Empires Of Faith

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Chapter 16: Ya Ikhwati

3 Ramadan, 1663

The blowing winds shifted the yellow dunes of sand, increasing some, decreasing others. The leaves of a single standing palm tree rustled and palm fibers fell from the trunk to the ground. Beneath the shade of the tree, Muhammad Ibn Sulayman sat, watching his two companions going a third round of sparring. Already they had competed in a wrestling match, -which Imran had won- and a foot race -which Usama had won. Now they were engaged in a three round weapons sparring in which they were tied one-to-one. Usama was using his two curved blades and Imran was using his bow to prove that it could be useful in close combat as well.

Imran grasped his bow with both of his hands, but kept a blunt-headed arrow in his quiver over his shoulder just in case. He eyed Usama intently as they circled around each other. Beads of sweat trickled down their bearded faces and dripped to the ground below where their feet were shifting through the sands. Their heavy breathing betrayed the exhaustion they felt, even though they painted smiles on their faces. Each carefully watched every movement of the other, waiting for the right moment to strike. One simple mistake could provide a perfect opening to finish the match.

Leaning forward, Muhammad could feel the tension between the two. He watched anxiously, waiting for a victor to be determined. The competing was not only for sport and fun, but also to keep the three warriors in good shape and sharpen their combat skills. The victor of this day's three part competition would compete against Muhammad in the next day, and the victor then would face the loser from before the next day. In this way, all three men would have an opportunity to challenge themselves and keep prepared for the upcoming battles on their journey.

As the two fighters circled around each other, Imran made a small misstep and when his eyes shifted to check his footing, Usama darted forward, swinging down his two swords. Imran quickly raised up his bow, blocking the attack. He spun the bow sideways and pushed Usama away before spinning around and dropping low to swing at Usama's feet. Usama leapt into the air and did a forward roll in the sand. Imran rushed at him, swinging down the bow, but Usama clashed his two swords together in an X and blocked the attack. He then kicked Imran in the stomach, causing him to fall back onto the ground.

Imran rolled over onto his feet just in time to evade a mid-section attack from Usama's two blades. He dodged the attack and kicked Usama's right hand, knocking the blade out of it. Usama quickly transferred the sword in his left hand to his now empty right hand. He swung the single sword and Imran ducked. Imran swung his bow again and Usama parried the attack with an upward slash of his sword. Coming back down, Usama swung at Imran's feet, forcing him to jump back a few steps.

Usama dashed side to side as he charged after Imran, now grasping his sword with both hands. Imran planted his feet firmly in the ground and braced for impact. When Usama got near enough, Imran spun his bow over and swung toward his shoulders, making benefit of the arm's reach advantage he had over Usama. Usama quickly parried the attack and rushed into Imran with his shoulder, knocking him back a few steps.

When Usama came forward again, swinging his sword upward, Imran swung down with his bow, catching the sword between the bowstring and the actual wooden bow. He quickly spun and twisted the bow, catching and effectively trapping the blade. He yanked at the blade, pulling Usama closer, before he struck out his elbow and jabbed him in the chest. Usama stumbled backwards, releasing his sword in the process. Imran saw this as his chance to finish the match. He stepped forward and jumped into the air, kicking Usama in the middle of his chest.

Usama further stammered backward and Imran stepped in to finish him. He pushed Usama down, wielding the bow with both hands. Usama just barely managed to latch onto the bow with both of his hands and he immediately tightened his grip as he pulled as hard as he could. While falling over, Usama managed to successfully pull Imran down with him. As he landed on his back, Usama raised up his bent knees and kicked Imran over himself, snatching away his bow from him.

Usama tossed the bow aside as he quickly got to his feet and rushed after his sword. Imran rolled off his back and rushed after Usama's other sword. The two grasped the respective swords at the same time and turned back to face each other, smiles still plastered on their now dust covered faces. They raised their weapons and went right back to fighting, going back and forth with both having their every attack blocked by the other.

The swords clanked as the two warriors fiercely competed for dominance. Imran would swing rom up high and Usama would swing from down low, parrying the attack and preparing for his own. Usama would swing through the middle and in an instant his blade clashed with the shining steel of the twin sword wielded by Imran. Back and forth the two fought, swinging and blocking equally until it appeared there would be no clear winner.

Just then, from the corner of their eyes the two spotted Muhammad coming down the center with his spear. He soared through the air from atop a nearby dune, wielding his long, wooden spear with its shining iron head and red horse-hair skirt just at the beginning of the spear tip. Imran and Usama jumped back immediately as Muhammad landed between them, slamming his spear flat onto the ground. As soon as he landed a smirk crept onto his face and he eyed both of the two other fighters. He swung the spear around at shoulder height, first swinging at Imran who blocked the attack, before he pulled it back and spun it over to swing it low at Usama's feet.

Usama jumped over the long spear and Muhammad spun it over and stepped towards Imran, stabbing out at him. Imran blocked the spear with the broad side of Usama's talwar blade. Muhammad turned back and repeatedly jabbed the blunt, wooden end of his spear at Usama's feet. Usama shuffled his feet hurriedly to avoid the attack and Muhammad retracted the spear. He twirled the spear between his fingers as he faced Usama, sensing an oncoming attack from behind him. He quickly spun the spear over his head and swung it around to block the swinging attack Imran directed at him.

Muhammad then quickly spread his feet and dropped near the ground before sweeping at Imran's legs with the spear. Caught off guard, Imran tried to jump but the bottom of his left foot was hit and he fell over on his side. Turning his attention to Usama, Muhammad took a spinning step as he twirled the spear between his fingers, switching it from hand to hand. In a fast paced spinning motion, Muhammad swung the spear out at Usama high and low until finally he surprised him by spinning the spear over and jabbing his stomach with the blunt end of it. Usama grabbed his stomach with one hand and tried to continue on fighting with the other but he was quickly struck down by a downward crescent kick from Muhammad.

With Imran and Usama both on the ground, Muhammad immediately declared himself the winner before the two could get up to carry on. "Khalas*, it's over," he spoke to both of the other men as he noticed them hastening to get to their feet.

"This guy, always jumping in before his turn," Usama said as he stood up, wiping sweat from his forehead.

"Yeah man," Imran said, walking over. "What was that all about man? I almost had him finished."

"Well," Muhammad shrugged. "I finished him for you, and finished you for him."

"Yeah, but only because you cheated; coming into the match with full energy, no warning, and completely out of turn."

"Well you guys were taking too long," Muhammad complained.

"This guy," Imran said to Usama, pointing to Muhammad.

"It's okay man," Usama replied walking over himself. "I was getting thirsty anyways. We still have a few hours until iftar, so taking a break is good."

"A break," Muhammad questioned. "Man, we're already on a break. Need I remind you we only stopped so that the horses could rest for an hour? I’m fairly certain it's been nearly two hours by now."

"Time is flying," Imran said as he went to grab his bow. "But, Alhamdulillah, we've made some good progress these past few days."

"Yes," Muhammad agreed as he saddled his horse again. "So let's not ruin that. Let's get a move on." He climbed atop his horse and grabbed hold of the reins. Usama and Imran collected their belongings and mounted their horses as well. With their camel still in tow, the three set out once more, travelling through the desert.

With the winds blowing a ghostly wail, the three slowly trotted across the heated desert side-by-side. Imran began lowly humming to himself in a rhythmic manner, matching the paced trotting of his horse. In his head he was rehearsing some poetry of his, and his two companions already figured such. In their younger days, Imran was the poet of the group, always writing or speaking some poetry about the situation of the Muslims. As time went on, his poetry slackened, but on long journeys he was known to recite a few verses here and there to pass the time.

"Speak up," Usama said, intrigued by what Imran might be saying. "I know you still have it in you. Recite some poetry man."

"Yeah man," Muhammad said, coming in closer. "It's been years since I've heard anything from you. Now that we're all united, how about you recite something for old times' sake?"

"In Shaa Allah," Imran said, twisting the edges of his mustache in thought. After a moment’s passing, a smile came onto his face as he looked ahead, squinting in the distance and clearing his throat.

"Well?" Muhammad said, motioning with his hands for Imran to begin.

"Alhamdulillahi Rabbil Alameen*; O Allah keep us steadfast and firm on this Deen. O Allah grant us taqwa* and sincere yaqeen*; O Allah make us amongst the mu'mineen*."

Muhammad and Usama nodded in approval of the verses Imran spoke. Imran stayed focused and continued on reciting. "Guide us to the straight path; To earn Your Favor and not Your Wrath. Ya Rabb*, Guide the people of the Ummah whom I do and don't know; My brothers and sisters in the sun or in the snow. All over the globe fill us with Nur*, let us glow; Resurrect us in peace, standing on the front row."

"Ma Shaa Allah," Usama praised as Imran continued on.

"Grant our sisters pious lives; Make them amongst the most righteous of wives. Grant our sisters patience and a righteous spouse; Grant them peace and ease when they're alone in the house."

Muhammad smiled at this line, whispering "Ameen," beneath his breath.

"O Allah, shade us under Your Throne; Guide us towards Jannah, not the way of Fir'aun. The Mercy You bestow on us is clearly shown; Uniting us under one banner, so we don't stand alone. We stand together, the young and the old, the rich and the poor; So O Allah, increase our iman more and more. Certainly the believers are dedicated to the truth; So O Allah, guide the Muslim youth. O Allah, give us patience through these hard courses; Bestow on us wealth and health, knowledge and strong forces. O Allah, aid your soldiers defending this Deen; Aid the Muhajireen* and the Mujahideen*. O Allah, give us victory in the holy lands; Sanction the world under Your Blessed Hands. Give victory to this Ummah under Your banner; Make successful those who follow the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his manners. The evil ones plan to destroy this Deen, but You are the Best of planners; So grant us victory so long as we bear the standard. I'll sacrifice my life for You, O Allah, so call upon me when You're ready; I'll be sharpening my skills, so just keep my iman steady."

Imran ended his recitation and looked to his companions. "Ma Shaa Allah," they spoke in unison. "It was very good."

"Alhamdulillah," Imran said, gazing forward. "It's been a while since I've done that; it felt good to be back it."

"You should've never quit," Muhammad said with a smile. "The words are always very inspirational."

"In Shaa Allah I'll pick it back up, someday." Imran promised. “Maybe.”

The trio continued trekking on through the desert dunes. All around were the golden sands, prostrating in submission to their Lord as the winds blew them this way and that. This had been a familiar scene for the vast majority of the journey, much to their dismay. Still, they continued pressing on.

Time began to fly away like a falcon soaring through the sky. Soon hours had passed and they'd gone through several kilometers of desert. Just as it was beginning to seem as though they would never escape the glumness of the desert, they stumbled upon a different terrain. Though still hot and dry, they were now entering into a flat land; plains with sparse, dried grass and old trees. As hideous as the sight was, it was more appealing than the endless dunes of the desert behind them. Without hesitation they entered into the plains.

As they wandered through the dried plains, they began to take notice of certain aspects of their surroundings. The grass beneath their horses' feet seemed to be clear cut into a previously used path. There were markings on certain trees. Scattered near a bush there were broken sticks and piles of stones. Nearby that there were small but deep hoof-prints.

They assumed the prints belonged to an animal in distress. As they neared the prints and got a closer examination, they could see small traces of blood coming from the area. Undoubtedly it had been an animal in the throes of death. There didn't appear to be any traces of whatever animal was the hunter, leaving them only one option to assume: humans.

"Do you think they are hospitable?" Imran asked his companions.

"Allahu ‘Alam*," Muhammad replied, shrugging his shoulders. "Could be."

" I don't know," Usama interjected. "We are quite near to Kwaadi territory. Though this land may be unclaimed, Kwaadi people may inhabit it."

"So what should we do then?" Imran asked.

"I think we should turn back," Usama proposed. "Perhaps we may find another way around this land."

"Turn back? Do you know how unreasonable that is? We don't know for certain that there is another way around."

"Look man, if you didn't want my suggestion why did you even ask?"

"I wasn't talking about going back or going forward. I meant should we investigate. Should we go and check out the people, or should we hurry on through these lands to be safe."

"Look man, I don't want to get into trouble around here. This isn't our land, so it's not right to just go through and cut down anyone that gets in our way if they do come after us."

"It's not that big of a deal man," Imran argued. "What is your opinion Muhammad?" There was silence. "Muhammad?"

Imran and Usama looked up to see the rear of Muhammad's horse as he rode on through the land. "Hey man," Usama called out. "Where are you going?" He and Imran galloped their horses and the camel to catch up to Muhammad. "Where are you going man?"

"I smell smoke coming from this direction," Muhammad explained. "Smoke means fire, fire most likely means people."

"Yeah, and we don't know if we should be going towards any people," said a worried Usama. "We don't know if any people will be hospitable."

"Well there's only one way to find out," Muhammad said with a smile.

"Yeah Usama," Imran butted in. "I say we go for it. Let's head on through until we at least see what kind of people they are. Perhaps they will be Muslims who might host us for iftar or let us stay for the night."

"So it's settled then, two to one, we go on. Let's pick up the pace then, eh?" After Muhammad and Imran had already firmly decided upon going further through the lands to find whatever small civilization was nearby, Usama had no choice but to reluctantly tag along. The three rode on through the grass plains, with the scent of smoke growing stronger and stronger until at last they could see a pillar of smoke rising off in the distance.

"There they are," Imran pointed out. "We're just a small ways apart from them now."

"Okay," Usama sighed. "Be on your guard, guys. Don't be too obvious about it though, lest they think we mean them harm. We should carry our weapons to defend ourselves, but we should also be certain not to appear threatening."

"Calm down, Usama," Muhammad laughed. "You worry too much. Our weapons are at our sides, so let's leave them there. If we need them, we have quick access. If we don't, then they appear as mere traveler's protection, which any reasonable people will understand."

"That's just it, we don't know if these people will be reasonable or if they may be Kwaadi savages."

"Well here's your opportunity to find out," Imran said, pointing out an approaching figure. "There seems to be a man heading our way." The three men halted their horses and awaited the nearing man. He was a skinny man, of a short height and chestnut complexion. He looked young, with long hair reaching down his neck and a thin beard growing along his jawline. He was running on foot, carrying a large brown sack over his shoulders and a loaf of bread in his mouth. A quizzical look came over the three men as the man went racing past them.

Behind him there was a group of five men, all dressed in brown uniforms and carrying swords in their hands as they chased after him. "Stop that man," they shouted. "Seize him immediately!" As the man sped by the trio of travelers, he cautiously took a quick glance at them. Staring into his worried, black eyes, they could see a sense of panic, fear, burden, but there was one thing missing. Guilt.

Muhammad, Imran, and Usama stood by as the man fled past them. Making a wide turn, he ran into a field where the grass was growing taller and taller until eventually he was hidden deep within grass whose levels reached heights greater than his own. He vanished into the brush, leaving the pursuing group without a path to follow. When the angry band of sword wielders arrived at the standing spot of Muhammad and his companions, they stopped to question them. "Why did you not take hold of him?" the head man asked. There was a silence from the three men. "Well?"

"We have no business with that man," Imran finally spoke. "We don't know for what reason you are chasing him."

"Are you blind man?" the leader retorted. "The man is clearly a thief! Why would you let him get away?"

"Look, man," Usama stepped in. "We're sorry for the trouble; we're just passing through. We don't want to get involved in any conflict. Again, sorry for the trouble, but if you'll excuse us we will be on our way now."

"As a matter of fact," the leader spoke with a wily grin. "You are not excused. I think we shall be needing to confiscate your horses and camel to aide us in capturing the thief that you let get away. You can keep your supplies but hand over the beasts immediately, lest you face some real trouble."

Usama angrily squinted at Imran and Muhammad, as if to say "I told you so." Imran looked to Muhammad with a smile as he shifted his weight on his horse. Muhammad nodded back and began to also climb down his horse. Usama sighed and joined the two in dismounting. The leader of the band of men came over wearing a triumphant smile.

Leaving his spear with his horse, Muhammad walked up to the man. "You should take my horse sir," he offered. "He is the strongest among the three and the smoothest ride." The leader came closer folding his arms and inspecting the horse.

"He is indeed a fine horse," the man said, admiring the horse's strong brown legs and majestic black mane.

"Yes," Muhammad agreed. "So here, I present him before you willingly since you have allowed us to keep our belongings. Thank you kind sir," Muhammad said reaching out a hand to shake with the man. The man complied with the handshake and Muhammad caught hold of his arm. Quickly, he spun the man around with his arm latched high up behind his back. Imran and Usama immediately drew their weapons and faced the remaining four men who froze in their tracks. The man grunted in pain as his companions looked on. "Now," Muhammad said with a firm voice. "I think we have a problem here. You demanded we give you our horses so that you can chase after this so-called thief; and we actually do not know who to trust. You seem to have a real problem with knowing what belongs to you. So now, tell me," Muhammad said, turning the man toward the horses. "Do these belong to you?" There was silence.

Muhammad increased the pressure on the man and raised his hand up higher until a cracking sound could be heard. "Well?" he asked.

"N-n-no," the man muttered.

"Oh," Muhammad nodded. "So then, do you have the right to just take them from the people they belong to?" The man gave no answer. Muhammad began twisting his arm behind his back, increasing the pain.

"No!" the man shouted in agony.

"Yeah, see, I didn't think so. So what made you think that you had the authority to commandeer our property then?"

"I-I had orders to capture that man by any means necessary!"

"Orders from whom?"

"My village chief! This man is a menace from a rival tribe and our chief just now ordered his immediate capture after yet another robbery."

"Is what this man says true?" Muhammad spoke to the other men. Imran and Usama aimed their weapons at the four. "Speak truthfully or it might cost you your life."

"Y-yes," one of the men nervously answered, with his companions nodding in affirmation. "The people of the Kipansati tribe are our neighbors and from them we have certainly seen much pestilence."

"Mmhm."

"The man whom you let get away," the leader added. "His name is Fahd ibn Shafiq, but we know him as the bandit of the night. Numerous times he has journeyed by night to our village to steal from our people, leaving a trail of blood behind. He is a thief and a murderer; he must be brought to justice. Why are you opposed to that?"

Muhammad pushed the leader aside and dusted his hands. He sighed and looked to his companions. "We have never been opposed to justice," he said, signaling for Imran and Usama to lower their weapons. "But it is not justice that you go about barking orders to people whom you do not know and taking what belongs to them to capture someone who took something from you. That is where the issue between us came about."

"Regardless of that, you allowed that blasted criminal to return to his village yet again!"

"Why don't you simply go into the village and diplomatically request that he be turned over to your chief for trial in court?"

"Because his village is one of hostility and unreasonableness. Should we make an approach we may be attacked or it may be cause for a war between our tribes."

"I see," Muhammad said rubbing his chin. He crossed his arms and pondered over the situation for a moment. "Then what about this: send one of your men to guide us to this village of his. We will enter as travelers; as we are a people with whom they have no conflict. When we arrive, we will testify that we have witnessed a crime committed by this Fahd, and request that he be punished in the land where the crime took place. If they agree, we will bring him back to you, so long as he is given a fair trail and you bring your evidence against him."

"Hmph," the leader spat. "As if. They will never allow it. And we would rather you didn't go into their village to deal with our business, lest it bring shame upon our people. You have caused enough trouble around here; I think it best that you three move on from here immediately. If you leave now, I will not report you to the chief and he won't have to order your execution for interference in our pursuit of justice. Get on now, go!"

"You know," Muhammad said walking back to his horse. "He may be guilty of numerous crimes, but I see you are also guilty in this case." Muhammad mounted his horse, as did his two companions.

"And how is that?"

"You are severely lacking in manners," Muhammad said with a straight face. The man laughed as Muhammad and his companions turned and headed back from where they came. The villagers turned on their heels and began walking back to their own village, pondering over what excuse they could offer to their awaiting chief.

"I told you two we would run into some sort of trouble," Usama said breaking the silence between he and his two companions. "Now where are we going to head?"

"Around," Muhammad said firmly as he pulled the reigns of his horse and came to a stop.

"What?" Imran asked as he and Usama also came to a stop.

"I only wanted to leave from their sight before going around," Muhammad continued. "I don't trust those men and I think there is more to this than what they let on. I think we should go around and try to follow the man back to his village. We are on horses and he is on foot, we should be able to catch up to him."

"It's okay, man," Usama sighed. "It's not our business."

"It is our business. When we see injustice we correct it. That is the whole purpose of our journey, remember?"

"Man, these people have nothing to do with us. We don't even know if they are Muslim. They could very well be two arguing tribes under Kwaadi control. Their affairs have nothing to do with us."

"Look Usama, you didn't see what I saw back there apparently. That man, when he ran by, he had a look in his eyes. It was like a small connection or something; he looked to us like if we were his brothers. I could nearly hear him pleading with us to protect him."

"What? Muhammad, man, you're crazy! It's your imagination."

"I think he's right," Imran defended Muhammad. "Those guys were kind of suspicious; and they even turned down the offer for help."

"It's their pride, man."

"No, I think Muhammad is right. Something is off with them. Pride is such a pathetic excuse for not accepting help in catching a criminal whom you claim has stolen from you and murdered people in your village constantly. I think we should go after the man and hear his side of the story."

"Exactly," Muhammad agreed.

"Well Usama, two to one again; you're out-voted," Imran laughed. "Let's go." Tugging the reigns of the horses, the three set off through the grass. They followed along within the general direction that they had seen the running man head off towards. It wasn't long before they were able to find a path of spread out grass, with traces of footprints on the ground. They were certain that they had found the path the man traveled along.

After a short time's running, they came into dryer flat lands where the grass was short again. They could see up ahead a small village consisting of a few small mud huts and a single tree. There were several large stones and pillars of bones surrounding the village, perhaps as a poorly constructed means of protection.

The three men entered the small village cautiously. They looked around for any sign of life, having noted an odd lack of human or animal livelihood. "I don't like it here," Usama said, still looking back and forth. "I don't think we should be here."

"Calm down man," Imran spoke. "It doesn't even seem like anyone's here."

"Perhaps we should approach one of the huts," Muhammad suggested. "It's rather hot outside; I would assume that people would want to hide themselves away from this heat." He dismounted his horse and began to walk up to one of the nearby huts. As his hand reached to knock on the mud wall of the hut, a wooden spear flew right into the wall near his hand.

"Oy," came a shout from the village's entrance. "Step away from there now!"

Muhammad turned around immediately and noticed Imran and Usama were facing the village entrance with their weapons at the ready. Standing in the entrance, there were four men of a chestnut color; two armed with long wooden spears and one holding a large, bloody sahelian goat over his shoulders. One of the men was a tall and skinny man, having no beard and long messy black hair that reached his shoulders in the back and covered is eyes in the front. He was standing unarmed after having just thrown his spear. Another man was short and bald, with large eyebrows and thick hairs on his arms. He was carrying the goat over his shoulders. The third man was standing in the front, holding his spear and staring back at Muhammad. He was of a medium height, with a stocky build. He kept a thick but short black beard on his face, and his hair was of medium length. The fourth and final man, wielding a spear, was none other than Fahd ibn Shafiq, the thief they had encountered before.

"Back away from there and we won't have to harm you," the larger man spoke.

"We mean you no harm," Muhammad said, walking towards the group with his hands in the air. "We are merely traveler's passing through the land."

"Where are you coming from and for what purpose have you stopped here?"

"I am Muhammad ibn Sulayman and my home is in the southeast. My companions are Imran ibn Ali and Usama ibn Shameem; they are from the far east. We come from different lands, but are heading towards one destination and have only stopped here to find a place to rest."

"Your names and dress are like that of the Muslims; are you from amongst the Muslim nations in those regions?"

"Indeed we are. We have left our lands, however, to go and aid the Muslims in a distant land."

The man eyed Muhammad and his companions with scrutiny. He then smiled and signaled for his companions to be at ease. Lowering his weapon he walked up to Muhammad and reached out his right hand. "If what you say is true, then we welcome you to this humble land of ours," the man spoke calmly while shaking Muhammad's hand. "As-Salaamu Alaikum and welcome my dear brother in Islam."


The full moon rested in the night sky above the dusty village below. The cold darkness of night was kept away by the warm light of a large fire in the village's center. Around the crackling fire, Muhammad, Imran, and Usama sat with their Muslim brethren. The villagers had gathered near the fire, with small families sitting in the dust and enjoying the warmth and light of the fire. The four men from before were sitting with Muhammad and his companions, conversing with them about the affairs of the Muslim peoples in the land. The stocky foreman of the group, Taimur ibn Saleem, was near the fire, roasting the meat of the goat they had caught earlier.

"So what exactly is the situation between you and all the other peoples of this land," Imran asked him.

"There are no other peoples nearby except for the Kwaadi underlings residing in the local lands."

"Kwaadi huh?" Usama asked. "Is that the reason for the apparent issues between you?"

"No," the short, bald man from the group spoke. "Our issue is that they are filthy Kwaadi pigs who-"

"Kazi that's enough," Taimur spoke to the man. "You'll have to excuse Kazi; he holds a special hatred for the Kwaadi, as do we all. But he has a more personal reason for his resentment."

"Hey, you swore you would never tell abou-"

"And I won't," Taimur calmly replied. "I meant only to make them understand your outburst. In any case, brother Usama, our conflict is from the abuse we have suffered at their hands. Our people are not originally from this land either. Our ancestors were from the Eastern Continent. They settled in this region generations ago because the grounds were fertile and the animals were plenty. But then those Kwaadi dogs came in and proclaimed themselves to be the masters of the land. We do not know why they have chosen to make a small settlement in the nearby land, but there they run a small village, just bigger than ours. Here we are comprised of about thirteen families; whereas they are nearly twice that. For generations they have been oppressors in the land. Dominating the agriculture and hunting the animals to near extinction in the lands; they have left our people with little means for survival. This small goat you see here will likely be the only food for all of the families of our people for the next three days, possibly even a week."

"What?" Muhammad asked. "That's awful."

"Yes, and there isn't anything we can do about it. We have nowhere to flee to; and engaging them in any sort of physical conflict could put the entire village at risk. As you can see," Taimur said, pointing around. "We are mostly a village of women and children. We cannot take any chances on their lives."

"I see," Imran said, twisting his mustache.

"Yes. From time to time we send one of our men across the land into their village to gather up food and supplies from their people, as they have made it near impossible for us to provide our own."

"Ah yes," Muhammad cut in. "That would explain the little spat with Fahd here and those men from that village earlier."

"What?" Taimur asked, turning towards Fahd. "You made contact with their guards again?"

"No, not intentionally," Fahd spoke quickly. "During my exit I was fleeing across the rooftops of their buildings and I fell through one of the buildings. I escaped through the window but by then the chief's guards had caught sight of me and came chasing after me. I made no direct contact with them."

"So there was no blood this time then, right?" Taimur questioned.

"No; I was able to escape their grasp and catch up with you guys without having to take any of them down again."

"Good, Alhamdulillah. The last time when you had to fight and kill one of their men they retaliated by unleashing their vicious dog beasts into our village and we lost three of our people, including one small girl."

"Yes, I remember," Fahd said glumly as he looked away.

"If you don't mind me asking," Imran spoke up. "Why haven't you raised a strategic force and gone on the offensive with these wicked men? Simply relocate the women and children of your village and then do battle with those cowardly oppressors. From what I've seen of them, they are weak. Two of us held back four of them and their head guard was easily subdued with little effort. I'm quite certain that if we raised a strong enough force, we could overcome them in their village and take back what rightfully belongs to you all."

"It is not so simple as you make it seem," Taimur replied. "The last men to try and take them on were Fahd's older brothers nearly a decade ago. They were a group of four and they armed themselves with whatever weapons they could find and set out to fight them in the name of Allah. They were brutally decimated, and their mutilated bodies were disgracefully displayed at the villages entrance. It was a severe blow to our small village's heart. Since then, we have tried to avoid any physical conflict with them, lest they should repeat their horrid actions against the noncombatant peoples of this village."

"I see your point; however, do you really think it best to sit idly by while they continue on in their oppression? The Kwaadi are an evil people; godless mongrels with no compassion or mercy. I've witnessed firsthand the horrors and atrocities that they are willing to commit purely for greed and lust. Entire villages burned down; men, women, and children all raped and murdered. I've seen them kill for the sake of killing; steal and poison the land for no other reason but pure wickedness. And from what you have just described to me, the Kwaadi of your lands are no different from the ones anywhere else. They are liars and thieves, killers and tyrants. Already my companions and I have witnessed them try to steal our horses from us under false pretenses; and they have told us that your people are unreasonable savages. So already they are building up a false campaign to attack you. Don't you think that it would be wiser for you to take them down before they have the chance to take you out?"

Taimur sighed. "Wallahi, I get what you're saying, and I don't doubt a word of it. However, look around you; as I said, we are a village of mostly women and children. There are no men –save for the four of us- who have not either passed or reached an age of helplessness. What benefit would it be if the old and fragile join us on the battle field? What purpose could they serve if they have already passed out or died from exhaustion just on the sprint to the battlefield?"

"What of us?" came the high pitched voice of a preteen boy from amongst the villagers.

"What of you, Anas?" the tall man from the group asked the boy. "Do you mean to say you and the other young boys would participate?"

"Most certainly we would! I-"

"Never! Never would I allow my little brother to be killed by those monsters. You wi-"

"You can't control everything, Ahsan! You are my older brother, not my master! And these are all my brothers and sisters too! Do you think I should sit by scared and worried while the Kwaadi plot and plan to wipe them all out?"

"That's not for you to worry about, Anas," Ahsan reprimanded his little brother. "Leave from here and let us men decide what is best."

"I will do no such thing!"

"Mother," Ahsan called out to an elderly woman. "Please come and take your son away. This is not the place for him at this moment."

"No," the boy refused to leave. "My brothers, shouldn't we all hasten to do good," the boy now addressed all the present people. "Shouldn't we all strive together to please our Lord? My brothers, aren't we the Muslims and they are the disbelievers? We are the people of Allah and they are a godless bunch of evil-doers! Why then should we fear anything from them except that we became subjugated to their evil wishes because of cowardice in our hearts?!"

"Anas, I-"

"Let me speak, Ahsan!" There was silence. A slight smile came over Muhammad's face as he and all of the others directed their attention to the young boy. He had earned himself a worthy audience, and even his brother Ahsan would lend an ear to his voice. "We have lived in fear for too long! When our ancestors left our first home, was it not in an attempt to escape Kwaadi persecution in the nearby lands? And when they have settled here, we -their descendants- now face oppression from the Kwaadi here. Where is the justice in that? There is none! And there is no honor in cowardice. Didn't Allah say in the Quran that He will not change the situation of a people until they change what is in their hearts? So let's remove all of the fear and put our trust in Allah! There are few men, but you have us boys as well and certainly we have advantages that even you don't have. We can hide in the small places and attack the enemy from where they least expect. We could squeeze through the small gates of their village and open it up for you in secrecy. This would definitely make things quicker and less risky for you. Let us work with you and we can do this! Islam is not meant to be the weaker of anything! So brothers, let's change this situation today!"

There was a loud uproar from a small group of boys in the village, all of them shouting in support. "Let's rise up for the betterment of our village," Anas continued. Again, a loud cheer filled the air, this time even the men began to join in. "My brothers, let us rise up to defend Islam, to make Islam dominant in the region so that the godless Kwaadi come to believe in Allah and fear Him as He ought to be feared!"

The people of the audience now began to shout back saying, "Allahu Akbar!"

"Let's make Islam superior so that there is peace once more!"

"Allahu Akbar!"

"Let's move together, endeavoring with vigor to restore the honor of our people!"

"Allahu Akbar!"

"My brothers, let's hear my call and call to it yourselves! We are no cowards, young or old. Let's each make an effort and together we can win, we are the Muslimeen! LA ILAHA ILALLAH MUHAMMADUR RASULULLAH!"

"ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR!"

The crowd went on shouting in support and Imran turned to Taimur with a smile. "It seems as if your people are ready for a change," he spoke. "Let us join you and united, I'm certain that we can defeat these Kwaadi thugs."

"In Shaa Allah," Taimur replied as he turned and faced the darkness outside the village. "In Shaa Allah."


22 Ramadan, 1663

It was just before dawn and Muhammad was riding along on his horse, leading a small group of women and children out into the hidden dunes of the desert. It was the decision of the villagers that an attack would be made on the Kwaadi tribe some time after the Fajr prayer. For the duration of the fighting, the women and children of the village were to remain outside the village, hidden away in case the Kwaadi were able to defeat the men and come after the remaining villagers. After taking a vote, Muhammad was chosen to lead the villagers to a hidden spot among the dunes of the desert where they would wait for one day or until the warriors of the village returned to them.

Muhammad sighed as he slowly rocked back and forth on his horse. He had wanted to be out on the battlefield with the others, but the people of the village would not go out unless they felt certain that a skilled fighter from amongst them was guarding over their families. Having lost the vote, Muhammad was chosen to be that guardian. He now rode along, carrying his spear in one hand as he held the reigns of his horse.

He looked back to the crowd of women and children walking behind him. Their tired eyes held tales he could only imagine. He tried to stay focused on the task at hand, but seeing the wearisome look on their faces, he could only think back to his own home. How was Munirah faring without him, he wondered. Was she safe? Was she well-guarded? Did he leave her with enough to survive with ease or would she be experiencing discomfort and facing any struggles with her livelihood. He could only wonder.

Again, he sighed as he turned his eyes back to the crowd. He took notice of a small girl and her elderly mother falling behind all of the others. He could see the mother was low on stamina, and the daughter was just about ready to fall out. The mother picked up her daughter and kept pushing on, but her exhaustion was evident. Muhammad halted the marching groups and galloped to the side of the old woman. He dismounted his horse and held the reigns. "Please," he spoke to the woman. "Take my horse. It would be much easier for you."

The old woman only smiled as Muhammad and another of the village women helped her onto the horse along with her young daughter. "Such a kind young man," the woman finally spoke as she relaxed her aching feet and thanked Muhammad. "You know, I have a daughter who is around your age and she-"

"It's alright, I'm already married," Muhammad hastily and awkwardly replied.

The woman just softly smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder. "Well I'm sure your wife is a lovely woman and is very lucky to have such a strong and kind protector."

"Uh, thank you," Muhammad replied, still feeling awkward. He then let go of the horse's reigns and quickly walked to the front of the group to continue leading them.

Back at the village, Imran, Usama, Taimur, Fahd, Kazi, and Ahsan were preparing to set out along with the rest of the dedicated village men and some of the young boys who had chosen to stay behind and fight. They had devised a strategy and were now only working to equip all of the fighters with weapons. There were no swords or metal-works for the villagers to use. All of their weaponry came from natural resources. The youthful men carried strong wooden spears of varying lengths. The young boys were armed with stones and sling-shots. Most of the elder men were unfortunately unarmed as they had run out convenient weaponry for them to transport and use.

Usama and Taimur were now instructing the young boys on their tasks. "We will have you stationed at the entrances of the village," Taimur spoke. "There are a few tall trees and some bushes around there, which is where we want you to hide. There, you will be able to attack the enemy while being less of a clear target. Anas and Malik, I want you two nearby the first gate so that you can sneak in under the cover of darkness and open it up from the inside. As soon as you get that gate open, you are to run back out and hide in one of the trees, you got that?"

"Yes, sir," Anas eagerly replied. He elbowed a distracted Malik who then quickly replied in the affirmative as well.

"Good. Now," he said turning to Usama. "I want you and brother Imran to be up front. You two will enter into the town first; you are unfamiliar faces to them. When you get in after Anas and Malik open the door, I want you to head straight to the village's center. Conceal your weapons and do not approach anyone you see. Request an audience with their chief by right of the traveler. When he comes out, he will certainly be well-guarded; however, we have a solution prepared for that. From hidden posts up high, we will have five of our best spear throwers ready to strike down his guards. One of you will give the inconspicuous signal of removing your turban to scratch your head. After that, our men will throw and the guards will be felled. You two will need to act quickly at this point. It's crucial that you secure their chief alive to remain a hostage. However it's likely that just like rest of the village peoples, he will instantly be charging at you with some sort of weapon. Disarm him immediately and take him under your blade. This should keep the villagers at bay. However, assuming it doesn't, not only will our spear throwers be armed with several spears to throw, but the rest of the men will already be sneaking into the village through the other gates, armed and ready to fight. In Shaa Allah they won't be needed though. There will still be women and children in the village and we do not want to end up killing one of them."

"Yes," Usama agreed. "This is definitely risky. If we were to kill one of the women or children or noncombatants, we will risk the integrity of this entire mission, we'd be disobeying the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and committing an injustice ourselves."

"Precisely. So that should stress the importance of your quick action even more."

"Don't worry man; Imran and I are pretty quick fighters. In Shaa Allah, we will have this done easy."

"In Shaa Allah. Now, are all the troops ready?" Taimur looked to all of his followers and saw them standing in ranks, ready to march out. "Excellent," he said with a smile. "Let's move out." Imran and Usama mounted their horses and took up Anas and Malik so that they could guide the way. The troops were heading to battle.

It was a hasty decision, based on the simple yet inspiring words of a couple of strangers and a young boy, but still, the village's men felt it was the best decision. For generations, the people had lived under the cruel oppression of the Kwaadi tribesmen. Forceful tyrants came one after the other to control the land, spoiling the vegetation of their enemies, killing off the animals for sport, and cutting off aid from the outside. It was time that the Muslims took a stand. It was time for the oppression to be fought, and the resistance of the Muslims spread to the tribe of the Kipansati peoples.

The thrill and excited hope made the march across the plains seem quicker. It wasn't long before the Muslims found themselves standing at the large wooden gates of the Kwaadi village. Small planks of wood had been removed from the walls near the gates and their openings were hidden by thick bushes. Tall, full trees towered above the gates.

Anas and Malik dismounted the horses of Imran and Usama. They scurried up to the bushes and ducked down as they crawled inside the vacant spaces. Now on the other side, they quickly rushed over to the gate's wooden plank lock. Anas stood under it and tried to push it up, but his strength was not enough. Malik took his turn to try and lift the lock but he too failed. Thinking quickly, Anas instructed Malik to climb on his shoulders and they would use their increased height to push the lock over itself and open the door.

Pushing with all their might, the two managed to successfully move the plank from its place. Anas dug his feet deep into the ground as he pushed Malik up until finally the plank was lifted and fell over onto the ground with a thud. Malik quickly hopped off of Anas's shoulders and the two began to push open the doors. Suddenly they heard the footsteps of a Kwaadi guardsman, and they immediately began to panic. They dove into a nearby bush, hoping to evade his sight.

The guard came turning around a corner and looked about suspiciously. He held on tightly to a polished sword as he carefully examined the scene. "Who's there?" he called out. "I'm warning you, show yourself now!" Anas and Malik held their breaths and watched anxiously as the man walked nearby their hiding spot. They remained as perfectly still as they could as he grew closer and closer.

The guard drew nearer until they were certain that they would be discovered. Just as the guard came to survey the area, a spear came piercing through his throat. Blood splattered across the bushes and the now shaking man fell to his knees before slamming into the ground. His eyes shut as his body convulsed on the ground, a slight whistling sound coming from his air passages. Anas and Malik looked on at the sight horrified, but thankful. One of the spear throwers had saved them in a manner that prevented the guard from alerting anyone else to their presence. They sighed and carefully snuck past the body and pushed open the gates for Imran and Usama.

"Good work," Usama complimented them. "Quickly dispose of the body in case any others come by; we don't want them to see their dead comrade and suspect us before our task is complete." The two boys nodded in acceptance and carefully approached the bloody body. They removed the spear and dragged the man into the bushes by his feet while Imran and Usama continued riding through the village.

Arriving at the middle of the village, Imran and Usama could neither see nor hear any sign of livelihood from the people. They stood in the middle of the road near a large well, looking all around. They saw large huts of clay and wood with small wooden fences circling around each. Within the fences they could see sprouts of vegetation and in some there were even small animals such as chickens and baby goats.

Straight across from the well was the largest of the huts. It towered above the others by at least five meters of height and was nearly twice as wide as them. At the wooden entrance of the gate there were two figures standing guard. At least, their job was to stand guard. The two lazy guards had fallen asleep on the job, leaving the hut without protection.

Imran and Usama shook their heads in mock disappointment. They dismounted their horses and crept up to the hut. Standing on the opposite of the guards, the two looked at each other and nodded. Usama tossed Imran one of his swords and they then turned to the guards. Raising one hand, Imran counted down three seconds silently. Thereafter they both grabbed the guardsmen and covered their mouths. The men struggled to break free but to no avail. Imran and Usama dragged them behind the hut and into the darkness, where they then slit their throats in one swift motion. Imran and Usama slowly emerged from the shadows with a small stream of blood following Usama. He kicked a pile of dirt over the flowing blood and covered up his tracks.

As the two warriors now stood before the wooden door of the chief's hut, they pondered their next move. Getting inside without making noise would be nearly impossible, but that would be the best way to capture the chief without having to kill anyone else. If they could just find a stealthy way to reach the chief, they wouldn't have to worry about fighting anyone or spilling more blood. Alas, they failed to come up with a speedy solution and decided on breaking in. If they could move fast enough once inside, they could still take the chief hostage before they could be attacked.

Usama stepped to the side as Imran turned and took a few steps back. He was going to rush the door and try knocking it down, a considerably faster and quieter method than chopping away at the wood. Just as Imran readied himself to take off toward the door, there was a shout. Someone had noticed the blood by the village entrance and the open gate. They shouted to all the guards and people of the village, "Protect the chief! Protect the chief!"

Immediately the village's men came swarming in from all different sides, most of them armed. Imran ran and jump-kicked the door down. "Take your sword and go in after the chief, I'll hold them off," he said as he quickly turned toward Usama.

"How're you going to keep them all back," Usama questioned, not willing to take his sword and leave Imran defenseless.

"I've got fifty arrows in my quiver and 'La ilaha ilallah' in my heart; I can hold my own against this Kwaadi scum," Imran said, pulling out his bow from his horse's saddle and setting an arrow on its string. "Now go! Quickly!"

"Right." Usama grabbed his sword and rushed into the darkness of the hut as Imran stood ready to face the oncoming mob of Kwaadi men. The men all came charging toward Imran wielding swords and shouting profanities. Imran took a deep breath and smiled. He drew back the bowstring and took aim at the foremost of the men.

"Bismillah wa Allahu Akbar*," he said before releasing a speedy arrow that stabbed right through the eye of his target. The man fell back on the ground as the arrow flew through his skull. Imran quickly reached for another arrow and shot into a man coming from his left. Bull's-eye! The arrow struck the man right through his abdomen and he fell to the ground, bleeding out from his guts.

As Imran continued to pick off the men outside, one by one, Usama was navigating his way through the darkness of the hut. He held out his sword as he walked cautiously but hurriedly through the empty rooms of the hut. It seemed as though the hut was even larger on the inside than it had appeared to be from the outside. Usama entered into one room and by the light of the coming dawn he could just make out the figure of a sleeping person. As he got closer, he noted the form was too small to be the chief's and assumed it to be a child of his. Usama left the room.

Outside, Imran was halfway through his arrow supply and there were still plenty of villagers coming after him. Some of the guardsmen from the group wore armor, which was able to deflect the arrows or lessen the damage therefrom. For them, Imran needed more time to aim so that he could hit their weak spots, but the rush of the crowd allowed him no such time. Instead, he had to shoot multiple arrows at the guards until he'd managed to strike them and achieve a successful kill shot.

Just as he began to consider how he would fight the men using only his bow, Imran noticed a whooshing sound and heard several loud thuds. From among the treetops, Taimur's spear throwers were unleashing wooden doom upon the unsuspecting guardsmen. Imran smiled as he watched the few remaining guardsmen cower in blind fear as the wooden spears came piercing through them. Bodies littered the roads as the would-be assailants met their deaths. Imran turned his attention back to his archery, shooting down the villagers that had escaped the spears.

Back inside, Usama had gone through numerous turns and passages, but had found nothing. The light of dawn was making it easier to see, however, he still could not find the chief. Finally, he concluded that the chief must've escaped through some ulterior exit. Now he began to look all about, searching for a window large enough for a grown man to climb out of.

When at last he found one, he was astonished to see that it was near the top of the hut. There's no way anyone could just hop up there, Usama thought to himself. He had to either have climbed up something or had assistance from some of his men. Usama desperately searched the area for any sort of ladder or object large enough to climb atop of and reach the window. Much to his dismay, the room was virtually empty, save for a waist level chest sitting in a corner. There's no way that's it; not unless this chief is a giant!

Left with no other option, Usama decided that the chest was the boosting object for the chief's assistance. He ran over to the corner and pushed the chest to the wall beneath the window. In his haste to climb atop the chest, Usama slipped off of the edge and kicked the chest into the wall. He landed on his backside and let out a slight yelp of pain upon impact. Rubbing the back of his head Usama looked up and was surprised yet again.

The chest was sticking halfway out of the hut; there was a small opening at the bottom of the wall that had been covered up before. "I knew he couldn't have jumped through the window," Usama said to himself as he got to his feet. He pushed the chest out of his way and crouched down to crawl out of the passage way.

Just as he was crawling out onto the other side, Usama noticed three pairs of feet and looked up to see the chief and two guardsmen standing before him, hiding out in a secret dwelling between the hut and the back walls of the village. Usama gulped as one of the guards raised up his sword to attack. Moving quickly, Usama squeezed through the exit and rolled out of the sword's pathway. He quickly leapt to his feet and faced the guards and the chief. "You might as well surrender now," he said as the guards moved to stand in front of their chief.

"You again," one of the men spoke. Again? Usama wondered. He took a quick glance at the guard and immediately recognized him as the head guard he'd run into the day before. Oh, this guy. "I thought I told you to scram! Now here you are attacking our village in the early hours of morning? You are no travelling wanderers; you are allies of those filthy Kipansati vermin across the way! I should have killed you yesterday when you disobeyed my command."

"Never mind that now," the chief -a fat, bald man standing in the corner- spoke. "He will die today just as those wretched vermin will. This is the last of their insolence that I will tolerate. Today, we will fully exterminate all of the Muslim pests from this land of ours. Kwaade will certainly be pleased with us."

"Hmph," Usama sneered as he assumed a fighting pose. "I love to bring disappointment to your master Kwaade; bring it on!" The two guards charged after Usama, swinging their swords. Moving like a swift wind, Usama ducked under the blade of one guard and parried the attack of the other. He then swept the head guard off his feet with his other sword. Before the first guard had even hit the floor Usama flipped his blades and struck the second guard with the hilt of both swords, knocking him to the ground as well. "Is this the best you got?" Usama taunted.

The men scrambled to their feet and Usama smirked. The two guards came rushing again and Usama spun backwards, coming down with a powerful crescent kick on the shoulders of the second guard. Immediately Usama stepped forward and punched the head guard in the face. With both of the guards stumbling backwards, Usama went on the offensive. He charged and kicked off the side of the hut. Coming down swinging both of his swords, Usama successfully delivered a powerful attack on the second guardsman.

He slashed away at the body of the man in a single flashy motion. Blood spurted from the deep cuts as the guard stood in shock. Usama landed on the ground in a crouching position as the man stood over him, bleeding out from his chest and stomach. Usama stood with an upward slash back across the man's body again. In a fraction of a second, Usama drew his swords back and thrust them into the abdomen and heart of the guard standing before him bleeding out. The blood now sprayed across his face as the lifeless guard stood, held up only by the two blades piercing through his insides.

Usama withdrew his swords and spat as the dead guardsman fell to the ground. The head guardsman looked on hopelessly, trying to conceal his all-to-evident fear. As Usama walked closer, the frightened guard grew more and more desperate. He kicked up a wave of dirt at Usama's face and successfully blinded Usama with sand in his eyes. "Coward!" Usama roared as he rubbed his eyes.

The guard grew a smug grin as he watched Usama stumble about trying to clear his eyes. He gripped his sword tightly and walked with an arrogant swagger as he approached Usama. "O Chief Duwan," the man spoke to his chief. "Witness the demise of your enemy as a glimpse of what is to come later today as we-"

Usama stabbed his right sword right up the man's throat. There was a squishing sound followed by a thud and a crack as the sword punctured through the flesh and into his skull before coming out at the top of his head. The blood gushed out onto the ground from the man as the dark curtain of death descended upon him. Not even a gasp escaped his mouth as Usama withdrew his blade and pushed him over.

Usama now stood facing Duwan the chief, his eyes cleared of sand. "Now, chief Dowan," he addressed the man sarcastically. "Are you going to be a coward like your guard here, or will you surrender with ease?"

The chief reluctantly sunk to the ground. "I surrender," he said raising his hands. "Take whatever you like, just please spare me." Usama smiled as he walked over to the man, his steely blades dripping blood. The chief looked on in fear, his body nearly shaking. Usama tightened his grip on his swords. "PLEASE!" the man shouted. "HAVE MERCY, I BEG YOU!"

"Calm yourself, man," Usama laughed. "My intention was never to kill you; that would only lead your people to retaliate and the bloodshed would continue. Come with me so that before all of the people we can negotiate the terms of your surrender." The reluctant chief rose to his feet and Usama guided him to the front of his hut, threatening him with his blades from behind should the chief try anything.

When they reached the front entrance and the villagers saw their chief with a blade near his head they immediately dropped their weapons and stood in their places. The women and children of the village woke up to the rising sun and the fall of their chieftain. All of the villagers looked on in shock and horror as Usama and Imran stood beside their hostage chief. "Hear me, O Kwaadi peoples," Usama addressed them all. "This is your humiliating defeat this day; O Kipansati, O brothers of mine, this is your glorious victory and the justice you sought. Takbir!"

Imran and the other Muslims around all shouted back, "Allahu Akbar!"

"Takbir!"

"Allahu Akbar!"

"Takbir!"

"Allahu Akbar!"

Usama smiled as he looked at the confused faces of the Kwaadi people. They were so confounded about the swift takeover of their village by one so much smaller than theirs. He looked into the trees and smiled at the spear throwers. He then looked to the entrance of the gate and noticed Taimur and Fahd walking in with spears at hand. A wide grin spread one his face as they came closer and he shook hands with the both of them.

"We can never thank you enough for what you have done," Taimur said as he embraced Usama.

Usama laughed. "You don't need to my brother, just thank Allah. Always thank Allah."

Taimur smiled back. "Alhamdulillah," he said, releasing Usama and looking around. "Alhamdulillah indeed."


GLOSSARY/TRANSLATIONS

Khalas: Has different meanings but in this case it simply means "enough"

Alhamdulillahi Rabbil 'Alameen: All praise and thanks are due to God, Lord of all that exists

Taqwa: God-consciousness

Yaqeen: Certainty

Mu'mineen: Believers

Rabb: Lord

Nur: Luminance

Muhajireen: Migrants for the sake of God (ie people who have/had to migrate to keep their religion safe and practice it freely)

Mujahideen: Fighters in the path of God

Allahu ‘Alam: "God knows best"

Bismillah wa Allahu Akbar: In the Name of God, and God is Greatest. This is said in place of Bismillahirahmanir raheem (in the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful) when someone is taking the life of a human or animal.


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