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: 7

Soon after sunrise, Wardan came forward in full imperial regalia, wearing bejewelled armour with a bejewelled sword hanging at his side. Khalid walked up from the Muslim centre and stood in front of Wardan. The two armies were already arrayed in battle order as on the previous day.

Wardan started negotiations with an attempt to browbeat the Muslim. He expressed his low opinion of the Arabians; how wretched were the conditions in which they lived, and how miserably starved they were in their homeland. Khalid's response was sharp and aggressive. "O Christian dog!" he snapped. "This is your last chance to accept Islam or pay the Jizya." 1 At this, Wardan, without drawing his sword, sprang at Khalid and held him, at the same time shouting for the 10 Romans to come to his aid.

From behind the hillock he saw, out of the corner of his eye, 10 Romans, emerge and race towards him. Khalid also saw then and was horrified, for he was expecting to see Muslims emerge from behind the hillock. He has made no other arrangement for his own protection, and he wondered with a sense of deep sorrow, if Dhiraar had at last met his match. As the group of Romans got nearer, however, Wardan noticed that the leader of these 'Romans' was naked to the waist; and then the terrible truth dawned upon him.

During the night Dhiraar and his nine comrades had got to the hillock, killed all 10 Romans noiselessly, and then, such was Dhiraar's impish sense of humour, put on the garments and armour of the Romans. Later, however, Dhiraar discarded the garments and reverted to his normal fighting dress! As the first light of dawn appeared, these 10 Muslims said the prayer of the Morning and then awaited the call of the Roman commander.

Wardan left Khalid and stepped back, looking on helplessly as the 10 Muslims surrounded the pair. Dhiraar now advanced with drawn sword. At this Wardan implored Khalid, "I beseech you, in the name of whatever you worship, to kill me yourself; do not net this devil come near me" 2

In reply Khalid nodded to Dhiraar, and Dhiraar's sword flashed in the sun and severed Wardan's head.

It was Khalid's way so to time his attack as to get the maximum benefit from any tactical advantage which he had gained over his enemy. When no other advantage was possible and manoeuvre was restricted, he would exploit the psychological effect of killing the enemy commander-in-chief or some other prominent general, and strike a powerful blow with the entire army while the enemy was stunned by the moral setback of such a loss. Here again Khalid did the same. As soon as Wardan was killed, he ordered a general attack: the centre, the wings and the flank guards swept forward and assaulted the Romans, who were now under the command of Qubuqlar.

As the two armies met, another phase of violent hand-to-hand fighting began. Soon the fighting became vicious, with no quarter given or taken. The Muslims struck fiercely at the Roman formations, and the Romans struggled desperately to hold the assault. Khalid and all his officers fought in front of the men, and so did many of the Roman generals who were prepared to die for the glory of the empire. The battlefield soon turned into a wreckage of human bodies, mostly Roman, as the men struggled mightily without respite.

At last, as the two sides were reaching the point of exhaustion, Khalid threw his reserve of 4,000 men under Yazeed into the centre; and with the added impetus of this reinforcement, the Muslims broke through at several places, driving deep wedges, into the Roman army. In the centre a Muslim group got to where Qubuqlar stood with his head wrapped in a cloth, and killed him. It is believed that Qubuqlar had ordered his head to be so wrapped because he could no longer bear to see such carnage. With the death of Qubuqlar, the Roman resistance weakened, and soon after collapsed entirely. The Romans fled from the field of battle.

It was safer to stand and fight the Muslim Arabs in battle than to run from them. Against a fleeing enemy, the Arab of the desert was in his element. As the Romans sought to escape, they turned in three directions; some fled towards Gaza, others towards Jaffa, but the largest group of fugitives made for Jerusalem. Khalid forthwith launched his cavalry in several regiments to pursue the enemy on all three routes; and at the hands of this cavalry the Romans suffered even more grievous damage than in the two days of fighting on the plain of Ajnadein. The pursuit and the killing of the fugitives continued till sunset, when the pursuing columns returned to camp.

3. Tabari: Vol. 2, pp. 610-611.