A Story of Ghayrah for Islam’s Women
Ibn an-Nahhas mentioned in ‘Mashari’ al-Ashwaq’ (2/143) that adh-Dhahabi said in ‘Tarikh al-Islam’:
“…In the year 98, Amir al-Mu’minin Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik sought to move to Jerusalem, and he moved people and wealth there. During this time, he received the news that the Romans had attacked the coast of Homs and took a number of Muslims prisoner including a woman and her son. So, he became extremely angry and said: “There is no option but for us to fight them and for them to fight us. By Allah, I will fight them until I conquer Constantinople or die trying!”
So, he gathered 120,000 soldiers from Sham and the Arabian Peninsula to launch a ground attack, and a thousand ships from Egypt and Africa to launch a naval attack. He began personally distributing provisions to them, reminding them that this was Constantinople they were seeking to conquer, and that they should take this expedition seriously.”
Ibn Kathir continued in ‘al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah’ (9/177-178):
“Amir al-Mu’minin Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik prepared his brother Maslamah bin ‘Abd al-Malik to invade Constantinople and go after the army that he was following. So, he ended up with a mighty army, and he ordered each man to carry a small bit of food on his horse. When they finally got to the land of the enemy, they piled all of their collected food together until it was the size of a hill. So, Maslamah said: “Leave this food and eat from whatever you find in their lands. Plant what you can in the fertile areas and pick these plants, and build yourselves houses of wood, since we will not leave this land until we conquer it by the Will of Allah!”
Maslamah then brought a Christian man named Ilyun who had confided to him that he wanted to help him conquer the lands of the Romans. At first, he was cooperative and gave good advice. When the king of Constantinople died, Ilyun went there with a message from Maslamah while the Romans were extremely scared of him. So, when Ilyun went to them, they said: “Get Maslamah away from us and we will make you our king!” So, he went back to Maslamah and proceeded to deceive and betray him. He continued doing this to the point that he burned up the food supply of the Muslims after he said to Maslamah: “As long as they see you with all of this food, they will think that you are sitting back from a fight. So, if you burn it all up, they will see that you are eager to fight and will immediately surrender the lands to you.” So, Maslamah ordered all of the food to be burned, and Ilyun waited until nighttime to go through the Muslims’ ships and escape with as much of their supplies as he could, and he ended up fighting with the Romans against the Muslims and manifesting his enmity and treachery.
The land was surrounded and besieged by the Romans, and conditions became so difficult for the Muslims that they were forced to eat everything except the dirt under their feet! They continued in this state until they received news that Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik had died and been succeeded by ‘Umar bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz. So, they retreated and returned to Sham after putting up intense struggle and effort.
However, Maslamah refused to return, and he eventually built a mighty mosque in Constantinople that had a vast courtyard and stood tall in the sky…”