The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 31: The Unkind Cut

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq


Page: 4

On October 14, 634 (the 15th of Shaban, 13 Hijri), the column marched by the light of a bright full moon. With young Abdullah rode a dedicated and saintly soldier by the name of Abu Dharr Al Ghifari. The following morning the impetuous boy launched his small group against a Roman force of 5,000 men which was guarding the fair. Since Abdullah sought glory and Abu Dharr sought martyrdom, there was no one to restrain the Muslims; and the result was disastrous. After some heroic fighting, the Muslims were surrounded by the Romans, and it became evident that none would escape. But when the Muslim turned at bay he was a deadly fighter. The veteran soldiers knew how to defend themselves and quickly formed a tight ring to keep the Romans out; and thus surrounded, they continued to fight, their desperate courage imposing caution on the Romans. But their annihilation was only a matter of time.

One Muslim, however, had escaped the Roman encirclement, and realising the gravity of the situation, he galloped off to Damascus for help. Abu Ubaidah was sitting with his generals when this man arrived to report the disaster and ask for immediate help, without which not a single Muslim would return from Abul Quds. Abu Ubaidah was aghast. His thoughts flew to the words of Umar: "Send not the Muslims to their destruction for the sake of plunder." Moreover, this was his first military decision as Commander-in-Chief and if Abdullah and his men were not saved, the effect on the army would be devastating. And who could do the job but the Sword of Allah!

Abu Ubaidah turned to Khalid: "O Father of Sulaiman, I ask you in the name of Allah to go and rescue Abdullah bin Jafar. You are the only one who can do so."

"I shall certainly do so, Allah willing", replied Khalid. "I waited only for your command."

"I felt hesitant to ask you", remarked Abu Ubaidah, alluding to the embarrassment which he felt over the recent change of command.

Khalid continued: "By Allah, if you were to appoint a small child over me, I would obey him. How could I not obey you when you are far above me in Islam and have been named the Trusted One by the Prophet? I could never attain your status. I declare here and now that I have dedicated my life to the way of Allah, Most High."

In a voice choking with emotion, Abu Ubaidah said, "May Allah have mercy upon you, O Father of Sulaiman. Go and save your brothers." 1

Within half an hour the Mobile Guard was galloping in the direction of Abul Quds with Khalid and Dhiraar in the lead. Of course Khalid saved the trapped Muslims, though many of them had been killed by the Romans. And not only that; he also raided the market of Abul Quds and brought back an enviable amount of booty! He also brought back many wounds on his person, but getting wounded was now such an everyday affair in Khalid's life that he took little notice of them.

The result of the action at Abul Quds left no doubt (if there ever was any) about Khalid's reaction to his dismissal. Abu Ubaidah wrote an account of this action to Umar, giving generous praise to Khalid for the part that he had played in it. But the windows through which the light of such praise could shine at Madinah were closed. They would never open again.

This dual change of personalities-the Caliph at Madinah and the Commander-in-Chief in Syria-was to have its effect on the conduct and pace of military operations. Umar's methods were very different from his predecessor's. While Abu Bakr would give his commanders their mission and area of operations and leave to them the conduct of the campaign, Umar would order specific objectives for each battle. Later in his caliphate he would even lay down such details as who should command the left wing, who should command the right wing, and so on. He also started a system of spies to watch his own generals. These spies were placed in all armies and corps, and everything that any officer said or did was promptly reported to the Caliph. 2

1. Waqidi: p. 66.
2. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 658.