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12 AH.   /   633 AD.

Collision with border tribes led to conflict with Greek and Persian empires.

CHALDĈA and southern Syria belong properly to Arabia. The tribes inhabiting this region, partly heathen but chiefly (at least in name) Christian, formed an integral of the Arab race and as such fell within the immediate scope of the new Dispensation. When, however, these came into collision with the Muslim columns on the frontier, they were supported by their respective sovereigns,—the western by the Kaiser, and the eastern by the Chosroes. Thus the struggle widened, and Islam was brought presently face to face in mortal conflict with the two great Powers of the East and of the West.

History dependent on Arabian sources.

It is important, especially in the early part of this history, for the student to bear in mind that Arabian sources are practically all he has to guide him here. Byzantine annals disappear in the impending cataclysm; and it is many long years before any considerable help is available from western chronicles. The Persian Empire again was altogether swallowed up in the invasion of the Arabs, and consequently it is from the conquerors alone that we learn the events about to be told regarding it. Thus, both for east and West, we are almost entirely dependent on Arabian tradition, which itself at the first is but brief and fragmentary and moreover being entirely one-sided, we are left as best we can to draw a narrative just and impartial to all concerned.

Position of Greek and Persian empires.

In neither of the great Powers which Abu Bekr was about to try conclusions with, had the nerve and virtue of earlier days survived. Luxury, corruption and oppression,


religious strife and military disaster, had impaired their vigour and undermined their strength. Barbarous hordes overrunning the Western Empire, had wrested the farther provinces from Byzantine rule. Between the Kaiser and the Chosroes again, war had long prevailed, Syria and Mesopotamia, scenes of the coming warfare, being the prize, now of one, now of the other. By the last turn of fortune, Heraclius, marching from the Black Sea, had routed the Persians on the field of Nineveh, and advanced triumphantly to the very gates of the enemy's capital.

6 A.H., 627 A.D.

Siroes, after putting to death his father and eighteen brothers, enjoyed but a few months the fruits of his patricidal crime; and (as we are told by Gibbon) "in the space of four years, the royal title was assumed by nine candidates, who disputed, with the sword or dagger, the fragments of an exhausted monarchy." Such was the condition of Persia, its Court imbecile and anarchy rampant, at the time when Abu Bekr was engaged in his struggle with the apostate tribes. Nevertheless, the Arabian armies met with a fiercer and more protracted opposition on the Persian than on the Syrian side. And the reason is that Islam aimed its blow at the very heart of Persia. Constantinople might remain, with Syria gone, ignobly safe. But if the Arabs gained Al- 'Irak, Ctesiphon (Al-Medain) close at hand, must fall, and Persia with it. To this quarter attention will be now directed.

Muthanna attacks Chaldĉa.

Among the chiefs who helped to reclaim Al-Bahrein, Al Muthanna has been already named. Advancing along the Persian Gulf, he reduced Al-Katif, and carried his victorious arms into the delta of the Euphrates. "Who is this Al-Muthanna?" asked Abu Bekr, as tidings of success kept reaching Medina, "and to what clan does he belong?" Learning that he was of the great Bekr tribe which peopled that vicinity, he commanded him to "march forward fighting in the ways of the Lord." The service was such as Bedawin love; and his column was soon swelled to 8000 men. But opposition gathered in front. The Christian and heathen tribes were roused; and Abu Bekr, anticipating the impending struggle, resolved that "the Sword of the Lord" should be again unsheathed, and so Khalid was deputed to subdue Chaldĉa.


Troops sent to 'Irak. i. 12 A.H. March 633 A.D.

By the beginning of the twelfth year of the Hijra rebellion had been put down throughout Arabia, excepting the south, which was also in fair way of pacification. It became now Abu Bekr's policy to turn his restless Arab columns to similar work elsewhere. He despatched two armies to the north. One, under command of Khalid joined by Al-Muthanna, was to march on Ubulla, an ancient city near the mouth of the Euphrates, and from thence, driving the enemy up the western bank, to work its way towards Al-Hira the capital of Chaldĉa. 'Iyad, at the head of the other, was directed to Duma (midway between the head of the Red Sea and Persian Gulf) which had cast off its allegiance, and thence to pass also on to Al-Hira. Whichever first reached that city was to be in command of the country1.

Khalid joins Muthanna in 'Irak.

'Iyad, hampered by his enemy, was long detained in the neighbourhood of Duma. Khalid, meeting no such obstacle, was joined on his march from Al-Yemama to Al-'Irak by large bodies of Bedawin. These were of the greater service, as his numbers had been thinned, not only by the carnage at Al-Yemama, but also by the free permission given the army, after that arduous campaign, to proceed on furlough to their homes. Nevertheless, the expedition was so popular that when, after a flying visit to the Caliph, Khalid rejoined his camp by the Euphrates, he found himself at the head of 10,000 men; and this besides the 8000 of Al-Muthanna, who hastened loyally to place himself under the great leader's command.

Mesopotamia and the Syrian desert.

The country before them was in some of its features familiar to the invading army, in others new and strange. From the head of the Persian Gulf across to the Dead Sea stretches a stony desert, trackless and bereft of water. Advancing north, Nature relaxes; the plain, still a wilderness, is in season clothed with verdure, bright with flowers, instinct with the song of birds and hum of winged life. Such is the pasture-land which for hundreds of miles lies between Damascus and the Tigris. Still farther north, the desert gradually disappears, and about the latitude of Mosul blends with the hills and vales of Asia Minor. Athwart the country

1 Tradition here probably anticipates the march of events. It is doubtful whether the Caliph had the city of Al-Hira yet in view; for the aims of Khalid and his Master widened as victory led him onwards.


from Aleppo to Babylon runs the Euphrates, while the far east is bounded by the Tigris flowing under the mountain range that separates 'Irak 'Arabi1 from Persia. Between the two rivers lies Mesopotamia, full of patriarchal memories. Over this great plain there roamed (as still there roam) Bedawi tribes with flocks and herds. The greater part had long professed the Christian religion. Those on the Syrian side, as the Ghassan of Bosra, owed allegiance to the Roman Empire; those on the east were dependent upon Persia. But nomad life tends to fickle loyalty and laxity of faith; and so, not infrequently, these northern Arabs were now led by affinity with their brethren of Arabia, as well as by the lust of plunder, to desert their ancient allies and ancestral faith, and cast in their lot with the invading columns.

Chaldĉa and Delta of the Euphrates.

The lower Euphrates, 'Irak al-'Arabi, is in striking contrast with the region just described. The two great rivers, while yet far from the sea approach each other; but, instead of joining, still keep apart and, for some two hundred and fifty miles running parallel, inclose the memorable plain of Dura. The country is covered with long hillocks and mounds marking the ancient channels of irrigation, and strewed with fragments of brick and pottery, remnants of a dim antiquity. The face of the land was not then, as now, a barren waste, but richly cultivated and watered by canals. On the Tigris, a little below where the two rivers first approach each other was Al-Medain, "the double city"2 (so called from Seleucia on the western bank and Ctesiphon on the eastern), then the capital of Persia. Fifty miles farther south, a mass of shapeless mounds, looking down upon the Euphrates from its eastern shore, marks the site of Babylon, and from their summit may be descried the Birs Nimrud, or "Tower of Babel," rearing its weird head on the horizon of the verdant plain. Thirty miles yet farther south lay Al-Hira, capital of the surrounding Arab tribes. It stood (like its successor Al-Kufa) on a branch which issues from the Euphrates by a channel in the live rock, cut by the hand of man but of unknown antiquity. Sweeping along the

1 'Irak of the Arabs, as distinguished from 'Irak 'Ajami, i.e. "foreign" or Persian 'Irak.

2 [Medain is really the plural of Medina; one would certainly expect a dual]


west, this rival stream feeds many marshes, especially the great lake called the "Sea of Najaf"; and, after a wide circuit, rejoins the Euphrates above its junction with the Tigris. There was in olden times another branch called the "Trench of Sapor" which, intended as a bar to Bedawi incursions, and taking a yet wider range to the west, returned into the parent river near Ubulla. This branch, now dry, originally carried a stream, which like the other helped materially to widen the green belt pressed in upon by the western sandy desert. The lower Delta again, subject to tidal flow, alluvial, low and watered with ease, is covered with a sea of corn; and from its beauty has been called the "Garden of the world." Besides the familiar palm, the country abounds with the fig, mulberry, and pomegranate. But the climate is close and oppressive; the fens and marshes, always liable to inundation, were aggravated by neglect of dams and sluices in those days of anarchy; and so the invading force, used to nothing but the sandy steppes of the Peninsula, gazed wonderingly at the luxuriant growth of reeds and rushes, and at the buffaloes driven by pestiferous insects to hide their unwieldy bodies beneath the water, or splash lazily along the shallow waste of endless lagoons. Chaldĉa from the estuary upwards was cultivated, as now, by Fellahin or Arab peasantry, and these were lorded over by Dikkans, or district officers of the Persian Court 1.

Khalid summons Hormuz.

Such, then, was the magnificent province lying between the Desert and mountain range of Persia—the cradle of civilization and the arts—which now attracted the Muslim arms. The first to oppose them was Hormuz, Satrap of the Delta, a tyrant hated by his Arab subjects. To him, as master of the tribes gathering in front, Khalid addressed a letter in the haughty type of Muslim summons: "Accept the Faith and thou art safe; else pay tribute, thou and thy people; which if thou refusest, thou shalt have thyself to blame. A people is already on thee, loving death even as thou lovest life2."

1 On the changes which have taken pace in the bed of the Euphrates, and in the province of Al-'Irak generally, see Le Strange, Lands of the Eastern Caliphate, chaps. ii.-v.

2 Tab. i. 2022; similar letters were sent to the people of Al-Medain (2020).


Then placing Al-Muthanna in command of the advanced column, and 'Adi son of Hatim (the famous chieftain of the Beni Tai') over the second, Khalid himself bringing up the rear, advanced on Al-Hafir, the frontier station of the Persian Empire1.

Battle of Chains. Hormuz slain.

Startled by the strange summons, Hormuz having sent word to Chosroes the King2, himself set out to meet the invader with an army whose wings were commanded by Princes of the royal blood. He marched in haste, thinking to have an easy victory over untrained desert tribes; and being first to reach the water bed of Al-Hafir, took possession of its springs. Khalid coming up, bade his force alight and at once unload their burdens. "Then," said he, "let us fight for the water forthwith; by my life! the springs shall be for the braver of the two." Thereupon Hormuz challenged Khalid to single combat and, though he treacherously posted an ambuscade, was in the encounter slain. The Muslims then rushed forward and with great slaughter put the enemy to flight, pursuing them to the banks of the Euphrates. The Arabs had now a foretaste of the spoils of Persia. The share of each horseman was a thousand pieces, besides great store of arms. The jewelled tiara of Hormuz, symbol of his rank, was sent to the Caliph with the royal fifth. An elephant taken in the field and led as part of the prize to Medina, was paraded about the town much to the wonder of the admiring citizens, but eventually sent back as unsuitable to the place. The action was called Dhat as-Salasil, "the Mistress of the Chains," from a portion of the Persian soldiers being bound together (as tradition contemptuously says) to prevent their giving way.

"The Lady's Castle."

The defeated army fled towards the Capital, and Al-Muthanna with his horse hastened after them. Crossing the Euphrates, he came upon a fortress called "The Lady's Castle," held by a Persian princess. Leaving his brother to besiege it, he advanced to a second fort defended by her husband. This he took by storm, and put the garrison to the sword; which, when the lady heard

1 Tab. makes out four columns, one under 'Asim ibn 'Amr. Each column was accompanied by a native guide. Al-Hafir or Al-Hufeir was the rendezvous i. 2022 f.

2 Shira ibn Kisra. Tab. i. 2023.


of; she embraced Islam and, forgetting her Persian lord, gave her hand to Al-Muthanna's brother.

Persians again defeated.

The ardour of Al-Muthanna was near to causing a disaster. When the message of Hormuz reached Al-Medain, the King despatched another prince with troops to reinforce him. Rallying the defeated army, this force met Al-Muthanna who had been stopped by the Great Canal (a branch of the Tigris which runs athwart the Peninsula), and placed him with his small flying column in great peril. Khalid, apprised of the check, hastened to relieve his lieutenant, and just in time. The field was fiercely contested. Again the enemy fled; a prodigious number were either slain or drowned; the remainder escaped in boats. The deep canal stopped further pursuit, but the spoil of the camp was very great. Khalid scoured the country, killing all the men fit for war and taking their women captive. But the fellahin or unwarlike peasants he left unharmed.

Victory of Walaja, ii. 12 A.H. April 633 A.D.

The Court was now thoroughly aroused. Arab invaders, it was said, would best be matched by Arabs who knew their tactics; and so the King raised a great levy of the Bekr and other loyal clans, under a famous warrior of their own. He also summoned Bahman, a veteran general, from the east, to command the imperial troops. The combined army, in imposing force, advanced to Al-Walaja, near the junction of the two rivers. Leaving a detachment to guard his conquests in the Delta, Khalid marched to meet the enemy. The battle, long and obstinate, was won by the tactics of the Muslim leader, who surprised the exhausted enemy by ambuscades placed in their rear. The discomfiture was complete. The Persians fled; and with them their Bedawi allies, but not until many had been taken prisoners.

Khalid's oration.

Flushed with success as he gazed at the scene around, Khalid thus addressed his followers:—"O see ye not the food, plentiful as flintstones? Ay, by God, were it not ours to fight for God against the unbelievers, and were it only as a means of living, the right opinion would be to lay our stakes for these fair fields, until we show ourselves worthy of them, and give over hunger and penury to those who prefer them and who find burdensome that which you are enduring.1"

1 Tab. i. 2031. Khalid's speech is quoted by Al-Kindi, the Christian Apologist, S.P.C.K., 1887, p. 85.


Khalid here struck a chord delightful to the Bedawi heart. Now, also, the inducements with respect to the other sex began to tell. Persian ladies, both maids and matrons, as "captives of their right hand" were forthwith, without stint of number, and by permission which they held divine, lawful to the conqueror's embrace; and, in the enjoyment of this privilege, they were nothing loth to execute upon the heathen "the judgment written." Thus religious fanaticism grew along with martial ardour, both riveted by motives native to the Arab—fight and foray, spoil of war, and captive charms.

Battle of Ulleis, iii. 12 A.H. May 633 A.D.

The cup, however, had but just touched their lips, and many a chance might yet dash it from them. The great family of the Beni Bekr was divided in the struggle, part holding with Khalid and part with Persia. A bitter feeling was aroused between the Bedawin of Mesopotamia and the invaders, aggravated by defeat and by the treatment of those taken captive. Smarting under injury, the Christian tribes roused their nomad brethren on both banks of the Euphrates, and urged the Court of Persia to revenge. Just then Ardashir the King fell sick, and Bahman was detained at Court; but he sent an army across the Euphrates to join the loyal Bedawin, who from every side flocked to Ulleis (Allis), half-way between Al-Hira and Ubulla. News of this great rising forced Khalid to fall back hastily, and recross the Euphrates. Then leaving a strong detachment at Al-Hafir to secure his rear, he boldly advanced to meet the enemy. The Arab tribes first rushed to the attack, and Khalid slew their leader. Then the Persians with a vast front came up, and the Muslims were hard pressed as they never had been before. The battle was fiercely contested, and the issue at one time was so doubtful, that Khalid vowed to the Lord that in event of victory the blood of his foes should flow as in a crimson stream. At last the Persians, unable to withstand the impetuous onset, broke and fled. To fulfil his savage oath, Khalid proclaimed that no fugitive should be slain, but all brought alive into the camp. For two days the country was scoured by the Muslim horse, and a great multitude of prisoners gathered.

The "River of Blood.

Then the butchery commenced in the dry bed of a canal, but the earth drank up the blood. Company after company was beheaded, and


still the gory flux remained. At last, by advice of an Arab chief; Khalid had a floodgate opened, and the blood-red tide redeemed his vow. There were flour-mills upon the spot, and for three days corn for the army was ground by the reddened flood. We may hope that tradition has magnified the details of this great barbarity; but its memory lived in the name of the "River of Blood" by which thereafter the ill-omened stream was called.

A Persian supper on the field.

The battle over, a sumptuous repast was found ready spread in the enemy's camp, to which the Persians, when surprised by Khalid, were about to sit down;—a novel experience for the simple Arabs, who handled the white fritters with childish delight, and devoured with avidity rich pancakes and other Eastern delicacies. Khalid ate his supper leaning on the body of a stalwart hero, "the equal of a thousand warriors," whom in single combat he had but just cut down. Tidings of the victory, with choice portion of the spoil, a welcome earnest of the royal fifth to follow, were at once despatched to Abu Bekr The messenger, himself a brave warrior, described the heat and progress of the battle, the feats and prowess of its heroes, the multitude of captives and the riches of the spoil.

Abu Bekr's delight.

The Caliph, overjoyed at his glowing tale, bestowed upon the envoy a beautiful damsel from amongst the captive maidens he had carried with him.

The principality of Hira.

For the moment the spirit of the Persians was broken; but their Bedawi allies proved so troublesome to Khalid, and occupied a position from which they could so materially annoy his rear and communications with Medina, that he resolved on reducing the whole tract west of the Euphrates occupied by these tribes, together with Al-Hira its capital. The Lakhmid dynasty had long ceased to rule over this city, which now for many years had been governed by a Persian Satrap. Partly from its interests being akin to those of the Christian tribes of Mesopotamia, partly from its being a dependency of Persia, the influence of Al-Hira had hitherto been little felt in Arabia proper. But recent events had shown that even the Beni Bekr might combine with the border capital to resist the invader; and to prevent the recurrence of such a danger, Khalid now directed his steps to Al-Hira.


Amghisiya sacked.

With this view he advanced rapidly up the western channel of the Euphrates, and surprised Amghisiya, a town the rival of Al-Hira in size and wealth1. The inhabitants fled, and the booty was so rich that each horseman's share reached 1500 pieces. When the fifth reached Medina, Abu Bekr was overwhelmed at the sight; "Oh ye Koreish," he exclaimed in ecstasy, "verily your lion, the lion of Islam, hath leapt upon the lion of Persia, and spoiled him of his prey. Surely the womb is exhausted. Woman shall no more bear a second Khalid!"

Hira besieged and capitulates.

Finding boats at Amghisiya, Khalid embarked his infantry and baggage, and was tracking up the stream to besieged Al-Hira when, the Satrap having opened some irrigating escapes above, the flotilla grounded suddenly. Apprised of the cause, Khalid hastened with a flying squadron to the canal-head, closed the sluices and enabled the boats again to ascend. Then the army, having disembarked and taken possession of the beautiful palaces of the Princes of Al-Hira2, encamped before the city walls. The Satrap fled across the river; but the city, defended as it was by four citadels, refused to surrender. The ramparts were manned, and the besiegers kept at bay by the discharge of missiles. A monastery and cloisters lay without; and at length the monks and clergy, exposed to the fury of the besiegers, induced the citizens to capitulate on easy terms embodied in a treaty. Then they brought gifts, which Khalid accepted and despatched to Medina. Abu Bekr ratified the treaty and accepted the presents, but desired that their value should be deducted from the tribute.

Treaty with Hira.

The men of Al-Hira bound themselves to pay a yearly tribute, for which all classes, saving religious mendicants, were assessed. The Muslims, on their part, engaged to protect the city from attack. The treaty, though shortly set aside by the rising which swept over the land, is interesting as the first concluded with a principality lying without the Peninsula. One strange condition may be mentioned. The beauty of Kerama had been long proverbial, and a soldier laid claim to her on the ground that Mohammad, hearing him extol her charms, had promised (so the story

1 Another form of the name is said to have been Namishiya.

2 Life of Mahomet, 1861, vol.1. p. clxxi.


runs) that when Al-Hira was captured she should be his bride. Khalid insisted that the prophetic promise should be now fulfilled. The thing was grievous to the lady's household, but she took it lightly. "Care not for it," she said, "the fool saw me in my youth, and hath forgotten that youth remaineth not for ever." He soon found out that it was even so, and was glad to name a ransom, which having paid, she returned to her people.

Hira remains Christian, 12 A.H. 633 A.D.

The occupation of Al-Hira was the first definite step in the outward movement of Islam. Here Khalid fixed his headquarters and remained a year. It was, in fact, the earliest Muslim capital beyond the limits of Arabia. The administration was left with the heads of the city, who were at the least neutral. Khalid, indeed, expected that being of Arab descent, and themselves long ruled by a native dynasty, the inhabitants would actively have joined his cause. 'Adi, grandson of the poet of that name, was one of the deputation which concluded the peace. "Tell me," said Khalid, rallying him, "whether ye be of Arab or of Persian blood?" "Judge by our speech; doth that betray ignoble birth?" "True," answered Khalid; "thell why do ye not join our faith, and cast in your lot with us? "Nay," answered the Christian, "that we shall never do; the faith of our fathers we shall not abjure, but shall pay tribute unto thee." "Beshrew the fools!" cried Khalid; "unbelief is as a trackless desert; and the wanderer in it the silliest of the Arabs. Here are two guides, an Arab and a stranger; and of the two they choose the stranger!" The flux and reflux of Roman invasion had, no doubt, loosened their faith in Persia; but the Court of Al-Medain was near at hand and, though in the last stage of senility, sufficiently strong to retain its hold upon a small dependency like Al-Hira. The permanence of Arab conquest, too, was yet uncertain; the love of their ancestral faith was still predominant; and so the city chose to remain tributary. Several centuries later we find the inhabitants of the neighbourhood in considerable numbers still attached to the Christian faith1.

Prayer and Service of Victory.

Public prayer, outward symbol of the dominant faith, was

1 The feeling of this Christian principality in losing first their native rulers, and then being swallowed up in the Muslim invasion, is well


now established; and the citizens might hear the cry of the Muezzin, as five times a day, beginning with the earliest dawn, it resounded from the adjacent camp. Khalid celebrated his success in a special Service of Victory. The occasion was memorable. Clad in a flowing robe girt loosely about the neck, he turned, when prayers were ended, to the assembly and thus extolled their bravery: "In the field of Muta, when fighting with the Greeks, nine swords were broken in my hand. But I met not any there to match the foes ye have encountered here; and of these none more valiant than the men of Ulleis." The early campaign in Al-'Irak, indeed, is surrounded by tradition with a special halo; for the loss on the Muslim side had not hitherto been great, and the fighting here could hardly have compared with that of many a well-contested field in the Prophet's time.

Administration of the province.

While Al-Hira was left in the hands of its chief men, summary rule was set up over the adjacent country. The Dihkans—great landholders and imperial taxgatherers—had been waiting upon fortune. Seeing now that Khalid carried everything before him, many began to tender submission and enter into engagements for the revenue. Abu Bekr had wisely enjoined that the fellahin should be maintained in possession, and their rights as occupiers of the soil respected. The demand remained unchanged, with the addition only of a light poll-tax. In other respects, the terms, made with the consent and approval of the army, corresponded with those of Al-Hira. Holding their ancestral faith, the people became dhimmis, or protected dependants. Khalid undertook

expressed in these verses sung by one of their poets. Al-Mundhir and An-No'man were Princes of the Lakhmid dynasty:—

"Now that the Princes of the house of Al-Mundhir are gone, shall I ever again behold the royal herd of camels returning at eve from the pastures of Khawarnak and Sedir?

Now that the horsemen of An-No'man are passed away, shall I ever again feed the young she-camel on the pastures between Mecca and Hafir?

Like a flock of goats on a stormy day, we are scattered by the Beni Ma'add (the invading Muslims), even as pieces of camels slaughtered for the feast.

Heretofore our homes were sacred, and we like the teats of a well-filled udder,
Yielding tribute at the appointed times to the Chosroes, and imposts in cattle and gold.

Such is Fortune: her revolution is like that of the buckets. Now the day ascends with joy and gladness, and now it sinks into darkness and distress."


to defend them, and they on their part pledged allegiance and bound themselves to give notice if danger threatened. Garrisons were quartered here and there, and the troops held ready in movable columns. Thus the country west of the Euphrates was kept in check, and also the lower Delta to the east. Throughout this region none was secure from rapine but such as had entered into engagements. Hostages were taken for the revenue; and a formal discharge given upon its payment. The tribute, as well as the booty, was all distributed amongst the army "for the strengthening of its will and emboldening of its courage."

Persia paralysed by internal troubles.

Persia meanwhile was hopelessly distracted. Male progeny near the throne had been so ruthlessly massacred, that no heir of royal blood could anywhere be found, and a rapid succession of feeble claimants was set up by the princesses left to form the Court. Thus paralysed, the Persians did little more than protect Al-Medain by holding in force the country opposite as far as the Nahr-shir, a deep channel which, drawn from the Euphrates, flowed athwart the Peninsula. This line was threatened by Al-Muthanna but Abu Bekr gave stringent orders that no advance should be made till all was secure behind. No tidings, moreover, had as yet been received from 'Iyad at Duma, with whom co-operation was imperative. Khalid fretted at remaining thus inactive, "playing," as he complained, "for so many months the woman's part." But he curbed his ardour, and contented himself with inditing two letters, in imperious tone, one to "the Princes of Persia," the other to "the Satraps and inhabitants at large."


Towards the north and west, however, aggressive measures were continued. Siege was laid to Al-Anbar, a fortress on the Euphrates some eighty miles above Babylon. The worn-out camels of the army were slain and cast into the deep fosse, which thus was crossed and the city captured. The Persian governor sued for terms, and was permitted to retire. Al-Anbar and the well-watered neighbourhood thus secured, the army attacked 'Ain at-Tamr, the Spring of the Date palm, a fortress on the desert border three days' journey farther west. The Persian troops were here supported by a great gathering of Arab tribes, and among them the same Taghlib levies which had followed their


prophetess to Al-Yemama. These met Khalid as he approached, but were repulsed, and the Persian governor seeing the route from the ramparts, fled and left the fugitives to defend themselves as best they could.

Khalid's severity.

Refused terms, they surrendered at discretion. The persistent opposition of the Christian Bedawin now led Khalid into an unwise severity that embittered them against him. Their leader was beheaded in front of the city walls, and every adult male of the garrison led forth and put to death; while the women and children were made over to the soldiers or sold into slavery.

Christian students.

In a cloister of the church hard by, were forty youths who in their terror barred the door upon the enemy. When the retreat was forced, they gave themselves up as students receiving instruction in the Gospel. Their lives were spared, and they were distributed among the leaders. The fate of these unfortunate youths, snatched from a Nestorian seminary to be brought up as captives in the Muslim faith, must have been common enough in the rude and sanguinary tide of Saracen invasion; the reason why tradition makes special mention of these, is that amongst them were progenitors of several distinguished men, such as Ibn Ishak the historian, and Musa the conqueror of Spain.

'Iyad at Duma.

All this while 'Iyad, who ought long before to have joined Khalid, was battling unsuccessfully with enemies at Duma. The Caliph becoming anxious, sent Al-Welid who had been deputed by Khalid to Medina in charge of royal booty, to assist 'Iyad, who by his advice despatched an urgent message for help to Khalid. The courier arrived just after the fall of 'Ain at-Tamr; and Khalid, with no enemy now in the field, answered 'Iyid thus in martial verse—

"Wait, my friend, but for a moment, speedily shall help appear;
Cohort upon cohort follows, waving sword and glittering spear."

Leaving Al-Ka'ka' in command at Al-Hira, and starting at once with the flower of his force, he crossed the intervening desert, and made good his word.

Duma stormed by Khalid, vii. 12 A.H. Sept. 633 A.D.

He was not a day too soon. Okeidir and Al-Judi, Chiefs of Duma, were supported by the Beni Kelb and other tribes from the Syrian desert; and now the Beni Ghassan were pouring down from the north, under Jabala, the Christian prince of Bosra. The position of 'Iyad, thus beset, grew


day by day more critical. The advent of Khalid changed the scene at once. His very name was a tower of strength. Okeidir had already felt his prowess, having several years before been taken by him prisoner to Medina1. Much afraid, he hastened to surrender, but on the way was taken prisoner and beheaded. Then 'Iyad on the Syrian side, and Khalid on the Persian, attacked the hostile tribes and utterly routed them. Jabala effected his flight to Bosra. But the hapless crowd that remained were hemmed in between the two forces and none escaped. The gate of the fort was battered down, and the crowded inmates put promiscuously to the sword. The women were sold to the highest bidder; and the most beautiful of them, the daughter of the unfortunate Judi, was bought by Khalid for himself. Celebrating thus fresh nuptials on the field of battle, he enjoyed a short repose at Duma, while the main body of the troops, marching back to Al-Hira, were there received with timbrels and cymbals and outward demonstrations of rejoicing.

Expeditions in 'Irak, viii. 12 A.H. Oct. 633 A.D.

But all was not going on smoothly in that vicinity. The absence of Khalid had encouraged the Persians and their Arab allies, especially the Beni Taghlib, still smarting under the execution of their leader, to resume offensive operations. Al-Ka'ka', though on the alert, was able to do no more than guard the frontier and protect Al-Anbar from threatened inroad2. At this news, Khalid hastened back; and placing 'Iyad in the government of Al-Hira, despatched Al-Ka'ka' across the Euphrates, while he himself appointed a rendezvous at 'Ain at-Tamr to attack the Taghlib tribe; for he had vowed that thus he would crush the viper in its nest. On the eastern bank, the Persians were routed and their leaders killed; while on the western, by a series of brilliant and well-planned night attacks, the Bedawin were repeatedly surprised as they slept secure in their desert homes, cut to pieces, and their families carried off. Thus Khalid fulfilled his vow. Multitudes of women many of noble birth, were distributed among the army. A portion also, with rich booty, were sent to Medina, and there disposed of by sale3.

1 Life of Mohammad p. 443 f.

2 Tab. i. 2068 f.

3 One was bought by 'Ali. He had recently taken into his harim another girl, one of the captives of Al-Yemama; she was of the Hanifa


Battle of Firad. Persians, Greeks, and Bedawin defeated, xi. 12 A.H. Jan. 634 A.D.

Following up his Bedawi foes, Khalid at last reached Al-Firad on the Syrian border, and by the river rested his army during the fast of Ramadan and for some weeks after. But the Byzantine garrison on the frontier, uneasy at the prolonged encampment and threatening attitude of Khalid, and making common cause with the Persian outposts and neighbouring loyal tribes, advanced in imposing force to chase the invader away. They challenged Khalid to cross the river; but the wary General bade them rather come over to the eastern bank. A long and severe conflict ensued. The Muslims were victorious; the cavalry pursued the fugitives, and the carnage must have been great, for tradition places it at the fabulous number of a hundred thousand.

Khalid's incognito pilgrimage, xii. 12 A.H. Feb. 634 A.D.

For the moment opposition was crushed, and no enemy anywhere in sight. The season for the Meccan pilgrimage now at hand, Khalid formed the singular resolve of performing it incognito—unknown even to his royal Master. So, having recruited his army for ten days on the well-fought field, he gave orders to march slowly and by easy stages back to Al-Hira. Then, making as though he remained behind, he set out secretly with a small escort on the pious errand. Without a guide, he traversed the devious desert route with marvellous sagacity and speed. Having accomplished the rites of Pilgrimage, he retraced his steps from Mecca with like despatch, and re-entered Al-Hira in early spring, just as the rear-guard was marching in. So well had he kept his secret, that the army thought he had been all the while at Al-Firad, and now was journeying slowly back. Even Abu Bekr, who himself presided at the pilgrimage, was unaware of the presence of his great general. When, after some time, the secret visit came to his knowledge, he was much displeased. But the action which he took in consequence belongs to the succeeding year.

tribe, and the son she bore him, hence called Ibn al-Hanefiya (the son of the Hanefite woman), whose descendants being thus of the stock of Ali, had a political rule of which we shall hear hereafter. He is said also to have married in this year a granddaughter of the Prophet, Umama, the child of Zeinab, and niece of his deceased wife Fatima.

The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall [Table of Contents]

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