The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 16: The Battle of Yamamah

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy

 

Page: 2

Smarting under the shame of his ignominious repulse at the hands of Musailima and the harsh words of the Caliph, Ikrimah took his corps and, bypassing Yamamah, marched to Oman.

Shurahbil remained in the region of Yamamah. To ensure that he did not fall into the error of Ikrimah, Abu Bakr wrote to him: "Stay where you are and await further instructions." 1

Having ordered the payment of blood money to the heirs of Malik bin Nuwaira, the Caliph sent for Khalid and gave him the mission of destroying the forces of Musailima the Liar at Yamamah. In addition to his own large corps, Khalid would have under command the corps of Shurahbil. Another body of Ansars and Emigrants was being scraped together by Abu Bakr at Madinah, and this too would be sent to Butah shortly to join the forces of Khalid. Thus Khalid would command the main army of Islam.

Khalid rode to Butah where his old corps awaited him. Meanwhile the Caliph wrote to Shurahbil: "You will come under Khalid's command as he joins you. When the problem of Yamamah has been solved, you will proceed with your men to join Amr bin Al Aas and operate against the Quza'a." 2 This was the apostate tribe, which Usama had punished but not subdued, near the Syrian frontier.

Khalid waited at Butah until the arrival of the Ansars and Emigrants from Madinah, then marched for Yamamah. He was glad to think that the fresh troops of Shurahbil would also be available to him. He did take them under his command, but they were not all that fresh. A few days before Khalid's arrival Shurahbil had given in to the same temptation as Ikrimah, seeking glory, he had advanced and clashed with Musailima. Feeling sorry about the whole affair, Shurahbil expressed his regrets to Khalid, who rebuked him severely.

Khalid was still some distance from Yamamah when his scouts brought word that Musailima was encamped in the plain of Aqraba, on the north bank of the Wadi Hanifa through which, the road led to Yamamah. Not wishing to approach his enemy through the valley, Khalid left the road a few miles west of Aqraba, moved from the south and appeared on the high ground which rose a mile south of the wadi opposite the town of Jubaila. 3 From this high ground Khalid could see the entire plain of Aqraba, on the forward border of which stretched the camp of the Bani Hanifa. Khalid established his camp on the high ground. The strength of his army amounted to 13,000 men.

Khalid had not gone many days from Butah when Musailima's agents informed him of the march of the Muslims and of the fact that this was the main army of Islam. The route from Butah to Yamamah came through the Wadi Hanifa, and on the north bank of this wadi, behind Jubaila, lay the plain of Aqraba which marked the outer limit of the fertile region that stretched from Aqraba to Yamamah and further south-east. It was a region of farms and orchards and cultivated fields. Yamamah itself, to be more accurate, was a province rather than a place, with its capital at Hijr, which was also generally, called Yamamah. The Hijr of old stood where Riyadh stands today. 4

Musailima had no intention of letting the Muslims play havoc with the towns and villages of his people. Consequently he took his army forward to Jubaila, 25 miles north?west of Yamamah, and established his camp near Jubaila, where the plain of Aqraba began. From this location Musailima could not only defend the fertile plains of Yamamah but also threaten Khalid's route of advance, so that should Khalid blunder through the Wadi Hanifa, the Bani Hanifa would fall upon his left flank. And Khalid could not avoid battle here and proceed to Yamamah, because Musailima would then pounce upon his back. (The principle here was the same as applied by the Holy Prophet at Uhud.)

Musailima was ready for battle on the plain of Aqraba with an army of 40,000 warriors, all eager for combat. The two successful actions fought by them against Ikrimah and Shurahbil, both of whom had recoiled from the blows of Musailima, had increased their confidence in themselves and created an aura of invincibility around the Liar. His men were now prepared to sacrifice their very lives in defence of their leader and his cause. And Musailima had no doubt that he would inflict the same punishment upon Khalid as he had inflicted upon his two predecessors.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 522.
2. Ibid: Vol. 2, p. 509.
3. Jubaila is now a small village. According to local tradition, it was then a large town.
4. The village of Yamamah which exists about 50 miles south-east of Riyadh, near Al Kharj, is not the Yamamah of history; not the Yamamah of this battle.