The Battle of Yarmouk

Yarmouk with Qadsia constitutes what the legends are made of. Yarmouk sealed Syria and Qadsia delivered Iran. As the Byzantine Emperor, Heracles decided to put in all that he could muster to retain Syria, Hazrat Abu Obaidah (RA) too held the war council. The decisions taken were to dispatch an emissary to apprise the caliph of the developments and suggest the strategic moves for caliphate consideration and approval. The recommendations entailed decampment at Hems and holding on to Damascus and Jordan. Decampment at Hems had a snag, the return of‘Jaziah’ the protection money. In spite of needing material resources for the battle ahead, Hazrat Abu Obaidah (RA) had his treasury officer, Habib bin Maslamah pay back the last penny of it, since protection could no more be provided. Such was the sense of justice.  The citizens of Hems bade Muslims a tearful adieu, exhorting them to get back. Jews especially were aghast, so fairly had they been treated by Muslims.

Saifulah Khalid ibn Walid (RA) in Damascus was considered a source of logistic comfort. The great warrior could be depended to hold open the lines of communication for troop re-enforcement.  Damascus was vital, the city being strategically located near the frontier with mainland Arabia. Amr ibn Aas [RA] was in command in Jordan. With Damascus and Jordan secure, Muslims held logistic aces, there were snags though. Romans were widening their frontline and thickening their reserves. Comparatively disproportionate Muslim lines however converted the apparent weakness into an advantage. Several campaigns with Saifulah Khalid [RA] in command had made Muslim columns nimble footed. Swift movement was their forte, negating the advantage of dense enemy lines. They had another huge advantage…supreme command of Caliph—Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA]. 

In Medina-ul-Nabi, the capital city a war council was held, in the Islamic spirit of Shoura-e-Bainahum [mutual consultation]. Hazrat Abd-ur-Rehman bin Auf (RA) called upon Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA] to take personal command. Others argued in favour of the Caliph staying in the Capital city to arrange re-enforcements, which could be promptly rushed to Syria. The view prevailed, the caliph stayed back. However, it is recorded that a stream of messages by swift riders stationed en-route from the seat of caliphate–Madinat-ul-Nabi right up to the warfront kept him apprised of details. Caliph Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA] was a master of detail. He had a great sense of deciphering the detail and working out the solution in consultation with Shoura.

In Constantinople, Caesar Heracles, on the contrary was constrained to listen to the view of clergy. Many historians relate that his instincts were basically sound; however clergy stood to confuse and confound. With Emperor Constantine adopting Christianity as a state religion in the 4th century A.D, Pauline Christianity dogmatic in approach had assumed an upper hand. The clergy in Constantinople considered it a religious duty to advise Caesar; much as the Indian Brahmins had the Rajas follow their word.  The simple and pure massage of Jesus Christ negatedthe dogmatism of the Jewish Rabbis at the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. However down the ages, his own religious order was engulfed by the same brand of dogmatism, he had campaigned against. Any view contrary of church, even if sane was labeled as blasphemy. Vengeance was wrought on Jews. Over emphatic clergy has been the bane of many a religion,Christianity was no exception. In such a scenario, Islam came like a whiff of fresh air to masses world-over.

Yarmouk—the battlefield is described by Ameer Ali in his ‘History of Saracens’ as an obscure river, which rising in the high-lands of ‘Hauran’ falls into Jordan, a few miles south of lake of ‘Tiberius’. Thirty miles down the fall, a vast plain suited for encampment of a large army was occupied by Romans, unmindful of semicircular loop on the northern side, at the neck of which is a ravine, forming the entrance to the flat space inside. The spot called ‘Wakusa’ is famous in Islamic history of, as the occupation of ravine gave Islamic forces the control of ‘Chicken’s Neck’ the ideal stranglehold. For two months, the adversaries took measure of each other, there were several peace parleys. Ultimately the Caliph Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA) ordered the Islamic forces to fall upon the enemy like lions. A heroic battle ensued with a commander named Bahan leading the Romans. Some touching oratorical notes in Arabic, a language known for its oratory were heard exhorting the troops to march on, including the one of Abu Sufian, who had the temerity to oppose the Prophet (BPUH) in formative years of Islam. And here he was, full of high pitched flowery Arabic oratory talking of the glory, which Islam signifies.

Islamic forces had a level headed man endowed with many virtues, of many admirable parts, with Hazrat Abu Obaidah (RA) in command. The mighty warrior,Saifulah Khalid (RA) was in lead, the deft politico-military mind of Amr ibn Aas [RA] guarding flanks and above all the ‘Supreme Commander’ in Medina–Hazrat Omar (RA) checking moves and counter moves. This battle Muslims could not have lost with the generalship provided by Saifulah Khalid [RA] backed by highly cultured blending of forces by Hazrat Abu Obadiah [RA] they didn’t. Islamic historians Tabari and Azdi say 100,000 and another historian Baladhuri says 70,000 out of a total of about 200,000 enemy troops were slain, a very high figure in military terms. And out of 60,000 Muslims troops, the loss was just 3,000 men.

With Syria lost, the Roman/Byzantine Empire was deprived of its financial backbone, Damascus being the center, where trade caravans of yore crossed path.

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