Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi (Arabic: طليحة بن خويلد بن نوفل الأسدي) was a prominent Arab clan chief during the time of Muhammad; he belonged to the Banu Asad ibn Khuzaymah tribe. He was known as a wealthy chief. In 625 he was defeated in the Expedition of Qatan, a Muslim expedition against him. He also took part in the Battle of the Trench in 627 against Muhammad.
In 630 he accepted Islam at the hands of Muhammad. However, he rebelled against Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation. Thus, Tulayha became the third person to claim prophethood among the Arabs against Muhammad. Many tribes acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims.
In July 632, Abu Bakr raised an army mainly from the Banu Hashim (the clan of Muhammad). Ali bin Abi Talib, Talha ibn Ubaidullah and Zubair ibn al-Awam, were each appointed as commander of one-third of the newly organized force. They fought the Battle of Zhu Qissa against the forces of Tulayha, a self-proclaimed prophet and his followers as they prepared to launch an attack on Medina during the Ridda wars. The Rashidun commanders held until they were reinforced by Abu Bakr. Tulayha was defeated and his forces were driven back to Zhu Hussa.
Thereafter, Khalid ibn al-Walid was sent to crush him and his confederacy. The armies of Khalid and Tulayha met at a place named Buzaka in 632. In this engagement, the army of Tulayha was defeated in the Battle of Buzakha. Following this battle, many of the rebellious tribes surrendered and accepted Islam. However, Tulayha escaped from Buzaka and sought refuge in Syria. But when Syria was conquered by the Muslims, Tulayha accepted Islam.
In 634, he personally paid homage to Umar after the latter’s assumption of the position of Caliph. Later on, Tulayha enthusiastically took part in the campaign against Sassanid empire. Such as Battle of Jalula, the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, and Battle of Nahavand.
Battle of al-Qādisiyyah
He was recorded in Tabari chronicle played significant roles in the famous battle of al-Qādisiyyah. The translation from Arabic language by Andrew Leber said where the contingent of Bani Assad, the clan of Tulayha played significant role on the Yaum-ul-Armatsh(يوم أرماث) or "The Day of Disorder".
At one time he recorded single handedly rushed enemy ranks in the dark of night and came back with a prisoner of war, Tabari particularly detailed from one chain of Narrations the circumstances with Tulayha infiltrated the Sassanid camps under the cover of darkness, then he singlehandedly wreaking havoc in their camps, killing two of Sassanid soldiers, taking two of horses and then brought back one captive to Sa'd ibn abi Waqqas.
Muhammad Husayn Haykal in his Hadhrat Umar autobiography also borrowed the same circumstances and wrote the aftermath of the raid as following: Sa'd asking the Sassanid captive about what happened, the latter answered: "Since I was a child, I have been told about the stories about heroes. but I never imagined this: This man has travelled about 2 Farsakh (12 kilometers) onto a camp which manned by 70.000 soldiers. He won't return before seizing enemy's horses and tearing down large tents. After we (the Sassanid soldiers) catch up with him, the first of our champion which equal to 1000 soldier was killed by him (Tulayha). Then the second man, equal to the first men. Then I catch up with him (Tulayha) and I appoint my reserve to replace my position as I was ready to face death to exact revenge of my peers (who has been killed by Tulayha). But now I am, a prisoner"
Tulayha was slain at the last battle in Nahavand. however his performance was pivotal in Muslims victory in this battle. In fact, the stratagem used by Muslims to lure the Persians and ambush them was created by none other than Tulayha himself. According to Tabari, he was present during early reign of Caliph Ali.
When Saad bin Abi Waqqaas asked Khalifah Umar to send him reinforcement. Umar replied: "I have sent you 2000 men: Amru bin Ma'adi Yakrib and Tulayhah Asadi. Each one of them counts as a thousand." Jabir bin Abdullah has found the praising about Tulayha that he said among soldiers that participating in the battle of al-Qadisiyah that had not desired worldly gain and also exceptionally pious and trustworthy, they are Tulayhah bin Khuwailid Al-Asadi, 'Amr bin Ma'di Karb (another former apostate leader) and Qais bin Mashkuh('Amr bin Ma'di's nephew and Asma' bin Nu'man second husband)
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- Bani Asad Translated from the Arabic by Andrew Leber, Brown University, Class of 2012.
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- al-Hakim (d. 405 AH) wrote: "Sayf is accused of being a heretic. His narrations are abandoned."
- Abu Dawud (d. 316 AH) wrote: "Sayf is nothing. He was a liar. Some of his Hadiths were conveyed and the majority of them are denied."
- The Origins of the Islamic State quoting Yalubi volume II page 165 Khuri Hitti, Phillip (2005). The Origins of the Islamic State quoting Ya'kubi vol II page 165,2002. p. 415.
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- E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, By Martijn Theodoor Houtsma, T W Arnold, A J Wensinck, pg.831, Tulayha’s characteristics described.
- Islam at war, By George F. Nafziger, Mark W. Walton, pg.17, Tulayha’s humour.
- Islamic History, By M. A. Shaban, pg.30, Tulayha joins the Muslim army to fight the Sassanid Empire.