Now that you are wondering if you read the title right or did the author mean to say Isa (Jesus) عليه السلام walking on the water as the Christians claim or maybe Musa عليه السلام splitting up the sea. Well no, this is about a group of men who literally walked over the River Tigris led by one of the greatest generals in the history of Islam. Wait, but aren’t miracles just for the Prophets? So how could these men do such a thing.
What is a Miracle?
A miracle [mu’jizah] is an extraordinary occurrence and it occurs only at the hands of Prophets and Messengers as a proof that the message they come with is the truth and to solidify their stance. These types of signs will not be given to anyone after the Messengers of Allah, because anyone who claims to be a Prophet after Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, then he is a liar, and a disbeliever
However the scholars also use the word Karamah. It is an honour of the friends of Allah; meaning the Karamah that Allah brings about for some of His friends as an honor for them and to assist them in what they are upon. Karamah are many. We often hear about such incidents in the biographies of past scholars and warriors. They were present in those who came before us and they are present in this Ummah even today and they will continue to be present until the Day of Judgment.
Who was this Great General?
Saad lbn Abi Waqqas رضي الله عنه, one of the 10 promised Paradise while he was alive. Being one of the earliest to accept Islam he had many noble qualities which he could be proud of. However, he never arrogantly mentioned any of these merits, except for two great privileges.
He was the first to throw a spear in the cause of Allah and the first to be struck by one. Second, he was the only one for whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said that he hoped his parents might be his ransom. That happened when the Prophet said to him on the day of Uhud, “Throw, Saad! May my father and mother be ransomed for you.”
Saad رضي الله عنه was a man whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, when he saw him doing something which made him glad and delighted, he made the following plea: “O Allah, make his spear hit unerringly and answer his prayer.”
It was in this way that he became famous among his companions for his prayer, which was like a sharp sword. Saad رضي الله عنه would just trust Allah to do with him as He liked. It was because of Saad’s رضي الله عنه generosity that we got to know about a few rules of inheritance too. To sum up here was a man who was a horseman on the Day of Badr, a horseman on the Day of Uhud and in every battle he experienced with the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
The Big Battle
The Battle of Al-Mada’in took place two years after the Battle of Al-Qaadissiyah, a period during which a lot of continuous armed dashes took place between the Muslims and the Persians. Finally, the scattered remnants of the Persian army gathered at Al-Mada’in itself, ready for a decisive and final scene.
Saad رضي الله عنه being the leader of the Muslim army during the fight realized that time was on his enemy’s side, therefore, he decided to deprive them of this advantage. What stood between him and his goal was the mighty Tigris River itself in its flood season. The Persians had crossed the river headed to their homeland, and the Persians had destroyed the bridge and sunk all the ships so there did not remain any way for the Muslims to cross the river.
So the army scouts came to Saad رضي الله عنه and said to him, “We do not have the ability to pursue them any further. They are protected by the sea, and they have destroyed the bridges and sunken the ships.We do not have the ability to pursue them.”
Saad رضي الله عنه summoned for Salman Al Farsi رضي الله عنه who being from Faris (Persia) would know the strategies of the Persians. He asked him for advice on the current scenario but even Salman رضي الله عنه had no answer except that he advised the army to be upright upon the religion of Allah and the teachings of the Prophet. For some this might sound like a general advice. But keeping in mind the Battle of Badr this was the time where yet again they needed a miracle to save themselves. This proved to be and still proves to be the best advice a man can give to another brother till the end of days.
So now Salman رضي الله عنه went and he started to circle around the army; and he found them bowing and prostrating in prayer during the night and preparing for the war during the day. So after three nights he went to Saad رضي الله عنه and informed him that the army was upon good and well.
What was about to happen will blow your mind away at the sheer faith of the Sahaba. Saad’s رضي الله عنه faith and determination stood glittering in the face of danger, mocking and making fun of the impossible with admirable bravery.
Saad رضي الله عنه summoned the army and said to them, “I am going to stand upon this river and make three takbeers. So when I have made three takbeers mention the Name of Allah and cross the river because verily Allah will make this easy for us.”
So when they stood upon the river and Saad رضي الله عنه made three takbeers and then they said in the Name of Allah and they began to cross the river with their horses and the men walking on top of the water while it was flowing. They were held up by the One who holds up the sky and prevents it from falling down upon the earth by His permission.
Before the army started to cross, the leader Saad رضي الله عنه wisely realized the necessity to safeguard their arrival spot on the opposite bank, where the enemy was camping. Therefore he prepared two detachments, the first of which was called The Detachment of Terror. Its leader was `Aasim Ibn `Amr رضي الله عنه. The second was called The Detachment of the Dumb, led by Al Qa’qaa’ lbn `Amr رضي الله عنه. Historians have said that if the stallions became tired, Allah would make for them an Island on the river so they could rest on it until their strength returned to them and then they would continue to cross the river.
Saad رضي الله عنه ordered the Muslims to say, “Allah is enough for us and He is the best to trust in.” Then he penetrated the Tigris with his horse, and the people penetrated behind him. No one stayed behind. They walked as if they were walking on a land surface until they filled the whole area between the two banks. The water surface could not seen due to the numerous troops of cavalry and infantry. People went on talking while walking in the water as if they were on land, as a result of their feeling of security and tranquility, their trust in Allah’s judgment and His victory, His promise and His support. Such are those to whom the help of Allah will surely come no matter what.
This so amazed Salman Al-Farisi رضي الله عنه, I mean come on who wouldn’t be amazed by this, he shook his head in astonishment and said, “Islam is indeed new. By Allah, seas have been subdued by them and the land has been subdued by them. In the name of the One in Whose hands Salman’s soul lies, they will leave it in a group, as they entered it in a group.”
Some of the narrations mention that the river had fords which would be as high as the body of a horse at low-tide. At high-tide the water would rise significantly, and this was the case when Saad رضي الله عنه plunged into the river. It may have been that they crossed the river from specific fords, although what is understand from the narrations is that they waded through whilst the water was high.
It happened that a wooden cup fell from one of the warriors, who felt sorry to be the only one to lose something. He called his companions to help to get it out and a high wave pushed it to where someone could pick it up!
So when they crossed the river the Persians were stunned and frighten, well its not everyday you see an army walk up on water. On seeing the Muslims arrive they ran shouting, ” Verily you are not fighting men rather you are fighting the jinn because no man is able to cross the river without a tangible means.”
Saad رضي الله عنه advanced to the center of the hall and prayed the Prayer of Opening, which consisted of eight rakahs.He prayed the Jumu’ah Prayer in the palace in Safar 16 A.H. This was the first Jumu’ah Prayer in Iraq.
During this they captured the crown of Khosroes. It was so huge that one camel was not able to carry it, so they used two camels and fasten it between the two of them all the way until they reached the city of Madinah giving it to Ameer Al Mumineen, Umar Ibn Al Khattab رضي الله عنه.
This great man, Saad Ibn Abi Waqas رضي الله عنه was buried and shrouded in the gown that he had worn during the battle of Badr. He had saved it up all these years just for this very purpose. He wanted to meet his Rabb with what had pleased him the most. He was buried in the blessed city of Madinah in the Baqi cemetery besides his comrades. May Allah be please with them all.
اللهم ارزقنى شهادة فى سبيلك واجعل موتى فى بلد حبيبك صلى الله عليه وسلم
Such was the ending of the Lion Saad Ibn Abi Waqas رضي الله عنه, the first to fire an arrow in the path of Allah, The Conqueror of Al-Mada’in, The Extinguisher of the worshipped fire of Persia!
May Allah grant us the firmness and certainty of belief that was the mark of a true believer and the living legacy of the sahaba and our salaf. Ya Allah make us from those who ponder upon Your signs, the Seerah and teachings of our beloved Messenger and those that increase us in faith, certainty and love for You, O Lord of all that exists, Verily You have power over all things.
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