Khalid ibn Walid R.A (592-642) also known as Sword of Allah (Saifullah). He is noted for his military prowess, commanding the forces of Prophet Muhammad SAWW and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Caliph Abu Bakr R.A and Caliph Umar R.A during the Islamic conquest in 7th century.
It is reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, ‘The better ones of you in the Days of Ignorance are the better ones of you in Islam when they understand (the religion).” These wise words of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) were best proved in the case of our hero today, Khalid ibn AI-Waleed. For, it was Khalid ibn Walid who managed to cause the defeat of the Muslim army at Uhud,??before his conversion t o Islam.
After his acceptance of the Faith , Khalid ibn AI-Waleed was the champion of many a decisive battle in favour of Islam, such as the battle against Musaylimah the Imposter and the battle of Yarmauk against the Roman Empire’s army in Syria.
In fact , the reader of history will find that Khalid ibn Al-Waleed was a military strategist and commander with very few equals in human history, a man who turned many a defeat or near defeat into glorious victories, as well shall see in the few examples we will be quoting.
The first military encounter in which our hero showed his genius was the Battle of Uhud, which he (while a polytheist) caused to be the worst for Muslims in the early days of Islam. This battle was initiated by the Makkan polytheists in revenge for their defeat at the Battle of Badr, where more than thousand of them were defeated by only a little over three hundred Muslims fighters.
In the Battle of Uhad, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) placed a group of archers on a nearby hill to give protection to the back of the Muslim army with specific instructions not to leave their posts under any circumstances. However, when the battle proved initially to be in favour of the Muslim army, the archers forgot the orders of their commander and left their positions. At this juncture, the military genius of Khalid ibn Walid (R.A) ? led him to take a band of fighters with him around the hill and attack the Muslim army from the rear, where they least expected their enemy; hence, the loss on the part of the Muslims became a great one. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was wounded and his uncle Hamzah (may Allāh be pleased with him) killed, along with many other distinguished companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
In the eighth year after the Hijra. one day Khalid ibn AI-Waleed sat pondering on the new religion (Islam). He kept saying to himself, “The message is fast spreading, and the man is certainly a Messenger. What am I waiting for? For how long shall I postpone my conversion to Islam?” He wished for a companion to travel with him to Madinah, and he found two others who had the same thought. When Khalid arrived at Madinah and announced his acceptance of the Faith of Islam, the first thing he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was to pray to Allah to forgive him for his earlier aggression against Islam and the Muslims.
The Prophet told him that conversion to Islam meant that all his past sins were forgiven by Almighty Allah. Nevertheless, at the insistence of the sincerely repenting Khalid. the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) prayed for him to be forgiven for whatever he had done to Islam and the Muslims
before his conversion to Islam.
With Khalid Ibn Walid joining the camp of believers he found the honourable cause to fight for, and the believers gained a true military genius who was both an excellent strategist and a fierce fighter and army commander. The first battle in which Khalid won the day for Muslims was the Muslims’ first encounter with the Byzantine army in the Battle of Mu’tah on the Northern borders of the Arabian Peninsula. Due to the dangerous nature of the battle, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) chose three commanders to succeed one another.
The reason for sending these fighters was that the Byzantine rulers in the Syrian region had killed some Muslim missionaries and converts to Islam; thus, proving their hostility not only to the Faith, but also, and even worse, to the principle of freedom of belief which Islam considers to be the most important cause for which a believer should fight and stand. The Byzantine army proved to be too large in number in comparison with the small number of the Muslims. Yet, the Muslim army never hesitated to enter the battle (everyone hoping to find his way to Paradise and the Pleasure of Allah through martyrdom).
The three commanders were killed, and the banner was about to fall on the ground when Thabit ibn AI-Arqam rushed to save it; he took it to our hero Khalid Ibn Walid (may Allāh be pleased with him), telling him that he gave it to him because he was more knowledgeable in matters of war. In the beginning Khalid refused because he felt Thabit was more worthy of leading the army due to his age and service to Islam. But he accepted at Thabit’s insistence and the unanimous consent of the fighters. We mentioned that the battle was not in favour of the Muslims, due to the huge number of the Byzantines and the death of the three commanders appointed by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).
The only way to save the day was to retreat, but that was almost impossible, since the Muslim army was surrounded. It was here that we see the Genius of Khalid ibn AI-Waleed at Work.
For, despite the extreme difficulty of the situation, he reshuffled the right and left flanks of the Muslim army and introduced forward a division from the rear in order to cast fear in the hearts of the disbelieves who then thought that fresh reinforcements had arrived. Though clever planning and courageous fighting, Khalid managed to make an opening within the lines of the enemy through which the Muslim army managed to get out safely. We are told in Sahih Al-Bukhari that our hero used seven swords that all broke in that battle.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), who was then in Madinah, was talking to his companions when he received the revelation about what was going on in the battle, and he informed them of the death of the three commanders. “Then,” he said, “a sword of Allah took hold of the banner and saved the day.” Thus, it was that our hero Khalid ibn AI-Waleed was given the title of Sayf-ul-llah. ‘The Sword of Allah.’
Upon the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) was elected successor to the Prophet. The first crisis that met the new Caliph was that of mass apostasy and the apostates in the Peninsula. It is true that many people did not reject the Faith, but they only refused to pay Zakat. To Abu Bakr??(may Allāh be pleased with him) that was the same as rejecting the Faith because paying Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam. There also appeared imposters who claimed prophet hood like Musaylimah.
The crisis was a great one indeed, and the Muslim community was in the danger of annihilation, without a swift and decisive action on the part of the Caliph. So Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) formed an army which he wanted to lead himself, were it not for the insistence of the leaders of the community that he stayed at the capital, Madinah. He divided the army into eleven divisions with a commander for each. One of those divisions was put under the command of our hero Khalid ibn Walid, who won all the battles entered by his army. But the most dangerous to be met with was that in which the Muslims had to fight Musaylimah the Imposter and the Liar, who formed the largest army of apostates. The Caliph chose Khalid for the assignment of fighting Musaylimah. In the beginning, a large number of the Muslims were killed. Seeing that. Khalid went up to the top of a nearby hill and studied the situation to discover the weak spots of the enemy. He then re-organized his army.
The battle raged furiously and Musaylimah was killed. With that Khalid finished off the danger of apostasy and apostates in the Arabian Peninsula.
But this was only the beginning of the many tasks which Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) assigned to our hero and which he successfully carried out. For, from experience and with his foresight, Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) knew that the two hostile empires on the borders of the Peninsula had to be confronted and tamed. There was no better man for the job than our hero. Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) gave orders to Khalid ibn AI-Waleed to proceed to Iraq (which was then a part of the Persian Empire), which he liberated for its people who were subjugated by the Persians. To the Roman Empire Abu Bakr??(may Allāh be pleased with him) sent armies under the command of distinguished companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) such as Abu ‘Obaidahh ibn Al-Jarrah and ‘Amr ibn AI-‘As. But the Roman Empire prepared a huge army whose news was sent to Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him).
His answer was that Khalid ibn Walid (RA), who was ordered to go to Syria to take charge. However, with his intelligence and experience, Khalid Ibn Walid realized that the former commanders might not be happy with that decision of the Caliph. So he suggested that he, along with others, take command by rotation. After a careful analysis of the situation and a study of his enemy, Khalid laid down a very careful strategy. Since the Muslim army was outnumbered and the Romans were better equipped and experienced (there were also many new converts from the region” Khalid Ibn Walid was afraid that a couple of soldiers might try fleeing, which would have a devastating effect on the morals of his army. To avoid such a situation Khalid ordered that Muslim women be armed too and wait in the rear. They were given orders to kill anyone who might attempt to flee from the battle, something which is considered treachery and a major sin in Islam. The battle was a very fierce one, but with their unlimited faith and conviction and with their thirst for martyrdom the Muslims fought fearlessly, to the extent that with a band of only 100 fighters Khalid faced a whole division of many thousand Roman soldiers.
The genius of Khalid ibn Walid fascinated many Roman commanders, which led one of them at a lull of the fight to call out for Khalid. When he met him he asked, “Khalid. tell me the truth. Is it true that the Almighty has sent down a sword from Heaven to His Prophet, and he gave to you, and that no one can stand it?” Khalid could have used the occasion to frighten his enemy, but instead he told the truth and said, “No.” Then he explained how he came to be called the Sword of God. The Roman commander asked, “What are your preaching?” Khalid replied,: “We preach the worship of one God.” the Roman asked, “Will a convert today have the same reward from Allah like you?” to which Khalid answered, “Yes, and More.” “How come” inquired the Roman. “when in fact you joined the faith before him?” Khalid Ibn Walid answered, “We lived in the life-time of Muhammad (sa/la-Uaahu ‘a/ayhi we-settemi, and we saw his signs and miracles. It was very easy for someone like that to accept Islam and believe in its Messenger. As for you, you have not seen or heard the Prophet, but you believe in him in absentia. So your reward with Allah should be greater if you are sincere.” The Roman commander went next to Khalid ibn Walid ” and asked him to teach him Islam. He joined the faith and fought along the Muslim army only to die as a martyr In the Cause of Allah.
The heroic nature of Khalid Ibn Walid is revealed in another manner in this famous battle of Yarmouk. For in the midst of that critical battle Khalid received a letter in which he was informed of the death of Abu Bakr (may Allāh be pleased with him) and the instructions of the new Caliph that he make Abu Obaidahh in charge. To Avoid any possible confusion in the army, Khalid Ibn Walid kept the matter in secrecy until victory was achieved. He then went to Abu Obaidahh to put himself under his command. To Khalid it made no difference whether he was in command or a soldier as long as the was fighting for the sake of Almighty Allah.
In having the distinction of being undefeated in over a hundred battles against the numerically superior forces of the Byzantine Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire, and their allies, he is regarded as one of the finest military commanders in history.
Quotes of Khalid ibn Walid (R.A)
“Do you see a space of the span of a hand on my leg, chest, arm which is not covered by some scar of the wound of a sword or an arrow or a lance?”
Said this to one of his friend few days before he died, four years after dismissal from army.
“If you were in the clouds, Allah would raise us to you or lower you to us for battle.”
Said this to the Byzantine troops when they retreated from the battle field to the fortified town of Chalcis.
“When I am in the battlefield, I love it more then when I am in my house.”
“The rainy night when I am standing wearing armor with sword and shield in my hand and looking again and again towards the eastern horizon, waiting for sun to rise so that I could start the battle.”
Said this after getting dismissed from army by Caliph Umar in 638 A.D.
“Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizya, and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.”
This letter was writen by Khalid to Persian Governor of Mesopotamia before invading it.
“When Allah decides a matter, it is done.”
“I have dedicated my life to the way of Allah, Most High.”
“Man intends one thing, but Allah intends another.”
“The earth destroys its fools, but the intelligent destroy the earth.”
“If you are truthful you will survive. If you lie you shall perish.”
“I am the noble warrior, I am the Sword of Allah, I am Khalid bin Al Waleed.”
These were the famous verses that Khalid use to recite in the battle field.
“I am the son of many chiefs. My sword is sharp and terrible. It is the mightiest of things When the pot of war boils fiercely.”
“I am the pillar of Islam! I am the Companion of the Prophet! I am the noble warrior, Khalid bin Al Waleed!”
“I will give you three days, if the gates are not opened on these revised terms, I shall attack. And then there shall be no terms of any kind.”
“I am the son of Al Walid ! Will anyone duel?”
“By my faith, the water will go to whichever army is more steadfast and more deserving.”
Said this before the decisive Battle of Walaja, when Muslim army ran short of water.
“O Lord! If you give us victory, I shall see that no enemy warrior is left alive until their river runs with their blood!”
Said this during Battle of Ullais which is also known as Battle of blood river.
“At Battle of Mu’tah I broke nine swords in my hand. But I have never met an enemy like the Persians. And among the Persians I have never met an enemy like the army of Battle of Ullais.”
Gave tribute to the brave Persian soldiers after the bloody Battle of Ullais.
“Wait a while; there will come to you mounts, carrying lions in shining armor, battalions followed by battalions.”
Wrote this letter to Ayaz bin Ghanam who asked him for reinforcement while fighting against the rebel Arab tribes in northern Arabia.
“I see that these people know nothing about war.”
Said this about Persian and Christian Arab recruits in Persian army after analysing the siege of An al Tamar in Iraq.
“We shall take this route; let not your resolve be weakened. Know that the help of Allah comes according to your desire. Let not the Muslims fear anything so long as they have the help of Allah.”
Said this when one of his commander tried to stop him from taking a dangerous rout direct to Syria from Iraq through Syrian desert and said that ..You cannot take this route with an army. By Allah, even a lone traveler would attempt it at the peril of his life. It involves five days of extreme hardship without a drop of water and the ever-present danger of losing the way.
“But for the necessity of obeying the orders of the Caliph, I would never have accepted this command over you. You are much higher than me in Islam. I am a Companion of the Prophet, but you are one whom the Messenger of Allah had called ‘the trusted one of this nation.”
Said this to Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah while taking over from him the command of Muslim army in Syria, in reply Abu Ubaidah said… I have received with gladness the letter of Abu Bakr appointing you commander over me. There is no resentment in my heart, for I know your skill in matters of war.
“Take her as a gift, there shall be no ransom. ”
Said this while handing over the daughter of Emperor Heraclius who was captured after Battle of Maraj al debaj in which Heraculus’s son-in-law Thomas, was killed in duel with Khalid. Heraclius wrote following letter to Khalid…
“I have come to know what you have done to my army. You have killed my son-in-law and captured my daughter. You have won and got away safely. I now ask you for my daughter. Either return her to me on payment of ransom or give her to me as a gift, for honour is a strong element in your character’.”
“Praise be to Allah who decreed death upon Abu Bakr, who was more beloved to me than Umar. Praise be to Allah who gave authority to Umar, who was less beloved to me than Abu Bakr, and compelled me to love him.”
Said this some time before his death, Caliph Abu Bakr made him commander in chief of army. while Caliph Umar dismissed Khalid from army. Though relations of Khalid with his cousin Umar always remained something short of cordial, but magnificent and just rule of Umar impressed Khalid a lot and he on his death bequeathed his property to `Umar and made him the executor of his will and estate.
“May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr! Had he lived, I would not have been removed from command.”
Said this on the death of [w:Abu Bakr|Caliph Abu Bakr, when his successor Caliph Umar dismissed Khalid from command and made Abu Ubaidah, the new commander in chief.
“If Abu Bakr is dead and Umar is Caliph, then we hear and obey.”
Said this After the death of Abu Bakr.
“By Allah, if you were to appoint a small child over me, I would obey him. How could I not obey you when you are far above me in Islam and have been named the Trusted One by the Prophet? I could never attain your status. I declare here and now that I have dedicated my life to the way of Allah, Most High.”
Said this to Abu Ubaidah, after being removed from command by Caliph Umar for no reason.
“These Romans were the bravest that I had ever met.”
Gave tribute to the Byzantine soldiers after winning Battle of Emesa.
“How few are the Romans and how numerous are we ! ‘An army’s strength lies not in numbers of men but in Allah’s help, and its weakness lies in being forsaken by Allah”
Said this to one of his soldier at Battle of Yarmouk who said that ..How numerous are the Romans and how few are we.
“I protest to the Muslims against what you have done. By Allah, you have been unjust to me, O Umar!”
Said this to Caliph Umar who dismissed him from army in 638.
Caliph Umar RA removed Khaled bin Walid R.A from the army because Umar R.A is afraid that people might start to think that Khalid R.A is the cause of victory and might forget that victory come from Allah SWT.
“Umar appointed me over Syria until it turned to wheat and honey; then dismissed me!”
Said this to his wife after being removed from army.
“Praise be to Allah who took Abu Bakr R.A away. He was dearer to me than Umar R.A. Praise be to Allah who appointed Umar R.A in authority He was hateful to me, but I grew to like him.”
“And here I am, dying in my bed, like cattle die. May the eyes of cowards never sleep.”