Khalid bin Waleed (RA) (also known as Khalid bin Walid or Khalid ibn al-Walid) was a companion of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a great warrior of Islamic history. Under his leadership, the Muslim Army conquered the Arabian Peninsular from rebels and Iraq from Persian Empire, both during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (RA). Though, Levant was conquered from the Byzantine Empire under the command of Abu Ubaida bin al-Jarrah (RA) during the caliphate of Umar (RA) but in fact it was Khalid who should be given the credit of Conquest of Levant (al-Sham) as Khalid practically led that campaign and he played a major role in this conquest. Khalid (RA) led more than 100 battles as a Muslim General, including around 50 large battles, and did not lost even a single battle. He was given the title of Saifullah (Sword of Allah) by Prophet (PBUH) after his heroic tactical victory in Battle of Mut’ah. Later he proved himself capable of this title.
Life Before Islam
Khalid was born in 592 AD in Makkah. His father Waleed bin Mughira was the chief of Banu Makhzum clan of Quraysh tribe while his mother was Lubabah al-Sughra bint al-Harith. Banu Makhzum clan was responsible for military service and Khalid learnt the military tactics in his early life as a son of the chief of the warrior tribe. He was not only skilled with sword, lance, bow and horse-riding but he was also a good wrestler. Physically, Khalid was tall, strong and well-built with broad shoulders.
After the arrival of Islam, Khalid initially opposed Islam like most of other people of Quraysh and his own clan. He took part in the Battle of Uhud, where he attacked the Muslim Army from their West which was mostly abandoned by the archers after disobeying directions of Prophet (PBUH). This attack was the major cause of Muslim’s near complete defeat in this battle. He also participated in Battle of Trench against Muslims which was his last battle against Muslims.
Life As a Muslim
After Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the truce between Muslims and Qureysh allowed several people of Makkah to seriously consider about Islam. Khalid (RA) was also among them and he, along with his friends Amr bin al-As and Usman bin Talhah, embraced Islam in 629 AD.
In 8 AH (629 AD), the north-Arabian tribe of Banu Ghassan (Ghassanids), under protection of Byzantine Empire, killed the Islamic messengers and Muhammad (PBUH) decided to punish them. He sent 3,000 men to punish the culprits. The expedition is known as Battle of Mu’tah. Later, Muslims have to face the Byzantine troops also along the Ghassanids and their total number was between 100,000 to 200,000. The first three commanders Zayd bin Haritha (RA), Jafar bin Abu Talib (RA) and Abdullah bin Rawahah (RA) were martyred in the beginning of battle. Then Khalid (RA) took the command and fought so vigorously that 9 sword broke in his hands. He also changed the positions of his Army in a way that enemy thought the Muslims are getting reinforcement time by time. This restricted them to try encircled Muslim Army and at night the Muslims managed to escape towards Madinah with losing only 12 men while the enemy lost several thousands of their men, according to Muslim sources. On the return of Muslim Army from battlefield, Muhammad (PBUH) became very happy with the outcome of battle and due to bravery and wisdom of Khalid (RA), he gave him the title of Saifullah (Sword of Allah).
Khalid (RA) also took part in other battles during life of Prophet (PBUH) including Battle of Hunayn, Battle of Tabouk, Conquest of Makkah and few other expeditions.
Abu Bakr (RA) became Caliph after the death of Muhammad (PBUH) in 632 AD. At that time, several Arab tribes rebelled against the Caliphate. Few people claimed false prophet-hood and their tribes accepted their claim. Few other tribes rejected to pay Zakat (compulsory religious tax) and offer mandatory prayers while few left Islam. Abu Bakr (RA) sent different Armies against these rebels and apostates in different areas of Arab. Khalid bin Waleed (RA) was the commander of the strongest army whose aim was to fight against the strongest enemies. Khalid (RA) first defeated false-prophet Tulayha and his allied tribes of Bani Assad and Bani Ghatafan in the battles of Bazukha and Gharma. The Banu Saleem tribe was next to be defeated by Khalid in the Battle of Naqra. The apostate tribal mistress Salma was then defeated and killed along with her supporters in the Battle of Zafar. Banu Tamin of Nejd surrendered after the killing of their apostate leader Malik bin Nuwayrah by Khalid (RA).
The last and most furious battle was fought against the liar-prophet Musaylimah in the Battle of Yamamah. The Muslim Army of 13,000 was outnumbered by the strong 40,000 army of Musaylimah who had already defeated two smaller Muslim armies. The battle was a great success for Khalid and his army with more than half of the apostates along with their leader killed during battle and the whole central and eastern Arabia subdued to the Caliphate.
Conquest of Iraq
After Rida wars, the next mission of Khalid (RA) was Iraq, the Arabian area of Persian Empire. The first battle, Battle of Chains, was fought in Kazima (now in Kuwait). The name of battle is due to the chained soldiers of Sassanid Army. Most of the Persian Army including thousands of chained soldiers were killed in the battle. In the Battle of River and Battle of Walaja, Muslims defeated the Persian Army which was several times more in number and strength than Muslims. The first phase of Conquest of Iraq was completed by the Battle of Ullais. The Muslims killed the entire Persian Army in this battle and later captured the important Iraqi city of al-Hira. These four battles were fought within two months (April-May) in 633 AD.
In July 633, Khalid captured the two other important cities of Anbar and Ayn al-Tamr after besieging them. In August 633, Khalid had to move to Daumat-ul-jandal (now in Saudi Arabia) in order to help a Muslim Army against the Arab Christian tribes. He defeated the rebels in the Battle of Daumat-ul-jandal with his warfare skill. Later he returned to Iraq and defeated the three different groups of Persians Army in the Battle of Muzayyah, Battle of Saniyy and Battle of Zumail. All these three battles were fought in November 633 AD.
In December 633 or January 634 AD, the last battle of the Iraqi campaign of Khalid bin Waleed (RA) was fought. The Battle of Firaz was the decisive and bloodiest battle of the Khalid’s conquest of Iraq which was fought at the northern border of Persian Empire along the Byzantine Empire. The total number of Muslim Army was 15,000 men while the combined opposition forces of Persian Empire, Byzantine Empire and Christian Arabs were at least ten times that number i.e. 150,000. Khalid’s bravery and warfare skills again defeated the huge and superior enemy who lost around two third of their men (100,000). The battle completed the Muslim occupation of Iraq west of Euphrates and now they were little distance away to capture the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) then ordered Khalid (RA) to move towards the Levantine front against the Byzantine Empire.
Conquest of Levant (al-Sham)
Before Khalid’s arrival to Levant, four Muslim Armies were already present in the Levant to fight against the Byzantine Empire. Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah, Amr bin al-As, Sharjeel bin Hasana and Yazeed bin Abu Sufyan were the commanders of these four armies. After arrival, Khalid (RA) took command of the combined forces. In June 634, Khalid (RA) captured the Ghassanid forts of al-Qaryatayn and Hawarin after the Battle of Qaryatayn. In July 634, Khalid (RA) completely crushed the resistance of Ghassanids after defeating them in the Battle of Marj-al-Rahit near Tadmur (now in central Syria) and later by capturing city of Bosra.
The Batle of Ajnadayn was the first major battle between Khalid and the Byzantine Empire in the end of July 634. The battle took place in modern day Palestine/Israel. The battle ended in victory for Khalid against a large Roman army and Muslims captured Palestine and southern Syria. In September 634 AD, Khalid (RA) captured Damascus (now capital of Syria) after a siege. The remnants of the Byzantine forces in Damascus were completely defeated by Khalid at the Battle of Marj-ud-Deebaj in September 634. The Byzantine commander Thomas was also among the dead in the battle. It was Khalid’s last battle as commander-in-chief of Muslim Army.
Caliph Umar (RA) replaced Abu Ubaidah bin al-Jarrah (RA) as the new military commander of Muslim Army in place of Khalid bin Waleed (RA) after he became Caliph, replacing Abu Bakr (RA) after his death in August 634 AD. Khalid whole-heartedly accepted the decision and continued serving as an ordinary commander. Abu Ubaidah (RA) appointed him as his advisor and commander of the cavalry (horsemen).
In October 634 AD, Khalid defeated the Byzantine garrison and saved the encircled small Muslim force in the Battle of Abu-al-Quds at Zahle (near Beirut, Lebanon). This victory completed the Muslim occupation of central Syria. In January 635, Khalid was again victorious against the Romans in the Battle of Fahl fought at Fahl (now in Jordan). After capturing Fahl, Khalid (RA) had to move to Damascus again in order to prevent the Romans’ effort of recapturing Damascus. He did so after defeating the Byzantine Army in the 2nd Battle of Damascus. In March 636 AD, the Muslim army under the command of Abu Ubaidah (RA) and Khalid (RA) captured Emesa (now named Homs and in Syria) after the siege of around 3 months.
In August 636, the Battle of Yarmouk was fought near the Yarmouk River between Muslim and Byzantine armies which was the major and decisive battle between the two rivals in Levant. Abu Ubaidah (RA) handed over the command of Muslim army to Khalid (RA) for this battle where both forces came with their total might. After six days of severe bloodshed, the battle ended as another great victory for Khalid in which over 50,000 Romans died as compared to 4,000 Muslim soldiers. After this victory, Muslims completely occupied Levant (al-Sham). In April 637 AD, the holy city of Jerusalem (now in Palestine/Israel) occupied by Muslims without bloodshed after the arrival of Caliph Umar (RA).
Now the Muslim Army went ahead to capture the city of Chalcis. This city was very important for the Byzantines as they could easily guard their Asian capital Antioch (near Antakya, southern Turkey) and other important areas of Armenia and Anatolia (Turkey) through this city. Khalid comprehensively defeated the Greek forces of Chalcis in the Battle of Hazir in June 637 AD and their whole army of 70,000 along with their commander Menas lost their lives in this battle which they fought against only the front part of Muslim Army under Khalid’s command.
In October 637 AD, Muslim Army captured Aleppo (now in northern Syria) after three months of its siege. In the same month, Muslim army under Khalid and Abu Ubaidah completely defeated the Roman army remnants of previous battles in the Battle of Iron Bridge. This victory paved the way for occupation of Antioch.
On the orders of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, the Christian Arabs gathered to fight against Muslims which was the last effort of Byzantine Emperor to regain control of Levant. They besieged the Muslim forces in Emesa but they had to retreat when detachment came from Iraq and Madinah for Muslims. Khalid (RA) attacked the enemy at that moment and the huge loss of men made it impossible for them to do any such adventure again.
In 638 AD, Khalid (RA) captured Germanicia and other western and central areas of Anatolia (Turkey) and Byzantine controlled Armenia. These victories were the end of the magnificent military career of Khalid bin Waleed as later he was retired from military service by Caliph Umar (RA). These victories also marked the end of Muslim conquest of Levant during the caliphate of Umar (RA).
Death & Achievements
Just after four years of his retirement, Khalid (RA) died in 642 AD. At the time of death, he was very grieved that he could not achieve martyrdom even after participating in around 100 big and small battles for Islam. His wife encouraged him by saying that he was given the title of Saifullah (Sword of Allah) by Holy Prophet (PBUH) and there’s no one who can break the Sword of Allah. His grave is in Homs (Syria).
The life of Khalid bin Waleed (RA) is full of valor, courage and superb war tactics. During his ten year military service for Islam, he led the Muslim Army numerous times and always remained successful. Muslim victories in Arabian peninsular, Iraq and Levant are largely based on his military marvel. In the Battle of Walaja, Battle of Yamamah, Battle of Yarmouk, Battle of Firaz, Battle of Hazir and several other battles he defeated the enemy several times more in number than his own army. He always remained in front of his army in the battlefield and several times killed the commander of enemy in a duel which proved psychological advantage for his forces. He changed his tactics according to the situation on ground and it always proved fruitful. His courage, warfare skills and victories in the battlefield makes him the greatest military commander of Islamic History and he was one of the greatest military generals of all times, without any doubt. In fact, he was the unbreakable Drawn Sword of Allah.