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: 4

The officers of the Muslim army paced in front of the regiments, reciting verses of the Quran. They reminded the Faithful of the promise of paradise for the martyrs and of the threat of hell for the faint-hearted.

Early on a cold morning in the third week of December 632 (beginning of Shawal, 11 Hijri), began the Battle of Yamamah.

Khalid ordered a general attack, and the entire Muslim front surged forward with cries of Allah-o-Akbar. Khalid led the charge of the centre while Abu Hudaifa and Zaid led the charge of the wings. The two armies clashed and the air was rent by shouts and screams as strong men slashed and thrust at each other. Khalid cut down every man who came before him. The Muslim champions performed prodigies of valour and Khalid felt that his warriors would soon break through the army of disbelief.

But the army of disbelief stood as firm as a rock. Many fell before the onslaught of the Faithful, but there was no break in the infidel front. The apostates fought fanatically, preferring death to giving up an inch of ground; and the Muslims realised with some surprise that they were making no headway. After some time spent in hard slogging, a slight lack of order became apparent in the Muslim ranks as a result of their forward movement and their attempts to pierce the front of the infidels. But this caused no concern. So long as they remained on the offensive and the enemy on the defensive, a certain amount of disorder did not matter.

Then Musailima, realising that if he remained on the defensive much longer the chances of a Muslim break-through would increase, ordered a general counter-attack all along the front. The apostates moved forward like a vast tidal wave, and the Muslims now found to their horror that they were being pressed back. The fighting became more savage as they struggled desperately to stem he advance of the apostates, who paid heavily in blood for every yard of ground that they gained, but strengthened by their belief in the Liar's promise that paradise awaited those who fell, they pressed on relentlessly. Some lack of cohesion was now felt in the Muslim regiments due to the mixture of tribal contingents which were not yet accustomed to fighting side by side.

Gradually the numerical superiority of the apostates began to tell. Fighting in massed, compact bodies against the thinner Muslim ranks, they increased their pressure. The Muslims proceeded to fall back steadily. Then the pace of withdrawal became faster. The apostate assaults became bolder. And the Muslim withdrawal turned into a confused retreat. Some regiments turned and fled, others soon followed their example, causing a general exodus from the battlefield. The officers were unable to stop the retreat and were swept back with the tide of their men. The Muslim army passed through its camp and went on some distance beyond it before it stopped.

As the Muslims left the plain of Aqraba, the apostates followed in hot pursuit. This was not a planned manoeuvre, but an instinctive reaction, like the reaction of the Muslims to the Quraish flight in the first part of the Battle of Uhud. And like those Muslims, the apostates stopped at their opponents' camp and began to plunder it. Again as at Uhud, his opponents' occupation with looting gave Khalid time to prepare and launch a riposte. But more of that later.

In the Muslim camp stood the tent of Khalid and in this tent sat his latest wife, Laila, and the captive chief, Muja'a, still in irons. A few infidels, flushed with success and excited by thoughts of the orgy of plunder that awaited them, entered the tent of Khalid. They saw and recognised Muja'a. They saw Laila and wanted to kill her, but were restrained by the chief. "I am her protector", he warned them. "Go for the men!" 1 In their haste to lay their hands on the booty the infidels did not stop to release their chief.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 511.