Post-classical history

§ Malik al-Ashtar and Abu Musayka

I am reminded by the case of Sarhank of something Malik ibn al-Harith al-Ashtar4 did (may God have mercy upon him) to Abu Musayka al-Iyadi. It happened like this: when the Arab tribesmen apostatized in the days of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq5 (may God grant him favour) and God (glory be to Him) made him decide to fight them, Abu Bakr got the troops ready to march upon the apostate Arab tribes. Abu Musayka al-Iyadi was with the Banu Hanifa, who were the most powerful Arab tribe, and Malik al-Ashtar was in the army of Abu Bakr (may God have mercy upon him).

As the troops stood at the ready, Malik came forward in challenge between the two ranks and shouted, ‘Abu Musayka!’ So he too stepped forward.

Malik said to him, ‘Bah! Abu Musayka! After converting to Islam and reciting the Qur’an, you return to unbelief?’

‘Get away from me, Malik!’ said Abu Musayka. ‘The Muslims forbid wine, and I cannot do without it.’

‘Well then,’ said Malik, ‘do you agree to a duel?’

‘I do,’ replied Abu Musayka.

And so they fought with spears and they fought with swords. Abu Musayka struck Malik with a blow that split his head open and caused his eyelids to droop; because of that blow, Malik was named ‘the Droopy-Eyed’.

Malik retreated to his camp, holding tight to the neck of his horse. A group of his kinsmen and friends gathered around him, crying. Malik said to one of them, ‘Put your hand in my mouth.’

The man put his finger in [38] Malik’s mouth, and he bit down on it. The man writhed in pain.

So Malik said, ‘Nothing wrong with your man. “Sound teeth, sound head”, it’s been said. Just pack it (meaning the wound) with flour and wrap it with a turban-cloth.’

Once they had packed it and wrapped it up, he said, ‘Get my horse.’

‘Where are you going?’ they asked.

‘To Abu Musayka,’ he replied.

Malik then stepped forward in challenge between the two ranks and shouted, ‘Abu Musayka!’ And Abu Musayka shot towards him like an arrow. But Malik struck him on his shoulder with his sword, splitting him in two down to his saddle, killing him. Malik then returned to his camp and remained there for forty days, unable to move. But then he recovered and was healed of his wound.

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