Friday, 3 December 2010

chapter 13 tulaiha the imposter

Ibn Abbas related that the Prophet (SAWS) said, "The nations were presented to me. I saw the prophet having a party of people with him, the prophet having one or two men with him, the prophet having no one with him. Then a great mass of people was shown to me, so I thought that they were my nation, but it was said to me, 'This is Musa and his people, but look at the horizon.' Behold! A great mass of people! It was said to me, 'Look at the other horizon.' Behold! A great mass of people! It was said to me, 'This is your nation, and among them are seventy thousand who will enter the Garden without reckoning or punishment'."
He then got up and entered his house, and the people began speculating about those special believers. Some of them said, "Perhaps they are those who accompanied the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace." Others said, "Perhaps they are those who were born in Islam and so never associated any partners with Allah at all." Others said various things.
Then the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came out to them and they informed him of their discussion, so he said, "They are those who do not seek spiritual cures for physical ailments, who do not practice cauterisation, and who do not draw omens, but put their trust totally in their Lord."
So 'Ukkashah bin Mihsan stood up and said, "Pray to Allah to make me among them."
He replied, "You are among them."
Another man stood up and said, "Pray to Allah to make me among them."
He replied, "'Ukkashah beat you to it."

Of the false prophets who remained after the death of Aswad, the first to clash with the Muslims was Tulaiha bin Khuwailid. He was a chief of the tribe of Bani Asad, and had been opposing the Holy Prophet off and on for many years.

Tulaiha first showed his hostility to Islam three months after the Battle of Uhud. Believing that the Muslims had been badly hurt in that battle, he got his clan together with the intention of raiding Madinah and thus exploiting what he regarded as a fine opportunity; but the Prophet came to know of the concentration of the clan and sent a mounted column of 150 horsemen to deal with it. Before Tulaiha could get wind of this counter-move the Muslim horsemen were upon him. The infidels scattered without a fight, and the Muslims captured the flocks of the clan and drove them off to Madinah as spoils. This setback so discredited Tulaiha in the eyes of his tribe that he had to lie low for a while.

Then he took part in the Battle of the Ditch. Responding eagerly to the invitation of the Jews to take up arms against the Muslims, he got together a contingent from the Bani Asad and commanded it in the coalition that besieged Madinah. When Abu Sufyan withdrew from Madinah, the Bani Asad also returned to their settlements. Again Tulaiha got nowhere.

The next occasion on which he opposed the Muslims was their campaign against the Jews of Khaibar in 628 (7 Hijri). The Bani Asad, operating under Tulaiha, sided with the Jews. During the movement of the Muslim army towards Khaibar, Tulaiha fought a number of minor engagements with the Muslims but was worsted every time. Then he pulled out his forces and abandoned the Jews to their fate.

Two years later, during the 'Year of Delegations', the Bani Asad sent a delegation to Madinah which offered submission to the Prophet. The whole tribe accepted Islam, but like many other tribes of Arabia its conversion was a matter of political convenience rather than genuine belief. Outwardly Tulaiha also embraced Islam. Whether infidel or Muslim Tulaiha continued to enjoy considerable influence in his tribe as a chief and a soothsayer. He would foretell the future, dabble in clairvoyance and recite poetry.

During the illness of the Prophet, in fact a few days before the Prophet died, Tulaiha made a bid for independence. He declared himself a prophet! He called upon his people to follow him, and many did. When word arrived of the Holy Prophet's death, he intensified his efforts to establish himself as the new prophet, and as the contagion of the apostasy spread over Arabia, the entire tribe of Bani Asad flocked to his standard, accepting him as chief and prophet. To mark the severance of his ties with Madinah, Tulaiha expelled the Muslim tax collector of his area-a valiant young man by the name of Barar bin Al Azwar, of whom the account of the Campaign in Syria will have much to say.

Having proclaimed himself prophet, Tulaiha felt that he had to do something about religion in order to prove that he really was an apostle of Allah. He could think of no better way of creating a spectacular effect than by altering the form of prayer. He abolished prostration, which is an integral part of the Muslim prayer ritual. "Allah does not want us to invert our faces", he declared, "or bend our backs in an ugly posture. Pray standing!" 2 And the Bani Asad prayed without prostration after their impostor.

With the spread of the apostasy the ranks of his followers swelled. He received offers of support from the major tribes of North-Central Arabia, the staunchest of which were the Ghatfan, followed by the Tayy, with both of which the Bani Asad had an old and abiding alliance. There was support also from the Hawazin and the Bani Sulaim, but this was lukewarm. Although these two great tribes also apostatised and fought the Muslims, they did not join Tulaiha and did not fight under his standard.

1. Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad. Sahih Al-Jami Al-Saghir No. 3999 and Kitab Al-Tawhid of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, Chapter 3.
2. Ibn-ul-Aseer: Vol. 2, p. 131.

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The most powerful single supporter of Tulaiha was Uyaina bin Hisn, the one-eyed chief of the Bani Fazara-a powerful clan of the Ghatfan. This was the man who had commanded the Ghatfan contingent at the Battle of the Ditch and whom the Holy Prophet had nicknamed the Willing Fool. Now he lived up to that name by following Tulaiha. He did not, however, believe whole-heartedly in the impostor, for he is known to have said, "I would rather follow a prophet from an allied tribe than one from the Quraish. Anyway, Muhammad is dead and Tulaiha is alive." 1 His support proved invaluable, for he brought the entire tribe of Ghatfan under the sway of Tulaiha.

Tulaiha gathered the Bani Asad at Samira. The Ghatfan lived in the neighbourhood of the Bani Asad and would join him soon. The Tayy also accepted him as chief-of-chiefs and prophet, but remained in their own region north and northeast of Khaibar, except for a small contingent, which joined him at Samira. Here Tulaiha began his preparations to fight the power of Islam.

When he heard of the gathering of the clans at Abraq and Zhu Qissa, he sent a contingent from his tribe to reinforce them under his brother, Hibal. The Muslim operations against Zhu Qissa and Abraq have already been described. While these operations were in progress, Tulaiha moved with his army to Buzakha, where he was joined some time later by the remnants of the apostates driven from Abraq.

At Buzakha, Tulaiha's preparations progressed rapidly. He sent couriers to many clans, inviting them to join him, and many clans responded to the call. Uyaina brought 700 warriors from the Bani Fazara. The largest groups were from the Bani Asad and the Ghatfan. There also was a contingent from the Tayy, but the main part of the Tayy did not come to Buzakha.

Tulaiha was ready for battle when Khalid set out from, Zhu Qissa.

Before launching Khalid against Tulaiha, Abu Bakr sought ways and means of reducing the latter's strength, so that the battle could be fought with the maximum prospects of victory. Nothing could be done about the tribes of Bani Asad and Ghatfan which stood solidly behind Tulaiha; but the Tayy were another matter. They were not nearly so staunch in their support of the impostor, and their chief, Adi bin Hatim, was a devout Muslim. (A man, who was to live to the incredible age of 120 years, Adi was so tall that when he sat on his horse, his feet would touch the ground! 2) When Adi had tried to prevent the apostasy of the Tayy, they had renounced him, with the result that he had left the tribe, along with a group of his faithful supporters, and joined the Caliph. Abu Bakr now decided to make an attempt at drawing the Tayy away from Tulaiha. And if they could not be persuaded to abandon the impostor, they should be fought and crushed quickly in their present location before they could join him at Buzakha. Thus Tulaiha would be denied the support of the Tayy.

Abu Bakr sent the Tayy chief to work on his tribe. With him marched Khalid, whose corps numbered about 4,000 men. "If the efforts of Adi are not successful", Abu Bakr instructed Khalid, "fight the Tayy in their present location." 3 After dealing with the Tayy, Khalid was to, march on Buzakha. (See Map 8.)

Setting off from Zhu Qissa, Khalid marched in a northerly direction, making for Buzakha. When still a few marches from Buzakha, he turned left and approached the area south of the Aja Mountains, where the tribe of Tayy was gathered. Here Adi went forward and addressed the tribe: he spoke of Allah and His Messenger, of the fire of hell, of the futility of resistance; but in spite of his great eloquence he made no headway. The tribal elders rejected him, whereupon Adi warned them: "Then prepare to meet an army that comes to destroy you and take your women. Do as you please."

The warning had the desired effect. The elders reflected for a while and then said, "Keep this army away from us until we have extricated our brethren who are with Tulaiha. We have a pact with him. If we break it, he will either kill our brethren or hold them as hostages. We must get them away from Tulaiha before openly renouncing him."

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 487.
2. Ibn Qutaiba: p. 313.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 483.

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Adi returned to the Muslim camp and explained the position to Khalid, but Khalid was in no mood to waste time on negotiations. He held strong views about the apostasy and was not inclined to be kind to those who turned to disbelief-after-belief. "Three days, O Khalid!" Adi pleaded. "Just three days! And I shall get you 500 warriors from my tribe to fight beside you. That is better than sending them to the Fire." 1 Khalid agreed to wait.

The elders of the Tayy sent off a detachment of horsemen to Tulaiha, ostensibly as a reinforcement for their contingent. And there they started working secretly to get the Tayy contingent away from Tulaiha before Khalid's arrival at Buzakha. In this they succeeded. If any members of the Tayy remained with Tulaiha, and it appears that a few did, they took no part in the Battle of Buzakha.

Khalid had agreed not to attack the Tayy. Meanwhile he decided to turn on another apostate tribe which lived close by-the Jadila. The Caliph had said nothing about the Jadila, but Khalid did not need an invitation to fight. When he announced his intention of attacking the Jadila, Adi again came forward with an offer to persuade the tribe to submit without bloodshed. Khalid was not the man to worry about bloodshed, but in view of the possibility of augmenting his own strength with more warriors, he agreed to Adi's suggestion. The eloquence of Adi bore fruit. The Jadila submitted, and 1,000 warriors joined Khalid. With the strength of his corps augmented with the 500 horsemen from the Tayy and the 1,000 from the Jadila, Khalid, now much stronger than when he had left Zhu Qissa, marched for Buzakha. On his way he was to pick up more warriors.

When a day's march from Buzakha, Khalid sent forward two scouts on a reconnaissance mission. Both these men were Ansars, one of them a renowned Companion by the name of Ukasha bin Mihsan. These scouts met two apostates engaged on a similar mission for the enemy, one of whom was Hibal, the brother of Tulaiha. Hibal was killed, but the other escaped to carry the sad news to the impostor.

Enraged at the news of his brother's death, Tulaiha came forward in person with another brother, Salma. The two pairs met. There were two duels. Tulaiha and Ukasha were expert swordsmen and continued to fight long after Salma had killed the other Muslim. But at last Ukasha went down before Tulaiha. The bodies of the Muslims remained where they had fallen until the rest of the Muslims arrived to discover and bury them. The loss of these two Muslims was deeply mourned, for they were fine fighters and beloved comrades.

When Khalid got to the southern part of the plain of Buzakha, he went into camp a short distance from where the apostates were encamped. From these two camps the opposing forces would move out to battle. The battlefield consisted of the plain of Buzakha-a level, open plain with a few low, rocky hillocks on its western and northern edges. These hillocks were an extension of the south-eastern foothills of the Aja Range. 2 (See Map 8)

The stage for the Battle of Buzakha was set. The Muslims prepared for the morrow, as did the apostates. Khalid, the Sword of Allah, with about 6,000 men, faced Tulaiha the Impostor, the strength of whose army is not recorded but is believed to have been much more than that of the Muslims. It was now about the middle of September, 632 (late Jamadi-ul-Akhir, 11 Hijri).

On the morning after the arrival of Khalid, the two armies formed up for battle on the plain of Buzakha. Khalid commanded the Muslims in person and stood ahead of his corps. Tulaiha, however, appointed Uyaina to command his army, in the centre of which stood the 700 Bani Fazara (Uyaina's clan). The impostor himself sat in a tent a short distance behind his army, his head wrapped in a scarf and a cloak draped over his shoulders. He assumed a meditative posture and let it be known that he would receive guidance from Jibril, Allah's messenger angel, on the conduct of battle.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 483.
2. Nothing remains of Buzakha, but the plain which bears its name starts 25 miles south-west of the present Hail and runs in a south-westerly direction

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Soon after the two forces were arrayed for battle, Khalid launched an attack along the entire front. For some time the apostates resisted stubbornly, especially the Bani Fazara, but after a while the pressure of the Muslims began to tell and dents appeared in the apostate front line. Uyaina, alarmed at the severity of the Muslim attack, rode to Tulaiha's tent, hoping that divine guidance would come to their aid. "Has Jibril come to you?" he enquired. "No", replied the impostor with a solemn expression. Uyaina returned to battle.

Some more time passed. Then Khalid was able to drive a wedge into the infidel centre, but it still held, and the fighting became more intense with every inch of ground hotly contested. Uyaina again rode to Tulaiha and asked, "Has Jibril come to you?" "No, by Allah!" replied the impostor. Again Uyaina returned to battle.

Scenting victory, the Muslims now attacked more fiercely and gained some more ground. It was all the apostates could do to prevent a complete rupture of their position. Seeing the situation turn hopeless Uyaina went for the third time to Tulaiha. There was a nervous impatience in his voice as he asked the familiar question: "Has Jibril come to you?" The impostor answered, "Yes." "What did he say?" asked Uyaina.

Calmly Tulaiha replied, "He said 'You have a handmill just like his, and this is a day that you will not forget!'" "By Allah!" Uyaina exploded as the scales fell from his eyes, "This is a day that you shall certainly not forget." He then dashed to his clan. "O Bani Fazara!" he shouted. "This man is an impostor. Turn away from the fight!"1

The Bani Fazara, the hard core of Tulaiha's centre, turned and rode away. With their departure the entire front gave way and the apostate opposition collapsed. Groups of infidels raced from the battlefield in all directions. The victorious Muslims cut those who resisted to pieces. Some hapless fugitives rushed to Tulaiha and asked, "What are your commands?" Tulaiha replied, "Let those who can, do as I do and save themselves and their families." 2

With this parting instruction Tulaiha placed his wife on a fast camel, which he had kept ready saddled for just this eventuality. He himself sprang on to his horse, and man and wife disappeared in a cloud of dust.

The Battle of Buzakha was over. Khalid had been victorious. The second most powerful enemy of Islam had been defeated and his forces scattered.

Tulaiha fled to the border of Syria, where he took up residence among the Kalb. His imposturing days were over. But he had not been long with this tribe when he heard that the Bani Asad had re-entered Islam. Consequently he too became a Muslim and rejoined his tribe. He even visited Makkah for the pilgrimage during the time of Abu Bakr, but the Caliph, though informed of his visit, took no notice of him.

About two years later he visited Madinah and came to see Umar, who did not forgive easily. On seeing Tulaiha, Umar said to him, "You killed two noble Muslims, including Ukasha bin Mihsan. By Allah, I shall never love you."

Tulaiha had a subtle wit. He replied, "Allah blessed them with paradise by my hand, while I did not benefit by theirs. I seek forgiveness from Allah."

Umar, unrelenting, tried again. "You lied when you said that Allah would do you no harm."

"That", replied Tulaiha, "arose from the mischief of disbelief which Allah has destroyed. I cannot now be blamed for it."

Umar saw that he was not getting far with this exchange and made a last attempt. "O trickster! What remains of your clairvoyance?"

"Nothing but a gust or two from the bellows!" 3

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A sense of humour was not one of Umar's strong points; and not being able to think of a suitable rejoinder, he turned away.

Tulaiha returned to his tribe and lived amongst them until the third invasion of Iraq. Then he volunteered for service in Iraq as a Muslim warrior and commander. He served with distinction, performing prodigies of valour and skill, and took part in the great battles of Qadissiyah and Nihawand, where he fell a martyr. Tulaiha thus more than earned his redemption.

As soon as the battle was over, Khalid sent out columns to pursue the fleeing apostates and subdue the neighbouring tribes. One column caught up with some apostates in the hilly region of Ruman, 30 miles south-south-east of Buzakha, but they submitted without a fight and became Muslims again. Khalid led a fast column in pursuit of Uyaina, who had fled to the south-east with his clan of Bani Fazara and some elements of the Bani Asad. Uyaina had only got as far as Ghamra, 60 miles away 1 (see Map 8), when Khalid overtook him. Uyaina then turned to fight again, for although he was now totally disillusioned about Tulaiha, he remained defiant and unrepentant. There was a sharp clash in which several apostates were killed and the rest fled. Uyaina was taken prisoner.

Uyaina's father had been a very prominent and highly respected chieftain of the Ghatfan, as a result of which Uyaina regarded himself as second to none in birth and rank. But this proud scion of a long line of chiefs, with whom the Holy Prophet himself had sought to negotiate peace at the Battle of the Ditch, was now put in irons and led as a humble captive to Madinah.

As he entered Madinah, the children, on discovering his identity and circumstances, crowded around him. They began to prod him with sharp sticks, chanting awhile "O Enemy of Allah! You disbelieved-after-belief." Uyaina protested piteously, "By Allah, I never was a believer." In other words, since he had never become a Muslim (as he now falsely claimed), he could not be accused of apostasy.

He pleaded his case before Abu Bakr, who pardoned him, and so Uyaina became a Muslim again and lived in peace amidst his tribe for many long years.

In the time of Caliph Uthman, Uyaina, now grown old, visited Madinah and called on the Caliph. It was well after sunset. Uthman, as always the generous host, asked him to stay for supper and was taken aback when Uyaina declined the invitation on the plea that he was fasting. (The Muslim fast begins at the first light of dawn and ends at sunset.) Seeing the look of surprise on Uthman's face, Uyaina exclaimed hastily, "I find it easier to fast by night than by day!" 2

After the action at Ghamra, Khalid set off for Naqra where certain clans of the Bani Sulaim had gathered to continue the struggle against Islam. (See Map 8) In command of this group of Bani Sulaim was a rash chieftain whose name was Amr bin Abdul Uzza, but who was more commonly known as Abu Shajra. This man had learnt no lesson from the defeat of Tulaiha, and in order to encourage his men to remain firm in their defiance of Muslim authority, he composed and recited the following lines:

My spear shall play havoc
With the regiments of Khalid.
And I trust thereafter
It shall also crush Umar

1. Ghamra lies 15 miles north north-east of Samira, and a hill overlooking the present village is also named Ghamra. This place has been called Ghamr by Ibn Sad who places it at two stages from Feid (p. 590). It is actually 30 miles from Feid as the crow flies, and would be a little farther by caravan route.
2. Ibn Qutaiba: p. 304.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 494.

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As soon as he arrived at Naqra, Khalid launched his column into a violent attack on the Bani Sulaim. Actually, he had pleasant memories of the Bani Sulaim. They had served under him during the conquest of Makkah and the Battle of Hunain and the advance to Taif. Except for their flight when ambushed in the Hunain defile (when most troops would have done the same), they had served him well. But now they had apostatised and deserved no mercy.

Fighting against their ex-commander, the Bani Sulaim resisted fiercely for some time and were able to kill several Muslims, but they too found the powerful blows of Khalid too hard to take and broke up. A large number of them were slaughtered before the rest found safety in flight. Their commander, Abu Shajra the soldier-poet, was taken prisoner and sent to Madinah, where he too pleaded his case with Abu Bakr and was pardoned. He also re-entered Islam.

In later years Abu Shajra fell upon bad times, he was impoverished. Hoping to get some help from Madinah, he rode thither, tied his camel outside the town and went in. Soon he came upon Umar who stood surrounded by the poor to whom he was distributing alms. Entering the throng, Abu Shajra, called, "I too am in need." Umar turned and looked at him but failed to recognise him. His appearance had changed much since the days of his apostasy. "Who are you?" Umar enquired.

"I am Abu Shajra."

Suddenly old memories flashed across the mind of Umar and he recalled the entire story of the wretched man. "O Enemy of Allah!" Umar roared. "Was it not you who recited:

My spear shall play havoc
With the regiments of Khalid.
And I trust thereafter
It shall also crush Umar. . . !"

Umar did not wait for a reply. He raised his whip, without which he never left his house, and struck at the man. Abu Shajra raised his arm to protect his head even as he pleaded, "My submission to Islam has cancelled all that." 1 Then the second blow fell!

Abu Shajra realised that no amount of pleading would stay the whip of Umar, who was clearly in a mood to strike first and ask questions later. He turned and ran as fast as his legs would carry him, with Umar in hot pursuit, brandishing his whip. But he outran Umar, got to his camel, leapt onto its back and sped away.

Abu Shajra never showed his face in Madinah again!

While the Battle of Buzakha was being fought, certain tribes had stood aside and watched. These were the tribe of Bani Amir and certain clans of the Hawazin and Bani Sulaim. Though inclined towards Tulaiha, they had wisely refrained from battle and preferred to sit on the fence until the outcome of battle was known.

The outcome was soon known. Peace and quiet had hardly returned to Buzakha when these tribes came to Khalid and submitted. "We re-enter what we came out of", they declared. "We believe in Allah and His Messenger. We shall submit to his orders with our lives and property." 2

Soon other sections of repentant Arabs began to pour into Buzakha. "We submit!" was the universal cry. But Khalid remembered the instructions of the Caliph-to kill all those who had killed Muslims. He refused to accept their submission (which meant that they could be attacked, killed, enslaved) until they had handed over every murderer in the tribe. To this the tribes agreed.

1. Balazuri: p. 107
2. Tabari: Vol. 2 pg. 486.

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All the murderers were lined up. Khalid's justice was swift. He had each murderer killed in exactly the same manner as he had employed to kill his Muslim victim. Some were beheaded, some were burnt alive, and some stoned to death. Some were thrown from the tops of cliffs, while others were shot to death with arrows. A few were cast into wells.1 An eye for an eye!

Having completed this task, Khalid wrote to Abu Bakr and gave him a complete account of all that had passed. The Caliph wrote him a complimentary letter in reply, congratulating him on his success, approving his actions and praying for his continued success.

After the action against the Bani Sulaim at Naqra, Khalid stayed at Buzakha for three weeks, receiving the submission of the tribes and punishing the murderers. Then he turned his steps towards Zafar, where a lady needed his attention. He looked forward eagerly to the rendezvous; and she awaited him with breathless anticipation!

Salma, alias Um Zhiml, was a first cousin of Uyaina. Her father too was a big chief, Malik bin Hudaifa, of the Ghatfan. Not only was her father a noted chief, but her mother, Um Qirfa, also was a great lady, held in esteem and veneration by the tribe. In the time of the Holy Prophet, the mother had fought against the Muslims and had been captured in battle and killed, but memories of the chieftainess had remained alive among the Ghatfan. Salma had been taken captive and led to Madinah, where the Prophet presented her as a slave to his wife, Aisha. But Salma was not happy, so Aisha set her free, and she returned to her tribe.

After the death of her parents, Salma rose in stature until she began to command the same respect and affection in her tribe as her mother had enjoyed. She became-and this was unusual among the Arabs-a chief in her own right. Her mother had owned a magnificent camel which was now inherited by Salma, and since the daughter looked just like the mother, whenever she rode the camel she reminded her people of the departed grande dame.

Salma became one of the leaders of the apostasy and an implacable enemy of Islam. After the Battle of Buzakha and the action at Ghamra, some of those who had lost to Khalid, along with many die-hards from the Hawazin and the Bani Sulaim, hastened to Zafar, at the western edge of the Sulma Range, and joined the army of Salma. 2 (See Map 8) She upbraided them mercilessly for their defeat and their abandonment of Uyaina, and such was the awe of this lady that they took it without a murmur. With her strong hand she whipped this motley collection into shape as a closely-knit, well-organised army, and within a few days she had become a threat to the authority of Islam. She knew that Khalid, now free of the problem of Buzakha, would come to deal with her, and she eagerly awaited a clash with the Sword of Allah.

Khalid marched his corps from Buzakha to Zafar where the army of Islam again came face-to-face with the army of disbelief. Again Khalid took the initiative and attacked.

But it proved a hard battle. While Khalid was able to drive back the wings, he could make no progress against the centre of the apostates. The centre stood firm. Here rode Salma in an armoured litter atop her mother's famous camel, and from this command post she personally conducted the battle. Around her camel were gathered the bravest of her warriors, determined to sacrifice their lives in defence of the noble animal and its venerated rider.

Khalid realised that in the person of Salma lay the moral strength of the enemy force, and that as long as she survived in her litter the battle would continue and turn into a bloodbath. She had to be eliminated. Consequently, leading a picked group of warriors, he made a determined thrust towards the camel, and after some vicious sword-fighting was able to get to the animal. With a few slashes the camel was brought down and with it fell the prized litter. Salma was killed immediately. Around her sprawled the bodies of 100 of her followers who had fought to the last in defence of their chief.

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 490.
2. While the general location of Zafar can be established, its exact location is not certain. Tabari gives Zafar as the scene of the battle and also mentions Ark as the town of the chieftainess Salma. Ark is now a village named Rakk, 35 miles from Hail, nestling at the foot of the northern spurs of the Salma Range. Twelve miles south of Rakk there is a hill called Zafar, on the western slope of the range, and I regard this as the Zafar where the battle was fought.

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With the death of Salma, all resistance collapsed and the apostates scattered in all directions. Salma had given Khalid the hardest fight since Tulaiha.

The Salma Range-a range of black, rugged hills standing some 40 miles south-east of the town of Hail-is believed to have been named after Salma, Um Zhiml…a fitting tribute to a grand lady who had the courage to stand and fight against the greatest soldier of the day, and who went down fighting.

The Battle of Zafar was fought in late October 632 (late Rajab, 11 Hijri). For a few days Khalid rested his men. Then he gave orders for the march to Butah, to fight Malik bin Nuwaira.

The first phase of the Campaign of the Apostasy ended with the death of Salma. The major tribes of North-Central Arabia which had rebelled against Islam as followers of Tulaiha had now been defeated and subdued, and their leaders were either killed or captured or driven away. No more rebel chieftains raised their heads again in this region.

But one man remained, more of a bandit leader than a tribal chief, who was still causing anxiety to the Muslims. This man's name was Ayas bin Abd Yalil, but he was more commonly known as Al Faja'a. He was an adventurer.

At about the time when Khalid was consolidating his gains at Buzakha, Al Faja'a came to Abu Bakr. "I am a Muslim." he said. "Equip me with weapons and I shall fight the infidels." 1

Abu Bakr was only too glad to hear the offer and equipped him with weapons. The man rode away from Madinah, formed a gang of bandits and began to waylay unwary travellers, many of whom were killed. The gangsters operated in the region lying to the east of Makkah and Madinah, and Muslim and infidel alike suffered at the hands of Al Faja'a.

When Abu Bakr heard of the depredations of Al Faja'a, he decided to make an example of him for the deceit he had practised on the Caliph. He sent a column to get the man alive, and a few days later the brigand was brought to Madinah in irons.

Abu Bakr ordered a large pile of faggots arranged in front of the mosque. When ready, the pile was set on fire. As the wood crackled and the flames rose skywards, Al Faja'a, still in irons, was thrown into the fire!

When Abu Bakr was dying, two years later, he expressed certain regrets. There were, he said, three things that he had done and wished he had not done, and three things that he had not done and wished he had. One of these related to Al Faja'a "I wish", said Abu Bakr, "I had had Al Faja'a killed outright and not burnt alive." 2

1. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 492
2. Ibid: Vol. 2, p. 619; Balazuri: p. 112; Masudi: Muruj, Vol. 2, p. 308.

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