The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 19: The Battle of Chains

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq


Page: 5

The generals began to fight with sword and shield. Each struck several times at his adversary, but none of the blows made any impression. Each was surprised at the skill of the other. Hormuz now suggested that they drop their swords and wrestle. Khalid, unaware of the plot, dropped his sword as Hormuz dropped his. They began to wrestle. Then, as they were locked in a powerful embrace, Hormuz shouted to his men, who rushed forward. Before Khalid realised what was happening he found himself and Hormuz surrounded by several fierce looking Persians.

Now Khalid knew. He was without his sword and shield, and Hormuz would not relax his iron grip. There seemed to be no way out of the predicament; but then, being a stronger man than Hormuz, Khalid began to whirl his adversary round and round, thus making it practically impossible for the Persians to strike at him.

A storm of sound arose over the battlefield as the two armies shouted-one with delight, the other with dismay. In this noise, their attention riveted on the wrestlers, the Persian killers did not hear the galloping hooves that approached them. They did not know what hit them. Two or three of them sprawled on the ground as headless trunks, before the others realised that the number of combatants in this melee had increased by just one more. The extra man was Qaqa bin Amr-the one-man reinforcement sent by Abu Bakr.

Qaqa had seen the Persian killers rush towards the two generals, and in a flash understood the perfidy of the enemy general and the peril which faced Khalid. There was no time to tell this to anyone; no time to explain or gather comrades to support him. He had spurred his horse into a mad gallop, and arriving in the nick of time, had set upon the Persians with his sword. Qaqa killed all of them! 1

Khalid, freed of the menace of the Persian killers, turned his entire attention to Hormuz. After a minute or two Hormuz lay motionless on the ground, and Khalid rose from his chest with a dripping dagger in his hand.

Khalid now ordered a general attack, and the Muslims, incensed by the treacherous plot of the enemy commander, went into battle with a vengeance. The centre and the wings swept across the plain to assault the Persian army. The Persians had suffered a moral setback with the death of their commanding general; but they were more numerous than the Muslims and, their iron discipline held them together. They fought hard. For some time the battle hung in the balance with the fast-moving Muslims assailing the front and the steady, chain-linked Persian infantry repulsing all assaults. But soon the superior skill and courage of the Muslims and the fatigue of the Persians began to tell, and after several attempts the Muslims succeeded in breaking the Persian front in a number of places.

Sensing defeat, the Persian generals commanding the wings-Qubaz and Anushjan-ordered a withdrawal and began to pull their men back. This led to a general retreat, and as the Muslims struck still more fiercely, the retreat turned into a rout. Most of the Persians who were not chained managed to escape, but those who were chain-linked found their chains a death trap. Unable to move fast, they fell an easy prey to the victorious Muslims and were slain in thousands before darkness set in to put an end to the slaughter. Qubaz and Anushjan managed to escape and succeeded in extricating a large portion of the army from the battlefield.

The first battle with the power of Persia was over. It had ended in an overwhelming victory for the Muslims.

The following day was spent in attending to the wounded and collecting the spoils-weapons, armour, stores, costly garments, horses, captives-of which Khalid distributed four-fifths among his men. The share of each cavalryman came to a thousand dirhams, while the infantryman's share was a third of that. This ratio was a tradition of the Prophet. The cavalryman was given three shares because he had to maintain his horse as well and was more valuable for the mobile, fast-moving operations which the Arabs loved.

One-fifth of the spoils was sent to the Caliph as the share of the state, and this included the 100,000 dirham cap of Hormuz. By right it belonged to Khalid, for in a duel all the belongings of the vanquished were taken by the victor; and for this reason Abu Bakr returned the cap to Khalid, who, preferring cash, sold it!

1. There is no record of the actual number of Persians who took part in this plot and were killed by Qaqa.