10 September 2021
Men of Excellence: Hazrat Umarra ibn al-Khattab
After reciting the tashahud, ta‘awuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa stated:
Accounts during the Khilafat of Hazrat Umarra were being narrated, as well as the battles that were fought during that time.
From the books of history, we come to know that during the time of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, Damascus was besieged for several months and that Muslims gained victory in this battle a short while after his demise. Nevertheless, as the details of this battle correspond to the era of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, they will be presented when narrating the accounts of Hazrat Abu Bakrra, insha-Allah.
I will mention the incidents that took place following the conquest of Damascus. After conquering Damascus, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra sent Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid on another expedition to Beqa‘. Beqa‘ is a large area comprising of many towns, situated between Damascus, Baalbek and Homs. After gaining victory here, he sent a contingent ahead.
An argument broke out between the Byzantines and this contingent over a fountain called “Maisanun”, which resulted in a fight. Coincidentally, a Byzantine by the name of Sinan, was successful in attacking the Muslims from the other side of Beirut and martyred a large number of Muslims. Beirut was a well-known coastal town in the Levant. As such, this fountain was attributed to these martyrs and was called ‘Ain al-Shuhada [Fountain of the martyrs].
Abu Ubaidah appointed Yazid bin Abi Sufyan as his representative in Damascus, who subsequently sent Dihyah bin Khalifa with an expedition to Tadmur (Palmyra) in order to pave the way for victory. Tadmur is an ancient and well-known town in Syria, located at a distance of five days from Aleppo. The Yazid that is being mentioned here is the son of Hazrat Abu Sufyan.
Similarly, Abu Zahra Qushairi was sent to Bathaniyyah and Hawwarin, but the people there agreed to enter into a treaty. Bathaniyyah is the name of a town near Damascus. Hawran was a large area in Damascus, which consisted of many towns and agricultural land. Aside from Tiberias, the capital of Jordan [the name of a province at the time] Shurahbilra bin Hasanah conquered the entire country through battle, as war was imposed on him and the people of Tiberias agreed to a treaty. Hazrat Khalidra also returned victorious from Beqa‘. The people of Baalbek accepted the treaty and he wrote an oath with them. (Sayyiduna Umar bin al-Khattabra Shakhsiyyat aur kar namey, Muhammad Salabi,p. 730, Maktabah al-Furqan, Khangarh) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 1, p. 623, 557, 402) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2, p. 20, 364)
According to books of history, Baalbek is an ancient town and located at a distance of three days travel from Damascus. (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 1, pp. 537-538)
The term “distance of days” means the distance one would cover in a day by the means of transport of that era; that is by camel or horse.
Fahl is the name of a place, which was conquered in 14 AH. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra wrote to Hazrat Umarra saying:
“I have come to know that Heraclius is in Homs and dispatching his armies towards Damascus. However, it is difficult for me to decide whether I should first attack Damascus, or Fahl.” Fahl is the name of a place in the Levant.
In reply to this, Hazrat Umarra wrote:
“You should first attack Damascus and conquer it, as it is the main fortress of Syria and the headquarters. Along with this, you should also send a cavalry contingent towards Fahl, which will not allow them [the Byzantines] to advance towards you. If Fahl is conquered before Damascus then so be it, but if not, then conquer Damascus, and then leave a small portion of your army there and take all your commanders with you and head towards Fahl. If Allah the Almighty grants victory over Fahl at your hands then you and Khalid should head towards Homs and you should send Shurahbil and Amr towards Jordan and Palestine.”
As soon as Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra received the letter from Hazrat Umarra, he sent 10 commanders, of which the most prominent was Abu al-A‘war Sulmi, to Fahl, and he himself accompanied Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid to Damascus. When the Byzantine armies saw the Muslim forces approaching, they flooded their surroundings with water from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, causing the terrain to become like a marsh which was difficult to traverse. (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], pp. 194-195, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore) (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, p. 114, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 4, p. 268)
Nonetheless, owing to this, the forces Heraclius sent as reinforcements to Damascus were also prevented from reaching their destination. Due to the flooding, all pathways were blocked, yet the Muslims remained steadfast. After witnessing the determination of the Muslims, the Christians agreed to a truce and sent word to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra to send a representative. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra appointed Hazrat Muazra bin Jabal for this.
Hazrat Muazra bin Jabal presented the Islamic teachings to the enemy, but they were not willing to accept it. Among other things, the Byzantines proposed to Hazrat Muazra that if the Muslims were to retreat from this country and attack Persia instead, they could take the province of Balqa and other land in Jordan adjacent to Muslim territory, but they were to leave from there. They themselves initially prepared an army, but after sensing defeat, they offered this proposal.
Hazrat Muazra declined their offer and returned, while the Byzantines requested to speak with Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra directly. Therefore, a special emissary was sent to the Muslim encampment.
When he arrived there, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra was seated on the ground, examining arrows. The messenger thought that the commander-in-chief would be distinguishable owing to his grandeur and opulence, but everyone he saw looked the same [in rank]. Finally, after some hesitation, he asked as to who the commander was. The people indicated towards Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra which left him astonished. He addressed Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra in shock and asked if in fact he was the commander. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra answered in the affirmative. The emissary said that they would offer each and every Muslim soldier two gold coins if they were to retreat. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra rejected the offer, upon which the messenger became infuriated and returned.
Upon seeing the messenger’s hostile attitude, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra commanded the Muslim army to get ready and wrote to Hazrat Umarra mentioning everything that had happened. Hazrat Umarra gave permission to advance forward as the Byzantine forces continued to gather and encouraged the Muslims to remain steadfast and that God would come to their aid. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra had given the command to ready the forces that very day, but the Byzantine forces did not confront them. Again, the next day, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid went out to the battlefield with a contingent of horsemen.
The Byzantine army was also prepared and a battle ensued. After witnessing the resolve of the Muslims, the Byzantines thought it pointless to prolong the battle and wanted to retreat. Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid proclaimed that the Byzantines had used up their strength and now it was the turn of the Muslims to strike. With this, the Muslims launched a sudden assault and the Byzantines suffered defeat.
The Christians were delaying the battle in the hope for reinforcements. But Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid understood their scheme. He informed Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra that the Byzantines had become overwhelmed and it was the best time to launch an attack. Therefore, it was announced immediately that an attack would be launched the following day and the army should prepare.
In the last quarter of the night, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra assembled his forces. At that time, the Byzantine forces were approximately 50,000 in number. Two historians who have written on the life of Hazrat Umarra – Haykal and Sallabi – have also reported this army to be 80,000 to 100,000 in number. Regardless, after an hour of intense combat, the Byzantines lost their footing and losing all hope they withdrew.
Following this, Hazrat Umarra commanded that all the land that was seized will remain with its owners, no land would be taken from anyone; the peoples’ lives, wealth, land, properties and places of worship would remain safe and only land for building mosques would be acquired. If land was to be taken, it would only be taken to construct a mosque and all other land would remain with their owners. (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, pp. 114-118, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991) (Sayyiduna Umar bin al-Khattabra Shakhsiyyat aur kar namey, Muhammad Salabi,p. 730, Maktabah al-Furqan, Khangarh) (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], p. 213, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore)
Then, there is also the conquest of Beisan. After Hazrat Shurahbilra was victorious in the battle of Fahl, he and his forces accompanied Hazrat Amrra and advanced toward Beisan and laid siege. At that time, Abul A‘war and a few other commanders had besieged Tiberias.
Beisan was situated about 18 miles south of Tiberias. Word had spread about the ongoing defeats of the Byzantines in the battles that took place in regions of Jordan and Damascus and in other conquests. The people learned that Hazrat Shurahbilra, along with Hazrat Amrra bin Aas, Hazrat Harithra bin Hisham and Hazrat Suhailra bin Amr were headed with their armies towards Beisan and so everyone gathered in their forts.
Hazrat Shurahbilra besieged Beisen after arriving there. The siege lasted a few days, after which some combatants emerged for battle. The Muslims fought and defeated them, while the rest of the residents sought a peace treaty. The Muslims accepted the same terms which had been agreed upon at the conquest of Damascus. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari [translated], Vol. 2, part 2 [Karachi, Pakistan: Nafees Academy], p. 216) (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, p. 114, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991)
Then there is the conquest of Tiberias. When the residents of Tiberias heard news of the conquest of Beisen and the resulting treaty, they requested a truce from Abul A‘war on the condition that their plea be put before Hazrat Shurahbilra. Abul A‘war accepted their request, and thus residents of Beisen and Tiberias both agreed to the terms settled in Damascus.
It was also decided that half of the total residences in the towns and surrounding villages would be emptied for the Muslims, while the Byzantines would occupy the other remaining half. [It was also decided] that everyone would be taxed one Dinar annually, and a specific portion from the yielded crops would be due.
After this, the Muslim leaders and soldiers became residents among the public and the establishment of peace with Jordan reached completion. All reinforcements took residence in and around Jordan, and the good news of the victory was sent to Hazrat Umarra. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari [translated], Vol. 2, part 2 [Karachi, Pakistan: Nafees Academy], pp. 216-217)
Then, there is the conquest of Homs [Emessa], which took place in 14 AH. Following these events, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra advanced toward Homs, a well-known city in Syria. Homs held political significance and importance in terms of warfare as well. Homs was situated in Syria between Damascus and Aleppo. There was a large temple in Homs which people visited from far off places and many took pride in worshipping there. Nonetheless, the Byzantines wished to fight and advanced accordingly.
As a result, a great army departed from Homs and met the Muslims at Josiah, but the result was their own defeat. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra and Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid besieged Homs upon their arrival. There was extreme cold weather and the Byzantines believed that the Muslims would not last long in a battle on the open battlefield. Along with this, reinforcements were also expected from Heraclius. As such, he sent reinforcements from Jazira, but they were intercepted and halted by forces sent by Hazrat Saadra bin Abi Waqas, who was appointed to conquer Iraq. (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, p. 118-119, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2, p.347)
Historians write that although the Byzantines had footwear made of leather, their feet would lose sensation, while the Companionsra and Muslims had ordinary footwear and nothing more. (Sayyiduna Umar bin al-Khattabra Shakhsiyyat aur kar namey, Muhammad Salabi,p. 734, Maktabah al-Furqan, Khangarh)
Heraclius had promised to assist the people of Homs and after encouraging them to fight, he fled to Rauha. He promised them but then left from there. The people of Homs remained in their fort. They would only fight the Muslims when it was a very cold day.
The Byzantines were in wait for aid from Heraclius and hoped that the Muslims would retreat owing to the severe cold. However, the Muslims remained resolute and the aid of Heraclius did not arrive, i.e. it did not reach the people. Furthermore, the cold weather also passed and so the people of Homs became convinced that it was impossible to challenge the Muslims. Consequently, they wished to enter into a treaty. The Muslims agreed to this and the residents were left in their homes. Like the people of Damascus, they agreed to pay the Kharaj [tax on land for non-Muslims living under Muslim rule] and the jizya [tax on non-Muslim citizens living under Muslim rule]. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah wrote to Hazrat Umarra informing him about the situation. In his reply, Hazrat Umarra instructed the following: “Remain there and gather all the powerful Arab tribes under your flag. Insha-Allah, I will regularly send reinforcements from here.” (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], pp. 331-332, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore)
Maraj al-Rum was another place and the incident of Maraj al-Rum took place in the same year. Maraj al-Rum was a place near to Damascus.
The incident was that Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra travelled from Fahl to Homs along with Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid. They stopped at Dhul Kala‘. When Heraclius came to know of their movements, he despatched Theodorus. He went to Marai Dimashq and stayed to the west side. Abu Ubaidahra set off from Maraj al-Rum with his army.
The situation of the Muslims at the time was such that the winter months had set in and their bodies were covered in wounds. When they arrived at Maraj al-Rum, the Byzantine commander Shans also reached there and encamped near Theodorus with his cavalry. Shans had come to assist Theodorus and to save the people of Homs. He encamped to one side with his army.
When night fell, the other commander, Theodorus, left from there. Owing to his departure, the area was vacant. Theodorus was up against Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid whereas Shans was facing Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra. When Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid learnt that Theodorus had left for Damascus, Hazrat Khalidra and Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra unanimously agreed that Hazrat Khalid should go after Theodorus.
Hence, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid went after Theodorus with a cavalry contingent. Yazid bin Abi Sufyan learnt about the action of Theodorus and so he set out against Theodorus; both armies confronted one another and a battle intensified.
The battle was still continuing when Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid arrived on the battlefield along with his army. He attacked the rear of Theodorus’ army and as a result, the enemy was attacked from both fronts and their corpses began to pile up. The Muslims killed them on all fronts and only those who ran away survived. Among the spoils of war that were gained in this battle included mounts, weapons and armour etc. This was distributed by Hazrat Yazidra bin Abi Sufyan between his soldiers and the soldiers of Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid. After this, Hazrat Yazidra travelled to Damascus and Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid returned to Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra.
The infamous Yazid, who is mentioned in the history of Islam, was the son of Mu‘awiyyah. The aforementioned Yazidra is the son of Abu Sufyanra. The Byzantine commander Theodorus was killed by Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid. When Hazrat Khalid bin Walidra went after Theodorus, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra chased after Shans. Both armies fought in Maraj al-Rum. The Muslim army killed many adversaries and Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra killed Shans. Maraj al-Rum was filled with the bodies of the enemy and owing to this, the area was filled with a stench. From among the Byzantine forces, only the ones who ran away survived; everyone else perished. The Muslims chased those who ran away up until Homs. (Al-Kamil fi al-Tarikh, Vol. 2, p. 321, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2003) (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari [translated], Vol. 2, part 2 [Karachi, Pakistan: Nafees Academy], pp. 359-360)
After this, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra set off with his army towards Hama. Hama was also an ancient town of Syria and was situated at a distance of five days travel from Damascus. The people of Hama agreed to obey their authority. When the people of Shehzar came to know of this, they also agreed to obey the Muslims like the people of Hama. Shehzar was a settlement situated at a distance of half a day’s travel from Hama. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra then conquered Salmiyyah. Salmiyyah was the name of a settlement which was located at a distance of 2 days travel from Hama. (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], p. 333, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2, p. 345) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 3, p. 272)
Then there was the conquest of Laziqiyyah, which took place in 14 AH. The Muslim army marched under the command of Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra towards Laziqiyyah, which was a town on the Syrian coast and was considered to be part of the suburbs of Homs. When the people of Laziqiyyah saw the Muslim army approaching, they retreated to their forts and prepared to confront them. They were content that if the Muslim army besieged them, they had the strength to confront them and in the meantime they would receive reinforcements from Heraclius via the sea.
The Muslims besieged the town. The town had a strong defence system and was renowned for its army check posts. As Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra was experienced in war tactics and strategies, he devised a new plan to conquer the city. He realised that if they camped there, it would be very difficult to conquer it and the siege would become prolonged. Similarly, it was also possible that during the siege the enemy would send them [i.e. the people of the town] reinforcements, as a result of which they would have to return unsuccessful. Furthermore, if the siege became prolonged, it would be impossible to get to Antakya.
One night, he ordered for many trenches to be dug deep enough that it could conceal a person on horseback. Subsequently, the trenches were hidden with grass. In the morning, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra lifted the siege and headed back towards Homs.
When the people of the town saw the siege was lifted they were overjoyed and happily opened the doors of the city. At the same time, Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra returned in the night with his army and hid in the trenches.
In the morning when the doors of the town opened, the Muslims launched an attack. Some of the Muslims captured the doors which were on the outer perimeter of the fort. Some people considered it wise to run away and those who were in the town were overcome with fear. Everyone inside the town began planning on how to survive and they were left with no other choice but to accept the authority of the Muslims.
Thus, they entered into an agreement with the Muslims and those that ran away sought protection from the Muslims. The Muslims entered the town victoriously. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrahra accepted the treaty on the condition they pay the Jizya and left their church under their rule. Later on, Muslims made a mosque near to the church. (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], pp. 333-334, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore) (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, pp. 118-119, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991)
After this victory, Hazrat Umarra wrote stating that no further military action should take place that year. (Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli, p. 119, Dar al-Isha‘at, Karachi, 1991)
The conquest of Qinnasrin took place in 15 AH. Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra sent Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid towards Qinnasrin, which was a dynamic city in the province of Aleppo. The fort of Qinnasrin was situated on the road to Aleppo between the mountains. Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid reached a place called Hadir. Hadir was also a place near Aleppo. Over here, the Byzantine commander Menas arrived with his army to confront the Muslims. After Heraclius, Menas was the most renowned commander-in-chief amongst the Byzantines. Nonetheless, the residents of Hadir and the Christian Arabs fought against the Muslims.
As was the Arab custom, in order to protect the city, they would head out of the city and pitch their tents. In line with this custom, the Christian Arabs set up their tents outside of the city. After a fierce battle, Hazrat Khalidra had killed a large part of the Byzantine forces, including their commander Menas. The people [of Hadir] sent a message to Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid stating that they were Arabs and never wished to fight, in fact they were forced to fight and therefore they should be forgiven.
Hazrat Khalid bin Walidra accepted their plea and stopped any further attack. Some of the Byzantine forces ran to seek shelter in the fort at Qinnasrin. Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid chased them to Qinnasrin, but by the time he reached there, the gates of the city had been sealed shut. Upon seeing this, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid sent a message to them stating, “Even if you sought shelter in the clouds, Allah the Almighty would raise us up to you or throw you down to us.”
A few days passed by and they remained in the fort. Eventually the people of Qinnasrin realised that there was no option left to escape. Thus they wished to enter a peace treaty on the same conditions as the people of Homs. However, Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid had already issued the verdict of punishment owing to breaching the treaty – they had broken the treaty previously and Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid was intent on punishing them – and thus he was intent on destroying the city. Leaving their wealth and families to their fate, the people of Qinnasrin [i.e. soldiers] ran away to Antakya.
When Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra bin Al-Jarrah reached Qinnasrin, he found Hazrat Khalidra bin Walid’s judgement to be just and fair. Thus, the fort of the city and the [exterior] boundary walls were destroyed. After this, they thought that alongside justice, an act of benevolence ought to follow suit, i.e. the Muslims had dispensed justice to the enemy and now they ought to show benevolence. In line with this, they gave protection to the people of the city in accordance with their request. It is said that the church and other homes were divided and Muslims occupied half of the area and half of the area was left to them.
According to one narration, it is said that the Muslims took one part of the land and built a mosque there and left the remaining area to its residents. The people that had fled to Antakya returned on the condition of paying the jizya. Just like the people of the other conquered lands, they were also treated with compassion. Justice was upheld between all of them equally and no powerful person could commit any injustice against a weaker person. (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], pp. 333-339, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore) (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1987], p. 445) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 2, p. 238)
Then was the conquest of Caesarea, which took place in 15 AH. Caesarea was a coastal town of Syria, which was situated at a distance of three days’ travel from Tiberias. There are various narrations regarding when this battle took place; one narration states it took place in 15 AH; according to a second narration it took place in 16 AH; a third narration puts it to have taken place in 19 AH, and according to a fourth narration it took place in 20 AH. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2, Sanah 19 AH [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 1987], p. 511) (Yaqut Ibn Abd Allah al-Hamawi, Mu‘jam al-Buldan, Vol. 4, p. 478, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah)
Nonetheless, when Hazrat Abu Ubaidahra was making great advancements across the Byzantine occupied Levant, Hazrat Amrra bin Al-Aas and Hazrat Shurahbilra bin Hasanah were trying to defeat the Byzantine forces that had gathered in Palestine. However, this was not an easy task. These forces heavily outnumbered the Muslims and were well-equipped. They were led by the most experienced Byzantine commander Atrabun, whose vision and war strategy were unparalleled in all the land. He thought that the army ought to be scattered to various places so that the rule and authority remained exclusively his. Also, that if the Arabs overcame some of these contingents, the other parts of the army would remain unaffected. Thus, he left a large army in Ramlah and Iliya and smaller contingents to support them in Gaza, Sebastia, Nablus, Lod and Yafa‘.
Thereafter, he remained in wait for the Arab army. He was convinced that he had the strength to defeat the Arabs and weaken their power. Hazrat Amrra bin Al-Aas understood the delicate situation and thought that if his entire army was to come up against Atrabun, then the Byzantine forces would all unite with one another and subsequently his army will not be able to defeat them. In fact, the Byzantines may even overcome them. Hence, he wrote a letter to inform Hazrat Umarra and Hazrat Umarra instructed Yazid bin Abi Sufyanra to send his brother, Muawiyahra to take control over Caesarea, so that it would not be possible for Atrabun to receive any support from the coastal route. In the letter addressed to Amir Muawiyahra, Hazrat Umarra wrote, “I appoint you as the Amir of Caesarea. You must go there and seek the help of Allah against them and recite:
لَا حَوْلَ وَلَاقُوَةَّ اِلَّا بِاللّٰهِ الْعَلِيِّ الْعَظِيْم
“[There is no scheme nor any power except with the help of Allah, the Great] and:
اَللّٰهُ رَبُّنَا وَثِقَتُنَا وَرَجَاؤُنَا وَمَوْلٰنَا، نِعْمَ الْمَوْلٰی وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيْرُ
Meaning, “It is through Allah alone that one can acquire the strength to refrain from sin and perform virtuous deeds for He is the Most Lofty, the Great. He is our Lord and in Him we place all our trust and hope. He is our Master and what a great Master He is indeed and He is our Helper.”
It is written in Al-Farooq that amongst the Muslims, it was Amrra bin Al-Aas who first launched an attack in Caesarea in 13 AH and despite a prolonged siege, they were unable to gain victory. After the demise of Abu Ubaidahra, Hazrat Umarra appointed Yazidra bin Abi Sufyan in his place and instructed him to go to Caesarea. He went along with 17,000 soldiers and laid siege of the city; however, in 18 AH, when he fell ill, he appointed his brother, Amir Muawiyahra in his place and went to Damascus where he passed away.
Caesarea is situated on the coast of the Levantine Sea and is counted amongst the provinces of Palestine. Today, it is completely uninhabited; however previously, it was a huge city and according to Al-Baladhuri, it had 300 bazaars and a huge Byzantine army was appointed to safeguard it. At the edge of the coast, they also had a very strong fort which posed a great danger for others. Hazrat Muawiyahra arrived in Caesarea and laid siege. The Byzantines would launch an attack on the Islamic army but would face defeat and retreat to its trenches. Eventually, when the siege was prolonged, the enemy came forth for an all-out battle; however, they suffered such a devastating defeat that 80,000 soldiers of theirs were killed on the battlefield. Including those who ran away, this figure reached 100,000.
After the conquest of Caesarea and the destruction of its army, the Muslims were at ease from this direction and felt secure because the Byzantines could no longer receive reinforcement from this route. Hazrat Muawiyahra sent the news of the victory along with one-fifth of the spoils of war [Khums] to Hazrat Umarra. According to one other narration, Hazrat Amir Muawiyahra laid a siege with a lot of equipment and weaponry.
On numerous occasions, the people of the city came out from their fort to fight, but each time they faced defeat. However, they could still not take complete control over the city. One day, a Jewish man by the name of Yusuf, came to Amir Muawiyahra and showed him a tunnel which lead right through the city and right up to the door of the fort. Subsequently, a few brave men reached the fort through the tunnel and opened the door of the fort and with this the entire army launched an attack and attained victory.
Hazrat Ubadahra bin Samit is among the companions who took part in the Battle of Badr and also took part in this battle. His brave efforts during the Battle of Caesarea have been mentioned as follows:
Upon the siege of Caesarea, Hazrat Ubadahra bin Samit was the commander of the right flank of the Muslim army. He stood up in order to grant counsel to his men and commanded them to refrain from committing sin and to constantly assess their conditions. He then proceeded forth with a large group of Mujahideen and they killed many of the Byzantine soldiers, but they were still unable to properly accomplish their objective. Hence, he returned to his original post and once again encouraged his fellow men to go all out for battle. But despite launching an attack with a huge army of men, he was greatly surprised to have returned without accomplishing their objective. He then stated:
“O ye Muslims! Among the leaders appointed on the occasion of the Bai‘at al-Aqabah, I was the youngest. I have lived the longest among them and Allah the Almighty decreed that I remain alive to the extent that I am now fighting against the enemy along with you.
“I swear by Him in Whose hands is my life, whenever I have taken a party of believers to launch an attack against the idolaters, they left the battlefield, we triumphed and we were granted victory over them by Allah the Almighty. What has happened on this occasion that you could not overcome them having launched an attack on them?”
Then he expressed his fear in relation to this incident in the following words:
“I fear two things in relation to you. Either someone from among you is a traitor or when you launched an attack, you were not sincere.” Either someone from among them was guilty of treachery or they were not sincere at the time of launching the attack.
Thereafter, he instructed them to seek the station of martyrdom with absolute sincerity. He then said, “I will remain at the forefront and will not move back until Allah the Almighty grants us victory or the station of martyrdom.”
Subsequently, when the Byzantines and Muslims came up against each other in battle, Hazrat Ubadahra bin Samit dismounted from his horse and began to walk on foot.
When Umair bin Saad Ansari saw him walking on foot, he spread the news that the leader of the Muslim army was fighting on foot and stated that everyone should follow suit. Following this, they all tremendously fought against the Byzantines and pushed them back to the point that they fled and took refuge in their fortresses. The way the Arabs took control of Caesarea, in the same manner was Gaza conquered. The Muslims had taken control of Gaza once before as well during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiqra, but later they had to leave from there. When both these frontier regions were in the control of the Muslims, Hazrat Amrra bin Al-Aas felt at ease from any danger arising from the coastal side. (Sayyiduna Umar Farooq A‘zam, Muhammad Husain Haikal, [translated], pp. 357-359, Islami Kutub Khana, Lahore) (Sirat Amir-il-Mu‘minin Umar bin al-Khattabra, Al-Salabi, pp. 735-736, 744-745, Dar al-Isha‘ah Karachi, 1991)
These accounts will continue; however, at this moment in time I will mention some deceased members and will also lead their funeral prayers [in absentia] after the Friday prayers.
The first mention is of respected Khadijah Sahiba, wife of respected Maulvi K Muhammad Alvi Sahib, who was the former missionary of Kerala. She passed away recently at the age of 80.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
Her father, Kunhi Muhayyu-ul-Din Sahib was among the early Ahmadis of Kerala. The deceased had the opportunity to enter the fold of Ahmadiyyat at a very young age. She exhibited great patience and gratitude and was regular in her prayers and fasting and very religious. She looked after the poor, was very hospitable and always content with whatever she had.
Her husband was a missionary and would be away from home for many days whilst on official tours; however, the deceased never complained and was always filled with gratitude.
She is survived by two sons and five daughters. The deceased was a musia [part of the Wasiyyat scheme]. Her eldest son, K Mahmood Sahib was also a missionary and passed away at the age of 54 owing to kidney failure. Her youngest son is also a muallim of the Jamaat and all five of her daughters are married to missionaries. May Allah the Almighty grant her His forgiveness and mercy.
The next mention is of Malik Sultan Rasheed Khan Sahib of Kot Fateh Khan, who was the former amir of the Attock district. Malik Sultan Rasheed Khan Sahib passed away in the night between the 22 and 23 August:
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
By the grace of Allah the Almighty, he was a musi. His father, Col Malik Sultan Muhammad Khan Sahib took the bai‘at at the hand of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra in 1923 at the age of 23. His father was the only Ahmadi in his family. He later got married to Aisha Siddiqa Sahiba, the daughter of Chaudhry Fateh Muhammad Ahmad Siyal Sahib. The marriage proposal was recommended by Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra himself. Sultan Rashid Sahib’s grandfather’s name was Malik Sultan Surakh Ruh Khan. He was afforded with great respect in the royal court of the British Empire and would be seated on a chair to sit on in the royal court as a mark of respect. He accepted Ahmadiyyat four years after his son, Malik Sultan Muhammad Khan sahib.
The services rendered by Malik Sultan Rashid Khan Sahib for the Jamaat are as follows:
He had the opportunity to serve as the amir of the Attock district from 1996 to 1999 and from 2005 to 2014. At the time of his demise, he was serving as the president of the Kot Fateh Khan Jamaat. He was a relative of the former governor of West Pakistan, Amir Muhammad Khan. Their entire family was immersed in various worldly pursuits; however, after accepting Ahmadiyyat, his father did not completely abandon his worldly endeavours, but always gave precedence to his faith over worldly matters and this same quality was found in Malik Sultan Rasheed Khan Sahib as well.
Initially, he had done a Wasiyyat of 1/10 and later changed it to 1/7. He also paid Wasiyyat on his property and I believe he paid 1/10 on his property and 1/7 on the rest of his income. His sister, Rashida Siyal states:
“Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh once wrote to me, ‘Your father was like an unsheathed sword for Ahmadiyyat and this same quality is also found in your brothers.’”
She further states regarding her brother, Malik Sultan Rashid Sahib:
“Our brother had a very a strong bond with Khilafat and he would immediately adhere to every instruction of Khalifatul Masih. By the grace and blessings of Allah the Almighty, he always remained a very trusted servant of Khilafat and always served with complete devotion. He was extremely spiritual and whenever anyone would see him they would feel that he had no attachment whatsoever to materialistic life. He was extremely humble and would never speak much about his personal relationship with Allah the Almighty, even though he had a very strong bond.
“He would spend day and night praying for others, whether they be a friend, relative or someone he did not even know. There is not a single person from among his friends, family and others who left empty-handed from his door.
“Many people also took advantage of his generosity; however, he would never refuse them. One lady came to my niece and said, ‘What will happen of those people now whose stoves were lit only due to the financial help received from Sultan Rashid Sahib.’”
In other words, all their food and provisions were taken care of through the help of Sultan Rashid Khan Sahib.
She further states:
“He showed such an exemplary level of generosity that we cannot even imagine. My niece one day asked him whether people even appreciated and remembered all the help he rendered towards them. To this, he replied that perhaps they might not remember it but his only intention was that Allah the Almighty be pleased with him.”
His sister, Naeema Sahiba states:
“My brother had a great passion for tabligh and became a means of guidance for many fortunate souls. He would find an opportunity to do tabligh to anyone who would meet him. Many non-Ahmadi friends would visit in the evening and would discuss the subject of the demise of Jesusas for hours and there was also an element of danger in this as well.
“His passion for worship was remarkable. He would often close the door of his room and worship his God in solitude. Allah the Almighty also granted him true dreams and visions. Once, he went to Abbottabad in the summer season. He was suddenly faced with some financial hardship and there was nothing else he could do except pray. In his morning walk whilst passing by an area filled with trees, he heard a loud and clear voice state:
لَاتَقْنَطُوْا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللّٰهِ
“[Despair not of the mercy of Allah].”
The wife of Zubairi Sahib, who is the former amir of Attock province, states:
“He had told his sister that during the era of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh, he was staying at her house in order to attend a meeting with all the districts. He looked quite concerned and when enquired as to what the matter was, he stated that he had to deliver a speech but was not able to prepare for it at all. However, the next morning, he was very happy and joyful and when he came for breakfast, he said that in the night, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIIrh came in his dream and dictated the entire speech in a short time and now, all praise be to Allah, his speech was ready.”
He had an immense level of trust in Allah the Almighty that he spent many years living in his village without any kind of worry despite being surrounded by houses of opponents; he was never scared or anxious. He was extremely courageous. He would often say, “Not even a single leaf can move without the command of God.”
Once, his attendant in the house sent someone back who had come to seek some help and so he advised him saying, “If Allah the Almighty has made me a means of helping someone then who am I to tell them to go back.” He had the skill of being able to partake in any intellectual discussion.
He had read the books of the Promised Messiahas many times. Masha-Allah, he possessed many qualities and was regular in his Salat and fasting. He was also regular in his Tahajud and devoted to worship. He would speak with great wisdom and would always conclude his talk with the subject of tabligh. May Allah the Almighty grant him His forgiveness and mercy.
The next mention is of respected Abdul Qoyum Sahib of Indonesia, who passed away on 25 August at the age of 82.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
He was the son of the late Abdul Wahid Sumatri Sahib, who was the first non-Indian and non-Pakistani missionary [of the Jamaat]. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from a renowned technical school in Indonesia. Then, upon a government scholarship, he pursued higher education in France, where he obtained a master’s degree in petroleum economics. He was then employed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources where he worked in various capacities. Even after retiring, he would be called upon for work due to being an expert in the field. Then, at the age of 73, after a great deal of effort, he obtained his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Indonesia.
He rendered invaluable services for his country as well; in 1973, he proposed a formula for liquefied natural gas to the government. As a result, between 1974 and 2000, this benefitted the government by 110 billion dollars. In fact, Ahmadis everywhere are always ready to serve their country and nation. Even in Indonesia, due to the sway of clerics, Ahmadis face grave persecution in certain areas, but despite this, it is our duty to remain loyal to the country.
Abdul Qoyum Sahib also received the country’s highest possible award for a civil servant. Then, in 2005, he received another auspicious award which is given to those outside the Indonesian government and military who render remarkable services in their fields. Furthermore, the country’s heroes are given a military ceremony at one of their graveyards where they are buried. However, since the deceased [Abdul Qoyum Sahib] did not wish to be buried there, the military ceremony took place at the graveyard for Musian in Parung, which is where he was honourably buried. He was very loving and took great care for his siblings. His father had advised him to take care of his siblings and he always acted upon this. He treated missionaries and life-devotees with great respect.
His younger brother, Basit Sahib is also a missionary as well as the National President of the Jamaat in Indonesia. He was very kind in treatment to those who worked under him.
One person who worked under him said that he had been under his care since the age of nine and that he paid for his school fees and various other expenses. Then, due to his kind treatment, this person went on to read the books of the Promised Messiahas, after which he accepted Ahmadiyyat. The deceased’s kindness and generosity was of a very high standard. He always treated everyone equally and never behaved proudly, nor was he ever prideful over the rank that he held.
One of the government gas companies which he used to work for said that he was extremely intelligent, resolute and hard-working. He was quite well-known and was high-ranking, yet despite this, he was very humble.
He had a great deal of love for Khilafat and the Jamaat. Whenever the Jamaat required a sacrifice to be made or was facing some sort of hardship, he would render help with great sincerity. Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IVrh stayed at his home when he visited Indonesia. Even whilst working in government jobs, the deceased never hid the fact that he was an Ahmadi, nor did he do so afterwards, even though the persecution [of Ahmadis] increased later on – he never hid the fact that he was an Ahmadi.
He was always ready to propagate the message to his friends, and was a recognised Ahmadi figure. Once, the CEO of an electrical company told the minister that the water in the dam was decreasing and if this continued, then the electricity would have to be cut off. The minister trusted his [Abdul Qoyum Sahib’s] prayers, and so he told him to visit Qoyum Sahib. He went to Qoyum Sahib and requested him for help. He replied by saying that if he wished for him to help, then he should write a letter to Khalifatul-Masih, who is their Imam. Thus, he wrote a letter requesting prayers for the matter to be resolved. He says that the letter was sent on a Tuesday, and the very next day there was a torrential downpour of rain which caused the dam to fill up.
As for his services to the Jamaat, there were various complications in the construction of the headquarters complex in Parung due to a shortage of funds. The coordinator for tabligh at the time, Mahmud Cheema Sahib mentioned this to him, to which he said that there was no need to worry, he would offer the entire amount, and this was precisely what he did. Within a span of two years, a large mosque was built there. He also contributed most of the funds for the building of the central guest house and missionary quarters. There were four quarters for which the deceased covered all building costs. In the early days of MTA Indonesia, almost all of the expenses were covered by the deceased and his wife. His home in Western Jakarta would be used as a studio, and he also covered the allowances of the workers.
In the early days of the homoeopathy [clinic] in Indonesia, his family covered all expenses from the medicines themselves to the actual clinic. The building expenses for the Al-Wahid senior high school were covered by his family, most of which was offered by him. He also offered significant financial sacrifice for the Indonesian guesthouse currently being built in Qadian known as Sara-e-Ayyub. The deceased purchased a lot of property around the Centre and then gave it to the Jamaat to use for accommodation.
Masoom Ahmad Sahib, Principal Jamia Ahmadiyya Indonesia writes:
“At times there would be long discussions among the amila [administrative body] during meetings; however, if the national president – who is also his younger brother – said that the discussion should end, then he would immediately become silent and would not present any further ideas.”
May Allah the Almighty grant the deceased His forgiveness and mercy.
The next mention is of respected Daouda Razaki Younus Sahib of Benin, who passed away on 27 August at the age of 74.
اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنَّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[“Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.”]
He was among the initial Ahmadis of Benin and was the only Ahmadi in his family. He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1967 through his older brother Zikrullah Daouda Sahib, who was the first Ahmadi of Benin. The deceased’s wife and children are not Ahmadi; may Allah the Almighty enable them to join as well.
Mian Qamar Ahmad, who is the national president and missionary-in-charge [of Benin] writes:
“He told me the story of his acceptance of Ahmadiyyat just a few days before he passed away. He said that he learned that his older brother Zikrullah Daouda Sahib had accepted Ahmadiyyat in Nigeria. He heard people saying various things about Ahmadiyyat, and so he went to meet his brother and saw him wearing an ‘Alaysallah’ ring [a ring with the Arabic inscription ‘Is Allah not sufficient for His servant?’] and so he asked his older brother what kind of ring this was and what significance it held in his faith. He explained that it had a verse of the Holy Quran inscribed on it which meant, ‘Is Allah not sufficient for His servant?’ and this is what was taught by the founder of the Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian. Then he asked his brother whether Ahmadiyyat was different from Islam. His brother explained that the Imam whom he was waiting for had already come and it was their belief that this is the true Islam. Upon hearing this, he said that he began reading the books of the Promised Messiahas, and after reading The Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, he accepted Ahmadiyyat.”
He was among the learned Ahmadis of Benin; he had studied in France where he obtained his master’s in business management. He retired from the post of national director for electricity and hydro in Benin. He was highly influential, dignified, and honourable.
He was regular in offering prayers, including Tahajud, and was virtuous, and sincere. He had profound love for the Promised Messiahas and the Khulafa and made it a habit to study their books. He held various offices in the Jamaat and rendered many services to the Jamaat in Benin. He served as chairman of Humanity First from the outset and would organise medical camps and would accompany the doctors, spending entire days without eating, while remaining occupied in serving humanity.
Dr Qamar Ahmad Ali Sahib says:
“I had the privilege of serving as a doctor in Benin. During the medical camps, no matter if he was tired or slept late after a journey, I always saw him offering Tahajud prayers for a long time at night. Whenever I would wake up, I found him offering Tahajud prayers.”
Muzaffar Ahmad Zafar Sahib, who is a missionary, says:
“Whenever he had to deliver a speech, he would speak from the heart about fulfilling the conditions of bai‘at and would tell me that until one did not understand the revelation of the Promised Messiahas ‘Is Allah not sufficient for His servant,’ then they are drawn by materialism.”
Then, the national president writes:
“In 2006, he gifted 30 acres of land to the Jamaat. In 2021, I expressed my desire for him to have a building constructed for Madrasatul Hifz and present it as a gift to the Jamaat, to which he said with a smile, ‘Insha-Allah’, and now this work has already begun.
“He used to say that if the children of the Jamaat were able to obtain an education, then the Benin Jama`at would become one of the largest jamaats in Africa. He would give children valuable books of the Jamaat as a reward. When he went to visit the Baitul Ikram orphanage, he said to Dr Walid Sahib, who is in-charge there, that he should ensure the children’s well-being and security because they were the children of the Jamaat and of the nation and they were their parents, and he prayed for them as well.”
May Allah the Almighty grant the deceased His forgiveness and mercy and elevate everyone’s station.
As I said, after the Friday prayers, I will offer their funeral prayer in-absentia.
(Original Urdu transcript published in Al Fazl International 1 October 2021, pp. 5-10.Translated by The Review of Religions.)