Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik Al-Ansari

 Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik Al-Ansari 

In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh. Peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

 Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik Al-Ansari was the brother of Anas Ibn Malik, the personal aide of the Prophet SAW. His hair looked disheveled and his whole appearance was unkempt. He was thin and wiry with so little flesh on his bones that it was painful to look at him. Yet in single-handed combat he defeated and killed many opponents and in the thick of battle he was an outstanding fighter against the mushrikin.

He was so courageous and very daring that Umar Ibn Al-Khattab once wrote to his governors throughout the Islamic state that they should not appoint him to lead any army out of fear that he would have them all killed by his daring exploits. Al-Bara Ibn Malik's heroism began after the death of the noble Prophet SAW when many Arabian tribes became apostate, took to leave Islam in large numbers, just as they had entered it in large numbers. Within a short space of time only the people of Makkah, Madinah and Taif and scattered communities, whose commitment to Islam was unwavering, remained within the religion.

Abu Bakar As-Siddiq, the successor to the Prophet SAW, stood firm against this destructive movement. From the strength of the Muhajirin and Ansar, he mobilized eleven armies each under a separate commander and dispatched them to various parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Their purpose was to ensure the apostates return to the path of the Islam and to confront the leaders of the rebellion.

The strongest group of apostates and the greatest in number were the Banu Hanifah among whom Musailamah the Imposter, claiming that he was a prophet. Musailamah managed to mobilize forty thousand of the best fighters among his people. Most of these however followed him for the sake of asabiyyah or tribal loyalty and not because they believed in him. One of them in fact said, "I testify that Musailamah is an imposter and that Muhammad is true but the imposter of Rabi'ah (Musailamah) is dearer to us than the true man of Mudar (Muhammad).”

Musailamah routed the first army sent against him under the leadership of Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahal. Abu Bakar dispatched another army against Musailamah led by Khalid ibn al-Walid. This army included the cream of the Sahabah from both the Ansar and the Muhajirin. In the front ranks of this army were Bara’ Ibn Malik Al-Ansari and a group of the most valiant Muslims. The two armies met in the territory of the Banu Hanifah at Yamamah in Najad. Before long, the scale of battle tilted in favour of Musailamah and his men.

The Muslim armies began to retreat from their positions. Musailamah’s forces even stormed the tent of Khalid ibn Walid and drove him from his position. They would have killed his wife if one of them had not granted her protection. At that point, the Muslims realized in what a perilous situation they were. They were also conscious of the fact that if they were annihilated by Musailamah, Islam would not be at peace in the Arabian Peninsula. Khalid mustered his forces once more and began reorganizing them. He separated the Muhajirin and the Ansar and kept men from different tribes apart. Each was put under the leadership of one of its own members so that the losses of each group in the battle might be known.

The battle raged and there was much destruction and death. The Muslims had not experienced anything like that in all the wars they had fought before. Musailamah's men remained firm amidst the tumult, as firm as immovable mountains although many of them had fallen. The Muslims displayed tremendous feats of heroism. Thabit ibn Qais, The Standard Bearer of the Ansar, dug a pit and planted himself in it and fought until he was killed. The pit he dug turned out to be his grave.

Zaid Ibn Al-Khattab, brother of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may God be pleased with them both, called out to the Muslims: "Men, bite with your jaw teeth, strike the enemy and press on. By God, I shall not speak to you after this until either Musailamah is defeated or I meet God." He then charged against the enemy and continued fighting until he was killed.

Salim Mawla Abu Hudzaifah and Standard Bearer of the Muhajirin displayed unexpected valor. His people feared that he would show weakness or be too terrified to fight. To them he said, "If you manage to overtake me, what a miserable bearer of the Qur'an I shall be." He then valiantly plunged into the enemy ranks and eventually fell as a martyr.

The bravery of all these, however, wanes in front of the heroism of Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik, may God be pleased with him and with them all. As the battle grew fiercer and fiercer, Khalid turned to Al-Bara’ and said, "Charge, young man of the Ansar." Al-Bara’ turned to his men and said, "O Ansar, let not anyone of you think of returning to Madinah. There is no Madinah for you after this day. There is only Allah, then Paradise."

Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik, and the Ansar then launched their attack against the mushrikin, breaking their ranks and dealing telling blows against them until eventually they began to withdraw. They sought refuge in a garden which later became known in history as The Garden of Death because of the many killed there on that day. The garden was surrounded by high walls. Musailamah and thousands of his men entered and closed the gates behind them and fortified themselves. From their new positions they began to rain down arrows on the Muslims. The valiant Al-Bara’ went forward and addressed his company, "Put me on a shield. Raise the shield on spears and hurl me into the garden near the gate. Either I shall die a martyr or I shall open the gate for you." The thin and wiry Al-Bara’ was soon sitting on a shield. A number of spears raised the shield and he was thrown into the Garden of Death amongst the multitude of Musailamah's men.

He descended on them like a thunderbolt and continued to fight them in front of the gate. Many fell to his sword and he himself sustained numerous wounds before he could open the gate. The Muslims charged into the Garden of Death through the gates and over the walls. Fighting was bitter and at close quarters and hundreds were killed. Finally the Muslims came upon Musailamah and he was killed. Al-Bara’ was taken in a litter to Madinah. Khalid Ibn Al-Walid spent a month looking after him and tending his wounds. Eventually his condition improved. Through him the Muslims had gained victory over Musailamah.

In spite of recovering from his wounds, Al-Bara’ Ibn Malik, continued to long for the martyrdom which had eluded him at the Garden of Death. He went on fighting in battle after battle hoping to attain his aim. This came at the Battle of Tustar in Persia.

At Tustar the Persians were besieged in one of their defiant fortresses. The siege was long and when its effects became quite unbearable, they adopted a new tactic. From the walls of the fortress, they began to throw down iron chains at the ends of which were fastened iron hooks which were red hot. Muslims were caught by these hooks and were pulled up either dead or in the agony of death

One of these hooks got hold of Anas ibn Malik, the brother of Al-Bara’. As soon as Al-Bara’ saw this, he leapt up the wall of the fortress and grabbed the chain which bore his brother and began undoing the hook from his body. His hand began to burn but he did not let go before his brother was released. Al-Bara’ himself died during this battle. He had prayed to God to grant him martyrdom.

[ Via Ummnurah]

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