The Battle of Yarmouk

…it sealed the fate of Syria, the prime Roman province
The Battle of Yarmouk
Representational Pic

Yarmouk with Qadsia constitutes what the legends are madeof. 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 AbuObaidah (RA) too held the war council. The decisions taken were to dispatch anemissary to apprise the caliph of the developments and suggest the strategicmoves for caliphate consideration and approval. The recommendations entaileddecampment at Hems and holding on to Damascus and Jordan. Decampment at Hemshad a snag, the return of'Jaziah' the protection money. In spite of needingmaterial resources for the battle ahead, Hazrat Abu Obaidah (RA) had histreasury officer, Habib bin Maslamah pay back the last penny of it, sinceprotection could no more be provided. Such was the sense of justice.  The citizens of Hems bade Muslims a tearfuladieu, exhorting them to get back. Jews especially were aghast, so fairly hadthey been treated by Muslims.

Saifulah Khalid ibn Walid (RA) in Damascus was considered asource of logistic comfort. The great warrior could be depended to hold openthe lines of communication for troop re-enforcement.  Damascus was vital, the city beingstrategically located near the frontier with mainland Arabia. Amr ibn Aas [RA]was in command in Jordan. With Damascus and Jordan secure, Muslims heldlogistic aces, there were snags though. Romans were widening their frontlineand thickening their reserves. Comparatively disproportionate Muslim lineshowever converted the apparent weakness into an advantage. Several campaigns withSaifulah Khalid [RA] in command had made Muslim columns nimble footed. Swiftmovement was their forte, negating the advantage of dense enemy lines. They hadanother 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]. HazratAbd-ur-Rehman bin Auf (RA) called upon Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA] to take personalcommand. Others argued in favour of the Caliph staying in the Capital city toarrange re-enforcements, which could be promptly rushed to Syria. The viewprevailed, the caliph stayed back. However, it is recorded that a stream ofmessages by swift riders stationed en-route from the seat ofcaliphate–Madinat-ul-Nabi right up to the warfront kept him apprised ofdetails. Caliph Hazrat Omar Farooq [RA] was a master of detail. He had a greatsense of deciphering the detail and working out the solution in consultationwith Shoura.

In Constantinople, Caesar Heracles, on the contrary wasconstrained to listen to the view of clergy. Many historians relate that hisinstincts were basically sound; however clergy stood to confuse and confound.With Emperor Constantine adopting Christianity as a state religion in the 4thcentury A.D, Pauline Christianity dogmatic in approach had assumed an upperhand. The clergy in Constantinople considered it a religious duty to adviseCaesar; much as the Indian Brahmins had the Rajas follow their word.  The simple and pure massage of Jesus Christnegatedthe dogmatism of the Jewish Rabbis at the temple of Solomon inJerusalem. However down the ages, his own religious order was engulfed by thesame brand of dogmatism, he had campaigned against. Any view contrary ofchurch, 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 noexception. In such a scenario, Islam came like a whiff of fresh air to massesworld-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'. Thirtymiles down the fall, a vast plain suited for encampment of a large army wasoccupied by Romans, unmindful of semicircular loop on the northern side, at theneck of which is a ravine, forming the entrance to the flat space inside. Thespot called 'Wakusa' is famous in Islamic history of, as the occupation ofravine gave Islamic forces the control of 'Chicken's Neck' the idealstranglehold. For two months, the adversaries took measure of each other, therewere several peace parleys. Ultimately the Caliph Hazrat Omar Farooq (RA)ordered the Islamic forces to fall upon the enemy like lions. A heroic battleensued with a commander named Bahan leading the Romans. Some touchingoratorical notes in Arabic, a language known for its oratory were heardexhorting the troops to march on, including the one of Abu Sufian, who had thetemerity to oppose the Prophet (BPUH) in formative years of Islam. And here hewas, full of high pitched flowery Arabic oratory talking of the glory, whichIslam signifies.

Islamic forces had a level headed man endowed with manyvirtues, of many admirable parts, with Hazrat Abu Obaidah (RA) in command. Themighty warrior,Saifulah Khalid (RA) was in lead, the deft politico-militarymind of Amr ibn Aas [RA] guarding flanks and above all the 'Supreme Commander'in Medina–Hazrat Omar (RA) checking moves and counter moves. This battleMuslims 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 anotherhistorian Baladhuri says 70,000 out of a total of about 200,000 enemy troopswere slain, a very high figure in military terms. And out of 60,000 Muslimstroops, the loss was just 3,000 men.

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

 Yaar Zinda, SohbatBaqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]

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