Musailma. Of all the imposters and false prophets who rose in Arabia after the death of the Holy Prophet, the most notorious and dangerous was Musailma who belonged to the Banu Hanifa tribe of Central Arabia. Musailma visited Madina during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, and enjoyed the privilege of his company for some time. On return from Madina, Musailma, however, laid claim to a divine mission and founded a new creed. He relieved his followers from the obligations of fasting, and Zakat. He reduced the number of daily prayers. He legalized adultery and drinking. He forbade his followers to cohabit with their wives, once they had become mothers. In imitation of the Holy Quran he recited rhythmical sentences and bits of doggerel, which he had, himself composed, but gave out as having been revealed by God. He was endowed with a superb physique, and an attractive personality. He was a good speaker, and could sway the masses. He exploited these qualities and succeeded in winning over a considerable following. When asked by the Holy Prophet to abandon his pretensions, Musailma sent an impudent letter demanding the division of the Arabian peninsula into two halves, one part to be earmarked for the Muslims, and the other to be the exclusive reserve for Musailma and his followers. The Holy Prophet addressed him as Musailma, the Liar, and said that all land belonged to God, and He gave its control to such person as He willed. The Holy Prophet deputed Nahr-ar-Rajjal a Muslim convert from the tribe of Banu Hanifa to go back to his people and propagate Islam. On return to his tribe, Nahr-ar-Raijal fell a victim to the blandishments of Musalima. He declared falsely that he was witness to the fact that the Holy Prophet had acknowledged Musailma as co-sharer in the divine mission. That established the credentials of Musailma, and the number of his followers increased considerably,
Campaigns against Musailma. With the death of the Holy Prophet, Musailma gained in strength further. The general argument that prevailed with the people was that Muhammad (peace be on him) was dead while Musailma was alive, a living prophet was to be preferred to a dead prophet. Many tribes who were hostile to Islam joined his ranks. Abu Bakr originally entrusted the operations against Musailma to 'Ikramah son of Abu Jahl. Shurabbil bin Hasnah was to advance with another column to the assistance of' Ikramah. Abu Bakr issued strict orders that action against Musailma was to be taken only when the two columns joined together. 'Ikramah was the first to reach the Yamama valley where Musailma was lodged. Without waiting for Shurabbil, 'Ikramah launched an attack against Musailma. The Muslims were beaten back with considerable losses. When the news of the defeat reached Madina, Abu Bakr felt much distressed. He asked 'Ikramah not to return to Madina, but to proceed to light in South Arabia.
Some time later, Shurahbil arrived in the yamama valley with his column. He also opened an attack against Musailma without waiting for help. He was also beaten with considerable loss. Two successive defeats created an embarrassing situation for the Muslims. That raised the morale of the followers of Musailma who proudly declared that Musailma was indeed a prophet and divine help was on their side.