The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 37: Farewell to Arms

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq


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Khalid was the only man who inflicted a tactical defeat on the Holy Prophet-at Uhud. He was the first Muslim commander to leave Arabia and conquer foreign lands; the first Muslim to humble two great empires, one after the other. Almost all his battles are studies in military leadership, especially Uhud, Kazima, Walaja, Muzayyah, Ajnadein and Yarmuk. His finest battle was Walaja, while his greatest was undoubtedly Yarmuk.

Khalid was essentially a soldier. He also administered the territories which he conquered, but this he did as a routine responsibility of a high-ranking general, who had not only to conquer territory but also to rule it as a military governor. His plans and manoeuvres show a superb military intellect; but towards such things as learning and culture he was in no way inclined. Khalid was pure, unadulterated, undiluted, unspoilt soldier. It was his destiny to fight great battles and vanquish mighty foes.... to attack, kill, conquer. This destiny became apparent only when, with the rise of Islam, the prospect of holy war arose in Arab lands. And it was only after he had accepted the new faith and submitted to the Prophet that this destiny came into full play. Wherever Khalid marched, enemies stood up to oppose him, as if some unkind fate had condemned them to death by his sword. Wherever Khalid passed, he left behind a trail of glory. From the Battle of Uhud up to the time of his dismissal, over a period of 15 years, Khalid fought 41 battles (excluding minor engagements), of which 35 were concentrated in the last seven years. And he never lost a single one! Such was Khalid, the irresistible, all-conquering master.

It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if he had remained in command of the Muslim army in Syria and had been launched to conquer the Byzantine Empire, Since Khalid never lost a battle, there is no doubt that he would have taken the whole of Asia Minor and reached the Black Sea and the Bosphorus. But it was not to be. By the end of 17 Hijri Khalid's race was run. Thereafter the stage of history was crowded by other players.

In 641, Ayadh bin Ghanam died. In this year, too, died Bilal the Muazzin and Khalid's defeated foe, Heraclius, Emperor of Rome. The following year it was Khalid's turn to go.

Some time in 642 (21 Hijri), at the age of 58, Khalid was taken ill. We do not know the nature of his illness, but it was a prolonged one and took the strength out of him. As with all vigorous, active men upon whom an inactive retirement is suddenly thrust, Khalid's health and physique had declined rapidly. This last illness proved too much for him; and Khalid's sick bed became his death bed. He lay in bed, impatient and rebellious against a fate which had robbed him of a glorious, violent death in battle. Knowing that he had not long to live, it irked him to await death in bed.

A few days before his end, an old friend called to see him and sat at his bedside. Khalid raised the cover from his right leg and said to his visitor, "Do you see a space of the span of a hand on my leg which is not covered by some scar of the wound of a sword or an arrow or a lance?"

The friend examined Khalid's leg and confessed that he did not. Khalid raised the cover from his left leg and repeated his question. Again the friend agreed that between the wounds farthest apart the space was less than a hand's span.

Khalid raised his right arm and then his left, for a similar examination and with a similar result. Next he bared his great chest, now devoid of most of its mighty sinews, and here again the friend was met with a sight which made him wonder how a man wounded in so many places could survive The friend again admitted that he could not see the space of one hand span of unmarked skin.

Khalid had made his point. "Do you not see?" he asked impatiently. "I have sought martyrdom in a hundred battles. Why could I not have died in battle?"

"You could not die in battle", replied the friend.

"Why not?"

"You must understand, O Khalid," the friend explained, "that when the Messenger of Allah, on whom be the blessings of Allah and peace, named you Sword of Allah, he predetermined that you would not fall in battle. If you had been killed by an unbeliever it would have meant that Allah's sword had been broken by an enemy of Allah; and that could never be."