Empires Of Faith

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Chapter 2: The Battles Begin

21 Jumada Al-Awwal, 1663

The sun sat high in the sky, mercilessly hammering heat down on to the desert lands. After sending out a scout to make an estimate of the arrival time of the enemy army, it was decided that noon was the best time to march out and face them. The Muslim army was divided into three separate bands, with each assigned a specific task as a part of their tactics. Heavily trained -though slightly inexperienced- Muhammad ibn Sulayman would have his mettle tested as he led the foremost of the groups on a march to battle.

Ten paces ahead of the nearest row, Muhammad walked alone, carrying only his tall, wooden spear. He wore a simple, dark green thobe over his black pants, and a black turban whose tail blew fluidly in the wind behind him. Flowing down his back was a fine black cape which had a seal of Arabic calligraphy spelling رقص in white letters between his shoulders. It was a family heirloom worn only into battle, and this was to be only his first time wearing it, but he was determined for it not to be his last.

Behind Muhammad trailed a ragtag band of roughly sixty volunteer soldiers from the village. Without an official army, many of the men were untrained and some were even armorless and weaponless. Still, with faith in their hearts and a firm determination to defend their homes, the brave warriors trekked through the heated desert to confront the incoming army of General Greorg Sersdal.

As he and his troops marched on, Muhammad went over the battle plan once more in his head. All we need to do is drive them eastward towards the cliffs where Imran and his archers are lying in wait, he thought to himself. If we can take out a significant amount of them here, then it should be no problem for the archers to finish them off. Should they get past him, Usama and his horsemen most definitely should be able to finish them off. We are undoubtedly outnumbered, and though strong in determination, these soldiers are unskilled in the art of battle. Living out here so far in the desert, they’ve never really had to worry about invasions or any enemies besides nature itself. Their warrior ways have been lost with time unfortunately. Still, we are fighting for a just cause, and that is enough. Allah is with those who have faith in Him, and if these men have the courage to come out here, with no actual armor or training, just to fight and defend their families in Allah’s name, then I believe they may just have adequate faith in Allah. In Shaa Allah, we can win this.

Muhammad looked back to the men who had been following behind him. The distance had increased beyond what he considered acceptable. He could see signs of fatigue on some of their faces. “We will stop here,” he ordered. “Any further and some of you will not have the energy to fight the enemy when we meet them.”

“Sir, we must continue,” one young man spoke up, eager to keep up the march. “We need to be as far away from our families as possible, should we be defea-”

“Do not even speak of such a thing!” Muhammad cut him off. “In Shaa Allah we will be victorious here, and if we are not then Allah is the Protector over our families. If you are so concerned though, akhi, you must realize that we need to be strong enough to fight them, otherwise they will just defeat us and move on.”

“I, I understand sir. I’m sorry for stepping out of line.”

“No worries, akhi. I understand your worry; I truly do.” Muhammad peered out into the distance, seeing no sign of the enemy army. Oh Munirah, I pray that you are safe, Muhammad thought deep inside. I know that you have told me to trust in Allah and that you would do the same, but I also know that you are worried about me, and I do not want you to let your emotions drive you to do anything that would endanger yourself. I don’t know that I could fight at my best were I to see you in harm’s way. Allah has forbidden fighting for vengeance…. And I just love you too much….

Off over the horizon Muhammad could see a wave of dust being kicked up. “The enemy is near,” he warned his troop, looking on at the army of nearly four hundred. Their distinct blue and white armor made it clear that they belonged to the Ikeqi nation, a supposed ally of the Muslims. The peculiar sight baffled Muhammad. Still, if they were the attackers intent on conquering the lands, he was ready to face them. “Ready yourselves, ya ikhwati*. We do not know whether we shall be granted physical victory or not, but if you trust in Allah, and give your all to this then you can be sure that Allah has promised Jannah to the martyrs. Our strongest weapon here is not the swords you carry or the spear in my hand; our strongest weapon is our Iman, our faith. Hold firm to that and no matter what, we will be victorious! Our families, our homes, our lives, these are all trusts from Allah, He gives and He takes. Today, He has given us a test, and a chance to defend these things which He has bestowed upon us. So let us fight as brave warriors, and die as noble martyrs! If we fall, In Shaa Allah we will gathered once more in Jannah! This is where we test our mettle, the time is now!"

“Allahu Akbar!” the troops resounded. “Allahu Akbar! ALLAHU AKBAR!”

With Muhammad in front, the troop marched on to meet their enemy. In the distance, the enemy army began to chant the name of their nation’s leader, Kwaade, as they ran up to the Muslim army. Muhammad gripped his spear as he sped up, distancing himself from his army. Let’s see if I can stir them up enough to break their units, Muhammad strategized in his head. If I can scatter them, my troop will have an easier time facing them.

In just a few short moments, Muhammad's spear clashed with the foremost shields of the Ikeqi soldiers. Twisting and turning, he maneuvered his way through the ranks while slashing at the faces of the enemy. He immediately felled two of the enemy soldiers upon impact. His heart was pumping as the enemies rushed in all around him. He struck another man down with the back of his spear and pierced another’s shield. Turning his spear in his hands, he snatched the shield away and kicked the man down. He then quickly spun around to sweep an oncoming assailant down to the ground. He grabbed his spear with both hands and spun it around to deflect a sword from his face.

Still surrounded, Muhammad jumped to the air and kicked one man in the chest. Coming down to the ground, Muhammad rolled up into a swinging attack and took out three more men. He flipped his spear over and knocked one man in the head before flipping it back over to stab it through his heart. Then, using his spear as a pole, he vaulted himself over two charging attackers, causing them to collide. Another man came wielding an axe. He swung for Muhammad’s head but Muhammad parried the blade away. He stabbed at the man’s feet until the man backed away into another soldier’s sword.

Soon, Muhammad’s army had met up with the Ikeqi army and the swords clashed. Blood spilled as one by one, the Muslim army took down their enemies, receiving little to no damage themselves. It was then that Muhammad spotted within the crowd the enemy general, Greorg Sersdal, as he slayed one of the older Muslim men. Muhammad made his way across through the Ikeqi army, twirling his spear and taking out numerous soldiers as he cleared a path.

Finally he reached Sersdal. “Face me, if you dare,” he called out to the general. “Or do you fight only the old and weak?”

“How dare you address me with such disrespect, you pitiful Muslim scum?” Sersdal stabbed his sword through another of the Muslims abdomen before he turned to charge at Muhammad. “I’m going to slaughter you like the animal you are!”

Muhammad dug his feet into the ground as he readied himself for the attack. Sersdal raised his sword up into the air and lunged at Muhammad. Gripping his spear tightly, Muhammad was about to block what he saw as a reckless attack that exposed the enemy to his own ensuing attack. Just seconds before the steel of Sersdal’s sword would collide with the wooden pole of Muhammad’s spear; Muhammad noticed one of Sersdal’s soldiers sneaking up on the side. Acting quickly, Muhammad dove to the side and rolled out of the way of impact. “Are you too afraid to face me alone, coward?” Muhammad shouted out.

“This is war fool,” Sersdal shouted back, taunting Muhammad with a hand gesture. Muhammad stood to attack when he was hit from behind by the blunt end of another soldier’s sword. He fell to the ground and rolled over to look at his attacker. The man swung his blade down to strike Muhammad’s face but was quickly beheaded by the swift blade of one of the younger Muslim soldiers. The soldier quickly helped Muhammad up before returning to battle.

Standing on his feet, Muhammad looked around for Sersdal, but saw no sign of him. So Muhammad rushed back into the crowd stabbing through soldier after soldier, taking out every enemy in his sight. “Where are you Sersdal? You coward! Will you not come face me now that I am standing?”

“Brother,” one Muslim spoke has he cut down a fleeing Ikeqi. “You must not let your anger get the better of you. Remember why you fight!”

Muhammad sighed realizing his foolishness. He looked at the brave soldier who, even in the heat of battle, had care for his brother to offer sincere advice on such a matter. He smiled and made a du’ah for the man under his breath. Then he continued attacking the enemies.

The scorching yellow sand was stained red with blood as the warriors clashed. The dust kicked up from fighting had reached to such an amount that some of the fighters had difficulty seeing. Being used to far worse from sandstorms, Muhammad’s army was able to easily adjust whereas Sersdal’s army struggled to fight. It was at this point that the battle seemed to be over. The Muslims had taken out a substantial amount of enemy soldiers, while only losing nine men themselves.

Sersdal ordered his troops to flee from the blinding dust and so they did. Just as Muhammad had hoped, they were retreating in an eastward direction. “Allahu Akbar,” Muhammad shouted as he and his army chased after them. They continued slashing away at any soldiers whom they caught up to, while shouts of Allahu Akbar filled the air. After running a great distance from the battlefield, the two armies were nearing the mountains. The Muslim army slowed to give Imran’s archers the opportunity to take aim at the enemy and finish them off. Just as the Muslims came to a complete stop, they felt a strange wind. They looked around to the mountains, awaiting the archers’ assault, but there was nothing.

Suddenly, the ground began to shake as a thundering troop of Ikeqi horsemen stormed the battlefield from the north. The Muslims were surprised to see Ikeqi reinforcements meeting them, but nonetheless they prepared to continue the battle. The Ikeqi, however, now held the upper-hand as they cut away at the Muslims with heavy blades atop their horses, sweeping through the crowds with ease. “Strike them down, we are victorious!” Sersdal shouted.

No sooner had he spoken those words than an arrow came shooting through the throat of Sersdal. He fell flat on his back, right before the feet of Muhammad. Muhammad looked to the mountains to spot the origin of the arrow and he saw Imran standing in his white garb, his turban waving in the wind. Behind him stood twenty-five archers, with their arrows at arm. Muhammad ordered his troops back so that the archers could safely fire on the enemy troops. The remaining Muslims withdrew, still facing and fighting off whatever enemies came their way.

Arrows rained down on the Ikeqi army as the men withdrew in fear. As the Ikeqi fled in a chaotic manner, their situation worsened when from the southeast a group of twenty-eight horsemen came rushing into battle. At the head of this troop was none other than Usama bin Shameem. Wielding two finely crafted swords, he mowed down the enemy horsemen. Chopping away at the enemy heads and knocking them off their horses, Usama dealt a painful blow to the enemy forces by himself.

Muhammad threw his spear through one of the enemy horsemen and proceeded to take his sword and hop on his horse. He smiled as he rode deep through the clear path that Usama had cut away. “How many have you taken out?” Usama queried.

“At least a two dozen by now,” Muhammad estimated. “Why?”

“I slayed thirty-seven men in my last battle. This time I’ve taken down thirteen so far. Let’s see if I can catch up to you.”

“Go ahead and try,” Muhammad said as he slashed at another enemy throat. “I’m not here to compete, but I believe I’ve got you beaten!”

“We shall see,” Usama replied, hopping off his horse. He grabbed hold of a man and struck his sword through him, then spun the man around into another enemy before also stabbing that man. He jumped and kicked a man in the chest and spun around, stabbing both of his swords through the chest of another. He caught hold of one man and drove his own sword through him. He then kicked the man down to pull his blade from his bleeding body. The blood splattered on his face and hands as he sliced through the crowds of foot soldiers.

Muhammad galloped through the crowd of horsemen knocking them off their mounts at every collision. Finally, after only a few men were left on horses Muhammad himself dismounted. He charged back into the crowd, swinging the sword in his hands fiercely. Taking down several enemies at once, he fought through the mobs like a ferocious whirlwind of sharp steel.

It wasn’t long before the Ikeqi army began to retreat. The Muslim army chased them through the valley and far away from the city. Muhammad stood, catching his breath as he watched the enemy flee. Eventually, Imran came up beside him and patted him on the back. Muhammad caught hold of his arm and flipped him over to the ground before pointing a sword in his face.

“Hey, hey hold up,” Imran shouted. “It’s me Muhammad! The enemy is all gone!”

“Oh, don’t mess around like that man,” Muhammad said stabbing the sword into ground and offering Imran a helping hand back up.

“I was just coming to say Salaams and congratulate you on the victory that Allah granted us.”

“Alhamdulillah, these brothers were sincere and so they were victorious.”

“Alhamdulillah.”

“Now I just need someone to call them all back,” Muhammad laughed. “They don’t seem to understand that the enemy has surrendered; we are victorious and they won’t be coming back.”

“I will take my horse and go,” Imran volunteered, hopping back onto his horse. “Maybe I’ll get a few more kills out there too.”

“Speaking of kills,” Usama said placing his two swords in their scabbards. “My maximum was twenty-eight this time; so you win, Muhammad. But next time, I’ll be there from the start In Shaa Allah.”

“Hm. As I said, it’s no contest. We do this for Allah.”

“Of course we fight for Allah. Come on Muhammad, you know me; I would never fight for glory or anything. This keeping count was merely something of encouragement and fun between us two.”

“Whatever you say Usama, just be careful with it. In any case, if there's no more fighting to be done, I am exhausted. Let's get the wounded treated and the martyred buried so that we may return home."


GLOSSARY/TRANSLATIONS:

Ya ikwati: O my brothers

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