The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 23: The Conquest of Hira

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 3

The first to launch his attack was Dhiraar bin Al Azwar against the White Palace. The defenders stood on the battlements and in addition to shooting arrows at the Muslims, used a catapult to hurl balls of clay at their assailants. Dhiraar decided to knock out the catapult. Working his way forward with a picked group of archers, he got to within bow?range of the catapult and ordered a single, powerful volley of arrows. The entire crew of the catapult was killed, and many of the enemy archers too. The rest hastily withdrew from the battlements

Similar exchanges of archery were taking place at the other citadels, though none of the others had a catapult. It was not long before the four chieftains asked for terms. They agreed to nominate one from amongst themselves who would speak for all, to negotiate directly with Khalid. The man chosen was the chieftain of the Palace of Ibn Buqaila-Abdul Masih bin Amr bin Buqaila.

Abdul Masih came out of his citadel and walked towards the Muslims. He walked slowly, for he was a very, very old man, "whose eyebrows had fallen over his eyes." 1

Abdul Masih was in his time the most illustrious son of Arab Iraq. He was a prince. Known as the wisest and oldest of men, he enjoyed no official authority from the Persian court, but was held in reverence by the Iraqis and wielded considerable influence in their affairs. He also had a sparkling, if impish sense of humour. He had become a noted figure as early as the time of Anushirwan the Just. Meeting Anushirwan shortly before the latter's death, Abdul Masih had warned him that after him his empire would decay.

Slowly the old sage approached Khalid. When he stopped, there began one of the most unusual dialogues ever recorded by historians.

"How many years have come upon you?" asked Khalid.

"Two hundred", replied the sage.

Awed by the great age of the man, Khalid asked, "What is the most wonderful thing that you have seen?"

"The most wonderful thing that I have seen is a village between Hira and Damascus to which a woman travels from Hira, with nothing more than a loaf of bread."

He was alluding to the incomparable order and system which existed in the time of Anushirwan. The meaning of his words, however, was lost on Khalid, who, concluded that the man must be stupid. Without raising his voice Khalid remarked, "Have you gained nothing from your great age but senility? I had heard that the people of Hira were cunning, deceitful scoundrels. Yet they send me a man who does not know from where he comes."

"O Commander!" protested the sage. "Truly do I know from where I come."

"Where do you come from?"

"From the spine of my father!"

"Where do you come from?" Khalid repeated.

"From the womb of my mother!"

"Where are you going?"

"To my front."

1. Abu Yusuf: p. 143.