Imam Ibn Kathir spoke about this battle in his book “Al Bidaaya Wa Nihaaya” and focused a lot on the role of his Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah in it.
The confidence Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah had for achieving victory was great and he would swear saying that we will be victorious while the people would ask him to say “if Allah wills”. So he would reply “It will definitely happen. It does not need to be said “if Allah wills”.
– This is how the religious guides must be because no matter how great the size of his enemy, he must incite the people and plant the seed of hope and certainty in them, because as Abdullah al Adam said “The (real) loss is the loss of the fighting spirit”.
Ibn Taymiyyah went to Hama and informed them that the Egyptian and Syrian armies had made their decision and had agreed to fight, and so he asked them to also join. And the people of Hama agreed to join these armies.
– Likewise the role of the religious guides should be to unify the ranks, and not to split them, as the Tartars did not distinguish between an Egyptian, or a Syrian, or a Sunni or an innovator.
The people differed about the fight against the Tartars as to which category does the fight fall under (as categorized by the religion), and Shaykh ul Islam clarified and resolved the matter early.
So enlightening the people about what kind of fighting it is will remove the unclarity, and if this matter is not clarified and resolved there will remain doubts and a lot of worry about the legitimacy of the battle and its validity which will have a negative effect on the army’s unity and stability.
Ibn Taymiyyah said, “If you see me alongside the Tartars with a Mushaf (Quran) on my head, then kill me”.
– And here he is further clarifying by putting extra emphasis on the legitimacy of the battle. He wanted to totally remove any doubt and concern. So he said if you see me in the ranks of the Tartars then do not hesitate to kill me…! So be certain that you are upon the truth and I would be upon falsehood (if I join the ranks of the Tartars)…! And that the truth will not become falsehood and falsehood will not become the truth if I join the Tartars and be with them…! Here the Shaykh is telling them to follow the truth and not him as a person.
The Shaykh went out of the castle to attend the fighting and the people said to him “you have prevented us from leaving and here you are fleeing the country!!!” The Shaykh ul Islam did not reply to them but soon when he returned with the victorious army the people rejoiced at him and prayed for him and congratulated him for the good that Allah made possible at his hands.
– Likewise every reformer and his actions will be looked at with suspicion by the people a lot, so he should not pay attention to that but rather let his actions be an answer to them..! It was actions which changed the view of the people about Ibn Taymiyyah.
Ibn Taymiyyah also issued a Fatwa for the Mujahideen to break their fast during the days in Ramadan so that they would be strong before the fight, and he applied his Fatwa in practice. He went around meeting the soldiers and the leaders while eating, and so the people ate along with him.
– This shows how important it is for the one who gives the Fatwa to be the first one to act upon it himself so that the people will feel reassured. Otherwise they will say “If what you are saying is the truth then why don’t you act upon it?” And by that they will lose faith in the one who gives Fatwa and will spread doubts about him. So by him acting on his Fatwa, it firstly will leave the opponents no way to attack him, and secondly it will reassure the supporters and will make them trust in him.
(Refer to the book “Al Bidaaya Wa Nihaaya” (The beginning and the end) by Ibn Kathir (16/23)
– By Ahmed Al Hamdan