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Expedition of Usama bin Zayd

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Expedition of Usama bin Zayd was a military expedition of the early Muslim Caliphate led by Usama ibn Zayd that took place in June 632, in which Muslim forces raided Byzantine Syria.[1][2]

After the Farewell Pilgrimage, Muhammad appointed Usama ibn Zayd as the commander of an expeditionary force which was to invade the region of Balqa in the Byzantine Empire. Muhammad commanded all the sahaba, except for his family, to go with Usama to Syria to avenge the Muslims’ defeat at the Battle of Mu'tah, in which Usama's father and Muhammad's adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah, had been killed.[3]

Usama's campaign was successful and his army was the first Muslim force to successfully invade and raid Byzantine territory, thus paving the way for the subsequent Muslim conquest of the Levant and Muslim conquest of Egypt, both of which took place during Usama's lifetime.

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The Battle of Mu'tah was fought in September 629 near the village of Mu'tah, east of the Jordan River and Karak, between the forces of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the forces of the Byzantine Empire and their Arab Christian Ghassanid vassals. In Islamic historical sources, the battle is usually described as the Muslims' attempt to take retribution against the Ghassanids after a Ghassanid official executed Muhammad's emissary who was en route to Bosra. [4]

During the battle the Muslim army was routed.[5][6] After three Muslim leaders (including Usama's father, Zayd ibn Harithah), were killed, the command was given to Khalid ibn al-Walid and he succeeded in saving the rest of the forces.[5] The surviving Muslim forces retreated to Medina.

After the Farewell Pilgrimage in 632, the Prophet Muhammad appointed Usama ibn Zayd as the commander of an expeditionary force which was to invade the region of Balqa in the Byzantine Empire. The stated aim of this expedition was to avenge the Muslim losses at the Battle of Mu'tah, in which Usama's father and Muhammad's adopted son, Zayd ibn Harithah, had been killed.[7]


Usama was ordered by Muhammad to attack Balqa and Darum.[8] Some weeks later, Muhammad fell ill, and Muslim elders such as Abu Bakr and Umar resisted going under the command of Usama because they thought that he, who was 20 at the time, was too young to lead an army.[9] Muhammad dismissed these concerns.[2][10]

This incident is also mentioned in the Sahih al-Bukhari, which states that:

The Prophet appointed Usama as the commander of the troops (to be sent to Syria). The Muslims spoke about Usama (unfavorably). The Prophet said, "I have been informed that you spoke about Usama. (Let it be known that) he is the most beloved of all people to me" Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:744

It is also mentioned in Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:745 and Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:552.

Usama gathered a force of approximately 3000 men, of which 1000 were cavalry soldiers, and Abu Bakr had intended on joining Usama on campaign. Usama had also sent spies ahead of him, from which he learned that the enemy were still unaware of the imminent approach of his army.[11]

However, due to Muhammad's death on 8 June 632, the campaign was delayed and Abu Bakr was elected as Caliph in Medina.[12] With the death of Muhammad, certain companions of the Prophet tried to persuade Abu Bakr, who succeeded Muhammad as leader of the Islamic community, to replace Usama as commander of the army with Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, due to Usama's youth. However, Abu Bakr reaffirmed the decision of Muhammad and dispatched the expedition under Usama's leadership.[13] He then requested that Usama allow Umar ibn al-Khattab to stay behind in Medina to help in the administration, and Usama obliged.

According to Al-Tabari, before Usama headed out and raided the inhabitants of Syria, Abu Bakr commanded Usama to follow ten rules of war.[14] The tradition of the ten rules of Abu Bakr is also mentioned in the Sunni Hadith collection of Al-Muwatta.[15][16]:

Then (Abu Bakr) said, "Oh army, stop and I will order you [to do] ten [things]; learn them from me by heart. You shall not engage in treachery; you shall not act unfaithfully; you shall not engage in deception; you shall not indulge in mutilation; you shall kill neither a young child nor an old man nor a woman; you shall not fell palm trees or burn them, you shall not cut down [any] fruit-bearing tree; you shall not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel except for food. You will pass people who occupy themselves in monks' cells; leave them alone, and leave alone what they busy themselves with. You will come to a people who will bring you vessels in which are varieties of food; if you eat anything from [those dishes], mention the name of God over them. You will meet a people who have shaven the middle of their head and have left around it [a ring of hair] like turbans; tap them lightly with the sword. Go ahead, in God's name!"[14]

Al-Tabari states that the expedition was successful and Usama:

"advanced quickly to Dhu al-Marwah and the valley and ended up doing what the Prophet had ordered him to do, dispersing horsemen among the Quda'a tribes (who were Ghassanid vassals) and raiding Abil. He took captives and booty, and his completion of the mission was within forty days, excepting the time of his return."[14]

This success demonstrated the strength and cohesiveness of the Muslims and the Rashidun Caliphate even in the absence of Muhammad. The army of Usama reached Syria and became the first Muslim force to successfully raid Byzantine territory, thus paving the way for the subsequent Muslim conquests of Syria and Egypt from the Byzantine Empire.

See also


  1. ^ Abu Khalil, Shawqi (1 March 2004). Atlas of the Prophet's biography: places, nations, landmarks. Dar-us-Salam. p. 249. ISBN 978-9960897714.
  2. ^ a b Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 31.
  3. ^ Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims. p. 283.
  4. ^ El Hareir & M'Baye 2011, p. 142.
  5. ^ a b Buhl 1993, p. 756-757.
  6. ^ Kaegi 1992, p. 67.
  7. ^ Razwy, Sayed Ali Asgher. A Restatement of the History of Islam & Muslims. p. 283.
  8. ^ Tabari, Al (25 September 1990), The last years of the Prophet (translated by Isma'il Qurban Husayn), State University of New York Press, pp. 163–164, ISBN 978-0887066917 online
  9. ^ "19 - The Life of Imam Ali: Prophet's (pbuh) Death - Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshwani - Ramadhan 1435". YouTube. YouTube.
  10. ^ Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar (Free Version), p. 303
  11. ^ Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, p. 32.
  12. ^ Al-Farooq a book by Shubli No'mani
  13. ^ Gil, A history of Palestine, 634-1099, pp. 31-32.
  14. ^ a b c Tabari, Al (1993), The conquest of Arabia, State University of New York Press, p. 16, ISBN 978-0791410714
  15. ^ Al-Muwatta; Book 21, Number 21.3.10.
  16. ^ Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA, ISBN 1-4289-1039-5


This page was last edited on 18 September 2019, at 09:56
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