The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 28: Deeper into Syria

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 4

Next morning, the Roman garrison again came out of the fort to give battle. The shock of Khalid's arrival the previous day ad now worn off, and seeing that the combined strength of the Muslims was about the same as their own, the Romans decided to try their luck again. They also hoped to fight and defeat the Muslims before they could get a rest after their march. They did not know that Khalid's warriors were not used to resting!

The two armies formed up for battle on the plain outside the town. Khalid kept his center under his own command, appointing Raafe bin Umaira as the commander of the right wing and Dhiraar bin Al Azwar as the commander of the left wing. In front of the center, he placed a thin screen under Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakr. At the very start of the battle, Abdur-Rahman dueled with the Roman army commander and defeated him. As the Roman general fled to the safety of the Roman ranks, Khalid launched a general attack along the entire front. For some time the Romans resisted bravely, while the commanders of the Muslim wings played havoc with the opposing wings, especially Dhiraar, who now established a personal tradition which would make him famous in Syria - adored by the Muslims, and dreaded by the Romans. Because of the heat of the day, he took off his coat of mail; and this made him feel lighter and happier. Then he took off his shirt and became naked above the waist. This made him feel even lighter and even happier. In this half naked condition Dhiraar launched his assaults against the Romans and slaughtered all who faced him in single combat. Within a week, stories of the Naked Champion would spread over Syria, and only the bravest of Romans would feel inclined to face him in combat.

After some fighting, the Roman army broke contact and withdrew into the fort. At this time Khalid was fighting on foot in front of his centre. As he turned to give orders for the commencement of the siege, he saw a horseman approaching through the ranks of the Muslims. This horseman was to achieve fame and glory in the Syrian Campaign that would be second only to Khalid's.

A man in his early fifties, he was tall, slim and wiry with a slight stoop. His lean and clear-cut face was attractive, and his eyes showed understanding and gentleness. His thin beard was dyed. In his hand he held a standard such as only generals carried. This was a yellow standard and is believed to have been the standard of the Holy Prophet at the Battle of Khaibar. 1 His coat of mail did not conceal the simple and inexpensive appearance of the clothes that he wore. As he smiled at Khalid, he revealed a gap in his front teeth; and this gap was the envy of all Muslims. This was Abu Ubaidah, Son of the Surgeon, the One Without Incisors. He had lost his front teeth while pulling out the two links of the Prophet's helmet that had dug into the Prophet's cheek at the Battle of Uhud, and it is said that Abu Ubaidah was the handsomest of "those without incisors"! 2

Though called Abu Ubaidah bin Al Jarrah, his actual name was Amir bin Abdullah bin Al Jarrah. It was Abu Ubaidah's grandfather who was the surgeon (Al Jarrah), but like some Arabs he was known after his grandfather rather than his father. As a Muslim, he belonged to the topmost strata and had been very dear to the Prophet, who had once said, "Every nation has, its trusted one; and the trusted one of this nation is Abu Ubaidah." 3 Thereafter Abu Ubaidah had become known as the Trusted One of the Nation-Ameen-ul-Ummat. He was one of the Blessed Ten.

This was the man who had been placed under the command of Khalid, and the new army commander looked with some apprehension at the approach of the old army commander. Khalid had known Abu Ubaidah well at Madinah, and liked and respected him for his great virtue and his devout piety. Abu Ubaidah liked Khalid because of the Prophet's fondness for him and saw in him a military instrument that Allah had chosen to crush disbelief. Khalid was reassured by Abu Ubaidah's smile. As he got near, Abu Ubaidah started to dismount, for Khalid was still on foot. "Stay on your horse", Khalid called to him, and he remained mounted. Khalid walked up to him, and the two top generals in Syria shook hands.

"O Father of Sulaiman," began Abu Ubaidah, "I have received with gladness the letter of Abu Bakr appointing you commander over me. There is no resentment in my heart, for I know your skill in matters of war."

1. Ibid: p. 138.
2. Ibn Qutaiba: p. 248.
3. lbid: p. 247.