MUBASHIR IQBAL KITABA
Very soon, another crisis confronted Abu Bakr (RA). On the death of the Prophet of Islam(SAW), a number of pseudo prophets i.e., imposters raised their heads in various parts of Arabia, the outstanding among them being Aswad Asni, Talha of Bani Asad, Musailma, the liar and Sajah, a woman of Yemen. The Caliph gave at Zuhl Qassa eleven banners to equal number of commanders and assigned them various sectors. The expedition against Musailma, the liar, was the toughest and Hazrat Khalid bin Walid (RA), after a bloody battle, routed the enemy. Musailma was killed. According to historian Tabari, “Never did the Muslims fight a more stiff battle.”
After the election of the new Caliph, a large number of tribesmen pleaded with the notables of Islam in Medina to be exempted from the payment of Zakat. The situation looked so gloomy that even a person of the caliber of Hazrat Umar (RA) yielded on the point and counseled Hazrat Abu Bakr(RA), “O Caliph of the Prophet (SAW), be friendly to these people and treat them gently. The Caliph was immensely annoyed at this unexpected exhibition of weakness, and replied indignantly, “ You were so harsh during the days of ignorance, but now you have become so weak. The Divine revelations have been completed and our faith has attained perfection. Now, you want it to be mutilated during my lifetime. I swear by Allah that even if a string is withheld from Zakat, I will fight for it with all the resources at my command”.
The Caliph lived up to his convictions and his integrity and strength of his character preserved the basic precepts of Islam at a very critical juncture of its history. All the punitive expeditions directed against the apostates and rebellious tribesmen successfully terminated by the end of 11 A.H., and the spirit of revolt and dissensions which gripped Arabia was curbed forever.
Free from internal upheavals, the Caliph attended to the external dangers which imperiled the very existence of Islam. Kaiser and Kisra, the two most powerful emperors of the world, were lurking for an opportunity to strike at the very root of the new faith. The Persians, who for centuries ruled over Arabia as overlords, could never tolerate that the Arabs should unite and form themselves into a formidable force. Hurmuz, the tyrant governed Iraq on behalf of the Kisra. His persecution of the Arabs led to the skirmishes which developed into a full blooded war. Nature willed otherwise; the Persians, who in their arrogance, had underrated the power of Muslims, could not stem the tide of their advance and had to retreat from place to place till Iraq fell into the hands of the Arabs. Muthanna, in the beginning, led the Muslim army against the Persians. He earned many laurels against his enemy. He was later on joined by the invincible Khalid bin Walid(RA), known as the Sword of God. The decisive battle against Hurmuz was won by Muslims in which Hurrnuz was killed by Hazrat Khalid (RA) and the Persians were routed with heavy losses. A camel load of chains weighing seven and a half maunds was collected from the battlefield, hence it is known as the Battle of Chains.
Hazrat Khalid bin Walid (RA) who was the Commander of Islamic forces in Iraq, separated the administration of military and civil departments under different heads. Saeed bin Noman (RA) was appointed chief of the military department, while Suwaid bin Maqran (RA) was appointed chief of the civil administration of the conquered area in Iraq. Major portion of Iraq was captured during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) and the Persians had the sad experience of challenging of growing power of Islam. The decisive battle for Iraq was fought between Muslims and Persians during the reign of Hazrat Umar(RA).
Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, who ruled over Syria and Palestine, was the greatest and most powerful enemy of Islam. He had been constantly conspiring with the enemies of Islam in an effort to annihilate it. His intrigues and secret machinations brought about several uprisings of non-Muslim tribes in Arabia. He was a constant danger to Islam. In 9 A.H., the Prophet (SAW) himself had marched against the Romans and the expedition of Usama bin Zaid was also directed against the threatening Romans. Hazrat Abu Bakr dispatched the flower of his army to meet the Romans and divided his forces into four armies placed under the command of Abu Ubaidah (RA), Sharjil bin Hasanah (RA), Yazid bin Sufian (RA) and Amr bin al-Aas(RA) and assigned them different sectors in Syria. The ill-equipped, untrained and numerically inferior army of Islam was no match for the well equipped, well trained and numerically much superior Roman forces. Khalid Bin Waleed (RA) was ordered by the Caliph to join the Muslim forces in Syria and his lightning march through a waterless desert added a memorable chapter to the history of military campaigns.
The opposing forces met on the plain of Yarmuk. The formidable Roman forces comprised more than 3lakh well equipped soldiers, out of which about 80,000 were chained in order to ward off the possibility of retreat. The Muslim army was composed of hardly 46,000 men in all, which, according to the strategic plan of Hazrat Khalid (RA), was broken up into 40 contingents in order to impress its numerical superiority upon the enemy. This memorable battle ended in the crushing defeat of the Romans who retreated, leaving a large number of dead on the battle-field. This decisive victory sealed the fate of Roman rule in Syria. The battle of Yarmuk, whose initial preparations were started during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) was won in the reign of Hazrat Umar (RA).
Hazrat Abu Bakr’s simplicity, honesty and integrity were personified. He sacrificed everything in the service of Islam. He was a prosperous businessman owning more than 40,000 dirham’s in cash when he embraced Islam, but he was a pauper when he died as the First Caliph of Islam.
Abu Bakr(RA) did not abandon his ancestral occupation when he was elected as Caliph and for about six months carried cloth sheets on his shoulders for selling in the markets of Medina. However, his official duties did not leave him much time for his private work; hence he was advised to accept some maintenance allowance. The Assembly of the Muslims fixed a monthly stipend which enabled him to pass the life of an ordinary citizen. He had to deposit his old clothes for replacement by new ones from the Baitul Mal (Public Treasury).
He delighted in doing all his work with his own hands, and never countenanced anyone to share his domestic works. Even if the reins of the camel happened to drop from his hand, he would never ask anyone to hold it for him. He would rather come down and pick it up himself.
Whenever a man praised him in his presence he would say, “O, God! You know me more than myself and I know myself more than these people. Forgive those sins of mine which are not in their knowledge and do not hold me responsible for their praise.”
—The author is a PhD Research Scholar. He can be reached at: [email protected]