I wrote something on this some years back as part of a piece analysing Shi'a accounts of the noble companions (especially the way the late Shi'a scholar Tabataba'i (disingenuously/misleadingly) narrates some of these incidents). I have read a lot since then so it could easily be improved if I wrote it today (so please excuse any deficiencies). I thought I may as well post it if it can add anything useful to the discussion:
Tabataba’i mentions an incident involving Khalid bin Walid in support of his claims. Khalid bin Walid was the great commander who was honoured the title of “one of the swords from the sword’s of Allah” by the HolyProphetafter his success at the expedition of Mutah; thenceforth he was knownas Sayfullah (the Sword of Allah). This title along with his services for Islam as a commander shows why he is held in great esteem by Sunni Muslims, so popularising allegations against him is indeed a sensitive issue. Tabataba’i states:
“the complicated incident involving the famous general Khalid bin Walid in the house of one the prominentMuslims of the day, Malik ibn Nuwayrah, which led to the death of the latter. The fact that Khalid was not taken at all to account for this incident because of his being an outstanding military leader shows in the eyes of Shi`ism anundue lenience towards some of the actions of the companions which were below the norm of perfect piety and righteousness.”
This incident as stated by Tabataba’i is too simplified and omits some important facts. Where Tabataba’i says the “complicated” incident, this does need further elaboration, Tabari and other historians relate how Malik bin Nuwayrah was exceedingly perplexed (about his faith) and it is unsure weather he was a Muslim or not because of his close associations with the impostress Sajah (who claimed Prophecy), and alternating acceptance of Islam and repentance of his belief in Sajah. This would rule out Malik bin Nuwayrah as a “prominent” Muslim as described by Tabataba’i. The second reason why the incident is complicated is that Khalid bin Walid was not responsible directly or perhaps even indirectly for the murder of Malik bin Nuwayrah. When the cavalry brought Malik b. Nuwayrah along with some people of Banu Tha’labah to Khalid b. Walid they disagreed about whether they were Muslim or not, so Khalid b. Walid ordered that they be locked up (instead of killing them). The night was cold and began to get colder so Khalid ordered a crier to call out “adfi` al-rajul” meaning “keep him warm”, but in the dialects of others it means“kill him”, so Dirar b. Azwar killed Malik b. Nuwayrah. There remained disagreement about whether the deaths were reprehensible or not. The two things we learn here are that it is uncertain whether Malik b. Nuwayrah should have been killed or not and secondly it is not clear if Khalid b. Walid was even responsible for his death.
Tabataba’i then says “that Khalid was not taken at all to account for this incident”. If we study Tabari further, Abu Qatadah, one of thecompanions present who testified that Malik b. Nuwayrah was Muslim, proceeded to Abu Bakr upon the death petitioning about what had happened. Also,`Umar bin al-Khattab continuously requested Abu Bakr to take action against Khalid bin Walid where Abu Bakr replied that “Khalid sought to clear up something up but in the process made a mistake; so stop berating him.” Despite this, Abu Bakr did take action by paying the blood price for Malik and alsosummoning Khalid bin Walid to the Grand Mosque in Madina to explain his story, whereupon Abu Bakr pardoned him and accepted his explanation.
The above shows how omitting certain parts of history or relating history to favour a personal conviction can give a deeply negative portrayal of one’s character. The Shi`a would argue that Tabari is a Sunni source so the account of events is biased in order to exonerate Khalid bin Walid. In fairness, Tabari’s account is balanced; firstly because it is a fuller record of events in comparison to the Shi`a account of the story and, because it has statements of some people who were against the actions of Khalid bin Walid also such as Abu Qatadah who vowed that “I will never witness a war with Khalid bin Walid after that”because of his conviction that Malik bin Nuwayrah had embraced Islam. As well as this `Umar bin al-Khattab stating “in his sword there really is forbidden behaviour” upon hearing the protest of Abu Qatadah.Therefore Khalid bin Walid was taken to account in that he was summoned and the blood price was paid; even for the Sunnis to document this is a form of taking his action to account.
apni millat par qiyas aqwam-e-maghrib sei na kar, khas hei tarkeeb mein qawm-e-Rasool-e-Hashmi
ei biradar chu 'aqibat khakast, khaak shawesh az ankei khaak shawee
jarahat al-sinani laha'l-tiyamu ma yaltamu jarahat al-lisani