SALAMAH IBN AL-AKWA'
The Infantry Hero
His son Iyaas summarized all his virtues in just one sentence: "My father never lied." To be described by this singular virtue makes a person eligible for a highly elevated position among the pious and virtuous. Salamah IbnAl-Akwa' achieved such a position, one which he deserved. Salamah was oneof the rare Arab spearmen, but he was also famous for his courage, generosity,and charitable deeds. He sincerely submitted himself to Islam; then it wasIslam that molded his personality according to its system.
Salamah was one of those who attended the Pledge of Radwaan.
In A.H. 6, the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions aimed at visiting theSacred House in Makkah, but the Quraish hindered them from doing so.
The Prophet (PBUH) sent `Uthmaan Ibn `Afaan to tell them that he came as a visitor, not as a fighter. While they awaited `Uthmaan's return, a rumor spread that the Quraish had killed him. The Prophet (PBUH) sat under a shady tree to take the Companion's oath of allegiance, one by one. They gave him their word to he ready to die.
Salamah reported: I swore the oath of allegiance in front of the Prophet to be ready to die. Then I stepped aside. When the crowd of people nearly ended, the Prophet (PBUH) said, "O Salamah, aren't you going to swear your oath of allegiance?" I said, "I've already done that." He said, " Again." I swore the oath again.
Salamah had redeemed his oath long before that day. He redeemed it since the day he admitted that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger. He said, "I joined the Prophet (PBUH) in seven battles and joined Zaid Ibn Haarithah in nine battles."
He was one of the most skillful warriors as an infantryman and one of the best to shoot arrows and throw spears. His tactics were similar to present day guerilla warfare : if an enemy approached, he retreated waiting forhim to move backwards or to take a rest, in order to attack him by suprise.In this way he was able to chase alone the force led by `Uyainah Ibn HisnAl-Fizaarii which raided the environs of Al-Madiinah in the Dhii Qarad raid.Totally alone, he followed their traces, then continued fighting and pushingthem away from Al-Madiinah until the Prophet (PBUH) reached him with a greatnumber of Companions. On that day the Prophet (PBUH) said to the Companions,"Our best infantryman is Salamah lbn Al Akwa".
Salamah never knew deep sorrow and anxiety except when his brother `Aamir Ibn Al-Akwa' died during the Battle of Al- Khaibar.
Aamir was the one singing in front of the Muslim army:
Had it not been for You.
We would not have been guided,
Nor prayed nor given charity.
Bless us with tranquility,
And let us be strong and firm-hearted
when meeting our enemies.
In that battle Aamir wanted to strike a polytheist with his sword. However, his sword bent and its edge injured him fatally. Some Muslims said, "Poor `Aamir, he has been deprived of martyrdom."
Salamah's anxiety was severe because he thought, like others, that hisbrother, who had killed himself accidently, was deprived of the recompenseof jihaad and the reward of martyrdom. But soon the Prophet (PBUH) put thingsin their right order when Salamah went to him saying. "O Messenger of Allah,is it true that by dying in this way `Aamir has been deprived of the rewardof all his previous deeds?" The Messenger (PBUH) answered, "He has been killed as a mujaahid. He is to be granted two rewards. He is right now swimmingin the rivers of Paradise.
Salamah was very generous. However, he was more so when asked to give something for the sake of Allah. If someone had asked him to give away his life for the sake of Allah, he would not have hesitated to do so. People knew this attitude of his, so when anyone needed something, he just asked him for the sake of Allah. He always said, "If someone would not give for the sake of Allah, for whose sake then would he give?"
On the day of `Uthmaan's murder (May Allah be pleased with him) the great mujaahid realized that the gates of sedition had been opened. How could it be possible for him who had fought among his brethren all his life to turn into a warrior against his brethren? It was not his right to use his fighting skill, which had been praised by the Prophet (PBUH), against believers and Muslims.
It was therefore more proper that he carry his belongings and leave Al-Madiinah for a place called Ar-Rabzah, the same place to which Abu Dhar chose to emigrate and settle.
Salamah spent the rest of his life at Ar-Rabzah. In A.H. 74 his burningdesire took him to Al- Madinah, where he spent one or two days as a visitor,and on the third day he died. It was as if the dear, moist earth of Al-Madiinah appealed to him to offer his body a cool, safe shelter, as it had previously offered all the blessed Companions and pious and virtuous martyrs.