Battle of Mutah
In the 8 AH (629 CE), Rasulallah sent out invitation letters to all the rulers of the powerful disbelieving states and the superpowers calling them to Islam. He sent al-Harith bin 'Umair al Azdi, with a letter to the ruler of Busra inviting him to Islam. It was intercepted by Sharhabeel bin Amr al Ghasani, the governor of al-Balqa and a close ally to Herculius, the Roman emperor. Al-Harith was beheaded. This was a declaration of war on Rasulallah who mobilised 3000 men to go and discipline the transgressors. At the time it was the largest Muslim army ever assembled except for the battle of Ahzab.
|"In studying the battles (of Rasulallah) lies the knowledge of this world as well as the akhirah."|
The army of 3000 men made preparations to leave. Al-Nu'man bin Fanhas, a Jewish citizen of the Islamic State, came and stood with the men as Rasulallah was giving them their orders. He said, "Zayd bin Haritha will be commander and if Zayd should be killed, then it will be Ja'far bin Abu Talib. If Jafar is killed, then Abdullah bin Rawahah will be commander. If he should be killed, then the Muslims should choose one from among themselves to appoint over them."
Al-Nu'man then said, "Abu al-Qasim, if you were a prophet and were to name them is such a way, whether few of many in number, they would all be killed. When the prophets of Bani Israil named a commander and then went on to name his successors if he should be killed, then they would all be killed, even if they named a hundred." He told Zayd bin Haritha, "Attend to your affairs. For you will never return, if Muhammad is a Prophet.' Zayd replied, "I do testify that he is a prophet, a man of truth and piety; may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him."
|One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihad died the death of a hypocrite|
As the men were bidding farewell to the Muslims, Abdullah bin Rawahah (ra) started to weep. When people asked him why, he replied, "By Allah! It is not for my love for this life or my affection for you; I heard Rasulallah reciting the ayah in Allah's Kitab which mentions the hellfire and says:
|And there is not one of you but shall come to it; this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord which must be accomplished|
Abdullah b Rawaha, explained; "I do not know how I will be able to escape from it once I've gone into it." The Muslims then said to him, "May Allah accompany you and protect you and return you all to us in safety." Abdullah b Rawahah replied to this in poetry: "But I ask ar-Rahman for forgiveness, and a large wound that bleeds profusely. Or a spear from a warrior armed with one that goes through my intestines and my liver, So that it will be said when people pass by my grave, 'Allah gave him guidance as a warrior, and he behaved well'"
The army left before the time of Salat-ul-Jummah. Abdulllah bin Rawahah stayed behind and went to the Masjid. Rasulallah asked him, “What keeps you back?” He answered “I wanted to attend the Jummah Salah with you.” He replied “To go forth (to battle) in the morning or the evening is better than the world and all inside it” or in another narration, “Were you to spend all there is on the earth you would not attain their departure.”
The 3000 strong army of Zayd proceeded and camped at Ma'an in Syria. There news reached them that the Roman Emperor, Heraclius, had encamped nearby with a force of 100,000 Romans and with them was a 'coalition of the willing' of another 100,000 from other countries. The Muslims camped at Ma'an for two days to discuss the matter. Some of them said "We should send a message to Rasulallah and tell him of the size of our enemy force. He will then either reinforce us or give us some order we can carry out."
Abdullah bin Rawahah, did not accept that, he encouraged his brothers by saying - "Men, what you dislike is what you have come forth to seek - shuhadah (martyrdom)!. We are not fighting by means of our numbers or strength; we are combating them only with our Deen by which Allah has honoured us. Go forth, it will only result in one of two good outcomes - victory or martyrdom!" By this the army was encouraged and they went forward to the battle.
Clearly Abdullah bin Rawahah was enthused and determined to fight in the cause of Allah - On the way to battle, Abdullah bin Rawahah spoke out in a poem which included the following verse, "Many a contented woman our spears rendered divorced, Women who can remarry or stay widowed!"
Abdullah bin Rawahah, had taken with him, on this journey, Zayd bin Arqam, an orphan who was living in his care. Zayd bin Arqam, who had been riding in Abdullah's saddlebag, narrated that at night he heard Abdullah bin Rawahah recite the following lines of verse; " … The Muslims having come will leave me in Syria where I long to stay … There I will not worry about plants sprouting, nor about palm trees whose roots need water."
Zayd bin Arqam (ra) said "When I heard these words from him I began to cry and he tapped me and said, 'Why be sad, silly boy, why be sad if Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) grants me martyrdom and you ride home on your own saddle?'" [i.e. you will not have to share]
The eagerness Abdullah bin Rawahah and his companions had for martyrdom and the mentality with which they marched forth to the battle in Syria. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) the Highest Majesty put them to test as he surely will put us to test. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) tested Abdullah bin Rawahah to see if he would back up his words and enthusiasm with action, patience and perseverance.
The army advanced to the outskirts of al-Balqa. There they were met by the Roman and coalition troops of Heraclius, at one of the villages of al-Balqa called Mushaarif. The enemy advanced and the Muslims arranged their forces to meet the enemy in two flanks.
The noble companion Abu Hurrayrah (ra) narrated; "I was present at the battle of Mutah when the kuffar approached, we saw such equipment, weapons, horses, brocade, silk and gold as no one ever before witnessed! I was dazzled. Thabit b Arqam said to me, 'Abu Hurayrah, don't you think that's a huge force?' 'Yes' I replied, 'But you were not present at Badr with us, superiority in numbers would not defeat us'"
The forces then engaged and the battle commenced. Zayd bin Haritha took the banner. Rasulallah told us that Satan came to him making life seem good to him and death hateful, making life on earth attractive to him. He said "Now that Iman is firmly planted in the hearts of the believers, would you make life on earth seem good to me?" He then fought with phenomenal courage and heroism unmatched, bearing the banner of Rasulallah , until he perished amidst the enemy spears that ripped his body when he assaulted the enemy. In this way he set a blazing example for those who followed, May Allah be pleased with Zayd bin Haritha and let him be a real role model for the Muslim soldiers fighting in the battlefields.
Ja'far (ra) then picked up the banner and fought with bravery. We learn from this that the Muslims commanders fight from the front rather than the back of the army. Ja'far held the banner in his right hand which was cut off. Even then he took it in his left hand and continued battle until that too and was cut off.
Then with incredible courage and unfailing faith, he hugged the banner to himself with his bleeding upper arms. Facing death and in defiance of his enemies he then hamstrung his horse, launching himself into the enemy until his body was cut in two by the Romans, while he was reciting the lines,
"Hail to paradise approaching, its waters fine and cool. The punishment of the Romans is near, unbelievers of doubtful decent. It is up to me to strike them when we clash"
It is said that Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) has rewarded Ja'far for his valour by giving him two wings in Jannah with which he could fly wherever he wished. Ibn Umar (ra) said that on that day he stood over the body of Ja'far and he had 50 wounds made by spears or swords and none of them were in his back. This Warrior of Allah only advanced and did not retreat. May Allah be pleased with Ja'far, the one who has two wings, and make our courage and bravery like his.
When Ja'far was killed, Abdullah bin Rawahah took up the banner and advanced with it, on his horse. Then he began to waver and to hesitate and so he spoke the following verses to himself;
"I swear, my soul, that you will indeed do battle or be forced to do battle. Even though the men are shouting and screaming, why is It I see you hating paradise? For long you have been at ease; are you anything but a drop of liquid inside a skin bag?" My soul, even if you are not killed you'll die anyway; This is the fate of death you are exposed to. What you hoped for has been given to you; if you do what they both did, you will have been well directed" [referring to his two companions Zayd and Ja'far].
Then he dismounted and his cousin came up carrying a meat bone saying "Take strength from this, you have suffered much recently". He took it and took a bite out of it. Then he heard a great commotion among the fighting men. He asked himself "are you still alive?", then he threw away the bone, took up his sword and advanced, fighting until he was killed. May Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) be pleased with Abdullah bin Rawahah. From this we learn a very great lesson indeed. A lesson which is even more pertinent today as we live in times when the Islamic culture is not dominant in the society in which we live. Let us reflect upon the actions of Abdullah bin Rawahah one of the greatest companions of Rasulallah . Let us ask Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'aala) that He grant us the amazing ability to reconcile all our fears and hesitation with the Islamic culture regarding every action that we set out to perform.
|Zayd bin Haritha took the banner and fought with it until he was martyred. Ja’far then took it and fought, bearing it until he was martyred,” after that Rasulallah (saw) became silent and the faces of the Ansar changed as they wondered whether there was anything terrible about Abdullah bin Rawahah. Then he said, “Abdullah bin Rawahah has taken it now and fought until martyrdom. They have been raised up to heaven – I saw in a vision – upon couches of gold. I noticed that the couch of Abdullah bin Rawahah was slanting away from those of his companions and I asked ‘Why is this?’ I was told, ‘They went straight ahead, whereas Abdullah bin Rawahah hesitated somewhat before proceeding’.|
|one of the Swords of Allah took it (the banner) until Allah gave them victory.|
He was referring to the noble companion and military genius, Khalid bin Walid (ra). This was the first time that Khalid (ra), who had recently converted to Islam, was called the Sword of Allah (Sayfullah). Khalid bin Walid said, "At the battle of Mutah, nine swords were broken in my hand, I finally held only a Yemeni broad-sword."
When the banner fell from Abdullah bin Rawahah, Thabit ibn Arqam picked it up and cried, "O Muslims, do rally around one man," remembering Rasulallah's command to elect another and the importance of being united under a General. That General was Khalid bin Walid who rallied his fighters around him.
When Khalid (ra) took the banner he did not engage the enemy again that night. During the night, Khalid ibn al-Walid (ra) drew up a shrewd withdrawal plan having realised the magnitude of the enemy's army compared to the meagre numbers left to him. Following his carefully drawn up plan, next morning, he attacked. Soldiers at the rear made a calamitous noise and he exchanged the forces of the left and the right flanks. Then enemy were no longer familiar with their banners and disposition, and in conjuncture with the noise of his rearguard, believing them to have been re-enforced, were frightened and refrained from attacking the Muslims, they were even elated when Khalid did not attack them. Then Khalid withdrew and took his troops back to Madinah, not victorious, nor defeated, but having achieved quite a considerable feat.
The leaders of this battle all knew they were marching against a formidable force who outnumbered them in manpower and technology, yet they fought heroically, not deserting the battlefield, nor turning their backs for worldly gain. By this, the honour of the Muslims and Islam was safeguarded. The proof of this was when Rasulallah returned to fight the Romans in the battle of Tabuk. When the Romans considered how the small band of Muslims had fought and that now they were greater in force and the Messenger of Allah was amongst them, their hearts were filled with fear and they retreated giving the Muslims a bloodless victory against the worlds leading superpower of the time.