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: 15

The rate of Jizya was fixed at one dinar per man and a certain amount of food to be provided to the Muslims, the scale of which was also laid down.

Damascus had been taken. The greatest prize in Syria, with the exception of Antioch, was now in Muslim hands; but those who had conquered the city looked upon their victory with mixed feelings.

The Muslims had fought hard for this prize. While their casualties were much lower than those of the Romans, they had nevertheless paid a heavy prize for the conquest. They had struggled heroically for a month and given their blood and sweat for this victory. They had taken the city by the sword-especially the corps of Iraq, which had stormed it on the last night and crushed all resistance. But the fruits of their labour had been snatched away by the clever diplomacy of Thomas and the simple generosity and large-heartedness of Abu Ubaidah. The Son of the Surgeon had no business to do this; but he was, after all the Trusted One of the Nation, and not a word of censure was raised against him.

The Muslims gathered in groups to see the Roman convoy march out of the city. The convoy consisted of the garrison and thousands of civilians who preferred not to remain under Muslim rule and moved out of Damascus with their wives and children. Thomas's wife, the daughter of Heraclius, travelled with her husband. With the convoy went hundreds of carriages and wagons carrying all the belongings of the travellers and the merchandise of the city, including 300 bales of the finest brocade belonging to Heraclius. Some Muslims looked in anger, others in sorrow, as they saw Damascus drained of all its wealth. It was a bitter moment for the victors of Damascus.

Khalid stood with some of his officers and men, gazing at the saddening sight. It appeared that the Romans were leaving nothing of value in Damascus. There was pain in the heart of Khalid. He was the commander of the army; he had conquered Damascus by the sword; he had stormed the fort. And Abu Ubaidah had done this!

He looked at the others and saw faces red with anger. All this should have been theirs by right of conquest. All along the route stood groups of Muslims watching in silence. They could easily have pounced upon the convoy and taken what they wished, but such was the discipline of this army, and such its respect for the moral obligation of the given word, that not a single soldier stirred to interfere with the movement of the convoy.

Khalid fought to control his rage. Then he raised his arms, to heaven, and in an anguished voice prayed aloud: "O Allah! Give all this to us as sustenance for the Muslims!" 1 But it was hopeless. Or was it?

Khalid heard a respectful cough behind him, and turned to see Jonah the Lover, still as sad as he had looked the night before in Khalid's tent. Jonah, meeting his bride after the surrender, had asked her to come away with him, and at first she was willing enough. But when he had told her that he was now a friend of the Muslims and had accepted their faith, she recoiled from him and swore that she would have nothing more to do with him. She decided to leave Damascus, and was even now travelling in the convoy of Thomas. Jonah, still the distracted lover maddened by his passion for the girl, had come to seek Khalid's help.

Could not the Muslims take the girl by force and deliver her to him? No, they could not. She was covered by the guarantee of safety and could not be touched.

Could the Muslims not pursue and attack the convoy? No, they could not. The guarantee of safety for the convoy would last three days, and during that period no pursuit could be undertaken.

After three days then? It was no use. Going at the terrified pace which it had adopted, the convoy would be so far away after three days that the Muslims would never catch up with it.

1. Waqidi: p. 52.