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Abu Bakr – Apostacy Campaigns in East and South Arabia

Campaign in Bahrain

Bahrain. After the fall of Musailma and the overthrow of the Banu Hanifa, Abu Bakr decided that a campaign should be undertaken against the people of Bahrain who had supported Musailma in the fight against the Muslims. Bahrain comprised the coastal strip to the west of the Persian Gulf. During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet. Mundhir bin Sawa w as the ruler of Bahrain. The Holy Prophet sent a mission to Bahrain, and invited Mundhir to Islam. Mundhir accepted the call and was converted to Islam. Mundhir continued to be the ruler of Bahrain under the suzerainty of Madina. Under the influence of Mundhir most of the people of Bahrain accepted Islam. He deputed Jarud bin Mualia a scholar of Bahrain to study Islam at Madina. Jarud returned to his people after some time, and made dedicated efforts to promote Islam with his people The Holy Prophet appointed Al ‘Ala bin Al Hadrami as the Resident at the court of Bahrain.

After the death of the Holy Prophet. Mundhir died soon after the death of the Holy Prophet His death led to anarchy and chaos, and like the people of the other regions in Arabia, most of the people of Bahrain also apostatized. Jarud remained steadfast in his faith in Islam. His tribe, however, wavered in their allegiance to Islam. The argument of his tribe Abdul Qais was that if Muhammad (peace be on him) had been a Prophet, he would not have died. Jarud asked, “There were prophets before Muhammad (peace be on him); where have they gone?” They said that they had died. Thereupon Jarud said, “As other prophets before him died, so Muhammad (peace be on him) has also died. If the deaths of the other prophets could not affect their prophethood, how can the death of Muhammad(peace be on him) affect his prophethood? I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad (peace be on him)whether dead or alive is His messenger.” The argument of Jarud carried weight with his tribe, and they continued their allegiance to Islam. The other people of Bahrain repudiated their allegiance to Islam, and revolted under the leadership of Al Hotam b Dubayah. The rebels captured power and installed al Gharur a Lakhmid prince as their ruler Al Gharur was a descendant of the Arab kings of Hirah, and was a bitter enemy of Islam. He was crowned as the king of Bahrain and he took the pledge to fight against Islam. He brought pressure on Jarud and his people to denounce Islam. but they remained steadfast in their faith Thereupon the Bahrain forces led an attack against the Muslims. The Muslims of the Banu Abdul Qais shut themselves in the fort of Jarasi, and the non-Muslims pressed the siege with considerable vehemence.

Action in Bahrain. Al-Hadrami returned to Madina to seek help and Abu Bakr sent a force under the command of Al-Hadrami to the relief of the besieged Muslims. In the meantime the battle of Yamama was over, and the Banu Hanifa had been won over to Islam. Many men of Banu Hanifa joined the ranks of al-Hadrami, as his forces passed through the Yamama valley on their way to Bahrain, In the meantime the non-Muslims of Bahrain received considerable help from the Persians, and they were fully prepared for a confrontation with the Muslims. Al-Hadrami called upon the Bahrain authorities to offer submission. They ridiculed the offer and declared that the sword would decide the issue. The Bahrain forces were sufficiently strong, and that made Al-Hadrami halt. He sent words to the besieged Muslims at Jarasi to persevere for he was coming to their relief. He had a ditch dug round his camp, and the Muslims waited for a suitable opportunity to overpower the enemy. This state of stalemate lasted for a month, and that made the Bahrain forces feel that the Muslims were no match for them. One night the Muslims heard a lot of noise from the non-Muslim camp. It was reported to Al-Hadrami that the non-Muslims were celebrating their national festival, were dead drunk and were giving themselves to fun and frolic. Al-Hadrami decided to avail of this opportunity. He ordered his troops to take up arms, cross the ditch and pounce upon the enemy. The surprise attack unnerved the Bahrain forces. They ran helter-skelter in all directions and were cut to pieces by the pursuing Muslim forces. Hotam the Commander of the Bahrain forces was killed, while Prince Gharur was captured alive. Over 10,000 non-Muslims died in the action. The Bahrain forces laid down arms and surrendered. Jarud and his Muslim forces came and joined the victorious Muslim army. The people of Bahrain were admitted to the fold of Islam. Those who refused to accept Islam escaped to the island of Darim in the Persian Gulf.

The battle of Darim. Al-Hadrami reorganized the administration and appointed his agents in various parts of Bahrain. After settling the affairs in Bahrain proper, Al hadrami decided to take action against the persons who had taken refuge in the island of Darim. There is a report that on the approach of the Muslim army the water in the channel dried, and they crossed it as if it were a shallow beach. This was interpreted as a sign from the Heaven that God favored the Muslims. Brought to bay the fugitives on the island capitulated and were admitted to the fold of Islam.

Consequences of the battle of Bahrain. The victory of the Muslims in Bahrain was significant in more than one way. Bahrain was at considerable distance from Madina, and the victory at Bahrain showed that the Muslim military arm was sufficiently long and powerful, and could reach far. The assistance that the Persians gave to the people of Bahrain was originally a cause of great concern to the Muslims, but in the long run this worked to the advantage of the Muslims. The Muslims had originally intended to confine their operations to Arabia proper, but the alliance of the people of Bahrain with the Persians provided the Muslims an opportunity for settling accounts with the Persians. The Banu Hanifa who had been at one time the greatest opponents of Islam now became the ardent supporters of the faith. Muthanna a chief of the Banu Hanifa organized a flying column, and undertook to protect the barriers against the Persians. The battle of Bahrain thus proved a prelude to the war with Persia. But for the interference of the Persians in the affairs of Bahrain, the Muslims might not have advanced in Persia, and history would have taken a different course.

Campaigns in Uman and Mahrah

Jayfar bin Al Julanda. During the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, Uman bordering on the Persian Gulf was under Persian influence. lt. was ruled by Jayfar bin Al Julanda who owed allegiance to Persia. When the Holy Prophet sent letters inviting the various rulers to Islam, a letter was addressed to Jayfar as well. As the Persian power was on the decline, Jayfar stood in need of some outside support to bolster up his rule. He responded favorably to the invitation of the Holy Prophet. He said that he was inclined to accept Islam, but the difficulty was that his people were not likely to agree to the payment of Zakat to Madina. The Holy Prophet assured him that if he and his people became Muslims, the amount realized from Zakat could be distributed among the poor and the destitute in Uman itself. Thereupon Jayfar became a Muslim, and under his influence most of his people were also converted to Islam. The Holy Prophet appointed Amr bin Al Aas as the Muslim Resident in Uman.

Laquit bin Malik. After the death of the Holy Prophet, like other parts of Arabia Uman also fell a prey to chaos and anarchy. A false prophet Laquit bin Malik came into prominence. He belonged to the Azdi tribe, which was very numerous. The Azdi felt elated at having a prophet of their own. They apostatized from Islam, and accepted the new creed. Laquit exempted his followers from the disciplines of fasting, prayers, and Zakat. He sanctioned adultery as well as the use of wine. He claimed that he was the recipient of divine revelations. Jayfar remained faithful to Islam, but he lost his hold on the people of Uman most of whom accepted the new creed. Laquit gained in strength, overthrew Jayfar and captured political power. Jayfar and the few people who remained true to Islam had to seek refuge in the hill. Laquit declared himself as the king of Uman. He assumed the title of “Zul Taj”-the crowned head. He established his capital at Daba.

Muslim campaign against Uman and Mahrah. With the change in the affairs of Uman, the Muslim Resident Amr b Al Aas left Uman for Madina. Back in Madina, Amr gave a detailed report of the developments in Uman to the Caliph. Abu Bakr dispatched a force under Hudhaifah b Muhsan to undertake operations in Uman. The wave of apostasy overwhelmed the neighboring state of Mahrah as well. The Caliph sent another force under the command of ‘Urfajah to operate in Mahrah. Both the forces under Hudhaifah and ‘Urfajah were required to collaborate. The operations were required to be commenced from Uman. The instructions of Abu Bakr were that it there was a battle in Uman, Hudaifah was to lead the combined forces, and if the operations were undertaken in Mahrah, ‘Urfajah was to hold the Command. When ‘Ikramah met a reverse at Yamama, he was required not to return to Madina, but to proceed with his men to Uman and Mahrah. All the three forces of Hudhaifah, ‘Urfajah and ‘Ikramah were directed to act in concert.

Battle of Daba. ‘Ikramah and his force reached Uman first. The force of Hudhaifah soon joined him. Word was then sent to Jayfar and his followers to descend from the hills and join the Muslim forces. After descending from the hills, the forces of ayfar joined the relief forces from Madina at Sa’a. The combined forces thereafter marched to Daba. The battle between the forces of Laquit and the Muslims took place in the plain outside Daba. Laquit had a large force at his command and the Muslims were outnumbered. It was a hotly contested battle, and to start with, the forces of Laquit appeared to dominate the field. At the nick of time when the Muslim ranks were likely to disintegrate under the pressure of the forces of Laquit, the Muslims received unexpected reinforcement in the shape of contingents from Bahrain and the tribe of Abdul Qais. That turned the tide of the battle. The Muslims charged with great vehemence, and the forces of Laquit were unable to stand the charge. They found safety in retreat. As the enemy fled; the Muslims pursued them, and overtaking them cut them to pieces. As many as ten thousand followers of Laquit fell on the battlefield. Laquit himself was killed, and with his death all resistance broke down, and the forces of Uman laid down the arms. As a result of the battle of Daba, Jayfar was restored as the ruler of Uman, and the apostates were readmitted to the fold of Islam.

The campaign in Mahrah. After order was restored in Uman, and the Muslim rule was re-established, Ikramah crossed over with his force to attend to the affairs of Mahrah. Like the people of other parts of Arabia the people of Mahrah also apostatized after the death of the Holy Prophet. The people of Mahrah came to be divided into two sections. Shikrit led one section that was the majority section, while the other party that was in minority was led by Al-Musabbah. Taking stock of the affairs in Mahrah, ‘Ikramah felt that instead of fighting against the people of Mahrah as a whole, it would be expedient to take advantage of the rift between the two sections. ‘Ikramah accordingly opened negotiations with the minority party led by Shikrit. The negotiations succeeded. Shikrit and his men were converted to Islam, and ‘Ikramah offered them full Support to capture political power and overthrow their rival section. The majority section was asked by ‘Ikramah to return to Islam but they ridiculed the offer. The combined forces of Shikrit and ‘Ikramah accordingly marched to give battle to the people of Al-Musabbah. In the battle that followed the fighting was severer than the fighting at the battle of Daba. It was a hotly contested battle, and the apostates fought with a spirit of vengeance. The chances of victory were balanced but ultimately the faith and determination of the Muslims carried the day, and the forces of Al-Musabbah found safety in capitulation. Immense booty fell into the hands of the victor Muslims, including two thousand dromedaries and a large supply of arms. The defeated people accepted Islam, and they were granted amnesty. ‘Urfajah carried the booty to Madina while ‘Ikramah stayed in Mahrah to re-organize the administration. When order was fully restored, ‘Ikramah was asked by Abu Bakr to proceed to Yemen.

Campaign in Yemen

Khusro Parwez. During the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam, Yemen was under the suzerainty of Persia, and a Persian noble Badhan was the Governor. In 628 C.E. the Holy Prophet sent dispatches to the various contemporary rulers inviting them to embrace Islam. Among others the invitation was sent to Khusro Parwez as well, the ‘Kisra’ of Iran. When Khusro Parwez got the letter, he was infuriated. He tore the letter to pieces and instructed Badhan to send some agents to Madina to summon the Holy Prophet to his court.

Badhan complied with these orders, and sent some agents to Madina. These agents tried to prevail upon the Holy Prophet that it would be in his interest if he accompanied them to the court of the Kisra. The Holy Prophet suppressed his rage at the insolent message, and asked the agents of Badhan to see him the following day.

When the men from Yemen waited on the Holy Prophet the next day, he said: “The Kisra who had the audacity to summon me in his court has been summoned to the court of my Allah, and his abode is in hell. His son has murdered him. Go, tell your masters that the prophets of God do not attend the courts of temporal sovereigns and tell Badhan that his interest in this world as well as in the world hereafter lies in accepting Islam. If he accepts Islam, he can continue to be ruler of Yemen on behalf of the Muslims.”

Badhan. When the message of the Holy Prophet was communicated to Badhan in Yemen that set him, thinking. These were no ordinary words, and obviously the man who had sent the message could not be an ordinary person. In the mean time news was received from Iran that Khusro Parwez had in fact been murdered and his son had ascended the throne. The new ruler of Iran also sent a command to Badhan not to interfere in any way with the affairs of the Arabian Prophet, and that the order of his father summoning the prophet of lslam to the court of Kisra was not to be enforced. At this turn of events, Badhan was much impressed. He became a Muslim, and many people of Yemen accepted Islam likewise. Yemen threw of its allegiance to Persia. Badhan continued to be the ruler of Yemen on behalf of the Muslims. The Holy Prophet appointed a Resident at the court of Yemen.

Aswad ‘Ansi. A year later, Badhan died and was succeeded by his son Shahr. At this stage a false prophet rose in Yemen. He was one Aswad ‘Ansi, an ugly man who kept his face veiled to hide his ugliness and was nicknamed, “The Veiled Prophet.” By dubious methods, Aswad ‘Ansi succeeded in winning a considerable number of followers. Within a short time, he became powerful enough to challenge Shahr who remained faithful to Islam. In the confrontation that followed, Shahr was defeated and killed, and Aswad Ansi captured power. Aswad ‘Ansi now crowned himself as the king of Yemen, and repudiated allegiance to Madina. He forcefully married the beautiful widow of Shahr, Azad by name. Feroz a Minister under Shahr became a Minister under Aswad ‘Ansi although he remained a Muslim. Qais bin Abu Yaghus, commander-in-chief of the forces of Shahr, became the commander-in-chief of the forces of Aswad ‘Ansi. Aswad ‘Ansi was a man of suspicious nature. He felt that in order to strengthen his position he must overthrow Feroz and Qais. Feroz and Qais soon fell out with Aswad ‘Ansi. Azad bitterly hated Aswad ‘Ansi. In conspiracy spearheaded by Qais, Feroz and Azad, Aswad ‘Ansi was assassinated. Feroz who still professed Islam became the ruler of Yemen. He however, could not pull on with Qais for long. Feroz was of Persian descent while Qais belonged to the Arab tribe, of Bani Hamir. Qais made common with some other Arab tribes, and thought of capturing power. Feroz was no match for the combined strength of the Arab tribes. Lacking strength, Feroz fled to the hills. Thereupon Qais captured political power and became the ruler of Yemen.

Campaign in Yemen. On being ousted from power, Feroz who remained true to Islam sought help from Abu Bakr. Qais apostatized from Islam, and won the cooperation of all those who had previously supported Aswad’Ansi. Some tribes in Yemen, however, remained firm in their faith in Islam, and they rallied round Feroz. With the aid of these tribes, Feroz sallied down from the hills and advanced against Sana’a the capital of Yemen There was a confrontation in the plain outside Sana’a. In this confrontation, the forces of Qais were defeated, and he found safety in flight. Feroz once again became the ruler of Yemen. The restoration of Feroz did not bring peace to Yemen. Qais though defeated continued to be a source of trouble. He approached the Arab tribes and tried to win them to his cause in opposition to Feroz. Qais succeeded in winning Umr bin Maadi Kurb to his side. Umr was a poet and a firebrand fighter and his alliance with Qais made the position of Feroz difficult.

Feroz appealed to Abu Bakr for help. Abu Bakr ordered a two-pronged advance on Yemen. Muhajir b Umayya was directed to march from Makkah to Yemen. ‘Ikramah bin Abu Jahal was directed to march from Mahrah to Yemen. ‘Ikramah entered Yemen and camped at Abyan. Muhajir with his force advanced from Makkah and Taif. At the border of Yemen a tribe allied with Qais intercepted the advance of the force of Muhajir. The Muslims charged with great fury, and in the battle that ensued practically the whole of the tribe was exterminated. This victory of the Muslims unnerved the apostates. Instead of making common cause to give another battle to the Muslims, Qais and Umr fell out with each other. One day Umr surprised Qais and after taking him captive presented him before Muhajir, Umr had hoped that thereby he would win the favor of Muhajir. Muhajir, however, arrested Umr as well for his past misconduct. With the elimination of the two leaders, the apostate tribes had no will to fight. They laid down arms. and those who accepted Islam were granted amnesty, the rest were killed. That brought peace to Yemen. Qais and Umr were both sent in chains to Madina and there they were presented before Abu Bakr. At Madina, both Qais and Umr repented and were re-admitted to the fold of Islam.

Campaign in Hadramaut

The revolt of the Kinda. Early in 633 C.E. the Kinda in Hadramaut broke into revolt. The people of the Kinda tribe did not apostatize, but something went wrong with the way they were handled. The Muslim Governor of Hadramaut was Ziyad bin Lubeid, and his headquarter was at Zafar. On of the Kinda chiefs offered a camel as Zakat. Later he found that the animal that he had offered in Zakat belonged to his brother. He approached the Governor with the request that the animal that he had offered in Zakat should be returned to him, and he would offer another camel instead. Ziyad the Governor rejected the request, and that led to trouble. The chieftain thereupon sent some persons to steal the camel in question. Ziyad had the camel lifters arrested. A riotous assembly of the Kinda people demanded the return of the arrested persons. Ziyad refused, and on such refusal the situation exploded.

Large sections of the Kinda revolted. In protest they apostatized from Islam and refused to pay any taxes. In defiance of the Muslim authority they took up arms. Ziyad sent a column against the rebels. There was a confrontation at Riyad not far from Zafar. Here the apostates were defeated and many were captured. As the captives were being taken to Zafar, they passed through a settlement which belonged to Ash’as bin Qais, a Kinda chief. Ash’as was a typical Arab chief, a man of considerable charm and wit, and of a colorful personality. The captives appealed to Ash as for his help. They cried “O Ash’as, we are of your clan and we invoke your help.” Ash’as by that time had not apostatized, but his tribal loyalty proved stronger than his faith. With his men, Ash’as intercepted the Muslim column, and liberated the captives. When Ziyad took notice of this breach of faith on the part of Ash’as, Asha’s revolted and apostatized. The rebel Kinda flocked to the standard of Ash’as, and prepared for battle.

Campaign in Hadramaut. Ziyad wrote to the Caliph Abu Bakr for reinforcement. Abu Bakr directed Muhajir to march from Yemen to Hadramaut to the relief of the administration in Hadhramaut. Muhajir marched with his force to Hadramaut. There was a battle in late January 633 C E. in which Ash’as was defeated, though the defeat was not decisive. Ash’as withdrew his army from the battlefield and shut himself in the fort of Nujeir. Here other dissident tribes joined him. The Muslims besieged the fort of Nujeir. To strengthen the Muslims, ‘Ikramah also marched with a column from Yemen to Hadramaut. The Muslims thereafter pressed the siege, and some time in February 633 C.E., Ash’as opened negotiations with Muhajir and ‘Ikramah. Ash’as agreed to surrender if the lives of ten persons and their families were spared. The Muslims accepted the proposal and Ash’as was asked to write the names of the persons for whom he wanted amnesty. Ash’as went to his people, and prepared the document containing the names of the persons who were to be granted amnesty. It was his intention to write the names of other ten persons, and thereafter write his own name as the tenth. He did not notice that one man Jahdam stood over his head reading the names. As Ash’as was going to write his own name as the tenth person Jahdam drew his dagger saying “Write my name, or I will kill you.” Overawed, Ash’as wrote the name of Jahdam as the tenth person, and the list of ten persons having been completed was handed over to Muhajir who had it sealed. In pursuance of the pact, Ash’as laid down arms and opened the gates of the fort. The Muslim forces thereafter entered the fort. Ash’as had not taken the garrison with him into his confidence. The garrison, therefore, opposed the Muslims. The apostates suffered from terrible slaughter, and the few who were left laid down their arms. All the men were taken captive. The Kindas now realized that Ash’as had betrayed them. As the captive men and women of the Kinds were led past Ash’as, they looked at him reproachfully and said “You traitor.”

Ash’as bin Qais. When after the fall of the fort of Nujeir the sealed document with Muhajir was opened it was found that the name of Ash’as was not included in the list of ten persons who were to be granted amnesty. Muhajir felt delighted at this and said, “O enemy of Allah, your name is not included in the list, and thus prepare yourself for death.” ‘lkramah came to the rescue of Ash’as, and at his instance, it was decided that Ash’as should be sent to Madina, where Abu Bakr would decide his fate. Ash’as was accordingly put in chains, and taken to Madina along with other captives.

At Madina, Ash’as was presented before Abu Bakr. The Caliph reproached him for apostatizing from Islam. He also criticized his conduct in betraying his own people. Ash’as bore these reproaches without being ruffled in any way, and then pressing into service all the wit, eloquence, and charm of which he was master, made the Caliph believe that instead of having sinned, he had been sinned against. He tried to create the impression that he had been forced to take the stand that he had taken because the Muslim administration at Zafar had mishandled the affairs and acted tactlessly. He assured the Caliph that he was always a Muslim, and that even when forced to take up arms against the Muslim administration he had remained at heart a Muslim.

Abu Bakr felt that Ash’as was a man of great parts and that the proper course for the administration should have been to win his collaboration rather than drive him to the hostile camp. Abu Bakr granted him amnesty. Ash’as won the favor of the Caliph to such an extent that he was married to Umm Farwa a sister of Abu Bakr. It is related that in honor of the celebration of his marriage, Ash’as went to the camel market at Madina, and inflicted cuts with his sword on the hamstrings of every animal that came his way. In a few moments dozens of camels were thus disabled. When the owners protested he paid them the price that they demanded. A large crowd gathered, and he asked them to have the animals slaughtered and feast upon the meat to celebrate his marriage to the sister of the caliph. He said that if he had been in his hometown he would have celebrated the marriage on a grander scale. Ash’as settled at Madina. In later years of his life he fought with distinction in Syria, Iraq, and Persia. Under Usman be was made the Governor of Azarbaijan.

Treachery was, however, in the very blood of Ash’as. One of his daughters married Imam Hassan, and she poisoned her husband at the instance of Amir Muawiyiah. On his death bed Abu Bakr gave expression to some of the regrets of his life. One of his regrets was that he should not have pardoned Ash’as, but should have beheaded him.

 

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