can appoint yet another."

Abu Bakr was shortly going to place an immense burden on the shoulders of the Muslims, both commanders and troops. He was going to ask them to strive as they had never done before and to face dangers which would appal most warriors. He could think of no better way of making them come up to his expectations than setting the pace himself.

1. Ibn Sad: p. 709.