The Sword of Allah - Khalid Bin Waleed (Ral)

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Chapter 23: The Conquest of Hira

 Part III: The Invasion of Iraq

 

Page: 1

"And the day we surrounded the citadels
One after another, at calm Hirah.
We forced them down from their thrones,
Where they had acted as cowardly opponents."

[ Al-Qa'qa' bin Amr, commander in Khalid's army]1

In the middle of May 633 (beginning of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 12 Hijri) Khalid marched from Ullais towards Amghishiya. This place was very near Ullais; in fact Ullais acted as an out post of Amghishiya! 2 The same morning the army reached Amghishiya, and found it a silent city.

Amghishiya was one of the great cities of Iraq-a rival the richness to Hira in size, in the affluence of its citizens and in find the and splendour of its markets. The Muslims arrived to city intact, and its markets and buildings abundantly stocked with wealth and merchandise of every kind; but of human beings there was no sign. The flower of Amghishiya's manhood had fallen at Ullais. Those who remained-mainly women and children and the aged-had left the city in haste on hearing of the approach of Khalid and had taken shelter in the neighbouring countryside, away from the route of the Muslim army. The fear which the name of Khalid now evoked had become a psychological factor of the highest importance in the operations of his army.

The Muslims took Amghishiya as part of the legitimate spoils of war. They stripped it of everything that could be lifted and transported, and in doing so accumulated wealth that dazzled the simple warriors of the desert. After it had been thoroughly ransacked, Khalid destroyed the city. 3 It is believed that the spoils taken here were equal to all the booty that had been gained from the four preceding battles in Iraq; and as usual, four-fifths of the spoils were distributed among the men while one-fifth was sent to Madinah as the share of the State.

By now the Caliph had become accustomed to receiving tidings of victory from the Iraq front. Every such message was followed by spoils of war which enriched the state and gladdened the hearts of the Faithful. But even Abu Bakr was amazed by the spoils of Amghishiya. He summoned the Muslims to the mosque and addressed them as follows:

"O Quraish! Your lion has attacked another lion and overpowered him. Women can no longer bear sons like Khalid!" 3

This was one of the finest compliments ever paid to Khalid bin Al Waleed.

These were difficult days for Azazbeh, governor of Hira. He had heard of the disaster that had befallen the Persian army, at Kazima, at the River, at Walaja and at Ullais; and it was obvious that Khalid was marching on Hira. If those large armies, commanded by distinguished generals, had crumbled before the onslaught of Khalid, could he with his small army hope to resist? There were no instructions from the ailing Emperor.

Azazbeh. was the administrator of Hira as well as the commander of the garrison. He was a high official of the realm-a 50,000 dirham-man. The Arab king of Hira, Iyas bin Qubaisa who has been mentioned earlier, was a king in name only. Other chieftains who were like princes of the realm also had no governmental authority except in purely Arab or tribal matters. It fell to Azazbeh to defend Hira; and as a true son of Persia, he resolved to do his best.

He got the army garrison out of its quarters and established a camp on the outskirts of Hira. From here he sent his son forward with a cavalry group to hold the advance of Khalid, and advised him to dam the Euphrates in case Khalid should think, of moving up in boats. This young officer rode out to a place where the River Ateeq joined the Euphrates, 12 miles downstream from Hira. Here he formed a base, from which he sent a cavalry detachment forward as an outpost to another river junction a few miles ahead, where the Badqala flowed into the Euphrates, a little above Amghishiya. 5

1. Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, Dar Abi Hayyan, Cairo, 1st ed. 1416/1996, Vol. 6 P. 425.
2. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 563; Amghishiya was also known as Manishiya.
3. Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 563.
4. Ibid.
5. The River Ateeq still exists. It is a small river, hardly more than a large stream, and may have been a canal in those days. Taking off from the area of Abu Sukhair, the Ateeq flows west of Euphrates, going up to 5 miles away from the main river, and rejoins the Euphrates a mile above modern Qadisiya (which is 8 miles south-east of the old, historical Qadisiya). In the latter part of its journey, this stream is also known as Dujaij. The Badqala was a canal or channel which joined the Euphrates near Amghishiya (Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 563). In his account of this operation, Tabari is both confusing and confused, and has got the two river junctions mixed up.