Khalid ibn Al Walid was a LEGEND of Islam. One of the greatest Companions. How much do you really know about him?
Preface: This is only a summary of the life of Khalid ibn Walid RA and does not cover all the points of his life story. It is not intended to be a biography, but rather a glimpse of the main incidents of his life so that we can get an idea of his character. For ease of reading, we have not inserted “May Allah be pleased with him (RA)” each time his name or the name of each Companion is mentioned, but please take it that the salutations apply to all of them, may Allah be pleased with them all.
His story is a rather perplexing one. He was the deadly enemy of Muslims in the Battle of Uhud and the deadly enemy of the enemies of Islam in the remaining Muslim battles.
Let us then begin with that part of his life which he himself loved most. Let us begin from that glorious moment when his heart was affected by Allah and his spirit was blessed by the Most Merciful. Thus, it overflowed with devotion to His religion, His Prophet SAW and to a memorable martyrdom in the way of the truth. This martyrdom enabled him to erase the burdens of his association with falsehood in the past.
One day, he sat alone in deep thought concerning that new religion that was gaining momentum and gaining ground every day. He wished that Allah, the All-Knower of what is hidden and unseen, would guide him to the right path. His blessed heart was revived by the glad tidings of certainty. Therefore, he said to himself, ‘By Allah, it is crystal clear now. This man is indeed a Prophet, so how long shall I procrastinate. By Allah, I will go and submit myself to Islam.’
Let us hear him narrate his blessed visit to the Prophet SAW and his journey from Mecca to Medina to join the ranks of the believers:
I hoped to find an escort, and I ran into Uthman Ibn Talhah and when I told him about my intention, he agreed to escort me. We travelled shortly before daybreak and as we reached the plain, we ran into Amr Ibn Al-Aas.
After we had exchanged greetings, he asked us about our destination, and when we told him, it turned out that he himself was going to the same place to submit himself to Islam. The three of us arrived at Medina on the first day of Safar in the eighth year. As soon as I laid my eyes on the Prophet SAW, I said, ‘Peace be upon the Prophet,’ so he greeted me with a bright face. Immediately, I submitted myself to Islam and bore witness to the truth. Finally, the Prophet SAW said, ‘I knew that you have an open mind and I prayed that it would lead you to safety.’ I took my oath of allegiance to the Prophet SAW then asked him, ‘Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I have committed to hinder men from the path of Allah.’ The Prophet SAW said, ‘Islam erases all the wrongdoings committed before it.’ Yet I pleaded with him, ‘Please pray for me. Finally, he supplicated Allah, ‘O Allah, forgive Khalid for all the wrongdoings he committed before he embraced lslam.’ Then Amr Ibn Al-Aas and Uthman Ibn Talhah stepped forward and submitted themselves to Islam and gave their oath of allegiance to the Prophet SAW.
Notice these words ‘Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I have committed in the past to hinder men from the path of Allah.’ Now, whoever has the perception and insight to read between the lines will find the true meaning of these words of Khalid, who became the sword of Allah and the hero of Islam. When we come across various incidents in the course of his life story, these words are our key to understanding and elucidation.
Let us accompany Khalid, who had just embraced Islam, and watch the Quraish’s great warrior who had always had the reins of leadership. Let us see the subtlest of Arabs in the art of attack and retreat as he turned his back on the idols of his ancestors and the glory of his people and welcomed, along with the Prophet and the Muslims, the advent of a new world that Allah had destined to rise under the standard of Muhammad and the slogan of monotheism.
Do you know the story of the three martyrs of the Battle of Mu’tah? They were Zaid Ibn Harithah, Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib and Abd Allah Ibn Rawahah. They were the heroes of the Battle of Mu’tah in Syria, in which the Romans mobilised 200,000 warriors. Nevertheless, the Muslims achieved unprecedented victory.
Do you know the glorious, sad words with which the Prophet SAW announced the sad news of the death of the three commanders of the battle? ‘Zaid Ibn Harithah took the standard and fought holding it until he died as a martyr; then Ja’far took it and fought clinging to it until he won martyrdom; and finally, Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah gripped it and held it fast until he won martyrdom.’
This is only part of the Prophet’s SAW speech, and this is the rest of the story: ‘Then it was gripped by a sword of the swords of Allah and he fought until he achieved victory.’
Who was the sword of the swords of Allah? It was Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, who threw himself into the battlefield as if he were an ordinary soldier under the three commanders whom the Prophet SAW assigned. The first commander was Zaid Ibn Harithah, the second was Ja’far Ibn Abi Talib, and the third was ‘Abd Allah Ibn Rawaahah. They won martyrdom in the same order on the vicious battlefield.
After the last commander had won martyrdom, Thabit Ibn Aqram took the standard with his right hand and raised it high amidst the Muslim army. His purpose was to stop any potential disarray inside the lines. Thabit then carried the standard and hastened towards Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and said, ‘Take the standard, Abu Sulaiman.’ Khalid thought that he did not deserve to take it since he had newly embraced Islam. He had no right to preside over an army that included the Ansaar and Muhajirun who had preceded him in embracing Islam.
These qualities of decorum, modesty, and gratitude were becoming of Khalid’s worthiness. He said, ‘I will not dare to hold it. Go on, hold it, for you deserve it better than me. First, you are older. Second, you witnessed the Battle of Bad.’ Thabit answered, ‘Come on, take it, you know the art of fighting far better than me. By Allah, I only held it to give it to you.’ Then he called on the Muslims, ‘Do you vote for Khalid’s command?’ They readily answered, ‘Yes, we do!’
At that moment, the great warrior mounted his horse and thrust the standard forward with his right hand as if he were knocking on closed doors that had been closed for too long and whose time had finally come to be flung wide open. So this act was to lead the hero to a long but passable road on which he would leap during the Prophet’s life and after his death until destiny brought his ingenuity to its inevitable end.
Although Khalid was in charge of the army command, hardly any military expertise could change the already determined outcome of the battle, turning defeat into victory or turning victory into defeat. The only thing that a genius could manage to do was to prevent more casualties or damage in the Muslim army from occurring and end the battle with the remainder of the army intact. Sometimes a great commander must resort to that kind of preventive retreat measure that will prevent the annihilation of the rest of his striking force on the battlefield. However, such a retreat was potentially impossible, yet if the saying, ‘Nothing stands in the way of a fearless heart’ is true, there was no one more fearless and ingenious than Khalid.
Instantly, The Sword of Allah flung himself into the vast battlefield. His eyes were as sharp as a hawk’s. His mind worked quickly, turning over all the potentialities in his mind. While the fierce fight raged, Khalid quickly split his army into groups, with each assigned a certain task. He used his incredible expertise and outstanding craftiness to open a wide space within the Roman army through which the whole Muslim army retreated intact. This narrow escape was credited to the ingenuity of a Muslim hero. In this battle, the Prophet gave Khalid the great epithet ‘The Sword of Allah’.
Shortly thereafter, the Quraish violated their treaty with the Prophet SAW and the Muslims marched under Khalid’s command to conquer Mecca. The Prophet assigned the command of the right flank of the army to Khalid Ibn Al-Walid.
Khalid entered Mecca as one of the commanders of the Muslim army and the Muslim nation. Khalid stood there recollecting his childhood days playing on its wonderful pastures and his youthful memories of its wild entertainment. These memories of the past weighed down on him, and he was filled with remorse for his wasted life in which he worshipped inanimate and helpless idols. But before he bit the tips of his fingers in remorse, he was overpowered by the magnificence and spell of this scene of the glorious light that approached Mecca and swept away all that came before it. The astounding scene of the weak and oppressed people, on whose bodies the marks of torture and horror still showed, was magnificent as they returned to the land they had been unjustly driven out of. Only this time, they returned on horseback under the fluttering standard of Islam. Their whispers at Daar Al-Arqam’s house yesterday turned today into loud and glorious shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’, that shook Mecca and the victorious cry ‘There is no god but Allah’, with which the entire universe seemed to be celebrating a feast day.
How did this miracle come about? What is the explanation of what had happened? Simply, there was no logical or rational explanation whatsoever, but the power of the verse that the victorious marching soldiers repeated with their ‘There is no god but Allah’ and ‘Allahu Akbar’ as they looked with joy at one another and said, ‘(It is) a Promise of Allah, and Allah fails not in His Promise’ (Qur’an 30:6).
Then Khalid raised his head and watched in reverence, joy and satisfaction as the standard of Islam fluttered on the horizon. He said to himself, ‘Indeed, it is a promise of Allah and Allah fails not in His promise.’ Then he bent his head in gratitude and thanks for Allah’s blessing that had guided him to Islam and made him one of those who would usher Islam into Mecca rather than one of those who would be spurred by this conquest to submit themselves to Islam.
Khalid was always near the Prophet SAW. He devoted his excellent abilities to the service of the religion he firmly believed in and devoted his life to. After the glorious Prophet had died and Abu Bakr RA became the caliph, the sly and treacherous cyclone of those who apostatized from Islam shrouded the new religion with its deafening roar and devastating outbreak. Abu Bakr quickly chose the hero of the battlefields and man of the hour, namely Abu Sulaiman, The Sword of Allah, Khalid Ibn Al-Walid. It is true that Abu Bakr himself was at the head of the first army that fought against the apostates; nevertheless, he saved Khalid for the decisive day and Khalid was truly the mastermind and inspired hero of the last crucial battle that was considered the most dangerous of all the apostasy battles.
When the apostate armies were taking measures to perfect their large conspiracy, the great Caliph Abu Bakr insisted on taking the lead of the Muslim army. The leaders of the Companions tried desperately to persuade him not to, yet his decision was final. Perhaps he meant to give the cause for which he mobilized and rallied this army a special importance, tinged with sanctity. He could not achieve his aim except by his actual participation in the deadly battle and his direct command of some or all of the Muslim troops. It was a battle between the power of belief against the power of apostasy and darkness.
The outbreak of apostasy posed serious threats, in spite of the fact that it started as an accidental insubordination. Soon, the opportunists and the malicious enemies of Islam, whether from the Arab tribes or from across the borders, where the power of Romans and Persians perched, seized their last opportunity to hinder the sweeping tide of Islam. Therefore, they instigated mutiny and chaos from behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, mutiny flowed like an electric current through the Arab tribes, like Asad, Ghatfaan, Abs, Tii, Dhubyaan, then Bani Aamar, Hawaazin, Sulaim and Bani Tamim. Hardly had the skirmishes started with limited numbers of soldiers than they were reinforced with enormous armies, often of thousands of warriors. The people of Bahrain, Oman and Al-Mahrah responded to this horrible plot.
Abu Bakr mobilised the Muslim armies and marched to where the armies of Bani ‘Abs, Bani Murah and Bani Dhubyaan gathered.
The battle started and went on for a long time before the Muslims achieved a great victory. No sooner had the victorious Muslim army reached Medina than the caliph sent it on another expedition. News spread that the armies of the apostates were increasing in number and weapons by the hour.
Abu Bakr split the army into eleven divisions and assigned a certain role for each one. Khalid Ibn Al-Walid would be the commander over a large division. When the caliph gave every commander his standard, he addressed Khalid saying, ‘I heard the Prophet SAW say, ‘Khalid is truly an excellent slave of Allah and a brother of the same tribe. He is a sword of Allah unsheathed against disbelievers and hypocrites.’
Khalid and his army fought one battle after another and achieved one victory after another until they reached the crucial battle.
It was in the Battle of Al-Yamaamah that Bani Hanijfah and their allies from the Arab tribes organized one of the most dangerous armies of the apostasy, led by Musailamah the Liar. A number of Muslim forces tried to defeat Musailamah’s army but failed. Finally the caliph ordered Khalid to march to where Bani Hanifah was camped.
No sooner had Musailamah heard that Khalid was on his way to fight him than he reorganized his army, turning it into a devastating and horrible enemy machine. Both armies met in fierce combat.
Every now and then, Khalid was careful to cry out, ‘Allahu Akbar’ and ‘There is no god but Allah.’ He ordered his army in such a way that he turned the swords of his men into an inevitable victory that no one could escape. It was striking that, in a few minutes, the Muslim army turned the tables on Musailamah’s army. Musailamah’s soldiers fell in tens of hundreds and thousands like flies that were suffocated by the deadly spray of a pesticide. Khalid ordered his soldiers with a kind of enthusiasm that flowed into them like an electric current. This was a manifestation of his striking genius. This was the manner in which the most decisive and fierce battle of apostasy was conducted. In the end, Musailamah was slain and the bodies of his men were scattered on the battlefield. Finally, the standard of the liar imposter was buried forever.
On hearing the good news, the caliph offered the Prayer of Thanksgiving to Allah the Great and Most High for bestowing victory on the hands of this hero.
Abu Bakr had enough discernment and insight to realize the danger of the evil powers that perched on the borders, threatening the promising future of Islam and Muslims. These evil powers were the Persians in Iraq and the Romans in Syria. These two dwindling empires that clung tenaciously to the distorted remnant of their past glory were not only afflicting the people of Iraq and Syria with horrible torment, but also manipulating them. Notwithstanding the fact that the majority populations were Arabs, they instigated them to fight Muslim Arabs who carried the standard of the new religion which sought to pull down the vestiges of the ancient world and eradicate the decay and corruption in which it was steeped. The great and blessed caliph sent his orders to Khalid to march towards Iraq, so the hero did so.
Upon arriving in Iraq, the first thing that Khalid did was to dispatch messages to every governor and deputy who ruled the provinces and cities of Iraq in the name of the emperor. The messages were:
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Khalid Ibn Al-Walid sends this message to the satraps of Persia. Peace will be upon him who follows the guidance. All praises and thanks be to Allah who dispersed your power and thwarted your deceitful plots. On the one hand, he who performs our prayers directing his face to our Qiblah to face the Sacred Mosque in Mecca and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim. He has the same rights and duties that we have. On the other hand, if you do not want to embrace Islam, then as soon as you receive my message, send over the jizyah (tax levied upon non-Muslim people who are under the protection of a Muslim government) and I give you my word that I will respect and honour this covenant. But if you do not agree to either choice, then, by Allah, I will send to you people who crave death as much as you crave life.
Khalid’s scouts whom he planted everywhere warned him against the enormity of the armies that were organized by the commanders of Persia in Iraq. As usual, Khalid did not waste much time. Therefore, he flung his soldiers against the falsehood of disbelief so as to devastate it.
Victory followed him wherever he went, from Al-Ubullah, to As-Sadir, An-Najaf, Al-Hirah, Al- Anbaar then Al-Kaadhimiyah. The glad tidings of Khalid’s arrival blew like a fresh breeze wherever he went to usher in Islam. The weak and oppressed people found sanctuary in the new religion that saved them from the occupation and oppression of the Persians.
It was impressive that Khalid’s first order to his troops was, ‘Do not attack or hurt the peasants. Leave them to work at peace unless some of them attack you. Only then, I permit you to defend yourselves’.
Abu Bakr chose a group of his prominent commanders such as Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarraah Mar Ibn Al-Aas Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan and Mu’aawiyah Ibn Abi Sufyaan to lead his armies.
When the Roman emperor heard the news of the mobilization of these armies, he advised his ministers and commanders to make peace with the Muslims to avoid inevitable defeat. However, his ministers and commanders insisted on fighting and maintained, ‘By our Lord, we will make Abu Bakr’s hair stand on end before his horses breed in our land.’ Consequently, they mobilized an army estimated at 240,000 warriors.
The Muslim commanders dispatched this terrifying news to Abu Bakr, who pledged, ‘By Allah, I will rid them of their doubts through Khalid.’ Thus, the antidote of their evil suggestions of mutiny, aggression, and disbelief, namely Khalid Ibn Al-Walid, was ordered to go on an expedition to Syria, where he was to command the Muslim armies.
Khalid promptly acted upon his orders and left Iraq under Al- Muthannaa Ibn Harithah’s supervision and marched with his troops until they reached the Muslim headquarters in Syria. His ingenuity enabled him to organize the Muslim armies and coordinate their different positions in no time. Shortly before the outbreak of war, he addressed his warriors after he had praised and thanked Allah, saying, ‘This is Allah’s day. On this day, we must not give way to pride not let injustice overrule. I advise you to purify your jihad and your deeds for Allah. Let us take turns in command. Let each and every one of us take over the command for a day.’
‘This is Allah’s day.’ What a wonderful onset! ‘We must not give way to pride nor let injustice overrule.’ This sentence is even more graceful, adequate, and awesome. On the one hand, the great leader was not lacking in self-denial and cleverness, for in spite of the fact that the caliph had assigned the command of the army to him, he did not want to give Satan a chance to whisper in the breasts of his soldiers. Therefore, he relinquished his absolute hold on the army to every soldier in the ranks even though he was already the commander. Thus, the commander of the army rotated from day to day.
Undoubtedly the courageous Muslims, on that day, were gripped by fear and anxiety, yet in such predicaments they always resorted to their faith, in which they found hope and victory. Abu Bakr had firm belief in Khalid’s abilities; therefore he said, ‘Khalid is the man for it. By Allah, I will rid them of their doubts with Khalid.’
Ibn Al-Walid mobilized and rallied his army, then divided it into brigades. He laid out a new plan for attack and defence that adhered to the Roman war strategy and tactics with which he was well-acquainted from his past experience with the Persians. He was ready for all possibilities. Strangely enough, the battle raged exactly as he had imagined it would, step by step and one fight after another. If he had actually counted the number of strokes of swords, he would not have been much more accurate. Before the two armies clashed, he was worried about the possibility that some of the soldiers, especially those who had newly embraced Islam, might flee upon seeing the terrifying and enormous Roman army.
Khalid believed that the ingenuity of victory and firmness were one and the same. He believed that the Muslim army could not afford the loss of even one of its soldiers, for it was enough to spread malignant panic and havoc inside the army, which was something that even the entire Roman army could not succeed in doing. In the Battle of Yarmuuk, and afterwards, his troops took their positions. He called the Muslim women and, for the first time, gave them swords. He ordered them to stand at the rear of the lines to ‘Kill anyone who flees.’ It was the magic touch of a mastermind.
His army was like a missile as it charged into the battlefield. They met in an extraordinary, monstrous, and deadly combat. The Romans rushed into the battlefield with an enormous number, yet they found that their foes were not an easy prey. The self-sacrifice and firmness that the Muslims displayed on that day were impressive.
Among striking masterpieces of self-sacrifice exhibited by the determined will of the Muslims was the extraordinary portrait of Khalid lbn Al-Walid at the head of only 100 soldiers who flung themselves against 40,000 Romans. Khalid kept calling out to his 100 soldiers saying, ‘By Allah, the Romans seemed to have lost their patience and courage, therefore I pray to Allah to let you have the upper hand over them.’
How could 100 soldiers have the upper hand over 40,000? It is, indeed, incredible! Yet, were not the hearts of these 100 soldiers filled with faith in Allah the Most High, the Most Great? Were they not filled with faith in His trustworthy and honest Prophet SAW? Were they not filled with faith in that cause which represents the most persistent vital issue in life? This cause represents piety and righteousness. And was not their Caliph Abu Bakr, the man who, while his flags were raised above the whole world, sat there in Medina, the new capital of the new world, milking with his own hands the ewes of widows and kneading with his own hands the bread of orphans? Was not their Commander Khalid lbn Al-Walid the antidote for the doubts of tyranny, arrogance, oppression, and transgression? Was not the Sword of Allah drawn against the powers of backwardness, decay, and disbelief? Were not all these portraits a depiction of truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? So let the breeze of victory blow! Let it blow strong, mighty, And victorious!
Khalid’s ingenuity impressed the Roman officers and commanders so much so that Jerjah, a Roman commander, asked Khalid to show himself during a rest in the fighting. When they met, the Roman commander asked him, ‘Khalid, tell me the truth and do not lie, for the freeman doesn’t lie. Did Allah send down on your Prophet a heavenly sword and he gave it to you, so that it enables you to kill anyone who comes within its sweep?’ Khalid answered, ‘No.’ The man exclaimed, ‘Then why do they call you the Sword of Allah?’ Khalid explained, ‘Allah sent His Prophet to us. Some of us believed in him and others disbelieved in him. I was among the disbelievers until Allah guided my heart to Islam and to His Prophet SAW and I gave him my allegiance. Therefore, the Prophet supplicated Allah for me and said, ‘You are the Sword of Allah.’’ The Roman commander asked, ‘What do you invite people to?’ Khalid answered, ‘We invite people to monotheism and to Islam.’ He asked, ‘Does anyone who submits himself to Islam have the same reward as you?’ Khalid answered, ‘Yes, and even better.’ Jerjah exclaimed, ‘How, when you embraced Islam before he did?’
Khalid answered, ‘We lived with the Prophet SAW and saw with our own eyes his signs and miracles. Now anyone who had the chance to see what we saw and hear what we heard was expected to submit himself to Islam sooner or later. As for you who did not see or hear him, if despite this you believe in him and in the unseen, you will find better and greater reward if you purify your conscience and intentions to Allah.’
The Roman commander cried out as he urged his horse closer to Khalid and stood next to him, ‘Please, Khalid, teach me Islam!’ He submitted himself to Islam and prayed two rak’ahs. Soon, combat erupted and once again, the Roman Jerjah fought, but this time on the Muslim side until he won martyrdom.
Now, let us watch closely how human greatness was manifested in one of its most remarkable scenes. The first version narrated by the historian said that while Khalid was commanding the Muslim army in this bloody and crucial war and wresting victory out of the claws of the Romans with admirable master strokes, the new caliph, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab RA, Commander of the Faithful, dispatched a message to him in which he saluted the Muslim army and announced the sad news of Abu Bakr’s death. Then he ordered Khalid to give up his command to Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah. Khalid read the message and supplicated Allah to have mercy on Abu Bakr and bestow His guidance on Umar. Then he strictly ordered the messenger not to tell anyone about the purport of the message and not to leave his place or communicate with anyone.
Then Khalid resumed his command of the combat and concealed the news of Abu Bakr’s death and Umar’s orders until they had achieved victory. Finally, the hour of victory came and the Romans were defeated.
It was only then that the hero approached Abu Ubaidah and saluted him. At first, Abu Ubaidah thought that he did so in jest, yet he soon realized how serious and true this news was. Instantly, he kissed Khalid between his eyes and praised his greatness.
The second version of the same incident is that the message was sent to Abu Ubaidah, who concealed the news from Khalid until the burden of war was over. Which of the two versions is authentic is not our concern here. The only thing that interests us here is Khalid’s conduct, which was superb in both versions.
It did not matter to Khalid whether he was a commander or a soldier. Both ranks were one and the same to him as long as they enabled him to carry out his duties towards Allah whom he believed in, the Prophet SAW whom he gave allegiance to, and, finally, towards the religion which he embraced. This great self-control of Khalid and of other Muslims was not possible without the help and guidance of the unique type of caliphs who were at the head of the Muslim nation at that time. These caliphs were Abu Bakr and Umar. The mere mention of either name conjures up all the unique and great traits created in mankind. Notwithstanding the fact that Khalid and Umar were not exactly best friends; Umar’s decency, justice, and remarkable greatness were not in the least questioned by Khalid. Hence, his decisions and judgments were not questioned. The unbiased conscience of the man who issued these orders reached the apex of piety, steadfastness, and veracity.
Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, had nothing against Khalid but his overburdening and sharp sword. He vented these reservations when he suggested to Abu Bakr that Khalid should be dismissed after the death of Maalik Ibn Nuwairah. He said, ‘Khalid’s sword is overburdening.’ He meant that it was swift, sharp, and harsh. The Caliph Abu Bakr said, ‘I would not sheathe what Allah had unsheathed against the disbelievers.’ Not only did these words manifest the elevated politeness of the Commander of the Faithful but also his profound appreciation of Khalid.
Whenever he travelled back in time, he saw the wars he waged against the Prophet SAW and his Companions and the strokes of his sword that had slain believers and worshipers. Those memories agitated him and made him conscience stricken: Therefore, his sword longed to devastate the pillars of disbelief to compensate for his wrongdoings in the past.
You would remember what went on between Khalid and the Prophet SAW, particularly when Khalid asked the Prophet, ‘Please ask Allah’s forgiveness for me for all the wrongdoings I committed to hinder men from Allah’s path.’ You also remember that even when the Prophet told him that Islam erases all the wrongdoings committed before it, he pleaded with him until he finally promised him to ask Allah’s forgiveness for him for all the mischief he had committed before he submitted himself to Islam.
Surely when the sword is carried by such an extraordinary knight as Khalid and thrust upon the commands of a conscience, revived by the warmth of purification, sacrifice, and absolute loyalty to a religion that was surrounded by conspiracy and animosity, it will be impossible for this sword to throw aside its strict principles or its spontaneous sharpness.
For instance, when the Prophet SAW sent him to some Arab tribes after the conquest of Mecca, he said to him, ‘I am sending you there not as a warrior, but as a Muslim who invites to the way of Allah.’ Unfortunately, his sword got the better of him and forced him into the role of the warrior, obliterating the role of the Muslim who invites to the way of Allah that the Prophet SAW had ordered him to follow. When the Prophet SAW heard what Khalid had done, he was stricken with anxiety and pain. Then he turned in the direction of the Qiblah and raised his hands in supplication and apology to Allah and said, ‘O Allah, I free myself from blame for what Khalid has committed.’ Then he sent Ali RA to give compensatory blood-money to the family of the deceased.
Narrators said that Khalid absolved himself from blame when he said that Abd Allah lbn Hudhaafah As-Sahmii told him, ‘The Prophet SAW has ordered you to attack them for their rejection of Islam.’
We will always repeat the words of Umar the Commander of the Faithful about Khalid: ‘Women who give birth to men like Khalid are extremely rare,’ as well as our earnest wish along with Umar that his sword would lose its rashness.
On the day of Khalid’s death, Umar cried excessively. Later, people learned that his grief was not only caused by his personal loss, but also by the loss of his last chance to return the command to Khalid now that people were no longer infatuated with him. The reasons behind his dismissal were now gone. Only this time, unfortunately, the man was gone too.
Indeed, the great hero rushed to take his place in Paradise. For it was about time he caught his breath, considering the fact that no one on earth had been more restless than he. It was really about time his exhausted body would sleep for a while, considering that he was described by his friends and enemies alike as ‘A sleepless man who would not let anyone sleep!’
If it were for him to decide, he would have chosen to live on until he had demolished all the decaying ruins of the ancient world and continued his jihad in the way of Allah and Islam.
He used to say, ‘Nothing is dearer to me than a frosty night in the company of an infantry of Muhajirun when we are to attack the disbelievers in the morning. Not even the night in which I was wedded to a new bride or received the glad tidings of the birth of a new child.’
Therefore, the tragedy of his life, in his opinion, was dying in bed after he had spent his entire life on horseback, raising his glittering sword. It was difficult for him to accept that he was to die in bed after all the battles he had fought next to the Prophet SAW, and after he had annihilated the Roman and Persian empires and after he had galloped to Iraq where he achieved one victory after another until he had liberated it. Then he had turned to Syria where he had achieved one victory after another until he had set it free from the bonds of disbelief.
In spite of his position as a commander, he was so modest that if you had seen him you would not have distinguished him from among his soldiers, yet at the same time, you would have known at once that he must be a commander from the way he shouldered responsibilities and set himself as a good example.
On his deathbed, he said as his tears flowed, ‘All the battles I fought in left my body scarred with wounds and stabs everywhere, yet here I am dying in bed as if I had never witnessed war before. I hope that the cowards will not have a day’s rest even after I am dead.’
When the moment of departure was close, he dictated his will. Can you guess to whom he left all his valuables? It was to Umar lbn Al-Khattab himself. Can you guess what his valuables were? They were his horse and his weapon. He had nothing else to bequeath but his horse and weapon.
His only obsession while he was alive was achieving victory over the enemies of truth. He was not in the least obsessed with life, with all its splendours and luxury. There was one thing that he obsessively cherished and treasured. It was his helmet. He lost it in the Battle of Al-Yarmuuk, and he exhausted himself and others in searching for it. When he was criticized for that, he said, ‘I keep it for luck, for it has some hairs of the Prophet’s forehead. It makes me feel optimistic that victory is within reach.’
Finally, the body of the hero left his home carried on the shoulders of his companions. The deceased’s mother took one last look at the hero, her eyes full of determination tinged with sadness as she commended him to Allah’s protection and said, ‘There are far, far better than a thousand men who flung themselves into the battlefield. Do you ask me about his valour? He was much more courageous than a huge lion that protects its cubs in the time of danger. Do you ask me about his generosity? He was far more generous than an overwhelming torrential rain that slides down from the mountains!’ ‘Umar’s heart throbbed and his eyes flowed with tears when he heard her recite these lines of poetry: ‘You spoke the truth. By Allah, he was everything you said he was.’
His companions stood at his grave in reverence. They felt that the whole universe was so peaceful, humble, and silent that it seemed as if the whole world went into mourning.
Alas, Khalid, hero of all victory, the dawn of all nights. You soared with your army above the horrors of war when you said to your soldiers, ‘The darkest hour is that before dawn.’ This became a saying afterwards.
May Allah bless your morning, Abu Sulaiman. May Allah bestow glory, praise, and eternity on you.
Let us now repeat after Umar the Commander of the Faithful. The sweet elegy with which he paid his last farewell to Khalid: ‘May Allah have mercy on you, Abu Sulaiman. What you have now is far better than what you had in life, for you are now with Allah. You were honoured in life and content in death.’
Source: Khalid, Khalid Muhammad, Men Around the Messenger, Islamic Book Service, 2004