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: 5

In the end of May 633 (middle of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 12 Hijri) the terms of surrender were drawn up. A treaty was signed. The citadels opened their gates and peace returned to Hira. The objective given by the Caliph had been taken after four bloody battles and several smaller engagements. Khalid led a mass victory prayer of eight rakats . 1

According to the treaty, the people of Hira would pay the Muslim State 190,000 dirhams every year. The pact included certain supplementary clauses: Hira would give the Muslim army one saddle (the army was one saddle short!), 2 the people of Hira would act as spies and guides for the Muslims. And then there was the clause about an Arab princess!

One day at Madinah the Holy Prophet was sitting in the company of some of his followers, talking of this and that. The subject turned to foreign lands, and the Prophet remarked that soon the Muslims would conquer Hira. Thereupon one Muslim, a simple, unlettered man by the name of Shuwail, 3 said eagerly, "O Messenger of Allah! When we have conquered Hira may I have Kiramah bint Abdul Masih?"

Kiramah, the daughter of Abdul Masih, was a princess. The people of Arabia had heard of her as a breathtaking beauty-a woman more beautiful than any other in existence. The Prophet laughed as he replied, "She shall be yours?" 4

Hira was now conquered. As Khalid's troops came to hear of his talks with Abdul Masih and the preparations to draw up the terms of surrender, Shuwail, who was serving under Khalid, approached the Sword of Allah. "O Commander!" he said. "When Hira surrenders may I have Kiramah bint Abdul Masih? She was promised to me by the Messenger of Allah."

Khalid found it difficult to believe that the Prophet had promised a princess of the house of Abdul Masih to this simple fellow. "Have you any witnesses?" he asked. "Yes, by Allah!" replied Shuwail, and brought witnesses whose testimony proved the veracity of the man's statement. Khalid then included this point as a clause in the pact: Kiramah bint Abdul Masih would be given to Shuwail!

The women of the house of Abdul Masih wailed in distress when they were given the devastating news. Was a princess who had lived all her life in splendour and refinement to be handed over to a crude Arab of the desert? What made the situation ludicrous was that Kiramah was an old woman of 80. She had once been the leading beauty of the day, but that was a long time ago.

The princess herself solved the problem. "Take me to him", she said. "This fool must have heard of my beauty when I was young, and thinks that youth is eternal." 5 Accompanied by a maid, she left the Palace of Ibn Buqaila.

Excited by visions of amorous delight, Shuwail awaited his prize. Then she stood before him. The poor man's shock and dismay made a pathetic sight as he looked at the lined face. He was left speechless.

The princess broke the embarrassed silence. "Of what use is an old woman to you? Let me go!"

Now Shuwail saw his chance of making her pay for her freedom. "No," he replied, "not except on my terms."
"And what are your terms? State your price."

"I am not the son of the mother of Shuwail if I let you go for less than a thousand dirhams."

The shrewd old woman assumed a look of alarm. "A thousand dirhams!" she exclaimed.

1. A unit of prayer.
2. Balazuri: p. 246.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 569. According to Balazuri, however, this man's name was Khuraim bin Aus. (p. 245).
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.