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ISLAMIC MEDICAL EDUCATION RESOURCES01

9612-PROJECT PLANNING, IMPLEMENTATION, AND EVALUATION

Paper at the International Leadership Training Program held at Islamabad 22 December - 6 January 1996 by Prof Dr Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr.  MB ChB, MPH, DrPH (Harvard) Faculty of Medicine International Islamic University PO Box 70 Jln Sultan Petaling Jaya Selangor DE 46700 Fax (603) 757 7970

OUTLINES

BACKGROUND

What is a project?

Project Plan

Project Director and project team

Scope of work

Basics of implementation

Monitoring

Timing and sequencing

Deadlines

Flexibility and contingency

Routines

Project management tips

Project control

Control of costs

Control of human resources

The control system

Project meetings

Evaluation

Quality

 

TEXT ANALYSIS

Completing tasks

Continuity of work

Be ready to change course in case of mistakes

Every action however small will be accounted for

Everyone is personally accountable

Evaluation too late for corrective action

Judge by what you see; the inside is unknown

The last actions determine how good job is

Uhud: the archers’ fault

Evaluation of the jisr debacle

 

DISCUSSION

Comparing traditional with matrix project structures

Self-evaluation

Documentation for project implementation

Control in your organization

Evaluation of events in the seerah

Evaluation of a critical incident

Stakeholder evaluation

Project life cycle

Project team

Project success

Process factors

 

BACKGROUND READING

INSTRUCTIONS: THE DISCUSSION LEADER OR THE MEMBERS (IN TURNS) WILL PRESENT THE MAIN POINTS IN THE BACKGROUND READING SECTIONS PRE-ASSIGNED THE PREVIOUS WEEK

 

WHAT IS A PROJECT?

A project is a group of activities carried out with clearly defined time and cost to reach specific objectives. A project is not routine or part of the day-to-day operations. The stages / life cycle of a project consists of: conception, feasibility study, project planning, project implementation, termination, and evaluation. A hard project starts off with a clear plan and objectives and all details worked out in advance. A soft project starts only with general and vague objectives and concrete details are developed as you go along

 

PROJECT PLAN

The advantages of project planning are: Reducing risk, Clarifying objectives, Setting standards for performance, Setting up structure for implementation, and Setting up a control system.. The components of a project plan are: Objectives, Methodology, Scheduling, Budget, Organizational structure, Procedures for control, Procedures for communication, and Performance standards. Thinking, planning, and information collection must finally reach a point of no return and must be followed by action.  Knowledge and information do not lead automatically to action. Many knowledgeable and creative people are not effective. Initiative, the ability to make choices are necessary for action.

 

PROJECT DIRECTOR AND PROJECT TEAM

A project director must be appointed very early in the life of the project and should participate in the planning process.  Terms of reference and authority for the director should be defined. A list of specific responsibilities should be drawn up for the director including: planning,  organizing, directing, and controlling. The project director must have the following leadership qualities: team leader, motivator, and negotiator.  Some large projects must have a project steering committee in addition to the director.  A project team must be set up. Explain the project to them and make sure they understand. You may use a traditional hierarchical system or matrix system (skills matrix). Make sure that you balance personalities. Identify internal and external stakeholders, analyze their open and hidden agendas, plan how to manage them. Define the project stage that concerns every stake holder.

 

SCOPE OF WORK

The scope of work statement describes the work to be performed including specifications. Brain-storm to identify project tasks and group them as key stages of the project. Order key stages in a logical order taking into account any dependencies. Assign duration to each stage. Break down key stages into several levels of detail. Develop an operational plan for each key stage allowing for contingencies. Budget carefully and avoid the following mistakes in budgeting: inaccurate scope of work statement, lack of standards, wrong work schedules, inaccurate time estimates, and ignoring inflation. Determine project milestones (start, end, and duration of each stage) and represent them on a chart or graphically making sure you allow for float time. Plan human resource allocation by day and assign tasks to individuals by name. A linear responsibility chart shows the task, who is responsible, and the estimated time. Establish control procedures. You should not plan to the last detail. Leave room for creativity of the implementors. The plan must be updated continuously during implementation.

 

BASICS OF IMPLEMENTATION

Project implementation proceeds through stages, also called the project planning and control cycle: planning, mobilization of resources, definition of tasks, task assignments, communication. Implementation is an important management function that is often neglected. The components of Implementation are: Inputs, Transformation, and Outputs (products or services). You start with inputs and transform them into outputs. Implementation is the process of transformation. Implementation thus has a beginning and an end. Implementation involves breaking down the work into manageable steps or tasks, costing, scheduling, follow-up, control. Successful implementation is an art that is learned through experience.

 

In our experience many group projects do not succeed not for lack of insight or necessary resources but because of missing or poor implementation.. The reasons for things not getting done are usually: Vision not clear, Goals too big, Task unpleasant, Indecision, lack of confidence, Poor planning , Time not enough, and Distractions. In many cases, the problem is not poor implementation but lack of inertia and momentum to do something. Lack of vision, purpose, objectives, and self confidence are causes of inertia. Action deficiency disease that is pervasive in many communities. Failure to carry out things that have to be done leads to loss of credibility. Your actions must be consistent with your words. Do not tell others to do things that you yourself fail to do. Action deficiency disease sometimes manifests as an attempt to claim credit for work not done. The claim may be purely fabricated fantasies or taking credit for work done by others. Being overwhelmed by too many projects may result in inaction. You succeed by trying, there is no movement without trying. The more you try to exert yourself, the more likely is the success.

 

Take action to make sure that what you want to happen will actually happen. Never wait for anything to happen on its own. Do not procrastinate when action is what is called for. When you have exerted your maximum human effort in planning and preparation, act and rely on Allah for the results. The implementation strategy must be built in the action plan. An implementation team must be set for each project. Successful implementation requires good team management skills. You must learn dealing with different personalities. The implementor has to make decisions constantly. Some are long-term strategic decisions. Others are tactical/operational covering a period of 1 year. Others are day-to-day operational decisions. Paper-work and bureaucracy are enemies of successful implementation if overused. Both effectiveness (achieving targets) and efficiency (doing things right at minimum cost) are important in implementation. Successful implementation strikes due balance between the two.

 

A manager must have vision, good planning, follow-up and follow-through for successful implementation. Successful implementation requires, in addition,  proper knowledge and skill, clear well written goals (specific, flexible, realistic), clear priorities, a clear plan of action, and emphasis on quality control (QC), quality assurance (QA) and quality improvement (QI).

 

MONITORING

Graphic representation is effective when used to display project activities, duration of the various tasks, and an indication of the sequence of activities that are most critical at the time of project completion (the critical path). PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technic) involves deciding what functions should be performed and what activities will be necessary as well as estimating the resources needed. Continuous monitoring helps you identify errors and take preventive or corrective action. In some cases the baseline plan may have to be changed. Modern computer technology can be used to make project monitoring and control more timely and more efficient.

 

TIMING AND SEQUENCING

Timing and sequencing of tasks and activities is important. Tasks well done but in the wrong sequence can wreak havoc on the whole project. Tasks once started must be completed. Work must be continuous; a bust of activity followed by long periods of inactivity is a recipe for failure. It is better to do little at a time, do it well, and do it all the time.

 

DEADLINES

Deadlines must be kept. Whenever a deadline is not reached or when there is a deadline crisis in project implementation, an audit must be carried out to find the causes and learn from the experience for the benefit of future projects. The following questions must be asked of every deadline crisis: What did I do to create the crisis? What was the distraction? How was time wasted? Will problems recur? What was the role of conflict? What did I learn?

 

FLEXIBILITY AND CONTINGENCY

Each situation requires a specific approach, we can not use a manual. Emergency situations do occur. They may be occasional or may occur at expected milestones. Anticipation of as many problem as possible and preparing contingency plans for them is the secret of successful Implementation. You must always have well-worked out contingency plans to deal with the usual problems that usually occur.  Despite the best of anticipatory planning surprises always occur. Successful implementation requires highly developed skills in improvising to deal with unexpected surprises.

 

ROUTINES

Implementation routines have advantages and disadvantages. You must know when to use a routine. Application should be automatically triggered by the relevant situation. The implementor must understand the routine in order to use it well.. Implementation is not time for thinking about actions and their motivations. There is no time to think about alternative courses of action. All thought must be about implementing the set plan. 

 

PROJECT MANAGEMENT TIPS

Project management is a pro-active effort. If you wait for things to happen and you only react you will fail very rapidly. Simplicity is a key to successful implementation. Any procedure that requires involved explanation is likely to fail. Actions must be simple, doable and with a potential to be effective. Project implemenation requires a lot of pragmatism and being practical. Everything is possible. You have to take the best action in a given situation. A successful implementor is both practical and pragmatic. Pragmatism means being in tune with the environment and pursuing the art of the possible. Sometimes he word pragmatic takes on a negative coloration to mean lack of principles. You can be pragmatic while being principled and walking in the moral lane. You will need to remember that the end never justifies the means. Project implemenation requires a lot of pragmatism and being practical. Everything is possible. You have to take the best action in a given situation. After a lot of implementation experience you may develop your intuition to the point that you can guess right and be "street smart". Incrementalism is an implementation method appropriate for situations with uncertain information. You assess the situation as you go along and do what is possible and is practical. In order to be effective we have to accept some degree of risk. Trying to play safe and be perfect may destroy initiative for action. You must maintain a project diary in which all significant project events are written. Good documentation reduces errors and misunderstandings. Projects involve managing people. Interpersonal relations are crucial. You have to delegate many of the responsibilities in order to have time to carry out leadership functions such as planning and control. Good communication is needed. You must make sure that instructions are understood and are carried out in time. Negotiation ability is necessary. You have to negotiate win-win with many people to obtain cooperation and finish the project. The terminal stages of the project are as important as the start. You must plan the termination carefully. Fix a termination date in advance and advertise it. Plan for the post-project period.

 

PROJECT CONTROL

Control is assuring that plans are carried out effectively and efficiently. It is an important management function because it helps overcome some of the problems of human limitations by providing a systematic and methodological approach to ensuring compliance. Planning and control are interdependent. The project control system is determined by the plan. The plan will be changed from the findings of the control system. Plan implementation will be modified in case of mistakes. Project monitoring is checking to make sure that everything is going well and according to the set plan. It aims at making sure that work is progressing according to schedule and that costs are within the approved budget. Tracking is use of monitoring information and results to update the base plan

 

Steering control is continuous monitoring of performance with corrective measures being taken as soon evidence predicts deviation from the desired target. Observation and monitoring of performance should be continuous; anecdotal observations do not help.

 

Seeds and symptoms of organizational decay or project failure can be detected early and corrective action taken if efficient control mechanisms are in place.

 

Many people and organizations commit mistakes and are on a failure path without realizing it. They think that they are doing well. Deviations from the plan that are insidious in onset and progress slowly are more likely to me missed than sudden and dramatic ones.

 

Control can not discover or prevent all mistakes. Any human system is liable to error. What is important is to detect as many errors as possible and as early as possible so that corrective action can be taken.

 

The project control system may uncover problems. Care must be taken not to take symptoms as primary problems. The underlying problems must be unraveled. The problem must de identified, described, and analyzed. Data should be collected to better define the problem in more detail and identify primary and secondary causes.

 

Problem solving requires action plans to address the problem. The action plan should define the strategy and objectives as well as the tactics to achieve the objectives. The action plan should be implemented immediately. Its impact should be evaluated. Some apparent problems may be the tip of an iceberg of many underlying problems to be uncovered and resolved.

 

While studying and resolving problems, you should not stop project execution because that will demotivate the project team members. In practice this implies that problem solving must be quick to make sure that necessary corrections are made before the project proceeds too far.

 

CONTROL OF COSTS

Project costs must be controlled. Every project team member must be conscious of cost control. The accounting system should be set up in such a way that data is available for each key stage and for each activity. The operational budget must be compared to the approved budget.

 

Monitoring project costs must be done in detail. If the general organizational accounting system can not provide the level of detail required you should consider setting up a separate system for the project. The system should be simple and straightforward and should not be a generator of unnecessary paperwork. The following parameters are considered: actual cost of work performed, budgeted cost of work performed,  and budgeted cost of work scheduled. Cost overrun is computed as the difference between the actual cost of work performed and the budgeted cost of work performed

 

CONTROL OF HUMAN RESOURCES

The most important factor in project implementation are human resources. No amount of control however judicious will get good results out of demotivated, weak-willed workers. Thus control should not be a substitute for good planning, selection of qualified workers and training them, and providing the right environment for successful work. Each worker should be treated as an individual. There should be no expectations of performance beyond individual capacity. Control is sometimes misunderstood to mean personal control over individuals. If used in this way it leads to negative results. You control systems and not people. You seek to understand problems so that you may solve them. You are not going after individuals, apportioning blame and punishing. Control should not be seen as an end in itself. The overall goals of the organization should always be kept in mind. Too much or wrong misguided control could appear successful in the short run but destroy the organization in the long run. Over-control destroys creativity, results in a negative atmosphere within the organization, and demotivates workers. Control may be internal or external. Internal control is achieved by instilling consciousness of Allah in the worker, instilling pride in good workmanship, and hope for thawab. Control intrinsic within the worker (self control) is more effective and permanent than external control. External control depends on bureaucratic control tools, rewards and punishments.

 

THE CONTROL SYSTEM

Control activities may be described by their timing, by the planning level, management functions or organizational unit. Control activities may be pre-action, ie before start of implementation. They may be concurrent with project implementation. They may also occur at the end of the implementation. Control may be at the level of strategy or at the level of tactical plans or at the level of day-to-day operational plans. Control may concentrate on particular management functions such as problem solving, or planning. Control may also concentrate on particular departments of the organization such as finance, personnel, dawa, education etc

 

A good control system must be flexible, timely, accurate, cost-effective, understandable, acceptable, and objective.

 

Control proceeds in 4 stages: setting objectives and standards, measuring actual performance, comparing actual to expected performance, and taking the necessary corrective/reinforcement measures

 

The control program can not ensure perfect performance in everything and trade-offs may be accepted. Trade-offs can be among the following:  costs, time, resources, and performance

 

Possible reasons for change of base plans: Overoptimistic estimates, Omissions, Lack of resources, Loss of resources, Change of strategic plans during implementation, Poor team work

 

The following factors must be considered in making changes in plans: Budget implications, Time implications, Impact on objectives, Impact on resources, Impact on other projects

 

Control requires setting up an efficient and timely reporting procedure. The project team and stakeholders must be involved in setting up the reporting system.. Written progress reports are superior to oral reports. They are more concise, formal, and force the reporter to be more organized. A standard format could be established for each project. The nature of the project determines the frequency of reporting. The report should not be a secret document. It should be widely distributed among members of the project team. Exception reports should be generated in cases of deviation from the plan. A standard format could be used for them as well.  All changes to the base plan should be documented: details of the change, reason for the change, financial and other implications of the change, revised forecasts of project milestone and completion dates. All various reports generated should be logged so that they are easy to retrieve.

 

Managers must be given enough authority to resolve control issues in areas of their responsibility. Not having sufficient authority to put things right is very frustrating.

 

The control program can fail for one of the following reasons: resistance, inaccurate information, rigid bureaucracy,  negligent management, too rapid changes, and when the  organization is overstretched

 

PROJECT MEETINGS

Types of project meetings: Informal one to one, Informal short team meetings, Formal project progress meetings, Formal project review meetings (involve stakeholders), Negotiations with functional managers

 

Purpose of project progress meetings: Review action plans from previous meetings, Update processes,

Discuss and solve problems, Anticipate problems, Assess, Forecast, Motivate, Deal with grievances

 

Project review meetings require good preparation. Written reports should be given to the participants in advance to study. During the meeting oral presentations should be brief and should concentrate on the following points: what is going well, what are the problems encountered, what action is planned to correct the problem, what decisions need be made, and what are the problems anticipated in the future. An action list from the meeting should be distributed.

 

EVALUATION

Objectives of evaluation are: Assess whether objectives were achieved, Assess efficiency, Assess effectiveness, learn from experience

 

Benefits/uses of evaluation are: Identify success and reinforce, Help management see areas of weakness and improvement, Reassure workers that they are moving well, Reassure stake-holders, Gain confidence of supporters and donors. If the results of an evaluation process are not used to improve future performance the evaluation has not achieved its purpose

 

Types of evaluation are: (a) What is evaluated?: Evaluation may be of the process or the end-results (b)

Who does it: internal or external (c) When is done: active throughout the project - post project after the declared finish date (helps future projects)

 

Evaluation of individual performance is a type of control. People should be ranked according to their performance. Individual workers are judged by outward actions; the inner intentions can not be known. A good worker produces results of the quality expected. A bad one does not. The following methods can be used in performance appraisal: rating scale, ranking, descriptive essay, check-list, and critical incidence analysis. Only objective criteria should be used in performance appraisal. You should avoid any emotional considerations. The following factors/criteria are considered: effectiveness, efficiency, thoroughness, initiative, perseverance, loyalty, responsibility and commitment, and technical skills. Feed-back is very important to let the worker know where he stands. Positive feedback if consistent and timely is a powerful motivator.  Negative feed-back should be specific, and fair. Criticism is directed to the bad actions and not the individual. At no time should the person criticized feel that he is attacked personally.

 

Incompetence in whatever form should not be tolerated because it will eventually hurt the organization. Performance problems will not disappear on their own. They have to be confronted head-on immediately. Hard decisions may have to be taken. No action should be taken against a non-performing employee until the cause is carefully diagnosed.

 

Leaders and managers of public organizations must feel accountable to Allah, their superiors, the governing boards, the members, and the stakeholders. Leaders and managers may be tempted to corruption. Some may confuse private with personal interest. Others may even turn subversive. It is therefore important to keep a close watch on them. They can avoid close scrutiny because they have custody of the information. People in a bureaucracy protect one another in cases of scrutiny. Transparency of the organization provides an opportunity for followers to play a watch-dog role by continuously observing all what is going on in the organization so that they can intervene when an abuse is detected.

 

Contents of Project final report are: Objectives, Project schedule, Review of project process, Problems encountered and how resolved, Recommendations

 

Criteria for project success are: Keeping the schedule, Finishing  within budget, Meeting  all project objectives, Meeting stakeholder expectations

 

Evaluation has several limitations: Evaluation is post action. It answers the question whether the objectives of the plan are achieved. Evaluation is too late to be of use to the current project. Its findings are however useful for future projects that are of a similar nature. Evaluation tends to be affected a lot by the activities towards the end of the project. A project that has been performing badly may get a good evaluation when it ends well; all is well that ends well. A project that was performing well throughout its life may get a bad evaluation when it fails towards the end. Evaluation is judgment by what you see. The inner intentions and motivation can never be known. There are a few cases when evaluation is unfair. The outward results may not reflect all the intentions, sincerity, and commitment of the worker. There is little that can be done to alleviate this unfairness because the factors involved cannot measured objectively by humans.

 

QUALITY

Continuous quality improvement (QI) is a management philosophy that is committed to continuous and consistent improvement in quality. It involves training for quality, making the necessary changes in the organizational structure, It is both long-term and short-term. Long-term QI should be the main aim. QI is consistent with the Islamic concept of IHSAAN. Improvement must be continuous. Humans can never reach perfection and rest on their laurels. They must always strive to approach it; the nearer the better. Quality assurance or quality improvement is a type of control. Muslims must be leaders of quality because this is the very essence of their creed. The concept of IHSAN is the basis of quality. A Muslim tries to achieve excellence in whatever he does. He seeks to improve every day. We talk of quality improvement rather than quality control or quality assurance. The aim is not to perform at a pre-set standard but to constantly improve and get better.

 

Quality requires a change in organizational culture so that all members take pride in quality work. Material incentives or punishments are not sufficient to assure  quality. Free exchange of information and ideas without fear of censure, a non-judgmental approach, sharing authority, cooperation and not competition help foster a culture of quality improvement.

 

The debate over which is more important, quantity or quality, is irrelevant. Both are important. Good management does not trade one for the other. It has the skill to produce the optimal quantity needed at the optimal quality desired. Of course both quantity and quality are affected by the resources available to management.

TEXT ANALYSIS

INSTRUCTIONS: READ OUT EACH TEXT ALOUD TWO TIMES. MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE MAIN POINTS RAISED. WRITE DOWN THE MAIN LESSON(S) YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM THE TEXT.

 

COMPLETING TASKS

            "Aisha reported the Apostle of Allah ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: Choose such actions as you are capable of performing, for Allah does not grow weary till you do. The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done most continuously, even if they amount to little, Whenever he began an action, he would do it continuously" Abu Daud 1:358, Chapter 468, Hadith # 1363

 

CONTINUITY OF WORK:

            "Aisha reported Allah's Messenger ( may peace be upon him ) as saying: The acts most pleasing to Allah are those which are done continuously, even if they are small, and when Aisha did any act she did it continuously" Muslim 1: 377-378, Chapter 273, Hadith # 1713

 

BE READY TO CHANGE COURSE IN CASE OF MISTAKES

"Narrated Aisha : Abu Bakr As-Siddiq had never broken his oaths till Allah revealed the expiation for the oaths. Then he said, " If I take an oath to do something and later on I find something also better than the first one then I do what is better and make expiation for my oaths" Bukhari 8:404, hadith # 618

 

EVERY ACTION HOWEVER SMALL WILL BE ACCOUNTED FOR:

Then shall anyone who has done an atom's weight of good, see it! And anyone who has done an atom's weight of evil, shall see it.  Qur'an 99:7-8

 

EVERYONE IS PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE:

Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. That man can have nothing but what he strives for. That ( the fruit of ) his striving will soon come in sight. Then will he be rewarded with a reward complete. Qur'an 53:38-41

 

EVALUATION TOO LATE FOR CORRECTIVE ACTION

"Ali bin Abi Talib said, " The world is going backwards and the Hereafter is coming forwards, and each of the two has its own children; so you should be the children of the Hereafter, and do not be the children of this world, for today there is  action ( good or bad deeds ) but no accounts, and tomorrow there will be accounts, but ( there will be ) no deeds to be done" Bukhari 8:285

 

JUDGE BY WHAT YOU SEE; THE INSIDE IN UNKNOWN:

"Narrated Umar bin al Khattab : People were ( sometimes ) judged by the revealing of a Divine Inspiration during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle but now there is no longer any more ( new revelation ). Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good" Bukhari 3:491, hadith # 809

 

THE LAST ACTIONS DETERMINE HOW GOOD JOB IS

"Narrated Sahl As-Sadi: The Prophet looked at a man fighting against the pagans and he was one of the most competent persons fighting on behalf of the Muslims. The Prophet said, " Let him who wants to look at a man from the dwellers of the ( Hell ) fire, look at this ( man )" Another man followed him and kept on following him till he ( the fighter ) was injured and seeking of die quickly he placed the blade tip of his sword between his breasts and leaned over it till it passed through his shoulders ( i.w. committed suicide)." The Prophet added, " A person may do deeds that seem to the people as  the deeds of the people of Paradise while in fact, he is from the dwellers of the ( Hell ) fire; and similarly a person may do deeds that seem to the people as deeds of the people of the ( Hell ) fire while in fact, he from the dwellers of Paradise. Verily the ( results of ) deeds done, depend upon the last actions" Bukhari 8:330-331, hadith # 506

 

UHUD: THE ARCHERS' FAULT:

According to Harun b. Ishaq--Mus'ab b. al‑Miqdam--Isra'll; and lalso) Ibn Waki'--his father--Isra'll--Abu Ishaq--al‑Bara': When it was the day of Uhud and the Messenger of God met the polytheists, he stationed certain men as archers and put them un­der the command of 'Abd Allah b. Jubayr, with the order, "If you see us victorious over them, do not leave your position, and if you see them victorious over us, do not come to our assistance." When battle was joined, the polytheists were put to flight, and I saw the women tucking up their skirts in flight and exposing their anklets. A cry went up of "Booty, booty!" 'Abd Allah said, "Not so fast! Do you not know the orders the Messenger of God gave you?" They refused to listen to him, however, and left. When they reached the others, God turned away their faces and seventy of the Muslims were killed. Tabari 7:113

 

EVALUATION OF JISR DEBACLE

Rustam asked, "Which of the Persians is the strongest in fighting the Arabs in your opinion?" They answered, "Bahman Jadhuyah." Therefore he dispatched him along with elephants. He also sent back al‑Jalinus with him and said to him, "Send al‑Jalinus ahead. If he returns to the like of his defeat, then cut off his head." Bahman Jadhuyah advanced, having with him the Great Standard (dirafsh kabiyan) the standard of Kisra, which was made of tiger skins to a length of eighty cubits by a width of twelve cubits. Abu 'Ubayd advanced to stop at al‑Marwahah, where the tower and the bend in the river are. Bahman Jadhuyah sent a message to him, "Either you cross over to us, and we will allow you to cross, or else you let us cross over to you." The men said, "Do not cross, O Abu 'Ubayd! We will prevent you from crossing." They also told him, "Say to them that they should cross over." Among the harshest of the people against him regarding that was Salit. But Abu 'Ubayd was unyield­ing and left aside the [wise] opinion, saying, "They will not risk death more than we. Rather, we will cross over to them." Thus, they crossed over to the enemy, who were in a narrow site with regard to both pursuit and flight. They fought for a day, Abu 'Ubayd having with him between six and ten [thousand men] until, when it was the day's end and a man from among the Thaqif considered the victory to be slow [in com­ing], he drew the men Icloser] together. The two sides struck each other with swords. Abu 'Ubayd struck the elephant, while the ele­phant hit Abu 'Ubayd. The swords had worked quickly among the Persians of whom six thousand were struck down in the melee. Only defeat remained and was expected [by them]. But when Abu 'Ubayd was hit and the elephant stood upon him, the Muslims fled and then continued in flight. The Persians rode down on them. A man from the Thaqif, getting to the bridge first, cut it. The troops tben reached it, while the swords were taking them from behind and fell into the Euphrates. They struck down four thousand of the Muslims on that day between those drowned and killed. Al‑Mu­thanna protected the troops, as did 'Asim, al‑Kalaj al‑Dabbi, and Madh'ur, until they repaired the bridge and brought the men across. Then they [themselves] crossed in their traces. They stayed at al­-Marwahah, while al‑Muthanna lay wounded, and also al‑Kalaj, Madh'uri and 'Asim, who were the protectors of the troops along with al‑Muthanna. Many of the men fled, taking their own way, and so disgraced themselves and felt ashamed of what had happened to them. [News of] it reached 'Umar from certain of those who had sought refuge in Medina. He said, "Worshippers of God! O God, every Muslim is absolved of his oath to me. I am the party of every Muslim May God have mercy on Abu 'Ubayd; if he had crossed and then taken refuge on the riverside or had he retreated to us, not trying to defy death, we would have been his party [of supporters]."

Professor Omar Hasan Kasule December 1996