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: 2

Khalid had now resumed his march on what was to be the last leg of his journey to Hira. He decided to use the river for transport and had all the heavy loads of the army placed in boats. As the army advanced on camels and horses, the convoy of boats, manned and piloted by local Arabs, moved alongside. Khalid had not gone far, however, when the water level fell and the boats were grounded. The son of Azazbeh had dammed the river.

Leaving the army stranded at the bank of the Euphrates, Khalid took a detachment of cavalry and dashed off at a fast pace along the road to Hira. Before long he arrived at Badqala, to encounter the Persian horse sent forward by the son of Azazbeh as an outpost. These green Persians were no match for the Muslim veterans; and before they could organise themselves for defence, Khalid's horsemen bore down upon them and slaughtered them down to the last man. Next Khalid opened the dam so that the water flowed once again in the right channel; and the army resumed its advance by river.

The son of Azazbeh also was not as wakeful as, the situation demanded. In the belief that his outpost at Badqala was sufficient precaution against surprise by the Muslims-not for a moment doubting that the outpost would inform him of the approach of danger-he had relaxed his vigilance. Then suddenly he was hit by Khalid. Most of the Persians in this group were killed, including the young commander; but a few fast riders managed to get away to carry the sad news to Azazbeh.

From these riders Azazbeh heard of the loss of the cavalry group and the death of his son. From couriers who came from Ctesiphon he heard of the death of Ardsheer. Heartbroken at the loss of his son and staggered by the news of the Emperor's death, he found the burden of his responsibilities too heavy for his shoulders. He abandoned all intentions of defending Hira against Khalid; and crossing the Euphrates with his army, withdrew to Ctesiphon. Hira was left to the Arabs.

Khalid continued his advance towards his objective. It is not known when he abandoned the boats and took to the road, but this must have happened a few miles downstream of Hira. Expecting stiff opposition at Hira, Khalid decided not to approach it frontally. Moving his army round the left, he bypassed Hira from the west and appeared at Khawarnaq, which was a thriving town 3 miles north-north-west of Hira. 1 He passed through Khawarnaq and approached Hira from the rear. There was no opposition to his columns as they entered the city. The inhabitants were all there. They neither fled nor offered any resistance, and were left unmolested by the Muslim soldiers as they entered deeper into the city.

Soon the situation became clearer; it was a mixed situation of peace and war. Hira was an open city; the Muslims could have it. But the four citadels of Hira, each manned by strong garrisons of Christian Arabs and commanded by Arab chieftains, were prepared for defence and would fight it out. If Khalid wanted any of these citadels, he would have to fight for it.

Each of the four citadels had a palace in which the commanding chieftain lived; and each citadel was known after its palace. The citadels were: the White Palace commanded by Iyas bin Qubaisa ('King' of Iraq); the Palace of Al Adassiyin commanded by Adi bin Adi; the Palace of Bani Mazin commanded by Ibn Akal; and the Palace of Ibn Buqaila commanded by Abdul Masih bin Amr bin Buqaila.

Against each citadel Khalid sent a part of his army under a subordinate general. These generals, besieging the citadels in the order in which they have been mentioned above, were: Dhiraar bin Al Azwar, Dhiraar bin Al Khattab (no relation of Umar), Dhiraar bin Al Muqarrin and Muthanna. All the generals were ordered to storm the citadels; but before doing so they would offer the garrisons the usual alternatives-Islam, the Jizya or the sword. The garrisons would have one day in which to think it over. The generals moved out with their forces and surrounded the citadels. The ultimatum was issued. The following day it was rejected by the Christian Arabs and hostilities began.

1. Nothing remains of Khawarnaq but a mound 600 Yards west of the Nejef road.