Battle of al-Qadisiyyah | Rashidun Caliphate vs Sassanid Persian Empire
Background and Caliphate
The early Muslim incursion of the six-day Battle of Yarmouk between the Byzantine Empire and the Rashidun Caliphate was not limited to the lands of the Roman Emperors to the east. The Rashidun Caliphate’s army fought a 20-year long war against the Sassanid Empire in the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah. The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires forteach others in many conflicts through the centuries but none of them was as bloody and fruitless as the war of 602-628 CE. Now, both the empires were exposed to the south as this conflict got weakened. Our Holy Prophet of Islam Muhammad (PBUH) had united most of Arabia by 630 CE. His appointed successor caliph Abu Bakr (R.A) faced a massive rebellion against his rule. This conflict later known as the Ridda Wars continued until February of 633 CE with the peninsula back under his control.
Rise of the Caliphate and Invasion of Iraq
Abu Bakr started thinking about expansion. Early Muslim sources do not offer a justification but in March of 633 CE, he sent his best general Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) to attack the Sassanid Empire. In April, Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) and his 18,000 troops entered modern-day Kuwait. The local governor Hamas had 20,000 men under his command and moved to intercept Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) near Kazima. But our lead was an experienced, able to outflank and the army was more mobile. The Sassanids had to move back. All this marching tired the forces of halt mods and they eventually had to fight exhausted in the engagement that would later be known as the Battle of Chains.
The battle began with a duel between the generals in which Hamas was executed. The Sassanid footman in the center had been chained to each other to allow them to hold the line while cavalry waited on the flanks. Their morale affected by the death of their general but yet they succeeded in repelling the initial attack. As they were tired of marching and exhausted, so the cavalry started to retreat and give the ground. But this retreat turned out to be dangerous as most of their infantry was executed because of the center being slowed down by the chains. However, a bigger Sassanid lay down and a carry was en route carrying across the Tigris in late April and set up his camp near the river. The remainder of Hamas’s troops joined him as well.
Our lead was moving to the north to cross the river but had to stop as his 17000 were now facing 40,000 forces. Once again the armies formed up with infantry in the center and cavalry on the flanks and once again the battle started with Jews during which Karin and two of his generals were executed. Our lead led a frontal attack and the leaderless Sassanids were slaughtered. The Muslim troops killed around 20,000 enemies. As the Sassanid court received the news of all these losses, they started preparing another two hosts. The first army led by Andarzaghar was sent to the city of Walaja to intercept the Muslims. As it was expected that Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) would move to the west along the Euphrates. Indeed our Leeds army was marching as predicted. He had several spies in the area and knew that the second Sassanid army under Bahman Jadhuyih would soon reinforce and as Andarzaghar.
Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) decided that he would attack the first Sassanid force. The two armies met in which is called Battle of Walaja in early May, 633 CE near Walaja in a field between two Hills. Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) had 10,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalries against 30,000 Sassanid troops. Initially, Andarzaghar was planning to wait for Bahman Jadhuyih, so he didn’t attack the Muslims on the first day, thinking I will lead needed to lure his enemy out. So during the night, he sent his cavalry away. The Sassanid leader fell right into the trap. He ordered his troops to attack head-on and the Muslim army started retreating under pressure towards the hill behind it. How will it Center allowed itself to be pushed back at his army formed a crescent? Andarzaghar concluded that it was a great moment to move all of his cavalry against the flanks of the enemy and encircle the Muslims. That was the moment Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) cavalry was waiting for. As they were hiding behind the hill, attacked the enemy at a very crucial moment. The forces of Andarzaghar were now encircled in a battle eerily reminiscent of the classical Battle of Cannae. The Sassanids lost more than 20 thousand warriors. Khalid ibn al-Walid (R.A) continued moving to the West.
Six more Sassanid armies were sent against him between May and November of 633 CE (including Battle of Ullais, Battle of Hira, Siege of Al-Anbar, Battle of Ayn al-Tamr etc) . But each of these armies was defeated. However, moving into the central part of the Sassanid Empire was still impossible and a letter from the Caliph ordered our lead to move into Syria instead. He won another battle against the Allied Sassanid-Byzantine army which was called the Battle of Firaz (last battle of the Muslim Arab commander Khalid ibn al-Walid in Mesopotamia, Iraq) in late 633 CE and moved on to fight the Romans. Modern-day Iraq was now under Muslim control. Sources are not clear on what happened in the next two years but it seems that the region changed hands a few times. During these years, the Muslims defeated the Sassanids in the Battle of Namaraq under the command of Abu Ubaid and then in the Battle of Kaskar. Sassanids launched another counter-attack and won the Battle of Bridge against Muslims.
Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
In May of 636 CE, the new caliph Hazrat Umar e Farooq (R.A) recruited a new army. Thirty-Thousand (30,000) troops commanded by Hazrat Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (R.A) entered Iraq in July. The Sassanid army under Rostam Farrokhzād was already nearby in the area called al-Qadisiyyah near modern-day Kufa., Sasanian Empire (modern-day Iraq). It had around 70,000 troops. Both sides built a fortified camp but as negotiations were going on the battle would not start for a few more months. The victory over the Byzantines in the Battle of Yarmouk allowed the caliph to divert more than six thousand veterans of the Syrian campaign to al-Qadisiyyah which they probably reached in late October.
Troops Deposition and Battle
Before the battle was going to start, the Sassanids had about 50,000 infantry, 15,000 cavalries, and 40 elephants. On the other side, the Caliphate’s army had around 30,000 footmen and 8,000 cavalries. Rostam Farrokhzād divided his infantry, cavalry, and the elephants into four groups with elephants in front, infantry in the second line, and cavalry in the third. The Muslim troops were formed into four infantry divisions in the first line and four cavalry divisions in the second.
The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah took place between November 16th and 19th 636 CE. The first day started with traditional personal combat. It is not clear which side had the upper hand but later in the day Rostam Farrokhzād sent his entire left flank forward to attack the right flank of the enemy. The Muslim army tried to execute the elephants by using their cavalry but the Sassanid’s heavy cavalry counter-attacked. Both the infantry and the cavalry of Saad’s (R.A) right flank had to retreat. The Muslim cavalry division in the right-center was sent to outflank the Sassanid cavalry while one of the infantry units of the right-center was ordered to attack the enemy infantry and the elephants from the left. Because of this reason, the Muslim army succeeded in pushing the enemy back. The right and right-center of Sassanids were also commanded to attack. Initially, the elephants broke the enemy lines but support from the Muslim Center repelled the elephants and soon the Muslim infantry managed to counter-attack and drive the Sassanids back. Hazrat Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (R.A) ordered his cavalry on the flanks to attempt an envelope that put pressure on the Sassanid cavalry but eventually, he lost and moved into the fray himself with the central units and drove the float Bank. The first day ended inconclusively.
The Muslim army received several reinforcements throughout the second day and as the enemy elephants were not in position Saad ibn Abi Waqqas (R.A) decided to go on the offensive. His right flank cavalry was able to push their counter-parts back and that allowed the Muslim infantry to gain an advantage against the Sassanids. Once more Rostam Farrokhzād joined the battle and counter attacked. Saad’s units needed to retreat and the second day also had no breakthrough.
At the beginning of the third day, Rostam Farrokhzād commanded his troops to attack the enemy as he was eager to end the battle before more Muslim reinforcements arrived. The charge started with a skirmish in which the Sassanid archers got the better of their counterparts. Soon the elephants attacked and sides army retreated under this pressure Rostam Farrokhzād tried to end the battle by killing the enemy leader bu this cavalry was stopped. The Muslims succeeded in hurting and maiming the elephants enough that put them into a rage. So, all these elephants started moving towards the river which disturbed the formation of Sassanids. The Muslims attempted to counter-attack but Rostam Farrokhzād reformed his lines yet again and another day ended with no results.
In the early hours of the fourth day, Sassanids were satisfied as there wasn’t any pitched battle. Before the troops got into position, the Muslims sent their left cavalry charged behind enemy lines and achieved its goal of killing Rostam Farrokhzād, although the Sassanids eventually pushed this cavalry division away and built a front. The death of their leader demoralized the army. The Muslims’ army finally succeeded in compelling the Sassanids to full retreat. The Muslims lost around 8,500 men in this battle while the casualties of their foes were more than 25,000. Soon, the Sassanid’s capital Ctesiphon fell. The war would continue with various Sassanid generals and governors attempting to mount resistance but it was too late. The Empire and the Middle East’s fate was sealed after the Battle of al-Qadisiyyah. After Abu Bakr (R.A), the second Caliph Umar (R.A) conquered his arch-rival entirely by planning a full-scale invasion of the Sassanid Persian Empire. Yazdgerd III was the last emperor of the Persian Empire who was executed during the Caliphate period of Uthman (R.A) which officially marked the end of the Sassanid Persian Empire.