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: 5

Abu Bakr planned his strategy accordingly. He formed the army into several corps. The strongest corps, and this was the main punch of the Muslims, was the corps of Khalid. This was used to fight the most powerful of the rebel forces, to crack the toughest nuts. Other corps were given areas of secondary importance in which to bring the less dangerous apostate tribes to their senses, after the main enemy opposition was crushed. Two corps were kept as reserves to reinforce the corps of Khalid or any other corps that might need assistance. The first corps to go into action was that of Khalid, and the timing of the despatch of other corps hinged on the operations of Khalid, who was given the task of fighting the strongest enemy forces one after the other. Abu Bakr's plan was first to clear the area of West Central Arabia (the area nearest Madinah), then tackle Malik bin Nuwaira, and finally concentrate against the most dangerous enemy of the lot-Musailima the Liar. Thus Abu Bakr would achieve concentration of force, by dealing with the main enemy armies separately and in turn, progressing step by step from nearer to farther regions.

The Caliph formed 11 corps, each under its own commander. 1 A standard was given to each corps. The available manpower was distributed among these corps and while some commanders were given immediate missions, others were given missions for which they would be launched later. The commanders were also instructed to pick up brave men on the way as they marched to their objectives. The 11 corps commanders and their assigned objectives were as follows:

1. Khalid: First Tulaiha at Buzakha, then Malik bin Nuwaira, at Butah.
2. Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl: Contact Musailima at Yamamah but not to get involved until more forces were built up.
3. Amr bin Al Aas: The apostate tribes of Quza'a and Wadi'a in the area of Tabuk and Daumat?ul-Jandal.
4. Shurahbil bin Hasanah: Follow Ikrimah and await the Caliph's instructions.
5. Khalid bin Saeed: Certain apostate tribes on the Syrian frontier.
6. Turaifa bin Hajiz: The apostate tribes of Hawazin and Bani Sulaim in the area east of Madinah and Makkah.
7. Ala bin Al Hadhrami: The apostates in Bahrain.
8. Hudhaifa bin Mihsan: The apostates in Oman.
9. Arfaja bin Harsama: The apostates in Mahra.
10. Muhajir bin Abi Umayyah: The apostates in the Yemen, then the Kinda in Hadhramaut.
11. Suwaid bin Muqaran: The apostates in the coastal area north of the Yemen.

As soon as the organisation of the corps was complete, Khalid marched off, to be followed a little later by Ikrimah and Amr bin Al Aas. The other corps were held back by the Caliph and despatched weeks and even months later. Their despatch was conditioned by the progress of Khalid's operations against the hard core of enemy opposition.

Before the various corps left Zhu Qissa, however, envoys were sent by Abu Bakr to all apostate tribes in a final attempt to induce them to see reason. These envoys were given identical instructions: they were to call upon the tribes to return to Islam and render full submission, for those tribes which submitted there would be forgiveness and peace, those tribes that resisted would be fought until no opposition remained and their women and children would be enslaved: before the attack, against any tribe, the Muslim forces would call the Adhan (the Muslim call to prayer), and if the tribe responded with the Adhan it would be assumed that it had submitted.

To the corps commanders, too, the Caliph gave identical general instructions, apart from their specific objectives. These instructions were as follows:

a. Seek the tribes which are your objectives
b. Call the Adhan.
c. If the tribe answers with the Adhan, do not attack. After the Adhan, ask the tribe to confirm its submission, including the payment of taxes. If confirmed, do not attack.
d. Those who submit will not be molested.
e. Those who do not answer with the Adhan, or after the Adhan do not confirm full submission, will be dealt with by fire and sword.
f. All apostates who have killed Muslims will be killed, those who have burnt Muslims alive will be burnt alive. 2

With these instructions Abu Bakr, no longer the meek, submissive Companion, launched the forces of Islam against the apostates.

1. The word 'corps' has been used in a loose sense to indicate an independent tactical command. These corps had no organisational resemblance with the modem army corps of about three divisions.
2. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 482.