The Battle of Yamamah took place at the time of Abu Bakr’s (ra) caliphate to eliminate the threat of Musaylamah al-Kaddhab. As they were awaiting the support of Khalid bin Waleed (ra), Abu Bakr commanded the army under Ikrimah (ra) not to engage Musaylamah’s army near Yamamah. The army of Musaylmah was composed of the men of the tribe of Banu Hanifa, which was known to be a very strong tribe. This is why the Muslims needed to amass as much support as possible. However, Ikrimah could not contain himself and attacked, only to be defeated by Musaylamah.
Shurahbil (ra) thereafter brought his army in support and was equally told by Abu Bakr not to engage until Khalid came. However, the similar temptation came to him and he ordered his army to attack, only to be defeated by Musaylamah as well. When Khalid bin Waleed and his 14,000 men arrived, he found Shurahbil’s battered men and rebuked him for attacking prematurely.
Now the army of Musaylamah grew in confidence after having defeated two armies of the Muslims. However, many of Musaylamah’s 40,000 men did not fight out of conviction of faith, but rather out of tribal loyalty. Many of them actually doubted Musaylamah’s
Initially the battle swayed one way and then the other, ending with the Muslims in retreat and the apostates in quick pursuit. The apostates started to loot the Muslim camps, allowing the Muslims time to regroup. They attacked again and managed to push the enemy back.
Khalid bin Waleed stepped up for duels and he eliminated challengers one after another. He then proposed to hold talks with Musaylamah who came out surrounded by a group of men. Khalid bin Waleed was a great general who often used psychological warfare to his advantage on the battlefield. He lured Musaylamah out and waited for the perfect opportunity to strike. When he moved forward to attack, Musaylamah turned around and ran off. This demoralised his men and the Muslims began shouting “Allahu Akbar!”
The Muslims attacked in full force and caused the apostates to flee and fortify themselves in the castle. The apostates angrily asked Musaylamah where the victory was and where were the miracles he promised them. He replied saying “Fight in order to defend your honour and noble lineages. As for religion, there is no religion.” The walls were impenetrable and the Muslims were stumped as to how to put an end to this.
Then an old companion who was known to be very adventurous and daring proposed something. His name was Baraa ibn Malik (ra). He told his comrades to throw him over the wall and once over he would loosen the gates and let the Muslims through. Initially Khalid refused to allow this but in the end the plan was accepted. He was thrown over the wall and in some miraculous feat he managed to loosen the bolts to the gates. The Muslims poured through the narrow gate.
Many are aware of the story of Wahshi, the Abyssinian slave who was granted freedom by Hind ibn Utbah after killing the uncle of the Prophet (saws), Hamza (ra), at the Battle of Uhud. He was an expert spearsman and practised this method to perfection in the hopes of attaining his freedom. In this battle, Wahshi (ra) was the one who managed to hit Musaylamah by piercing him through the stomach with a spear. He crumpled forward and Abu Dujanah (ra) finished him off. This is where Wahshi said his famous phrase: “Before Islam I killed the best of people, and after Islam I killed the worst of people.”
Many great companions and huffaz (those who had memorised the entire Quran by heart) were lost fighting bravely that day. Among them included Thabit bin Qais (ra), the spokesman of the Quraysh, and Zayd bin al-Khattab (ra), the half-brother of Umar (ra). Umar used to say that his brother beat him in two things – entering Islam and gaining martyrdom. Because of the loss of so many huffaz, this prompted Abu Bakr to start compiling the Quran in written form for its preservation.