How Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed Embraced Islam

Adil Salahi, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2005-06-06 03:00

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, a division commander of the Quraysh’s army at the Battle of Uhud, managed to attack the Muslims from behind and turn their victory into a military defeat. He was a young man of great promise. Indeed, he was to become one of the most distinguished commanders the world had ever known. However, it took him a long time before beginning to think of adopting Islam. He says that the process began when he started to reflect on his past attitude during events of great importance.

“I fought all those battles against Muhammad (pbuh). Every time I felt that all my efforts were to no avail. I was certain that Muhammad would eventually be the winner. When the Prophet came and encamped at Al-Hudaybiyah, I commanded a detachment of horsemen from among the idolaters until we met the Prophet and his companions at Asafan. I drew close to him to provoke him. He and his companions prayed Zuhr in front of us. We thought of attacking them, but we refrained. He must have realized what we were thinking of when the next prayer, Asr, was due. He therefore, led his companions in what is known as “the prayers of fear”. That affected us profoundly and we realized that he was immune from our attack. We therefore drew back.

When the terms of the peace agreement of Al-Hudaybiyah were eventually negotiated and the Prophet and his companions went home, I started thinking about what might come next and what was in store for us. I thought hard: Where should I go? Should I join Negus? But then I remembered that he had already become a follower of Muhammad and that Muhammad’s companions were safe under his protection. Should I go and join Heraclius? That would have made me a Christian or a Jewish convert. That prospect did not appeal to me. Should I emigrate or should I stay where I was, waiting for something to happen?”

This state of confusion was not to be easily resolved for Khalid. He did not wish to emigrate where he would have had to prove his worth. If he stayed in Makkah, on the other hand, he knew for certain that the eventual triumph of Islam was only a matter of time. His confusion, however, clouded his vision and he could not see that the right course of action was to look at Islam objectively. Weeks and months passed and he could not make up his mind. When a year was over, and Prophet Muhammad and his companions came to Makkah for their compensatory Umrah, Khalid did not wish to look at the Muslims coming into Makkah. He went into the mountains and stayed until the Prophet and his companions departed.

When he went back home, he found a letter left him by his brother, Al-Waleed ibn Al-Waleed, who had been a Muslim for some time. The letter read as follows:

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent.

I am infinitely amazed at the fact that you continue to turn away from Islam when you are as intelligent as I know you to be. No one can be so blind to the truth of Islam. God’s Messenger asked me about you, and said: ‘Where is Khalid?’ I said to him: ‘God will bring him to us.’ He said: ‘A man of his caliber cannot remain ignorant of Islam. If he would use his intelligence and his experience for the Muslims against the idolaters, he would benefit from it a great deal. We would certainly give him precedence over others.’ It is high time, brother, for you to make amends for the great benefits you have missed.”

When Khalid read his brother’s letter, he felt as if a curtain which had blurred his vision for a long time was removed. He was pleased at the fact that the Prophet himself inquired about him. He felt a strong desire to become a Muslim. That night he dreamt that he was in a narrow strip of land in a barren desert and he was walking on and on until he came into an open, green, limitless field. It did not take him long to make up his mind that the right course for him was to become a Muslim. He decided to join the Prophet at Madinah.

He felt, however, that he needed to have a companion to go with him. He looked for a young man from the nobility of Makkah and the first one he approached was Safwan ibn Umayyah. Safwan’s father and brother were killed at the Battle of Badr. His uncle was killed at Uhud. Safwan belonged to that generation of Quraysh leaders who viewed their conflict with Islam in clear-cut terms. He had resolved not to compromise with Prophet Muhammad and he was in no mood to do so when Khalid approached him. Nevertheless, Khalid said to him: “Do you not see that Muhammad is gaining the upper hand against both the Arabs and the non-Arabs? It is certainly expedient for us to join him and share in whatever success he may achieve.” Safwan took a very extreme attitude and said to Khalid: “If all the Arabs followed Muhammad and I was the only one left, I would still not join him.”

When Khalid heard this reply he thought that Safwan was a man who nursed his grudges and he remembered that his father and brother were killed at Badr. He, therefore, tried to look for someone else. By chance, he met Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl, whose father had always been the most determined enemy of Islam, until he was killed at Badr. Ikrimah’s reply to Khalid’s approach was in terms similar to those of Safwan. Khalid, however, asked him not to mention his approach to anyone and lkrimah promised him that.

Khalid then met Uthman ibn Talhah, a close friend of his. He thought of probing the matter with him, then he remembered that Uthman’s father, uncle and his four brothers were all killed at the Battle of Uhud. Khalid hesitated, expecting a reply similar to those of Safwan and Ikrimah. Eventually, he probed Uthman, speaking first about the fact that the Muslims continued to gain strength. He then said: “I compare our position to that of a fox in a hole. If you pour a bucket of water down into the hole, you can be certain that the fox will come out.” Then Khalid proposed to Uthman that they join the Prophet in Madinah. Uthman responded positively. The two agreed to start their journey after midnight, and each to travel on his own and meet at the break of day at Ya’jaj. They then continued their journey together until they arrived at Al-Haddah, where they met Amr ibn Al-Aas. He said to them: “Welcome. Where are you heading?” Realizing that they all had the same purpose, the three of them moved together until they arrived on the outskirts of Madinah, where they stopped to change their clothes. Khalid’s report is as follows:

“God’s Messenger (peace be upon him) was informed of our arrival, and he was pleased. I put on one of my best suits and went ahead to meet the Prophet. On the way I was met by my brother, who said to me: ‘Be quick. God’s Messenger has been informed of your arrival and he is pleased. He is waiting for you.’ We then moved faster until we saw him at a distance, smiling. He wore his smile until I reached him and greeted him as God’s Prophet and Messenger. He replied to my greeting with a face beaming with pleasure. I said: ‘I declare that there is no deity but God, and that you are God’s Messenger.’ He said: ‘Come forward.’ When I drew nearer, he said to me: ‘I praise God for guiding you to Islam. I have always been aware that you are endowed with great intelligence and I have always hoped that your intelligence will lead you only to what is right and beneficial.’ I said to him: ‘Messenger of God, I am thinking of those battles at which I was fighting against the side of the truth. I request you to pray God for me to forgive me.’ He said: ‘When you embrace Islam, all your past sins are forgiven.’ I said: ‘Messenger of God, is that a condition?’ He said: ‘My Lord, forgive Khalid ibn Al-Waleed every effort he exerted to turn people away from Your path.’ Uthman and Amr then pledged their allegiance to the Prophet. By God, ever since our arrival in the month of Safar in the 8th year of the Prophet’s emigration, the Prophet consulted me about every serious matter which cropped up, ahead of all his other companions.”

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