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Khalifa Ali bin Abu Talib - Banu Ramla

Expedition under Ali

After the failure of three expeditions, the Holy Prophet ordered the fourth expedition under the command of Ali. In the earlier expeditions, the Muslim army had failed to reach the stronghold of the tribe, and had to withdraw without actual confrontation with the tribe. Ali changed the tactics. Instead of following the established route, Ali led the Muslim army along mountainous tracks, where they hid themselves during the day, and advanced during the night. Ali succeeded in beating the Banu Ramla at their own game. After several nights march the Muslim army reached the stronghold of the tribe, and made a surprise attack on the enemy. The mountainous tribe could never imagine that the men of the plains could ever penetrate through the depth of the mountains and reach their stronghold. In the confrontation that followed many persons of the tribe were killed, and they were ultimately forced to surrender. Ali returned triumphant to Madina carrying an immense booty, and a large number of prisoners. Heretofore all battles that the Muslims had fought had been fought in the plains. The battle against Banu Ramla was the first battle that the Muslims had to fight in mountainous terrain. The Muslims had no experience of fighting in hilly tracts, and as such the first three expeditions undertaken by the Muslims against the people of the hills failed. The people of the hills were expert in guerilla warfare. They could hide in the mountain recesses and fall upon the Muslims in surprise at all odd hours. By these tactics the Banu Ramla warriors prevented the Muslims from reaching their main settlement in the hills. Ali was the first Muslim General to score a victory in a mountainous territory. When Ali returned triumphant to Madina, the Holy Prophet and the Muslims welcomed him a few miles outside the city. The Holy Prophet appreciated the services of Ali in superlative terms. According to the Shiite traditions, the Holy Prophet addressed Ali on this occasion in the following terms: "O Ali ! If I were not apprehensive that the Muslim community would exaggerate your deeds like the Christians who extolled the achievements of Jesus Christ by ascribing divinity to him. I would have narrated the superiority of your character today in such a way that wherever you went, the people would have worshipped the very dust of your feet".

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