The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 29: The Battle of Ajnadein

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 4

When his men had been formed up for battle, Khalid rode along the front, checking units and urging his warriors to fight in the way of Allah. In the few words that he said to each unit, he laid emphasis on concentrating their efforts in time and attacking as one man. "When you use your bows," he said, "let the arrows fly from your bows as if shot by a single bow to land like a swarm of locusts on the enemy." He even spoke to the women in the camp and told them to be prepared to defend themselves against any Romans who might break through the Muslim front. They assured him that this was the least that they could do, considering that they had not been allowed to fight in the forefront of the Muslim army!

Forming their positions took the two armies a couple of hours. When all was in readiness, an old bishop wearing a black hat emerged from the Roman centre, walked up half-way towards the Muslim army and called out in perfect Arabic, "Which of you will come forth and talk with me?"

Muslims have no priests; and in those days the commander himself acted as the Imam 1 of the army. Hence Khalid rode forward, and the bishop asked, "Are you the commander of this army?" Khalid replied, "So they regard me as long as I obey Allah and follow the example of His Prophet; but if I fail in this, I have no command over them and no right to be obeyed." The bishop thought for a moment, then remarked, "It is thus that you conquer us."

He then continued: "Know, O Arab, that you have invaded a land which no king dares to enter. The Persians entered it and returned dismayed. Others also came and fought with their lives, but could not attain what they sought. You have won over us up till now, but victory does not belong permanently to you"

"My master, Wardan, is inclined to be generous with you. He has sent me to tell you that if you take your army away from this land, he will give each of your men a dinar, a robe and a turban; and for you there will be a hundred dinars and a hundred robes and a hundred turbans."

"Lo, We have an army numerous as the atoms, and it is not like the armies that you have met before. With this army Caesar has sent his mightiest generals and his most illustrious bishops." 2

In reply Khalid offered the usual three alternatives; Islam, the Jizya or the sword. Without the satisfaction of one of these alternatives the Muslims would not leave Syria. As for the dinars and the fine clothes, Khalid pointed out that the Muslims would soon possess them anyway, by right of conquest!

With this reply, the bishop returned and informed Wardan of his talks. The Roman commander was furious and swore that he would crush the Muslims with one all-destroying attack.

Wardan now ordered a line of archers and slingers to be positioned ahead of the Roman front within range of the Muslim army. As this line formed up, Muadh the commander of the Muslim centre, began to order his men to attack, but was stopped by Khalid who stood nearby. "Not till I give the order" said Khalid. "And not till the sun has passed its zenith." 3

Muadh had wished to attack because the Roman archers, with their better bows, outranged the Muslim bows and to the slingers the Muslims had no effective counter. The only way to deal with the situation would be to get closer to the Romans-to come to grips. But Khalid did not wish to risk a reverse by launching a premature attack against the well-formed legions of the Romans. Thus a couple of hours before noon, the battle began with the action of the Roman archers and slingers.

1. One who leads the prayer.
2. Waqidi: p. 36.
3. Ibid.