Chapter 10: The Adventure of Daumat-ul-Jandal
"… And you see the people enter Allah's Religion in crowds, then celebrate the Praises of your Lord, and pray for forgiveness from Him: for He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy)."
In the ninth year of the Hijra only one major operation was carried out by the Muslims-the expedition to Tabuk, led by the Holy Prophet in person. It turned out to be a peaceful operation; but no matter how peacefully other people went about their tasks, Khalid always managed to find adventure and violence.
During the long, hot summer of 630, reports arrived at Madinah that the Romans had concentrated large forces in Syria, and had pushed their forward elements into Jordan. Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, was himself in Emessa.
In the middle of October 630, the Prophet ordered the Muslims to prepare for battle with the Romans. The purpose of the expedition was not just to fight the Romans, for that could have been done later when the weather had improved. The Prophet also wanted to put the faith of the Muslims to test by making them march out in the fierce heat of summer. Under these conditions only true Believers would respond.
And the true Believers did. The vast majority of the Muslims answered the call cheerfully and began preparations for the expedition; but some did take unkindly to the call to arms. The October of this year was an unusually hot month, and the cool shade of the date orchards proved too tempting for these Muslims. Men wanted nothing more than to rest in the shade until the worst of the heat was over. The Hypocrites, as usual, went about dissuading the Muslims from joining the expedition and gave trouble enough; but on this occasion even a few proven Muslims faltered.
In late October 630 (mid-Rajab, 9 Hijri) the Muslims set out for Tabuk. This was the largest army that had ever assembled under the standard of the Prophet. It consisted of men from Madinah, from Makkah and from most of the tribes which had accepted Islam. One source had placed the strength of this army at 30,000 warriors, including 10,000 cavalry, but this is probably an exaggeration.
On arrival at Tabuk the Muslims came to know that the Roman elements in Jordan had withdrawn to Damascus. There was no need to go further. But the Prophet decided to subdue the tribes living in this region and bring them under the political control of Islam. The important places in the region were Eila (near the present-day Aqaba), Jarba, Azruh and Maqna-all lying along the Gulf of Aqaba. (See Maps 1 or 2 at end of book.) Pacts were made with these tribes and they all agreed to pay the Jizya. 1
One important region which the Prophet wished to subdue was a little farther away from Tabuk. This was Daumat-ul-Jandal (the present-day Al Jauf), ruled by Ukaidar bin Abdul Malik, a Christian prince from the tribe of Kinda who was famous for his love of hunting. To subdue this region, the Prophet sent Khalid with 400 horsemen and instructions to capture Ukaidar. "You will probably find him hunting the wild bull", said the Prophet. 2
Khalid arrived at the walled town of Daumat-ul-Jandal on a bright, moonlit night in late November, 630 (mid?Shaban, 9 Hijri). Hardly had he deployed his force near the town when the gates opened and out came Ukaidar with a few friends mounted on horses and armed with hunting weapons. Perhaps owing to the heat of the day Ukaidar had decided to hunt in the cool of the night, and the bright moonlight promised good hunting.
Khalid took a few of his men and rushed at the hunting party. While Khalid himself pounced on Ukaidar and brought him-down from his horse, his men assailed the other members of the party. Ukaidar's brother, Hassaan, resisted capture and was killed; but the rest galloped back to the fort and, once inside, locked the gate.
Khalid now returned to Tabuk with his distinguished prisoner. Ukaidar entered into a pact with the Prophet, paid a heavy ransom for himself and agreed to the Jizya.
1. A tax levied on non-Muslims. In return they were exempt from military service and their safety was guaranteed by the Muslim State.
2. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 526.
Soon after this incident the Muslim army left Tabuk to return to Madinah. It arrived home in the middle of December 630, by which time the weather had become very pleasant.
After Tabuk there was no major military activity during the lifetime of the Prophet. Delegations came from all the tribes of Arabia, swore allegiance to the Prophet, accepted Islam and agreed to pay certain taxes. For each tribe the Prophet appointed a leader from the converted members of the tribe. The Prophet thus remained busy with affairs of state, consolidating the gains of Islam and raising the edifice of the new state. Several small expeditions were sent by him to various places in Arabia. The mission given to them was to call the tribes to accept Islam, but in case of armed opposition the tribe concerned was to be fought and subdued.
In July 631 (Rabi-ul-Akhir, 10 Hijri), the Prophet sent a military expedition under the command of Khalid to the tribe of Bani Harithah bin Kab in Najran, which lies to the north of the Yemen. The instructions to Khalid were: "Call the tribe thrice to accept Islam. If they respond favourably, do them no harm. If they refuse, fight them." 1 With Khalid went 400 mounted warriors.
Khalid arrived at Najran and made contact with the Bani Harithah bin Kab. He called upon them to submit to Islam, and they accepted his call. No blood was shed. Khalid remained with the tribe for several months, teaching them the ways of Islam; and when he was satisfied that they had become good Muslims, he wrote to the Prophet and informed him of the progress of his mission. The Prophet sent Khalid an appreciative letter in reply and instructed him to return to Madinah and bring a delegation of the Bani Harithah bin Kab with him. Khalid returned with the delegation in January 632 (Shawal, 10 Hijri). The Prophet received the delegation with the usual courtesy shown to all delegations. The terms of submission were explained to the delegates, a leader was appointed for the tribe and the delegation then returned to Najran.
This was the last mission carried out by Khalid in the time of the Prophet. 2
1. Ibn Hisham: Vol. 2, p. 592.
2. For opinions regarding other missions supposed to have been carried out by Khalid, see Note 2 in Appendix B.