After the episode of Daumat-ul-Jandal, Khalid returned to Hirah, whose inhabitants received him with singing and amusement. He heard one of them say to his companion,
"Pass by us, for this is a day when evil is happy."1
Daumat-ul-Jandal was one of the large commercial towns of Arabia, widely known for its rich and much-frequented market. It was also an important communication centre, a meeting point of routes from Central Arabia, Iraq and Syria. In Part 1 of this book, I have described how Khalid came to Daumat-ul-Jandal during the Prophet's expedition to Tabuk and captured Ukaidar bin Abdul Malik, the master of the fort. Ukaidar had then submitted and sworn allegiance to the Prophet, but subsequent to the operations of Amr bin Al Aas and Shurahbil bin Hasanah in the apostasy, he had broken his oath and decided to have nothing more to do with Madinah. Now he ruled over a principality of Christians and pagans.
At about the time when Khalid set off from Yamamah for the invasion of Iraq, Abu Bakr had sent Ayadh bin Ghanam to capture Daumat-ul-Jandal and once again bring the northern tribes into submission. The Caliph probably intended to send Ayadh to Iraq, to assist Khalid, after this task had been completed. Ayadh arrived at Daumat-ul-Jandal to find it strongly defended by the Kalb-a large Christian Arab tribe inhabiting this region and the eastern fringe of Syria. He deployed his force against the southern face of the fort, and the situation that now developed was, from the military point of view, absurd. The Christian Arabs considered themselves to be under siege, but the routes from the northern side of the fort were open. The Muslims, engaged closely against the fort, considered themselves so heavily committed that they could not break contact. According to early historians both sides were under siege! The operations considered mainly of archery and sallies by the garrison of the fort, which were invariably repulsed by the Muslims. This state of affairs continued for several weeks until both sides felt equally tired and equally hurt by the stalemate.
Then one day a Muslim officer said to Ayadh, "In certain circumstances wisdom is better than a large army. Send to Khalid for help."2 Ayadh agreed. He wrote Khalid a letter explaining the situation at Daumat-ul-Jandal and seeking his help. This letter reached Khalid as he was about to leave Ain-ut-Tamr for Hira.
It did not take Khalid long to make up his mind. The situation on the Iraq front was now stable and he had able lieutenants to deal with the Persians, should they decide to launch a counter-offensive from Ctesiphon. He sent a letter to Qaqa at Hira telling him that he would act as Khalid's deputy and command the front in his absence. He left a garrison at Ain-ut-Tamr. And with an army of about 6,000 men, he left Ain-ut-Tamr the following day to join Ayadh. Ahead of him sped Ayadh's messenger, carrying Khalid's letter, which contained nothing more than the following in verse:
Wait a while for the horses come racing.
On their backs are lions brandishing polished swords;
Regiments in the wake of regiments.
The movement of Khalid was discovered by the defenders of Daumat-ul-Jandal a good many days before his arrival, and there was alarm in the fort. With their present strength they could hold off the Muslim force under Ayadh, but they would not have a chance if Khalid's army also took the field against them. In desperate haste they sent couriers racing to neighbouring tribes. The Christian Arab tribes responded spiritedly to the appeal for help. Contingents from several clans of the Ghassan and the Kalb joined the defenders of the fort, many of them camping under the fort walls because of the insufficient room within This put Ayadh in a delicate situation, and he prayed for the early arrival of Khalid.
The Christian Arab forces were led by two great chiefs: Judi bin' Rabi'a and Ukaidar. The only chief who had any personal experience of dealing with Khalid was Ukaidar, and this man had been ill at ease ever since he heard of the march of Khalid from Ain-ut-Tamr. When the clans gathered at Daumat-ul-Jandal, Ukaidar called a conference of the tribal chiefs. "I know more about Khalid than anyone else", he said. "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."3
1. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, Dar Abi Hayyan, Cairo, 1st ed. 1416/1996, Vol. 6 P. 429.