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Lessons from the Battle of Muítah - II

Wednesday 05/05/2010

6. A Prophetic Lesson in Respecting Leadership

 
‘Awf bin Maalik Al-Ashja‘i, may Allah be pleased with him, said
 
I set forth with Zayd bin Haarithah to the Battle of Mu’tah accompanied by a reinforcement soldier from Yemen. We proceeded until we met the multitudes of the Roman troops. Among them, there was a man riding a piebald horse with a gilded saddle and gilded war gear. While the Roman was busy killing Muslim soldiers, the Yemeni soldier ambushed him behind a boulder and hamstrung his horse when he passed by him. The Roman fled and the Yemeni dealt him a deadly blow with the sword then took his horse and arms. When Allah The Almighty granted the Muslims victory, Khaalid bin Al-Waleed sent someone to the Yemeni man to take some of the booty that he possessed.
 
[‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, continued:] I went to Khaalid and wondered whether he knew that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) dictated that the booty is an exclusive right to the killer. He said that he knew that but found the booty too much for the Yemeni man. I asked him to give the man back what he had taken from him, otherwise, I would tell the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) about it. Khaalid refused to return anything.
 
[‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, added,] We later met in the presence of the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) and I recounted to him the story of the Yemeni man and the response of Khaalid, to which the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) asked Khaalid why he had done that. Khaalid said that he found the booty too much for the man. The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) asked him to return it to the man. Thereupon, I said to Khaalid, “See, didn’t I tell you?” The Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) wondered what that was about and I told him. The Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) then became angry and said, “O Khaalid, do not return anything to the man! Would you leave my commanders to me? You get the cream of it and they get the worst of it.” [Muslim]
 
This was a great stance of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) to protect the commanders and the leaders beyond exposure to humiliation due to their mistakes. In fact, they were human and liable to err. So, endeavors should have been made to correct their mistakes without blemishing or humiliating them. Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, believed the booty was too much for one man and thought that if it was included in the general spoils of war, it would be useful to a great number of Muslim fighters. ‘Awf bin Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, played his role in disapproving what Khaalid had done and in raising the case to the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) when Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, rejected his opinion.
 
‘Awf, may Allah be pleased with him, was supposed to stop at that point. However, he turned the case from one of reform into a personal one. His words showed that he was avenging himself on Khaalid, something that the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) strongly rejected. He explained the commanders’ rights over their soldiers. That the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) then judged that Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, should not return the booty to the Yemeni man proved that this did not mean that the man would miss his right, since the Messenger  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) would never punish someone for another’s mistake. The man must have been satisfied in some other way, either by receiving compensation or willingly surrendering his right or by some other means; the details of which were not reported.
 
It is not possible for a nation that neither respects nor appreciates its men to maintain order. In fact, the Prophetic nurturing was able to build the Ummah (Muslim nation) soundly, and every Muslim today should occupy his due place and should be respected in so much as he serves the religion. Beyond that, all Muslims are included in the general description that Allah The Almighty gave about the believers in the verse (what means): {O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion - Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the Cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.} [Quran 5:54]
 
“Would you leave my commanders to me?” This saying of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) was another merit assigned to Khaalid, may Allah be pleased with him, as the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) appreciatively considered him as one of his commanders. This is an aspect of the Prophetic method of appreciating men.
 
7.  Faith Standards and Their Effects in the Battlefield
 
The Islamic army stopped at Ma‘aan to discuss the huge army of the enemy. Though material standards did not encourage them to enter the battle, they proceeded and entered the battle equipped with the standards of faith, for they had originally set out seeking martyrdom, so why should they escape from what they had set out for?
 
Zayd bin Arqam, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I was an orphan raised by ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaahah, may Allah be pleased with him. He took me on his travel to the Battle of Mu’tah, placing me on the saddlebag. While we were walking, by Allah, I heard him saying a line of poetry indicating his longing for martyrdom in the land of Ash-Shaam [greater Syria], to which I cried. He therefore hit me with a small stick and said, ‘Why should it bother you if Allah grants me martyrdom and you return home by camel?’”
 
Deep reflection on the Battle of Mu’tah helps us cure the current psychological and spiritual defeat of the Ummah, and refute those who claim that we are defeated due to our enemies’ technological advantage. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him had this to say on this battle,
 
It was an amazing thing that two armies with different religions fought; one of them, which fought in the cause of Allah, was three thousand in number, and the other which was an army of disbelievers numbering two hundred thousand fighters – one hundred thousand Romans and one hundred thousand Arab Christians. They engaged in a heated battle, yet the Muslims lost only twelve men, while the disbelievers sustained a huge number of causalities. Khaalid alone was reported to have said that he broke nine of his swords while fighting and only a Yemeni sword remained in his hand. One wonders how many persons were killed with all these swords, let alone the other Muslim heroes and courageous men from the bearers of the Quran who crushed the cross worshippers, may the curse of Allah perpetually descend on them.

Lessons from the Battle of Mu’tah - I

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