The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

Main Index
Chapter 37: Farewell to Arms

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 4

Khalid's campaigning days were over. The Sword of Allah-the sword that Allah had drawn against the infidels-which Abu Bakr had refused to sheathe, was at last sheathed by Caliph Umar.

Little remains to be told. After his dismissal Khalid had less than four years to live, and these were not very pleasant years. Financially, though not impoverished, he was severely restricted. In 15 Hijri, Umar had started the institution of allowances to all Muslims, varying in extent according to their position in Islam and the services rendered by them in war. All those who had accepted the Faith after the Truce of Hudebiya and before the Apostasy received an annual allowance of three thousand dirhams, 1 and this category included Khalid. The sum was enough to enable a man and his family to live modestly; but with Khalid, born an aristocrat and accustomed to giving away thousands of dirhams on an impulse, it did not go far. He took his family to Emessa, where he bought a house and settled down to retirement.

His dismissal was a terrible blow to him. But as if this were not enough, Khalid suffered even more grievous losses in the plague which struck soon after his return from Madinah, and which claimed most of those nearest and dearest to him.

The plague started at Amawas in Palestine in Muharram or Safar, 18 Hijri (January or February 639), and spread rapidly across Syria and Palestine, striking down Christians and Muslims in its path. The Caliph was deeply grieved by the sufferings of the Muslims in Syria and concerned especially about Abu Ubaidah, and thought to save the Trusted One of the Nation by asking him to visit Madinah. But Abu Ubaidah saw through Umar's letter and knew that the Caliph would detain him in Madinah until the epidemic had spent itself. The man who had not abandoned his soldiers in the thick of battle was not going to abandon them in the plague. He refused to visit Madinah, and for his loyalty to his men paid with his life.

Thousands of Muslims died in the Plague of Amawas, and these included the noblest and best: Abu Ubaidah, Sharhabeel, Yazeed, Dhiraar-Khalid's dearest friends. And yet this was not the end of his sufferings, for he lost 40 sons in the epidemic! The terrible pestilence thus took away most of those whom Khalid loved, those who could have added comfort and cheer to his years of retirement. We only know of three sons who survived Khalid: Sulaiman, who fell in battle in the latter part of the Egyptian Campaign; Muhajir, who fought and died under Ali at Siffeen; and Abdur-Rahman, who survived to live to a mature age and appeared to be endowed with his father's military prowess. But he too met an untimely death at the hands of a poisoner in 46 Hijri, during the caliphate of Muawiyah. It is recorded that the assassination was engineered by Muawiyah, who was jealous and fearful of the great prestige of the son of the Sword of Allah. 2 The assassin was later killed, as an act of vengeance by Abdur-Rahman's son. We do not know how many daughters Khalid had, but the male line of descent from Khalid is believed to have ended with his grandson, Khalid bin Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid.

After the death of three of the original corps commanders, Amr bin Al Aas took command of the army and immediately dispersed it in the hills of Syria and Palestine. By so doing he was able to save much of the army, but not before 25,000 Muslims had fallen before the foul breath of the plague. The epidemic had not yet ended when Umar appointed Ayadh bin Ghanam as military governor of Northern Syria, and Muawiyah of Damascus and Jordan, while Amr remained in command in Palestine.

When Abu Bakr was planning the Campaign of the Apostasy, he discussed with Amr bin Al Aas the appointment of various generals as corps commanders. The Caliph said, "O Amr, you are the shrewdest of the Arabs in judgement. What is your opinion of Khalid?" Amr replied, "He is a master of war; a friend of death. He has the dash of a lion and the patience of a cat!" 3

But the patience of a cat was not enough for a man of Khalid's temperament at this stage of his life. What makes patience possible and bearable in a cat is the prospect of a victim for supper. If there were no victim in sight even a cat could not bear to be patient; and Khalid now had no prospects, nothing to be patient for. He could fight no more battles, kill no more enemies. In enforced obscurity Khalid mourned the loss of his comrades and his sons.

 

1. Tabari: Vol. 3, p. 109. Balazuri: p. 437.
2. Tabari: Vol. 4, p. 171; Isfahani: Vol. 15, pp. 12-13.
3. Yaqubi: Tareekh, Vol. 2, p. 129.