Campaign Against Bani Tamim

The Bani Tamim.

Having reduced the Bani Asad and Bani Fazara, Khalid bin Walid decided to march against the Bani Tamim who lived on a plateau to the east. The Bani Tamim had accepted Islam during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. After the death of the Holy Prophet when the waves of apostasy spread over Arabia, the Bani Tamim were also affected. The tribe came to be divided into two sections. One section remained faithful to Islam, while the other section repudiated their allegiance to Islam. There was however some confusion as to who among the tribe favored Islam and who were against it. When Khalid gave order to march to Bataha the headquarters of the Bani Tamim, the Ansars in the army refused to march to Bataha. Their stand was that the Caliph had not sanctioned any operation against the Bani Tamim. 

Khalidsaid that being the Commander of the forces operating in the region, he was in the best position to know which operations should or should not be undertaken in the interests of the mission for re-establishing the supremacy of Islam. He, however, declared that if the Ansars were unwilling to follow him, it was open to them to withdraw. When the main army of Khalid marched forward the Ansars stayed behind. After some time on second thought, the Ansars also decided to accompany Khalid. They accordingly rejoined the main Muslim army at the next stage of their march.

Murder of Malik bin Nuweira.

The orders of Abu Bakr were that if any tribe professed faith in Islam, no action should be taken against it. If a tribe did not profess faith in Islam, it was to be invited to repent and be reconverted to Islam. Operations were to be undertaken against a tribe only in the event of its refusal. It was laid down that if on reaching the settlement of a tribe, the Muslim army heard the tribe give Azan it was to be understood that the people of the tribe professed Islam.

In the absence of such response it was to be presumed that the people had apostatized. Before the Muslim army reached Bataha, a delegation of Bani Tamim waited on Khalid. They brought with them the amount of the Zakat payable to the Muslims Khalid took the amount, but continued his advance to Bataha. When the Muslim army reached Bataha, there were no forces of the Bani Tamim to oppose the Muslims. The position was confused. Malik bin Nuweira the chief of the Bani Tamim neither came forward to offer his submission, nor did he come forward to oppose the Muslims. On the other hand he went into hiding. That made him the subject of suspicion. 

Khaliddirected his soldiers to forage in the neighborhood. As a result of such operations, Malik and his wife Laila were taken captive and brought before Khalid. Malik’s wife Laila was known far and near for her breath taking beauty. Her long glossy hair flowed up to her knees. She had gorgeous legs, and she carried herself with peculiar grace and charm. What exactly transpired when Malik and his wife were presented before Khalid is not known. According to one account after his talk with Malik, Khalid was satisfied that Malik had repudiated Islam. According to another account, Malik is reported to have said that his wife was his undoing, and that after Khalid had seen her, his death was certain. The prisoners retired for the night. 

Atthe dead of night, Malik and his male companions were killed. Here again the accounts differ. According to one account, Khalid had merely ordered that the night being cold, the prisoners should be kept warm, and this order was misunderstood to be an order for murder. The other account is that Khalid in fact ordered the murder of Malik as he had apostatized.

After the Bataha Episode.

After the death of Malik, the entire tribe of Bani Tamim surrendered and professed faith in Islam. Khalid immediately married Laila the beautiful widow of Malik b Nuweira. The campaign against the Bani Tamim was a masterstroke from the political point of view. It brought the entire tribe to the fold of Islam. From the military point of view the significance of the action at Bataha was that the rear of Sajjah the false prophetess was cut off and she could no longer count on the support of Bani Tamim.

The episode, however, led to considerable scandal. In some quarters it was held that Malik was indeed a Muslim, and that he had been murdered merely because Khalid coveted his beautiful wife. Some of the Ansars in the army of Khalid led by Abu Qatadah refused to fight under the command of Khalid. Abu Qatadah along with Mutamim the brother of Malik set out for Madina to lodge a complaint against Khalid before the Caliph. Mutamim was a distinguished poet, and he composed an elegy mourning the death of his brother, and condemning Khalid as his murderer. These verses became popular in Madina and those who listened to them grieved at the murder of Malik.

Trial of Khalid.

Khalid was summoned to Madina and put to explanation. There were two charges against Khalid, firstly, the murdering of a Muslim and secondly marrying his wife. Khalid’s explanation was that if according to the Holy Prophet he was the “Sword of God” such sword could not fall on the neck of a Muslim. Umar was of the view that Khalid was to be blamed, and he should be suitably punished. 

AbuBakr felt that a military commander, Khalid was indispensable. His view was that even if it was held that Khalid was guilty of a lapse, such lapse could be passed over in the broader interests of Islam. Musailma in the Yamama valley was posing a great threat to the Muslims. Two Muslim Generals sent against Musailma had suffered defeat the position was critical, and at that stage a General of the caliber of Khalid alone could vindicate the honor of Islam. Abu Bakr decided to overlook the lapse of Khalid, and directed him to undertake operations against Musailma. As there were doubts whether Malik was or was not a Muslim, Abu Bakr decided that blood money should be paid out of the Baitul Mal to the heirs of Malik for his murder.

Umar did not feel happy at this decision of Abu Bakr. When Umar remonstrated, Abu Bakr observed: “Umar, I cannot sheathe the sword, which God has intended to be wielded against the non-Muslims.”

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