Hazrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqas (RA): Conqueror of Iran

Hazrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqas (RA) was the maternal uncle of the Prophet (AS) one of the most eminent of Suhaba [companions of Prophet (pbuh]. In spite of such an exalted status, doubts were expressed about his commanding abilities, though he was a fair manager of men, a safe administrator and on an individual basis, a valiant fighter. It is worth noting that stress was on sound administration of territories coming into the Islamic fold rather than spectacular victories in the battlefield. Hazrat Saad Ibn Abi Waqas (RA) took over from where Masna ibn Haris Al-Shybani of Banu Bakr tribe in Basra (erroneously got typed as Bahrain in last week’s column) left. 

Qadisiyyah: Umm-ul-Hur’r [Mother of Battles (14 A.H/636 A.D)] is recorded in history, as one of the two greatest battles, the Muslims forces fought in the Caliphate of Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA] the other being Yarmouk on the Syrian front. Qadisiyyah had the plains of Persia in front and the hills of Arabia in the back. The area, with a network of bridges and canals was situated about 30-40 miles away from the Iranian capital, Median (twin city across Tigris). Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA) had visited the place and was well versed with its topography ideally suited to be the battlefield. By selecting Qadisiyyah, where he wanted his troops to camp, he had the advance, as well as the retreat in view. Advance, in case of victory and retreat, in case of a reverse. Lest he might have forgotten with the passage of time certain salient features, he ordered the commander of the forces in Iran, Hazrat Saad ibn Waqas (RA) to furnish fresh maps. That done and diplomatic option exhausted, with Rustam, the Iranian CNC swearing to annihilate Islamic forces, the epic battles started, with the commander of Islamic forces, incapacitated.

Hazrat Saad ibn Waqas (RA) was suffering from sciatica, says Shubli Nomani, while as some accounts relate, painful boils. Hence the valiant warrior was forced to direct the movement of his forces, seated on the upper floor of an old royal palace on the fringes of the battlefield. Entrusting on the field movements to Hazrat Khalid ibn Arfatah (RA) he chose to direct the battle by passing on written instructions. As was the routine of the times, the orators and the poets warmed the hearts of their troops by recounting past deeds of valour and what was expected of them in the battle ahead. On ‘Yam-ul-Armah’ as the first day of Umm-ul-Hur is recorded in Arab chronicles, the Persian elephants posed a formidable challenge to Islamic forces. The light footed Arab cavalry, used to charge on horses of the finest breed stood dazed by the movement of huge elephants. The elephants had long been the main cavalry formation of Persians in their almost unstoppable fights with Romans for global supremacy, the twosome constituted the superpowers of the past. And they were being put to effective use against Arabs, who had no idea, how to tackle the menace. The tribesmen of ‘Tamim’ famous archers and lancers of Arabia did knock the riders with a volley of arches and lances, even turned the canopied seats on the elephants upside down; however an effective strategy to combat elephants, remained to be worked out. By desk, as the darkness descended, the Arabs and the Iranians withdrew to their respective camps, the fate of battle hanging in balance.

On the day two of the battle, while the dead were being buried, the wounded nursed by ladies in the camp, as the battle was about to commence, a cloud of dust was seen to arise from the direction of Syria. Six thousand additional troops had been diverted from the Syrian front led by Hazrat Hisham ibn Utbah (RA) with Hazrat Q’aqa (RA) commanding the vanguard. Hazrat Q’aqa (RA) was a legendary fighter, albeit with a scientific mind. He would study keenly the battle technique of the enemy up to the minutest detail and then workout, how to combat it. Hazrat Q’aqa (RA) planned three significant moves on the day. First he had the re-enforcement columns from Syria enter the battlefield in stages throughout the day, so as to give Persians the impression of a huge army coming to the front, what was merely a force of 6000 men. Second, he announced his arrival, by proclaiming ‘if anyone of you wants to test his courage, let him come out and try it with me’. One of the Persian generals Bahman emerged; he was the one who had slain the one of the ex-commanders, Hazrat Abu Obaidah Tahqifi (RA) in the battle of Jasar, a major reverse for Muslim forces. Hazrat Q’aqa remembered him. ‘’Here comes the slayer of Abu Obaidah, see that he does not escape’’ so said the valiant warrior. He made short work of the Iranian general thus settling the score. Third, by clothing the camels and covering their heads, the Muslim cavalry was invested with as fearsome moving columns as the Persian elephants. Moreover, this retained an element of surprise, as completely draped camels could not be figured out.

On this day, the finest of high bred horses and the sharpest of swords came from Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA) with instructions to be awarded to the most deserving amongst fighters. The recipients of these Caliphate gifts were: Hama ibn Malik, Rabil ibn Amr, Taliah ibn Khuwailad and Asim ibn Omar al-Tamimi. They received a sword each from Hazrat Q’aqa (RA); the horses were awarded to four warriors of Yarbu clan.

Herein, we close recounting the second day, recorded as ‘Aghwath’ on which two thousand Muslims and ten thousand Iranians lost their lives. The battle remained undecided, as we move to day third of the battle of Qadisiyyah, the week next.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]