The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 21: The Hell of Walaja

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 4

The Persians were paying heavily for their advance, but they exulted in the success that they were gaining. Andarzaghar was beside himself with joy. Victory was just round the corner. He had not reached the top rung of the Persian socio-military ladder, but now he saw visions of a 100,000 dirham-cap. The Muslims continued to fight with the suicidal desperation of wild animals at bay. They had reached the limits of human endurance; and some even began to wonder if Khalid had at last met his match. A little more of this and the front would shatter into a thousand pieces.

Then Khalid gave the signal. We do not know just what this signal was, but it was received by those for whom it was intended. The next moment, over the crest of the ridge which stretched behind the Persian army appeared two dark lines of mounted warriors-one from the Persian left-rear, the other from the right-rear. Cries of Allah-o-Akbar rent the air as the Muslim cavalry charged at a gallop; and the plain of Walaja trembled under the thundering hooves of the Arab horse.

The joy of the Persians turned to terror. While a moment before they had been shouting with glee, they now screamed in panic as the Muslim cavalry rammed into the rear of the Persian army. The main body of Muslims under Khalid, refreshed and strengthened by the sight they beheld, resumed the attack against the Persian front, at the same time extending its flanks to join hands with the cavalry and completely surround the Persians. The army of Andarzaghar was caught in a trap from which there could be no escape.

In an instant the disciplined Persians turned into a rabble. When groups of soldiers turned to the rear they were pierced by lances or felled by swords. When they turned to the front they were struck down by sword and dagger. Recoiling from the assaults that came from all directions, they gathered in an unwieldy mass, unable to use their weapons freely or avoid the blows of their assailants. Those who wanted to fight did not know whom to fight. Those who wanted to flee did not know where to go. In a mad urge to get away from the horror they trampled each other and fought each other. The battlefield of Walaja became a hell for the army of Andarzaghar.

The ring of steel became tighter as the furious charges of the Muslims continued. The very helplessness of the Persians excited the Muslims to greater violence, and they swore that they would not let the Persians and Iraqi Arabs escape this time.

In this the Muslims succeeded. A few thousand imperial warriors did get away; for no army can be so completely destroyed that not a single survivor remains, but the army as a whole ceased to exist. It was as if a vast chasm had opened under it and swallowed it up. While the armies of Hormuz and Qarin had suffered crushing defeats, the army of Andarzaghar was annihilated. The army of Andarzaghar was no more. (For a graphic illustration of the phases of this battle see Map 13 below.)

map 1 chapter 21

Andarzaghar himself, strangely enough, managed to escape. But the direction of his escape was towards the desert rather than the Euphrates, and having no desire but to put as much distance as possible between himself and the hell of Walaja, he went deep into the desert. In the desert the ill-fated man lost himself and died of thirst.

After the battle Khalid got his exhausted men together. He realised that this battle had imposed a terrible strain upon them. It had been the fiercest of the three fierce battles which they had fought in Iraq; and he wanted to make certain, that their spirits were not dampened by memories of the trial, for more trials awaited them.

He addressed the men. He started by praising Allah and calling His blessings upon the Holy Prophet. Then he continued:

"Do you not see the wealth of the land of the Persians? Do you not remember the poverty of the land of the Arabs? Do you not see how the crops in this land cover the earth? If the holy war were not enjoined by Allah, we should still come and conquer this rich land and exchange the hunger of our deserts for the abundant eating which is now ours." 1

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 559.