The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 30: The Conquest of Damascus

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq


Page: 4

"He is held in irons."

"What prevents you from killing him? He is the most cunning of the Romans."

"Nothing prevents me except the desire to kill both of you together."

"Listen," said the Roman, "I shall give you 1,000 pieces of gold, 10 robes of brocade and five horses if you will kill him, and give me his head."

"That is the price for him. What will you give me to save yourself?"

"What do you want of me?"

"The Jizya!"

This enraged Azazeer, who said, "As we rise in honour, so you fall in disgrace. Defend yourself, for now I kill you."

These words were hardly out of the Roman's mouth when Khalid assailed him. He struck several times with his sword, but Azazeer, showing perfect mastery over the art, parried every blow and remained unharmed. A cry of admiration rose from the Muslim ranks at the skill with which the Roman was defending himself against their commander, who had few equals in combat and those only among the Muslims. Khalid also stopped in amazement.

The face of the Roman broke into a smile as he said, "By the Messiah, I could easily kill you if I wished. But I am determined to take you alive, so that I may then release you on condition that you leave our land."

Khalid was infuriated by the cool, condescending manner of the Roman general and his success in defending himself. He decided to take the Roman alive and humble him. As he moved forward to attack again, however, to his great surprise, Azazeer turned his horse and began to canter away. Believing that the Roman was fleeing from combat, Khalid pursued him and the spectators saw the remarkable spectacle of two generals galloping, one after the other, in the no-man's-land between the two armies. Several times the riders galloped round the field; and then Khalid began to lag behind, his horse sweating and winded. The Roman was better mounted, and his horse showed no sign of fatigue.

This apparently was a pre-determined plan of Azazeer, for when he saw Khalid's mount exhausted, he reined in his horse and waited for Khalid to catch up. Khalid was now in a most unforgiving mood, since in this race his opponent had got the better of him, and it did not help his temper to hear the Roman mock at him: "O Arab! Do not think that I fled in fear. In fact I am being kind to you. Lo, I am the taker of souls! I am the angel of death!"

Khalid's horse was no longer fit for combat. He dismounted and walked towards Azazeer, sword in hand. The Roman gloated at the sight of his opponent approaching on foot while he himself was mounted. Now, he thought, he had Khalid just where he wanted him. As Khalid got within striking distance, Azazeer raised his sword and made a vicious sideways swipe to cut off the Muslim's head; but Khalid ducked to let the blade swish past harmlessly inches above his head. The next instant he struck at the forelegs of the Roman's horse, severing them completely from the body, and horse and rider came tumbling down. Now all courage left Azazeer. He got up and tried to run, but Khalid sprang at him and catching him with both hands, lifted him bodily off the ground and hurled him down. Next he caught Azazeer by the collar, jerked him up and marched him back to the Muslim army, where he joined Kulus in irons. 1

This grand duel was hardly over when two more Muslim corps, those of Abu Ubaidah and Amr bin Al Aas, arrived at the battlefield. Khalid deployed them as the wings of his army; and as soon as the battle formation was complete, ordered a general attack.

1. The description of these duels and the dialogue are taken from Waqidi: pp. 19-21.