In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

Sword of Allah: Appendix

Appendix A: Bibliography



1. Ibn Hisham: Seerat-un-Nabawi, Cairo, 1955.

2. Waqidi: Maghazi Rasulillah: Cairo, 1948; Futuh-ush-Sham, Cairo, 1954.

3. Ibn Sad: Tabaqat-ul-Kubara, Cairo, 1939.

4. Ibn Qutaibah: Al Ma'arif, Cairo, 1960.

5. Al-Yaqubi: Tareekh-ul-Yaqubi, Beirut, 1960;

Al Buldan, Lieden, 1892.

6. Al-Baladhuri: Futuh-ul-Buldan, Cairo, 1959.

7. Dinawari: Akhbar-ul-Tiwal, Cairo, 1960.

8. At-Tabari: Tareekh-ul-Umam wal Muluk, Cairo, 1939.

9. Al-Masudi: Muruj-uz-Dhahab, Cairo, 1958; Al Tanbeeh wal Ashraf, Cairo, 1938.

10. Ibn Rusta: A'laq-un-Nafeesa, Lieden, 1892.

11. Isfahani: Al Aghani, Cairo, 1905.

12. Yaqut: Mu'jam-ul-Buldan, Teheran, 1965.

13. Abu Yusuf: Kitab-ul-Kharaj, Cairo, 1962.

14. Edward Gibbon: Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1954.

15. Alois Musil: The Middel Euphrates; New York, 1927.



Ibn Hisham. His abridgement of the last pioneering work, Seerah Rasoolullah, by Muhammad bin Ishaq, is invaluable. Portions of Ibn Ishaq have recently been recovered and published. Muhammad bin Ishaq (who died in 150 or 151AH), is unquestionably the principal authority on the Seerah (Prophetic biography) and Maghazi (battles) literature. Every writing after him has depended on his work, which though lost in its entirety, has been immortalised in the wonderful, extant abridgement of it, by Ibn Hisham. Ibn Ishaq was one of the Tabieen (second generation who saw the Sahabah but not the Prophet SAWS himself) of humble beginnings as a former slave. Ibn Ishaq's work is notable for its excellent, rigorous methodology and its literary style is of the highest standard of elegance and beauty. This is hardly surprising when we recall that Ibn Ishaq was an accomplished scholar not only in Arabic language but also in the science of hadith. For this reason, most of the isnad (chains of narration) that he gives in his Seerah are also to be found in the authentic books of hadith. Ibn Ishaq, like Bukhari and Muslim, travelled very widely in the Muslim world in order to authenticate the isnad of his hadith. It is reported that Ibn Ishaq saw and heard Saeed bin Al-Musayyib, Aban bin Uthman bin Affan, Az-Zuhri, Abu Salamah bin Abdur-Rahman bin Awf and Abdur-Rahman bin Hurmuz Al-Araj. It is also reported that Ibn Ishaq was the teacher of the following outstanding authorities among others:



(a) Yahya bin Saeed Al-Ansari

(b) Sufyan Ath-Thawri

(c) Ibn Jurayh

(d) Shu'bah bin Al-Hajjaj

(e) Sufyan bin Uyainah

(f) Hammad bin Zaid



Al-Waqidi. The second most authoritative book on Seerah is that of Al-Maghazi by Muhammad bin Umar Al-Waqidi Al-Aslami (who lived from 130 to 207AH and is buried in Baghdad). This book was widely read in various parts of the Muslim world. While som



Ibn Sad. The third authoritative work on Seerah is Ibn Sad's Tabaqat-ul-Kubara (nine volumes). Ibn Sad was both the student and the scribe/secretary of Al-Waqidi. The quality and scholarly excellence of the Tabaqat-ul-Kubara of Ibn Sad say a great deal about the academic competence of his teacher and patron.



Al-Yaqubi. (Ahmad bin Jafar bin Wahb, died 292AH). Al-Yaqubi's work is unique for its examples of the Prophet's (SAWS) sermons, not to be found elsewhere, especially those containing instruction and admonition.



Al-Baladhuri. (Ahmad bin Yahya bin Jabir, died in 279AH). The work of this early historian is valuable for the texts it contains of certain important agreements which the Prophet (SAWS) concluded with some groups and individuals- among others, the texts of his agreements with the Christians of Najran, his agreement with the people of Maqna, his book to Al-Mundhir bin Sawi and to Akaydar Dawmah.



At-Tabari. (Ibn Jareer, died in 310AH) in his monumental world history Tareekh-ul-Umam wal Muluk. At-Tabari was not merely a historian, but also an unrivalled authority on the Arabic language and grammar, on hadith and fiqh, and on the tafseer (exegesis) and interpretation of the Quran. Evidence of the excellence of his scholarship, his prodigious and untiring intellectual genius, is provided by his major works which run into many lengthy volumes each.



Al-Masudi. (Abul-Hasan Ali bin Al-Husain bin Ali Al-Masudi, died in 346AH). A well-known Arab historian, descendent of one of the Companions of the Prophet (SAWS), Abdullah bin Masood (RA), author of two books on history including long sections on Seerah, both mentioned above.





Appendix B: Notes





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Note 1: The Blessed Ten



These 10 men were known as Ashrat-ul-Mubashira-literally: "the ten who have been given the good news". Long before their death these men had been told by the Prophet that they would enter into paradise. I have translated the term idiomatically as the Blessed Ten. For those interested, these 10 men were:



Ali

Abu Bakr

Uthman

Zubair bin Al Awwam

Abdur-Rahman bin Auf

Sad bin Abi Waqqas

Talha bin Ubaidullah

Abu Ubaidah bin Al Jarrah

Saeed bin Zaid

Umar



The list shows the order of their conversion. There were others who became Muslims before some of these (like Zaid bin Harithah, who was the second male to accept Islam), but they were not among the Blessed Ten.



Note 2: Khalid and the Yemen



Early historians have quoted some sources as saying that Khalid was also sent to the Yemen to convert the province to Islam; that he had no success; that the Prophet then sent Ali, placing Khalid under his command; and that Ali successfully accomplished the conversion of the Yemen. It is true that Ali went and converted the Yemenis, but I do not believe that Khalid was sent before him to the Yemen. The conversion of the Yemen was too big a job for a new convert like Khalid; it needed a Companion of high standing, like Ali. Moreover, if as stated, Khalid had no success in the Yemen, he was bound to have shed blood; and we know that there was no bloodshed in the Yemen at the hands of Khalid. Finally, Khalid returned from Najran in January 632 (Ibn Hisham; Vol 2, p. 594), while Ali left for the Yemen in December 631 (Ibn Sad: p. 687). So the report of Khalid going to the Yemen could not be true.



Perhaps the nearness of Najran to the Yemen led some chroniclers to confuse Khalid's actual mission to the former with an imagined mission to the latter.



Note 3: Dates of the Campaign of Apostasy



We know the dates of events more or less accurately up to and including the organisation of the 11 corps by Abu Bakr at Zhu Qissa. Thereafter the early historians give no dates.



We do know, however, that the entire campaign was completed by the end of 11 Hijri. We know that the Battle of Yamamah was fought in the early part of winter ("The cold has come"-Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 518.) We also, know the chronological sequence of the various battles and other events. And there are certain pointers, like reinforcements for Battle E being sent on conclusion of Battle C, and so on.



From this information, I have worked out the approximate dates of the various events that have been described, with the help of my military experience and judgement: for instance, it would take so long for a force to move from A to B; it would take so long to prepare for battle; it would take so long to complete administrative actions after battle before the next operation could be launched, and so on.



Because such estimates cannot be entirely accurate, I have given all dates after the formation of the 11 corps in terms of weeks rather than days. There may still be some inaccuracy, but probably of no more than a week or so.



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Note 4: Plan for Invasion of Iraq



Early historians quote certain sources as narrating another version of the Caliph's plan for the invasion of Iraq. This version is as follows:

a. Abu Bakr instructed two generals to enter Iraq: Khalid from below, via Uballa, and Ayadh bin Ghanam from above, via Muzayyah. Ayadh was then somewhere in Northern Arabia, between Nibbaj and the Hijaz.



b. Hira was given as the common objective to both generals. Whichever of them got to Hira first would become the Commander-in-Chief and the other would serve under him.



c. The Commander-in-Chief would then leave sufficient forces to guard Hira as a base, and proceed with the rest of the army to fight the Persians in the imperial capital, Ctesiphon.



I reject this version for the following reasons:



(i) Abu Bakr, who relied heavily on Khalid to fight the main battles of the apostasy, would not plan the new campaign in a way that might place Khalid under the command of an untried general like Ayadh bin Ghanam, who was in any case not in the same class as Khalid.



(ii) Abu Bakr believed strongly in the principle of concentration of force, as is evident from his conduct of the Campaign of the Apostasy. It is unlikely that he would violate that principle now by splitting the available forces into two and launching them in two widely separated areas whence they would be unable to support each other. A two-pronged invasion, sometimes desirable and sound, would be a grave error in this case, when the enemy was so much stronger and operated on interior lines. The Muslims, split into two forces, would suffer defeat in detail.



(iii) If this version were true and Ctesiphon was indeed the ultimate objective of the invasion, Khalid would certainly have attacked it. Actually, we know from Tabari that towards the end of the campaign, Khalid wanted to attack Ctesiphon but did not do so for fear of the Caliph's disapproval. And there is no mention anywhere of Abu Bakr ever cancelling his supposed order to attack Ctesiphon or, alternatively, reminding Khalid of it.



(iv) As it happened, Ayadh was stuck at Daumat-ul-Jandal and was later helped out by Khalid. If his objective were "Iraq from above" there was no need for him to engage in serious hostilities in a region far from his objective, especially when other and better routes to that objective were available to him. Ayadh bin Ghanam did have a force under his command, but its strength was not very great. His objective was probably none other than Daumat-ul-Jandal. Abu Bakr may, of course, have had the intention of sending him to Iraq later to support Khalid, for after Daumat-ul-Jandal he did proceed to Iraq with Khalid and served under his command.



Note 5: The Battle of the River



The description of this battle is taken exclusively from Tabari, but Tabari places this battle at Mazar and names it after both Mazar and the River (Sinyy). Balazuri (p. 243) also mentions a battle at Mazar, while the accounts of Ibn Ishaq and Waqidi make no mention of action in the Kazima-Uballa-Mazar region.



Mazar, according to Yaqut(Vol. 4, p. 468) was four days' journey from Basra on the road to Wasit (which was founded in 83 Hijri); and it was on the One-Eyed Tigris. Mazar is now believed to have stood on the site of the present Azeir, on the right bank of the Tigris. Azeir is actually about eighty miles from Basra and this places it correctly as the site of Mazar.



But it should be noted that Mazar was about 70 miles beyond the River and 25 miles beyond the Euphrates. Thus it could not be reached without an elaborate arrangement of boats for crossing the rivers; and there is no mention of Khalid crossing any river to go to Mazar. The arrangements necessary for the collection of boats for the crossing of the entire Muslim army would surely have attracted the attention of historians, as Khalid's use of boats after Ulleis did, and an event like the crossing of the Euphrates could not have gone unnoticed by the chroniclers.



I believe that Khalid never crossed this river. No Arab commander (of those days, that is) would cross a large river and move far beyond it, thus putting a major obstacle between himself and the desert, while powerful enemy forces were free to manoeuvre against his rear. This would be even more so when the enemy was the formidable imperial Persian. The desert strategy of Khalid, and of other Arab commanders after him, was based on the principle of staying close to the fringes of the desert. Moreover, since Khalid's objective was Hira, his crossing the River and the Euphrates to go into Central Iraq, thus deviating from his objective, would not make sense. Hence, in my view, this battle was the Battle of the River only, and not the Battle of Mazar also.



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Note 6: Location of Khanafis etc.



There is no certainty about the location of Khanafis, Huseid, Muzayyah, Saniyy and Zhumail, and I accept the possibility of error in my geographical reconstruction of this operation. Historical indications about these locations are given below.



Khanafis: According to Yaqut (Vol. 2, p. 473), the place was near Anbar and in the vicinity of Baradan. Musil, in one part of his book (p. 309), suggests that it was west of the Euphrates, but elsewhere places it at the present Kazimein, 5 miles above Baghdad, stating that Baradan was a district 4 leagues from Baghdad.



I place it definitely west of the Euphrates (though its exact location is a guess) on the basis of Tabari and geographical indications:



a. Tabari states (Vol. 2, p. 580) that Khalid left Hira on the route to Khanafis and caught up with Qaqa and Abu Laila at Ain-ut-Tamr. If Khanafis were east of the Euphrates, there could be no question of Ain-ut-Tamr being on the way to it.



b. In 13 Hijri, Muthanna wanted to raid Baghdad and Khanafis from Ulleis (Tabari: Vol. 2, pp. 655-6), and was told by guides that the two were some days journey apart and that Khanafis was quicker to get to. Muthanna went to Khanafis by "the land route" and then continued to Anbar. Thus if Khanafis were at or near Kazimein, it would not be some days away from Baghdad and could not be reached by reached by "the land route".



I place Bardan as the Wadi-ul-Ghadaf, which was also known as Wadi-ul-Burdan, and runs 25 miles north of Ain-ut-Tamr. If there was a place named Bardan or Burdan, it no longer exists, but the Wadi suggests its general geographical location. This is supported by Tabari's statement (Vol. 2, p. 581) that on his march from Ain-ut-Tamr to Muzayyah, Khalid went past Bardan. I have placed Khanafis a little north of the Wadi.



Huseid:Yaqut (Vol. 2, p. 281) mentions this as a small valley between Kufa and Syria. Hence this was definitely west of the Euphrates, but must have been east of Khanafis because of the direction of Mahbuzan's withdrawal. Had Khanafis been to the east, Mahbuzan would have withdrawn towards Ctesiphon and not to Muzayyah. Musil also (p. 309) places Huseid west of the Euphrates, but its exact location is uncertain.



Muzayyah: Yaqut (Vol. 4, p. 560) calls this place a hill in Najd, on the bank of the Wadi-ul-Jareeb, in the area of the Rabee'a, which was one of the tribes of the Taghlib group in Iraq. (Najd means a high tableland, and this was not the Najd in Arabia.) Tabari (Vol. 2, p. 580) places it between Hauran and Qalt. Musil (p. 303) locates it at Ain-ul-Arnab, 270 kilometres from Hira, 115 kilometres north-west of Anbar and 75 kilometres south-south-east of Aqlat Hauran. Ain-ul-Arnab is correctly located now 25 miles west of the present Heet. In the absence of any other indications, I accept this as Muzayyah.



Saniyy and Zhumail: Both Yaqut and Tabari (and Musil, who follows Yaqut in this) are well off the mark in their location of these places. Yaqut (Vol. 1, p. 937) places Saniyy east of Risafa and Zhumail near Bashar, east of Risafa and east of the Euphrates. Tabari (Vol. 2, p. 582) also locates them east of Risafa. Risafa is in Syria, north-north-east of Palmyra and 15 miles south of the Euphrates. Musil (p. 312) places the two battlefields in the foothills of the Bisri Range, which runs north-east of Palmyra, and regards Bashar as another name for Bisri.



I reject these locations emphatically. It is unthinkable that Khalid should take his army 250 miles from Muzayyah (about 400 miles from his base at Hira-almost a six weeks turn-round-merely to tackle two Arab concentrations which in no way concerned him. Moreover, the Bisri Range and Risafa were deep in Syria, and there could be just no question of Khalid taking such liberties with the Caliph's instructions, which confined his area of operations to Iraq.



I have found Zhumail. It is marked on certain maps as a ruined town 35 miles north-west of Ain-ut-Tamr, on the bank of the Wadi Zhumail. The one-million scale map (Dept. of Survey, War Office and Air Ministry, London, 1962) spells it as Thumail, and this is a much more sensible location for the place. Saniyy must have been between this place and Muzayyah, and I have shown it on Map 14 as 25 miles north-west of Zhumail. (This could be wrong by a few miles; but not much more.)



It is possible of course, that there was another Risafa somewhere in Western Iraq, in which case the reference to it by Yaqut and Tabari would be correct.



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Note 7: Dates of Campaign in Iraq



The dates of some battles are given in the early accounts, but for others they are missing. We know that Khalid's march from Yamamah and the Battle of Kazima took place in Muharram; the Battles of the River, Walaja and Ulleis were fought in Safar; and Hira was conquered in Rabi-ul-Awwal. We also know the approximate date of Khalid's arrival at Firaz and the exact date of the Battle of Firaz.



The dates of the remaining battles, from Anbar to Zhumail, are not given. I have assessed these dates according to military judgement, as for the Campaign of the Apostasy. And since these are approximations, I have given these dates in weeks rather than in days.



Note 8: The Camel and Water



Early writers have described how, before this march began, many of the camels were made to drink vast quantities of water which they stored inside their bellies. These animals were then slaughtered on the march, a few every day, and the water in their bellies used for the horses.



This is an old legend and, strangely enough, believed up to this day. Actually the camel carries no water as a reservoir in any part of its body. The fact is that the muscle tissue of the camel holds a higher percentage of water than is the case with other animals, and thus the camel can go without water for longer periods than other animals without suffering dehydration. The legend of the water reservoir inside the camel, which the rider can use for survival as a last resort, is just that-a legend!



Note 9: The Route of the Perilous March



Certain present-day writers have given Khalid's route as the southern one, i.e. via Daumat-ul-Jandal. According to this version, Khalid marched from Hira to Daumat-ul-Jandal and then to Quraqir (and there is such a place about 70 miles north-west of Daumat-ul-Jandal). Thence he made the perilous march across unchartered desert to reach Eastern Syria.



Indeed some of the early writers have mentioned Daumat-ul-Jandal. Balazuri gives Daumat-ul-Jandal as the stage a next after Arak and just before Tadmur, which is clearly impossible. Tabari mentions one source as saying that from Hira Khalid went to Quraqir via Daumat-ul-Jandal, though in his main account of the march he makes no reference at all to Daumat-ul-Jandal. Waqidi and Yaqubi in their description of this route entirely omit both Daumat-ul-Jandal and Quraqir.



The fact is that some of the early narrators confused this march with Khalid's operations against Daumat-ul-Jandal, which have been described in Part III of this book. They have even stated that it was on this march that he captured Daumat-ul-Jandal, which is incorrect.



The operative condition in Abu Bakr's instructions to Khalid was to march with speed. Going via Daumat-ul-Jandal, Khalid could not fulfil this condition as the move would take a long time to complete. And if he did go to Daumat-ul-Jandal, why should he not take the direct caravan route to Syria and join the Muslim forces deployed in the area of Busra and Jabiya? On this route there was no enemy on the way, his fears of which we have mentioned. Why should he risk the annihilation of the entire army by traversing an unchartered, waterless desert only about 20 or 30 miles east of the main caravan route? And why should he bypass the Muslim forces, which it was his task to contact and take under command, go deeper into hostile territory in Eastern Syria, and then fight his way back again to join the Muslim forces? This does not make sense.



Moreover, according to both Tabari (Vol. 2, p. 601) and Balazuri (p. 118), Khalid marched from Hira to Quraqir via Sandauda and Muzayyah. These two places are north-west of Hira, the distance to Muzayyah being about 200 miles. Why should Khalid travel this extra distance north-westwards from Hira and then turn south again to go to Daumat-ul-Jandal? This makes even less sense!



The correct general alignment of the route is given by Waqidi and Yaqubi and also by Tabari, except for his passing reference to one source relating to the route through Daumat-ul-Jandal. The route that I have described, i.e. the one leading directly from Iraq to Syria, was the quickest route; and Khalid's subsequent operations in Eastern Syria, which followed his entry into Syria, only make sense in the context of a march on this route. In fact clear indications of this route are given by:



a. Khalid's fears of being held up by Roman garrisons (Tabari: Vol. 2, p. 603).



b. Waqidi's mention of Khalid's traversing 'the land of Samawa', which is in the Badiyat-ush-Sham (the Desert of Syria), which covers Western Iraq and South-Eastern Syria (Waqidi: p. 14).



c. Tabari's statement that on completion of the march Khalid had left behind the frontiers of Rome and its garrisons facing Iraq.



d. Muthanna's accompanying Khalid up to Quraqir, which he would not have done if it were as far away as the border of North-Western Arabia.



Although the general alignment of the route can be deduced from historical accounts, no one can be absolutely certain about the exact route taken by Khalid. The route that I have here offered can only be generally correct, and may be out by several miles. Certain pointers used are explained below.



Arak is there even now in Syria, about 20 miles east-north-east of Palmyra. Suwa was a day's march from Arak, and the spring a day's march from Suwa. Thus the spring was about 50 miles from Arak, and this puts it at about the Bir Warid of today. Quraqir was five days from the spring which means between 100 and 150 miles away. This gives us a bel in which Quraqir was located. Of course, this Quraqir is not there today and no one knows its precise location, but according to Yaqut (Vol. 4, p. 49) it was a valley and a watering place of the Bani Kalb in Samawa; and the land of Samawa is part of the Desert of Syria, as stated above. Thus this Quraqir was certainly in Western Iraq and not in North-Western Arabia.



In Western Iraq exist the ruins of several ancient towns and castles which are clearly shown on an archaeological map of Iraq prepared by the Iraqi Directorate General of Antiquities. West of Muzayyah lie Qasr-ul-Khubbaz, Qasr Amij and Qasr Muheiwir, the last one being 120 miles from Muzayyah; and although the ruins relate to the Parthian period, they are believed to have existed as watering places for caravans until well into the Muslim period. This is the route which Khalid's movement must have followed before the start of the Perilous March; and I place Quraqir at or near Qasr Muheiwir, on the Wadi Hauran. This place is 120 miles from the spring, which is about the distance of a five day's march of that period.



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Note 10: Battle of Marj-us-Saffar



Waqidi says nothing in his account about the Battle of Marj-us-Suffar. Yaqubi (Vol. 2, p. 139) and Balazuri (p. 125), mention this battle as being fought before the conquest of Damascus.



Waqidi, strangely enough, describes two sieges of Damascus, the first one being abandoned after a short time, while all other historians have mentioned only one siege-the successful one. According to Waqidi (p. 18), Khalid came to Damascus from the north-east, after the Battle of Busra, fought the battle against Azazeer and Kulus who came out of Damascus to meet him in the open, and then invested Damascus (p. 21). But soon after, he raised the siege and marched to Ajnadein to fight Wardan.



Gibbon accepts this version of Waqidi but it does not appear to be really acceptable. In the context of the mission given to Khalid by the Caliph, of taking command quickly of the Muslim forces in Syria and fighting the Romans (whose most threatening concentration was at Ajnadein) such an action does not make sense. It is unthinkable that Khalid should first approach Damascus from the north-east and raid Marj Rahit; then bypass Damascus, march to Busra and capture Busra; then again approach Damascus from the north-east, fight Azazeer and Kulus and invest the city; then raise the siege and march to Ajnadein.



But the events described by Waqidi in the action against Azazeer and Kulus are real and correct. They did take place. So I have assumed that they took place before the one and only siege, and this was the Battle of Marj-us-Suffar.



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Note 11: Date of Conquest of Damascus



Most early historians and practically all later ones, have given the fall of Damascus as occurring in Rajab, 14 Hijri (September 635). Waqidi is the only one of the early writers who has placed it a year earlier, i.e. Rajab, 13 Hijri, and this I regard as correct. There are various pointers to this in the early accounts, most of which are linked with the death of Abu Bakr, which occurred on the 22nd of Jamadi-ul-Akhir, 13 Hijri, i.e. the month preceding the conquest of Damascus, and the removal of Khalid from the command of the army by Umar.



The letter which Umar wrote to Abu Ubaidah, appointing him the commander of the army, reached him while a great battle was in progress, and Abu Ubaidah withheld this information from Khalid until after the battle had been won. This battle could not have been that of Ajnadein, which was fought-and on this there is universal agreement-in Jamadi-ul-Awwal, 13 Hijri. Some writers have quoted sources saying that the event took place at Yaqusa. But this could not be correct either, as Yaqusa was just a one-day battle. Some who consider that the year of the Battle of Yarmuk was 13 Hijri have said that the letter reached Abu Ubaidah during this battle. This too is incorrect, as the Battle of Yarmuk was fought in 15 Hijri.



All the early historians have quoted some sources as saying that the letter reached Abu Ubaidah while the Muslims were besieging Damascus, and that he did not inform Khalid of this until after the surrender of the city. In my view this is correct; and if it is, then Damascus could not have fallen in Rajab, 14 Hijri, for this information regarding the change of command could not possibly have been concealed from the Muslims for a whole year. It could be concealed for a few weeks-certainly no more than a month-as I have assumed.



The pact with the Damascenes was signed by Khalid as the Muslim commander and witnessed by Abu Ubaidah. This pact was actually seen by Waqidi in the following century. There can be no question of this pact being signed by Khalid a year after his removal from command with Abu Ubaidah, the actual commander, only witnessing it.



According to Waqidi (p. 62), the oath of allegiance to Umar was taken by the Muslims at Damascus on the 3rd of Shaban, 13 Hijri, when they had finished with the siege of Damascus. And this was after the return of Khalid from his raid at Marj-ud-Deebaj; which came after the fall of Damascus.



Another point: The Battle of Fahl, according to every historian, was fought in Zu Qad, 13 Hijri, and all historians have quoted some sources as saying that this battle took place after the conquest of Damascus.



As for the duration of the siege of Damascus, historians disagree. It has been given variously as one year, six months, four months and 70 days. I put it at about a month. It could not have been very long, as then Heraclius would certainly have made more than one attempt to relieve the beleaguered garrison. If Heraclius could raise another large army for the battle of Fahl, fought in Zu Qad, 13 Hijri, he would certainly have used such an army for the relief of Damascus, had the siege continued till then. In any case, a garrison and a population so large could not have been victualled for a long siege in the three weeks which elapsed after the Battle of Ajnadein until the siege began. Here again Waqidi's version is the most sensible one.



Keeping all this in mind, we must conclude that Damascus fell on or about Rajab 20,13 Hijri, after a siege of one month.



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Note 12: Yarmuk-Opposing Strengths



There is a difference of opinion about the strength of both armies at the Battle of Yarmuk. As frequently happens in such cases, there has been a tendency to show ones own strength as less than it was and the enemy strength as more than it was.



Let us first take the Roman strength. Muslim historians assess it as follows:



a. Tabari, in one place, (Vol. 2, p. 598, where he gives his main account of the battle) shows it as 200,000 men. Elsewhere (Vol. 3, p. 74) he quotes Ibn Ishaq as saying that it was a 100,000 including 12,000 Armenians and 12,000 Christian Arabs.



b. Balazuri (p. 140) gives the Roman strength as 200,000.



c. Waqidi (p. 107) exaggerates it to a fantastic figure, but his estimate of the Roman who used chains (30,000, p. 139) seems very reasonable.



As for Western writers, Gibbon (Vol. 5, p. 325), taking his material from early Byzantine sources, gives the Roman strength as 140,000 including 60,000 Christian Arabs.



There is obvious exaggeration on both sides, but less so on the Western side, because the Byzantines would know their own strength better than their opponents would. We should dismiss the figure of 200,000 as incorrect. Such a vast army could not possibly have been assembled on one battlefield; and the problems of the concentration, movement, supply and feeding of such a force, with the relatively primitive communications of the time, would be such that any staff officer entrusted with the task would promptly resign his commission! This point will be more apparent to the trained military mind than to the civilian reader.



On the Western side, too, there is an attempt to minimise the Roman strength, especially the European part of it-partly perhaps for reasons of racial pride. It is absurd to say that the Arab section of the army amounted to 60,000 men. Just the Arabs of Syria could hardly have produced such a numerous army, when the entire Muslim State, which included Arabia, the Yemen, Iraq and Gulf States, could only produce 40,000. This is therefore probably nothing more than an attempt to pass the blame on to the Arabs. It is noteworthy that while Gibbon gives the Christian Arab strength as 40 per cent, Ibn Ishaq (a reliable source) gives it as only 12 per cent.



Allowing for exaggeration on both sides, I believe that the Roman army was 150,000 strong. It is impossible to say how strong each contingent was, but in the absence of any data, I have assumed that each of the five armies which comprised the Roman army at Yarmuk (including the Christian Arab army of Jabla) was roughly a fifth of the total Roman strength. There is, of course, the possibility of some error in this assumption. As for the Muslim strength, Tabari in one place (Vol. 2, p. 592) gives it as 40,000 plus a reserve of 6,000. Elsewhere (Vol. 3, p. 74), he quotes Ibn Ishaq as saying that the Muslims numbered 24,000-this against 100,000 Romans. Balazuri (p. 141) agrees with Ibn Ishaq, while Waqidi (p. 144) places the Muslim strength at 41,000.



I doubt that it could have been more than Waqidi's figure, and in order to accommodate Balazuri and Ibn Ishaq, have given the Muslim strength as 40,000, i.e. Tabari's figure without the reserve. This gives a ratio of roughly one Muslim to four of the opposition.



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Note 13: Battlefield of Yarmuk



Early historians do not say precisely where the Battle of Yarmuk was fought, and as a result, a dispute has arisen among later writers on this point. Some have given the battle-front as the Yarmuk River itself; others have put it a little south of the Yarmuk; yet others have placed it east of the Yarmuk. We shall take up these theories in turn.



No battle could be fought across the Yarmuk River. I have described the ravine, and one look at it would convince any observer of this statement. Cavalry just cannot cross the gorge, and infantry movement is only possible in single file, with soldiers picking their way carefully over the sides, skirting the precipices. This is out!



A battle south of the river-on this grand scale that is-is out of the question. The terrain consists of spurs, flanked by steep wadis, running down to the Yarmuk, and nothing more than small-scale actions and skirmishes are possible in this terrain. This could not be the place which Khalid described as "a plain suitable for the charge of cavalry". Moreover, if the battle had been fought south of the Yarmuk, the Romans would have been pushed into the Yarmuk rather than the Wadi-ur-Raqqad, and this did not happen.



As for a battle east of the Yarmuk, the terrain permits a great battle here, as it consists of an open plain, north of Dar'a. But there is no indication anywhere in the early accounts of the battle being fought here. In fact the pointers are against it, for as indicated below, they favour the geography of the field I have described. Moreover, the Wadi-ur-Raqqad is too far from the plain east of the Yarmuk (over 20 miles from where the Roman left wing would be) for Khalid to turn the Roman, left, defeat the Roman army in position, herd the Romans into the Raqqad and then destroy them, all in a one-day counter-offensive.



Now for the battlefield I have reconstructed. There are the following clear proofs:



a. Khalid's advice to Abu Ubaidah-which was accepted-to put Azra behind him. This means facing roughly west.



b. Abu Ubaidah, after taking up positions, wrote to Umar that their army was deployed "on the Yarmuk, near Jaulan". (Waqidi.-p. 118).



c. The position of the Roman camp near Jaulan, which is between the Raqqad, Lake Tiberius and the area to the north. And this was 11 miles from the Muslim camp, putting the Muslim camp a little east of where I have placed the battle-line.



d. The Hill of Samein, 3 miles south-west of the present Nawa, is now known as the Hill of Jamu'a (gathering) because, according to local tradition, on it a part of Khalid's army was gathered. This is the clearest indication of the battle-front, as in most Arab countries these traditions have been passed down accurately from father to son since the earliest times.



e. The manoeuvre, as it was conducted, ending at the Wadi-ur-Raqqad in a one-day counter-offensive, could only be possible, in time and space, from the central or west-central part of the Plain of Yarmuk.



f. The front could not have been further east because the Muslims would not then have been on the Yarmuk, which starts at Jalleen, behind where I have shown the Muslim left wing. Moreover, Dhiraar's outflanking movement on the night before the last day of battle would not have been possible if the Muslim army had been 20 miles away.



Hence the battle-front could only have been more or less as it has been described in the chapter on Yarmuk. This should not be out by more than a mile or so, except for the Hill of Jamu'a, which was definitely in Muslim hands.



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map 2 chapter 7

The advance consisted of convergent thrusts aimed at a single central objective which would have the effect of chopping up the enemy into small portions and also force dispersion on him, so that he would be unable to concentrate for battle on any one axis of advance. Moreover, even if the enemy succeeded in holding up the advance on some axes, the attackers would have other axes on which to break through and thus enjoy better prospects of success. All approaches were used to meet this requirement of military tactics. This was also done to prevent the escape of the Quraish; but later, when vigilance had been relaxed, some individuals did succeed in getting away.

1. 1bn Hisham: Vol. 2, pp. 402-5, Ibn Sad: p. 644; Waqidi: Maghazi: pp. 327-31.
2. MISSING REFERENCE What does it refer to?- The whole area covered by Map 5 is hilly, but since the hills could not be accurately drawn without the aid of large scale topographical maps, no hills are shown on the map-just the places and the directions of the advancing columns.

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Vision Without Glasses

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