Malik ibn Nuwayrah

Malik ibn Nuwayrah (Arabic: مالك بن نويرة‎), also spelled as Malik ibn Nuwera, sahabi (a companion of Muhammad), was a chief of the Bani Yarbu', a clan of the Banu Hanzala, a large section of the powerful tribe of Bani Tamim which inhabited the north-eastern region of Arabia, between Bahrain and Najd. The tribe was pagan until Islam came to Arabia. The centre of Malik's clan was Butah.

Malik ibn Nuwayrah
مالك بن نويرة
Spouse(s)Layla bint al-Minhal

Famous for his generosity and hospitality, Malik is said to have kept a light burning outside his house all night so that any traveller passing that way would know where to find shelter and food. He would get up during the night to check the light. A strikingly handsome man, he had a thick head of hair and his face, a contemporary has said, was "as fine as the moon." He was skilful in the use of weapons and noted for his courage and chivalry, and he was an accomplished poet. Malik possessed all the qualities which the Arabs looked for in the perfect male. He was married to Layla bint al-Minhal who was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in Arabia.

In view of his distinguished position in the tribe and his unquestionable talents, Muhammad appointed him as an officer over the clan of Bani Handhalah. His main responsibility was the collection of taxes and their despatch to Madinah. Later, when the news of Muhammed's death reached Butah, Malik had just collected a good deal of tax but not yet despatched it to Madinah. Because he did not consider the caliphate of Abu bakar is legitimate as prophet Muhammad appointed Ali as his successor in his life time at ghadeer.So he refused to pay taxes to Abu bakar and willing to pay it to the righteous caliph Ali. He at once opened the coffers and returned the money to the taxpayers. "O Bani Handhalah!" he announced, "your wealth is now our own."

Attack on Malik ibn NuwayraEdit

During the Ridda wars, which broke out in Arabia after the death of Muhammad, Abu Bakr sent his most talented general, Khalid bin Waleed, into Najd with 4000 men, to submit the tribes of the surrounding areas. Malik was guilty for his acts against the state of Madinah. After the death of Muhammad, he refuse paying Islamic taxes to Abu Baker as he believed Muhammad appointed Ali as his successor . At the time of Muhammad, he had been appointed as a tax collector for the Tribe of Banu Tamim. As soon as Malik heard of the appointment of Abu Bakr as caliph, he gave back all the tax to his tribesmen. He gave back all the tax to his tribes people, saying that "Now you are the owner of your wealth".[1] When Malik heard about Khalid bin Walid's victories against powerful Arab tribes, he ordered his tribesmen not to engage the approaching Khalid in battle, to stay at home, and hope for peace.[2] Malik himself apparently moved away across the desert with his family. Also, so as to prove himself loyal to the state of Madinah (the future Islamic empire), he collected the tax and sent it to Madinah. His riders were stopped by Khalid's army at the town of Battah. Khalid asked them about the signing of a pact with Sajjah but they said it was only to exact revenge on their terrible enemies and that so war does not reach their lands.[3] When Khalid reached Najd, he found no opposing army, so he sent his cavalry to nearby villages and ordered them to call the Azaan (call for prayers) to each party they meet. Zirrar bin Azwar, a group leader, arrested the family of Malik when they answered the call to prayer.

Malik ibn Nuwayra's DeathEdit

Western historians viewEdit

The eminent historian of Islam John Bagot Glubb writes that "Abu Bakr sent Khalid b. Waleed into Nejd with 4000 men. Many clans of Banu Taghlib hastened to visit Khalid but the Banu Yarbu' branch of the tribe, under its chief, Malik ibn Nuweira, hung back. Malik was a chief of some distinction, a warrior, noted for his generosity and a famous poet. Bravery, generosity and poetry were the three qualities most admired among the Arabs. Unwilling perhaps to demean himself by bowing to Khalid, he ordered his followers to scatter and he himself moved away across the desert alone with his family. Abu Bakr had given orders that the test to be applied to suspected rebels was that they be asked to repeat the Muslim formula and that they answer the call to prayer. One such party seized Malik ibn Nuweira and his family and brought them in to Khalid, although they claimed to be Muslims. The prisoners were placed under guard but, during the night, Malik ibn Nuweira and his supporters were killed in cold blood. Within 24 hours Khalid had married the widow of his victim.

Abu Qatada, an erstwhile friend and companion of Muhammad, hastened to Medina to complain to Abu Bakr, who summoned Khalid to answer the accusation. Umar b. Khattab pressed the caliph to deprive Khalid of his command. Khalid, returning to Medina, claimed that he had not ordered the execution of Malik, but that his instructions to the guards had been misunderstood. Caliph Abu Bakr said ‘I will not sheathe a sword which God has drawn for His service,'. Khalid's excuses were accepted."[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ al-Balazuri: book no: 1, page no:107.
  2. ^ Tabari: Vol. 2, Page no: 501-502.
  3. ^ Tabari: Vol. p. 501-2.
  4. ^ John Bagot Glubb (1963). The Great Arab Conquests. p. 112.

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