The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 36: The Completion of the Conquest

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 3

On the following day the pact was drawn up. 1 It was signed on behalf of the Muslims by Caliph Umar and witnessed by Khalid, Amr bin Al Aas, Abdur-Rahman bin Auf and Muawiyah. Jerusalem surrendered to the Caliph, and peace returned to the holy city. This happened in April 637 (Rabi-ul-Awwal, 16 Hijri). After staying 10 days at Jerusalem, the Caliph returned to Madinah.

Following the Caliph's instructions, Yazeed proceeded to Caesarea and once again laid siege to the port city. Amr and Sharhabeel marched to reoccupy Palestine and Jordan, which task was completed by the end of this year. Caesarea, however, could not be taken till 640 (19 Hijri), when at last the garrison laid down its arms before Muawiyah. Abu Ubaidah and Khalid, with an army of 17,000 men, set off from Jerusalem to conquer all of Northern Syria.

Abu Ubaidah marched to Damascus, which was already in Muslim hands, and then to Emessa, which welcomed his return. His next objective was Qinassareen, and towards this the army advanced with Khalid and the Mobile Guard in the lead. After a few days the Mobile Guard reached Hazir, 3 miles east of Qinassareen, and here it was attacked in strength by the Romans. 2

The Roman commander at Qinassareen was a general named Meenas-a distinguished soldier who was loved by his men. Meenas knew that if he stayed in Qinassareen, he would be besieged by the Muslims and would eventually have to surrender, as at present no help could be expected from the Emperor. He therefore decided to take the offensive and attack the leading elements of the Muslim army well forward of the city and defeat them before they could be joined by the main body. With this plan in mind, Meenas attacked the Mobile Guard at Hazif with a force whose strength is not recorded; He either did not know that Khalid was present with the leading elements of the Muslim army or did not believe all that he had heard about Khalid.

For Khalid to throw his cavalry into fighting formation for battle was a matter of minutes, and soon a fierce action was raging at Hazir. The battle was still in its early stages when Meenas was killed; and as the news of his death spread among his men, the Romans went wild with fury and attacked savagely to avenge their beloved leader's death. But they were up against the finest body of men of the time. Their very desire for vengeance proved their undoing, for not a single Roman survived the Battle of Hazir. 3 The Mobile Guard took this encounter in its stride as one of its many victories.

As soon as the battle was over, the people of Hazir came out of their town to greet Khalid. They pleaded that they were Arabs and had no intention to fight him. Khalid accepted their surrender, and advanced to Qinassareen.

When Umar received reports of the Battle of Hazir, he made no attempt to conceal his admiration - for the military genius of Khalid. "Khalid is truly the commander," 4 Umar exclaimed. "May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr. He was a better judge of men than I have been." 5 This was Umar's first admission that perhaps he had not judged Khalid rightly.

1. According to some reports, the pact was actually signed at Jabiya with representatives of the Patriarch, and after signing the pact there, Umar travelled to Jerusalem and received the surrender.
2. Hazir still exists-a large farming village.
3. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 98.
4. Literally: "Khalid has made himself commander", i.e., that the role comes naturally to him.
5. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 98.