The Battle of Hanoot

The Battle of Hanoot, also known as the Battle of Manzikert, and known in

Arabic as “Ma`rakat-ul-Mulaadhakard”, is counted as being from the

greatest battles the Muslims ever fought and which will be remembered till

the end of time, such as the battles of Qaadisiyyah, Hitteen, `Ayn Jaaloot,

etc. – battles that had a lasting impact on the world and its people, battles

that made a change in the world.

The victory the Muslims experienced in the Battle of Manzikert was a

decisive one in that it absolutely terminated the conquering of lands by the

Romans, pushed them out from most of the lands of Asia Minor and

crushed the strength of the Byzantine Empire, to such an extent that

Byzantine never recovered from it; thus, the Battle of Manzikert was the

death blow to the Byzantine Empire, the then so-called “Superpower of the

World”.

Historians have mentioned that the defeat the Kuffaar suffered in this battle

was so complete at the hands of the Muslim that they were thrown into a

state of chaos and terror, fearing the destruction of the Cross and the

absolute seizure of all lands by the Muslims, for Islaam, to be ruled by the

Sharee`ah. Thus, they began plotting a way to change the tide, to turn the

tables against the Muslims, and this culminated in the First Crusade which

took place in 1095.

Muhammad ibn Daawud Chaghri, famously known as Alp Arsalan

(meaning, “The Brave Lion”), had become the leader of the Great Saljuq

Empire after the death of his uncle, Tughril Beg. There had been some

infighting and attempts at rebellions, but these were stamped out by Alp

Arsalan after which he took control.

Alp Arsalan, like his uncle Tughril Beg, was a consummate military leader, a

master at warfare, a Mujaahid who loved Jihaad and wished for Shahaadah,

and a tactical genius.

After assuming the leadership of the Saljuqs, he adopted a specific political

approach in that he first of all consolidated his control and establishment in

the lands wherein the Saljuqs were ruling, and thereafter he turned his

attention to bringing more and more lands under the rule of Islaam, leading

the Mujaahideen into battle and expanding the Saljuq Dynasty.

The conquering of these lands by the Saljuqs opened up the way for Da`wah

to be given freely within these lands, and many people began entering the

Deen of Islaam. The reason behind this was that the battles fought by Alp

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Arsalan and the Mujaahideen under him were antithetical to the battles and

wars fought by the Kuffaar “conquerors”, in that their fight was undertaken

with the intention of worldly motives and gains, whereas Alp Arsalan was

not merely conquering lands; he, with the Mujaahideen under him, was

leading a Jihaad in order to uproot Kufr and gain Tamkeen fil-Ardh

(establishment of Islaam in the land), and to bring the lands under the Rule

of Allaah Ta`aalaa and to raise high the Raayah (Banner) of Islaam, the

Raayah of “Laa Ilaaha Illallaah, Muhammadur Rasoolullaah .”صلى الله عليه وسلم

Thus, these battles were fuelled by the winds of Islaam and the spirit of

Jihaad fee Sabeelillaah, and they were coloured with the colour of the Deen.

Alp Arsalan spent the first seven years after assuming leadership in first and

foremost strengthening those lands from the lands of Islaam which were

weakening, before undertaking any further expansions. Once he was

satisfied that these lands were sufficiently strengthened and established, he

now began carrying out his plans to attain his further goals, which was the

conquering of the nearby Christian lands as well as the destruction of the

Kaafir Shia Faatimid Dynasty, and uniting the lands of Islaam under the

banner of the Abbasid Khilaafah. Thus, he gathered the Mujaahideen and

marched on Armenia and Georgia, and Allaah Ta`aalaa granted the

Mujaahideen victory over those lands.

Alp Arsalan then led a Ghazwah in northern Shaam against the

Murdaasiyyah Dynasty, in Aleppo, founded by Saalih ibn Murdaas in the

year 414 A.H. (1023 C.E.). The Murdaasiyyah were Kaafir Shias, hence Alp

routed them and replaced the Faatimid Shia rule with the Abbasid

Khilaafah. Thereafter, he organised another Ghazwah in the south of Shaam

and conquered Ramla and Baytul Maqdis, snatching it out of the hands of

the Faatimids who had been ruling there.

The victories the Saljuqs were having angered the then Byzantine Emperor,

Romanos IV Diogenes, so he gathered his armies and led them into a

number of battles against the Muslims, the most important of them being

the last one, the Battle of Manzikert in the year 463 A.H., corresponding to

August, 1070 C.E.

Imaam ibn Katheer describes this battle in al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah,

mentioning the pomp and show with which Romanos IV Diogenes had

gone into battle, with 200,000 horsemen, 35,000 of the Franks, 15,000 from

the soldiers who lived in Constantinople, over 1,500 animals carrying

weapons, provisions, etc., as well as bringing with trebuchets, all with the

intention of wiping out Islaam and the Muslims. He writes:

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“Sultaan Alp Arsalan rode out to meet him in an army of approximately

20,000 (Mujaahideen), at a place known as Zahwah, on Wednesday, five

days remaining from the month of Dhu-l Qa`dah.

The Sultaan was worried about the large number of the Roman army, so

Faqeeh Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn `Abdil Malik al-Bukhaari advised him to

commence the battle on Jumu`ah, after Zawaal, for at that time the

Khutabaa (those giving Khutbahs) will be making Du`aa for the

Mujaahideen.

Thus, when that time arrived, and the two arms faced off against each other,

the Sultaan dismounted from his horse and performed Sujood to Allaah

Ta`aalaa, rubbing his face in the sand, making Du`aa unto Allaah and

seeking His Help. Thus, Allaah Ta`aalaa sent down His Victory upon the

Muslimeen, and they (the Mujaahideen) killed an excessive amount (from

the Kuffaar), and their king, Armanos (Romanos IV) was taken captive.

When he (Romanos) was brought before the king, Alp Arsalan, he (Alp)

struck him with his hand three times. When Romanos was laying on the

ground, Alp placed his foot on his neck and said to him: “If I had been the

prisoner and had been brought before you, what would you have done?” He

said: “(I would have done) every despicable thing.” Alp asked him: “So what

do you think I will do?” He said: “Either you will kill me and display me in

your lands, or you will pardon me and accept the ransom, and return me (to

my land).” Alp said: “I have not resolved on other than pardoning and

accepting the ransom.”

Thus, he was ransomed for one and a half million Dinars. Thereafter, (Alp)

sent him back to his land with a convoy carrying a flag upon which was

written: “Laa Ilaaha Illallaah Muhammadur Rasoolullaah .”صلى الله عليه وسلم

Imaam ibn al-Atheer رحمة الله عليه and others from the Mu’arrikheen

(historians) describe the apex of this battle, saying:

“Alp Arsalan was a pious man who made use of the asbaab (causes) of

victory: both the Deeni asbaab and the worldly asbaab. He was close to the

`Ulamaa and would take their naseehah, and how great was the naseehah

given to him by the `Aalim Rabbaani, Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn `Abdil

Malik al-Bukhaari al-Hanafi, in the Battle of Mulaadhakard (Manzikert),

when he said to Sultaan Alp Arsalan: ‘Indeed, you are fighting for such a

Deen which, Allaah Ta`aalaa Himself has promised to aid it and make it

reign supreme over every other Deen, and I hope that Allaah has decreed

the victory of this battle in your name. Thus, meet them on the Day of

Jumu`ah, on the hour in which the Khutabaa shall be upon the Mimbars,

for they shall be making Du`aa for the Mujaahideen.’

 

Thus, when that hour arrived, Alp Arsalan led the Mujaahideen in Salaah,

and wept, and the people wept on account of his weeping. He made Du`aa

and they said Aameen. He said to him: ‘Whosoever wants to leave the

battlefield, let him leave, because there is no Sultaan here today who is

ordering or prohibiting.’ He then threw aside his bow and arrows and took

up his sword. He went into his tent, put on a white shroud (kafan) and

applied hanoot1. He then exited the tent and said to the Mujaahideen: “If I

am killed today, then this is my kafan.” All of the Mujaahideen entered their

tents and did the same.

Allaahu Akbar, it is for the likes of this that the Help of Allaah descends.”

It was on account of this action of Alp Arsalan and the Mujaahideen, of

donning their kafans and applying hanoot, marching into battle with the full

intention of Shahaadah, that this battle, the Battle of Manzikert, became

known as the “Battle of Hanoot”.

In this battle, Alp Arsalan and the Mujaahideen with him demonstrated the

Rooh of Jihaad, for Jihaad is not simply to kill for Allaah – Jihaad is to die

for Allaah. A person who is not ready to die for Allaah Ta`aalaa shall never

be able to fight a true Jihaad as described by Allaah Ta`aalaa in the Qur’aan:

وَجَاىِدُوْا فِيْ اللهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ

{“Fight Jihaad in (the Path of) Allaah the way it deserves to be fought…”} [Soorah

al-Hajj.]

It is only when the person throws the Dunyaa aside and goes forth with the

desire for Shahaadah that he will be able to fight a Jihaad that is “Haqqa

Jihaadih” (the way it deserves to be fought).

Imaam ibn al-Atheer mentions: “So Allaah Ta`aalaa sent down His Help

upon them and victory; thus, the Romans were defeated and such a large

number of them were killed that the land was filled with their corpses, and

along with this, their emperor was taken prisoner.”

1 Imaam al-Baaji al-Maaliki explains what hanoot is in al-Muntaqaa, saying: “Hanoot is the

fragrance that is applied to the body and kafan (shroud) of the mayyit (deceased), (and it is

made of) musk, and `ambar (ambergris), and camphor, and every such (perfume) which

what is sought from it is its smell and not its colour.”

Imaam as-Saawi mentions in his haashiyah of ash-Sharh as-Sagheer that hanoot can contain

rosewater as well.

Thus, hanoot is primarily camphor, and other things such as rosewater, musk, ambergris,

etc. may be added to it, but a person can suffice with just camphor.

 

The battle had begun with Byzantines placing their spearmen in front,

charging with Saljuqs. Alp Arsalan employed a tactic he had used in the past:

he had the Mujaahideen ride backwards on horseback, firing arrow after

arrow at the Kuffaar, keeping just out of reach of the spears, forcing the

Byzantine foot-soldiers to pursue them across the field.

The Saljuqs were masters of archery, and they would begin training in

archery from the age of four. They were renowned for their skills at horseriding,

warfare and archery, using the bow as their weapon of choice, which

in their case was the recurve, reflex composite bow, arrows fired by the

thumb-release method used by the Turks throughout their history.

Their tactic of firing arrows at the enemy whilst seated backwards on

horseback is a technique which was known as the “Parthian Shot”.

For eight hours this continued, until the sun began setting and their soldiers

were worn out, at which point Alp gave the order for the Mujaahideen to go

forward and start cutting them down. The Mujaahideen were deployed in

the formation of a crescent, and Romanos watched as more and more of his

soldiers were dropping like flies and the semi-circle was closing in around

him. The commanders under him were overtaken by the fear of death and

began to retreat, resulting in chaos in the Byzantine army and making it even

easier for the Muslims to pursue and slaughter them.

As night fell, the corpses of the Byzantine soldiers lay scattered on the

battlefield. At last, even the Varangian guard, the last of the Byzantine

soldiers whose duty it was to remain at the side of the Emperor and protect

him, were slaughtered as well, and finally Romanos IV Diogenes, Emperor

of the Byzantine Empire, was taken prisoner. The Muslims had won and the

Kuffaar had suffered such a thorough defeat which they would never get

over.

Till today, the Battle of Manzikert is celebrated by the Turks, 947 years later,

and they remember the Mujaahid leader, Alp Arsalan, who stood in front of

his army on the battlefield facing the Kuffaar, he and all of the Mujaahideen

with him dressed in kafans and perfumed with hanoot, to not only fight fee

Sabeelillaah but to die fee Sabeelillaah.

 

Epilogue

The victory of the Muslims at this battle threw open the gates for them to

march onto Byzantine and Anatolia and bring them under the rule of

Islaam.

The Kuffaar themselves have admitted to their miserable defeat in this

battle, with John Julius Norwich describing the Battle of Manzikert as “the

greatest disaster suffered by the Empire in its seven and a half centuries of existence.

Steven Runciman in his “History of the Crusades” noted the same: “The

Battle of Manzikert was the most decisive disaster in Byzantine history. The Byzantines

themselves had no illusions about it. Again and again their historians refer to that

dreadful day.

As Allaah Ta`aalaa says in the Qur’aan Kareem:

قَاتِلُ وىُمْ ي عَُذِّبْ هُمُ اللَّوُ بِأَيْدِ يْكُمْ ويُخْزِىِمْ وَيَ نْصُرْكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَيَشْفِ صُدُورَ

قَ وْمٍ م ؤْمِنِينَ

{“Fight them! Allaah will punish them at your hands, and disgrace them, and grant you

victory over them, and heal the hearts of a people who are Mu’mineen.”} [Soorah at-

Tawbah, 9:14]

The Battle of Hanoot shattered the illusion of the Byzantine Empire as

being “unconquerable” even in the eyes of the West, and it was their fear

and realisation that Byzantine would not be able to protect Christianity –

along with their hatred for everything connected to Islaam and the Muslims

– that spurred them on to initiating the Crusades.

The Kuffaar have never been – and will never be – a “Superpower”. The

only “Superpower” is Allaah Ta`aalaa. If the Muslims have the Nusrat of

Allaah Ta`aalaa on their side, then even a small band of Mujaahideen could

wipe out all of the armies of the Kuffaar, the first of them and the last of

them.

A “vanguard” of Muslims who emulate – in every facet of their lives, even in

the smallest of matters – the Sunnah of Rasoolullaah صلى الله عليه وسلم , the

Khulafaa-e-Raashideen and Sahaabah-e-Kiraam, will always be victorious

over the Kuffaar.

 

إِنْ يَ نْصُرْكُمُ اللَّوُ فَلََ غَالِبَ لَكُمْ وَإِنْ يَخْذُلْكُمْ فَمَنْ ذَا الَّذِي يَ نْصُرُكُمْ مِنْ

بَ عْدِهِ وَعَلَى اللَّوِ فَ لْيَتَ وَكَّ لِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

{“If Allaah helps you, no one can overpower you, but if He leaves you without assistance,

who is there that can help you after Him? Only in Allaah should the Mu’mineen place

their Tawakkul.”} [Soorah Aal-e-`Imraan, 3:160]

It is a fallacy to believe that the Muslims will fail to defeat the Kuffaar on

account of the Kuffaar exceeding them in technology, weaponry, provisions,

training, or any other Dunyawi sabab (cause).

Muslims can only fail to defeat the Kuffaar if there is a weakness in their

Imaan, a weakness in their Tawakkul on Allaah Ta`aalaa, a weakness in their

carrying out the Commandments of Allaah Ta`aalaa and abstaining from

His Prohibitions, a weakness in following the Sunnah of Rasoolullaah صلى

الله عليه وسلم . There is no reason for a Muslim to ever be in awe of the

Kuffaar. It is the worst of jahaalat for a professed Muslim to desire to

emulate the Kuffaar in any matter.

In this Battle of Hanoot, an army of 20,000 Mujaahideen – and some

historians even say it was as little as 15,000 Mujaahideen – went up against

an army of over 200,000 Byzantine soldiers and decimated them in a battle

that the world continues to remember almost a thousand years later.

These people were not Sahaabah-e-Kiraam; they were regular Muslims, yet

Allaah Ta`aalaa honoured them with such a resounding victory over the

forces of Kufr. Thus, Muslims should not ignorantly assume that in any era,

it is not possible to defeat the Kuffaar, that the Kuffaar are too

technologically advanced, too wealthy, too powerful to be defeated. It is

only cowardice, a weakness of Imaan and an ignorance of Islaam that

prompts such notions. The reality is that any time in the history of this

Ummah, if the Muslims turn to Allaah Ta`aalaa and do as He has

commanded them to do, and follow this Qur’aan He has given them and the

Sunnah displayed to us by Rasoolullaah صلى الله عليه وسلم , they will always be

victorious, because this Noor of Allaah Ta`aalaa will never be extinguished.

Source – Nidaa-ul-Haq