Malik ibn Nuwayrah

Malik ibn Nuwayrah

Malik ibn Nuwaira (Arabic: مالك بن نويرة‎), also spelled as Malik ibn Nuwera, was a chief of the Bani Yarbu', a large section of the powerful tribe of Bani Tamim which inhabited the north-eastern region of Arabia, above Bahrain. Being close to Persia, some elements of the Bani Tamim had embraced Zoroastrianism, but by and large the tribe was pagan until Islam came to Arabia. The centre of Malik's clan was Butah.

Famous for his generosity and hospitality, Malik is said to have kept a light burning outside his house all night so that any traveller passing that way would know where to find shelter and food. He would get up during the night to check the light. A strikingly handsome man, he had a thick head of hair and his face, a contemporary has said, was "as fine as the moon." He was skilful in the use of weapons and noted for his courage and chivalry, and he was an accomplished poet. Malik possessed all the qualities which the Arabs looked for in the perfect male. He was married to Layla bint al-Minhal who was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Arabia.

In view of his distinguished position in the tribe and his unquestionable talents, Muhammad appointed him as an officer over the clan of Bani Handhalah. His main responsibility was the collection of taxes and their despatch to Madinah. Later, when news of the Muhammed's death reached Butah, Malik had just collected a good deal of tax but not yet despatched it to Madinah. He at once opened the coffers and returned the money to the taxpayers. "O Bani Handhalah!" he announced, "your wealth is now our own.".

Malik was a chief of some distinction; a warrior, noted for his generosity; and a famous poet. Bravery, generosity and poetry were the three qualities most admired among the Arabs.


Attack on Malik ibn Nuwayra

During the Ridda wars, which broke out in Arabia after the death of Muhammad. Abu Bakr sent his most talented general Khalid into Najd with 4000 men, to submit the tribes of the surrounding areas. Malik was guilty for his acts against the state of Madinah. After the death of Muhammad, he broke in open revolt against Madinah. At the time of Muhammad, he had been appointed as a Tax collector for the Tribe of Banu Tamim. As soon as Malik heard of the appointment of Abu Bakr as caliph, he gave back all the tax to his tribespeople, saying that "Now you are the owner of your wealth".[1] Moreover he was to be charged because he signed a pact with the self-proclaimed prophet Sajjah. This agreement stated that first they would deal with local enemy tribes together, and then they would confront the state of Madinah.[2] When Malik heard about Khalid bin Walid's victories against powerful Arab tribes, he ordered his tribesmen not to engage the approaching Khalid in battle, to stay at home, and hope for peace.[3] he himself apparently moved away across the desert with his family. Also, so as to prove himself loyal to state of Madinah (the future Islamic empire), he collected the Tax and sent it to Madinah. His riders were stopped by Khalid's army at the town of Battah. Khalid asked them about the signing of pact with Sajjah they said it was just because they wanted revenge against their terrible enemies.[4] When Khalid reached Najd he found no opposing army, so he sent his cavalry to nearby villages and ordered them to call the Azaan (call for prayers) to each party they meet. Zirrar bin Azwar, a group leader, arrested the family of Malik claiming they did not answer the call to prayer.

Malik ibn Nuwayra's Death

Shia View

When arrested, Malik was asked by Khalid about his crimes. Malik's response was "your master said this your master said that" referring to Abu Bakr. Khalid declared Malik a rebel apostate and ordered his execution.[5] Khalid bin Walid killed Malik ibn Nuwayra and raped[6] his wife, Layla bint al-Minhal. Although Sunnis claim that Khalid married his wife on the same night, the Shias argue that Islamically, Khalid would have had to wait for her to complete the waiting period iddah (which can last from 4 months to 1 year) before Khalid would have been able to marry her. Abu Qatada Ansari was a companion of Muhammad. He came with Khalid from Medina. He was so shocked at Malik's murder by Khalid that he immediately returned to Medina, and told Abu Bakr that he would not serve under a commander who had killed a Muslim.[7] The death of Malik and Khalid's taking of his wife Layla created a controversy. Some officers of his army—including a prominent companion of Muhammad, Abu Qatadah—believed that Khalid killed Malik to take his wife. After the pressure exerted by Umar—Khalid's cousin and one of Caliph Abu Bakr's main advisors—Abu Bakr called Khalid back to Madina to explain himself.[8] In Medina, ‘Umar told Khâlid: “You enemy of Allâh! You killed a Muslim man and thereafter took his wife. By Allâh, I will stone you.[9]

'Umar demanded, from Abu Bakr, the immediate dismissal of Khalid. He said that Khalid had to be put on trial for the twin crimes of murder and adultery. According to Islamic law, Khalid had to be stoned to death. But Abu Bakr defended Khalid, and said that he had simply made "an error of judgment." [10]

Sunni View

When arrested, Malik was asked by Khalid about his crimes. Khalid's interpretation of Malik's response was "your master said this your master said that" (referring to Muhammad). Khalid understood this to be a transparent attempt by Malik to save his own life by any means at his disposal. Khalid declared Malik a rebel apostate and ordered his execution.[5] Khalid ordered Malik's killing because in the view that Malik had betrayed the Islamic state of Madinah.

Non-Muslim view

The eminent historioan of Islam John Glubb writes that "Abu Bakr sent Khalid b. Waleed into Nejd with 4000 men. Many clans of Beni Temeem, hastened to visit Khalid but the Beni Yerboa branch of the tribe, under its chief, Malik ibn Nuweira, hung back. Malik was a chief of some distinction, a warrior, noted for his generosity and a famous poet. Bravery, generosity and poetry were the three qualities most admired among the Arabs. Unwilling perhaps to demean himself by bowing to Khalid, he ordered his followers to scatter and himself apparently moved away across the desert alone with his family. Abu Bakr had given orders that the test to be applied to suspected rebels was that they be asked to repeat the Muslim formula and that they answer the call to prayer. Khalid, however, preferred more aggressive methods and sent out parties of horsemen to round up the fugitives and plunder their property. One such party seized Malik ibn Nuweira and his family and brought them in to Khalid, although they claimed to be Muslims. The men of Medina who were with the army protested vigorously against Khalid's ruthlessness, but without avail. The prisoners were placed under guard but, during the night, Malik ibn Nuweira and his supporters were killed in cold blood. Within 24 hours Khalid had married the widow of his victim.

Malik ibn Nuweira had been executed while professing to be a believer. Indeed Khalid's marriage to the beautiful Leila gave rise to the suspicion that Malik had been killed with the object of making her available to the conqueror.

The men of Medina, who had already opposed Khalid's ruthless actions, were outraged by the death of Malik. A certain Abu Qatadxvxa, an erstwhile friend and companion oasfasf Muhammad, hastened to Medina to complain to Abu Bakr, who summoned Khalid to answer the accusation. Umar b. Khattab press n, the caliph to deprive Khalid of his command. Khalid returning to Medina, claimed that he had not ordered the execution of Malik, but that hifb s instructions to the cvxcuards had been misunderstood. The wise Abu Bakr, whatever he may have thought of the morals of his lieutenant, was aware of his prowess. ‘I will not sheathe a sword which God has drawn for His service,' he exclaimed. Khalid's excuses were accepted." (The Great Arab Conquests, 1963, p. 112)

See also


  1. ^ reference=al-Balazuri: book no: 1, page no:107.
  2. ^ reference=al-Tabari: Vol. 2, page no: 496.
  3. ^ reference= Tabari: Vol. 2, Page no: 501-502.
  4. ^ reference= Tabari: Vol) p. 501-2.
  5. ^ a b reference=Tabari: Vol. 2, Page no: 5)
  6. ^ "liable for rape", Shattered: The Sectarian Divide and Start of the Feminist Revolution in Islam By Syed Abbas Rizvi, S. Khasim T. Rizvi, p. 51; In Medina, Umar told Khâlid: “You enemy of Allâh! You killed a Muslim man and thereafter took his wife. By Allâh, I will stone you. Tabari: Vol. 2, Page no: 274)
  7. ^ (A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, Ali Razwy, Chapter 55)
  8. ^ Akram 2004, p. 183
  9. ^ reference=Tabari: Vol. 2, Page no: 274)
  10. ^ (A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, Ali Razwy, Chapter 55)

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