The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

Main Index
Chapter 17: The Collapse of the Apostasy

 Part II: The Campaign of the Apostasy


Page: 5

Ash'as and his men returned to the fort. At the agreed time he opened one of the gates, and the Muslims poured into the fort and fell upon the unsuspecting garrison. There was a terrible slaughter, and it continued until everyone in the fort had laid down his arms. Ash'as and a group of men and families that remained near him were scared.

The fort of Nujair had now fallen. When Muhajir checked the list prepared by Ash'as, he noticed that the name of Ash'as was not in it. He was delighted. "O Enemy of Allah!" he said to Ash'as. "Now I have a chance to punish you." 1 He would have killed Ash'as, but Ikrimah intervened and insisted that Ash'as be sent to Madinah, where Abu Bakr could decide his fate. Consequently Ash'as was put in chains.

Within the fort the Muslims had taken many captives who were to be sent to Madinah as slaves, and these included a large number of attractive young women. They were led out of the fort and passed Ash'as, of whose perfidy they had by now come to know. As they slowly filed past him, the captive women looked at him reproachfully and wailed, "You traitor! You traitor!" 2 To add to his discomfiture, Ash'as was sent with this same group of captives to Madinah. It could not have been a very pleasant journey!

Ash'as was no stranger to Madinah. He had visited the place during the Year of Delegations, when the Kinda submitted to the Holy Prophet and embraced Islam. During that visit he had also married Um Farwa, sister of Abu Bakr, but when leaving Madinah he had left her behind with Abu Bakr, with the promise of picking her up on his next visit. This next visit was now taking place under very different and uncongenial circumstances.

The Caliph charged Ash'as with all his crimes against Islam and the State. He expressed his low opinion of the way Ash'as had betrayed his own tribe. Was there any reason why the accused should not be beheaded at once?

Attention has been drawn to the smooth tongue of Ash'as. This time he excelled himself. Not only did he win a pardon, he also persuaded Abu Bakr to return his wife to him! He remained in Madinah, though, unwilling to return to his own tribe. In later years he fought with distinction in Syria, Iraq and Persia, and in the time of Uthman he was made governor of Azerbaijan.

But his treacherousness never left him. Many were the people, including Abu Bakr, who wished that he had not been pardoned after his apostasy. In fact when Abu Bakr was dying, and spoke to his friends of his regrets about things he had not done and wished he had, he said, "I wish I had had Ash'as beheaded." 3

Students of Muslim history might recollect that Imam Hassan's wife, who poisoned him4 at the instigation of Caliph Muawiyah, for which service he paid her 100,000 dirhams, was the daughter of Ash'as. 5

With the defeat of the Kinda at Nujair the last of the great apostate movements collapsed. Arabia was safe for Islam. The unholy fire that had raged across the land was now dead. Arabia would see revolt and civil war many times in its stormy history, but it would never again see apostasy.

The Campaign of the Apostasy was fought and completed during the eleventh year of the Hijri. The year 12 Hijri dawned, on March 18, 633, with Arabia united under the central authority of the Caliph at Madinah. 6

This campaign was Abu Bakr's greatest political and military triumph. Although the Caliph would launch bold ventures for the conquest of Iraq and Syria, it was by his able and successful conduct of the Campaign of the Apostasy that he rendered his greatest service to Islam. And this would not have been possible without the arm of the Sword of Allah.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 548.
2. ibid.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 619, Masudi: Muruj, Vol. 2, p. 308; Balazuri: p. 112
4. Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-'Arabi says in Al-'Awasim min Al-Qawasim (Al-Maktabah al-'Ilmiyyah, Beirut, pp. 213-4), "If it is said that Muawiyah intrigued against Al-Hassan in order to poison him. We replied that this is impossible for two reasons. One of them is that he did not fear any power of Al-Hassan once the latter had surrendered authority. The second is that this is an unseen matter which only Allah knows. How can you state it without proof and accuse any of His creatures in a distant time when we do not have any sound transmission about it? Moreover, this occurred in the presence of the people of sects who were in a state of sedition and partisanship. Each of them ascribed what he should not ascribe to his companion. Only the pure is accepted from it. Only the resolute just man is listened to regarding it."

Muhibb al-Din al-Khatib comments on the above as follows, "In the Minhaj as-Sunnah (2:225) Ibn Taymiyya spoke about the Shi'a claim that Mu'awiyah had poisoned Al-Hassan, 'That was not established by any clear proof in the Shariah nor by any plausible statement nor by a clear transmission. This is part of what it is not possible to know. Hence this saying is a statement without knowledge … In our time, we saw people among the Turks and others who said that he was poisoned and died of poisoning. People disagree about that and even the place where he died and the fortress in which he died. You will find each of them relating something different from what the other people related.' After Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned that Al-Hassan died in Madinah while Muawiyyah was in Syria, he mentioned the possibilities of the report, assuming it to be sound. One of them is that Al-Hassan was divorced and did not remain with a wife …" (see also Al-Muntaqa, [al-Dhahabi's abridgement of the Minhaj], p. 266)" See also Defence against Disaster, Madinah Press, 1416/1995, pp. 203-4.

A report mentioned by As-Suyuti in Tarikh Al-Khulafaa says that Yazid bin Muawwiyah bribed Al-Hassan's wife to poison him by offering to marry her in return. This illustrates the conflicting and contradictory nature of these reports, which are almost certainly Shi'ite fabrications. Ibn Hajr Al-Asqalani merely says in his biography of Al-Hassan in Al-Isabah, "It is said that he was poisoned to death."

5. Ibn Qutaiba: p. 212; Masudi: Muruj, Vol. 3, p. 5. This is Masudi's figure. Some historians have given the sum as 150,000 dirhams.
6. For an explanation of the chronology of the Campaign of the Apostasy, which is subject to some possible sources of error, see Note 3 in Appendix B.