The Persians were infuriated at their loss of Hira and resolved to reclaim it. They had dispatched an army of 10,000 men to fight al-Muthanna who was left behind after Abu Bakr had sent Khalid to Syria.
Al-Muthanna sent women and children away from Hira and fought the battle near Babylon against Hormuz. He won the battle but was sure they would return. He returned to Madinah to ask for reinforcement.
Abu Bakr was on his death-bed but asked Umar to send his troops.
Umar called everyone to volunteer to go reclaim and protect al-Chaldea. People there were reluctant since Persian empire was still a mighty one. Al-Muthanna convinced them Muslims had defeated them and they weren’t as mighty as they once were.
Abu Ubayd volunteered first and was subsequently appointed as a commander.
The combined forces of Abu Ubayd and al-Muthanna advanced against the Persians that were the command of Jaban at a placed called Namaraq; this why they battle is called Battle of Namaraq. Muslims won the battle and advanced further. (October 634)
They won another battle against Nursa, who was at Kaskar. Royal date gardens were captured by the Arabs. The battle came to be called Battle of Kaskar. (October 634).
Battle of the Bridge: October 634
Persians were enraged after consecutive losses and resolved to defeat the Muslims. They sent an army under the command of Brahman. He lured Abu Ubayd to cross the Eastern side of Euphrates into Persia. This proved to be fatal since the Persian side
was too narrow and the elephants in Persian army acted as a strong defence for the Persians. Abu Ubayd was killed and so were few other commanders that followed him. Al-Muthanna finally managed to retread but only with 3000 men losing 7000 men in the battle.
Al-Muthanna on his way back fought another battle at Buwayd against Persians under Mahran. Mahran was defeated here. Battle of Buwayd (November 634).
Umar resolves to conquer Iraq
Umar understood, as long as Persians ruled Upper Iraq the Muslims couldn’t live in peace in Hira. He concluded hence the Sassanid empire had to go and Arab had to win that land.
He announced his plan in Madinah and asked every tribe under the banner of Islam to aid. He made it a national war of Arabs against Persians.
He had decided to lead the army, but companions persuaded him to remain at home and appoint someone else for the job. Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas was conferred with command of the forces.
On the Persian side, a young prince was installed named Yazdjard 3, who would be the last of emperor of Persian/Sassanid empire.
And al-Muthanna had died in 635 A.D. due to his wounds from Bridge Battle. But before dying, he wrote to Sa’ad to never cross the river at any cost. Desert suited Arabs and retreating from bridge proved fatal last time.
Impact of the Battle
The loss literally broke the Persian empire’s back. Although Muslims suffered unprecedented losses, they were nothing compared to that of Persians’.
The Arab tribes residing along the borders submitted altogether and were now sure this area belonged to the Islamic state.
The road to al-Madain lay open now. Muslims were to conquer it since Umar knew they would not hold al-Chaldea for longer if al-Madain remained unconquered.
Umar ordered Sa’ad to rest a bit there and then march towards al-Maidan.
Fall of al-Madain
After resting about 2 months, Sa’ad now well advanced towards the capital. On his way he encountered few of the remnants of Rustam’s army and crushed them one by one. (middle of 637 A.D.)
Sa’ad’s army numbered 50,000 when he entered the capital. The king had transferred all his resources and treasures Eastern half of the city. He sent messenger to Sa’ad to be content with Western half and the Persians wouldn’t bother him. Sa’ad rejected the offer.
There was a river between eastern and western half of the city. At that time of the year the flow was too high to be crossed. But Sa’ad gathered few valiant men and others rallied after seeing these men’s courage.
Persians fled that area too with their King leaving behind immense bounty. The bounty was too large that Muslims couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
Sa’ad made al-Maidan seat of his government there. It should be noted that when Arabs joined Sa’ad they came with their belongings, children, and wives. Arabs customarily settled in the places they conquered or invaded.
After a while the Persian king, now residing in Hulwan, tried his luck at battle but was crushed heavily at the Battle of Jalula.
In the meanwhile, the remaining Persian, Roman, and Christian Arabs dispersed here and there on the North of the capital came together to attack Sa’ad and his men. They were defeated too in Battle of Tikrit.
Foundation of Kufa and Basra
Umar had rejected the offers of the Muslim commanders to advance further. He was now determined to protect what they acquired rather than risking the life and riches Islamic State had gained.
The climate of al-Madain and Ubulla proved to be uninhabitable for the Arabs who were accustomed to arid and dry climate.
Umar knowing this ordered al-Madain to find some feasible place. Kufa, a region near Hira was the most viable option. Muslims shifted there from al-Madain and so did their governor, Sa’ad. There they made it a city.
Utba bun Ghazwan had conquered Ubulla, which proved to be the same case as al-Madain. They were ordered to find a new place too.
Both the cities proved to be an outstanding decision. Kufa became a base for the conquest of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and other northern territories. Basra became for Khuzestan, Fustat in Egypt.
Final subjugation of Persia
We know that Arabs had only conquered Iraq of Persian empire. The King resided in Khusran province of Persia.
Umar had forbidden Sa’ad and Utba from advancing further. He believed Zagros range would act as a barrier for any future clashes between Arabian and Persian empire.
Al-Ala bin Hazrami who had conquered Bahrain in Abu Bakr’s time saw other Muslims’ victories and foundation of Basra and Kufa. It incited him to go further and prove his mettle. He crossed the Persian Gulf in 637 without informing Umar.
Soon he was surrounded by Persian army and requested Umar to send troops. Utba was ordered to save him with his 12k troops. The army was saved on time.
The event is called “the First Istakhar” and Al-Ala was dismissed from Governorship of Bahrain.
Campaign in Khuzestan: 638
The Arab raid by Al-Ala provoked Harmuzan, the Persian governor of Khuzestan. He raided outposts near Ahwaz.
Utba of Basra had to march there and save Ahwaz. Here again Harmuzan was defeated. Harmuzan was present at Battle of Qadisiya and had fled.
Battle of Nihawand: 642
Harmuzan started revolting and inciting violence. Yazdjard also started rallying people behind him to expel Muslims out of their lands. The new Persian army numbered 150k.
From Muslim side Numan bin Muqran was appointed as a commander and he was to lead 30k men.
The fighting went on relatively calm for first 2 days but became fierce later. Persians had been inflicted with greater losses. The Muslims leader Numan was also heavily injured.
He was informed of the Muslim’s victory before he breathed his last.
About 80k Persians died in their quest. The battle completely shattered the empire for all the times to come. What actually started with Qadisiya ended with Nihawand.
Umar ordered all the commanders to not leave any province unconquered after the war.
Sassanid empire of Persia was no more.
Systematic Expansion and Conquests
The foundation signified a change in Umar’s policy of conquest and expansion. Unlike Abu Bakr who had to conquer Hira due to al-Muthanna’s raids, Umar had decided to conquer Persia. And he had every incentive to establish an administrative setup there.
Diwan (Register of Pensions), standing military, and justice system were established in these cities.
For complete Islamic history notes click here.