The Islamic Openings
THE OPENING OF PERSIA
The Reasons behind the Opening
Al-'Ala' ibn Hadrami was a Companion of the Prophet whom the Prophet ~ appointed to govern Bahrain. When the Prophet ~ died, Al-`Ala' was still the governor of Bahrain, and the first caliph, Abu Bakr, approved of this, as did 'Umar after him. AI-' Ala' was known for his military strategies in the battles against the apostates.
This Companion then wanted to compete with Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas and accomplish a distinguished deed, especially after Sa'd's great victories in Al-Qadisiyah. So he talked to 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab about opening some parts of Persia through Bahrain. 'Umar objected to the idea because he was worried and anxious about the Muslims. However, Al-'Ala' disobeyed his caliph, underestimating the consequences thereof. He called on the people of Bahrain, urging them to fight Persia. They hastened to him and presented themselves. He divided them into groups, then sent them by ship to Persia without the permission of his commander. 'Umar did not give permission .to anyone to raid by sea. Yet, these troops crossed the sea to Persia and went to Istukhur, a city that held the treasures of the Persian kings before Islam. It lay on a rocky hill near the Bandamir River. There, the Persians confronted them and blocked them from reaching their ships. Realizing this, the Muslims fought desperately and defeated them, yet their ships were sunk. They headed to Basra but had no means of returning by sea, and this was what 'Umar had feared. Later, the Muslims found Shahrak before them. He took them unawares and blocked their way, so they camped in their places and refrained from fighting.
When this bad news reached 'Umar and he knew of Al-'Ala’s rash act that jeopardized his army, he was furious and discharged him and threatened to punish him. He ordered Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas to be his commander and ordered AI, Ala' to follow Sa'd.
'Umar wrote to 'Utbah ibn Ghazwan, the governor of Basra, to send some troops to save the army that Al-'Ala' had wrongly sent to Persia. 'Utbah at once mobilized twelve thousand soldiers under the command of Abu Sabrah ibn Abi Rahm. He marched with his army till he reached Shahrak, who was surrounding the army of Bahrain. They fought and defeated him thoroughly, thus saving their Muslim brothers. Then they returned to Basra and the people of Bahrain returned home through Basra.
The Defeat of AI-Hurmuzan
After the triumph of the Muslims in the Battle of Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Hurmuzan was forced to go to Khuristan, which he seized after killing its citizens. Afterwards, he raided on the people of Misan and Distmisan. Misan was an area famous for its abundant villages and palm trees that lay between Basra and Waset, while Distmisan was a place between Waset, Basra and Ahwaz. Al-Hurmuzan raided on these two places via two routes: through Munadhir -near Bukharistan -and the Tairi River.
'Utbah ibn Ghazwan, the governor of Basra, sent to Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas asking for reinforcements. The latter sent Na'im ibn Muqrin and Na'im ibn Mas'ud. He ordered them to come from above Misan and Distmisan till they reached a position between the two cities and the Tairi River, i.e., from the direction of Ahwaz.
'Utbah directed Sulma ibn Al-Qain and Harmalah ibn Muritah -both of whom were Muhajirun -to camp on the borders of the land of Misan and Distmisan midway between them and Munadhir. They invited their cousins Ghalib Al-Wa'ili and Kulaib ibn Wa'il Al-Kulaibi, who came out to them.
Sulma and Harmalah said to them, "You are our kin. On such-and-such day, fight against Al-Hurmuzan, for one of us will fight at Munadhir and the other by the Tairi River. We will kill the assaulting troops, then afterwards we will come to you, and nothing, Allah willing, will keep us from Al-Hurmuzan."
The two men returned and responded to the sons of their uncle Ibn Malik, as did their people. They were residing in Khuristan, one of the provinces of Persia, to the west of which lay Baghdad. It had vast fields and meadows in which were bred large numbers of cattle before Islam. Its people knew and trusted them.
On the night planned, Al-Hurmuzan was camping between Delth and the Tairi River~ Sulma ibn Al-Qain was leading the people of Basra and Na'im ibn 'Amr ibn Muqrin was leading the people of Kufa.
The two parties fought, then the Muslims were reinforced by Ghalib and Kulaib.
Al-Hurmuzan was informed that Munadhir and the Tairi River were now under the control of the Muslims. He was thus terrified and weakened, together with his army. Consequently, they were defeated and fled.
The Muslims pursued them and the other vanquished Persians till they reached a river called the Dujail. There were two Dujail Rivers. One ended above Baghdad between Tikrit and faced Al-Qadisiyah. The other was a river in Ahwaz winding through the land of Asbahan to the Persian Sea. They seized the surrounding land and camped opposite to the market of Ahwaz, while Al-Hurmuzan crossed the river that separated the two armies.
Seeing the power and firmness of the Muslims and their pursuit of the fleeing Persians, Al-Hurmuzan requested to reconcile with them.
'Utbah ibn Ghazwan agreed with him: "To Al-Hurmuzan, the joy of the soul, will be the banks surrounding the Tairi River and Munadhir and what he succeeded to seize of the market of Ahwaz, and it will not be taken from him." Then 'Utbah stationed Sulma ibn Al-Qain in Munadhir and Ghalib Al-Wa'il was the ruler. Harmalah ibn Muritah was stationed at the Tairi River and Kulaib ibn Wa'il Al-Kulaibi was the ruler.
Yazdigird Fights the Muslims Again
After Al-Qadisiyah, Yazdigird fled to Merv, where he stayed urging the Persians to fight against the Muslims. They were moved and their zeal was ignited to fight. They exchanged messages with the people of Ahwaz, pledging to protect, defend and help. News of these arrangements reached Harqus ibn Zuhair, Sulma ibn Al-Qain and Harmalah ibn Muritah, so they wrote to the Commander of the Faithful asking for advice.
`Umar wrote to Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqas ordering him to send a large army under the command of Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin to Ahwaz. He advised him to be swift and to beware Al-Hurmuzan.
He also wrote to 'Abdullah ibn Qais known as Abu Musa Al- Ash'ari, the governor of Basra, to send a huge army to Ahwaz led by Sahl ibn `Adi, the brother of Suhail ibn 'Adi. And with him he was to send Al-Bara' ibn Malik -brother of Anas ibn Malik, the servant of the Prophet -as well as Majza'ah ibn Thaur, Arjafah ibn Hurthumah and others.
The people of Basra and Kufa were led by Abu Sabrah ibn Abi Rahm, who was a Companion of the Quraish. He had embraced Islam a long time before and had witnessed the battles of Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq, and other events with the Prophet ~, who had made him the brother in faith of Salmah ibn Waqsh.
Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin advanced with the people of Kufa to Ahwaz on mules, for they avoided horses. He left Harqus ibn Zuhair, Sulma ibn Al-Qain and Harmalah ibn Muritah behind and marched towards Al-Hurmuzan, who was in Ramhurmuz. He encountered Al-Hurmuzan's army in Abek -a place in the region of Ahwaz with villages and fields. They fought and Al-Hurmuzan was defeated and fled to Tustur.
Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin proceeded to Ramhurmuz, where he camped.
Afterwards, the army of Basra and Kufa, along with the other generals, assembled and besieged Al-Hurmuzan in Tustur in trenches. All the armies were led by Abu Sabrah ibn Abi Rahm. They besieged the Persians for more than a month and assaulted them. They attacked eighty times and it was a tough battle between the two.
Finally, the Muslims broke through the trenches of the Persians and entered their cities after a hard struggle. Al-Hurmuzan sought refuge in the castle but when he realized that the Muslims had blockaded all the ways, he called to his fellows and soldiers, "I give you my hand to yield to the sovereignty of 'Umar to do whatever he likes to me." The Muslims captured and chained him and seized Tustur. They then sent the vanguards of the army to fight the Persians who were in the cities surrounding Tustur. In this battle, Al- Hurmuzan killed Majza'ah ibn Thaur and Al-Bara' ibn Malik and many other Muslims. `Abdullah ibn Qais returned to Basra at the order of 'Umar.
AI-Hurmuzan Captive in the City of Allah's Messenger
Abu Sabrah ibn Abi Rahm sent Al-Hurmuzan with a detachment of his troops to 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab. When they reached Madinah, they dressed Al-Hurmuzan in his silk garments with gold ornaments and his ruby-inlaid crown so that 'Umar could see him in this form. They did not find 'Umar in his house but inquired and learned he was in the mosque.
When the group entered the mosque with Al-Hurmuzan, they found 'Umar in a nook lying asleep on his burnoose with his stick in his hand. On seeing this, Al-Hurmuzan wondered aloud, "Where is 'Umar?"
The Muslims pointed at him and said, "Here he is."
Al-Hurmuzan was astonished. "Where are his guards and chamberlains?" Still unable to believe, he added, "He must be a prophet."
They said, "No, but he lives like the prophets."
Disturbed by the noise of the speakers, 'Umar sat up, looked at Al-Hurmuzan and asked, "Is this Al-Hurmuzan?"
"Yes, Commander of the Faithful."
'Umar gazed at him and at his attire and said, "I pray to Allah to forbid us from Hell and I seek His aid. Thanks be to Allah, Who by Islam has humiliated this person and the likes of him."
'Umar looked round him and said, "O Muslims! Adhere to this religion and follow the guidance of your Prophet ~ and do not be tempted by life with its allurements, for it is deceiving."
'Umar then ordered them to take off all the ornaments and the rich attire that Al-Hurmuzan was wearing and to dress him in ordinary clothes.
Afterwards, he asked him "Why did you violate the treaty several times?"
Al-Hurmuzan replied, "I'm afraid you'll kill me before I tell you."
'Umar assured him, "Nothing will be done to you till you tell me."
Al-Hurmuzan asked for some water and it was brought to him. He seized the cup with shaking hands and said, "I'm afraid to be killed while I'm drinking."
'Umar told him, "Nothing will be done to you till you drink it."
Al-Hurmuzan spilled the water on the ground without drinking.
'Umar said, "Bring him another and don't let him suffer from killing and thirst."
Al-Hurmuzan said, "I didn't need any water, I just wanted to feel secured by it."
"I'll kill you."
"But you secured me."
"You're a liar."
Arias ibn Malik said, "Excuse me, Commander of the Faithful, he's right. You secured him."
'Umar said angrily, "What are you saying, Anas? I secured the killer of Majza'ah ibn Thaur and Al-Bara' ibn Malik? I swear by Allah that if you don't find a way out for yourself, I'll punish you."
Anas said, "You told him, 'Nothing will be done to you till you tell me’ and ‘Nothing will be done to you till you drink it.’”
The Muslims around 'Umar said, "Yes, you did."
'Umar went to Al-Hurmuzan and said, "You deceived me. By Allah, I am not to be deceived by any except a Muslim."
Al-Hurmuzan declared his faith, saying, "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger."
Consequently, when Al-Hurmuzan declared his belief in Islam, 'Umar ordered some money of about two thousand dirhams for him and made him reside in Madinah.
'Umar ibn Al-Khattab received several messages stating that the Persians were gathering in Nahawand. Thus, he gave the permission for the Muslim armies to advance in Persia.
Abu Sabrah camped in Sus, a town in Khuzastan, and Al-Muqtarib ibn Rabi'ah took his place in governing Basra.
Al-Muqtarib ibn Rabi'ah's real name was Al-Aswad ibn Rabi'ah, but he once came to the Messenger of Allah ~, who asked him, "What brought you near?" He replied, "I approach to be your companion." This was why he abandoned his name "Al-Aswad" and called himself "Al-Muqtarib", which means "The Approacher".
Yazdi gird had gathered the Persians in Nahawand, which was a great city.
Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin, along with his troops from Kufa and Sabrah, besieged the people of Sus while Razin ibn 'Abdullah ibn Kulaib Al-Faqimi besieged the people of Yasapur, a city in Khuzastan built by Sapurin Ardashir and thus named after him.
Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin received a message from 'Umar ordering him to proceed to Nahawand, so he skirmished with Sus before his departure. Munaf ibn Saiyed, who led Al-Nu'man's cavalry, opened the gates of Sus by force, broke their chains and locks, and allowed the Muslims to storm into the city. The citizens asked for reconciliation and were granted it.
The Battle of Nahawand
Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin marched towards Nahawand, while Al- Muqtarib ibn Rabi'ah advanced till he camped near Yasapur with Razih ibn 'Abdullah ibn Kulaib. After besieging the town for some time, the Muslims were surprised at the sudden opening of the gates of the city and at the sight of the citizens forsaking the houses and hiding places and leaving the markets open. Astonished, the Muslims sent delegates to inquire, "What forced you to do this?"
The citizens replied, "You offered us a treaty of peace and we accepted it and agreed to pay jizyah. And in return you will grant us safety and not fight us."
The astonished Muslims said, "We didn't do this."
"We do not lie," replied the army of Yasapur.
The Muslims investigated the issue and learned that one of the slaves called Maknaf, who originally belonged to the army of Yasapur, was the one who offered them peace.
The Muslims said to them, "The one who wrote to you is a slave."
The citizens replied, "We don't know who is the slave and who is the master. He came to us with the offer and we accepted it and we did not betray. If you like, violate the agreement."
The Muslims did not fight and wrote to 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab about what had happened. 'Umar ordered them to respect the treaty, so they left Yasapur.
Meanwhile, when 'Umar ordered Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin to encounter the Persians in Nahawand, he also ordered, "If Al-Nu'man is killed, Hudhaifah ibn Al-Yaman is to command. If he is killed, Jarir ibn 'Abdullah Al-Bajli is to command."
Al-Nu'man advanced accompanied by Hudhaifah, Al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah Al-Thaqafi, Al-Ash'ath ibn Qais, Jarir ibn 'Abdullah Al- Bajli and `Abdullah ibn 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab.
On reaching Nahawand, Al-Nu'man said, "O Muslims! I saw that when the Messenger of Allah ~ did not initiate the battle at the beginning of the day, he delayed the fight till afternoon. Allah, grant Al-Nu'man martyrdom by the victory of the Muslims and help them to conquer."
The people said, "Amen."
Al-Nu'man then added, "I will shake the standard three times. On the third shake, attack, and if I am killed, none of you pay any heed."
When Al-Nu'man shook the standard for the third time, they attacked.
The Arabs and Persians fought on Wednesday and Thursday with the victory fluctuating between them. On Friday, the Persians hid in their trenches and were surrounded by the Muslims. They intended not to come out unless they wished to. However, Al-Nu'man feared that this situation would last a long time.
He met with his council and said, "As you see, the disbelievers are hiding in their trenches and refuges. They don't come out unless they want to, and we're unable to force them out. You perceive that the Muslims are annoyed by this, so what action do you suggest to make them fight?"
The eldest, 'Amr ibn Thani said, "Besieging them is tougher than fighting them. Leave them in their trenches and attack those who come to you."
Al-Nu'man objected to his opinion.
'Amr ibn Ma'di Karib said, "Resist them, contend stubbornly and do not reduce armaments."
Yet this viewpoint was rejected by them all, “He asks us to fight some walls that are also against us.”
Tulaihah ibn Khuwailid Al-Asadi said, "I suggest sending some cavalrymen to entangle them in. a fight, and whenever they mingle with them they return to us one after the other. We'll continue in this process so long as we fight them. If they see this, they'll be lured out and we'll be able to fight them till Allah destines us and them to what He likes."
Tulaihah's suggestion pleased Al-Nu'man, so he ordered Al-Qa'qa' ibn 'Amr, who was responsible for the rear, to combat them. The Persians came out of their trenches as if they were iron mountains, for they had chained themselves together in groups of seven so that they could not run away. They spilled iron spikes on the ground behind them to prevent them from fleeing in defeat.
When they left their trenches, Al-Qa'qa' and his band retreated as if they were defeated. Thus, the Persians took advantage of such action and ran after him. On seeing the Persians chasing Al-Qa'qa', Tulaihah was excited and said, "Here they come! Here they come!"
As soon as the Persians were away from their forts, trenches and positions and Al-Nu'man saw that the distance separating them from their center was enough to initiate a struggle, he ordered the Muslims to stay on the alert but not to fight till he ordered them.
They obeyed and took shelter behind the shields and armors to protect themselves from the arrows. The Persians shot the Muslims with arrows till they were badly injured, and some Muslims complained to Al-Nu'man, "Can't you see what we're facing? What are you waiting for? Order your army to fight them."
Al-Nu'man said, "Don't be rash! Don't be rash!" He intended to wait till the Persians were lured gradually. However, on the second day he did not issue an order to attack. He waited for the Prophet's favorite time of day to combat the enemies, which was the afternoon.
Al-Nu'man mounted on his horse and walked around, stood by each standard of the Muslims motivating, encouraging and giving them hope. Then he said, "I will call' Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!' three times. When I cry for the third time, I will attack, so attack with me. If I am killed, let Hudhaifah ibn Al-Yaman command. If he is killed, too, let it be Jarir ibn 'Abdullah Al-Bajli."
He then named seven generals to succeed him, ending with Al-Mughirah ibn Shu'bah Al-Thaqafi. He then prayed, "O Allah, grant power and dignity to Your religion and victory to Your servants. O Allah, let Al-Nu'man be the first martyr today who dignifies Your religion and struggles to gain victory for Your servants. O Allah, I beg You to make me happy by a triumph today that grants honor to Islam, and take my soul as a martyr."
On hearing this, the Muslims were moved to tears.
Al-Nu'man then returned to his former position and cried, "Allahu Akbar!" three times and the two armies fought intensely. None had ever heard of a battle fiercer than that of Nahawand, for no sound was heard except that of the ringing of iron.
The Muslims persevered and fought desperately. In the period of time between the afternoon and darkness, large numbers of Persians were killed so that the battlefield was covered with bodies and soaked in blood that caused the people and animals to slip.
Allah, the All-Hearing and All-Knowing, answered the plea of Al-Nu'man ibn 'Amr ibn Muqrin, whose horse slipped with him on it. One of the Persians shot an arrow into his waist. His soul, thus, went to Paradise and he gained martyrdom on a Friday.
The Companion Hudaifah ibn Al-Yaman took the standard of command and attacked the Persians boldly, forcing them to flee to the mountains surrounding Hamadhan. The Persian leader, Al-Fairuzan, was among the fugitives. The Muslims chased them and killed a majority of them, including Al-Fairuzan, and they took many spoils and seized Hamadhan.
The chiefs of the city came to Hudaifah ibn Al-Yaman and asked for reconciliation on behalf of Hamadhan. It was the second biggest city in Persia and had a very large number of Jews living in it, more than in any other place.
The Muslims called the opening of Nahawand the greatest victory, for no war took place after it, and the Persians after their defeat were unable to restore their power.
When the news reached 'Umar ibn Al-Khattab and he learned about the victory and the death of Al-Nu'man ibn Muqrin, he wept and his heart broke. He went to the people and announced his death from the pulpit, put his hand on his head and cried.
In the battle of Nahawand, the Muslim army consisted of thirty thousand warriors, while the Persians were fifty thousand fighters under the command of Al-Fairuzan. Thirty thousand Persians were killed in the battlefield, whereas Al-Fairuzan fled to Hamadhan, where he was later killed.
'Umar Orders the Muslims to Spread in Persia
After the battle of Nahawand, the Commander of the Faithful ordered the Muslims to increase and spread in Persia, as the Companion AI-Ahnaf ibn Qais had suggested. 'Umar assigned the military leaders to open the cities and sent the standards to the commanders as follows:
Al-Ahnaf ibn Qais was directed to Khurasan.
Mujash'i ibn Mas'ud Al-Salmi was directed to Azdashir Kharah and Sapur. (Azdashir Kharah means "the beauty of Azdashir" and the city of Shiraz lay there.) 'Uthman ibn Abi Al-'As Al-Thaqafi was directed to Istukhur.
Sariyah ibn Zanim Al-Kitani was directed to Fasa and Darabagrid. Fasa was a Persian city that was four days' travel from Shiraz.
Suhail ibn 'Adi was directed to Karman, a city between Persia, Makran Sajistan, and Khurasan.
'Assim ibn 'Amr was directed to Sajistan, a vast province south of Hirah, thirteen leagues from Karman.
Al-Hakam ibn 'Umair Al-Taghlabi was directed to Mukran, a province with Karman to its west, Sajistan to its north, and the sea to its south, and the majority of it was desert.
'Umar reinforced them with people of Kufa. He reinforced Suhail ibn 'Adi with' Abdullah ibn 'Utban; Al-Ahnaf ibn Qais with 'Ulqumah ibn Al-Nadir, 'Abdullah ibn Abi 'Ukail and Rab'i ibn 'Amir; 'Assim ibn 'Amr with' Abdullah ibn 'Umair Al-Ashja'i; and Al-Hakam ibn 'Umair with Shihab ibn Al-Mukhariq and others.
The Spoils in Nahawand
After the defeat of the Persians, the Muslims entered the city of Nahawand and took what they found in it and waited for the other booty coming from Hamadhan with their fellows, Al-Qa'qa' ibn `Amr and Na'im ibn Muqrin.
Al-Hurbudh, the master of the House of Fire, came to the Muslims and asked for a treaty of peace. He said to Hudhaifah ibn Al-Yaman, "Will you grant me safety together with others that I like, and in return I will get you some treasures of Khusraw that I possess and keep for the misfortunes of life?" Hudhaifah accepted. Al-Hurbudh then brought precious jewels in two jewelry boxes.
Hudhaifah sent the treasure together with one fifth of the spoils with Al-Sa'ib ibn Al-Aqra' Al-Thaqafi to the Commander of the Faithful.
The next day 'Umar said to Sa'ib, "Take the jewelry boxes and go away and sell them."
Sa'ib asked, "Why, Commander of the Faithful?"
'Umar replied, "Woe to you! The night you arrived with them, I dreamed that the angels were dragging me to the boxes, which were burning. They said to me, 'We will bum you with them.' I said to them, 'I will divide them among the Muslims.' Take them away from me and sell them so that they can be among the portion and allotment of the Muslims."
Each cavalryman gained six thousand dirhams, while the infantryman's portion was two thousand dirhams. Hudhaifah gave the fifth of the spoils to the people.