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The Syrian Army’s Savagery in Madinah Munawwarah

By: Muhammad Ali Chenarani
As to the exact date of the Harrah event, some of the historians have reported it to be the year 62 A.H. (682 C.E.) [115] and some 63 A.H. (683 C.E.)[116]; of which, of course, the majority of the historians have taken the latter as more accurate and asserted the abominable day to be Wednesday 27th or 28th of Dhū'l Hijja 63 A.H.[117] which is according to solar calendar to be August 27, 683 C.E.16
Referring to the historical sources and adding up and analyzing the various views will strengthen the notion that the Syrian army actually entered the battle region at the outskirts of Medina - i.e. Harrah - on Monday 24th of Dhū'l Hijja 63 A.H. (August 23, 683 C.E.)[118], and after three days respite, the Syrian army's invasion of Medina started from Harrah region at dawn on 27th of Dhū'l Hijja, and later, on the same day, the defenders of Medina were killed at the end of the same day, and the Syrian army seized the city of Medina overnight.
Narration of all the aspects of the battle of Harrah must be considered on one side and this tragic part (the crimes of the Syrian army in Medina) of the history of Yazīd's Caliphate, as the heaviest and the most heinous of all the dreadful events that took place in this battle, on the other.
Dīnawarī puts it this way: “Entrance of Syrian army into Medina took place on 27th of Dhū'l Hijja 63 A.H. and Medina was in the clutches of Syrian army until the rise of the new crescent of Muharram.”[119]
As Yazīd b. Mu'āwiyah had advised, Muslim b. 'Uqba ordered the Syrian army after conquering Medina: “Your hands are open! Do whatever you wish! Plunder Medina for three days.”[120]
This way, the city of Medina was allowed as permissible to the Syrian troops to exploit and plunder in whatever way they wished, leaving no man or woman on their way secure from their carnage, killing the people, and pillaging their properties.[121]
More grievous than the Syrian's plundering and slaying the people of Medina and the remaining generation of the companions of Prophet (s) as well as the Muhājirin and Ansār, was the rash and avaricious Syrians troops' assault upon the chastity of the women of Medina!
If we accept that the Syrian army was consisted of 27 thousand armed men[122] aged between 20 to 50 years old, we will find out how disastrous could the invasion of this number of troops have been on a town surrounded by numerous trenches and rugged lands. And if we agree with a number of historians who have estimated the Syrian army in the battle of Harrah to be the least of 10 thousand fighting men, still we can guess the extension of this catastrophe that took place in Medina.
The ten thousand young fighting men, who have for several days traversed the long distance between Syria and Medina with much hardship, overwhelmed the enemy in a single day of aggressive and severely harsh hit-and-fighting, and given full permission by their commander and central government for any action they wished to do, now at the end of the day stepped into houses whose men are either killed or escaped or have raised their hands up as a sign of surrender to be taken as captives.
How would have such ravenous and rash men treated the helpless and unprotected women, girls and children?!
We do not need to merely guess and imagine the extension of the tragedy; because the historians have explicitly recorded what had taken place: “Thousands of women were assaulted in the invasion of the Syrians into Medinat al-Nabī (s), and months after the battle of Harrah, thousands of babies were born whose fathers were unknown, hence were named “children of Harrah”! The sinister aftermaths of this ethico-human diaster left its ominous impact on families and the marriages of their daughters, bringing in many individual and social problems that are too heavy to be expressed by any pen.”[123]
Streets of Medina were filled with the bodies of the killed, blood stains covered the way up to the Prophet's (s) Mosque[124], children were killed in their mothers' laps[125], and the old companions of the Apostle of Allah (s) were persecuted and disgraced.[126]

Crimes committed in the Prophet’s Holy Srhine and Mosque (Masjid al-Nabi)
It was natural that a group of Medinans took refuge out of despair in the Apostle of Allah (s)'s mosque (Masjid al-Nabi) and Holy mausoleum thinking it to be secured against the Syrian army's invasion. But did the newly converted Syrian Muslims and those trained and reared by the Umayyids show any respect for the Prophet (s) and his mosque? Or like their commander Yazīd, they would say in their intoxication of victory and arrogance: “Hāshim (Prophet's great grand father and leader of Bani Hashim) has played to acquire the rule (hukūmat); there has been no divine revelation (upon Prophet of God), nor any news descended from heaven!”
History has mournfully recorded that the Syrain troops didn't show any respect for the Holy Shrine, House and the Mosque of the Prophet (s). Even the refugees in the Mosque of the Prophet (s) were not secure against the invaders. The Syrian troops mercilessly killed those who took refuge in the mosque of the Prophet (s) and near the Holy grave of Prophet (s). The spilled blood of the innocent covered the mosque floor and reached the Holy grave of Prophet (s). Until the Syrian troops remained in Medina, nobody dared to enter the mosque of Prophet (s). The mosque was empty of people[127] and Yazīd's horsemen tied their horses to the pillars in the mosque. Only animals including dogs entered the mosque of Prophet (s) and urinated and defecated on the pulpit (minber) of the Prophet (s)! [128] This was the most heinous aspect of the Syrian invasion that no sane Muslim can accept and tolerate. It showed how Umayyids had hidden their enemity against Islam and the Prophet (s) and were planning for a long time to take their revenge from Prophet (s), Islam and the Muslims. Abū Sa'īd Khudrī, the famous companion of the Prophet (s) said: 'By God, for three days when Syrians were busy in plundering, we didn't hear any call for prayers (azan) in Medina, except from the grave of Prophet (s)!'[129]
One of the Meccan poets wrote an elegy about the tragedy of Harrah as follows: Yazīd targeted us by Muslim b. 'Uqba, leaving none of our youth alive!
He dispatched a massive army, roaring like a torrential sea, to Medina.
They killed residents of Medina with uttermost wrath and violence; leaving the night behind while dead bodies lay scattered around.
The Ansār bitterly wept for the hideous bloodshed in Medina, and the Ashja' tribe for Ma'qal b. Sanān.[130]
'Abd al-Rahmān b. Sa'īd b. Zayd b. Nufayl, a talented poet of the time, put it as follows: If you are determined to kill us on the day of Harrahtu Wāqim, we have no fear; for we are among the first to lose our life in the way of Islam.
It was we who humiliated you in the battle of Badr and made you helpless and miserable.[131]
The battle of Harrah and the occupation of Medina, the city of Prophet (s), and the slaughter and plunder of the people of Medina ended after three days, with Yazīd's army commanded by Muslim b. 'Uqba set out to Mecca to create another tragedy in the Land of Divine Revelation!
However, the painful impacts of the Harrah tragedy remained in the souls, minds, and lives of the inhabitants of Medina for a very long time.
The intensity of the massacre and crimes was to such an extent that from then on people called Muslim b. 'Uqba as Musrif (squanderer) b. 'Uqba for his going to extremes in killing the people. After that, the people wore black clothes and for a whole year their wailing and weeping was heard from their houses.[132]
The sanctity of religion and the mosque and the grave of the Prophet (s) was violated, the Muhājirin and the Ansār and their families were humiliated. One of the unfortunate consequences of this horrific tragedy was that the people of Medina slowly moved away from religious values and indulged in moral corruption. Perhaps, in order to forget and subdue the tragic memories of the event of Harrah, the rich among them started drinking wine and used to invite singers and dancers. The views of the subsequent generations too about religion and its commandmants were distorted, and dance and singing began to prevail among them.12 The tragedy of Harrah was an event that had left its deleterious psychological and socio-cultural effects that prevailed over a very long time and outlasted generations.
[115] Ya‘qūbī, Ta’rīkh, vol. 2, p. 251.
[116] Ibn Qutayba, Al-Imāma wa al-Siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 212;
[117] Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī al-Ta’rīkh, vol. 4, p. 120; Ibn Athīr, Al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya, vol. 6, p. 236; Ibn Taghrī Birdī, Al-Nujūm al-Zāhira, vol. 1, p. 132.
[118] Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī al-Ta’rīkh, vol. 4, p. 120; Ibn Kathīr, Al-Bidāya wa al-Nihāya, vol. 6, p. 236; Ibn Taghrī Birdī, Al-Nujūm al-Zāhira, vol. 1, p. 132.
[119] Ibn Qutayba, Al-Imāma wa al-Siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 220, 212.
[120] Ibid, vol. 2, p. 10.
[121] Ibn A’tham Kūfi, Al-Futūh, vol. 3, p. 181; Madqisī, Al-Bad’u wa al-Ta’rīkh, vol. 6, p. 16; Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī al-Ta’rīkh, vol. 4, p. 17; Ibn ‘Imād, Shadharāt al-Dhahab, vol. 1, p. 71.
[122] Dinawari, al-Akhbār al-Tiwāl, p. 256; Ibn A’tham Kūfi, Al-Futūh. vol. 5, p. 180.
[123] See: Ibn Qutayba, Al-Imāma wa al-Siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 10; Ibn A’tham Kūfi, Al-Futūh, vol. 3, p. 181; Maqdisī, Al-Bad’ wa al-Ta’rīkh, vol. 6, p. 16; Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-A‘yān, vol. 6, p. 276; Ibn Jawzī, Sibt, Tadhkirat al-Khawās, p. 259; Ta’rīkh al-Khulafa, p. 209.
[124] Ibn Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī al-Ta’rīkh, 4, p. 17.
[125] Ibn Qutayba, Al-Imāma wa al-Siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 215.
[126] Dinawari, al-Akhbār al-Tiwāl, p. 265.
[127] Ibn Hajar Haytamī, Al-Sawā‘iq al-Muhriqa, vol. 1, p. 215, p. 222
[128] Ibn Shahrāshūb, Manāqib, vol. 4, p. 143.
[129] Ibn A’tham Kūfi, Al-Futuh, vol. 5, p. 183
[130] Ibid, vol. 5, p. 183; Ibn Abd al-Birr Numarī, Al-Istī‘āb, vol. 1, p. 258; Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, Al-Isāba, vol. 3, p. 446; Ibn Hazm, Jamharatu Ansāb al-‘Arab, p. 238.
[131] Zubayrī Mus‘ab, Nasab-i Quraysh, p. 366; Samhūdī, Wafā’ al-Wafā’, vol. 1, p. 137.
[132] Ibn Qutayba, Al-Imāma wa al-Siyāsa, vol. 1, p. 220.

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