Expedition to Muta
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
had sent Harith Ibn Umayr al-Azdi Radhi Allahu Anhu to deliver
his letter to Rome. Harith was first tied up and then beheaded.
No matter how disagreeable the message of an ambassador was,
it had never been the custom of kings to kill an envoy. The crime
was disgraceful and could not be allowed to go unpunished. The
act had to be avenged with firmness so that no tyrant dared repeat
the crime in future.
First Expedition into Byzantine
The Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
decided to send a detachment to Busra in Jumada-al-Ula, 8 A.H.
A force of three thousand strong was assembled. It was the strongest
force sent out so far and a number of leading Sahabah had enlisted
for active service. But, the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
gave its command to his freed slave Zaid Ibn Haritha Radhi Allahu
Anhu. He also instructed that if Zaid was killed then Ja'far Ibn
Abi Talib Radhi Allahu Anhu would take the command and if he was
also slain then the command would pass on to Abdullah Ibn Rawaha
Radhi Allahu Anhu. The army had to undertake a long and arduous
journey to face an enemy backed by the strongest empire of the
then known world.
The force advanced to Ma'an in Syria
where Zaid Radhi Allahu Anhu came to know that Heraclius was gathering
at Balqa with a hundred thousand Roman troops joined by an equally
strong force drawn from other Arab tribes. The Muslims thought
the situation over. They decided at last to inform the Prophet
Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam about the strength of the enemy. If
he sent reinforcements well and good, otherwise they would face
the enemy as they were, if so ordered.
Abdullah Ibn Rawaha Radhi Allahu
Anhu made a passionate speech encouraging his comrades:
"Men, you dislike the thing,
by Allah, for which you came out - martyrdom! We do not fight
the enemy on the strength of our numbers or our power. We fight
them with the religion we have been honoured with by Allah. So
come on, we shall be gainers both ways. Either we win or we earn
Zaid Ibn Haritha Radhi Allahu Anhu
descended on the enemy and died fighting bravely. The standard
was now taken in hand by Ja'far Radhi Allahu Anhu. He lost his
right hand in the fighting. He took the standard in his left hand
and when it was also cut off, he caught hold of it with his teeth.
He fell down dead in the battlefield after receiving ninety cuts
from swords and spears on his chest, but none in his back. Abdullah
Ibn Rawaha Radhi Allahu Anhu now took command of the troops. He
too fought bravely until he was also killed.
Khalid Radhi Allahu Anhu takes
Khalid Ibn Walid Radhi Allahu Anhu
then took command. The day was done by this time and both forces,
tired by the daylong fight, thought it prudent to stop fighting.
Khalid Radhi Allahu Anhu stationed a part of his force at a distance
from his camp in the darkness of night. At dawn this detachment
of troops started shouting cries of war which gave an impression
to the enemy that fresh reinforcements had arrived from Madinah.
The enemy had had the experience of fighting the small force of
3,000 Muslims the previous day. Now they dared not fight them
again strengthened by additional troops. The Roman soldiery was
disheartened and did not take the field. Muslims were, thus, spared
the trouble of putting up a fight again.
A Glimpse of the Battlefield
While the Muslims were engaged in
fighting the enemy at Muta, the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
was giving a description of the conflict in Madinah. Anas Ibn
Malik Radhi Allahu Anhu relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam announced the death of Zaid, Ja'far and Abdullah Ibn
Rawaha Radhi Allahu Anhum before the report about them reached
Madinah. The Prophet's Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam eyes were flowing
with tears as he spoke. He explained: "Finally one of Allah's
swords (meaning Khalid Ibn Walid Radhi Allahu Anhu) took the standard
till Allah granted them victory." (2)