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: 7

Musailima was safe once again in the arms of his guards. But in that moment of flight something meaningful happened to the spirit of the two armies, depressing one and exalting the other. The flight of their 'prophet' and commander from Khalid was a disgraceful sight in the eyes of the apostates, the Muslims rejoiced. To exploit the psychological opportunity which now presented itself, Khalid ordered an immediate renewal of the offensive.

With shouts of Allah-o-Akbar the Muslims again went into the attack. They fought with fresh vigour and dash, and at last victory beckoned. The apostates began to fall back as the Muslims struck with sword and dagger. The retrograde movement of the apostates gathered speed. The spirits of the Muslims rose as they redoubled their efforts. Then the infidel front broke into pieces.

Musailima could do nothing. His top commander, Rajjal, was dead. It was now the commander of his right wing, Muhakim, who came to the rescue of the apostates. "Bani Hanifa!" he shouted. "The garden! The garden! Enter the garden and I shall protect your rear."

But the disintegration of the apostates had gone too far to be halted. The bulk of the army broke and fled, scattering in all directions. Only about a fourth of Musailima's army remained in fighting shape, and this part hastened to the walled garden while Muhakim covered its retreat with a small rear-guard. This rear-guard was soon cut to pieces by the Muslims, and Muhakim fell to the arrow of the Caliph's son, Abdur-Rahman.

The Muslims now pursued the fleeing apostates across the plain of Aqraba, striking down the stragglers left and right. Soon they arrived at the walled garden where a little over 7,000 apostates, Musailima among them, had taken shelter. The infidels had closed the gate, and as they looked at the high wall that surrounded the vast garden, they felt safe and secure. Little did they know!

The major portion of the Muslim army assembled in the vicinity of the Garden of Death. It was now afternoon, and the Muslims were anxious to get into the garden and finish the job that they had started early that morning, before darkness intervened. But no way could be found into the garden. The wall stretched on all sides as an impenetrable barrier, with the gate securely bolted from within. There was no siege equipment, nor time to spend on a siege.

While Khalid searched his brain for ideas, an old warrior by the name of Baraa bin Malik, who stood in the group that confronted the gate, said to his comrades "Throw me over the wall into the garden." 1 His comrades refused, for Baraa was a distinguished and much-respected Companion, and they hesitated to do something which would certainly result in his death. But Baraa insisted. At last his comrades agreed to his request and lifted him on their shoulders near the gate. He got his hands onto the edge of the wall, swung himself up and jumped into the garden. In a minute or so he had killed two or three infidels who stood between him and the gate, and before others could intercept him, he had loosened the heavy bolt. The gate was flung open and a flood of Muslims roared through it like water thundering through a breach in a dam. The last and most gory place of the Battle of Yamamah had begun.

Initially the infidels were able to contain the advance of the Muslims, who were confined by the gate to a narrow front and lacked elbow?room. But steadily the Muslims cut their way through the apostates, who began to fall in heaps under the attacker's blows. The apostates stepped back as the Muslims poured into the garden in ever?increasing numbers.

The fighting became more vicious. Since there was no room for manoeuvre, both sides engaged in a straight slogging match. Gradually the ranks of the apostates thinned as they fell in combat. But Musailima was still fighting: he had no intention of giving up. As the front moved closer to him, he drew his sword and joined in the combat, surprising the Muslims by his strength and dexterity. The wily general was also a brave and skilful fighter. He began to foam at the mouth, for desperation had turned the ugly impostor into an awesome demon.

The last phase of the battle now entered its climax. The Muslim army pressed the apostates everywhere and it was only the endeavours of Musailima which prevented a general collapse. The Muslims cut, slashed and stabbed with wild fury. Maimed and mutilated bodies covered the ground. Those who fell suffered a painful death under the trampling feet of those who would not give in. The carnage was frightful and the dust on the ground turned into red mud.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 514.