March 3, 2001

Al-Baraa ibn Malik: The Warrior of the Ansar

  

“Verily, Allah
has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties; for the price
that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah’s Cause, so they kill and
are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him” (9:111)

 

These are the words that filled the heart of the hero of this article, who lived
to die in the path of Allah. He understood and recognized the value of martyrdom
and he made it his number one priority. This hero is the second of the two brothers who lived for the service of their
Prophet and religion. His brother, Anas Ibn Malik, was offered by his mother Umm
Salim to be the Prophet’s servant at the age of twenty. As for the hero of this article, the second of the two brothers,
al-Baraa’ Ibn
Malik al-Ansari, his only motto was ‘Allah and paradise’.

 

Al-Baraa’ was thin and wiry with so little flesh on his bones, yet in single
handed combats he defeated and killed many opponents, and in the midst of
battles he was an outstanding fighter against the non-believers. He was so
courageous and daring that ‘Umar who was the Khalifa at that time, once wrote
to his governors throughout the Islamic State that they should not appoint him
to lead any army, fearing that he might have them all killed by his daring
exploits.

 

When al-Baraa’ used to fight he was not one of those who were looking for
victory, even though victory was the ultimate achievement, al-Baraa’s only wish
was for martyrdom, and to end his life in one of the battles against the enemies
of Islam. His love for martyrdom was the reason that he did not miss any of the
battles with the Prophet (saw). One day when al-Baraa’ was visited by his
friends he looked at them and said: “I see you might be worried that I
might die on my bed, no by Allah, Allah will not deprive me of shahada (martyrdom)”.

 

Perhaps if the tales
on al-Baraa’s heroism were to be told in detail, it would
take a lot of pages to cover them. In this article we will take just one of his
many heroic stories as an example of his bravery and courageousness.

 

The story we will take began after the death of Prophet Muhammad (saw), when
many tribes started rejecting the religion of Allah as a result of the sudden
death of His Prophet. This rejection by the Arabian tribes drew a determined
response from Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (ra) who stood firm against these
destructive movements, fearing that they could have a deadly effect on the
establishment and the spread of the religion of Islam on earth. Realizing the urgency of the matter, Abu Bakr called upon the Muhajirin and the
Ansar and he formed eleven armies from among them, each under a separate
commander and he dispatched them to the various parts of the Arabian peninsula
where these destructive movements were being formed. Their duty was to either
convince these apostates to go back to the Straight Path of truth or otherwise
to confront the leaders and followers of these movements and wipe them off
completely.

 

At that time the strongest group of apostates and the greatest in number were
the Banu Hanifah, among whom Musaylamah al-Kaththab, the imposter, arose
claiming that he was a prophet. With his magic tricks and his fluent speech,
Musaylamah managed to attract most of his tribe as well as the tribes around him
that he was a true prophet after Muhammad (saw). He also managed to prepare
an army made up of forty thousands of the best fighters among his people, who
followed him for the sake of tribal loyalty and not because they believed him.

 

Musaylamah’s army was so powerful that he managed to defeat the first army sent
to him under the leadership of Ikrimah Ibn Abi Jah l. The influence of
Musaylamah was so great that it forced Abu Bakr to dispatch another army led by
Khalid Ibn al-Waleed. This army included the best and most courageous of the
Sahabah from both the Muhajirin and the Ansar. In the front ranks of this army
was our hero al-Baraa’ Ibn Malik, who could not wait for the call of the jihad
by Khalid Ibn al-Waleed the leader of the army, as he was looking for the best
spot where he wished to perhaps be granted martyrdom by Allah (swt).

 

Finally, the call of
“Allahu Akbar” that al-Baraa’ was waiting for came from the
leader and the Muslim army raced along with the lover of martyrdom al-Baraa’ Ibn
Malik.

 

The two armies met in the territory of Banu Hanifah at Yamamah in Najd. Al-Baraa’
was in the front rows, when he started hitting the followers of Musaylamah, they
began falling around him like the leaves from a tree. But Musaylamah’s army was
one of the most dangerous armies faced by Muslims, and they managed to hold
their ground against the army of Truth despite the courageous efforts of some of
the Muslims. The battle was fierce, there was much destruction and death. It was
something that the Muslims had never experienced anything like in all the wars
they had fought before. In fact, before long, the scale of the ba ttle tipped in
the favour of Musaylamah and his men, and fear started creeping into the
Muslim’s army forces, and some of them began retreating from their positions. At
that point the commanders of the Muslim armies realized that they better regain
initiative, because if they were to be defeated by Musaylamah’s army it could be
the end of the religion of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula.

 

Immediately, the commanders of the Muslim army started giving their fighters
words of encouragement and reminding them of the great reward awaiting them. At
that point, the Muslims displayed tremendous examples of heroism. Thabit Ibn
Qays, dug a pit and planted himself in it and fought until he was killed. Zayd
Ibn al-Khattab, brother of ‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab, called out to the Muslims:
“Men, bite with your jaw teeth, strike the enemy and press on. By Allah, I
shall not speak to you after this until either Musaylamah is defeated or I meet
Allah”.

 

However, the bravery of all these great men wanes in front of the heroism of our
champion al-Baraa’ Ibn Malik. As the battle grew fiercer and fiercer, Khaled Ibn
al-Waleed turned to al-Baraa’ and said: “O Baraa’ charge, young man of
the Ansar!”. Al-Baraa’ then called upon his men with words that was filled
with courage and strength saying: “O people of Madina (Ansar), let not
anyone of you think of returning to Madina. There is no Madina for you after
this day. There is only Allah, then Paradise”. 

 

These were the words that
came straight from the heart of the young warrior in order to encourage and
strengthen the faith of his fellow brothers. After these words of encouragement,
al-Baraa’ along with the Ansar launched their fiercest attack against the
followers of Musaylamah the Imposter, breaking their ranks and striking telling
blows aga inst them, until eventually the army of the enemies started to
withdraw. They sought refuge in a garden which later became known in history as
the Garden of Death because of the many killed there on that day. The garden was
surrounded by high walls, Musaylamah and thousands of his men entered the
garden and closed the gates behind them, being shielded by the high walls, they
started raining down arrows on the Muslims.

 

Realizing the danger of this new trick of war that Musaylamah and his men had
employed, a nd the effect it have on the outcome of the battle, also realising
that this could be the chance he is waiting for to achieve martyrdom and meet
Allah (swt), the valiant and courageous al-Baraa’ went forward and addressed
his men saying: “Put me on a shield, raise the shield on spears and hurl
me into the garden near the gate. Either I shall die a martyr or I shall open
the gate for you”. This showed a great example of a man searching for martyrdom, as he thought that the time that he would open the gate for the
Muslim army to enter and finish off the fitnah (affliction) of Musaylamah and
his men, the swords of the enemies would rain down on him and he will finally be
granted the wish of martyrdom that he has long waited for.

 

The thin and wiry
al-Baraa’ was soon sitting on a shield. A number of spears
raised the shield and he was thrown into the Garden of Death amongst the
multitude of Musaylamah’ s men. He descended on them like a thunderbolt and
continued to fight them in front of the gate. Many fell to his sword and he
himself sustained over eighty wounds in his body before he could open the gate. The Muslim army then charged into the garden through the gates and over the
walls. The battle further intensified as hundreds were killed until the Muslim
army came upon Musaylamah and killed him.

 

Such was the bravery of our hero
al-Baraa’ Ibn Malik who was prepared to
sacrifice himself in the path of Allah and for the sake of spreading the
religion of Islam and wiping off its enemies, and through his bravery the
Muslims were able to gain victory over Musaylamah and his men after at one stage
they were in a desperate position.

 

In spite of his courageous effort in the battle against Musaylamah the Imposter,
and although he suffered numerous wounds to his body which were nursed by Khalid
Ibn al-Waleed himself who accompanied him for over a month until his recovery,
Al-Baraa’ was still searching for the martyrdom which had eluded him at the
Garden of Death. After recovering he went on fighting in battle after battle hoping to attain his
aim and be granted martyrdom by Allah.

 

Al-Baraa’ prayers were finally answered at the battle for Tustar in Persia. At
Tustar, the Persians were besieged in one of their defiant fortresses. When the
siege by the Muslims became unbearable, the Persians employed a new tactic. They
began to throw down iron chains at the ends of which were fastened red hot iron
hooks. Muslims were caught by these hooks and were pulled out either dead or in
agony of death. One of these hooks got hold of Anas Ibn Malik, the brother of
al-Baraa’. As soon as al-Baraa’ saw this, he leapt up the wall of the fortress
and grabbed the chain which bore his brother and began undoing the hook from his
body. Al-Baraa’s hands began to burn but he did not let go before his brother
was released. By the time Anas was released al-Baraa’ and his men looked at his
hand and they found that all the flesh was burned off his hand and they could
only see the bones of his skeleton.

 

Al-Baraa’ then directed his supplication to Allah saying: “O Allah, grant us
their backs (i.e. victory) and make me meet Your Prophet today”. Al-Baraa’
was finally granted martyrdom at this battle after a long stare at his brother,
as if he was saying farewell to him.

 

Such was a fitting end full of courage and faith in Allah when
al-Baraa’ was
finally granted the martyrdom that he lived and fought for. The martyrdom that
was his only aim in this world, the martyrdom that he understood its value more
than anyone else, w hich made him run after it. Al-Baraa’ has lived with the motto: “Allah and then paradise”,
lighting the way for Muslims and showing them the way to paradise.

 

We ask Allah
to grant al-Baraa’ his wish and to raise him among His Prophet, His Righteous
Servants and among the Martyrs, and we ask Allah to produce from among our
youth men who follow the steps of al-Baraa’ and experience the beauty of martyrdom!

 

(courtesy of
http://www.islam.org.au)

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