The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 17: The Collapse of the Apostasy

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy


Page: 3

To implement this perfidious plan Qais invited Fairoz and other Muslim officers to his house for talks. Some Muslims fell into the trap and were speedily despatched by the assassins; but at the eleventh hour Fairoz got wind of the plot and of the organisation behind it. Having no military force at his disposal for immediate use, Fairoz sought safety in flight. He left San'a. Qais came to know of his departure and pursued him, but Fairoz was able to evade his pursuers and reach the hills where he found a safe refuge. This happened in June or July 632 (Rabi-ul-Awwal or Akhir, 11 Hijri).

For the next six months Fairoz remained in his mountainous stronghold, where over the months he was joined by thousands of Muslims who were prepared to shed their blood to oust Qais and restore Muslim rule in the Yemen. Fairoz organised these Muslims into an army. When he felt strong enough to face Qais in the field, he marched to San'a with this army. Qais awaited him here, and in mid-January 633 (late Shawal, 11 Hijri) they joined battle just outside the town. The Muslims were victorious, and Qais fled to Abyan, where Ikrimah was to rest later, after subduing Mahra.

At Abyan, Qais was joined by other apostate chiefs, but they fell out amongst themselves. Seeing no hope of further successful opposition to Madinah, they all surrendered to the Muslims and were subsequently pardoned by the Caliph. Some of these apostate chiefs, after re-entering Islam, fought bravely in Iraq and Syria during the years that followed.

The last of the great revolts of the apostasy was that of the powerful tribe of Kinda, which inhabited the region of Najran, Hadhramaut and Eastern Yemen. The progress of events in this revolt followed much the same pattern as elsewhere.

On the death of the Prophet, the Kinda became restive, though they did not break into revolt immediately. The governor of Hadhramaut was Ziyad bin Lubaid who lived at Zafar, the capital of Hadhramaut. An honest, Allah-fearing Muslim, he was extremely strict in the collection of taxes, which caused some heart-burning among the Kinda. All their attempts at evading full payment of taxes were thwarted by Ziyad.

In January 633 (Shawal, 11 Hijri), the discontent of the Kinda came to a head. One of their minor chieftains had handed in a rather fine camel as part of the tax. He later changed his mind and asked to have it back but Ziyad rejected the request. This chieftain then sent some of his men to steal the camel.

In return Ziyad sent a few soldiers to catch the camel-lifters. Shortly afterwards the camel and the culprits were brought in and locked up. Next morning a riotous assembly of the Kinda demanded the return of their imprisoned comrades. Ziyad refused to release the thieves, announcing that they would be tried under Muslim law. At this the situation exploded.

Large sections of the Kinda revolted and apostatised. They not only refused to pay taxes or abide by the laws of Islam but also took up arms to oppose the authority of Madinah with violence. Several other dissident elements joined them in this purpose, and together they established military camps and prepared for war.

One of these rebel camps was at Riyaz, not far from Zafar. To this Ziyad sent a column on a night raid which turned out to be eminently successful. Some apostates were killed, several captured, and the rest driven away. As the captives were being taken to War, they passed the greatest of the Kinda chiefs, Ash'as bin Qais, who had not yet turned apostate. "O Ash'as", the captives called to him, "We are of your mother's clan." The tribal loyalty of Ash'as proved itself stronger than his faith or his respect for central authority. Accompanied by many of his warriors, he intercepted the Muslim column, liberated the captives, and sent the Muslims home empty-handed.

This marked the beginning of the revolt of Ash'as. The Kinda flocked to his standard in large numbers and prepared for battle, but the strength of the two forces, apostate and Muslim, was so well balanced that neither side felt able to start serious hostilities. Ziyad waited for reinforcements before attacking Ash'as.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 545.