Battle of Yamama
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|Battle of Yamama|
|Part of Ridda wars and
Campaigns of Khalid ibn al-Walid
|Rashidun Caliphate||Apostate rebels|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Khalid ibn al-Walid||Musaylima (KIA)|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Yamama was fought in December 632 as part as the Ridda Wars ("Apostate Wars") on the plain of Aqraba in the region of Yamama (in present-day Saudi Arabia) between the forces of Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr and Musaylimah, a self-proclaimed prophet.
After the death of Muhammad, many Arab tribes revolted against the State of Medina. Caliph Abu Bakr organized 11 corps to deal with the rebels. Abu Bakr appointed Ikrimah as the commander of one of the corps. Ikrimah's orders were to advance and make contact with the forces of Musaylimah at Yamamah, but not to get involved in battle with him. Ikrimah had insufficient forces to attack the overwhelmingly more numerous foe. Khalid ibn al-Walid was chosen to command the forces apposing Musaylima after he dealt with other smaller apostates. Abu Bakr's intention in giving Ikrimah this mission was to tie Musaylimah down at Yamamah. With Ikrimah on the horizon,Musaylimah would remain in expectation of an attack and thus not be able to leave his base. With Musaylimah so committed, Khalid would be free to deal with the Apostate tribes of North-Central Arabia without interference from Yamamah. Ikrimah advanced with his corps and established a camp somewhere in the region of Yamamah.
The location of his camp is not known. From this base he kept the forces of the Bani Hanifa under observation while awaiting instructions from the Caliph, and the presence of Ikrimah had the desired effect of keeping Musaylimah in Yamamah. The following passages have been quoted directly from The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns, Nat. Publishing. House, Rawalpindi (1970) ISBN 0-7101-0104-X. and are written in the form of a legend or epic with a moral at the end. When Ikrimah received reports of the defeat of Tulaiha by Khalid, he began to get impatient for battle. Ikrimah was a fearless man and a forceful general, but he lacked Khalid's cool judgement and patience – qualities which distinguish the bold commander from the rash one. The next development that Ikrimah heard of was that Shurahbil bin Hasanah was marching to join him. Shurahbil too had been given a corps by the Caliph with orders to follow Ikrimah, and await further instructions. In a few days Shurahbil would be with him. Then came news of how Khalid had routed the forces of Salma, the queenly leader of men. Ikrimah could wait no longer, and he set his corps in motion. This happened at the end of October 632 (end of Rajab, 11 Hijri). He was defeated by Musaylimah. He wrote to Abu Bakr and gave him a complete account of his actions. Abu Bakr was both pained and angered by the rashness of Ikrimah and his disobedience of the orders given to him. Abu Bakr ordered him to march to Mahra to help Arfaja and thereafter go to the Yemen to help Muhajir. Shurahbil remained in the region of Yamamah. To ensure that he did not fall into the error of Ikrimah, Abu Bakr wrote to him: "Stay where you are and await further instructions."
The Caliph sent for Khalid and gave him the mission of destroying the forces of Musaylimah at Yamamah. In addition to his own large corps, Khalid would have under command the corps of Shurahbil. Khalid rode to Butah where his old corps awaited him. Meanwhile the Caliph wrote to Shurahbil to work under Khalid ibn al-Walid's command. A few days before Khalid's arrival Shurahbil had given in to the same temptation as Ikrimah; seeking glory, he had advanced and clashed with Musaylimah, but was defeated. Khalid got news that Musaylimah was encamped in the plain of Aqraba with an army of 40,000 warriors. The two successful actions fought by them against Ikrimah and Shurahbil had increased their confidence in themselves and created an aura of invincibility around Musaylimah.
The moral of the tale could be "patience is a virtue" and other phrases with such a theme.
The Second Strike of the Muslims
On the orders of Khalid, the Muslim advanced. The Muslims launched a series of attacks along their entire front. The most dreadful carnage took place in a gulley in which human blood ran in a rivulet down to the wadi. As a result, this gulley became known as the Gulley of Blood-Shueib-ud-Dam, and it is still known by that name.
But the battle hung in the balance. As the first period of combat ended, the warriors retired to rest.
The next phase of battle - known as the second strike of the Muslims - is clouded with legend but from the myths alone we can determine that the apostate force largely disintegrated.
Last Phase of the Battle
Only about a quarter of Musaylimah's army remained in fighting shape, and this part hastened to the walled garden while Muhakim (commander of the right wing) covered its retreat with a small rear-guard. Soon the Muslims arrived at the walled garden, where a little over 7,000 rebels, Musaylimah among them, had taken shelter. The rebels had closed the gate. The Muslims were anxious to get into the garden and finish the job.
Soon a Muslim soldier Al Baraa ibn Malik asked his fellow men to let him climb the wall so that he could open the gate by killing the guards there. The soldier jumped in to the garden and opened the gate. The Muslims entered the garden and the last and most gory phase of the Battle of Yamamah had begun.
The Legend of the Garden of Death
The rebels stepped back as the Muslims poured into the garden. The fighting became more vicious. But Musaylimah was still fighting: he had no intention of giving up. As the front moved closer to him, he drew his sword and joined in the combat. The last phase of the battle now entered its climax. The Muslim army pressed the rebels everywhere and it was only the endeavours of Musaylimah which prevented a general collapse. Then Musaylimah came under the hawk-like gaze of the Wahshy ibn Harb (the same man who killed Hamza, the uncle of Muhammad, in the Battle of Uhud before accepting Islam). He threw the same javelin that killed Hamza ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib and struck Musaylimah in the belly; the next moment Abu Dujana cut off his head. The news of the death of Musaylimah brought about the rout of the rebel forces. The garden where this last phase of the battle took place became known as "Garden of Death", as the 7,000 rebels within were slaughtered to a man.
This battle is considered the end of the apostate rebellion in Arabia.
The battle played a major role in motivating Abu Bakr to complete the compilation of the Qur'an. During the life of Muhammad, many parts of the Quran were scattered among his companions, much of it as private possession. However, 700 hafizes (Muslims who had memorized the Qur'an) were killed at Yamama. Consequently, upon the insistence of his future successor Umar, Abu Bakr ordered the collection of the pieces of the Qur'an into one copy.
- A.I. Akram, The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns, Nat. Publishing. House, Rawalpindi (1970) ISBN 0-7101-0104-X.
- Usmani, Mohammad Taqi; Abdur Rehman, Rafiq (editor); Siddiqui, Mohammed Swaleh (translator) (2000). An approach to the Quranic sciences. Birmingham: Darul Ish'at. pp. 191–6.
- Hasan, Sayyid Siddiq; Nadwi, Abul Hasan Ali; Kidwai, A.R. (translator) (2000). The collection of the Qur'an. Karachi: Qur'anic Arabic Foundation. pp. 34–5.