The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

Main Index
Chapter 18: The Clash with Persia

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 2

Between Shiruya and Yazdjurd there were about eight rulers in a period of four or five years, and these included two women-Buran and Azarmidukht, both daughters of Chosroes Parwez. The first of these, Buran, proved a wise and virtuous monarch but lacked the strong hand that was needed to arrest the decline in imperial affairs. She was crowned during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet, who, when he heard of her coronation, made his famous remark: "A nation will never prosper that entrusts its affairs to a woman!" 1

We will not go into a description of all the countries which comprised the geographical domain of the Persian Empire, but will confine ourselves to Iraq. Iraq then was not a sovereign State; it was substantially less than that. It was not merely a province; it was considerably more than that. Iraq was a land-one of the lands of the Persian Empire; and in its western and southern parts it was an Arab land.

The Arabs had been known in Iraq since the days of Bukht Nassar, 2 but did not then enjoy any power in the land. It was not until the early part of the Christian era, when a fresh migration of Arab tribes came to Iraq from the Yemen, that they began to command authority and influence. One of the great chiefs of these migrating Arabs, a man by the name of Malik bin Fahm, proclaimed himself king and began to rule over the western part of Iraq. Two generations after him the throne passed to Amr bin Adi, of the tribe of Lakhm, who started the Lakhmid Dynasty which was also at times called the House of Munzir. The kings of this dynasty ruled for many generations as vassals of the Persian Emperor.

The last of the House of Munzir was Numan bin Mundhir, who committed an act of disloyalty against Chosroes Parwez for which he was sentenced to death. The sentence was carried out in style-he was trampled to death by an elephant! This led to a revolt by the Arabs of Iraq, which was soon crushed by the Emperor, and with this abortive revolt ended the House of Munzir.

Chosroes then appointed a new king, Iyas bin Qubaisa of the tribe of Tayy, to rule over Iraq. For some years the new king enjoyed a reasonable degree of autonomy. Then most of his authority was taken away and Persian generals and administrators took over the entire government of the land. Iyas remained a titular king.

A land of culture, wealth and abundance, Iraq was the most prized possession of the Persian Empire. To the Arabs from the barren wastes of Arabia it was a green jewel, a land flowing with milk and honey. Its two mighty rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, were the greatest known rivers of the time-west of the Indus and north of the Nile. But these rivers did not then flow as they flow now, nor were the cities of Iraq then its cities of today. Kufa and Basra did not exist (they were founded in 17 Hijri). Baghdad was a small though much-frequented market town on the west bank of the Tigris. The then glorious cities of Ctesiphon and Hira are now turned to dust. Ctesiphon was the capital-a mighty metropolis and the seat of glory of the Persian Empire. Reportedly built by Ardsheer bin Babak (also, known as Ardsheer Babakan and Artaxerxes, the founder of the Sasanid Dynasty) it sprawled on both sides of the Tigris and was known to the Muslims as Madain, literally the Cities, for it consisted of several cities in one. 3 Hira was the capital of the Arab Lakhmid Dynasty. Situated on the west bank of the Euphrates, it was a glittering, throbbing city with many citadels. 4 And there was Uballa, the main port of the Persian Empire which was visited by ships from India and China and other maritime countries of the East. Uballa was also the capital of the military district of Dast Meisan. 5

1. Masudi: Tanbeeh, p. 90; Ibn Qutaiba: p. 666.
2. Nebuchadnezzar, Seventh-Sixth Century BC.
3. According to some sources, Ctesiphon existed before Ardsheer and was used by the Parthians as a winter residence.
4. The site of Hira is 12 miles south-east of Nejef and half a mile south of the present Abu Sukheir. Nothing remains of the ancient city except some traces of the White Palace which stood at the northern end of Hira. According to Gibbon (Vol. 5, p. 299), Hira was founded in 190 AD.
5. Uballa stood where the part of modern Basra known as Ashar stands today.