11 A.H. / 632-633 A.D.
IT was indeed time for decisive action. But a few weeks before and the entire Peninsula was submissive to the claims of Mohammad both as Prophet and King. Now all was on a sudden changed, and the Arabs abjuring Islam were fast relapsing into apostasy and independence. It took a year to reclaim the Peninsula, a year of hard fighting and obstinate resistance in every corner of the land. It was the indomitable spirit breathed by Mohammad into his faithful followers that alone crowned their efforts with victory. The Arabs at last were forced back, in sullen mood and with unwilling step, to confess the faith of Mohammad and submit themselves to his Successor.
A brief outline of the twelve months' campaign will suffice; for tradition, up to the Prophet's death clear and copious, now suddenly becomes curt, obscure, and disconnected. The scene of confusion that prevailed throughout the land, presents itself to us in meagre, dim, and hazy outline. With Islam struggling thus for very life, its followers thought at the moment only of the lance and sword; and when the struggle at last was over, little remained but the sense of escape from a terrible danger. No date is given for the many battles fought throughout the year. We can only guess at the sequence of events.
Such being the case, we shall begin with the campaign of Khalid on the north and east, and then take up the other Provinces in order, as they lie around the coast, from Al-Bahrein on the Persian Gulf to the Yemen on the Red Sea.
After Abu Bekr and 'Omar, the most prominent figure in the early days of Islam is without doubt that of Khalid son of Al-Welid. More to him than to any other is it due that the Faith so rapidly recovered its standing, and thereafter spread with such marvellous rapidity. A dashing soldier, brave even to rashness, his courage was tempered by a cool and ready judgment. His conduct on the battlefields which decided the fate of the Persian Empire, and of the Byzantine rule in Syria, ranks him as one of the greatest generals of the world. Over and again, always with consummate skill and heroism, he cast the die in crises where loss would have been destruction to Islam. From the carnage of his arms he was named The Sword of God; and so little care had he for loss of life, that he would wed the widow of his enemy on the field still sodden with his own soldiers' blood. He had already distinguished himself in the annals of Islam. While fighting on the side of Koreish, the Prophet's defeat at Ohod was due mainly to his prowess. After conversion, his was the only column which, on the capture of Mecca, disobeyed by shedding blood; and again shortly after, the cruel massacre of an unoffending tribe brought down upon him the Prophet's stern reproof. On the field of Muta he gave signal promise of his great future when, the Muslim army having been routed by Roman legions and its leaders one after another slain, he saved the shattered remnants from destruction by skilful and intrepid tactics. It was this Khalid whom Abu Bekr now sent forth against the rebel Prophets Toleiha and Museilima.
His column, by far the strongest, was composed of the flower both of the Refugees and of the Citizens of Medina. To divert the enemy's attention, Abu Bekr gave out his destination as for Kheibar; and, to strike the greater terror, that the Caliph himself would join it there with a fresh contingent. Khalid, however, was not long in quitting the northern route. Striking off to the right, he made direct for the mountain range, seat of the Beni Tai', and not distant from the scene of Toleiha's revolt among the Beni Asad.
Of the doctrines of Toleiha, and the other pretenders to prophetic office, we know little; nor indeed anything at all to show wherein the secret of their influence lay. So far as appears, their worship was a mere travesty of Islam. Some doggerel verses and childish sayings are all that the contemptuous voice of tradition has transmitted of their teaching. That four Pretenders (for Sajah the Prophetess was also such) should just then have arisen in different parts of Arabia and drawn multitudes after them, would seem to imply something deeper than senseless rhymes, and more specious than petty variations of the Muslim rite. It is not unreasonable to assume that the spiritual sense of Arabia had been quickened by the preaching of Mohammad, and that his example had both suggested the claims of others, and contributed thus rapidly to their success.
Jealousy of Mecca and Medina, moreover, and impatience of the trammels of Islam, were powerful incentives for the Bedawin tribes to cast in their lot with these Pretenders. Thus the Beni Ghatafan who aforetime were in league with the Beni Asad, had recently fallen out with them and lost some pasture-land. 'Oyeina their chief now counselled a return to their old relations; "Let us go back," he said, "to the ancient alliance which before Islam we had with the Beni Asad, for never since we gave it up have I known our pasture boundaries. A Prophet of our own is better than a Prophet of Koreish. Beside all this, Mohammad is dead and Toleiha is alive." So saying, 'Oyeina with 700 of his warriors joined Toleiha and his army at Al-Buzakha.
On first hearing of Toleiha's heresy, Mohammad had sent an Envoy to rally the faithful amongst the Beni Asad and thus crush the Pretender. But the cause gaining ground, was now supported by the neighbouring Beni Tai', as well as by insurgents who flocked to Toleiha after their defeat at Rabadha; and so the Envoy had to fly. The great family of Tai', however, was not wholly disloyal, for (as above mentioned) the legal dues had been already presented to Abu Bekr on behalf of some of them. 'Adi their loyal chief was therefore now sent forward by Khalid in the hope of detaching his people from Toleiha's cause. He found them in no friendly humour. "The father of the foal!" they cried (such was the sobriquet they contemptuously
used for Abu Bekr1), "thou shalt not persuade us to do homage to him." "Think better of it," replied 'Adi; "an army approacheth which ye cannot withstand. Ye shall know full soon he is no foal but the lusty stallion. Wherefore see ye to it." Alarmed at his words, they begged for time to recall their fellows who had joined Toleiha; "for," said they, "he will surely hold them as hostages, or else put them to death." So Khalid halted three days, and in the end the whole tribe not only tendered submission but joined with 1000 horse, "the flower of the land of Tai' and the bravest of them."
Thus reinforced, Khalid advanced against Toleiha. On the march his army was exasperated by finding the bodies of two of their scouts, one a warrior of note named 'Okkasha, who had been slain and left by Toleiha to be trampled on upon the road. The armies met at Al-Buzakha, and the combat was hot and long. At last the tide of battle was turned by a strange utterance of Toleiha who was fighting in his prophetic garb of hair. 'Oyeina held on bravely with his 700 when, the situation becoming critical, he turned a saying, "Hath any message come to thee from Gabriel?" "Not yet," answered the Prophet; a second time he asked, and received the same reply. "Yes," cried Toleiha a little after," a message now hath come." "And what is it?" inquired 'Oyeina eagerly. "Thus saith Gabriel to me Thou shalt have a millstone like unto his, and an affair shall happen that thou wilt not forget." "Away with thee!" 'Oyeina scornfully; "no doubt the Lord knoweth that an affair will happen that thou shalt not soon forget! Ho, every man to his tent!" So they turned to go; and thereupon the army fled.
Toleiha escaped with his wife to Syria. The sequel is curious. At the first he took refuge with another tribe on the Syrian frontier. When the Beni Asad were pardoned he returned to them, and embraced Islam. Passing Medina soon after on pilgrimage to Mecca, he was seized and carried to Abu Bekr who set him at liberty, saying, "Let him alone. The Lord hath now verily guided him into the right path." When 'Omar succeeded, Toleiha presented himself to do
1 Abu Bekr means "Father of the young camel"
so they called him by the nickname Abu'l-Fasil, "Father of the foal."
1 Abu Bekr means "Father of the young camel" so they called him by the nickname Abu'l-Fasil, "Father of the foal."
homage. At first 'Omar spoke roughly to him,"Thou art he that killed 'Okkasha, and his comrade too. I love thee not." "Was it not better," answered the quondam prophet, "that they by my hand should obtain the crown of martyrdom, rather than that I by theirs should have perished in hell-fire?" When he had sworn allegiance, the Caliph asked him concerning his oracular gift, and whether anything yet remained of it. "Ah," he replied, "it was but a puff or two, as from a pair of bellows." So he returned to his tribe and went forth with them to the war in Al-'Irak, where in the great struggle with Persia he became a hero of renown.
After the battle of Al-Buzakha the Beni Asad, fearing lest their families should fall into the conqueror's hands, submitted and were pardoned. Other important tribes in the neighbourhood which had stood aloof watching the event, now came in and received from Khalid the same terms. They resumed the profession of Islam with all its obligations, and in proof thereof brought in the tithe. A full amnesty was accorded on but one condition, that those who during the apostasy had taken the life of any Muslim should be delivered up. These were now (to carry out the Caliph's vow) put to the like death as that which they had inflicted. If they had speared their victims, cast them over precipices, drowned them in wells, or burned them in the fire, the persecutors were now subjected to the same cruel fate.
Khalid stayed at Al-Buzakha for a month, receiving the submission of the people and their tithes. Troops of horse scoured the country, striking terror all around. In only one direction was serious opposition met. A body of malcontents from amongst the penitent tribes, unable to brook submission, assumed a defiant attitude. They had yet to learn that the grip of Islam was stern and crushing. These gathered in a great multitude around Um Ziml, daughter of a famous chieftain of the Ghatafan. Her mother had been taken prisoner, and put to a cruel death by Mohammad. She herself had waited upon 'Aisha as a captive maid in the Prophet's household; but the haughty spirit of her race survived. Mounted on her mother's war-camel, she led the force herself and incited the insurgents to a bold resistance. Khalid proclaimed a great reward to him who should maim
her camel. It was soon disabled; and Um Ziml slain, the rout of the rebel host was easy.
A few of the leading rebels were sent prisoners to Abu Bekr. One of them, 'Oyeina a notable marauding chieftain, had often been the terror of Medina. When the City was besieged by Koreish, he offered assistance to the Prophet on humiliating terms which were happily refused; and he was also one of the influential leaders "whose hearts," after the battle of Honein, "had been reconciled" by the Prophet's largesses. He was now led into Medina with the rest in chains, his hands tied behind his back. The Citizens crowded round to gaze at the fallen chief, and the very children smote him with their hands, crying out, "Oh enemy of the Lord, apostate!" "Not so," said 'Oyeina bravely; "I am no apostate, and never was a believer until now." The Caliph listened patiently to the appeal of the captives. He forgave them, and commanded their release1.
Having subdued the tribes inhabiting the hills and deserts north of Medina, Khalid bent his steps eastward, against the Beni Temim who occupied the plateau towards the Persian Gulf.
This great tribe, partly Christian and partly heathen, had from time immemorial spread its innumerable branches over the pasture-lands between Al-Yemama and the mouth of the Euphrates. With the rest of Arabia it acknowledged Mohammad and submitted to his claims. But the Prophet's death had produced amongst them the same apostasy as elsewhere. After Abu Bekr's first success some of its Chieftains, as we have seen came to Medina with the tithes. Meanwhile a strange complication had arisen which embroiled the Beni Yerbu' (one of their clans, commanded by the famous Malik ibn Nuweira) in hostilities with the rest of the tribe, and eventually brought Khalid on the scene.
It was no less than the advent of the Prophetess Sajah, at the head of a great host from Mesopotamia. Descended
1 For Um Ziml's mother, see Life of Mohammad,
p. 348; and for 'Oyeina, ibid. p. 289, etc.
1 For Um Ziml's mother, see Life of Mohammad, p. 348; and for 'Oyeina, ibid. p. 289, etc.
from the Beni Yerbu', her family had migrated north and joined the Beni Taghlib, among whom in Mesopotamia she had been brought up as a Christian. How long she had assumed the prophetic office and what were her peculiar tenets, we do not know. At the head of the Taghlib and other Christian tribes she now crossed into Arabia hoping to profit by the present confusion, and was on her way to attack Medina. Reaching the seats of Temim, she summoned to her presence the Beni Yerbu' her own clan, and promised them the kingdom should victory crown her arms. They joined her standard, with Malik ibn Nuweira at their head. The other clans of Temim refused to acknowledge the Prophetess; and so, diverted from her design upon Medina, she turned her arms against them. In a series of combats, though supported by Malik, she was worsted. Then, having made terms and exchanged prisoners, she bethought her of attacking the rival prophet Museilima, and so passed onwards to Al-Yemama.
As Khalid flushed with victory now approached, most of the branches of the Temim hastened to tender their submission. At this critical juncture, the withdrawal of Sajah left Malik ibn Nuweira with the Yerbu' tribe in a position of some perplexity, and he was undecided how to act. Conflicting views respecting Malik's loyalty divided the Muslim camp. For some reason Khalid was bent on attacking the Yerbu'. The men of Medina were equally opposed to the design, for which they alleged there was no authority. It had been better for Khalid to have listened. But he replied haughtily, "I am Commander, and it is for me to decide. I will march against Malik with such as choose to follow me. I compel no man." So he went forward and left the malcontents behind. These, however thinking better of it rejoined the army. Khalid then in full force, marched straight against the headquarters of Malik, but found not a soul upon the spot. It was utterly deserted.
In fact, Malik had resolved on submission, though his proud spirit rebelled against presenting himself before Khalid. He knew the ordinance of Abu Bekr, that none but they who resisted and who refused the call to prayer should be molested. So he told his people that there was
no longer use in opposing this new way, but that bowing down they should suffer the wave to pass over them. "Break up your camp," he said, "and depart every man to his house." Khalid, still bent on treating the neighbourhood as enemy's land, sent forth bands everywhere to slay and plunder, and take captive all who failed to respond to the call for prayer. Amongst others, Malik was seized with his wife and a party of his people. When challenged, they replied that they were Muslims. "Why, then, these weapons?" it was asked. So they laid aside their arms and were led as captives to the camp. As they passed by Khalid, Malik cried aloud to him, "Thy Master never gave command for this." "Thy master," rejoined Khalid, "didst thou say? Then, rebel, by thine own admission, he is not thine!"
The captors differed in their evidence. Some averred that the prisoners had offered resistance. Others, with Abu Katada, a citizen of Medina at their head, deposed that they had declared themselves Muslims, and at once complied with the call to prayer. So the party was remanded till morning under an armed guard. The night set in cold and stormy, and Khalid, with the view (so he averred) of protecting them from its inclemency, gave command "to wrap the prisoners." The word was ambiguous, signifying in another dialect "to slay" and Dirar, commandant of the guard, taking it in that sense, began to put the prisoners, including Ibn Nuweira, forthwith to the sword. Khalid, hearing the uproar, hurried forth; but all was over, and he retired exclaiming, "When the Lord hath determined a thing, the same cometh verily to pass." But the fate of Malik was not thus easily to be set at rest. The men of Medina who had opposed the advance were shocked at his cruel fate. Abu Katada roundly asserted the responsibility of Khalid. "This is thy work!" he said; and though chided, persisted in the charge, declaring that never again would he serve under Khalid's banner. In company with Mutemmam, Ibn Nuweira's brother, he set out at once for Medina, and there laid formal complaint before the Caliph. 'Omar, with his native impetuosity, took up the cause of the Yerbu' chief. Khalid had given point to the allegations of his enemies by wedding Leila, the beautiful widow of his
victim, on the spot. From this scandalous act, 'Omar drew the worst conclusion.
"He hath conspired to slay a believer," he said, "and hath gone in unto his wife." He was instant with Abu Bekr that the offender should be degraded and put in bonds, saying, "The sword of Khalid, dipped in violence and outrage, must be sheathed." "Nay!" replied the Caliph (of whom it is said that he never degraded any one of his Commanders);"the Sword which the Lord hath made bare against the heathen, shall I sheathe it? That be far from me!" Nevertheless he summoned Khalid to answer the charge.
Khalid obeyed the call. On reaching Medina, he went, straightway to the great Mosque and entered it in rough costume, his clothes rusty with the girded armour, and his turban, stuck with arrows, coiled rudely about the head. As he passed along the courtyard towards the Caliph's chamber, 'Omar met him. Unable to restrain himself, he seized the arrows from the warrior's turban, broke them over his shoulder, and abused him as hypocrite murderer and adulterer. Khalid, unaware whether Abu Bekr might not be of the same mind, answered not a word but passed into the Caliph's presence. There he told his story, and the explanation was accepted by Abu Bekr; but he chided him roughly for having taken to wife his victim's widow, and run counter to Arab sentiment in incontinently celebrating his nuptials on the field of battle. As Khalid, thus relieved, again passed out, he lightly rallied 'Omar in words which showed that he had been exonerated. Mutemmam then pressed his claim of blood-money for his brother's life and release of the prisoners that remained. For the release Abu Bekr gave command, but payment he declined.
'Omar, still unconvinced of Khalid's innocence, advised that he should be withdrawn from the command. He persevered in pressing this view upon Abu Bekr, who at last replied, "'Omar, hold thy peace! Refrain thy tongue from Khalid. He gave an order, and the order was misunderstood." But Omar heeded not. He neither forgave nor forgot, as in the sequel we shall see.
The scandal was the greater because Malik ibn Nuweira was a chief renowned for generosity and princely virtues, as well as for poetic talent. His brother Mutemman, a poet
also of no mean fame, commemorated his tragic end in many touching verses which 'Omar loved to listen to, and used to say that, "had he been himself a poet, he would have had no higher ambition than to mourn in such verse the fate of his own brother Zeid," who shortly after fell at Al-Yemama.
The materials are too meagre for a conclusive judgment on the guilt or innocence of Khalid. But his scandalous marriage with the widow of Ibn Nuweira whose blood was yet fresh upon the spot, if it gave no colour to darker suspicion, justified at any rate the indictment of shameless indulgence and reckless disregard of the proprieties of life.
END OF 11 A.H. BEGINNING OF 633 A.D.
But Sterner work was in reserve for Khalid. In the centre of Arabia, a little towards the east, lay Al-Yemama. The Beni Hanifa, a powerful branch of the great Bekr tribe, resided there. Partly Christian and partly heathen, they had submitted to Mohammad, but now were in rebellion 40,000 strong, around their Prophet Museilima. It was against these that Khalid next directed his steps.
The beginning of Museilima's story belongs to the life of Mohammad1. Small in stature, and of mean countenance, he yet had qualities which fitted him for command. He visited Medina with a deputation from his people, and it was pretended that words had then fallen from Mohammad signifying that he was destined to share with him the prophetic office. On this Museilima advanced the claim, and was accepted by his People as their prophet. Summoned from Medina to abandon these pretensions, he sent an insolent reply claiming to divide the land. Mohammad in anger drove the ambassador from his presence, and thereupon sent Ar-Rajjal a convert of the same tribe, to counteract the heresy and reclaim his brethren; but Ar-Rajjal, like the rest, was gained over by the Pretender. Museilima, we are told, deceived the people by pretended miracles, counterfeited the language of the Koran, and
1 See Life of Mohammad, p. 477.
1 See Life of Mohammad, p. 477.
instituted prayers like those of Mohammad. In short, his religion was but a wretched travesty of Islam. Though strongly supported by his own people both as their Prophet and their Ruler, he now felt that the meshes of Abu Bekr began to close round him. The Caliph's Generals were steadily reclaiming the coast of the Persian Gulf, and Khalid whom he dreaded most was not far behind.
At this juncture came tidings that the Prophetess Sajah, worsted as we have seen by the Beni Temim, was coming with troops against him. In his perplexity he sent her a friendly invitation. She came, and their sentiments were so much alike that the Prophet of Al-Yemama took the Prophetess of Mesopotamia to wife, and celebrated their nuptials on the spot - the dower to be one-half the revenues of Al-Yemama. After a few days, Sajah departed for her northern home and, like a meteor, vanished, just as she had startled Arabia by her advent. Parties of Mesopotamian horse still ranged over the land collecting her dues when Khalid's approach at once changed the scene; and Museilima marching out with a heavy force to meet him, pitched his camp at 'Akraba.
'Ikrima and Shurahbil, sent by Abu Bekr to quell the rising at Al-Yemama, had already suffered badly at the hands of Museilima from a hasty and ill-advised advance. The reverse was so serious that Abu Bekr wrote angrily to 'Ikrima"I will not see thy face, nor shalt thou see mine, as now thou art. Thou shalt not return hither to dishearten the people. Depart unto the uttermost coasts, and there join the armies in the east and south." So, skirting Al-Yemama, 'Ikrima went forward to 'Oman, there to retrieve his tarnished reputation. Shurahbil, meanwhile, was directed to halt and await the approach of Khalid.
It was upon this reverse that Khalid, when summoned to Medina about the affair of Malik, received his commission to attack Museilima. In anticipation of severe fighting the Caliph sent with him a fresh column of veterans from amongst the men of Mecca and Medina. Thus reinforced Khalid returned to his camp at Al-Bitah, and advanced in strength to meet the enemy.
While yet a march from 'Akraba, Khalid surprised a mounted body of the Beni Hanifa under command of their
chief Maja'a. They were returning from a raid against a neighbouring tribe, unaware of his approach. But as they belonged to the enemy, they were all put to the sword excepting Maja'a, whom Khalid spared in hope of his being useful on the morrow, and kept chained in his tent under charge of Leila his lately espoused wife.
Next day the armies met upon the sandy plain of 'Akraba. The enemy rushed on with desperate bravery. "Fight for your loved ones!" they cried,"it is the day of jealousy and vengeance; if ye be worsted, your maidens will be ravished and your wives dragged to their foul embrace!" So fierce was the shock that the Muslims were driven back and their camp uncovered. The wild Bedawin entered the tent of Khalid, and, but for the chivalry of her captive, who conjured his countrymen to spare a lady of noble birth, Leila would have perished by their swords. "Go, fight against men," Maja'a cried, "and leave this woman," on which they cut the tent-ropes and departed. There was danger for Islam at the moment. Defeat would have been disastrous; indeed, the Faith could hardly have survived. But now the spirit of the Muslims was aroused. To stimulate rivalry between the Bedawin and City Arabs of his force, Khalid made them to fight apart. On this they rallied one the other,"Now," cried the sons of the desert, "we shall see carnage wax hot amongst the raw levies of the town. We shall teach them how to fight!" Prodigies of valour were fought all round. Tradition dwells with enthusiasm on the heroic words and deeds of the leaders, as one after another they fell in the thick of battle. Zeid, brother of 'Omar, leading the men of Mecca, singled out Ar-Rajjal and, reproaching his apostasy, despatched him forthwith. A furious south wind charged with desert sand, blinded the Muslims and caused a momentary check. Upbraiding their slackness, Zeid cried out,"Onwards to those that have gone before! Not a word will I speak till we drive these apostates back, or I appear to clear me before my Lord. Close your eyes and clench your teeth. Forward like men!" So saying, he led the charge and fell. Abu Hodheifa, with leaves of the scripture stuck on the spear shaft which he bore, and calling out, "Fight for the Kor'an, ye Muslims, and adorn it by your deeds!" followed
his example and shared the common fate. His freedman seized the banner as it fell, and exclaiming "I were a craven bearer of the sacred text if I feared death," plunged with it into the battle and was slain. Nor were the men of Medina far behind. Their Commander as they gave way reproached them thus,"Woe to you because of this back-sliding. Verily, I am clear of ye, even as I am clear of these," pointing to the apostate enemy, and so he flung himself among them and perished in their midst. Animated thus, the rank and file charged furiously.
Backwards and forwards swayed the line, and heavy was the carnage. But urged by Khalid's valiant arm, and raising the battle-cry "Ya Mohammada!" the Muslim arms at length prevailed. The enemy broke and fled. "To the garden!" cried Al-Muhakkam, a brave leader of the Beni Hanifa; "to the garden, and close the gate!" Taking his stand he guarded their retreat as they rushed into an orchard surrounded by a strong wall, and Museilima with them. The Muslim troops following close, swarmed round the wall but found the entrance barred.
At last Al-Bara ibn Malik cried," Lift me aloft upon the wall." So they lifted him up. For a moment, as he looked on the surging mass below, the hero hesitated; then, boldly leaping down, he beat right and left, until he reached the gate, and threw it open. Like waters pent up, his comrades rushed in; and, as beasts of the forest snared in a trap, so wildly struggled the brave Beni Hanifa in the Garden of Death. Hemmed within the narrow space, hampered by the trees arms useless from their very numbers, they were hewn down and perished to a man. The carnage was fearful, for besides the "thousands" (as tradition puts it) slain within the walls, an equal number were killed on the field, and again an equal number in the flight.
The Muslims too, despite their splendid victory, had cause to remember the "Garden of Death," for their loss was beyond all previous experience. Besides those killed hand to hand in the garden, great numbers fell in the battle. The Refugees lost 360 men, and the Men of Medina 300, nearly 700 in all; while the slaughter amongst the Bedawin, though somewhat less, raised the loss beyond 1200, besides the wounded. Amongst the dead were nine-and-thirty chief Companions of the Prophet. At Medina
there was hardly a house, whether of Refugees or Citizens, in which the voice of wailing was not heard.
Museilima was slain by Wahshi, the same negro warrior who, swinging round his head a javelin after the savage among the slain Ethiopian style, had on the field of Ohod brought Hamza to the ground. After the battle, Khalid carried the chief Maja'a, still in chains, over the field to identify the dead. Turning the bodies over, they came upon a stalwart figure. "Look, was this your Master?" said Khalid. "Nay," replied Maja'a, "that was a nobler and a better man";it was the brave Muhakkam who, covering the retreat, was slain by the Caliph's son. Entering the "Garden of Death," among the heaps of mangled dead they stumbled on one of insignificant mien. "This is your man, Maja'a said, as he turned the body of Museilima on its side;"truly ye have done for him" "Yea," replied Khalid, "or rather it is he that hath done for you all that which he hath done."
The Muslim horse now scoured the country and every day brought in bands of prisoners. Aware that after their crushing defeat the Beni Hanifa were incapable of resistance, their chief Maja'a bethought him of a stratagem. He represented that the forts and fastnesses were still held in force throughout the country; in proof of which he sent to tell the aged men, the women,all that were left behind, and even the children,to line their battlements in warrior's disguise. Persuaded thus that the inhabitants would fight to the last, and seeing the army wearied and anxious for their homes, Khalid concluded a truce more favourable than he would otherwise have given. When Maja'a's artifice came to light, Khalid was angry; but excusing him on the ground of patriotism, in the end stood by the treaty. No sooner was it concluded than he received a despatch of unwonted severity from Abu Bekr, who, to strike terror into other apostate tribes, commanded that not a single fighting man of the rebel and ungodly race be spared. Fortunately this the truce forbade; the Beni Hanifa were received back into Islam, and a portion only of the multitude were retained as prisoners. The campaign ended, Khalid sent a deputation of the tribe to Abu Bekr, who received them courteously. "Out upon you!" at first he said; "how is it that this impostor has led you all astray?" "Oh Caliph!" they
answered, "thou hast heard it all; he was one whom the Lord blessed not, nor yet his people"; and they repeated to him some of the things he used to say. "Good heavens!" exclaimed Abu Bekr; "what kind of words are these? There is neither sense in them for good nor yet for evil, but a strange fatuity to have beguiled you thus." So he dismissed them to their homes.
Among the slain are not a few names familiar to the student of the Prophet's life. The carnage amongst the "Readers" (those who had the Kor'an by heart) was so great as to give 'Omar the first idea of collecting the Sacred Text, "lest any part of it should be lost." At the death of his brother Zeid who had shared with him all the dangers of the early battles of Islam, 'Omar was inconsolable. "Thou art returned home," he said to his son 'Abdallah, "safe and sound; and Zeid is dead. Wherefore wast not thou slain before him? I wish not to see thy face." "Father," was his reply, "he asked for martyrdom, and the Lord granted it. I strove after the same, but it was not given unto me." Such was the spirit of these Muslim warriors.
Khalid again signalised his victory by wedding a captive maid upon the field. "Give me thy daughter to wife," he said to Maja'a, the same who had so faithfully defended his bride in the hour of peril. "Wait," replied Maja'a; "be not so hasty; thou wilt harm thyself in the Caliph's eyes, and me likewise." "Man, give me thy daughter!" he repeated imperiously; so Maja'a gave her to him. When Abu Bekr heard of it, he wrote him a letter sprinkled with blood. "By my life! thou son of Khalid's father, thou art a pretty fellow, living thus at thine ease. Thou weddest a damsel, whilst the ground beneath the nuptial couch is yet moistened with the blood of twelve hundred!" The reproof fell lightly upon Khalid. "This is the work," he said as he read the epistle, "of that left-handed fellow," meaning 'Omar. The sentiment, however, was Abu Bekr's own; but the "Sword of the Lord" could not be spared.
We shall meet Khalid next in Chaldaea, by the banks of the Euphrates.
The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall [Table of Contents]
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