The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 37: Farewell to Arms

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 3

There was sorrow in the eyes of Abu Ubaidah, and a great deal of affection and commiseration, as he replied, "By Allah, I knew that this would hurt you. I would never hurt you if I could find a way." 1

Khalid went back to Qinassareen, got the Mobile Guard together, and addressed the warriors whom he had led to victory and glory in battle after battle-warriors who had followed him with unquestioning loyalty and faith. He informed them that he had been dismissed from command, and that he was now proceeding to Madinah on the instructions of the Caliph. Then he bade farewell to the Mobile Guard-a body of men which under Khalid had not known the meaning of defeat.

From Qinassareen he rode again to Emessa, said his farewells, and then continued his journey to Madinah. He was going to Madinah not as a hero returning home from the wars to receive honours from a grateful government, but as a man under disgrace.

Khalid arrived at Madinah and proceeded towards the house of the Caliph. But he met Umar in the street. As these two strong men drew closer to each other-the greatest ruler of the time and the greatest soldier of the time-there was no fear in the eyes of either. Umar was the first to speak. He extemporised a verse in acknowledgement of Khalid's achievements and recited it:

You have done;
And no man has done as you have done.
But it is not people who do;
It is Allah who does.
2

In reply Khalid said, "I protest to the Muslims against what you have done. By Allah, you have been unjust to me, O Umar!"

"Whence comes all this wealth?" countered Umar.

"It is what is left of my share of the spoils. Whatever exceeds 60,000 dirhams is yours." 3

Umar had a check made of all Khalid's possessions, which consisted mainly of military equipment and slaves, and found that it was valued at 80,000 dirhams. He confiscated the surplus of 20,000 dirhams.

When this had been done, Umar said to Khalid, "O Khalid! By Allah, you are honourable in my eyes, and you are dear to me. You will not have cause to complain of me after this day." 4 The point was academic, however, for there was not much more that could be done to Khalid!

After a few days, Khalid left Madinah for Qinassareen, never to return to Arabia. Hardly had he left, when the people of Madinah came to Umar and appealed to him to return Khalid's property to him. To this Umar replied, "I do not trade with what belongs to Allah and the Muslims." 5 But after this, according to Tabari, Umar's heart was 'cured' of Khalid.

Very soon it became evident to Umar that his treatment of Khalid was being deeply resented by the Muslims. It was openly said that Khalid had suffered because of Umar's personal hostility towards him. This popular disapproval of Umar's action became so widespread that the Caliph found it necessary to write to all his commanders and administrators:

I have not dismissed Khalid because of my anger or because of any dishonesty on his part, but because people glorified him and were misled. I feared that people would rely on him. 6 I want them to know that it is Allah who does all things; and there should be no mischief in the land. 7

In this letter Umar, unwittingly paid, Khalid the highest compliment that any general could hope to earn: that his men regarded him as a god! But Khalid returned to Qinassareen an embittered man. The Destroyer of the Apostasy, the Conqueror of Iraq and Syria, came home as a nobody-dismissed and disgraced. As his wife greeted him at the door, he said: "Umar appointed me over Syria until it turned to wheat and honey; then dismissed me!" 8

 

1. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 167.
2. Ibid: Vol. 3, p. 168.
3. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 167.
4. Ibid.
5. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 625.
6. i.e. rather than Allah, for victory.
7. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 167.
8. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 99.