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Khalid Bin Waleed

KHALID BIN WALEED

Naima Sohaib

Muslim Heroes series No. 2

Translated by Eman Asif Misbah

Copyright  2016 Naima Sohaib

Shakespir Edition

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, including photocopying, recording, Internet or any storage and retrieval system without prior written permission from the Publisher.

Available in print at Dawah Books

dawahbooks.com.pk

Translated from the Urdu book “Tareekh-e-Islam ki Azeem Shakhsiat” by Naima Sohaib

Table of Contents

Title Page

Foreword

Khalid bin Waleed – Introduction

Birth

Background and Childhood

The Advent of Islam & the Stance of Khalid’s Family

Khalid’s Call to Islam

The Sword of Allah in the Battlefield

Khalid Fights the Apostates

The Conquest of Iraq

The Conquest of Syria

Demotion and Dismissal from Service

Khalid’s Death

The Issue Between Umar and Khalid

Khalid’s Remarkable Skill at Warfare

Khalid’s Humility and Strong Sense of Morality

Courage and Fearlessness

Obedience to the Caliphate

Khalid Bin Waleed – A Role Model

References

About the Author

About the Translator

Foreword

All Praise is for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

This booklet is second in a series, translated from a book compiled on Muslim heroes by Naima Sohaib. The selection includes Muslim scholars, philosophers, reformers and military generals. It tells us about these unique individuals who selflessly worked for the cause of Islam.

This booklet is about an extraordinary Muslim hero, and it has been a pleasurable experience to write about Khalid Bin Waleed (RA). We have a lot to learn from his example. He was one of the greatest military commanders in human history. In a short span of time, he was able to conquer a vast area and bring it under the control of Islam. Unlike others, he was very humble and attributed all his victories to the succour of Allah. His numerous conquests did not make him arrogant and when Caliph Umar (RA) dismissed him from service, he displayed perfect obedience. May Allah grant him a place in the highest levels of Jannah, and May Allah give us the ability to learn from his example and dedicate ourselves to the cause of Islam.

Inspite of fighting more than a hundred battles, and inspite of being wounded many times, Khalid (RA) died on his bed from natural causes. If anyone fears death on the battlefield, they should take a look at the life of this great hero. Death will overcome us wherever we are when the time comes.

May Allah reward Farheen Motiwala, Sana Dossal and Sohaib Umar for editing this piece of work, Nadeem Siddiqui for the design work, and Asif Misbah, my husband for his constant encouragement and support.

Eeman Asif Misbah

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA)

The Most Victorious General in Islamic History

The Only Undefeated Muslim Commander

Introduction

His name was Khalid, his Kuniat Abu Suleman, and his title Saif Ullah (The Sword of Allah).

His father was Waleed Bin Mugheera and he was related to the Prophet (SAW) in the seventh generation. His maternal aunt Maimoona (RA) was one of the wives of the Prophet (SAW). Thus the Prophet (SAW) was also his uncle. He belonged to the famous Banu Makhzoom tribe of the Quraish. This tribe was well known for its skill in warfare, literary pursuits and wise counsel.

Birth

There are different opinions regarding the period of Khalid’s birth. It is difficult to determine which is the most accurate. It seems after considering different viewpoints that he was probably born around 593 AD and that would place his age at 24 years at the time of the advent of Islam.

Background and Childhood

Khalid’s father Waleed Bin Mugheera was a powerful and rich chief of Makkah. It is said that his orchards extended from Makkah to Taif. Besides being a trader, he had an iron-mongering business as well. One can imagine the extent of his wealth by the fact that he used to get the cover of the Khana-e-Kaaba changed using his own resources every alternate year. The next year, the rest of the Quraish tribe combined their resources to perform the same service. Waleed had six sons and two daughters. He was proud to have so many sons because it was considered honourable to have male offspring in the Arab culture. His sons had remarkable qualities of courage and valour. Hence he was also called Al-Wahid (the unique).

As was the norm in the Arab society, Khalid spent his initial years in the open desert environment. In his formative years, he grew up with the awareness that he was the son of a famous chief of the Banu Makhzoom tribe. There was no dearth of luxuries in the house, but Waleed inculcated in his sons the qualities of bravery, skill in warfare, and generosity. At a young age, Khalid took an active interest in horse-riding, spear-throwing, sword fighting and military strategy. He was endowed with a fearless, energetic and agile nature. He was tall and broad-shouldered, and had a well-built body. All these assets contributed in making him a popular man in Makkah and he was counted among the outstanding men in the city. We can determine how strong he was by the fact that once while wrestling with him, Umar’s bone got fractured and it healed after a long time, although Umar himself was a strong fellow.

The Advent of Islam and the Stance of Khalid’s Family

The public proclamation of Islam shook the very foundations of the Makkan society. In almost every household there was someone who responded to the call of truth. The chieftains of Quraish initially made fun of The Message, but their opposition became stronger and more severe as the movement gained strength. Among the prominent chiefs to oppose the message of Muhammad (SAW) were Waleed Bin Mugheera, Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and Abu Lahab. The declaration of Mohammad’s (SAW) prophethood dealt a terrible blow to the prestige of Waleed. To him, the criteria for assuming leadership were lineage, tribe, male offspring and wealth. He used to say that it was not possible to offer leadership to Mohammad (SAW) while he, the biggest chief of Quraish, received no acclaim. He considered another great chief to be Abu Masood to whom the Makkan leadership could be passed over. A Quranic revelation came as an answer to his attitude. “And they said: Why was this Quran not revealed to a man of great importance in the two famous tribes? (of Makkah and Taif)” (43-31).

Waleed, along with some leaders of the Quraish, approached Abu Talib and asked him to order his nephew to abandon his mission. Another delegation approached him and suggested to him that he hand over Mohammad (SAW) to them and in exchange Abu Talib should accept Waleed’s son Ammara, who was a strong, courageous and handsome man. Abu Talib was very displeased at this proposition and retorted that they wanted his son for murder, while they wished Abu Talib to rear and nurture theirs. He swore by Allah that he would never allow this to happen.

When the leaders of the Quraish felt that all their wealth, power and combined strength were not making a difference to the new movement, they resorted to the torture of poor Muslims. The magnetic force of truth and the staunch belief of the Muslims in the face of extreme persecution did nothing to melt the stonehearted disbelievers. Rather, it only increased them in arrogance and stubborn pride.

Waleed continued his unwavering assault on the Muslims. So much so that the following Ayah of the Quran are believed to be referring to him:

“Leave me and him, the one I produced alone and I gave him abundant wealth and sons who stayed near him, and I gave him every kind of comfort. But still he wishes for more. Never! He is a disbeliever of our verses. I will soon place him on a mount in Hell. Verily, he thought and plotted. So let him be cursed; how he plotted! And once more let him be cursed; how he plotted! Then he thought. Then he frowned and made a face. Then he turned back and became arrogant. Then he said, ‘this is nothing but magic which has been passed on from olden times. This is the word of a human being.’ Soon I will cast him into Hell-fire. (74:11-74:17)”

This was the hostile environment that Khalid was living in, day in and day out. The abundance of wealth and involvement in worldly pursuits did not allow him to ponder over the basic questions of human existence and purpose. Under the influence of his father, Khalid and the rest of his family worked to destroy the newborn Islam. He also undertook trips to Basra and Syria for the purpose of barter and trade. Three months after the Prophet’s (SAW) migration to Medina, Khalid’s father died at the age of 95 years.

In the Battle of Badar, which was fought by the disbelievers against the Muslims, Khalid was not involved because he was away on a business trip. The Muslims won a landslide victory and Khalid’s brother Waleed was captured as a prisoner of war. Besides this, seventeen of Khalid’s cousins and nephews were killed in the battle. Khalid along with his brother Hisham decided to get Waleed released from bondage. He paid the ransom of 400 Dirhams for his release and all three brothers left for Makkah. In the night, they camped at a place called Zil Haleefa. But, by the grace of Allah, the light of Islam had penetrated into Waleed’s heart and he left his tent in the cover of the night for Medina. Once there, he accepted Islam.

Makkah was thirsting for the blood of the Muslims after their respected leaders and loved ones had been killed at Badar. The city was echoing with the cries of revenge and their chiefs got busy earnestly preparing for another war. A year later, the two armies faced each other again at Uhud. 700 Muslims had come to battle against 3,000 disbelievers. The Makkan Army was flanked on the right by Khalid and on the left by Ikramah (the son of Abu Jahl). Each had a hundred horsemen. Amr Bin Aas was in charge of the whole operation (all three accepted Islam later on).

The battle began and after some time, the Makkan army started to flounder. Their soldiers ran away from the battlefield and the Muslims were confident of their victory. The 50 Muslim archers who had been stationed at Aineen on a small mount left their positions and ran to collect the booty, against the orders of their commander, Abdullah Bin Jubair (RA). They had been specifically instructed by the Prophet (SAW) to guard their positions come what may, but the soldiers were convinced that the battle was won and they were afraid to be left out in the spoils of war. Khalid and Ikramah had not yet retreated from their positions. When they saw their warriors run helter skelter from the battlefield, they did not lose hope; instead they continued to watch the situation cool-headedly from a distance.

Soon, they noticed the weakness of the Muslims at the mount of Aineen, which hardly had any archers left. There were only nine archers left on the mount with the commander Abdullah Bin Jubair (RA). Khalid took advantage of the situation and attacked the archers and got control of this mount. The few Muslim archers who had remained steadfast in guarding the mount fought courageously and put on a very brave front. Some of them were martyred, and the rest were thrown down the mount, seriously injured.

Khalid’s attack from the rear created a furor in the Muslim army. Abu Sufyan, who had been watching the situation from a distance, collected his dispersed soldiers and attacked from the front as well. The Muslim army was now surrounded from both sides. The Prophet’s (SAW) life was also in grave danger. One group of Companions had already laid down their lives to protect him. Only a few Companions were left with him and they had formed a protective circle around him. They slowly maneuvered him into a narrow valley away from the fighting.

In the battle of Uhud, the pagans of Makkah did not win a decisive victory over the Muslims. But it was clear to both sides that Khalid was a formidable commander who had great military insight and lots of courage. Spotting the enemy’s weak point, gathering his scrambled force and attacking the Muslims from the back can be attributed to his military genius. This was only the beginning of his military career and the Muslims realized that he was a fearsome enemy.

Two years after Uhud, the Battle of the Trench (Khandaq) took place. It ended without any fight and Allah (SWT) protected the Muslims from any casualties. In the 6th year of migration, the Prophet (SAW) left Medina for Makkah intending to perform Umrah. Khalid was dispatched by the Makkans at the head of 200 horsemen to gauge the true intention of the Muslim camp. He and his men tried their best to provoke the Muslims to fight but the calmness and peaceful attitude of the Muslims drove them back. This resulted in an agreement between the two parties which is called The Treaty of Hudaybiah.

Khalid’s Call to Islam

After the battle of Uhud, Khalid was often involved in deep thought. For some time now, he had been sensing that Allah was indeed protecting the Muslims. Despite the Makkan army’s greater numbers, more weapons and war animals, no one could actually harm the Muslim cause. Every passing day brought them new victories and new conversions. The Muslims were steadily gaining in strength and power. Khalid began to ponder over the meanings of the Quranic revelations, its wisdom and the truth of its teachings. In the various battles of Uhud and Khandaq and the incident of Hudaybiah, as well as the interactions with the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions, their sincerity to Allah, their selflessness and their wonderful attitude shone through. Gradually, Khalid was getting convinced that Allah was indeed with the believers.

In his own words, “When the Prophet (SAW) camped at Hudaybiah, I saw him offer his prayers. I tried my level best to harm him and his Companions but my efforts bore no fruit. At that moment, it dawned on me that Allah was their Helper and Protector and however much we tried, we could not overcome them.”

These thoughts stayed with Khalid for a while and by each passing day he was even more convinced that Islam is the true religion of Allah. He mentioned this realization to Ikramah who was stunned to see the transformation in Khalid’s stance. He tried his best to convince him out of this way of thinking, but the matter had progressed to a deeper level, and the light of Imaan (faith) had illuminated Khalid’s heart. Abu Sufyan exploded with anger when he found out about Khalid’s change of heart and he warned Khalid of dire consequences if he did not change his line of thinking. At this occasion, Ikramah, who was Khalid’s nephew and close friend, came to his defense and proclaimed that Khalid had the right to choose whatever faith he liked.

The Prophet (SAW) had come to know of the state of Khalid’s mind because Allah had disclosed to him the good news by way of revelation. He called Khalid’s brother Waleed (who had converted to Islam after the Battle of Badar) and told him of Khalid’s change of heart. He said to him, “The truth of Islam has dawned on Khalid, so why doesn’t he accept Islam?”

Waleed (RA) sent his brother a letter and invited him to accept Islam, mentioning the inquiry of the Prophet (SAW). When Khalid read his brother’s letter, he was filled with the urge to go to Medina immediately and embrace Islam. He set out for Medina promptly and met Usman Bin Talha and Amr Bin Al-Aas on the way. They were also going to Medina for the same purpose. The Prophet (SAW) had already informed the Muslims in Medina about their arrival and said that Makkah had thrown out its heart and soul to them. After reaching Medina, Khalid donned a fine robe and appeared before the Prophet (SAW) before his other companions. He recited the Kalimah and became a Muslim. He expressed his consternation to the Prophet (SAW) on account of the great excesses he had committed against the Muslims in the past. He was consoled with the good news that when a person converts, his past sins are wiped out. Then the Prophet (SAW) prayed for his success. Khalid accepted Islam in the beginning of 8th Hijri.

The Sword of Allah in the Battlefield

The first battle Khalid (RA) participated in after he became a Muslim was at a place called Mautah. The reason for the battle was that the ruler of Basra had mercilessly killed the envoy of the Prophet (SAW). When the Prophet (SAW) received this disturbing news, he dispatched an army of 3,000 men under the command of Zaid Bin Harisa (RA). He further instructed that if Zaid died, then Jafar Bin Abi Talib (RA), and if Jafar was slain then Abdullah Bin Rawaha (RA) should be made the commander of the army. When the Muslim army advanced forward and reached a place called Ma’an, they heard that the Caesar of Rome (in response to an appeal for help from Basra) had sent an army of 100,000 to support the ruler of Basra. This was a terrifying piece of information for the Muslims. They were not equipped to fight such a huge army. There were two options open to them – either inform the Prophet (SAW) and wait for further orders, or to jump into the battle in the name of Allah. Abdullah Bin Rawaha gave such an emotional speech to the soldiers at this occasion that they were fired with enthusiasm and the decision to fight was undertaken with fervour.

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was an ordinary soldier in this army. The battle was about to begin and both armies faced each other at Mautah. It was not long before the commander of the Muslim army, Zaid Bin Harisa (RA) was martyred. After him Jafar (RA), the next in line, fought very bravely and was badly wounded. When his right arm was cut off, he lifted the banner with his left hand, and when the left one was also severed from his body, he managed to put up the flag with the support of his hanging arms and legs, until he too was martyred. Now Abdullah Bin Rawaha (RA) stepped up to hold the flag. But he too was slain in the battle. An atmosphere of dejection and uncertainty prevailed in the Muslim ranks. At that moment, Thabit Bin Arqam (RA) leapt forward and handed the banner to Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) and nominated him as the commander. All the Muslims unanimously agreed to this proposal. This led to a renewal in the morale of the Muslim forces. Khalid himself claimed to have broken nine swords while fighting and had only a small Yemeni dagger left. The fighting was still going strong when it started to become dark. Both armies retreated to their camps for the night.

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) pondered over what course of action to take. He had three alternatives before him. The first was to turn back, the second was to carry on with the fight till the end with such heavy odds against them, and the last was to adopt a strategy that would not result in the defeat of the Muslims and would allow them to back out gracefully without any additional loss of lives.

The next day Khalid (RA) rearranged the ranks of the Muslim army in such a manner that it appeared to the enemy that the Muslims had been sent reinforcements overnight. They were alarmed and panicked, backing off as they fought. This was the opportunity that Khalid was waiting for. Very skillfully, he maneuvered the army out of the battle and headed them towards Medina with minimum loss of lives.

The Prophet (SAW) had been apprised of the situation through a revelation from Allah (SWT), hence he informed the Companions before any actual news had reached from Khalid, “In the battle the flag was upheld by Zaid and he was killed, then Jafar took it and he was martyred too, and then Ibn Rawaha took the banner, but he too was killed (his eyes were shedding tears as he said this). Finally a sword among the swords of Allah took the flag and Allah granted victory to it.” After this day, Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was called Saifullah (The Sword of Allah). According to one tradition the Prophet (SAW) prayed that Allah should always grant victory to Khalid as he was the Sword of Allah.

After the conquest of Makkah, the Muslims entered the Holy City peacefully without any bloodshed. It was also the desire of the Prophet (SAW) that Makkah be conquered without any act of violence. He had arranged the army into four divisions, one of which was under Khalid’s command. The four divisions marched towards Makkah through four different routes so that the Makkans would have no chance of assembling an army against them. Because all exits to Makkah had been covered, there was no route left for the enemy lines to escape. The Prophet (SAW) ordered that if there was no instigation from the Makkan side, there was no need for any bloodshed.

Three of the divisions reached Makkah without any skirmish but Khalid’s army was confronted with tough old veterans of Makkah who did not want to surrender their city without a challenge. Their leaders were Ikramah Bin Abi Jahl and Safwan. As mentioned earlier Ikramah happened to be a close friend of Khalid (RA) and Safwan was his brother-in-law. But the love of Islam was greater in Khalid’s heart than friendship or blood ties. The fight was instigated by the Quraish army and Khalid counter-attacked. After a brief but intense skirmish, he repelled the Quraish army. 12 soldiers of the Quraish were killed and two Muslims were martyred. Ikramah and Safwan deserted the battlefield in order to save their lives.

When the Prophet (SAW) heard of this brief instance of aggression and further found out about the killing of the Makkan soldiers, he was unhappy and asked Khalid for an explanation. He was consoled when informed that the initiative to fight had been undertaken by the enemy lines.

After the peaceful conquest of Makkah and after breaking the idols in the Kaabah, the Prophet (SAW) sent Khalid (RA) to break the famous Quraish idol of Uzzah. The fierce tribes of Kananah and Mazar undertook the responsibility for the protection of these deities. Khalid (RA) left with 30 horsemen and without any resistance, succeeded in his mission.

After the capture of Makkah, the Prophet (SAW) sent small bands of Muslim soldiers to preach Islam in different areas and to maintain harmony and peace in these regions. A small army was sent under the leadership of Khalid (RA) to Bani Jazimah. In this procession, there were 300 Muhajirs, Ansars and members of Banu Sulaym. The people of Banu Jazimah had embraced Islam. But when they saw Khalid (RA) approaching with an army, they gathered their forces to put up a resistance. (They thought Khalid had come to avenge the murder of his uncle who had been killed by them earlier). Khalid (RA) was stunned to see the armed men of Banu Jazimah and asked why they had gathered an army when he was the messenger of the Prophet (SAW) and they had accepted Islam. Instead of clarifying their stance, the members of Banu Jazimah started saying “Sabana, Sabana’. This word was used sarcastically by the Quraish of Makkah to denote the ones who had become Muslims. Khalid (RA) misunderstood their suspicious gesture and ordered the Muslim soldiers to capture and kill the hostile tribe. The Muhajirs and Ansars were not ready to implement this command, but the members of Banu Sulaym eagerly seized their old enemies and put them to death.

When this news traveled to the Prophet (SAW), he was extremely upset. He prayed for forgiveness from Allah and exempted himself from this matter. Then he sent Ali (RA) with a heavy sum to the tribe of Banu Jazimah so that he could pay the blood money and soothe the troubled minds of these people. The Prophet (SAW) then called Khalid (RA) for an explanation. Khalid (RA) explained the situation to the Prophet (SAW) and told him how he had thought that the tribe was deceiving the Muslims. Abdur Rahman Bin Auf (RA) was standing nearby listening to this discussion and he reprimanded Khalid severely by saying that he had committed an act of Jahiliyya (ignorance) in the Islamic order. Khalid retaliated with a sharp retort. The Prophet (SAW) silenced Khalid with these words, “Khalid, leave my Companions alone! If you had a mountain of gold and you spent it in the way of Allah, even then you could not exalt yourself to the same status as them.” Khalid (RA) took these words to heart and acted according to these instructions of the Prophet (SAW) till the end of his life. His humble attitude before the eminent Companions was manifested many times in the future events that took place, and will be discussed later.

In the battle of Hunain, the Muslims were a sizable force and because of their large numbers they were over-confident of their victory. Khalid (RA) was at the command of 700 horsemen. The commander-in-chief of the enemy lines was Malik Bin Auf, who conceived a brilliant strategy against the Muslim forces. First he placed his army at a point called Autas. When the Muslims were informed of this move, he hid the forces in the narrow valley of Hunain. He placed the archers in the front trenches and the armed back-ups in the rear ones. The Muslims were under the false impression that the enemy was in Autas. The desire to take the unbelievers by surprise propelled Khalid forward in great haste; he was the first to fall into the trap and came under the attack of the enemy troops hidden in the Hunain valley. Scores of arrows greeted him and his men. This surprise move caused a panic in the Muslim ranks. Khalid (RA) called out to his men again and again to fight tooth and nail against the opponents. But his voice could not be heard amid the confusion and chaos. Khalid himself got injured badly and fell off his horse. He lay on the ground without any movement for quite a while.

The Prophet (SAW) called out to the fleeing Muslim fighters, but the pandemonium and chaos drowned his voice too and only nine Companions were left with him. The Prophet (SAW) ordered Abbas (RA) to gather the scattered forces. Abbas (RA) had a powerful booming voice and when he summoned the men they darted back, returning to the battlefield, one by one. The enemies were closing in on the Prophet (SAW) but the army under Malik Bin Auf could not put up a formidable show despite the excellent strategy of their commander. They could not match the valour of the few Muslims fighting in the one-to-one combat that took place. When the fleeing Muslim forces returned, a fierce battle started. The Prophet recited a few verses saying that he was a Prophet, not a liar, and that he was the son of Abdul Muttalib. Saying this, he stepped down from his camel and threw a handful of mud at the adversaries of Islam. The enemy soldiers lost heart and retreated from the battlefield. Khalid (RA) was one of those who had been badly wounded at the onset of the battle. The Prophet (SAW) came to him and prayed over his wounds, which helped Khalid recover miraculously.

This was the first time Khalid had come under a surprise enemy attack. He had learnt his lesson from this experience and never again in his lifetime did he become the victim of such an ambush of the enemy.

In 9 Hijri, the Muslims received the fearsome news that Hercule was preparing to attack them with a huge army. The Prophet (SAW) at the head of 30,000 soldiers came to camp at Tabuk. Khalid Bin Waleed commanded the front of the army. But soon they received the news that the Roman force had retreated. Khalid (RA) successfully handled a number of small expeditions in the mean while and on the way back at the order of the Prophet (SAW).

In the 10th year of Hijrah, the Prophet (SAW) sent a force to Najran against Banu Harisa under the leadership of Khalid. He was specially instructed to first spread the teachings of Islam among these people and invite them to embrace the faith. If they accepted Islam, then no arms were to be taken up against them. Khalid (RA) reached Najran at the head of 400 horsemen. He started preaching Islam as per instructions. The people of this city accepted Islam without any protest and there was no bloodshed. This was the last expedition that Khalid undertook during the lifetime of the Prophet (SAW).

Khalid Fights the Apostates

After the death of the Prophet (SAW), the Arabian peninsula was in a state of turmoil and there arose a number of digressers who claimed to be Prophets. Besides Makkah, Medina and a portion of Taif, most tribes and regions of Arabia rebelled against the authority of the Muslim caliphate and broke their pledges of loyalty with Medina. False prophets sprung up and they mustered support of the tribes who had accepted Islam merely for political gain. Now after the death of the Prophet (SAW) they threw off their mantle of loyalty to Islam and started acting in a rebellious fashion. The most prominent among these false messengers were Talaiha Bin Khaweeld, Musailma Bin Habeeb and a prophetess named Sajjah Bint Haris.

Abu Bakar (RA) had a difficult task in front of him when he assumed the caliphate of the Muslim Ummah. He had to fight on many fronts simultaneously. In Bazakha against Talaha, in Batah against Malik Bin Nuwaira, in Yamama against Musailma Kazzab. Besides these, on the Arab borders, there were rebellions occurring in Bahrain, Oman, Muhra, Hazar e maut and Yemen. Hence Makkah and Medina could be described as little oases of true faith in a desert of infidelity. In these hair-raising circumstances, Abu Bakr demonstrated immense bravery and courage.

Ayesha (RA) relates, “After the death of the Prophet (SAW), such tremendous difficulties greeted my father that had they fallen on strong mountains, they would have crumbled to pieces.” In terms of number of soldiers, the infidels had a clear advantage over the Muslims. Abu Bakr (RA) carefully planned his strategy and organized the Muslim forces into 11 divisions. He chose Khalid’s division to deliver the heaviest blow to the apostates. He had to attack the most dangerous line of rebels. The other army divisions were dependent on the outcome of this attack.

The first attack on the rebellious forces gathered outside Medina was launched by Abu Bakr (RA) himself. Then Khalid (RA) advanced towards Bazakha to fight against the false prophet Talaiha. On the way, he persuaded several tribes to convert to Islam. He defeated Talaiha easily and proceeded to Salma Bint Malik who was foremost in organizing an uprising against the Muslim state. At a place called Zafar, she was killed and then Khalid (RA) proceeded to lead an attack against the false prophetess Sajjah who had initially joined hands with Malik Bin Nuwaira. However, in the mean while when she got married with Musailma Kazzab, her group was dispersed. Malik did not offer much resistance and was killed in the encounter. Now Khalid (RA) advanced forward towards his last major opponent Musailma Kazzab who had gathered for the battle at Yamama along with an army of 40,000 men.

This was the decisive battle which was to make the difference between victory and defeat for the whole Muslim Ummah. Present in Khalid’s army were eminent Companions who were from the Muhajirin and the Ansar as well as many Huffaz-e-Quran. The enemy forces outnumbered the Muslim forces three to one. Under the flag of Banu Hanifa they were burning with prejudice and anger. It would have been a political death for them to accept the supremacy of Hijaz. Whether they accepted Musailma as a prophet or not, they wanted their own person as the head of government rather than the figurehead in Hijaz.

The battle started out as a formidable one. The Muslims had never experienced such a fearsome encounter before and in the beginning it looked as if they would be defeated. The soldiers of Musailma’s army reached the tent of Khalid Bin Waleed (RA). The Muslim leaders became restless when they saw this state of affairs and they spurred on the soldiers to fight harder. Thabit Bin Qais exclaimed, “O Allah! Please exempt me from the cowardice shown by these Muslims.” Abu Huzaifah shouted, “O Believers in the Quran! Adorn the Quran through your deeds.”

Now Khalid (RA) took a grave look at the situation. He attacked the enemy forces with such fury that they were forced to recede. At the same time, he commanded each division to fight separately instead of being part of one big force. The wisdom behind this was that some of the Muslims during the battle had been arguing as to which tribe was the most courageous. Khalid (RA) tried to channelise this vain talk and gave them a chance to prove their mettle. Very soon, the Muslims realized the error of their thinking and focused on the fight but each of the enemy soldiers was putting up a great fight.

Khalid (RA) realized that so long as the main flank of the opponent army under Musailma was not defeated, the apostate army would not scatter. So he launched an intense onslaught against them. Musailma’s main chief Rijaal was killed and his division became confused and dispersed. When Musailma ran for his life, his followers asked him in shock, “Where is the victory that you promised us?” He answered, “Save your life for your tribe’s sake!” Prior to this, he was sitting inside the camp pretending to await a revelation from the Lord. His forces dispersed after he fled, and they all took refuge in a big garden on which was built the fortress of Musailma. The garden was called ‘Hadiqatur Rahman’ (The Garden of Rahman). This was named after Musailma who called himself the Rahman of Yamama (Rahman means most gracious).

The Islamic forces laid siege to this fortress. There seemed to be no way of going inside. Amid this helpless situation, Baraa Bin Maalik suggested that he should be thrown over the wall. This seemed like suicide and the Muslims did not agree to this proposal. But on Baraa’s insistence, they threw him over the wall of the fortress. An extra ordinary sword fighter, Baraa single-handedly made way for himself with the help of his sword; to the extent that he succeeded in opening the door of the fortress. The Muslim army rushed inside and there ensued a bloody skirmish. Musailma was killed by Wahshi, a Muslim soldier who when a disbeliever, had killed Hamza (RA) in the Battle of Uhud. His army lost their zeal to fight and interest in the battle. Hence the long drawn battle came to an end.

The enemy left 20,000 dead in the battlefield. The Muslims also suffered a sizable loss of manpower – the number of Muslims martyred was 1,200, out of which 300 were Huffaz-e-Quran. Among prominent Companions, Zaid Bin Khattab, Abu Huzaifah and Salim Maula Huzaifa lost their lives. This battle was so bloody that the garden where it ended in came to be called the Garden of Death.

Hence in this way, with the help of Allah (SWT), Khalid (RA) was able to rid the Islamic empire of the nuisance of apostates and false prophets. In this entire period, he had established himself to be the undisputed commander of the Islamic forces. The whole of Arabia talked about his superior leadership qualities and expertise in war strategies. Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) had become a Muslim hero.

The Conquest of Iraq

The long fight against the apostates had come to an end. Khalid (RA) received an order from Abu Bakr (RA) to proceed towards Iraq. In those days, Iraq was not an independent country, but was a part of the Iranian empire which was a superpower. It was known for its abundant resources. Iran was undergoing political turmoil and its ruling family was fighting among themselves. Finding the opportunity attractive, the leader of the frontier tribe of Banu Bakr, Musanna Bin Harisa asked Abu Bakr for permission to wage Jihad against Iraq. He was granted the permission to attack by the Caliph. Khalid was sent at the head of a large force (18,000 soldiers) to Iraq and was made the Commander in Chief of the entire operation.

Khalid (RA) first clashed with the Persian ruler of the frontier area Hermuz at a place called Kazma. As soon as the battle began Khalid killed Hermuz in a one to one duel. Hermuz happened to be the strongest chief of the Iranian empire. In this battle Khalid was also taken unawares in a surprise attack by the enemy. But Qaaqaa (RA) controlled the situation well in time. The Persian army left the battlefield inspite of having a massive amount of weaponry.

When the King of Persia was informed about the advance of Khalid’s army, he sent a force under the command of Qarun Bin Qaryanus to help Hermuz. But before the support army reached, Khalid (RA) had already gained a tremendous victory over them. Qarun was also killed by the Muslim forces near River Maaqal along with his two main commanders. His army was demoralized when they heard this news and they were badly defeated.

After hearing of the dismaying result of the encounter the King of Persia Ardeshar was highly perturbed. He sent two heavily armed battalions to combat Khalid (RA) under the leadership of Andazghar and Behman Jadwia. Before the two armies could meet to combine their forces and fight the Muslims, Khalid (RA) intercepted Andazghar at Walja and gave him a crushing defeat.

At a place called Alees, the famous general Behman Jadwia now faced Khalid (RA) with a huge force. After a fierce encounter, Behman fled from the battlefield leaving behind 90,000 casualties. This was a very tough battle and in the words of Khalid (RA) himself, “At the junction of Mautah I broke nine swords. But I never encountered a fiercer enemy than the Persians and among the Persians, I never faced a stronger force than that of Alees.”

The next destination of the Islamic forces was Heera, which they managed to conquer without any resistance. After this, with high morale and raising the Islamic banner, the cities of Anbar, Ain ul Tamar, Domat al Jandal and Masseeqh were overtaken and the last stop now was Faraz. Here after a short encounter Khalid (RA) was able to give a crushing defeat to the Persian army.

In less than one year, Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) had succeeded in conquering the whole of Iraq thus putting the Persian superpower to shame. His success can be attributed to his military prowess, his intelligence, his swift movements, and above all the support of Allah (SWT). Hence immediately after the fall of Faraz, Khalid (RA) proceeded for Hajj in order to thank Allah for His blessings.

The Conquest of Syria

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) had just completed the Iraqi operation when he was summoned by the Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) to leave half of the armed forces in Iraq and to proceed with the other half to Syria (Shaam). Here the Islamic forces had to face the Romans in battle. The ruler of Syria Hercule had assembled such a formidable army that the Muslims appealed to Abu Bakr (RA) for reinforcements. Khalid (RA) was once again appointed the Chief of the Operation and asked to march to Syria at once. He proceeded to Syria, conquering a number of towns and villages on the way, and then met up with the Muslim forces sent by the Caliph in Medina. At the point of Ajnadain the Muslims came face to face with the Roman army. Out of 90,000 Roman soldiers, 50,000 were killed. The Commander of their army and other important chiefs were also killed. On the Muslim front, Zarar Bin Azor (RA) exhibited such feats of heroism that he struck fear and terror in the hearts of the enemy.

After this accomplishment, Khalid (RA) marched on to Damascus and laid siege to the city. Hercule panicked and sent extra forces to combat the Muslim army which Zarar (RA) and some other Muslim soldiers were chosen to clash with. Unfortunately, this band of followers was taken prisoners by the Roman army. Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) left Abu Ubaidah (RA) in charge of Damascus and rushed to rescue the Muslim soldiers. After defeating the Romans, he succeeded in releasing them from the clutches of the enemy. After returning to Damascus, there were some other skirmishes but none was decisive.

Khalid (RA) was at one end of the city of Damascus and Abu Ubaidah (RA) was at the other end along with their respective forces. One day a young Greek man came up to Khalid and revealed that he had a plan to enter the fortified city if in return Khalid would help him in securing his beloved who was now his wife. The parents of his wife were not letting her come to him. Khalid (RA) agreed to his proposal. The young man disclosed that there would be a big festival the following night for the people of Damascus and they would be busy in celebrations. On this night, even the guards at the gate of the fortress would be relaxed and enjoying the festivities. This would be a golden opportunity for Khalid and his band of Muslims to scale the fortress walls with the help of a rope-ladder and get to the entrance.

The next night Khalid (RA) along with three others scaled the wall at lightening speed and succeeded in opening the gate of the fortified city for the Muslim force to enter. Because this operation was carried out so swiftly, it could not be communicated to Abu Ubaidah (RA) at the other end of the city. When the Muslims succeeded in capturing the entire city, the Roman commander guessed that Abu Ubaidah (RA) would be in the dark about this latest development. Taking advantage of the situation, he cleverly got Abu Ubaidah to sign a pact of peace. When Khalid found out he was extremely upset because now the booty and spoils of the enemy would no longer fall into the hands of the Muslims, for which they had made such a great effort. Despite this, Khalid (RA) adhered to the terms of the pact and let the Romans go free.

Demotion and Dismissal from Service

In the month of Jamadi ul Akhir 13th Hijri the first caliph Abu Bakr (RA) died. Before his death he nominated Umar (RA) as his successor. In his first public address, Umar (RA) demoted Khalid (RA) and appointed Abu Ubaidah (RA) as the General of the Armed Forces. This was at the time when the siege in Damascus was coming to an end. Under such difficult circumstances any change in leadership would have damaged the morale of the armed forces especially since they were totally devoted to their commander Khalid Bin Waleed. The messenger who carried this command of the caliph was an astute person. He evaluated the situation at hand and kept silent about the issue. He delivered the letter to Abu Ubaidah quietly. Abu Ubaidah kept the contents of the letter hidden from Khalid till the city had fallen to the Muslims. After the conquest of Damascus he called Khalid separately and apprised him of the decision of the new caliph. Khalid (RA) immediately accepted the decision and became an ordinary soldier under the command of Abu Ubaidah (RA).

Abu Ubaidah (RA) appointed Khalid (RA) as the commander of the Iraqi division. Before taking any military decision he used to always consult Khalid for his opinion. He had full confidence in the farsighted military vision that Khalid possessed; so much so that the important battle of Yarmouk was practically fought according to the strategy suggested by Khalid (RA).

Under the command of Abu Ubaidah (RA), Khalid managed to conquer many different places including Mar’ash wherefrom the Muslim army secured a lot of wealth. On return a famous poet called Ash’as composed a poem in praise of Khalid’s achievements. Khalid rewarded him with 10,000 dirhams. When Caliph Umar heard of this, he was furious. He wrote a letter to Abu Ubaidah (RA) ordering him to present Khalid in public, tie his hands with his own turban, take off his headgear and ask him where he got the money to reward Ash’as the poet. If he answered that he had taken it from the Muslim treasury, then it was dishonesty and if he admitted to have given it from his own pocket, then that would be wasteful spending (Israaf). In both situations he was to be dismissed from service and his duties were to be given to someone else.

According to the orders of the Caliph, Bilal (RA) in the presence of Abu Ubaidah (RA) presented Khalid (RA) in public. Before the audience, Khalid admitted that he had used his own money to reward Ash’as. Bilal (RA) then untied his hands and replaced his cap. He told Khalid, “We listen to and obey the orders of our rulers.”

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) said goodbye to his brave armed forces and his cavalry and left for Medina. As soon as he reached Medina, Umar (RA) met him on the way. He took a detailed account of Khalid’s resources, and took away anything that he found in excess.

Khalid’s Death

A few days after staying in Medina, Khalid (RA) left for Syria. He never returned to Arabia. After his dismissal from the army, his financial condition also deteriorated. Fate had more trials awaiting him, it seemed. In 18 Hijri, the deadly plague enveloped Syria and Palestine. In this epidemic several of Khalid’s good friends and companions like Abu Ubaidah (RA), Sharjeel (RA), Yazeed (RA) and Zarar (RA) all died. According to a tradition, 40 of his sons also succumbed to this disease and died.

At the age of 58, in the year 20 Hijri, Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) contracted a terminal illness. The period of illness was long and he suffered a lot, and this ailment made his whole body weak. A few days before he passed away, a friend of his came to see him. Khalid revealed to him different parts of his body. His whole body was covered with scars left from wounds encountered in the numerous battles that he had fought. Then he stated, “I sought martyrdom in hundreds of battles, then why did I not die on the battlefield?” He was very regretful about this fact till the end. Perhaps Allah Himself did not want The Sword of Islam to be broken by the enemy.

In the end, only a faithful slave was by his side. At the time of death, his total possessions were a few weapons, one horse and a slave.

The news of Khalid’s death hit Medina like a storm. The women of the tribe of Banu Makhzoom began lamenting and crying over the death of the great general whose contribution to the Muslim empire was unparalleled. Other women of Medina also joined them in their grief. Umar (RA) had strictly forbidden the loud crying of Muslims over any death. When he heard the sobbing voices, he stepped out to stop the people. Then he heard sounds of grief coming from the house of Hafsa (RA), his own daughter who was expressing her sorrow at the death of the great Muslim general. He stopped and said, “Let the women of Banu Makhzoom cry over the death of Abu Suleman (Khalid’s kuniyet), because they are not lying in what they are saying. Those who are grieving are crying over a great personality like Abu Suleman.”

The Issue Between Umar (RA) and Khalid (RA)

The first caliph Abu Bakr (RA) fully utilized the superior military acumen of Khalid (RA). He always appreciated Khalid’s efforts and bravery. He chose Khalid (RA) as the Commander of the entire Muslim army and sending him to fight the apostates was proof of the great confidence in his abilities. On one occasion after the conquest of Iraq a lot of wealth was poured into the Muslim treasury. Abu Bakr (RA) called the Muslims to the masjid and told them the good news in these words, “O Quraish! Your lion attacked another lion and overpowered him. Women can never again bear a son like Khalid.” (Such a person would never be born again).

When the Muslims were confronted with the Roman army which was a huge one and heavily armed, Abu Bakr’s gaze fell on Khalid. He said, “By Allah! I will destroy the Romans and the accomplices of Shaitan through Khalid!” Once when Umar (RA) insisted that Khalid (RA) be removed from his position, Abu Bakr (RA) replied, “I will not put this sword back in its sheath which Allah has unsheathed against the kuffar (unbelievers)!”

What was the issue between Caliph Umar (RA) and Khalid Bin Waleed (RA)? A lot has been written on this topic by commentators. It is obvious that there was no relationship of trust between the two as that which existed between Abu Bakr (RA) and Khalid (RA). Inspite of this, Umar (RA) always admired the bravery, courage, determination and military acumen of Khalid. Likewise, Khalid knew in his heart that whatever harsh decisions were taken against him by the Caliph were not due to any rancour towards him but because of his own high standards of piety. Umar (RA) had a very high standard of moral excellence for himself and for all other Muslims, especially those who commanded a high position because they were role models for those under their command. Umar (RA) was not prepared to give any concessions to anyone, especially those in high positions, as regarded the limits set by Allah. This is endorsed by the fact that when Khalid (RA) died, he made Umar (RA) his heir and his belongings were left to the discretion of the Caliph.

Umar (RA) always spoke about Khalid (RA) in glowing terms during his lifetime and after his death. When Umar (RA) received the news of Khalid’s success in the battle of Hazir, he stated, “Khalid has been granted leadership qualities in his blood. May Allah shower His mercy over Abu Bakr (RA); he was a better judge of character than I.”

So what were the reasons behind the demotion and dismissal of Khalid? One of the reasons has already been mentioned that Umar (RA) was very strict and vigilant about religious limits while in a couple of incidents Khalid (RA) had mistakenly killed a few Muslims. Another reason is explained by Tibri’s narrative that tells us that when Khalid was summoned to Medina on the orders of the Caliph for accountability, Umar told him as soon as he saw Khalid, “You have done what no other man could achieve, but these things are actually done by Allah and not human beings.” (Umar was referring to his amazing and numerous conquests in so short a time period).

Then the Caliph sent a letter to all his commanders-in-chief and governors. It stated, “I have not dismissed Khalid due to any personal vengeance nor due to any dishonourable act performed by him, but only due to the fact that people were too much under his sway, and they hero-worshipped him to the extent of falling into error. I feared that people would start relying on Khalid (instead of Allah). I want people to understand that only Allah has the power to do all things, and that there should be no fitnah (potential disorder) in the country”.

When Umar (RA) was informed of Khalid’s death, he became very sorrowful and said, “The Muslims have been dealt with such a blow for which there is no compensation. Khalid was an outstanding general, no one can take his place, he was a calamity for the enemy

Once a poet came and recited some verses in appreciation of Khalid (RA). Umar (RA) exclaimed, “You could not do justice to Khalid.” This was the general whose admirers and his critics both praised him. Gibbon in his book ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ describes Khalid (RA) as ‘the most fierce and the most successful Arab warrior.’

Khalid’s Remarkable Skill at Warfare

When one analyses the conquests of Khalid (RA), many a times one is struck with amazement. In a short period of 11 years, he fought as many as 41 major battles, in addition to numerous small ones. In none of these battles was he defeated. Behind this amazing success was the hand of Allah (SWT) but we do have to account for the remarkable war strategies adopted by Khalid (RA) and his undaunting nature. He deviated from the traditional methods of warfare and introduced new concepts and new ways of fighting. A few of his strategies are mentioned below.

Psychological Tactics

Khalid (RA) always tried to psyche out his opponents and confuse them before the start of the battle in order to damage their morale. We see after the battle of Silasil in Yamama where Musailma Kazzab was killed, that Khalid received orders to proceed directly to Iraq. Traditionally the approach to Abla in Iraq was through a place called Kazma. To confuse Hermuz and his army Khalid (RA) deliberately led his forces through another route through Huzair. When Hermuz reached Kazma he received the baffling news that Khalid was coming from the direction of Huzair. When he reached Huzair with his heavy contingent, he was given the information that Khalid had now left for Kazma. Hermuz again directed the army towards Kazma. By the time the two armies came face to face, the soldiers of the Persian army were so exhausted and frustrated that they could not hold up for long against the Muslim warriors.

The Element of Surprise

Khalid (RA) used the element of surprise in warfare to his advantage against the enemy. This strategy is used in modern warfare as it was used in earlier times. We see in the battle of Walja that the Persian and the Muslim forces were fighting with equal valour. But due to the small number of soldiers, every Muslim was fighting against a number of the enemy soldiers. Gradually the Muslim army started to show signs of fatigue. It seemed as if the Persian forces would gain the upper hand against the Muslims. Suddenly a fresh contingent of 4,000 Muslim soldiers attacked the Persian army from the rear. Khalid had hidden this force in the mountains at the back during the night earlier. At his signal they rushed down and fell upon the enemy fiercely, much to their horror and surprise. The enemy was now surrounded from both sides and suffered an enormous defeat.

On another occasion Khalid (RA) and his battalion had just concluded the war of Ainul Tamar, when he received the report that the enemy was collecting at a point called Maseeqh. Khalid wanted to take the enemy by surprise. He divided his battalion into three sections. He attacked the enemy forces unawares in the quiet of the night on three fronts. By the time the Persian army realized what was happening, the Muslims were already upon them and it was too late. Thousands of Persian soldiers were killed and the rest fled the battlefield.

Bold Innovative Tactics in the Face of War Dilemmas

The word impossible did not exist in Khalid’s dictionary. He used to find a creative solution to each problem that appeared. An example can be found in the battle of Ambar. When the Muslims captured the city they found out that it was not only fortified but there was a wide and deep water trench around it. This trench was so close to the fortress wall that whoever dared to cross it became an easy target for the enemy arrows. Khalid (RA) found a place from where to attack the fortress where the trench was at its narrowest. He chose a favourable spot for the archers of the Muslim army from where they could engage the enemy archers in battle. After this he selected the weakest horses and camels from his cavalry, slaughtered them and threw them in the narrow part of the trench. After a little while the skeletons of the dead animals rose up to the surface of the water. In this way a unique, temporary bridge of animal skeletons was formed for the Muslim army to cross. One division of the army crossed the unusual bridge and reached the fortress wall. The enemy was perplexed and they readily agreed to a truce on easy conditions.

Another creative tactic which boggles one’s mind was employed by Khalid (RA) after he had completed his conquest of Iraq. The Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) asked Khalid to proceed swiftly to Syria in order to add strength to the Muslim army present there. There were two routes to reach the war zone but both were very long. On both routes there was danger of being attacked by the Roman soldiers. A famous warrior Rafay Bin Umaira revealed that he knew a shortcut across the desert. But it would be a monumental task to cross the desert terrain with a whole army because there would be no access to water for a period of five days on the journey. There was also the possibility of losing the way.

In the sweltering heat of June, Khalid (RA) vowed to cross the desert and had a brainwave that they would make 40 camels drink a lot of water and tie their mouths. Wherever there would be an urgent need for water, they would slaughter ten camels and use the water in their stomachs. One tradition tells us that by the third day the water supply was exhausted. To make matters worse, Rafay the sole guide on this journey gradually lost his eyesight. With the help of certain landmarks the Muslim army succeeded in reaching a water hole and thus an arduous journey ended which could have turned into a disaster but because of Khalid’s ingenious tactics, the Muslim army managed to reach Syria in the shortest time possible.

Swift Movement of the Army

Another reason behind Khalid’s success was his impulsive drive for swift action. He used to activate and urge his army on with such speed that the enemy force would be dumbfounded and would be unprepared to meet the Muslims. Inspite of being less in number and weapons, the Muslim army had an advantage over their adversaries. Before the opponent forces could gather under a single banner, the Muslim army would often overpower them by their quicksilver action.

Damascus was won over by the sword as mentioned earlier. But in his ignorance of the state of affairs, Abu Ubaidah (RA) was cornered into signing a pact of agreement with the enemy. Although Khalid (RA) was naturally disturbed when he found out, he had to abide by the terms of the agreement. One of the clauses of the pact was that the enemy could move their possessions in the next three days without any hindrance. The Muslims did not disturb them for three days and they moved out with their possessions unobstructed. But on the fourth day, Khalid overtook them with such swift action that he was able to recover the booty that they had almost lost to the enemy. This was an amazing feat since the opponent forces had a three-day lead. Hercule’s daughter was also arrested by the Muslims. He requested that she be freed from imprisonment. Khalid, being the magnanimous commander that he was, graciously returned her to her father safe and sound.

Selection of Battleground of own Choice

The choice of battleground is an important factor in the outcome of any battle. In the war against Iraq, Khalid (RA) was particularly careful that all the battles should be fought near the desert in such a way that if they needed to retreat, the vastness of the desert would work to their advantage. The Persian army could not imagine fighting in the desert terrain because their army had not been trained to do so. Hence the Muslim chose their own war zones on the borders of the desert and inhabited areas.

Exploitation of the Enemy’s Weaknesses

Another practical strategy of Khalid’s was to analyse the weaknesses of the enemy and take advantage of them. Also, he was aware of the strengths that his army possessed and he made full use of them. When a war strategy would fail, he would challenge the commander or important chiefs of the opposing army to fight a duel with him, in which invariably he or other Muslim warriors would kill them. This would break the morale of the whole army and they used to fight with less spirit, resulting in an easy victory for the Muslims.

In the battle of Maraj ul Safrah, Khalid (RA) was present with a small band of soldiers waiting for reinforcements. Meanwhile, the opposing army began the formation of their forces in order to start the battle. It looked as if the rest of the Muslim soldiers would take some time to get to the battlefield. At this moment, Khalid started to exhibit feats of physical bravery in one to one duels. Both the Roman and the Muslim generals came face to face, each showing off personal acts of courage and skill. The advantage in employing this strategy was that the strong Roman chiefs were killed and enough time had been gained for the Muslim reinforcements to join the main army.

In the battle of Yarmouk, Khalid departed from his usual stance and commanded his forces to play a defensive game. When he felt that the Roman soldiers were tiring, he changed his position and ordered his army to adopt an aggressive strategy. Thus the Muslim army forced the enemy to retreat into a valley where Muslim archers were stationed – lying in wait for a signal from Khalid. In this way the Romans were trapped from both sides and lost the battle.

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was a mastermind at war games. His schemes were so practical and wise that they caused minimum loss of life in his army. He used to teach the enemy such a lesson that they would remember it for life and used to shatter their morale completely. His brilliant war strategies had earned him the repute of the most successful military commander ever. Major General Ibrahim Agha, in his book ‘Saifullah’, writes about Khalid,

“Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was the most multi-talented and multi-faceted general in history. A truly superhuman soldier. His war strategies can be compared with those of Changez Khan and Napoleon Bonaparte. His foresight and prudence on the battlefield can be matched with Taimur Lung and Frederick The Great. His personal strength and valour was like the famous Persian wrestler Rustum. We do not find any other personality in this field possessing such diverse talents. Khalid was one of the two great conquerors in history who never faced defeat – himself and Ghengis Khan.”

Khalid’s Humility and Strong Sense of Morality

If one analyses the great conquerors in history, it is obvious at a glance that their success was due to huge well-equipped forces with the help of which they trampled over small armies. It was just the opposite in Khalid’s case. In many cases, he had a small ill-equipped army with which he managed to conquer the enemy forces on their own territory. By the grace of Allah, it was ordained that The Sword of Islam would not fail. And Khalid (RA) always attributed his conquests to Allah alone.

Whether it was the battle of Mautah, in which 3,000 Muslim soldiers clashed with an army of 100,000 unbelievers, or a handful of believers against the mighty Persian army, Khalid’s confidence did not shake for a moment. He used to rely completely on the help of Allah inspite of his tremendous qualities and military achievements. He was never deterred by the strength of the opposing army. Once in the battle of Yarmouk, a soldier involuntarily exclaimed, “The Romans are so many and we are so few!” Khalid replied, “The Romans are so few and we are so many! The strength of the army does not lie in their numbers but on the aid of Allah. They are weak if the support of Allah deserts them.”

Courage and Fearlessness

In most cases it has been observed that the commanders and generals of the army stay in the back lines while their soldiers do the fighting. They are very cautious about protecting their life. Khalid (RA) was in the habit of doing just the opposite. Instead of issuing orders from a safe position, Khalid (RA) used to fight in the first row along with the soldiers. Whether it was a fight with Hermuz, or with the giant warrior Hazaar Mard, or with the Roman Chief Azazeer (who was known for his agility and active nature), Khalid (RA) was never overpowered by any opponent. On the occasion of the conquest of Hams he gave a crushing embrace to his Roman counterpart, to the extent that his bones were broken.

Obedience to the Caliphate

The most outstanding part of Khalid’s character was his complete submission to the commands of the Caliph, inspite of his phenomenal record of conquests and his able leadership as the commander of the Muslim army. He demonstrated no hesitation in accepting the orders of Caliph Umar although they were very harsh ones like his demotion and then dismissal. He was quoted as telling a friend, “ If Abu Bakr has died and Umar is the Caliph then we are now obedient to him.”

The soldiers under Khalid’s command highly admired him. If he had refused to obey the command of Caliph Umar and taken a stand, they might have sided with him and there would have been a serious rift in the Muslim empire. But Khalid (RA) was a humble soldier and he was faithful to the cause of Islam, so how could he cause such a mutiny. Normally it is an accepted practice that whenever there is such a change in the army, the commanding officer is either given the option to resign as a face saving measure or he is delegated to some other position keeping his status in mind. But Khalid (RA) was given no such choice. The world observed the amazing incident when this indefatigable warrior – whose name struck terror in the hearts of his enemies – on one order from his Caliph calmly stepped down from his position and acted like an ordinary soldier. When Abu Ubaidah (RA) needed his assistance, he extended his full support and guidance. There was never any hesitation or bitterness on his part.

There was great respect for the Companions of the Prophet (SAW) in Khalid’s heart. He remembered the saying of the Prophet (SAW) regarding his eminent Companions (as mentioned in the previous pages). He gave due reverence to those celebrated Companions of which they were worthy. If there had been any criticism or disdain on Khalid’s part in this regard, then history would not have put him on the same pedestal as he is today inspite of his magnificent achievements.

Once in the course of events, when Khalid (RA) had recently been deposed from his position, the Muslims faced a situation of grave consequence. Abu Ubaidah (RA) had no choice but to turn to Khalid (RA) for advice. He briefed Khalid on the new developments on the war front and also expressed his embarrassment at asking him since Khalid (RA) had been asked to step down from his position. Khalid (RA) replied, “By Allah! Even if you had appointed a minor boy as my Ameer, I would have obeyed him. How can I disobey your orders? Your ranking in Islam is much higher than mine. The Prophet has named you Ameen ul Ummat (Trustee of the Muslim Ummah). I can never reach your status.”

Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) – A Role Model

Often enough we have been instructed by Allah in the glorious Quran to fear no one but Him. Having understood this, how many of us are actually able to implement this order? Nowadays as in previous eras, we are surrounded by many kinds of trepidations – the fear of death, the fear of disaster and destruction, the fear of loss of wealth, the fear of losing status and many other apprehensions – all except the fear of Allah.

But when we look at Khalid’s life, we find a deep-rooted fear of Allah and immense faith in His Mercy. He took numerous risks with his life and he was calm in the face of danger. He faced huge armies with meager resources and he traversed deserts and unknown terrain with nothing but hope in Allah’s mercy.

Khalid (RA) was bold and courageous. An innovative and creative general, his mind was constantly working to find new military solutions to the problems and challenges thrown in his way.

Today bookshelves abound with material on leadership qualities. Khalid (RA) was a born leader. He was magnanimous with his soldiers and looked after their needs. He was a shining example for them in the battlefield and fought in the front lines with them instead of giving instructions from the back. He motivated them to perform beyond their abilities and instilled hope and confidence in them. The soldiers under Khalid’s command were completely under his sway. He could literally make them move mountains.

Had Khalid (RA) chosen to take advantage of their unswerving loyalty, he could have caused a serious rebellion against the Caliphate with the help of his forces, but as mentioned earlier, Khalid (RA) was a humble man and a true servant of Allah. He had pledged his loyalty to the Head of the Muslim empire, be it Abu Bakr or Umar. When he was dismissed, he took it as just another order to be followed. No frowns, no public complains, no resistance.

Khalid (RA) did his best to spread Islam in the conquered territories. Once in a battle, a Roman commander asked him if he had a sword from heaven sent by Allah. Khalid (RA) answered in the negative and explained how he came to be called the Sword of Allah. Then the commander asked him what Islam preached. Khalid replied, “We preach the worship of one God.” The Roman further asked, “Will a convert today have the same reward from Allah as you when in fact you joined the faith before him?” Khalid affirmed, “Yes and more. We lived in the lifetime of Muhammad (SAW) and we saw his signs and miracles. It was very easy to accept Islam and believe in its messenger. As for you, you have not seen or heard the Prophet, but you still believe in the unseen, so your reward with Allah will be greater if you are sincere.” The Roman commander requested Khalid (RA) to teach him more about Islam. He became a Muslim and fought along with the Muslim army and died as a martyr.

When we look at military, social, political or other organizations around us, we find a constant wrestling for power – one party trying to malign and subjugate others to stay in power, colleagues battling for promotion resorting to unfair tactics, etc. Even in educational and religious institutions the larger benefit is ignored for petty personal benefits. When somebody’s authority is taken away, he or she resorts to backbiting, bad-mouthing, bickering and complaining against the allegedly unjust decision. We have a lot to learn from the example of Khalid Bin Waleed (RA).

We see that Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was probably the greatest general of all times, because of his superior war strategies, recognition of his duty, complete confidence in Allah, love for and dedication towards his mission, determined nature and tremendous physical and moral strength and courage. From focusing on the big picture to obeying the law, to responding with honesty and humility when facing a public trial – our hero is a perfect role model.

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Reference books:

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p<{color:#000;}. Khalid Bin Waleed by Ameer Ahmad

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p<{color:#000;}. Islam kay namwar sipah salar by Faiz Alam Siddiqui

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p<{color:#000;}. Allah ki Talwar by Major General Ibrahim Agha

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p<{color:#000;}. Musalman Fatiheen by Ahmad Mustafa Siddiqui Rahi

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p<{color:#000;}. Siddiq-e-Akbar by Saeed Ahmad Akbarabadi

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p<{color:#000;}. Tareekh e Islam by Moeenuddin Nadvi

About the Author

Naima Sohaib, 30, is the author of “Tareekh-e-Islam ki Azeem Shakhsiat”, a 500-page book in Urdu about twenty most prominent Muslim scholars, reformists, revivalists and caliphs of the last 1400 years, including several from the twentieth century. The book is written in easy language, punctuated occasionally by pertinent and thought-provoking comments by the author.

Naima has a Masters in Islamic Studies from University of Karachi and did her B.Sc. in Mathematics from Lahore College for Women. She has also authored several storybooks for children. She lives in Bahrain with her husband and four daughters

About the Translator

Eeman Asif Misbah, 35, is the English translator of the original Urdu book. She converted from Hinduism some years ago after studying Islam for several years. Her passion to seek knowledge about great personalities of Muslim history led her to the present translation work. She is an avid reader of Islamic books.

Eeman is an MBA from Institute of Business Administration, Karachi. An expert in human resource management and general administration, she worked in the financial sector before her marriage. She lives in Karachi with her husband and two children.


Khalid Bin Waleed

Khalid bin Waleed, also known as the Sword of Allah, was one of the greatest generals in history, both Islamic and otherwise. He was undefeated in battle, his courage was unparalleled, his strategic mind was stunning, and his humility and obedience to his ruler were astonishing. He contributed hugely in the initial wave of military successes of the Muslims that gave them the momentum to spread throughout the world. Apart from his competence and talent in the battlefield, he was a pious Muslim with strong morals and compassion that set him apart from many of the world’s famous military leaders. He was, in short, a Muslim hero, and his life gives inspiration to us all.

  • Author: Naima Sohaib
  • Published: 2016-08-09 08:50:16
  • Words: 12411
Khalid Bin Waleed Khalid Bin Waleed