Friday Sermon delivered at Masjid Mubarak, Islamabad, Tilford, UK
After reciting Tashahhud, Ta‘awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) said that he would continue highlighting the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) and the battles that took part during his era. His Holiness(aba) said that today he would mention the Conquest of Damascus, which was the last battle that took place during his era.
His Holiness(aba) said that Damascus was the capital of Syria. It used to be a center for idolatry but later Christianity became more prevalent. It was also a central location for trade and many caravans would pass through. Damascus was also a well fortified city with high walls and tranches surrounding the borders, making it difficult to enter.
His Holiness(aba) said that when Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) sent various armies to Syria, he sent Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) with an army to Homs, which was near Damascus. Later, Hazrat Khalid bin Walid(ra) was instructed to arrive at Damascus and along with other Muslims armies encircled Damascus. The people of Damascus would climb atop the walls of their fortress and throw rocks and launch arrows at Muslims, who would defend themselves with leather shields. This went on for 20 days, without any result. The people of Damascus within the fortress were facing difficulty as there was a shortage of sustenance without anything being able to go in. In the meantime, the Muslims learned that Heraclius had formed a large army nearby in Ajnadain. Hazrat Khalid(ra) initially thought they should combat that army, however Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) advised that since the people of Damascus were in straitened circumstances, they should not leave just yet. Hazrat Khalid(ra) agreed and ordered the Muslims armies to launch a fierce attack.
His Holiness(aba) said in the meantime, Heraclius was seen bringing his army to help the people of Damascus. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) suggested that a battalion should be formed to go out and combat Heraclius. Hence, Hazrat Dhirar(ra) was appointed with 500 riders who set out to combat Heraclius and his army. They were initially apprehensive because the opponent was large in number, however Hazrat Dhirar(ra) encouraged them by saying that they should not fear due to their numbers, and no one should flee from Jihad. Hence, the Muslims fought fiercely. During the battle, Hazrat Dhirar(ra) was captured and despite attempts, the Muslims were unable to free him. When Hazrat Khalid(ra) learned of this he was greatly saddened. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) told him that he should make arrangements for the continued siege of Damascus, and then he could go to combat Heraclius and his army.
His Holiness(aba) said that Hazrat Khalid(ra) set out to try and free Hazrat Dhirar(ra), and if they had already martyred him, then they would take recompense. There was a person at the front of the Muslims army who was valiantly fighting against the opponents, clad in armour, however he did not recognise them. This person went into the enemy ranks and would strike down anyone in their way. Hazrat Khalid(ra) asked this person who they were, and after hesitating initially, the person admitted that she was in fact a woman; Khaulah, the sister of Hazrat Dhirar(ra). Thereafter, the Muslims launched a united attack and defeated the Byzantines, granting security to those who sought it. Hazrat Khalid(ra) asked them about Hazrat Dhirar(ra) and was told about his whereabouts. Hazrat Khalid(ra) appointed Hazrat Rafay(ra) to go and free Hazrat Dhirar(ra). Hazrat Khaulah(ra) also requested permission to accompany them.
His Holiness(aba) said that upon arriving, the Muslims found Hazrat Dhirar(ra), the Muslims launched a fierce attack and ultimately were able to free Hazrat Dhirar(ra).
His Holiness(aba) said that in the meantime, the siege of Damascus continued. By this point, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) agreed that the Muslims should go to Ajnadain to combat the army of Heraclius. As the Muslims were travelling, a person named Boolis attacked the Muslims from behind with an army of 6,000 riders. The Muslims prepared for battle, and as Boolis arrived, he launched an attack. The Muslims fought valiantly, and in the meantime, Hazrat Khalid(ra) sent reinforcements. Boolis was ultimately captured, and out of the 6,000 riders, no more than 100 remained alive.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Byzantines had captured some of the Muslim women, including Hazrat Khaulah(ra). Hazrat Khaulah(ra) had gathered the Muslim women who were imprisoned and urged them to defend themselves and attack their captors. Hence, they each took a wooden pillar from the tent, and set out towards the Byzantines. 3,000 people circled the Muslims women, but if anyone tried to advance, the Muslims women would attack and kill them. In the meantime, Hazrat Khalid(ra) arrived with his army and defeated the Byzantines.
His Holiness(aba) said that after this and having defeated the Byzantines who had gathered at Ajnadain, the Muslims army returned to Damascus. In the meantime, the people of Damascus had stocked up on various supplies, in case the Muslims lay siege for a long time once again. The leader of Damascus at the time of Taumah, who ordered a fierce attack against the Muslims. Hazrat Aban(ra) was martyred during this attack, and later, his newlywed wife Umm Taumah returned to the very place where her husband had been martyred. Many Byzantines were killed at her hands. She then targeted the person protecting Taumah, who was carrying a cross. Umm Taumah launched an arrow as a result of which the cross fell from his hand. She then targeted Taumah and launched an arrow at his eye, due to which he was never able to see from that eye again. As a result, the Byzantines were forced to regroup.
His Holiness(aba) said that the Muslims were prepared for a long siege, and as such would carry out various investigations to find out the best way to defeat and conquer Damascus. As a result of these investigations, Hazrat Khalid(ra) found the perfect moment to cross the trench, scale the walls and thus, the Muslims army entered Damascus. The Muslims took control of the Eastern entrance, and so the people of Damascus went to Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) who was at the western entrance requesting to form a treaty. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) agreed and the Muslims outside the fortress were let into the fortress.
His Holiness(aba) said that by the time news of this victory reached Madinah, Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) had passed away.
His Holiness(aba) said that this completed mention of the battles during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra). He would continue highlighting other aspects of his life in future sermons.
His Holiness(aba) said that he would lead the funeral prayers in absentia of the following deceased members.
Umar Abu Arqub who had been serving as the President of the Community in northern Palestine. He learned about the Community in 2010 through MTA and after praying accepted Ahmadiyyat. He was patient through any difficulty. He loved Khilafat a great deal. He had dedicated the lower portion of his home for the Community, where members would come to offer prayers and conduct various meetings. Despite being urged by opponents to leave Ahmadiyyat, he remained steadfast and in fact would debate with them to the point that they would not have any answer. In his final illness, he advised his son not to be sad. He was a beloved person. He is survived by his wife, three sons and four daughters. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah enable the rest of his family to accept Ahmadiyyat, and may He treat the deceased with forgiveness and mercy.
Sheikh Nasir of Mithi Tharparkar. He was the first Ahmadi there. He was regular in offering prayers, hospitable, and loved Khilafat a great deal. Many people accepted Ahmadiyyat through his preaching efforts. He faced a great deal of opposition especially at the times of his children’s weddings. The Fourth Caliph(rh) praised him saying that if there was a Nasir in every centre then we would be successful. He is survived by two sons and four daughters. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah elevate his station.
Malik Sultan Ahmad who was a former local missionary under Waqfe Jadid. He learned from the Fourth Caliph(rh) when he was the head of Waqfe Jadid. Later he was sent to serve in various areas. He had a passion for propagation. He was regular in offering prayers, hospitable and beloved by all. He is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah treat him with forgiveness and mercy and elevate his station.
Mahboob Ahmad Rajiki of Mandi Bahauddin. He is survived by two sons and a daughter. He was the son of Hazrat Ghulam Ali Rajiki and the nephew of Hazrat Maulvi Ghulam Rasool Rajiki(ra), who were Companions of the Promised Messiah(as). He was devoted to prayer, to the Holy Prophet(sa) and the Promised Messiah(as) and loved Khilafat. He was wrongfully imprisoned three times. He would always try to offer prayers in the mosque even when he was ill. Many non-Ahmadis have attested to the acceptance of his prayers. His Holiness(aba) prayed that may Allah grant him forgiveness and mercy and elevate his station, and enable his progeny to carry on the legacy of his virtues.
Summary prepared by The Review of Religions
After reciting the tashahhud, ta‘awwuz, and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V(aba) stated:
The battles fought during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) was being mentioned. In this regard, I will mention some details in relation to the conquest of Damascus, which took place in the 13th year after Hijra. This was the last battle that was fought during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq(ra). With regards to Damascus, it is stated that it was the old capital of Syria and a city full of historical traditions. Initially, it was a large centre for idol worship. However, when Christianity was introduced, it transformed its idol worship centres into churches. This was an important centre for trade. Arabs resided there as well and as Muslim trade caravans used to go there frequently, they were well informed of this area. Damascus was a fortified city and it was distinct due to its security and sustainability. Its walls were made of large rocks. They were six metres high and had extremely strong doors. The walls were three metres wide and the doors would be tightly secured. A 3 metre-wide trench surrounded all four sides of the walls and it was kept full with the water from the river. As such, Damascus was considered rather strong and secure and it was not easy to enter it. (Al-Salabi, Sayyiduna Umar(ra) bin Khattab [Muzaffar Garh, Pakistan: Maktabatul Al-Furqan], p. 225)
When Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) dispatched various armies towards Syria, he appointed Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) as the chief of one of these armies and instructed him to advance towards Homs. Homs is located near Damascus and is an ancient and large city in Syria. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2012], p. 333.), (Farhang-e-Sirat [Karachi, Pakistan: Zawwar Academy Publications], p. 106.)
In accordance with the instructions of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra), Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid surrounded it along with another Muslim army upon reaching Damascus. The people of Damascus climbed the walls of their fortresses and threw stones and shot arrows at the Muslims. The Muslims protected themselves with leather shields and would shoot arrows at them as well when finding the right opportunity. Twenty days passed by in this manner, but no decisive result was achieved. The people of Damascus were facing rather difficult circumstances as they were trapped in the fortress. The supply in the fortress was running out and their crops were outside. As such, their harvest and labour were being harmed. Grain could not enter the fortress and there was a shortage of consumables as well. Due to the extended period of the siege, they were facing great anxiety and difficulties.
In the meantime, while 20 days had passed since Damascus was sieged, the Muslims came to know that Heraclius had gathered a large Byzantine army at Ajnadain. As soon as they heard of this, Hazrat Khalid(ra) left from the eastern gate and came to Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) who was at the Jabiyah gate. He informed him of the situation and expressed his opinion saying, “We should abandon the siege of Damascus and encounter the Byzantine army at Ajnadain. If Allah grants us victory, we shall return and see to the matters in Damascus.” Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) replied, “My opinion is to the contrary as the people of Damascus have grown tired of being encircled in the fortress for 20 days and we have overawed them. If we leave from here, they will get respite and they will gather large amounts of food and drink in their fort. If we return to them from Ajnadain, they will be able to confront us for a lengthy period.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) agreed with the opinion of Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) and continued the siege. He instructed all the appointed Muslim chiefs at the various gates of the fortress to intensify their attack. Complying with the instructions of Hazrat Khalid(ra), the Muslim army started launching intense attacks from every side.
Twenty one days had now passed since the siege of Damascus. Whilst encouraging the Muslims to intensify their attacks, Hazrat Khalid(ra) personally continued launching intense attacks from the eastern gate as well. The people of Damascus had now grown extremely tired and were awaiting help from Heraclius. Hazrat Khalid(ra) continued his attacks. They were engaged in battle when they saw that the Byzantines standing on the walls of the fortress suddenly started clapping and dancing and expressing their joy. The Muslims looked at them in astonishment. Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid looked to one side and saw a large cloud of dust in that direction, as a result of which the sky had turned dark. Even during the day, darkness had spread all over. Hazrat Khalid(ra) immediately understood that the army of Heraclius was coming to aid the people of Damascus. Only a short while later, some informants confirmed this news saying, “We saw a large army towards the valley of the mountain and it is most certainly the army of the Byzantines.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) immediately went to Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra), informed him of the situation and said, “I intend to take the entire army in order to confront the army of Heraclius. What do you suggest in this regard?”
Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) said, “This would not be the best course of action, because if we leave this place, then the people in the fortress will come out and fight us. The army of Heraclius will be attacking from one side, while the people of Damascus will be attacking from the other. We will be stuck between two Byzantine armies.” Upon this, Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “What then, is your opinion?” Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) said, “You should appoint a valiant and brave person and send him along with a group of people to combat the enemy.” Hence, Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid sent Hazrat Dirar(ra) bin Azwar along with five hundred riders, to combat the Byzantines.
According to another narration, it is recorded that Hazrat Dirar’s(ra) army numbered five thousand. (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], pp. 203-204), (Waqdi, Futuh Al-Sham, Vol. 1, p. 48)
In any case, Hazrat Dirar(ra) set out with five hundred soldiers – or with however many there were in the army – and set out towards the Byzantine army. Some soldiers saw the Byzantine army and said to him that this army was too large while they were only five hundred, and so it would be best for them to return and attack them with their full army. Hazrat Dirar(ra) said, “Do not fear the enemy’s large number. God has caused a few to prevail over many on various occasions. He will help us now as well. My friends, to return now is to run from Jihad, which displeases Allah. Will you taint the Arab repute of bravery and devotion? Whoever wishes to go back can do so, however I will fight and will exalt the name of Islam. God will never see me running away.” All the Muslims declared in a single voice, “We will sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Islam; we will attain the rank of martyrdom”. In other words they said they were prepared for battle. This pleased Hazrat Dirar(ra) and commanded to launch a single attack against the enemy and utterly destroy them. The Muslims, along with Hazrat Dirar(ra), struck consecutive blows to the enemy and fought bravely. A Byzantine commander’s son attacked Hazrat Dirar(ra) and struck him with a spear in his right arm which caused blood to gush out with great force. After a moment, Hazrat Dirar(ra) struck that same spear into that man’s heart and killed him. The spear lodged in his chest and its blade broke off. When the Byzantine army saw that the spear was broken, they attacked him and imprisoned him. (Rafiq Anjum Makki, Islami Jangein, [Dar-ul-Kutub Lahore], pp. 123-125), (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], pp. 203-206)
This is because he had no weapon in his hand. When the Companions saw that Hazrat Dirar(ra) had been captured, they became very sad and worried. They launched many attacks to release him but were unable to set him free.
When Hazrat Khalid(ra) learned of Hazrat Dirar’s(ra) capture, he became very worried; he gathered information from his compatriots about the Byzantine army and then consulted with Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) about waging an attack. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) said that after making the necessary arrangements for the siege on Damascus, he could wage an attack; the commander at the time was Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra). After tending to the arrangements for the siege, Hazrat Khalid(ra) set out with his compatriots and went after the enemy. He advised them, “as soon as you encounter the enemy, wage a sudden attack. If they have not already killed Dirar then perhaps we may be able to free him and if they have martyred Dirar, then, by God, we will take full retribution from them. However, I am hopeful that Allah will not cause us grief on account of Dirar.”
At the same time, Hazrat Khalid(ra) saw a rider on a red, strong horse, holding a long shining spear. The soldier’s demeanour exhibited bravery, intelligence and expertise in warfare. The soldier was wearing clothes over their armour. Their entire body, including their face, was covered and they were at the front of the army. Hazrat Khalid(ra) wished to know who this rider was. [He said,] “By God, this person is extremely fearless and brave. Everyone is following behind this person.” When the Muslim army approached the enemy ranks, this soldier was seen attacking the Byzantines, just as an eagle preys on birds. A single attack by this soldier caused the opposing army to panic, the number of those killed was piling up, and the soldier continued to progress until he reached the middle of the opposing army. Having already put his life in danger, he turned and ripped through the enemy army, getting deeper into their ranks. Whoever came in this soldier’s way was annihilated. Some thought that this person was Hazrat Khalid(ra). Raafi’ asked Hazrat Khalid(ra) in astonishment, “who is this person?” Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “I do not know, I myself am astonished, wondering who this person is.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) was standing at the front of the army when the same soldier emerged from the Byzantine ranks. None of the Byzantine soldiers were standing up to this soldier who had been fighting in the middle of the Byzantines by themselves.
During this time, Hazrat Khalid(ra) attacked the enemy and extracted this soldier from the middle of the Byzantines and this soldier was returned to the Muslim ranks. Hazrat Khalid(ra) said to that soldier, “You have let your anger out against the enemy. Tell me, who are you?” The rider did not say anything and prepared for battle once again. Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “O servant of God, you have worried me and all the Muslims. You are so reckless, who are you?” Upon Hazrat Khalid’s(ra) insistence, the rider replied, “I have not refused on account of disobedience (I am not responding due to being disobedient), rather I am ashamed, because I am not a man, in fact I am a woman (women also displayed such examples of bravery). The pain in my heart has led me here.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) asked, “which woman are you?” She replied, “I am Dirar’s sister, Khaulah bint Azwar. When I learned of my brother’s capture, I did what you just witnessed.” Upon hearing this, Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “We should all launch a united attack. I trust that Allah will free Dirar from imprisonment.” Hazrat Khaulah(ra) said, “I will also remain at the forefront of the attack.” Then, Khalid(ra) waged a fierce attack. The Byzantines lost their footing and their army scattered. Hazrat Raafi’(ra) displayed exemplary feats of bravery. The Muslims prepared for another fierce attack when suddenly, some riders from the disbelieving army rushed to ask for security. Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “Grant them security,” and he further said, “bring them to me.” Then Khalid(ra) asked them, “Who are you people?” They said, “We are from the Byzantine army and hail from Homs. We wish to form a treaty.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “A treaty will be formed upon returning to Homs. We cannot form a treaty beforehand while we are here. However, you are secure; when Allah makes a decision and we will be victorious here, then we will go there and discuss. Tell me, do you know anything about one of our brave men who was imprisoned for killing your leader’s son.” They said, “Perhaps you are asking about the one who was unclothed and killed many of our men, including our leader’s son.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “Yes, he is the one.” They said, “When he was captured and taken to Wardan, he sent him to Homs, surrounded by a hundred riders in order to be taken to the king.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) was very pleased to hear this. He called Hazrat Raafi’(ra) and said, “You know directions well. Take whatever soldiers you like and free Hazrat Dirar(ra) before reaching Homs so that you may be rewarded by your Lord.” Hazrat Raafi’(ra) selected a hundred soldiers and was just about to leave, when Hazrat Khaulah(ra) implored Hazrat Khalid(ra) for permission to accompany them, and thus, everyone set out for Homs under the leadership of Hazrat Raafi’(ra).
Hazrat Raafi’(ra) went at a swift pace and upon reaching a certain place, he said to those accompanying him, “Rejoice, the enemy has not yet advanced” and then he hid one of his battalions there. It was while they were in this state that they saw dust rising. Hazrat Raafi’(ra) ordered the Muslims to remain vigilant. The Muslims were ready as the Byzantines arrived. Hazrat Dirar(ra) was in their custody and was reciting poetry in a pain-stricken tone, saying “O captors, relay to my people and Khaulah that I have been captured and am bound in shackles. The disbelievers and non-religious people of Syria surround me, all clad in armour. O my heart, die of grief and sorrow and O tears of youth, flow down my cheek.” This is the meaning of the poetry he was reciting. Hazrat Khaulah(ra) loudly proclaimed, “Your prayer has been answered. Allah’s help has arrived. It is me, your sister Khaulah.” Upon saying this, she raised a loud slogan and launched an attack, as the other Muslims also raised slogans and attacked as well. The Muslims overcame that battalion and all were killed. Allah the Almighty freed Hazrat Dirar(ra) and the Muslims were granted spoils. Hazrat Khaulah(ra) untied the ropes binding her brother and greeted him. Hazrat Dirar(ra) commended his sister and welcomed her. He took hold of a long spear and got on a horse and thanked God. As this happiness unfolded here, Hazrat Khalid(ra) waged a fierce attack against Wardan in Damascus and defeated him. The people there fled and the Muslims followed them. There, they met Hazrat Dirar(ra) and the other Muslims. They sent news of their victory to Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra). It was at this point that the Muslims became certain they would gain victory in Damascus. (Fazal Muhammad Yusuf Zai, Futuhaat-e-Sham, [Maktabatul Iman Wa Yaqeen], pp. 75-81)
At the same time, the Muslim army was staying in Damascus and the siege of its fortress continued, when Hazrat Abbad(ra) bin Sa’id came to Hazrat Khalid(ra) from Busra. He informed him that a Byzantine army numbering ninety thousand had gathered in Ajnadain. Hazrat Khalid(ra) consulted with Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) who said, “Our army is scattered around various parts of Syria. Write a letter to them all telling them to meet us in Ajnadain. We will also abandon our siege in Damascus and set out towards Ajnadain. (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], p. 214)
Heraclius had learned of Wardan’s defeat as well as the details surrounding his son’s death. Hence, Heraclius scolded him severely in a letter saying, “I have come to learn that unclothed, starving Arabs have defeated you and have killed your son. Jesus has not had mercy on him, nor on you. Had your swordsmanship not been so renowned, I would have killed you. In any case, whatever transpired has happened now, I have sent an army of ninety thousand to Ajnadain and I am appointing you as its leader.” (Fazal Muhammad Yusuf Zai, Futuhaat-e-Sham, [Maktabatul Iman Wa Yaqeen], p. 81)
Hazrat Khalid(ra) ended the siege in Damascus and instructed the army to set out towards Ajnadain. As soon as they received this instruction, the Muslims uprooted their tents and began loading their belongings on their camels. The camels which were spoils, the camels that were carrying belongings along with women and children were kept towards the back of the army and the riders were kept at the front. Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid said, “It is my opinion that I should travel at the back along with the women and children.” However, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) said that he should remain at the front. He said, “it is possible that Wardan takes his army from Ajnadain and sets out towards Damascus, resulting in a confrontation with them. If you remain at the front of the army then you will be able to stop them and combat them. Hence you should be at the front, and I will remain at the back.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “Your suggestion is right. I will not oppose your opinion and suggestion.”
When the Muslim army ended the siege of Damascus and departed, the people of Damascus rejoiced at the army’s leaving and started jumping up and down and clapping their hands to express their happiness. The people of Damascus had different opinions regarding the Muslim army’s departure; some said that they had heard about the great army of theirs that had assembled in Ajnadain and so the Muslims went to Syria to join their other army. Someone else said they had grown weary from the siege so they would go to someplace else to fight. Others even went to the extent of saying that they were fleeing to return to Hijaz. (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], pp. 216-217).
However many people there were in Damascus had gathered at the place of a person called Paul. Prior to this he had never faced the companions in battle. He was a very trusted person to Heraclius and an excellent archer. The people of Damascus appointed him as the governor, and by tempting him with all kinds of things, they tried to convince him to fight. They vowed to not flee from the battlefield, and he would have the right to himself kill anyone who did run away from the battlefield. When this oath was completed, Paul returned to his home to wear his armour, when his wife asked where he was going. Paul replied, “The people of Damascus have appointed me as the governor, so I am now going to fight the Arabs.” His wife said, “Do not do this, and stay at home for you do not have the strength to combat the Arabs. Do not fight them unnecessarily. I have seen in a dream today that you are holding a bow and are hunting birds in the sky. Some of the birds were hit and fell to the ground, but then got up and flew once more. I was astonished when all of a sudden I saw in the dream that many eagles were coming from above (not one, but many). They attacked you and your companions so fiercely that they destroyed you all.” Paul asked, “You saw me also in the dream?” She replied, “Yes. The eagles pecked at you so hard, causing you to fall unconscious.” Having heard this he slapped his wife and said, “You have been struck by fear of the Arabs. That is why you also had fear in your dream. Worry not, for I shall now make their leader your servant, and his companions’ herders for the goats and pigs.”
Paul immediately assembled an army of 6,000 cavalries and 10,000 foot soldiers and set forth to go after and fight the Muslims, and pursued the Muslim army’s women, children, wealth, cattle and the 1,000-strong army of Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra). The Muslims also prepared for battle and in no time the disbelievers had reached. Paul was leading at the front and immediately launched an attack with 6,000 soldiers upon Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra). Paul’s brother, Peter was advancing with the infantry towards the women and made his way back to Damascus having captured some of the women. Having reached a place, he stayed there waiting for his brother.
Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra), deeming this a catastrophe, said that the view of Hazrat Khalid(ra) was correct that he remain behind the army. Where the women and children were weeping there was also an army of 1,000 fighting valiantly. Paul launched attack after attack upon Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra), and he himself may have also taken part in combat.
Hazrat Sahl(ra) swiftly reached Hazrat Khalid(ra) on horse, and informed him of the whole situation. Hazrat Khalid(ra) recited ‘Inna lillah’ [Verily we belong to Allah]. He sent Hazrat Raafi’(ra) and Hazrat Abdur Rahman(ra) bin Auf each with an army of 1,000 in order to protect the women and children. He then sent Hazrat Dirar(ra) with 1,000 cavalries, and himself set off with the army to fight the enemy. Meanwhile, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) was in combat with Paul, when the Muslim armies reached from different places. They struck them so fiercely that the Byzantines who had come to attack from Damascus were made sure of their humiliation. Hazrat Dirar(ra) advanced towards Paul like a blazing fire. When he saw him, Paul trembled as he stood up after recognising him. Paul dismounted his horse and began fleeing on foot. Hazrat Dirar(ra) chased after him, seized him alive and detained him. Hardly a hundred disbelievers of the 6,000 survived this battle.
Hazrat Dirar(ra) was worried because Hazrat Khaulah(ra) was also among the captives. Hazrat Khalid(ra) said, “Do not worry, we have captured one of their men, in exchange for whom they will easily return our captives.” Hazrat Khalid(ra) took 2,000 soldiers with him and entrusted Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) with the rest of the army, in order for the women to remain protected, and to go himself to search for the women who had been apprehended. He swiftly reached the spot where the enemies had taken the Muslim women away having captured them. He saw that the dust was scattered. He was surprised as to why some fighting had taken place there. Upon enquiry he found out that Paul’s brother Peter had detained the women, and was waiting for his brother by a river, and they were about to distribute the women amongst themselves. Peter said regarding Hazrat Khaulah(ra) that she would be his. They had detained the women in a tent and as they waited for Paul they went to rest.
The majority of the women were very brave and experienced horse riders who were skilled in all kinds of arts of combat. They gathered together and Hazrat Khaulah(ra) said to them, “O daughters of the Himyar tribe, and O heirlooms of the Tubah tribe! Are you happy for the Byzantine disbelievers to make you their bondwomen? Where is your bravery and honour which were renowned in Arab sittings? It is a shame to see you without any honour, courage and resolve. Your death is better than the tragedy that is to come.” Hearing this, one of the female companions said, “O Khaulah, what you say is no doubt true, but tell us, for we are detained and without spears or swords, so what can we do? We have neither horses nor weapons as we were detained unexpectedly.” Hazrat Khaulah(ra) then said, “Be vigilant, the tent poles are here. We should take these and attack these wretched people. Allah shall aid us, and we shall either be successful or be martyred.” Thereupon, every woman picked up a wooden pole. Hazrat Khaulah(ra) placed a wooden pole on her shoulder and led the way. She said to the women with her, “Remain together like the rings of a chain and do not disperse, lest we all be killed.”
Thereafter, Hazrat Khaulah(ra) advanced then attacked and killed one of the Byzantine disbelievers. The Byzantines were shocked by the courage and heroism displayed by these women. Peter said, “You worthless people, what are they doing?” One of the women replied, “Today we have decided to smash your head with these wooden poles and safeguard the honour of our ancestors by killing you.” Peter then said, “Capture them alive and make sure to capture Khaulah alive in particular.” They were circled on all four sides by 3,000 Byzantines, yet none of them could get to the women. If any of them advanced towards them the women would kill them and their horses. In this way, they slayed 30 cavaliers. Seeing this, Peter became enraged and dismounted his horse. He attacked with his cohorts, with swords in hand, yet the women gathered in one place and faced them all, with none of them able to approach. Peter said to Hazrat Khaulah(ra), “O Khaulah, have mercy on your soul, I value you and have a lot of feelings in my heart for you. Do you not wish for a royal like me to be your master and for all my property to be yours too?” Hazrat Khaulah(ra) answered, “O wretched infidel! By God, if I had my way I would break your head right now with this wooden pole. By Allah, I wouldn’t even wish for you to herd my goats and camels, let alone claim to be my equal.” Upon this Peter ordered his army to kill them all.
The army was preparing to launch another attack and it was during the initial attack that the Muslims, led by Hazrat Khalid(ra), reached. He was made aware of everything that had happened. The Muslims were so pleased to hear of the courage and fighting of the women and the entire army surrounded the disbelievers, attacking them together. Hazrat Khaulah(ra) exclaimed, “Allah’s support has come! Allah has bestowed His mercy!” When Peter saw the Muslims, he became worried and fled. However, as he was fleeing he saw two Muslim cavaliers coming his way. One of them was Hazrat Khalid(ra) and the other Hazrat Dirar(ra). Hazrat Dirar(ra) struck him with a spear. He survived as he fell off his horse. Hazrat Dirar(ra) struck him a second time and he was slain. The Muslims killed many of the Byzantines, and the one who survived fled to Damascus.
When Hazrat Khalid(ra) returned, he called Paul and invited him to Islam, saying, “Accept Islam or you shall be treated the same as your brother.” Paul asked what had happened to his brother. Hazrat Khalid(ra) replied, “He was killed.” Seeing the outcome of his brother, Paul said, “There is no more pleasure in life, let me join my brother.” Hence, he too was killed. (Fazal Muhammad Yusuf Zai, Futuhaat-e-Sham, [Maktabatul Iman Wa Yaqeen], pp. 82-29)
In any case, the Muslims gathered at Ajnadain. The details thereof have already been mentioned.
The second siege of Damascus was then underway, for they had to abandon the first one. It is written in relation to the second siege of Damascus that after the victory at Ajnadain, Hazrat Khalid(ra) ordered the Muslim army to move towards Damascus. News of the defeat at Ajnadain had already reached the people of Damascus, but when they heard that the Muslim army was approaching Damascus once again, they became very alarmed. Those living in the outskirts of Damascus fled to take refuge in the fortress and they collected a large amount of grain and other goods, so that their stock would not run out quickly in the case of a prolonged siege by the Muslim army. On top of that, they also gathered weaponry and other military equipment. Catapults, stones, shields, bows and arrows etc. were brought to the fortress walls in order to attack the besiegers.
The Muslim army had set up camp near Damascus, and after advancing forward they surrounded the fortress. Hazrat Khalid(ra) had appointed commanders, along with their armies, at every gate of Damascus. (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], p. 247)
At the time, Thomas was the governor of Damascus. The chieftains, leaders and learned people of Damascus advised Thomas that they did not have the strength to face the Muslim army. Therefore, he should either seek support from Heraclius, or to make a peace treaty, i.e., give them what they demand in order to save our lives. Thereupon, Thomas said out of arrogance and pride, “The Arabs have no significance in my eyes. I am the son-in-law of Heraclius and an expert in battle. Whilst I am here the Muslims shall not have the courage to step foot into the city.” Having heard this, the chieftains understood that he was reassuring them that a large army from Heraclius would soon come to help them.
Thomas ordered for the Muslims to be attacked ferociously from all sides. Many Muslims were injured or martyred during these attacks. Hazrat Aban(ra) bin Saeed was hit by a poison arrow. After removing the arrow he wrapped the wound with his turban, but after a little while the poison had spread to all his body and he fell unconscious. He shortly after attained martyrdom. Hazrat Aban’s(ra) Nikah [marriage ceremony] with Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) took place during the conquest of Ajnadain, and the mehndi [henna applied in preparation for weddings] still remained on her hands and the perfume in her hair, that is to say that the wedding only very recently took place. Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) is counted among those Arab women who were at the forefront of performing jihad. When news reached her of her husband’s demise, she came running and stumbling. Having found her husband’s body, she stood displaying complete patience and forbearance. She did not even for a moment utter anything out of ingratitude, and she recited some couplets upon the parting of her husband. Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid led his funeral prayer.
After the burial, Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) went to her tent with firm resolution and determination. She had a weapon in hand and a cloth was tied around her face when she reached the Thomas gate, where her husband had been martyred. A fierce battle was underway at the Thomas gate. Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) joined the Muslims and fought valiantly, killing many Byzantines with her arrows. In the end, during the battle she had the opportunity to take aim at the guard of Thomas who was holding the great cross. This cross was made of gold and was laden with valuable gems. The one holding the great cross would encourage the Byzantines to fight and pray for success by means of the cross. As soon as the arrow of Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) struck him, the cross fell down and came in the hands of the Muslims. When Thomas witnessed the Muslims in possession of the cross, he went down with his companions to retrieve it, and they opened the gate to fight the Muslims. In the meantime the Byzantines were ferociously attacking from the top of the fortress. During this time, Hazrat Umm Aban(ra) saw her opportunity to aim at the eye of Thomas and shot her arrow, blinding him in that eye permanently. Thereupon, Thomas and his cohorts were forced to retreat, and they closed the gate behind them as they entered. Witnessing the state of Thomas, the people of Damascus said, “This is why we said that we do not have the power to face the Muslims. We should try to make a peace treaty with the Muslims in some way.” Hearing this made Thomas even more enraged and he said to his companions, “In exchange for this eye I will take out a thousand of their eyes.” (Abdul Sattar Hamdani, Mardan-e-Arab, [Lahore, Akbar Book Sales], pp. 248-254)
The people of Damascus were hoping for the support of an army of 20,000 from Homs. (Al-Salabi, Sayyiduna Umar(ra) bin Khattab, p. 724)
However, the Muslims had already planned to send a battalion of the army on the path to Damascus, and thereby halt the army coming from Homs there and then.
The Muslims had been continuing there robust siege of Damascus. The enemies had been left greatly frustrated by the onslaughts, arrows and catapults. When the people of Damascus were certain that the reinforcements would not arrive, and they had grown weak and cowardly, they stopped striving so much and this increased the passion of the Muslims to overcome their enemy. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2012], pp. 357-358.)
The people of Damascus believed that the Muslims would be unable to bear the difficulties of the prolonged siege in the intense cold, but the Muslims in fact braved the circumstances with utmost valour. The Muslims utilised the empty dwellings surrounding Damascus for their rest. According to the weekly schedule, the battalions at the battlefront would come and rest, and when they would leave, another battalion would come to rest. Furthermore, there would be a battalion assigned to overlook and support the battalions fighting at the appointed gates. In this way, keeping control over even the longest of sieges was made easier. However, the Muslims did not just settle for that, they continued to carry out investigations in the battlefield and deploy military tactics in order to break through the organised hurdles placed by the enemy. Thus, with these continuous and organised barriers in place [by the enemy], Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid was successful in picking a suitable place where it was possible to penetrate Damascus. This was the best spot of Damascus, for there was very deep water in the trenches there and to enter from there would be very dangerous.
The plan devised by Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid to enter Damascus was to gather some ropes in order to climb the walls, and tie them together to be used as ladders in order to climb into Damascus. Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid received news that the leader of the Byzantine army of 10,000 on its way to Damascus had a child. The commander had a child and all including the guards were occupied in the celebration. Hence, they all ate and drank to their fill and slept whilst drunk, thus remaining heedless of their duties. In this moment, using their leather bags for support, Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid and some companions were able to cross the trench and reach the wall. Having knotted the ropes together to make a ladder, they hung it firmly to the wall and hung a number of these ropes to the wall. Thereafter, a large number of Muslims began to climb the wall using these ropes, and after getting down on the other side they were able to reach the gate. They cut the gate latch with their swords to separate it. In this manner, the Muslim army was able to enter Damascus. (Al-Salabi, Sayyiduna Umar(ra) bin Khattab [Muzaffar Garh, Pakistan: Maktabatul Al-Furqan], pp. 727-728)
Hazrat Khalid’s(ra) army took control over the eastern gate, and out of panic, the Byzantines made a peace treaty with Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) at the western gate, even though they had refused the peace treaty offered by the Muslims previously and were bent upon war. Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) happily agreed to the peace treaty and so the Byzantines opened the fortress gate telling the Muslims, “Enter quickly and save us from the onslaught (i.e. from Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid.” In the end, the Muslims were able to enter the city after making peace treaties at each gate, whilst Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid fought his way into the city from his gate. Hazrat Khalid(ra) and the other four leaders met one another in the centre of the city. Although Hazrat Khalid(ra) bin Walid had gained victory in parts of Damascus through battle, as Hazrat Abu Ubaidah(ra) had accepted to form a peace treaty, therefore the terms of peace were accepted throughout the conquered areas. (Muhammad Ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Tabari, Vol. 2 [Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, 2012], pp. 357-358.), (Shibli Nomani, Al-Farooq, [Idaarah Al-Islamiyyat, 2004] pp. 106-107)
It should be clarified here that often historians attribute the victory of Damascus to the era of Hazrat Umar’s(ra) Khilafat. However, the expeditions to Damascus had been initiated during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr’s(ra) Khilafat. By the time news of the victory reached Medina, Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra) had passed away. This was the last battle during the era of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra). God willing, in future, I will present other aspects of the life of Hazrat Abu Bakr(ra).
I will also mention some details of some deceased members. The first is respected Umar Abu Arqub Sahib who was the Sadr [local president] of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in southern Palestine. He passed away on the 15 August at the age of seventy.
اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّا اِلَیْہِ رَاجِعُوْنَ
[‘Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.’]
Umar Abu Arqub Sahib was first introduced to Ahmadiyyat in 2010, through watching MTA Al-Arabiyya. He said “when I first watched MTA, I realised that Ahmadis are undoubtedly pure and righteous. On the one side I could see the Muslim world embroiled in bloodshed, theft, fraud and mutual enmity. On the other side, I saw the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat giving teachings of peace and harmony, and inculcating towards Tahajjud prayer [pre-dawn voluntary prayer] and reciting the Holy Quran. This left a deep impression on me. I thought this is the true community, which is essential for us to follow. Through Istikharah prayer I gained certainty. Then, in a dream I was shown that this is the true community. I pledged to remain devoted to this community until my death.”
The deceased would remain steadfast in the face of any adversity. He would say, “I will remain firm upon my pledge as long as I am alive.” After his Bai’at [oath of allegiance], his wife saw a dream and [she says] “a few people take my husband into a room. They bathe him, open his chest and cleanse it from within, and then say to me, ‘look we have returned him in an excellent state.’”
He was someone who had utmost devotion to Khilafat, and was devoted to worship. He was dedicated to the Jamaat. He had dedicated the lower portion of his home to the Jamaat. The Ahmadiyya Community of southern Palestine held the prayers, Eids, Friday prayers and meetings and gatherings there. His son says, “he stated in his will that this portion of the home should be dedicated to the Jamaat.” During his illness, his opponents would urge him to repent and leave the Jamaat and told him his illness would subside if he did so. Despite this, he would engage in preaching discussions. In fact, he held a debate with a fierce opponent, and left him utterly silenced and unable to respond to his arguments. When his illness intensified he had to be transferred to the ICU. His son said to this Muslim cleric, who would always engage in debates with him and speak boldly, to leave his father alone because he was vastly experienced and he would never be able to persuade him.
His son says, that on his deathbed, his father advised them to not be saddened on his death. Then he recited the words of Hazrat Bilal(ra) that:
غدًا ألْقَی الْأَحِبَّۃ مُحَمَّدًا وَصَحْبَہٗ
“Tomorrow I will meet with my beloved Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and his companions.” (Sharah Al-Zarqani, Al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyyah, Vol. 1, p. 499, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 1996)
The deceased was someone who was adored by all and possessed a beautiful personality. He leaves behind his wife, three sons and four daughters. May Allah the Almighty enable for his children who are not Ahmadi to also accept Ahmadiyyat. May Allah elevate the rank of the deceased and bestow upon him His mercy and forgiveness.
The next mention is of Sheikh Nasir Ahmad of Mithi, Tharparkar, who recently passed away at the age of 93.
He accepted Ahmadiyyat in 1969. He was a passionate preacher, who held immense honour for his faith. His prominent qualities included that he was fearless, punctual in his five daily prayers, hospitable and had deep devotion to Khilafat. He had the blessing of bringing into the fold Ahmadiyyat many people from Mithi and surrounding areas. The first mosque built in Mithi was constructed on an area that he had donated. He had to face staunch opposition from his family, kinfolk and local people. Particularly, when getting his children married, his family exerted huge pressure to try and prevent him from marrying his children amongst Ahmadis. He was boycotted and they did not attend the wedding. Despite this fierce opposition, with the grace of Allah, all his children were married in Ahmadi households. He gave special emphasis to the good upbringing of his children and taught them the Holy Quran, and made them punctual in offering the prayers. The women in his family, who would previously dress in Hindu traditional attire, they soon wore the Burqah owing to his efforts. Once Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV(rh) said some words of praise regarding him and said, “If we produce one Nasir in every center, we will certainly find success”. He leaves behind two sons and four daughters. Some of his children are Waqf [life-devotees] and are serving their faith. May Allah elevate the rank of the deceased.
The third mention is of Malik Sultan Ahmad Sahib, who formerly served as a local mu’allim of Waqf-e-Jadid. He passed away recently at the age of 84.
He was born in 1938 in Pakka Niswana, district Jhang and was a born Ahmadi. Ahmadiyyat started in his family from his father, respected Sajjadah Sahib, commonly known as “Shahzada”, who personally went to Qadian, during the time of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud(ra), to do the Bai’at [oath of allegiance]. The deceased completed his education until middle school, and then in 1960 he requested to dedicate himself to the services of Waqf-e-Jadid, a request that was accepted.
When Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV(rh) was in-charge of Waqf-e-Jadid, he remained under his training. After a while, he was appointed as a mu’allim in 1960 after having completed his training. He was sent to Tharparkar where he rendered a great service, and thereafter he also served in other areas of Pakistan. For over 38 years he carried out his service, which he rendered in an excellent manner. He was a very passionate preacher and owing to this in 1968, a life-threatening attack was made on him. He was honest, very friendly and social, hospitable, and kind hearted. He was punctual in offering the Tahajjud and the daily prayers. He was devoted to prayers. He kept a connection of loyalty with Khilafat until his last breath and would advise his children in this regard as well. He leaves behind his wife, three sons and two daughters. May Allah grant him mercy and forgiveness and elevate his rank.
The next mention is of Mahboob Ahmad Rajeki Sahib, who was of Sadullahpur, Mandi Bahauddin. He passed away recently at the age of 86.
He was a Musi and leaves behind two sons and one daughter. One of his sons is in Germany and another in Lahore. He was the son of the Promised Messiah’sas companion, Hazrat Ghulam Ali Rajeki Sahib(ra), and the nephew of Hazrat Maulvi Ghulam Rasul Rajeki Sahib(ra), and the maternal grandson of Hazrat Maulvi Ghaus Muhammad Sahib. The deceased’s son, Mabroor Sahib says:
“He served for 37 years as President of the Ahmadiyya Jamaat in Sadullahpur. He was devoted to prayers, was a true devotee to the Holy Prophet(sa) and the Promised Messiah(as). He had deep affection for Khilafat and he was a fearless servant of the faith. On three occasions he had the honour of being a prisoner in the way of Allah. He was punctual with the five daily prayers, and would offer long Tahajjud prayers. On many occasions he was immediately shown the acceptance of his prayers by Allah the Almighty and would experience true dreams and visions. During his imprisonment he often saw dreams, such as that on this particular day he would be released, or that such and such would occur on a particular date and this precisely what would happen. He would spend the day often engaged in supplications and Durood. Someone wrote that once he came for the Fajr prayer, and when he put his hand on him he had a high fever. Despite this he came to the mosque to offer the congregational prayer. He regularly watched MTA and was devoted to Khilafat. Even when he developed hearing issues and could not make out what was being said, he would still sit in front of the TV during the sermon and made his best efforts to listen to it. Many non-Ahmadis came after he passed away. Even prior his demise, non-Ahmadis would regularly came to meet him as they held him in high regard, and would request him for prayers. After he passed many came to offer their condolences. They would say had he not been an Ahmadi, thousands would have been his followers. Many non-Ahmadis related incidents of acceptance of prayers relating to him. May Allah grant him mercy and forgiveness and elevate his rank. May his children also be enabled continue his virtuous deeds. I will, God willing, lead these funeral prayers [in absentia] after the Friday Prayers.
(Official Urdu published in Al Fazl International, 23 September 2022, pp. 5-10.Translated by The Review of Religions.)