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Khalifa Abu Bakr - Encounter with the Tribes

Battle of Abraq

Concentration of the tribes at Abraq. After their defeat at Zul Qissa the tribes retreated to Abraq. Heretofore the tribes maintained some semblance of allegiance to Islam, and had not made common cause with the tribes who had apostatized from Islam. After their defeat at Zul Qissa these tribes repudiated Islam, and joined the ranks of the apostates. At Abraq there was consequently a great concentration of the apostate tribes, and they were fully poised for attacking the Muslims. These apostate tribes turned viciously in the first instance upon such of their members who still owed allegiance to Islam. Being outnumbered such Muslims were slaughtered mercilessly. Some were put to the sword, some were burnt alive, some were thrown from the cliffs, and some were subjected to tortures of other kinds. When Abu Bakr came to know of these atrocities perpetrated against the Muslims he vowed vengeance, but in view of the large strength of the apostate tribes he had to perforce delay action till the return of Usamah's army.

Battle of Abraq. On the return of Usamah's army from Syria, Abu Bakr decided to lead an expedition against the apostate tribes concentrated at Abraq. Abu Bakr was advised that instead of leading the expedition to Abraq personally he should entrust the command to some one else. His companions said: "O Caliph of the Holy Prophet, do not endanger yourself by loading the army in person. If God forbid any harm comes to you that will work to the advantage of the apostates. Appoint some one else to command the Muslim forces, for even if such a commander is martyred he could be replaced." Abu Bakr thanked his advisers for their solicitude about him, but he did not accept their proposal He said: "If the Holy Prophet himself led campaigns, it is but meet that as his representative I should also go forth in battle to fight in the name of Allah. "

The Muslim army under Abu Bakr marched from Madina to Zul Qissa, and from there advanced to the district of Abraq. When the Muslims reached Abraq, they found the hostile tribes already formed in battle array in the plain outside their settlement of Rabza. It was a hot August day, and after prayers, Abu Bakr launched the attack. The attack was withheld by the enemy. Then the enemy charged. The enemy contingents led by Haris, Auf, and Huteeyah penetrated into the ranks of the Muslims. The Muslim army fell back and the enemy contingents rushed forward impetuously. Then the Muslims counter charged, and the advance contingents of the enemy were cut to pieces The enemy leaders Haris and Auf were killed, while Huteeyah who was also a well known poet was captured alive.

With the fall of the leaders the enemy forces were demora1ised. Soon the field came to be covered with the dead bodies of the enemy in large numbers. Ultimately the courage of the tribes gave away under the increased pressure of the Muslims, and they found safely in flight. The Muslims thereby won a significant victory.

Consequences of the battle of Abraq. The victory for the Muslims in the battle of Abraq was an important event of the caliphate of Abu Bakr. The campaign had a very salutary effect. lt showed that the Muslims were strong enough for the offensive. It also brought home to the Muslims and the non-Muslims alike that Abu Bakr was not a mere ruler; he was a military General as well. The region of Abraq commanded a strategic position which was vital for the safety of Madina. Abu Bakr annexed the district of Abraq to Madina. The vanquished tribes were expelled from the district, and their lands were confiscated and turned into a pasture ground for the state animals. It was the first state pasture in the history of Islam.

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