The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 13: Tulaiha The Imposter

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy


Page: 7

All the murderers were lined up. Khalid's justice was swift. He had each murderer killed in exactly the same manner as he had employed to kill his Muslim victim. Some were beheaded, some were burnt alive, and some stoned to death. Some were thrown from the tops of cliffs, while others were shot to death with arrows. A few were cast into wells.1 An eye for an eye!

Having completed this task, Khalid wrote to Abu Bakr and gave him a complete account of all that had passed. The Caliph wrote him a complimentary letter in reply, congratulating him on his success, approving his actions and praying for his continued success.

After the action against the Bani Sulaim at Naqra, Khalid stayed at Buzakha for three weeks, receiving the submission of the tribes and punishing the murderers. Then he turned his steps towards Zafar, where a lady needed his attention. He looked forward eagerly to the rendezvous; and she awaited him with breathless anticipation!

Salma, alias Um Zhiml, was a first cousin of Uyaina. Her father too was a big chief, Malik bin Hudaifa, of the Ghatfan. Not only was her father a noted chief, but her mother, Um Qirfa, also was a great lady, held in esteem and veneration by the tribe. In the time of the Holy Prophet, the mother had fought against the Muslims and had been captured in battle and killed, but memories of the chieftainess had remained alive among the Ghatfan. Salma had been taken captive and led to Madinah, where the Prophet presented her as a slave to his wife, Aisha. But Salma was not happy, so Aisha set her free, and she returned to her tribe.

After the death of her parents, Salma rose in stature until she began to command the same respect and affection in her tribe as her mother had enjoyed. She became-and this was unusual among the Arabs-a chief in her own right. Her mother had owned a magnificent camel which was now inherited by Salma, and since the daughter looked just like the mother, whenever she rode the camel she reminded her people of the departed grande dame.

Salma became one of the leaders of the apostasy and an implacable enemy of Islam. After the Battle of Buzakha and the action at Ghamra, some of those who had lost to Khalid, along with many die-hards from the Hawazin and the Bani Sulaim, hastened to Zafar, at the western edge of the Sulma Range, and joined the army of Salma. 2 (See Map 8) She upbraided them mercilessly for their defeat and their abandonment of Uyaina, and such was the awe of this lady that they took it without a murmur. With her strong hand she whipped this motley collection into shape as a closely-knit, well-organised army, and within a few days she had become a threat to the authority of Islam. She knew that Khalid, now free of the problem of Buzakha, would come to deal with her, and she eagerly awaited a clash with the Sword of Allah.

Khalid marched his corps from Buzakha to Zafar where the army of Islam again came face-to-face with the army of disbelief. Again Khalid took the initiative and attacked.

But it proved a hard battle. While Khalid was able to drive back the wings, he could make no progress against the centre of the apostates. The centre stood firm. Here rode Salma in an armoured litter atop her mother's famous camel, and from this command post she personally conducted the battle. Around her camel were gathered the bravest of her warriors, determined to sacrifice their lives in defence of the noble animal and its venerated rider.

Khalid realised that in the person of Salma lay the moral strength of the enemy force, and that as long as she survived in her litter the battle would continue and turn into a bloodbath. She had to be eliminated. Consequently, leading a picked group of warriors, he made a determined thrust towards the camel, and after some vicious sword-fighting was able to get to the animal. With a few slashes the camel was brought down and with it fell the prized litter. Salma was killed immediately. Around her sprawled the bodies of 100 of her followers who had fought to the last in defence of their chief.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 490.
2. While the general location of Zafar can be established, its exact location is not certain. Tabari gives Zafar as the scene of the battle and also mentions Ark as the town of the chieftainess Salma. Ark is now a village named Rakk, 35 miles from Hail, nestling at the foot of the northern spurs of the Salma Range. Twelve miles south of Rakk there is a hill called Zafar, on the western slope of the range, and I regard this as the Zafar where the battle was fought.