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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Muslims can never be defeated because of small numbers

The need for military operations against Byzantium began to be felt in the life-time of the Holy Prophet. So Abu Bakr was bound to do something about this danger. In the year 13 A.H., he prepared a big army and divided it into four battalions. Each battalion was put under a separate commander. Each of them was to strike at a different point on the Syrian border. Abu Obaida bin Jarrah was to march on Hims, Amr bin al-Aas on Palestine, Yazid bin Abi Sufyan on Damascus and Shurjil bin Hasna on Jordan.

These battalions were to strike at the enemy at once and the same time. The aim was to keep the enemy from hitting with full force on anyone of the battalions.. Before these armies left, Abu Bakr gave the following instructions to their commanders:

1. Always fear Allah. He knows what is in men's hearts.
2. Be kind to the men under you and treat them well.
3. Directions given should be brief. If too long, they are likely to be forgotten.
4. Improve your conduct first; others will improve when they see your example>
5. Honor the representatives of the enemy.
6. Keep your own arrangement a secret.
7. Be always truthful so you can get good advice.
8. At night when you are free, sit among your men. This will keep you in touch with them.
9. Make good arrangements for the watch and ward of the army.
10. Keep away from untruthful men. Be intimate with truthful and faithful companions.
11. Be sincere to all whom you have dealings.
12. Beward of cowardice and dishonesty.
13. You will come across people who have given up the world and are spending their days in place of worship. Leave such people alone.

The news of the Muslim invasion upset Emperor Heracleus. He was in Jerusalem at that time. He sought the advice of his nobles. He himself was in favor of coming to terms with the Muslims. "It is better to give up half of Syria," he said, "than lose the whole of it." To this the nobles did not agree.

So four huge armies were sent by the emperor to fight the Muslims. His own brother was leading one of the armies. Each army was several times more numerous than the Muslim army it had to fight. This made the Muslim commanders give thought to the matter. They met together for mutual counsel. One of them pinpointed the folly of fighting separately. "We will be crushed under the sheer weight of numbers," he said, "if we fight separately." The other generals saw the point. They agreed upon a plan to merge the four battalions into a single army. Thus, they thought, the Muslim army would stop looking too small in its own eyes. They informed the Caliph of their decision. He approved of it and sent the following written message:

"Muslims can never be defeated because of small numbers. But if their own sins overwhelm them, they will meet defeat. So let you all keep away from sins of all kinds."

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