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: 17

Then from the west appeared a fourth Muslim regiment which charged at a gallop at the Roman mass. From the battle cry of its leader, the Romans knew who was the commander of this last group:

I am the noble warrior,
Khalid bin Al Waleed!

There was much slaughter-in the usual manner of Khalid. Khalid himself killed Thomas and Harbees in single combat, and at one time got so deep into the Roman army that he was separated from his comrades and surrounded by his enemies. He would not have come out alive but for Abdur-Rahman, who broke through with a party of horsemen and rescued him.

After some more fighting, Roman resistance collapsed. Since the Muslims were too few to completely surround the Roman army and the fighting had become confused as it increased in violence, thousands of Romans were able to escape and make their way to safety. But all the booty and a large number of captives, both male and female, fell to the Muslims. Jonah found his beloved. He moved towards her to take her by force; but she saw him coming, and drawing a dagger from the folds of her dress, plunged it into her breast. As she lay dying, Jonah sat beside her with silent tears running down his cheeks. He swore that he would remain true to the memory of the bride he was not destined to possess, and would not look at another girl.

When Khalid came to know of the loss suffered by Jonah, he sent for him and offered him another young woman who stood nearby-one who was both beautiful and rich, judging by the clothes and the jewellery which she wore. His first look at the young woman left Jonah dumbfounded. When he found his speech again, he informed Khalid that this woman was none other than the daughter of Heraclius, widow of Thomas. He could not possibly take her, for soon Heraclius would send either an army to get her back by force or envoys to arrange for her ransom.

The Muslims now marched back with spoils and captives enough to delight any conquering army. Their return route also is not recorded, but there was no mishap on the journey. When a day's march from Damascus, they saw a small cloud of dust approaching along the road from Antioch. As this cloud got nearer, it revealed a small party of riders, obviously not intending battle, since they were too few for such a purpose. From this party a Roman noble rode forth and approached Khalid. "I am the ambassador of Heraclius", he said. "He says to you, 'I have come to know what you have done to my army. You have killed my son-in-law and captured my daughter. You have won and got away safely. I now ask you for my daughter. Either return her to me on payment of ransom or give her to me as a gift, for honour is a strong element in your character'. This is what Heraclius says."

Honour was indeed a strong element in the make-up of Khalid. So was gallantry and so was generosity. Throughout his fife he had been generous in giving-a generosity which later would get him into serious trouble. Now he decided to be generous to Emperor of Roman. "Take her as a gift", he said grandly. "There shall be no, ransom." The ambassador took the daughter of Heraclius, and with profuse thanks, returned to Antioch.

Jonah remained inconsolable. Nothing would cheer him up. Khalid offered him a large reward from his own share of the spoils, with which he could procure another wife, by purchase if necessary; but Jonah declined. He would remain true to his promise of celibacy. He also remained true to his new faith and fought under the banner of Islam for two years until the Battle of Yarmuk, where he fell a martyr.

The return of the Mobile Guard loaded with spoils was greeted with joy by the Muslims at Damascus. The Sword of Allah had done it again! The force had been absent for about 10 days, and the Muslims had been seriously perturbed; but now all was well. Khalid at once sent off a letter to Madinah, addressed to Abu Bakr, informing him of the conquest of Damascus and how Abu Ubaidah had been 'deceived by the Romans'; of his pursuit of the Roman convoy, the killing of Thomas and Harbees, the capture of the spoils and captives; of the daughter of
Heraclius and her release. This letter was written on October 1, 634 (the 2nd of Shaban, 13 Hijri). 2

The messenger carrying this letter had not gone many hours when Abu Ubaidah called Khalid aside and told him that Abu Bakr was dead and Umar was now Caliph. He held out a letter which the new Caliph had written him (i.e. Abu Ubaidah). Hesitantly Khalid took the letter and began to read. The most important line seemed to stand out mockingly: "I appoint you commander of the army of Khalid bin Al Waleed..."

Khalid looked up from the letter ...

1. Waqidi: p. 58.
2. For an explanation of the dates of the siege and conquest of Damascus, see Note 11 in Appendix B.