The Honesty at Yarmouk

YarmoukThe green valley of Yarmouk, with its large river and lush vegetation, is a place unknown and forgotten. Yet, it was here that we see the army of Islam display such valour and heroism that even those who disbelieved were reduced to tears when witnessing the honesty of the Muslims. 

The year was 15 AH wherein Syria was ruled by the Roman emperor Heraclius, who on learning about the Muslims entering Syria became extremely frustrated. He failed to understand how an inferior army of the Muslims could challenge the mighty Roman Empire. However, indeed it was a man of his own kingdom who understood the reasons behind the victory of the Muslims. He explained:

“The morals of the Muslims are superior to ours. They pray at night and fast during the day. They do not oppress anyone. They regard themselves equal to others. We drink liquor, indulge in evil, do not keep our promises and oppress others. The result is that they are firm and enthusiastic in their ventures and we are weak and lax in what we do.”

The words of this man, who by no means was a Muslim, drove anger into the heart of Heraclius and he decided that he would never allow the Muslim army to get away from his clutches. He would swallow them like the tide when it comes in, taking everything and leaving nothing behind.

With this great rage, Heraclius sent his brother Tadharaq to lead the great army of 240,000 troops against the poorly equipped 3,000 Muslims. Heraclius’ army was both trained and well equipped, however this was fruitless without passion, and passion came from the Muslims – passion for Allah, passion for the Prophet (peace be upon him) and passion for the religion. The candle of faith was alive in the hearts of the Muslims. Their trust in Allah and love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) exceeded their love for worldly possessions, so much so that for them, even the entire force of Heraclius’ army would not cause them to grieve.

However, times did look bleak and the Muslims had to prepare for the worst. It was during this period, that Abu Ubaidah (May Allah be pleased with him) held mashwara (consultation) with the army. For every Muslim that was fighting, a force eight times greater was opposing him. It was therefore decided that the entire amount that the Jews and Christians had paid to the Muslims as Jizyah would be refunded back to them. Jizyah is a tax paid by the non-Muslims for protection. However protection could no longer be guaranteed. The honesty and trustworthiness shown by the Muslims brought tears to the inhabitants of Yarmouk, and on this day, the streets of Yarmouk were drowned by the sorrow of seeing such a civilised and great people leaving their vicinity. Yet Allah loves the honest, and as the Prophet (peace be upon him) has stated: “Remember, there is no faith in him who is not trustworthy; there is no place for him in religion who cares not for his pledged word or promise.”

The time drew close, and the two armies met. The situation was tense and each soldier was on guard. The Romans began by attempting to bribe the Muslim army,

Vahan: “We know that it is hardship and hunger that have brought you out of your lands. We will give every one of your men ten dinars, clothing and food if you return to your lands, and next year we will send you a similar amount.”

Yet this was immediately rejected by Khalid bin Waleed who said,

“Actually, what brought us out of our lands is that we are a people who drink blood, and it has reached us that there is no blood tastier than Roman blood.” He then offered the Romans to accept Islam and pay the Jizyah, or settle on the sword.
{Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah,  Vol. 7 P. 14}

The arrogance of the Romans prevented them from accepting the light of guidance and they opted for the sword. However, amongst their midst stood a man who desired to learn about such an impressive religion – a religion that turned men who used to bury girls alive to those who displayed outstanding characteristics. He was Jurjah bin Budhiyah, a Roman general. After listening to Khalid bin Waleed (May Allah be pleased with him), he immediately accepted the truth and decided to side with the Muslim army. Thereafter, he fought against the Romans with such courage and valour that only a strong believer in the truth could produce such results. He finally fell as a martyr.

It was the Romans who had made the first move, with an attack by 40,000 soldiers, which the Muslim army immediately countered. The fight had begun: swords were striked, daggers swept from right to left, and arrows flew overhead. The Muslims called to Allah, and the words of Surah Al-Anfaal were recited to inspire the Muslim forces. Martial songs were sung to encourage the army and even women joined the masses, proving their worth as Mujaahidahs. The Muslims fought with such zeal and passion that the Romans began to retreat. The Romans were up against not humans, but the army of Allah, and no power invested in them could challenge such an army.

It is in Yarmouk that we witness the bravery of the fighters for Islam. Khalid bin Waleed, Abu Ubaidah bin Jarrah, Shurabil bin Hasana, Yazid bin Abu Sufyan, Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Qa’qa bin Amr, Abu Sufyan, Abud-Darda, Amr bin ‘As, Harith bin Dirar and Jurjah bin Budhiyah (May Allah be pleased with them all) were at the forefront of the battle. Their heroic acts and abilities were beyond comparison as their swords swiped across in the blink of an eye.

To prevent the Romans from escaping, the generals were forced to chain their soldiers together. Day turned to night, yet the fighting continued. The Romans were failing, exhausted and tired; yet the spirit of Islam had not received even a dent. Fatigue and frustration settled into the midst of the Roman army, which continued to retreat until their backs were pushing against the mountain. Many soldiers then fell into the river, while others were killed, including Tadharaq. The result of truth versus falsehood was that 3,000 Muslims became martyrs and 100,000 Romans were destroyed. Amongst the Muslims who had been honoured with martyrdom were: Jurjah bin Bhudiyah, Ikrimah bin Abu Jahl, Amr bin Ikirimah, Salamah bin Hisham, Amr bin Saeed, Aban bin Saeed, Hisham bin Al-Aas, Habbar bin Sufyan and Tufail bin Amr (May Allah be pleased with them all).

Mark Walton says:

“Although Battle of Yarmouk is little known today, it is one of the most decisive battles in human history. If it wasn’t for Khalid and had Heraclius’ forces prevailed, the modern world would be so changed as to be unrecognisable.”

This battle was a victory for the Muslims – a victory achieved by their trust in Allah. Verily, Allah does not fail those who believe in Him. The honesty and trustworthiness in the Muslims’ dealings and their desire to become martyrs for Islam were strong enough to resist even one of the most well-equipped and well-known armies in the world. Victory is strength, but not the strength of money or armour; rather it is the strength of the passion in one’s heart.

Napoléon Bonaparte (d. 1821 CE) says about Khalid ibn al-Waleed (d. 642 CE):

‎”It could only be Khalid who thought to fight against Romans at that time and he was a great warrior whose name bacame a terror in the castles of Rome.”

Courtesy of Raeesa Nurani, sunniforum.com – the quotes were my addition

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