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Khālid ibn al-Walīd
592 – 642
The tomb of Khalid ibn al-Walid in Hims
Tomb of Khalid, in Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque, Syria.
Nickname Sword of Allah
Place of birth Mecca, Arabia
Place of death Emesa, Syria. Buried in Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque.
Allegiance Flag of Afghanistan pre-1901.svg Rashidun Caliphate.
Service/branch Rashidun army
Years of service 632–638
Rank Commander-in-chief (632–634)
Field commander (634–638)
Commander of Mobile guard (634–638)
Military governor of Iraq (633–634)
Governor of Chalcis (637–638)
Unit Mobile guard
Commands held Muslim conquest of Arabia
Muslim conquest of Iraq
Muslim conquest of Syria

Khālid ibn al-Walīd (Arabic: خالد بن الوليد‎; 592-642) also known as Sayfu al-Lāh al-Maslūl (the Drawn Sword of God), was a Sahabi, a companion of Islamic prophet Muhammad, and one of the most successful commanders in history.[1] He is noted for his military prowess, commanding the forces of Prophet Muhammad and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Abu Bakr and Umar.[2] It was under his military leadership that Arabia, for the first time in history, was united under a single political entity, the Caliphate. He has the distinction of being undefeated in over 100 battles, against the numerically superior forces of the Byzantine-Roman Empire, Sassanid-Persian Empire, and their allies. His strategic achievements include the conquest of Persian Mesopotamia and Roman Syria within three years from 633 to 636. He is also remembered for his decisive victories at Yamamah, Ullais, Firaz, and his tactical marvels, Walaja and Yarmouk.[3]

Khalid ibn al-Walid (Khalid son of al-Walid) was from the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, who initially opposed Muhammad. He played a vital role in Qurayshi victory at the Battle of Uhud. He converted to Islam, however, and joined Muhammad after the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and participated in various expeditions for him, such as the Battle of Mu'tah. After Muhammad's death, he played a key role in commanding Medinan forces for Abu Bakr in the Ridda wars, conquering central Arabia and subduing Arab tribes. He captured the Sassanid Arab client Kingdom of Al-Hirah, and defeated the Sassanid Persian forces during his conquest of lower Mesopotamia (Iraq). He was later transferred to western front to capture the Roman Syria and the Byzantine Arab client state of the Ghassanids. Even though Umar later relieved him of high command, he nevertheless remained the effective leader of the forces arrayed against the Byzantines during the early stages of the Byzantine–Arab Wars.[2] Under his command, Damascus was captured in 634 and the key Arab victory against the Byzantine forces was achieved at the Battle of Yarmouk (636),[2] which led to the conquest of the Bilad al-Sham (Levant). In 638, at the zenith of his career he was dismissed from military services, possibly because of his growing fame.


Early life

Khalid was born around c. 592 in Mecca to Walid ibn al-Mughira, the chief of the Banu Makhzum, a clan of the Arab tribe of Quraysh. His father was known in Mecca by the title of Al-Wahid- the Unique.[4] The three leading clans of Quraysh at that time were, Banu Hashim, Banu Abd-al-dar, and Banu Makhzum. The Banu Makhzum was responsible for the matters of war. Soon after his birth, and in accordance with the traditions of the Quraysh, Khalid was sent to a Bedouin tribe in the desert, where a foster mother would nurse him and bring him up in the clear, dry and unpolluted air of the desert. At the age of five or six, he returned to his parents in Mecca. Khalid during his childhood also had a mild attack of smallpox which he survived, but it left some pockmarks on his left cheek.[5]

Khalid and Umar the second Caliph, were cousins and had very close facial resemblance. Khalid and Umar were both very tall, Khalid had a well-built body with broad shoulders. He had a beard which appeared full and thick on his face.[6] He was also one of the champion wrestlers of his time. As a member of the tribe of Makhzum, who had specialized in warfare, and were amongst the best horsemen in Arabia, Khalid, as a child, learned to ride and use weapons like the spear, the lance, the bow, and the sword. Lance is said to be his favorite among the weapons. In youth he was admired as a renowned warrior and wrestler among the Quraysh.[7]

Muhammad's era (610–632)

map of battle of uhud
Map of the Battle of Uhud, showing Khalid's flanking movement against Muslim army, a maneuver that won the Battle for Quraysh.

Not much is known about Khalid during the early days of the preaching of Prophet Muhammad. His father was known for his hostility against Muhammad. Following the migration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, many battles were fought between the new Muslim community at Medina and the confederacy of the Quraysh.[8] Khalid did not participate in the Battle of Badr—the first battle fought between Muslims and Qurayshites—but his brother Walid ibn Walid was caught and made a prisoner. Khalid and his elder brother Hasham ibn Walid went to Medina to ransom Walid, but soon after he was ransomed, Walid, amidst the journey back to Mecca, escaped and went back to the Prophet Muhammad and converted to Islam.[9] Khalid's leadership was instrumental in turning the tables and ensuring a Meccan victory during the Battle of Uhud (625).[10] In 627 AD he was a part of Quraysh's campaign against the Muslims, resulting in the Battle of the Trench, Khalid's last battle against Muslims.[11]

Conversion to Islam

A peace agreement of ten years was concluded between the Muslims and Quraysh of Mecca at the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in 628. It has been recorded that Prophet Muhammad once told Khalid's recently brother, Walid bin Walid, that: "A man like Khalid, can't keep himself away from Islam for long".[12] Walid wrote letters to Khalid persuading him to convert. Khalid, who was not unduly drawn towards the idols of the Kaaba, decided to convert to Islam and is said to have shared this matter with his childhood friend Ikrimah ibn Abi-Jahl who opposed him. Khalid was threatened by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb with dire consequences, but was restrained by Ikrimah who is reported to have said: "Steady, O Abu Sufyan! Your anger may well lead me also to join Muhammad. Khalid is free to follow whatever religion he chooses".[13] Some time in May 629, Khalid set out for Medina. On the way he met 'Amr ibn al-'As and Uthman ibn Talha, who were also going to Medina to convert to Islam. They arrived at Medina on May 31, 629 and went to the house of Muhammad. Khalid was received by his elder brother Walid bin Walid and was first among the three men to enter Islam.[14]

Battle of Mu'tah and Sword of Allah (629)

Three months after Khalid's arrival at Medina, Muhammad sent an envoy to the Ghassanid ruler of Syria, a vassal of Byzantine empire, with a letter inviting him to convert to Islam. While passing through Mu'tah, this envoy was intercepted and killed by a local Ghassanid chieftain by the name of Shurahbil ibn Amr. Traditionally, diplomatic envoys held immunity from attack, and the news of this act enraged Medina.[15]

An expedition was immediately prepared to take punitive action against the Ghassanids. Muhammad appointed Zayd ibn Harithah as the commander of the force. In the event of Zayd's death, the command was to be taken over by Ja`far ibn Abī Tālib, and if Jafar were to be killed, the command would be in the hands of `Abd Allah ibn Rawahah. In the event that all three were killed, the men of the expedition were to select a commander from amongst themselves.[15]

All three named commanders were slain during the battle, and Khalid was selected as the commander. He was able to maintain his heavily outnumbered army of 3,000 men against a massive army of the Byzantine Empire and Ghassanid Arabs in what would be known as the Battle of Mu'tah. Khalid assumed command of the Muslim army at the crucial moment, and turned what would have been a bloody slaughter into a strategic retreat and saved the Muslim army from total annihilation.[16]

During nightfall, Khalid sent some columns behind the main army, and the next morning prior to the battle they were instructed to join the Muslim army in small bands, one after the other, giving an impression of a fresh reinforcement, thus lowering the opponent's moral. Khalid somehow stabilized the battle lines for that day, and during the night retreated his men back to Arabia. Believing a trap was waiting for them, the Byzantine troops did not pursue.[17] Khalid is said to have fought valiantly at the Battle of Mu'tah and to have broken nine swords during the battle. After the Battle of Mu'tah, Khalid was given the title Sword of Allah for bringing back his army to fight another day.[18][19]

A year later, in 630 AD, the Muslims advanced from Medina to conquer Mecca. In the Conquest of Mecca Khalid commanded one of the four Muslims armies that entered Mecca from four different routes, and routed the Qurayshi cavalry. Later that year, he participated in the Battle of Hunayn and the Siege of Ta'if.

He was also sent to the Banu Jadhimah tribe. Khalid persuaded them to disarm by acknowledging that they had become Muslims, and then killed some of them. When Muhammad heard of this, he declared to God that he was innocent of what Khalid had done, and sent Ali ibn Abi Talib to pay the survivors compensation. [20][21]

He was part of the Tabuk campaign under the command of Muhammad, and from there he was sent to Daumat-ul-Jandal where he fought and captured the Arab Prince of Daumat-ul-Jandal, forcing Daumat-ul-Jandal to submit.[22]

In 631 A.D he participated in the farewell hajj of Muhammad. During which is said to have collected few hairs of Prophet Muhammad, as a holy relic, that would help him winning the battles.[23]

Abu Bakr's era (632–634)

Conquest of Arabia

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Arabia.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Arabia.

After the death of Muhammad, many powerful Arab tribes broke away in open revolt against the rule of Medina. Caliph Abu Bakr sent his armies to counter the rebels and apostates.[24] Khalid was Abu Bakr’s main adviser and one of the architect of the strategic planning of Riddah wars. He was given the command of the most powerful of the Muslim armies and was sent towards central Arabia, strategically the most sensitive area where the most powerful of rebel tribes resided. The region was closest to the Muslim stronghold of Medina and was the most serious threat to the city. Khalid first set out for the rebel tribe of Tayy and Jalida, where Adi ibn Hatim—a prominent companion of Prophet Muhammad, and a chieftain of Tayy tribe—arbitrated, and the tribes submitted to the Caliphate.[25]

In mid-September 632 AD, Khalid defeated Tulaiha,[26] a main rebel leader who claimed prophethood as a means to draw support for himself. His power was crushed after his remaining followers were defeated at the Battle of Ghamra.[24] Khalid next marched to Naqra and defeated the rebel tribe of Banu Saleem at the Battle of Naqra. The region was secured after the Battle of Zafar in October 632 with the defeat of a tribal mistress, Salma.[27]

Once the region around Madina, the Islamic capital, was recaptured, Khalid entered Nejd, stronghold of the tribes of Banu Tamim. Many of the clans hastened to visit Khalid and submitted, but the Banu Yarbu', under its Sheikh Malik ibn Nuwayrah, hung back. Malik avoided direct contact with Khalid's army and ordered his followers to scatter, and he and his family apparently moved away across the desert.[28] He also collected taxes and send his men to Madina to deliver them. Nevertheless, Malik was accused of rebellion against the state of Madinah. After the death of Prophet Muhammad, he had broken in revolt against Prophet Muhammad's successor Abu Bakr. He was also to be charged for his entering in an anti-Caliphate alliance with Sajjah, a self-proclaimed prophetess.[29] Malik was arrested along with his clan men, and was executed.[30] Khalid married Malik's beautiful wife Layla. According to Shia Muslim writers, Khalid killed Malik only to marry Layla.

The death of Malik and Khalid's marriage with Layla created a controversy. Some officers of his army—including a prominent companion of Prophet Muhammad, Abu Qatadah—believed that Khalid killed Malik to marry his wife. After the pressure exerted by Umar—Khalid's cousin and one of Caliph Abu Bakr's main advisors—Abu Bakr called Khalid back to Madina to explain himself.[31] After the incident of Malik, Abu Bakr sent Khalid to crush the most powerful threat to the nascent Islamic state of Medina: another who claimed prophethood, Musaylimah, who had already defeated two Muslim armies. In the third week of December 632, Khalid won a decisive victory against Musaylimah at the Battle of Yamama. Musaylimah died in the battle, and nearly all resistance of the rebel tribes collapsed.[24]

Invasion of Persian Empire

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Iraq
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of lower Mesopotamia (Iraq).

With the collapse of rebellion and Arabia united under the central authority of the caliph at Medina, Abu Bakr decided to expand his empire; it is unclear what his intentions were, whether it was a full scale expansion plan or preemptive attacks to secure more territory to create a buffer zone between Islamic state and powerful Sassanid and Byzantine empires.[32] Khalid was sent to the Persian Empire with an army consisting of 18,000 volunteers to conquer the richest province of the Persian empire, Euphrates region of lower Mesopotamia, (present day Iraq). Khalid entered lower Mesopotamia with 18,000 strong army.[33] He won quick victories in four consecutive battles: Battle of Chains, fought in April 633; Battle of River, fought in the 3rd week of April 633; Battle of Walaja, fought in May 633 (where he successfully used a double envelopment manoeuvre), and Battle of Ullais, fought in the mid of May, 633.[34] In the last week of May 633, Al-Hira, the regional capital city of lower Mesopotamia, fell to Khalid. The inhabitants were given peace on the terms of annual payment of Jizya (tribute) and agreed to act as spies for Muslims.[35] After resting his armies, in June 633 Khalid laid siege to Anbar, Al Anbar, which despite fierce resistance fell in July 633. (see Siege of Al-Anbar).[36] Khalid then moved towards the south, and captured Ein ul Tamr in the last week of July, 633.[37] By now, almost the whole of lower Mesopotamia, (Euphrates region), was under Khalid's control. Meanwhile Khalid received a call of help from northern Arabia at Daumat-ul-Jandal, where another Muslim Arab general, Ayaz bin Ghanam, was trapped among the rebel tribes. August 633, Khalid went to Daumat-ul-jandal and defeated the rebels in the Battle of Daumat-ul-jandal, capturing the city fortress.[34] On his journey back to Mesopotamia, Khalid is said to have made a secret trip to Mecca to participate in Hajj.[38] On his return from Arabia Khalid received intelligence of concentration of a large Persian army and Christian Arab auxiliaries.[34] The armies were concentrating in four different camps in Euphrates region at Hanafiz, Zumail, Saniyy and the largest being at Muzayyah. Khalid avoided a pitch battle with a large united Persian force and decided to attack and destroy each of the camps in a separate night attacks from three sides.[39] He divided his army in three units, and attacked the Persian forces in brilliantly coordinated attacks from three different sides at night, starting from the Battle of Muzayyah, then the Battle of Saniyy, and finally the Battle of Zumail during November 633 A.D.[40] These devastating defeats ended Persian ambitions of recapturing lower Mesopotamia and left the Persian capital Ctesiphon unguarded and vulnerable to Muslim attack. Before assaulting the Persian capital, Khalid decided to eliminate all Persian forces from the south and west, and thus marched against the border city of Firaz, where he defeated the combined forces of the Sassanid Persians, Byzantine Romans and Christian Arabs at the Battle of Firaz in December 633 and captured the fortress.[41] This was the last battle in his conquest of lower Mesopotamia. While Khalid was on his way to attack Qadissiyah, a key fort in the way to Persian capital Ctesiphon, he received the letter of Abu Bakr and was sent to Roman front in Syria to assume the command of Muslim armies to conquer Roman Syria. During his stay in Iraq, Khalid was also a military governor of the conquered territory.[42]

Invasion of Eastern Roman Empire

Map detailing Rashidun Caliphates invasion of the Levant
Map detailing Rashidun Caliphates invasion of the Levant.

With a successful invasion of Sassanid Persian province of Iraq, Caliph Abu Bakr’s confidence grew and sent an expedition to invade the Levant (Roman Syria). The invasion was carried out by four corps, each with its own assigned targets. Byzantines responded to this threat by concentrating their units at Ajnadyn (a place in present day Palestine) from different garrisons.[43] This move of Byzantine tie down the Muslim troops at border regions, as with this large force at their rear, Muslim armies were no longer free to march to Central or Northern Syria.[44] Muslim forces apparently were too small in numbers to counter such threat, Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, the commander in chief on Syrian front, wrote Caliph Abu Bakr for reinforcement. Abu Bakr responded by sending reinforcement under his most trusted lieutenant Khalid, from Iraq.[43] There were two routes towards Syria from Iraq, one was via Daumat-ul-Jandal (Now known as Skaka) and the other was through Mesopotamia passing though Ar-Raqqah. Since the Muslim forces in Syria were in need of urgent reinforcement, Khalid avoided the conventional route to Syria via Daumat-ul-Jandal because it was a long route and would take weeks to reach Syria. He also avoided the Mesopotamian route because of presence of Roman garrisons in Northern Syria and Mesopotamia.[45] Engaging with them at the time when Muslim armies were being outflanked in Syria, was not a wise idea since it would mean fighting on two fronts. Khalid selected a rather shorter route to Syria which unconventionally passed though the Syrian Desert.[44] He marched his army though the desert, where traditions tells that his soldiers marched for two days with out a single drop of water,[43] before reaching a pre-decided water source at an oasis. Khalid is said to have solved the problem of shortage of water by a bedouin method. Camels were made to drink water after intentionally denying them water for a long time, this would make camels to drink a lot of water at a time, camels have ability to store water in their stomach that can be obtained by slaughtering them in time of need. Muslim troops rode entirely on camels and this method worked for Muslim quite good.[44] Khalid thus entered Northern Syria and caught the Byzantine army at their right flank. According to modern historians, it was this ingenious strategic maneuver of Khalid, bringing his force directly through the desert, and appearing at the north-eastern front of the Byzantines while they were occupied in tackling Muslim armies in Southern Syria, that unhinged the Byzantine defenses. This is a tactic that has been used repeatedly since, notably in the WW2 North African campaign.

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.

Khalid entered Syria in June 634 and quickly captured the border forts of Sawa, Arak, Palmyra, Al-Sukhnah. (Qaryatayn and Hawarin were captured after the Battle of Qarteen and the Battle of Hawareen). After dealing with all these cities, Khalid moved towards Bosra, a town near Syria-Arabian border and the capital of the Ghassanid Arab kingdom, a vassal of the eastern Roman Empire. He by passed Damascus while passing though a mountain pass which is now known as Sanita-al-Uqab (Uqab pass) after the name of Khalid's army standard. On his way at Maraj-al-Rahat, Khalid routed a Ghassanid army of Christian Arabs in a quick Battle of Marj-al-Rahit.[46] With the new of Khalid's arrival Abu Ubaidah ordered Shurhabil ibn Hasana, one of the four corps commanders, to attack the city of Bosra. The later laid siege to Bosra with his small army of 4,000 men. The Byzantine and Christian Arab garrison which outnumbered the small force of Shurhabil, made a sally and were about to annihilate them when Khalid's cavalry appeared from desert and attacked them at rear and saved the day for Shurhabil.[47] The garrison retreated to the fortress. Abu Ubaidah join Khalid at Bosra and Khalid, as per Caliph's instructions, took over the supreme command. The fortress of Bosra surrendered some time in mid July 634, effectively ending the Ghassanid Dynasty.[48] Khalid after capturing Bosra and clearing his right flank of any hostile presence, Khalid instructed all the corps to join him at Ajnadayn where they fought a decisive battle against the Byzantines on 30 July 634. modern historians consider this battle to be the key to broke the Byzantine power in Syria.[49] Defeat at the Battle of Ajnadayn, left Syria vulnerable to the Muslim invaders. Khalid decided to capture Damascus, the Byzantine stronghold. At Damascus, Thomas, son-in-law of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, was in charge.[50] Receiving the intelligence of Khalid’s march towards Damascus he prepared the defences of Damascus. He wrote to Emperor Heraclius for reinforcement, who was at Emesa that time. Moreover, Thomas, in order to delay or halt Khalid's advance and to get more time to prepare for a siege, sent the armies to forward, two such armies were routed first at Yaqusa in mid August and the other at Maraj as Saffer on 19 August.[51] Meanwhile Heraclius' reinforcement reached Damascus before the other column of Heraclius could reached, Khalid laid siege to the city on 20 August. To isolate the city from the rest of the region, Khalid placed the detachments south on the road to Palestine and in north at Damascus-Emesa route, and several other smaller detachments on routes towards Damascus. Heraclius' reinforcement were intercepted and routed by Khalid at the Battle of Sanita-al-Uqab 30 km from Damascus.[52]

Geographical Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.
Geographical Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.

Khalid attacked and conquered Damascus on 18 September 634 after a 30 day siege. According to some sources, the siege is purported to have lasted some four or six months.[53] Emperor Heraclius having received the news of the fall of Damascus, left for Antioch from Emesa. Muslim cavalry under Khalid attacked the Byzantine garrison of Damascus which was heading towards Antioch, catching up to them using an unknown shortcut, at the Battle of Maraj-al-Debaj,[54] 150 km north of Damascus. Abu Bakr died during the siege of Damascus and Umar became the new Caliph. He dismissed his cousin Khalid from his command and appointed Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah the new commander in chief of Islamic forces in Syria. Abu Ubaidah got the letter of his appointment and Khalid's dismissal during the siege, but he delayed the announcement until the city was conquered.[55]

Caliph Umar's era (634–642)

Dismissal of Khalid from command

On 22 August 634, Abu Bakr died, having made Umar, Khalid's cousin, his successor.[44] Umar's first move was to relieve Khalid from supreme command of Muslim Forces and appointing Abu Ubaidah as the new commander in chief of the Islamic army.[53] The relationship between Khalid and Umar had been tense since the incident of Malik ibn Nuwayrah. Khalid had become a trial of disbelief(fitna) to the muslims as they had atrributed the wins of battles to the personality and figure of Khalid; Umar was reported as saying:"i did not fire khalid ibn al waleed because i am angry with him or because of betrayal of trust or responsibility but the reason was that he was becoming a fitna to the people and i wanted people to know that it is Allah who gives victory", this resulted in the dismissal of Khalid from supreme command and later in 638, from military services. Khalid, gave a pledge of loyalty to the new caliph and continued service as an ordinary commander under Abu Ubaidah.Though Khalid was a part of it.He is reported to have said: "If Abu Bakr is dead and Umar is Caliph, then we hear and obey".[56] There was inevitably a slowdown in the pace of military operations, as Abu Ubaidah would move slowly and steadily and was a more cautious commander. The conquest of Syria continued under his Generalship and, Abu Ubaidah being an admirer of Khalid, gave him command of the cavalry and used him as a military advisor.[55]

Conquest of Central Levant

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Central Syria.
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Central Syria.

Soon after the appointment of Abu-Ubaidah as commander in chief, he sent a small detachment to the annual fair held at Abu-al-Quds, modern day Abla, near Zahle 50  east of Beirut. There was a Byzantine and Christian Arab garrison guarding that fair, however the size of the garrison was miscalculated by the Muslim informants. The garrison quickly encircled the small Muslim force. Before it would have been completely destroyed, Abu Ubaidah, having received new intelligence, sent Khalid to rescue the Muslim army. Khalid engaged and defeated them in the Battle of Abu-al-Quds on 15 October 634 and returned with tons of looted booty from the fair and hundreds of Roman prisoners.[57]

With Central Syria captured, the Muslims had dealt a decisive blow to the Byzantines. The communication between Northern Syria and Palestine was now cut off. Abu Ubaidah decided to march to Fahl (Pella), which is about 500 ft (150 m) below sea level, and where a strong Byzantine garrison and survivors of Battle of Ajnadayn were present.[58] The region was crucial because from here the Byzantine army could strike eastwards and cut the supply lines and communications to Arabia.[59] Moreover with this large garrison at the rear, Palestine could not be invaded. Muslim army moved to Fahl with Khalid leading the advance guard, only to found the plain being flooded by Byzantines engineers blocking the Jordan River. The Byzantine army was eventually defeated at the Battle of Fahl on the night 23 January 635.[44]

Battle for Emesa and 2nd Battle of Damascus

With the victory at Fahl, Muslim army split, Amr ibn al-Aas and Shurhabil ibn Hasana moved south to capture Palestine, while Abu Ubaidah and Khalid moved north to capture Northern Syria. While the Muslims were occupied at Fahl, Heraclius, sensing the opportunity, quickly sent an army under General Theodras to recapture Damascus.[60] Shortly after Heraclius dispatched this new army, the Muslims having finished the business at Fahl, were on their way to Emesa. The Byzantine army met the Muslims half way to Emesa, at Maraj-al-Rome. During the night Theodras sent half of his army towards Damascus to launch a surprise attack on the Muslim garrison.[61] Khalid's spy informed him about the move, Khalid having received permission from Abu Ubaidah, galloped towards Damascus with his mobile guard. While Abu Ubaidah fought and defeated the Roman army in the Battle of Maraj-al-Rome, Khalid moved to Damascus with his Mobile guard attacking and routing General Theodras in the 2nd battle of Damascus.[59] A week later, Abu Ubaida capture Baalbek (Heliopolis), where the great Temple of Jupiter stood, and sent Khalid straight towards Emesa.[62]

Emesa and Chalcis sued for peace for a year.[63] Abu Ubaidah, accepted the offer and rather than invading the districts of Emesa and Chalcis, he consolidated his rule in conquered land and captured Hama, Ma’arrat an Nu’man. The peace treaties were, however, on Heraclius' instructions, to lure the Muslims and to secure time for preparation of defenses of Northern Syria. Having mustered sizable armies at Antioch Heraclius sent them to reinforce strategically important areas of Northern Syria, most importantly the strong fortress of Chalcis.[64] With the arrival of Byzantine army in the city, the peace treaty was violated, Abu Ubadiah and Khalid thus marched to Emesa, a Byzantine army that halted Khalid’s advance guard was routed and the Muslims besieged Emesa which was finally conquered in March 636 after two months of siege.[65]

Battle of Yarmouk

Muslim and Byzantine Troop Movements before the battle of Yarmouk
Muslim and Byzantine Troop Movements before the battle of Yarmouk.

After capturing Emesa, the Muslims moved north to capture whole of the Northern Syria. Meanwhile Heraclius had concentrated a large army at Antioch to roll back Syria. Khalid get the news from Roman prisoners in Northern Syria. After his past experiences Heraclius had been avoiding pitch battles with the Muslims. He planned to isolate the Muslim corps from each other, and separately encircle and destroy the Muslim armies. Five massive armies were launched in Syria from different routs in June 636 to recapture it.[66] Khalid, sensing Heraclius' plan, feared that the Muslim armies would indeed be isolated and destroyed. In a council of war he suggested that Abu Ubaidah draw all the Muslim armies to one place so as to fight a decisive battle with the Byzantines.[67] As per Khalid's suggestion, Abu Ubaidah ordered all the Muslim armies in Syria to evacuate the conquered land and concentrate at Jabiya.[68] This maneuver gave a decisive blow to the Heraclius' plan. As he did not wish engage his troops in an open battle with the Muslims, where the Muslim light cavalry could be effectively used against Heavy and less mobile Byzantine cavalry. From Jabiya, on Khalid’s suggestion, Abu Ubaidah ordered the Muslim army to withdraw on the plain of the Yarmouk River, which had a good supply of pasture and water and where cavalry could be used more effectively.[69] Abu Ubaidah in a concil of war transferred the supreme command of the Muslim forces to Khalid, who acted as a field commander in the battle and was the mastermind of the annihilation of the Byzantine army.[70]

On 15 August, the Battle of Yarmouk was fought, it lasted for 6 days and ended in a devastating defeat for the Byzantines. The Battle of Yarmouk is considered to be one of the most decisive battles of history.[71] It was the historic defeat that sealed the fate of Byzantium, the magnitude of the defeat was so intense that Byzantine forces could never recover from it. It left the whole of the Byzantine Empire vulnerable for the Muslim invaders. The battle was the greatest battle ever fought on Syrian soil till then and is believed to be the tactical marvel of Khalid.[3]

Capturing Jerusalem

With the Byzantine army shattered and routed, the Muslims quickly recaptured the territory that they conquered prior to Yarmouk. The Muslim forces moved south to a last Byzantine stronghold, Jerusalem, where many of the Byzantine survivors of disaster at Yarmouk took shelter.[72] The Siege of Jerusalem lasted four months after which the city agreed to surrender, but only to caliph in person. Amr ibn al-Aas, one of the four corps commander, suggested that Khalid should be sent as caliph, because of his very strong resemblance with Caliph Umar. Khalid was recognized and eventually, Umar came and Jerusalem surrendered in April 637.[73] After Jerusalem, the Muslim armies broke up once again. Yazid’s corps came to Damascus and captured Beirut. Amr and Shurhabil’s corps went on to conquer the rest of Palestine, while Abu Ubaidah and Khalid, at the head of a 17,000 strong army moved north to conquer whole of the Northern Syria.[74]

Conquest of Northern Syria

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Northern Syria
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Northern Syria.

With Emesa already in hand, Abu Ubaidah and Khalid moved towards Chalcis, which was strategically the most significant fort of Byzantines. Though Chalcis, the Byzantines would guard Anatolia, Heraclius' home land Armenia and there the Asian zone's capital Antioch. Abu Ubaidah sent Khalid, with his elite cavalry, the mobile guard, towards Chalcis.[75] The fort was guarded by the Greek troops under their commander, Menas, who is reported to be of high prestige, second only to the emperor himself. Menas, diverting from conventional Byzantine tactics, decided to face Khalid and destroy the leading elements of the Muslim army before the main body could join them at Hazir, 5 km east of Chalcis. The Roman army was totally annihilated at the Battle of Hazir, which even forced Umar to praise Khalid's military genius.[76] Umar is reported to have said: "Khalid is truly the commander, May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr. He was a better judge of men than I have been".[77]

Abu Ubaidah soon joined Khalid at the virtually impregnable fort of Chalcis, which surrendered in June 637. With this strategic victory, the territory north of Chalcis lay open to the Muslims. Khalid and Abu Ubaidah next captured Aleppo from desperate Byzantine troops in October 637.[78] The next objective was the splendid city of Antioch, the capital of the Asian zone of the Byzantine Empire. Before marching towards Antioch, Khalid and Abu Ubaidah decided to isolate the city from Anatolia; this was done by capturing all the fortresses that were providing strategic defense to Antioch, most importantly A'zāz at north east of Antioch. In order to save the empire from annihilation, a desperate battle was fought between the Muslim army and that of the defenders of Antioch outside the city near Orontes river, popularly known as Battle of Iron bridge.[79] The Byzantine army was composed of the survivors of Yarmouk and other Syrian campaigns. After being defeated, the Byzantines retreated to Antioch and the Muslims besieged the city. Having little hope of help from emperor, Antioch surrendered on 30 October 637, with the terms that all Byzantine troops would be given safe passage to Constantinople.

Abu Ubaidah sent Khalid northwards, while he marched south and captured Lazkia, Jabla, Tartus and the coastal areas west of Anti-Lebanon mountains. Khalid moved north and raided territory up to the Kızıl River (Kızılırmak) in Anatolia. Emperor Heraclius had already left Antioch for Edessa before the arrival of the Muslims. He arranged for the necessary defenses in Jazira and Armenia and left for his capital Constantinople. On his way to Constantinople he had a narrow escape when Khalid, after the capturing Marash, was heading south towards Munbij.[80] Heraclius hastily took the mountainous path and, passing though the Cilician Gates, is reported to have said:

Farewell, a long farewell to Syria, my fair province.[81] Thou art an infidel's (enemy's) now. Peace be with you, O' Syria - what a beautiful land you will be for the enemy hands
Emperor Heraclius

With the devastating defeat at Yarmouk his empire was extremely vulnerable to Muslim invasion. With few military resources left he was no longer in a position to attempt a military come back in Syria. To gain time for the preparations of the defense of the rest of his empire, Heraclius needed the Muslims occupied in Syria. He sought help of the Christian Arabs of Jazira who mustered up a large army and marched against Emesa, Abu Ubaidah’s headquarters. Abu Ubaidah withdrew all his forces from Northern Syria to Emesa, and Christian Arabs laid siege to Emesa.[82] Khalid was in favor of an open battle out side fort, but Abu Ubaidah rather sent the matter to Umar, who brilliantly handled it. Umar sent detachment of Muslim armies from Iraq to invade Jazira, homeland of the invading Christian Arabs, from three different routes. Moreover, another detachment was sent to Emesa from Iraq under Qa’qa ibn Amr,[83] a veteran of Yarmouk who was sent to Iraq for the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah. Umar himself marched from Medina ahead of 1,000 men. The Christian Arabs, under this overwhelming response, abandoned the siege and hastily withdrew to Jazira. At this point Khalid and his mobile guard came out of Emesa and devastated their army, attacking them from rear.[84] This was Heraclius' last attempt to achieve a comeback on the Syrian front.

Campaigns in Armenia and Anatolia

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria
Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's invasion of Syria.

After the battle Umar, ordered the conquest of Jazira which was completed by late summer 638. After the conquest of Jazira Abu Ubaidah sent Khalid and Ayaz ibn Ghanam (conqueror of Jazira) to invade the Byzantine territory north of Jazira.[85] They marched independently and captured Edessa, Amida (Diyarbakır), Malatya and raided Byzantine Armenia up to Ararat region and also reportedly raided central Anatolia. Heraclius had already abandoned all the forts between Antioch and Tartus to create a buffer zone or no man's land between Muslim controlled areas and main land Anatolia.[86] Umar for the time stopped his armies from advancing further into Anatolia, and instead ordered Abu Ubaidah, now governor of Syria, to consolidate his rule in conquered land of the Levant. At this point Umar is reported to have said: "I wish there was a wall of fire between us and Romans, so that they could not enter out territory nor we could enter theirs".[87] Due to the dismissal of Khalid from the army and a Famine and plague the next year, the Muslim armies were kept from invading Anatolia. The expedition to Anatolia and Armenia marked the end of the military career of Khalid.[88]

Dismissal from army

Khalid, by now, was at the height of his career, he was famous and loved by his men, for Muslim community he was a national hero,[89] and was publicly known as Sayf-ullah (Sword of Allah). His fame apparently worried Caliph Umar, who saw it as a possible threat to his own authority.[90] Umar apparently was in need of an excuse to take punitive actions against Khalid.[71] He found one such excuse when Khalid, during his stay at Emesa had a special bath with a certain substance prepared with alcoholic mixture.[90] Umar's spies informed him of the incident, Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and Umar took notice of it asking Khalid to explain himself. Khalid felt that this was carrying the Muslim ban on alcohol a bit too far, which dealt only with the drinking of Alcohol not its external applications, and the excuse was apparently enough for Umar and the senate at Madina to be satisfied. Another such opportunity for Umar stuck when shortly after Khalid's capture of Marash (Kahramanmaraş), in the autumn of 638, he came to know of Ash'as, a famous poet and warrior on Persian front, reciting a poem in praise of Khalid and receiving a gift of 10,000 dirhams from him, apparently from the state treasury.[91]

expansion of rashidun caliphate.
Expansion of Rashidun Caliphate.

Umar and his senate identified this act as misuse of state treasure, though not as punishing as to lose one's office, but in case of Khalid this was the excuse what Umar apparently needed. He immediately wrote a letter to Abu Ubaidah asking him to bring Khalid in front of the congregation, tie his hands with his turban, and take off his cap. Umar wanted Abu Ubaida to ask Khalid from what funds he gave to Ash'as: from his own pocket or from the state treasury ? If he confessed to having used the spoils, he was guilty of misappropriation.[92] If he claimed that he gave from his own pocket, he was guilty of extravagance. In either case he would be dismissed, and Abu Ubaida would take charge of his duties. Abu Ubaida was himself an admirer of Khalid and loved him as his younger brother,[93] and so said that he was not capable of doing it. Instead, Bilal ibn Ribah was appointed for this task and called back Khalid from Chalcis to Emessa, where he was charged publicly.[94] Khalid stated that he gave money from his own pocket and thus was declared innocent in that charge. However, when he went to Abu Ubaida, he told him that he had been dismissed on the order of Umar and is required to go back to Madina.[95] Khalid went to Chalcis and said good bye to his mobile guard. He then went to Medina to meet Umar. He protested about what he considered to be injustice. Umar is said to have praised him in these words: "You have done; And no man has done as you have done. But it is not people who do; It is Allah who does..."[96]

Later Umar explained his dismissal of Khalid:

I have not dismissed Khalid because of my anger or because of any dishonesty on his part, but because people glorified him and were misled.[97] I feared that people would rely on him. I want them to know that it is Allah who give us victory; and there should be no mischief in the land
Caliph Umar.

It was in this way that Khalid's successful military career came to an end.


image of khalid ibn walid mosque.
Khalid's tomb is present in Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque, Homs - Syria.

Although it is believed that relations between Umar and Khalid, cousins, were always something short of cordial, Khalid apparently harbored no ill-will. Upon his death, he bequeathed his property to Umar and made him the executor of his will and estate.[98]

Within less than four years of his dismissal, Khalid died and was buried in 642 in Emesa, where he lived since his dismissal from military services. His tomb is now part of a mosque called Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque. Khalid's tombstone depicts a list of over 50 victorious battles that he commanded without defeat (not including small battles).[99] It is said that he had wanted to die as a martyr in the field of battle, and was apparently disappointed when he knew that he would die in bed.[100] Khalid put all the torment of his soul into one last, anguished sentence:

I fought in so many battles seeking martyrdom that there is no place in my body but have a stabbing scar by a spear, a sword or a dagger, and yet here I am, dying on my bed like an old camel dies.[101] May the eyes of the cowards never sleep.
Khalid ibn Walid



map detailing sites of khalid's campaigns
Map detailing the sites of Campaigns of Khalid ibn Walid.

Khalid is said to have fought around a hundred battles, both major battles and minor skirmishes, during his military career. Having remained undefeated, this fact makes him one of the finest generals in history.[102]

Khalid was the architect of most of the early Muslim military doctrines,[103] he was pioneer of almost every major tactics that Muslims used during Early Islamic conquest. One of Khalid's major achievements in this context was utilizing the individual skills of Arab Bedouin warriors to a larger scale. He is believed to have developed them into an almost regular unit called Mubarizun ("champions"), who would issue personal challenges to the enemy officers. These were highly trained and skilled swordsmen, whom Khalid utilized effectively to slay as many enemy officers as possible, giving a psychological blow to enemy morale. The Battle of Ajnadayn is perhaps the best example of this form of psychological warfare. Moreover his biggest achievement was the conversion of Arab tactical doctrine into a strategic system.[103] Until Khalid, the Arabs were basically raiders and skirmishers. Khalid turned those skirmishing tactics into something that could be used anywhere. Thus he would skirmish the enemy to death: he would bring his army in front of his enemies and wait until the whole battle degenerated into a skirmishing affair between small units. Then, after exhausting the enemy units, he would launch his cavalry at their flanks employing Hammer and Anvil tactics.[104]

Much of Khalid's strategical and tactical genius lies in his use of extreme methods. He apparently put more emphasis on annihilating enemy troops, rather then achieving victory by simply defeating them. For instance his employment of the double envelopment maneuver against the numerically superior Persian army at the Battle of Walaja,[105] and his brilliant maneuver at the Battle of Yarmouk where he virtually trapped the Byzantine army between three steep ravines by stealthily capturing their only escape route, a bridge, at their rear.

Khalid utilized his better understanding of terrain in every possible way to gain strategic superiority over his enemies. During his Persian campaigns, he initially never entered deep into Persian territory and always kept the Arabian desert at his rear, allowing his forces to retreat there in case of a defeat.[106] It was only after all the strong Persian and their allied forces were routed, that he penetrated deep into Euphrates region and captured the regional capital of Iraq, Al-Hira. Again, at Yarmouk, the terrain would help him in executing his grand strategy of annihilating the Byzantines.

In their mobility, Khalid's troops had no match until the Mongol hordes of the 13th century.[107] In fact the tactics of the desert Arabs and steppe Mongols were largely identical. Entire troops of Khalid would ride on camels while on march, whereas the Mongols used horses.[108] His most commonly-used maneuver was surprise attack, also apparently his favorite one. Some of the most brilliant surprise attacks of Khalid were his night attacks from three different sides on Persian camps at Zumail, Muzayyah and Saniyy, his highly mobile army successfully maneuvering in a 100 km area, quickly destroying encampments of the Persians and their Arab allies. The Battle of Maraj-al-Debaj being no exception, where once again his highly mobile army maneuvered around a Byzantine army, appearing from four directions and opening several fronts at a time, a maneuver which later in 13th century became one of the Mongol armies' principal maneuvers.[109]

An example of Khalid's strategic maneuverability was his advance into Roman Syria.[110] Emperor Heraclius had sent all his available garrisoned troops into Syria, towards Ajnadayn, to hold the Muslim troops at the Syria-Arabia border region. The possible route of any Muslim reinforcement was expected to be the conventional Syria-Arabia road in the south, but Khalid, who was then in Iraq, took the most unexpected route: marching through the waterless Syrian desert, to the surprise of the Byzantines, he appeared in northern Syria. Catching the Byzantines off guard, he quickly captured several towns, virtually cutting off the communications of the Byzantine army at Ajnadayn with its high command at Emesa, where emperor Heraclius himself resided.[111]

Khalid's elite light cavalry, the Mobile guard, acted as the core of the Muslim cavalry during the invasion of Syria. It was composed of highly trained and seasoned soldiers, the majority of whom had been under Khalid's standard during his Arabian and Persian campaigns.[112] Muslim cavalry was a light cavalry force armed with 5 meter long lances. They could charge at an incredible speed and would usually employ a common tactic of Kar wa far literary meaning "engage-disengage". They would charge on enemy flanks and rear, their maneuverability making them very effective against heavily armored Byzantine and Sassanid cataphracts.[113] Khalid's famous flanking charge on the final day of the Battle of Yarmouk stands as testimony to just how well he understood the potentials and strengths of his mounted troops.

Arabs soldiers were far more lightly armored then their Roman and Persian contemporaries, which made them vulnerable in close combat at set-piece battles and to missile fire of enemy archers.[103] Khalid therefore never blundered in the battle and would rely on intelligence reports from spies that he would hire from local population on liberal rewards. Persian Historian Al-Tabari said:

Neither he (Khalid) slept him self nor did he let others to sleep,[114] nothing could be kept hidden from him.
Al-Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings


Khalid also remained military Governor of Iraq from 632–633 and Governor of Chalcis, the most strategic cantonment in Northern Syria. Though he was never active politically but his fame alarmed Umar, who then recalled him from army.

Umar is said to have later regret to this decision.[115] It is said that after the Hajj of 642, Umar had decided to re-appoint Khalid to the military services apparently to command the Muslim conquest of Persia that was to begin shortly. But fate had decided otherwise, as when he reached Medina, news of Khalid's death reached him.[116] The news of Khalid's death broke like a storm over Medina. The women took to the streets, led by the women of the Banu Makhzum (Khalid's tribe), wailing and beating their chests. Though Umar, from the very first day had given orders that there would be no wailing for departed Muslims, as forbidden in Islam, in this one case he made an exception. Umar said:

Let the women of the Banu Makhzum say what they will about Abu Sulaiman (Khalid), for they do not lie,[117] over the likes of Abu Sulaiman weep those who weep.
Caliph Umar

It is also recorded that once Umar was sitting with his companions, someone recalled Khalid, Umar reportedly said: "By God, he was Muslim's Shield against the enemy, his heart was pure from every animosity". Ali, who was there, reportedly said: "Then why did you dismiss him from military services ?" Umar said: flatly "I was wrong".[118] According to some narrations, on his death bed, Umar named some persons that if they were alive he would have appointed one them, his successor, he also named Khalid[119]


Khalid was a Sahabi (a companion of Prophet Muhammad ), a fact which make him rather a holy figure among the Sunni Muslims. Shia Muslims, however have a negative view of Khalid, according to Shia Muslims, Khalid helped Abu Bakr in suppressing the supporters of their Imam Ali. Who according to them, was appointed by Prophet Muhammad as his political successor.[120]

In popular culture

Main battle tank named after Khalid Ibn al-Walid


Khalid's father name was Walid ibn al-Mughira and his mother name was Lubabah as-Saghirah. Walid had many wives and had many children only the names of his following children are recorded in history.

Walid's sons were: (Khalid's brothers)
Walid's daughters were: (Khalid's sisters)

It is unknown how many daughters Khalid ibn al-Walid had, but names of his three sons and one known daughter are mentioned in history which are as follows:

Sulaiman, Khalid's eldest son, was killed during the Muslim conquest of Egypt,[121] Muhajir bin Khalid died in the Battle of Siffin while fighting from Caliph Ali's side and Abdulreman ibn Khalid remained Governor of Emesa during the time of third Caliph Uthman ibn Affan and participated in the Battle of Siffin as one of the generals of Muawiyah I, he was also the part of Umayyad army that besieged Constantinople in 664. Abdulreman was later to be appointed the successor of Caliph Muawiyah but according to some narration (Most likely from Shia Sources) he was poisoned by Muawiyah,[121] because Muawiyah wanted to make his son Yazid I to be his successor. The male line of descent from Khalid is believed to have ended with his grandson, Khalid bin Abdur-Rahman bin Khalid.[121]

See also


  1. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 19
  2. ^ a b c Khalid ibn al-Walid, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved. 2006-10-17.
  3. ^ a b Akram 2004, p. 496
  4. ^ Akram 2004, p. 2
  5. ^ a b c Akram 2004, p. 3
  6. ^ Akram 2004, p. 4
  7. ^ Akram 2004, p. 5
  8. ^ Akram 2004, p. 9
  9. ^ Akram 2004, p. 14
  10. ^ Weston 2008, p. 41
  11. ^ Akram 2004, p. 70
  12. ^ Akram 2004, p. 75
  13. ^ Al-Waqidi 8th century, p. 321
  14. ^ Walton 2003, p. 208
  15. ^ a b Nicolle 2009, p. 22
  16. ^ Akram 2004, p. 80
  17. ^ Akram 2004, p. 90
  18. ^ Al-Waqidi 8th century, p. 322
  19. ^ Ibn Hisham 9th century, p. 382
  20. ^ {Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (Life of Muhammad), trans. Guillaume, Oxford 1955, pp. 561-562}
  21. ^ {al-Tabari, Victory of Islam, trans. Fishbein, Albany 1997, pp. 188 ff.}
  22. ^ Akram 2004, p. 128
  23. ^ Akram 2004, p. 135
  24. ^ a b c Nicolle 2009, p. 25
  25. ^ Akram 2004, p. 167
  26. ^ Walton 2003, p. 17
  27. ^ Akram 2004, p. 178
  28. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 501-502
  29. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 496
  30. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 502
  31. ^ Akram 2004, p. 183
  32. ^ Akram 2004, p. 188
  33. ^ Morony 2005, p. 223
  34. ^ a b c Morony 2005, p. 224
  35. ^ Morony 2005, p. 233
  36. ^ Morony 2005, p. 192
  37. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 18
  38. ^ Akram 2004, p. 215
  39. ^ Akram 2004, p. 217
  40. ^ Morony 2005, p. 225
  41. ^ Morony 2005, p. 230
  42. ^ Morony 2005, p. 149
  43. ^ a b c Allenby 2003, p. 68
  44. ^ a b c d e Gil 1997, p. 40
  45. ^ Akram 2004, p. 267
  46. ^ Gil 1997, p. 41
  47. ^ Akram 2004, p. 270
  48. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 155
  49. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 20
  50. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 58
  51. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 636
  52. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 57
  53. ^ a b Walton 2003, p. 28
  54. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 59
  55. ^ a b Allenby 2003, p. 70
  56. ^ Al-Waqidi 8th century, p. 62
  57. ^ Akram 2004, p. 305
  58. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 52
  59. ^ a b Allenby 2003, p. 71
  60. ^ Akram 2004, p. 319
  61. ^ Akram 2004, p. 323
  62. ^ Allenby 2003, p. 72
  63. ^ Akram 2004, p. 338
  64. ^ Akram 2004, p. 345
  65. ^ Akram 2004, p. 389
  66. ^ Akram 2004, p. 409
  67. ^ Gil 1997, p. 45
  68. ^ Weston 2008, p. 50
  69. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 63
  70. ^ Walton 2003, p. 29
  71. ^ a b Walton 2003, p. 30
  72. ^ Gil 1997, p. 51
  73. ^ Gil 1997, p. 53
  74. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 491
  75. ^ Nicolle 1994, p. 84
  76. ^ Akram 2004, p. 429
  77. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 98
  78. ^ Jaques 2007, p. 28
  79. ^ Akram 2004, p. 445
  80. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 145
  81. ^ Akram 2004, p. 448
  82. ^ Akram 2004, p. 451
  83. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 144
  84. ^ Akram 2004, p. 453
  85. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 146
  86. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 146–47
  87. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 147
  88. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 152
  89. ^ Weston 2008, p. 43
  90. ^ a b Weston 2008, p. 51
  91. ^ Gil 1997, p. 49
  92. ^ Akram 2004, p. 481
  93. ^ Weston 2008, p. 45
  94. ^ Akram 2004, p. 482
  95. ^ Gil 1997, p. 50
  96. ^ Akram 2004, p. 487
  97. ^ Akram 2004, p. 488
  98. ^ Akram 2004, p. 493
  99. ^ Akram 2004, p. 501
  100. ^ Akram 2004, p. 494
  101. ^ Ibn Qutaybah 9th century, p. 267
  102. ^ Akram 2004, p. 499
  103. ^ a b c Pratt 2000, p. 82
  104. ^ Pratt 2000, p. 83
  105. ^ Akram 2004, p. 230
  106. ^ Nicolle 2009, p. 8
  107. ^ Walton 2003, p. 19
  108. ^ Harkavy 2001, p. 166
  109. ^ Malik 1968, p. 39
  110. ^ Malik 1968, p. 87
  111. ^ Malik 1968, p. 89
  112. ^ Malik 1968, p. 90
  113. ^ Pratt 2000, p. 83
  114. ^ Malik 1968, p. 118
  115. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 155
  116. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 156
  117. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 614
  118. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 157
  119. ^ Haykal 1990, p. 319
  120. ^ Al-Tabari 915, p. 186-87
  121. ^ a b c d Akram 2004, p. 497


Ancient sources

Modern sources

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Khalid ibn Walid (592-642) (Arabic: خالد بن الوليد) also known as Sword of Allah. He is noted for his military prowess, commanding the forces of Prophet Muhammad and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Caliph Abu Bakr and Caliph Umar during the Islamic conquest in 7th century. In having the distinction of being undefeated in over a hundred battles against the numerically superior forces of the Byzantine Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire, and their allies, he is regarded as one of the finest military commanders in history.


Quotes of Khalid

  • Submit to Islam and be safe. Or agree to the payment of the Jizya, and you and your people will be under our protection, else you will have only yourself to blame for the consequences, for I bring the men who desire death as ardently as you desire life.
    • This letter was written by Khalid, from his head-quarters in Babylonia, to the Persian monarch before invading it. (History of the World, Volume IV [Book XII. The Mohammedan Ascendency], page 463, by John Clark Ridpath, LL.D. 1910.)
  • Do you see a space of the span of a hand on my leg, chest, arm which is not covered by some scar of the wound of a sword or an arrow or a lance ?
    • Said this to one of his friend few days before he died, four years after dismissal from army.
  • If you were in the clouds, Allah would raise us to you or lower you to us for battle.
    • Said this to the Byzantine troops when they retreated from the battle field to the fortified town of Chalcis.
  • When I am in the battlefield, I love it more then when I am in my house.
  • The rainy night when I am standing wearing armor with sword and shield in my hand and looking again and again towards the eastern horizon, waiting for sun to rise so that I could start the battle.
    • Said this after getting dismissed from army by Caliph Umar in 638 A.D.
  • When Allah decides a matter, it is done.
  • I have dedicated my life to the way of Allah, Most High.
  • Man intends one thing, but Allah intends another.
  • The earth destroys its fools, but the intelligent destroy the earth.
  • If you are truthful you will survive. If you lie you shall perish.
  • I am the noble warrior, I am the Sword of Allah, I am Khalid bin Al Waleed.
    • These were the famous verses that Khalid use to recite in the battle field.
  • I am the son of many chiefs.

My sword is sharp and terrible. It is the mightiest of things When the pot of war boils fiercely.

I am the pillar of Islam! I am the Companion of the Prophet! I am the noble warrior, Khalid bin Al Waleed!

  • I will give you three days, if the gates are not opened on these revised terms, I shall attack. And then there shall be no terms of any kind."
  • I am the son of Al Walid ! Will anyone duel ?
  • By my faith, the water will go to whichever army is more steadfast and more deserving.
  • O Lord! If you give us victory, I shall see that no enemy warrior is left alive until their river runs with their blood!
    • Said this during Battle of Ullais which is also known as Battle of blood river.
  • At Battle of Mu'tah I broke nine swords in my hand. But I have never met an enemy like the Persians. And among the Persians I have never met an enemy like the army of Battle of Ullais.
  • Wait a while; there will come to you mounts, carrying lions in shining armor, battalions followed by battalions.
    • Wrote this letter to Ayaz bin Ghanam who asked him for reinforcement while fighting against the rebel Arab tribes in northern Arabia.
  • I see that these people know nothing about war.
  • Said this about Persian and Christian Arab recruits in Persian army after analysing the siege of An al Tamar in Iraq.
  • We shall take this route; let not your resolve be weakened. Know that the help of Allah comes according to your desire. Let not the Muslims fear anything so long as they have the help of Allah.
    • Said this when one of his commander tried to stop him from taking a dangerous rout direct to Syria from Iraq through Syrian desert and said that ..You cannot take this route with an army. By Allah, even a lone traveler would attempt it at the peril of his life. It involves five days of extreme hardship without a drop of water and the ever-present danger of losing the way.
  • But for the necessity of obeying the orders of the Caliph, I would never have accepted this command over you. You are much higher than me in Islam. I am a Companion of the Prophet, but you are one whom the Messenger of Allah had called 'the trusted one of this nation.

I have received with gladness the letter of Abu Bakr appointing you commander over me. There is no resentment in my heart, for I know your skill in matters of war.

  • Take her as a gift, there shall be no ransom.
    • Said this while handing over the daughter of Emperor Heraclius who was captured after Battle of Maraj al debaj in which Heraculus's son-in-law Thomas, was killed in duel with Khalid.

Heraclius wrote following letter to Khalid...

I have come to know what you have done to my army. You have killed my son-in-law and captured my daughter. You have won and got away safely. I now ask you for my daughter. Either return her to me on payment of ransom or give her to me as a gift, for honour is a strong element in your character'.

  • Praise be to Allah who decreed death upon Abu Bakr, who was more beloved to me than Umar. Praise be to Allah who gave authority to Umar, who was less beloved to me than Abu Bakr, and compelled me to love him."
    • Said this some time before his death, [w:Abu Bakr|Caliph Abu Bakr]] made him commander in chief of army. while Caliph Umar dismissed Khalid from army. Though relations of Khalid with his cousin Umar always remained something short of cordial, but magnificent and just rule of Umar impressed Khalid a lot and he on his death bequeathed his property to `Umar and made him the executor of his will and estate.
  • May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr! Had he lived, I would not have been removed from command.
    • Said this on the death of [[w:Abu Bakr|Caliph Abu Bakr, when his successor Caliph Umar dismissed Khalid from command and made Abu Ubaidah, the new commander in chief.
  • If Abu Bakr is dead and Umar is Caliph, then we hear and obey.
    • Said this After the death of Abu Bakr.
  • By Allah, if you were to appoint a small child over me, I would obey him. How could I not obey you when you are far above me in Islam and have been named the Trusted One by the Prophet? I could never attain your status. I declare here and now that I have dedicated my life to the way of Allah, Most High.
    • Said this to Abu Ubaidah, after being removed from command by Caliph Umar for no reason.
  • These Romans were the bravest that I had ever met.
    • Gave tribute to the Byzantine soldiers after winning Battle of Emesa.
  • How few are the Romans and how numerous are we ! 'An army's strength lies not in numbers of men but in Allah's help, and its weakness lies in being forsaken by Allah"
    • said this to one of his soldier at Battle of Yarmouk who said that ..How numerous are the Romans and how few are we.
  • I protest to the Muslims against what you have done. By Allah, you have been unjust to me, O Umar !
    • Said this to Caliph Umar who dismissed him from army in 638.
  • Umar appointed me over Syria until it turned to wheat and honey; then dismissed me !
    • Said this to his wife after being removed from army.
  • Praise be to Allah who took Abu Bakr away. He was dearer to me than Umar. Praise be to Allah who appointed Umar in authority He was hateful to me, but I grew to like him.
  • And here I am, dying in my bed, like cattle die. May the eyes of cowards never sleep.
    • Last words of Khalid.


  • Do you not see the wealth of the land of the Persians ? Do you not remember the poverty of the land of the Arabs ? Do you not see how the crops in this land cover the earth ? If the holy war were not enjoined by Allah, we should still come and conquer this rich land and exchange the hunger of our deserts for the abundant eating which is now ours.
  • In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Khalid ibn Walid to the kings of Persia.

Praise be to Allah who has disrupted your system and thwarted your designs. And if He had not done so it would have been worse for you. Submit to our orders and we shall leave you and your land in peace; else you shall suffer subjugation at the hands of a people who love death as you love life.

    • Sent this letter to Persian emperor after capturing the persian province of Iraq.
  • Know, O Muslims, that you have never seen an army of Rome as you see now. If Allah defeats them by your hand, they shall never again stand against you. So be steadfast in battle and defend your faith. Beware of turning your backs on the enemy, for then your punishment will be the Fire (on dooms day). Be watchful and steady in your ranks, and do not attack until I give the order.
    • Speech at the Battle of Ajnadayn, which was first major pitched battle between Muslims and the Byzantines.
  • In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This is given by Khalid bin Al Waleed to the people of Damascus. When the Muslims enter, they (the people) shall have safety for themselves, their property, their temples and the walls of their city, of which nothing shall be destroyed. They have this guarantee on behalf of Allah, the Messenger of Allah, on whom be the blessings of Allah and peace, the Caliph and the Faithful, from whom they shall receive nothing but good so long as they pay the Jizya.
  • O men of Islam ! The time has come for steadfastness. Weakness and cowardice lead to disgrace; and he who is steadfast is more deserving of Allah's help. He who stands bravely before the blade of the sword will be honored, and his labors rewarded, when he goes before Allah. Lo ! Allah loves the steadfast.

Quotes about Khalid

  • What an excellent slave of Allah: Khalid ibn Walid, one of the swords of Allah, unleashed against the unbelievers.
  • He is a master of war; a friend of death. He has the dash of a lion and the patience of a cat !
    • Amr ibn al A'as, an other famous general of 7th century Islamic conquest, said this during Ridda wars when Caliph Abu Bakr asked him about his opinion regarding Khalid.(632 A.D)
  • O Umar, keep your tongue off Khalid. I shall not sheathe the sword that Allah has drawn against the infidels.
  • O Quraish ! Your lion has attacked another lion and overpowered him. Women can no longer bear sons like Khalid.
  • Women will no longer be able to give birth to the likes of Khalid bin Al-Waleed.
  • I know more about Khalid than anyone else, no man is luckier than he. No man is his equal in war. No people face Khalid in battle, be they strong or weak, but are defeated. Take my advice and make peace with him.
    • Prince Ukaid of Domat ul Jandal. (633 A.D)
  • By Allah, I shall destroy the Romans and the friends of Satan with Khalid bin Al Walid.
  • Is the standard of this army a black one? Is the commander of this army a tall, powerfully built, broad shouldered man with a large beard and a few pock marks on his face? Then beware of fighting this army.
    • Byzantine priest. (633 A.D)
  • I am not averse to Khalid being in command. But he is wasteful and squanders his wealth on poets and warriors, giving them more than they deserve, which wealth could be better spent in helping the poor and the needy among the Muslims. Let none say that I have dismissed a strong man, and appointed a mild man to command, for Allah is with him (i.e. Abu Ubaidah) and will help him.
  • He neither slept nor let others sleep, and nothing was concealed from him.
    • Anonymous
  • Khalid is truly the commander. May Allah have mercy upon Abu Bakr, He was a better judge of men than I have been.
  • Bring Khalid in front of the congregation, tie his hands with his turban and take off his cap. Ask him from what funds he gave to Ash'as....from his own pocket or from the spoils acquired in the expedition? If he confesses to having given from the spoils, he is guilty of misappropriation. If he claims that he gave from his own pocket, he is guilty of extravagance. In either case dismiss him, and take charge of his duties.
  • You have done;
  • And no man has done as you have done.
  • But it is not people who do;
  • It is Allah who does
  • O Khalid! By Allah, you are honorable in my eyes, and you are dear to me. You will not have cause to complain of me after this day.
  • I have not dismissed Khalid because of my anger or because of any dishonesty on his part, but because people glorified him and were misled. I feared that people would rely on him. I want them to know that it is Allah who does all things; and there should be no mischief in the land.
  • Have women ever stopped mourning for anyone like Khalid?
  • Let the women say what they will about Abu Sulaiman (Khalid), for they do not lie, Over the likes of Abu Sulaiman weep those who weep.
  • You were better than a million men,
  • When the faces of men were downcast,
  • Brave? You were braver than the tiger,
  • Generous? You were more generous than
  • The unstoppable deluge flowing between mountains.
    • Lubabah As-Sagheer, mother of Khalid, eulogising him.(642 A.D)
  • Caliph Umar : Khalid was not as I thought of him
  • Ali : Then why did you dismiss him from army?
  • Caliph Umar : I wish I never had.
    • Dialogue between Caliph Umar and Ali (who would became caliph in future 656-661) few years after Khalid's death.(643 A.D)
  • The fiercest and most successful of the Arabian warriors.


Simple English

Khālid ibn al-Walīd
592 - 642
Nickname The Drawn Sword of Allah
Place of birth Mecca, Arabia
Allegiance Rashidun Caliphate

Khālid ibn al-Walīd (592-642) (Arabic: خالد بن الوليد) also known as Sayf-Allah al-Maslul (the Drawn Sword of God or Sword of Allah), was one of the two famous Arab generals of the Muslim army during the Muslim conquests of the 7th Century.[1]

He is famous for his military success, as he commanded the forces of Muhammad and of his immediate successors Abu Bakr and Umar ibn al-Khattab.[1] He was undefeated in over a hundred battles[2] against the numerically superior forces of the Byzantine Roman Empire, Sassanid Persian Empire, and their allies. Therefore he is regarded as one of the finest military commanders in history. His greatest strategic achievements were his quick conquest of the Persian Empire and conquest of Roman Syria within three years from 633 to 636. His greatest tactical achievements were his successful double envelopment maneuver at Walaja and his victories at Ullais and Yarmouk.

Khalid ibn Walid was from the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, who opposed Muhammad, and he played a vital role in their victory at the Battle of Uhud. He converted, however, and joined Muhammad after the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and commanded various expeditions for him. After Muhammad's death, he played a key role in commanding Medinan forces for Abu Bakr in the Ridda wars, the capture of the Sassanid Arab client Kingdom of Al-Hirah, and the defeat of the Sassanid Persian forces during his conquest of the Persian Empire.

Youth and approximately 590 root Khalid bin Walid was born in the year. His mother and father is Lübabe family Velid'dir sad. Family (tribe sad) specializing in military matters and is a privileged tribe of Quraysh. As a youth, spears, bows and swords were learning to use and cavalry. Personal weapon of choice was the sword.

Before the early years of Islam Islam Khalid bin Walid, corresponding to a soldier in his youth was notorious in pure Quraysh. Not participate in the war at the Battle of Badr Uhud Khalid fought against Muslims for the first time. Muslims in this battle orders to the rear of the cavalry deployed in a way that can sag. However, the path of Muhammad bin Abdullah, this horse and fifty archers for defense has hired. The beginning of the war on Muslims to come up with their position archers terkedince, Khalid bin Walid opportunity to evaluate and Muslim armies from the rear with the cavalry in order has stuck. Khalid ibn al-Walid with this movement changed the course of the war and has defeated the Muslims. This is the last time after the war against Muslims fought in the Battle of Trench. After agreement with previously Hudaybiyyah Muslim brother, Walid joined the ranks via


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Khalid ibn al-Walid." Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 Oct. 2006 [1]
  2. Ibn Kathir (1301-1373). Tafsir ibn Kathir.
  • A.I. Akram, The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns, Nat. Publishing. House, Rawalpindi (1970) ISBN 0-7101-0104-X.

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