Battle of al-Qādisiyyah: Wikis


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Battle of Qaddasiyyah
Part of the Muslim conquest of Sassanid empire
Date 16th – 19 November, 636
Location Al-Qādisiyyah, Iraq
Result Decisive Rashidun victory
Iraq annexed by Rashidun Caliphate
Sassanid Persian empire
(Sassanid army)
Rashidun Caliphate
(Rashidun army)
Rostam Farrokhzād  


Caliph Umar

Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās
Qa’qa ibn Amr
Asim ibn Amr
Abdullah ibn Al-Mutim
Shurhabeel ibn As samt
Zuhra ibn Al-Hawiyya

(modern estimates)

(primary sources)[1]

(modern estimates)

25,000 – 30,000
(primary sources)[2]

Casualties and losses
30,000 – 40,000 6,000[2]

The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (Arabic: معركة القادسيّة‎; transliteration, Ma'rakat al-Qādisiyyah; Persian: نبرد قادسيه; alternate spellings: Qadisiyya, Qadisiyyah, Kadisiya) was the decisive engagement between the Arab Muslim army and the Sassanid Persian army during the first period of Muslim expansion which resulted in the Islamic conquest of Persia. It is regarded as the decisive battle in the Islamic conquest of Persia, and a key to the conquest of Iraq. The battle also saw the alleged alliance of Emperor Yazdegerd III with Emperor Heraclius, who then married off his grand daughter Manyanh to Yazdegerd as a symbol of alliance.



At the time of Prophet Mohammad, Persia was ruled by the Sassanid dynasty. The Emperor of which at that time was Khosrau II (590-628), the 22nd Sassanid emperor. Most popularly known as Parvez, ("the ever Victorious").

Khosrau II nominally favoured Christians, but waged a war against the Byzantines to avenge the death of Maurice, who was murdered by Phocas in 602. Thus Persian armies invaded and captured Syria, Egypt and Anatolia and the True Cross was carried away in triumph.[3] This defeat and eventual victory of the Romans was supposedly foretold in the Quran in Surah Ar-Room/The Romans ;

The Roman Empire has been defeated-In a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious-Within a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice-With the help of Allah. He helps whom He will, and He is Exalted in Might, Most Merciful.(It is) the Promise of Allah. Never does Allah depart from His Promise: but most men understand not.

- Quran 030:2-6

Emperor Heraclius, who succeeded Phocas in 610, after uniting the Byzantine empire started a war of re-conquest. He mounted a successful counterattack to roll back the territory lost to Sassanid empire, and defeated the Persians at the final and decisive Battle of Nineveh and advanced towards Ctesiphon. Khosrau fled, offering no resistance, and Heraculis ordered his armies to retreat only after a pact was signed with the newly-appointed Emperor, Khosrau's elder son Kavadh II.[3] According to the pact, the true cross would be given back to Heraculis and all Byzantine territory that the Persians had captured would be evacuated.


Internal Conflicts of Succession

Khosrau II was murdered in his palace, by his son Kavadh II in 629, while the Persian Empire, from the apparent greatness which it had reached ten years ago, sank into hopeless anarchy. Kavadh II put his 18 brothers to death, began negotiations with Heraclius, but died after a reign of a few months[4]. Ardashir III (c. 621–630) son of Kavadh II (628), was raised to the throne as a boy of 7 years, but was killed 18 months later by his general, Shahrbaraz. His real name was Farrokhan and Shahrbaraz was his title. It means "the Boar of the Empire", attesting to his dexterity in military command and his warlike persona, as the boar was the animal associated with the Zoroastrian Izad Vahram, the epitome of victory[4]. It was Shahrbaraz who took Damascus and Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire in 613 and 614 respectively, during the Byzantine-Persian War and the Holy Cross was carried away in triumph[4]. Following the Persian surrender, Shahrbaraz was heavily involved in the intrigues of the Sassanian court. He made peace with Heraclius and returned to him a relic that was accepted as the True Cross[4]. In April 630 he failed to deal with the invasion of Armenia by a Khazar-Gokturk force under Chorpan Tarkhan[4]. On 9 June 630 Shahrbaraz was slain, and Burandukht succeeded him. Buran or more correctly Purandokht was daughter of the King Khosrau II of Persia (590–628) [4]. She was one of only two women on the throne of the Sassanid dynasty (the other was her sister Azarmidokht). She was 26th sovereign Monarch of Persia from 629 to 631. When Purandokht ascended to the throne after the murder of the general Shahrbaraz, who had killed her nephew Ardashir III, She was made Queen of Persia on the understanding that she would vacate the throne on Yazdgerd III attaining majority. She attempted to bring stability to the empire. This stability was brought about by a peace treaty with the Byzantine Empire, the revitalization of the empire through the implementation of justice, reconstruction of the infrastructure, lowering of taxes, and minting coins. She was the one who appointed Rostam Farrokhzād as the commander in chief of the Persian army[4]. She was largely unsuccessful in her attempts to restore the power of the central authority which was weakened considerably by civil wars, and resigned or was murdered soon after. She was replaced by her sister Azarmidokht who inturn was replaced by a nobility of the Persian court Hormizd VI[4]. He was followed by Yazdgerd III who became Emperor at 16, after 5 years of internal power struggle and the assassination of his grand father Khosrau II[4]. But the real pillars of the state were Generals Rostam Farrokhzād and Firoz[4]. However, there was violent friction between the two which for the time being under pressure of the Persian courtiers took a backstage. Coronation of Yazdgerd III infused new life into the Sassanid Persians[4].

Rise of Caliphate and invasion of Iraq

After Prophet Muhammad, the Caliph Abu Bakr re-established control over Arabia (the Ridda Wars) and then launched campaigns against the remaining Arabs of Syria and Palestine, it is not certain whether he intended a whole scale imperial conquest, but he however triggered the trajectory that would in few decades formed the largest empire the world had ever seen that time. [5] He thus put the nascent Islamic empire on a collision course with the Byzantine and Sassanid empires, which had been disputing these territories for centuries. The wars soon became a matter of conquest. That result in conquest of 80% of the Byzantine empire and Sassanid empire, that kept on resisting, ceased to exist.[6] To make certain of victory, Abu Bakr decided on two measures: that the invading army would consist entirely of volunteers and that it would be commanded by his best general, Khalid ibn al-Walid; the Muslim General who never lost a Battle in his Life and Whom the Prophet of Islam gave title of the Sword of Allah. Khalid won quick victories in four consecutive battles: the Battle of Chains, fought in April 633 CE; the Battle of River, fought in the 3rd week of April 633 CE; the Battle of Walaja, fought in May 633 CE, where he successfully used the double envelopment maneuver which made Hannibal famous at the Battle of Cannae; followed by the decisive Battle of Ullais, fought in the mid of May, 633 CE. By now the Persian Empire was struggling and in the last week of May 633 CE, the capital city of Iraq, Al-Hirah, fell to the Muslims after resistance in the Battle of Hira. [5] Thereafter the Siege of Al-Anbar during June-July 633 resulted in surrender of the city after strong resistance. Khalid then moved towards the south, and conquered the city of Ein ul Tamr after the Battle of Ein ul Tamr in the last week of July, 633 CE. In November 633, the Persian counter-attack was repulsed by Khalid and in December 633 CE, Muslim forces reached the border city of Firaz, where Khalid defeated the combined forces of the Sassanid Persians, Byzantine Romans and Christian Arabs in the Battle of Firaz.

Map detailing the route of Khalid ibn Walid's conquest of Iraq.

[6] This was the last battle in his conquest of Iraq, by now, with the exception of Ctesiphon, the Persian capital city, Khalid had captured whole of Iraq. But circumstances changed on the western front. The Byzantine forces would come in direct conflict in Syria and Palestine, and Khalid was sent to deal with this new development, with half of his army of Iraq Soon after, Caliph Abu Bakr died in August 634 CE and was succeeded by Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattāb. Muslim forces in Iraq were now too few to control the region. After the devastating invasion by Khalid, Persians took time to recover; moreover the political instability was at its peak at Ctesiphon. Once Persians recover they concentrated more troops and mount a counter attack. Musanna ibn Haris, who was now commander in chief of the Muslim forces in Iraq, pulled back his troops from all out posts and evacuated Al-Hirah, and retreated to the region near to Arabian Desert. [5] Meanwhile, Umar sent reinforcement from Madinah under the command of Abu Ubaid. The reinforcement reached Iraq in October 634, Abu Ubaida assumed the supreme command and won against the Sassanids at Battle of Namaraq near modern day Kufa, and in the Battle of Kaskar and recaptured Hira, with out any resistance. Persians launched another counter attack, and this time they were successful in defeating the Muslims at Battle of the Bridge, Abu Ubaid died in the battle, and Muslims suffered heavy losses. Musanna assumed the command and retreat the remnant of his army, about 3000 strong across the Euphrates. The Persian commander Bahman was committed to drive the Muslims away from the Persian soil and but was restrain from pursuing the defeated Muslims and was called back by Rostum to Ctesiphon to help in putting down the revolt against him. Musanna retreated near the frontiers of Arabia and called for reinforcements, after getting sufficient reinforcements he re-entered the fray and camped at the western bank of Euphrates, where a Persian force intercepted him and was defeated.[6]

Persians counter-attack

Thus, since Khalid left Iraq for Syria, Suwad (the fertile area between the Euphrates and the Tigris) remained unstable. Some time it was occupied by the Persians and some time by the Muslim forces, this to and fro process continued until Yazdgerd III who assumed the throne of Persia in 632 consolidated his power and seek alliance with Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, he was ambitious to drive back the Arab invaders. With political stability at Ctesiphon the Persians, prepare for a massive counter attack. In 635 Yazdgerd III sought alliance with Emperor Heraclius of Eastern Roman Empire. Heraclius married his daughter (according to traditions, his grand daughter) to Yazdegerd III, an old Roman tradition to seal an alliance. While Heraclius prepared for a major offense in Levant, meanwhile Yazdegerd ordered concentration of massive armies to pull back Muslims from Iraq for good, this was suppose to be a well coordinated attacks by both emperors, Heraclius in Levant and Yazdegerd in Iraq, to annihilate the power of their common enemy Caliph Umar. While Heraclius launched his offense in May 636, Yazdegerd, probably owning to exhausted conditions of his government, could not coordinate with Heraclius in that offense and a would be decisive plan missed the mark. Umar having alleged intelligence of this alliance, devised his own genius plan. He wanted to finish off business first with Byzantines and thus reinforced Muslim army at Yarmouk sending 6000 soldiers as a reinforcement in small bands, thus giving impression of a continuous stream of reinforcement. Meanwhile Umar engaged Yazdegerd III in deception tactics, ordering Saad to enter in peace negotiations with Yazdegerd III apprantly inviting him to Islam.[7] Heraclius had instructed his general Vahan, about not to engage in battle with Muslims until he orders. But fearing more reinforcement for Muslims from Madinah and their growing strength, Byzantines were left with no choice but to attack the Muslim forces before they get more stronger. Heraclius's imperial army was annihilated at Battle of Yarmouk in August 636 three months before Qadisiyyah, ending the power of the Roman Emperor for good. Yazdegerd was now on his own. He nevertheless continued to execute his ambitious offensive plan and concentrated armies near his capital Ctesiphon. A large force was put under arms under the veteran General Rostam and was cantoned at Sabat near Ctesiphon. Getting the news of the preparations of this massive counter-attack Muthana on the orders of Umar, retreated to the edge of Arabian Desert and abandon Iraq. The campaign of Iraq was now to be started again from the beginning. .[6]

Muslims battle preparation

Caliph Umar raised news armies from all over Arabia to send a large force to re-Invade Iraq. Umar decided to lead this army in person but on the advise of Majlis al shurah members he made Sa`d ibn Abī Waqqās, an important member of the Quraysh tribe, and cousin of Prophet Mohammad, commander of this army. In May 636, Saad marched from his camp at Sisra (near Madinah) with an army of 4000 men and was instructed to join other armies, concentrated in northern Arabia, on his way to Iraq. Saad, being less experienced in the matter of war, was instructed by Caliph umar to seek the advise of the experienced commanders. Once Saad entered Iraq, Umar sent orders to him to halt at al-Qadisiyyah. A small town, 30 miles from Kufah. Muslims marched to Qadisiyyah and camped there in July 636. During the whole campaign Umar kept on issuing strategic orders and commands to the army. Umar wanted victory on Persian front, he ran short of the manpower and therefore had to lift the ban on the ex-apostate tribes of Arabia of not participating in state affairs, that was imposed on them by Caliph Abu bakr after defeating them in Ridda Wars. The army thus raised was not the professional and was composed of newly recruited contingents from all over Arabia, due to this fact, Umar was more concern about providing it strategically aid. Umar, however was quite satisfied with the developments on Byzantine front, as the army there was a veteran and professional and was commanded by Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah, and a military genius, Khalid ibn Walid. Once they won a decisive victory against massive Byzantine army at Battle of Yarmouk, Umar sent orders to Abu Ubaidah to sent immediately a contingent of veterans to Iraq. Latter a force of 5,000 strong veterans of Yarmouk were also sent, that reached on second day of the battle, and proved to be a turning point in the battle. Thus the total force of 15,000 veterans and professional soldiers acted as the core of the army in the battle. The battle thus fought was more between Caliph Umar and Rostam Farrokhzād, rather than between Saad and Rostam. On the other hand bulk of Sassanid army was also new a recruit, as bulk of the regular Sassanid forces was destroyed during the decisive battles of Walaja and Ullais .[6]


The site of the Battle of Qadisiyyah, showing Muslim army (in red) and Sassanid army (in blue).

Qadisiyya was a small town on the west bank of the river Ateeq, a branch of the Euphrates. Al-Hira, ancient capital of Lakhmid Dynasty, laid about thirty miles west. According to present day geography it is situated at southwest of al-Hillah and Kufah in Iraq.

Troops deployment

Whether it’s Battle of Thermopylae or Battle of Qadisiyyah, the size of the Persian army had always been highly exaggerated. In the absence of any primary Persian source, Muslims sources are the only available option to estimate about the strength of Sassanid Persian army at Qaddasiyyah. These sources are highly exaggerated and are unreliable as far as the size of Sassanid Persian army is concern. Modern estimates suggest the size of Sassanid forces about 60,000 strong and Muslims around 30,000 strong (after being reinforced by the Syrian contingent on second day of the battle). These figures come from studying the logistical capabilities of the combatants, the sustainability of their respective bases of operations, and the overall manpower constraints affecting the Sassanids and Arabs. Most scholars, however, agree that the Sassanid army and their allies outnumbered the Muslim Arabs by a sizeable margin.

Sassanid Persian

Persian army reached Qaddasiyyah some time in July 636 and established their camps on the eastern bank of river Ateeq. The camps were higly fortified and were probably guarded by a ditch around it. There was a strong bridge on river Ateek, probably repaired and strengthened by the Sassanid Persians army, this bridge was the only crossing to the main Sassanid camps, in addition to boats available in reserve to cross the river. The Sassanid Persians army, about 60,000 strong, fell in three main categories, infantry, Persians heavy cavalry, known as Cataphract, armed with lances and Clibanarii heavy cavalry, armed with maces and swords, and third was Elephant corps, also known as Indian corps, as the elephants were trained and brought from the Persians provinces in India. On 16 November 636, when Sassanid army crossed over the west bank of Ateek to give a battle, Rostum deployed his 45,000 strong infantry in four division, each about 150 meter apart from the other. 15,000 strong cavalry was divided among four divisions to be used as reserve for counter-attack and offensives. At Qaddasiyyah, about 33 Elephants were present, eight with each of four divisions of army. The battle front was about 4 km long. The Sassanid Persians' right wing was commanded by Hormuzan, right center by Jalinus, left center by Beerzan and left wing by Mihran. Rostam himself was stationed at an elevated seat shaded by a canopy near the west bank of the river, behind the right center, from where he could have a nice view of the battlefield. By his side waved the Derafsh-e-Kāveyān (in Persian: درفش کاویان, the 'flag of Kāveh'), the standard of the Sassanid Persians. Rostam placed men at certain intervals between the battlefield and Capital Ctesiphon to convey intelligence[4].



In July 636 A.D. the main Muslim army marched from Sharaf to Qadisiyya. After establishing the camp, organizing the defenses, and securing the river heads, Saad sent parties inside the Suwad to conduct raids. Saad was continuously in contact with Caliph umar, and Umar was sent a detail report of the geographical features of the land where Muslims encamped, and the land between Qaddasiyyah and Madinah and the region were Persians were concentrating their forces. And thus Umar was literally directly involved in the battle strategies. Muslim army at this point was about 25,000 strong, including 7,000 cavalry. It’s strength rose to 30,000 strong once it was reinforced by the contingent from Syria and local Arabs allies, mainly Christian Arabs. Saad, was suffering from sciatica, and there were boils all over his body. Saad took a seat in the old royal palace at Qaddasiyyah from where he would direct the war operations and could have a good view of the battlefield. He appointed Khalid ibn Arfatah as his Deputy, who would carried out his instructions to the battlefield, time to time. The Rashidun infantry was deployed in four corps, each corps with its cavalry regiment, stationed at the rear as a reserve for the counter-attacks. Each corps was about 150 meter apart from the other. The army was all formed on a tribal and clan basis, so that every man would fight next to well-known comrades and so that tribes may be held accountable for any weakness. Saad ibn Abi waqas was the commander in chief of the army, due to his illness he was unable to participate directly in the battle and thus made Khalid ibn Arfatah his deputy. Muslims left wing was commanded by Shurahbeel ibn As-Samt , left center was commanded by Asim ibn Amr. Right center was commanded by Zuhra ibn Al-Hawiyya and right wing was commanded by Abdullah ibn Al-Mut'im. Cavalry of the right wing was commanded by Jareer ibn Abdullah and that of right center by Ath'ath ibn Qais, the names of the men commanded other corps cavalry regiments are unknown.


The helmets included gilded helmets similar to that of silver helmets of Sassanid empire. Mail was commonly used to protect the face, neck and cheek either as an aventail from the helmet or as a mail coif. Heavy leather sandals as well as Roman type sandal boots were also typical of the early Muslim soldiers. Armor included, hardened leather scale or lamellar armour and mail. Infantry soldiers were more heavily armored than the horsemen. Hauberks and large wooden or wickerwork shields were used as well as long-shafted spears. Infantry spears were about 2.5 meters long and that of the cavalry were up to 5.5 meters long. Swords used were a short infantry weapon like that of Roman gladius, and the Sassanid long sword - both being worn hung from a baldric. Bows were about two meter long when unbraced, about the same size of famous English longbow - with a maximum useful range of about 150 meters. Early Muslim archers were infantry archers who proved very effective against the opposing cavalry. The troops at Sassanid Persian front were lightly armed compared to the Rashidun troops deployed at Byzantine front.

The battle

It was since July 636 that Muslims had encamped at Qadisiyyah with 25,000 men. Umar ordered Saad to send emissaries to Yasdegerd III and the legendary Persian general, Rostam Farrokhzād apparently inviting them to Islam. For next three months negotiations between Muslims and Persians continued. This was most probably the delaying tactics employed by Umar, as battle was imminent with Byzantines in Syria, and he wanted not to risk a decisive battle at a time with two great power, as in case of defeat on either front, Muslim empire could be paralyzed, which had employed all of its available men power for this crucial moment of history. On Caliph Umar's instructions, Saad sent an embassy to Persian court with objectives to invite the Sassanid emperor to Islam or on Paying Jaziyah. An-Numan ibn Muqarrin led the Muslim emissary to Ctesiphon and met Emperor Yazdgerd III, the mission, however was failed.

Tactical deployment

It is said that during the meeting Yazdgerd III with the intention to humiliate the Arabs ordered his menials to place a basket full of earth on Asim ibn Amr’s( one of the member of the emissary) head, which the optimistic Arab ambassador interpreted in the following words:

Congratulations ! The enemy has voluntarily surrendered its territory to us (referring to the earth in the basket)


With situations at ease at Syrian front, on Umar's instruction negotiations were halt as an open signal to Persians for Battle. Rostam Farrokhzād who was encamped at Sabat, left for Qadisiyyah and camped there. Roastam, however was inclined to avoid fighting; he once more opened peace negotiations. Saad sent Rabi bin Amir and later Mughirah bin Zurarah to held talks. After the negotiations fails both sides prepared for the battle.[4]. Meanwhile Muslims received good news of the victory against Byzantines at Battle of Yarmouk fought in August 636.


Persian left wing pushed back Muslim's right wing

On 16 November 636, an intervening canal was choked up and converted into a road on Rostam’s orders at the dawn of morning

[4]. Before dawn the entire Persian army crossed the canal[4]. Rostam now armed himself with a double set of complete armour and requisite weapons. Both armies stood face to face about 500 meter apart. Rashidun army was deployed facing north east, while the Sassanid army,

A cavalry and infantry regiments from Muslim's right center reinforce Muslim's right wing and fight off Persian's left wing

took a river at their rear, and was deployed facing south west. The battle began with personal duels.[3] Muslims Mubarizuns stepped forward and dueling began in which many were slain on both sides. Muslim chronicles records several heroic duels between Sassanid commander and Muslim commanders. The purpose of these duels were to lower the morale of the opposing army by killing as many commanders as possible. Having lost several commanders in duels, Rostam to prevent more losses started the battle by ordering his left wing to attack the Muslims' right wing. The Persians attack began with heavy showers of arrows,

Persians right wing and right center attacks and drove back Muslim's respective corps

which caused considerable damage to the Muslims' right wing. Then Elephants corps led the charge. Muslim commander of right wing Abdullah ibn Al-mutim, ordered Jareer ibn Abdullah, cavalry commander of the right wing to deal with the Sassanid Elephant corps, Jareer led the charge against the advancing Elephants, Muslims cavalry was intercepted by the Sassanid heavy cavalry and as the elephants advanced, the Muslim horses broke out of control and fled from their position thereby leaving the infantry unsupported. As the elephants advanced the Muslim infantry began to fall back.[3] Saad sent orders to Ath'ath ibn Qais,

Muslims succeeded in routing the Elephant corps, followed by the two prong attacks on the Persian right wing and right center, cavalry from at flanks and infantry from at the rear.

commander of the cavalry of right center to check the Sassanid cavalry advance, Ath’ath led a cavalry regiment that reinforced the cavalry of right wing and launched a counter attack at the flank of the Sassanid left wing. Meanwhile Saad sent orders to Zuhra ibn Al-Hawiyya, commander of Muslims right center to dispatch an infantry regiment to reinforce the infantry of right wing, an infantry regiment was sent under Hammal ibn Malik that helped the infantry of right wing in launching a counter attack against Sassanid. The Sassanid left wing retreated under the frontal attack by infantry of Muslims right wing reinforced by infantry regiment from right center and flanking attack by Muslims cavalry reinforced by a cavalry regiment from right center.[4]

Muslims general attack on the Persian front.

With the initial attacked repulsed, Rustam ordered his right center under Jalinus and his right wing under Hormuzan to advance against the Muslims' elephants on their front. The Muslim left wing and left center were first subjected to intense archery, followed by charge of Sassanid right wing and right center. Once again, the Elephant corps led the charge. The Muslim cavalry, on left wing and left center, already in panic due to the charge of the elephants, were thus driven back by the combined action of Sassanid heavy cavalry and the elephants. Saad sent word to Asim ibn Amr, commander of the left center, to overpower the elephants.[3] Asim’s strategy was to overcome the archers on the elephants' back and then cut the girths of the saddles, as a result of which Persians will withdraw their elephants from forward position that will pave the way for Muslims counter attack. Asim ordered his archer to kill the men on elephants back and infantry men to cut the girths of the saddles, the Muslims' left wing follow suit. The tactics worked and Persians retired the elephants to the position behind the front lines, followed by a counter attack of Muslims, infantry from front and cavalry from flanks. The Sassanid right center retreated followed by the retreat of right wing. By afternoon the Persian attacks on the Muslim left wing and left center were beaten back. Saad in order to exploit this opportunity, ordered a counter attack. The Muslim front at once moved forward. The Muslim cavalry charged from the flanks with full force. These repeated charges continued till the dusk a tactics known as Karr wa farr. Muslims attack was eventually repulsed by Rostam, who plunged into the foray personally and is said to have received several wounds on his person. The fighting ended at dusk. The battle was inconclusive, with considerable losses on both the sides. In the Muslim chronicles, the first day of the battle of Qaddasiyyah is known as Yaum-ul-Armah ("The Day of Disorder").[4]


On 17 November, like the previous day Saad decided to start the day with Mubarizuns to inflict maximum moral damages to the Persian army. There were no elephants today as all their elephants were wounded or their saddles were being repaired. At noon, while duelings were still going on, reinforcement from Syria arrived for the Muslim army. First came an advance guard under Qa’qa ibn Amr followed by the main army under its commander Hashim ibn Utbah, cousin of Saad.[8]. Qa’qa divided his advance guard into several small groups and instructed them to reach the battlefield one after the other giving the impression that a very large reinforcement has arrived. Hashim did the same and for the whole day these regiments kept on arriving, which demoralized Persians. Qa’qa ibn Amr, was a brother of Asim bin Amr, commander of Muslims left center. He was a veteran of Battle of Yarmouk and had served under Khalid during his invasion of Iraq.

Rustum ordered a general attack on the Muslim front.

Qa’qa is said to have killed Persian general Bahman, who commanded the Sassanid army at Battle of Bridge and commander of Persians left center Beerzan, in a duel that day.[8]. As there were no elephants in the Sassanid fighting force today, Saad sought to exploit this opportunity to gain any breakthrough if possible. Saad thus ordered a general attack. All four Muslim corps surged forward, but the Sassanids stood firm against the repeated attacks of the Muslims and repulsed every attack. During these charges, Qa’qa resorted to an ingenious device. The camels were camouflaged to look like weird monsters.[8]. These monsters moved to the Sassanid front and seeing them the Sassanid horses turned and bolted. With the disorganization of the Sassanid cavalry, the Persians infantry at left center became vulnerable. Saad ordered the Muslims to intensify the attack. Qa’qa ibn Amr, now literally acting as a field commander of the Muslim army, planned to kill the Sassanid commander Rostum, and led a group of Mubarizuns, from his Syrian contingent who were also the veterans of Battle of Yarmouk, through the Sassanids' right center towards Rostam's headquarter. Rustam again personally led a counter attack against the Muslims, and no breakthrough could be achieved. At dusk, the two armies pulled back to their camps.


On 18 November, the third day of the battle began. Rostum wanted a quick victory and wanted no more reinforcements to arrive.

Persians attacks Muslims using elephant corps.

The Elephants corps was once again in the front of the Sassanid army, altering the situation to the Sassanid's favor. Pressing this advantage into service, Rostam ordered a general attack on the front of the Muslims using his full force. All four Sassanid corps moved forward and stuck to the Muslims on their front.[8]. The Sassanid Persians' attack began with the volley of arrows and projectiles. The Muslims sustained heavy losses before their archers retaliated. The Persian elephant’s corps once again led the charge supported by their infantry and cavalry. At the approach of the Sassanid elephants, the Muslim riders once again became unnerved and led to confusion in the Muslim ranks. The Sassanids pressed the attack, and the Muslims fell back.[8]. Through the gaps that had appeared in the Muslim ranks as a result of the Sassanid advance, Rostum sent a cavalry regiment to capture the old palace where Saad the Commander-in-Chief of the Muslim forces was stationed. The strategy of Rostum was that the Muslim Commander-in-Chief should be killed or taken captive with a view to demoralizing the Muslims.

Persian attack beaten back, with elephants driven off the field for good.

But a strong cavalry contingent of the Muslims rushed to the spot, and drove away the Sassanid cavalry. For Saad, to win the battle only one option was left, and it was to deal with Sassanid Elephant corps that was causing the greatest havoc among the Muslim ranks.[3] He directed the orders that the elephants should be overpowered by blinding them and severing their trunks. After a long struggle the Muslims finally succeeded in mutilating the elephants sufficiently to be driven off. The frightened elephant corps rushed through the Sassanid ranks and made for the river. By noon no elephant was left on the battlefield.[8]. The flight of the Elephants caused considerable confusion in the Sassanid ranks. To exploit this situation Saad ordered a general attack and the two armies clashed once again.[3] In spite of the Muslim repeated charges, the Sassanid army held the ground. In the absence of Persian elephants, the Muslims once again brought camels camouflaged as monsters. The trick did not work and the Persian horses stood their ground.[9]. The third day of the battle was the hardest day of the war. There were heavy casualties on both sides, and the battlefield was strewn with dead bodies of fallen warriors.[4] Fighting continued during the night until the dawn. It was a moon-lit night, and in spite of fatigue after three days' strenuous battle, the armies continued to fight. It became a war of stamina, with both sides on the verge of breaking. The strategy of Saad was to wear down the Persians, and snatch away victory from them. In the Muslim chronicles the third day of the Battle is known as Yaum-ul-Amas. The night was called Lailat-ul-Harir, meaning the "Night of Rumbling Noises".[8].


At the sunrise of 19 November 636, the fighting had ceased, but the battle was still inconclusive.

Muslims attack the Persian front, Qa'qa's men penetrated the right center of the Persian army and killed Rustum.

Qaqa, with the consent of Saad, was now acting as a field commander of the Muslim troops. He is reported to have addressed his men as follows:

"If we fight for an hour or so more, the enemy will be defeated.[8]. So, warriors of the Bani Tameem make one more attempt and victory will be yours."

The Muslims' left center led by Qa’qa surged forward and attacked the Sassanid right center, followed by the general attack of the Muslims' corps. The Sassanids were taken at unawares at the resumption of battle. The Sassanids left wing and left center were pushed back. Qa’qa now again led a group of Mubarizuns against the Sassanids' left center and by noon Qaqa and his men were able to pierce through the Sassanid center.

Muslim attacks were beaten back by the Persians right wing and right center.

They dashed towards the Sassanid Headquarter and killed Rostam, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sassanid Persian forces.[8]. The Persians were not aware of the death of Rustam, and they went on fighting. The Sassanid right wing under Hormuzan counterattacked and gained its lost position, as the Muslims' left wing retreated back to their original position, the Muslims' left center, now under Qa’qa’s command, when denied the support of their left wing, also retreated back to its original position.[3] The fighting resumed for some time. Saad now ordered a general attack on Sassanid front to drive away the Persians, demoralized by the death of their charismatic leader. In the afternoon the Muslims mounted another attack.

Persians retreating towards the river

By this time even the Persians knew that their Commander-in-Chief had been killed. The Sassanid front, after putting up a last heroic resistance, collapsed. With the collapse, a part of Sassanid army retreated in an organized manner while the other retreated in panic towards the river.[9]. At this stage Jalinus took command of what was left of the Sassanid army. He got control of the bridge head, and succeeded in getting bulk of the Sassanid army across the bridge safely. The battle of Qaddisiyyah was over, with Muslims stood victorious. Saad sent the cavalry regiments in various directions to pursue the fleeing Persians.

The stragglers that the Muslims met in the way were either killed or taken captives. Even heavier casualties were suffered by Sassanids during these pursues.[8].


From this battle, the Arab Muslims gained a large amount of loot, including the famed jewel-encrusted royal standard, called the Derafsh-e-Kāveyān(the 'flag of Kāveh'), which was subsequently cut up and sold in pieces in Medina.[10] The Arab fighters became known as ‘’ahl al-Qādisiyyah’’ and held the highest prestige (and pay) of the later Arab settlers within Iraq and its important garrison town, Kufa. As soon as the battle of Qadisiyya was over, Sa'ad sent a report of the victory of the Muslims to Umar. The battle of Qadisiyya shook the Sassanian rule in Iraq to its foundations, but that was not the end of their rule in Iraq. As long as the Sassanids held their capital Ctesiphon, there was always the danger that at some suitable moment they would make an attempt to recover what they had lost, and drive away the Arabs from Iraq. Caliph Umar thus sent instructions to Saad that as a sequel to the battle of Qaddisiyyah, the Muslims should push forward to capture Ctesiphon. Siege of Ctesiphon continued for two months and the city was finally taken in March 637 A.D. Muslim forces conquered the Persian provinces up to Khuzistan, the conquest however was slow down due to a severe drought in Arabia in 638 and the plague in southern Iraq and Syria in 639 After this Caliph Umar wanted a break to manage the conquered territories and for then he wanted to leave rest of Persia to the Persians. Umar is reported to have said:

"I wish there were a mountain of fire between us and the Persians, so that neither could they get to us, nor we to them."

But the Persians thought differently. The pride of the imperial Sassanids had been hurt by the conquest of their land by the Arabs. They could not acquiesce in the occupation of their lands by the Arabs and continued the struggle to regain the lost territory. Thus a major Persians counter attack was repulsed at Battle of Nihawand fought in December 641. After which a whole scale invasion of Sassanid Persians empire was planned to finish the business for good. The last Persians emperor Yazdgerd III was killed in 653 during the reign of Caliph Uthman, with his death Sassanid Persian empire ceased to exist.

See also

Coordinates: 31°35′N 44°30′E / 31.583°N 44.5°E / 31.583; 44.5


  1. ^ The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History By Ibn Khaldūn, Franz Rosenthal, N. J.. Dawood pg, 12,
  2. ^ a b The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History By Ibn Khaldūn, Franz Rosenthal, N. J.. Dawood pg, 12
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Ashtiani, Abbas Iqbal and Pirnia, Hassan. Tarikh-e Iran (History of Iran), 3rd ed. Tehran: Kayyam Publishing House, 1973.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War, By Kaveh Farrokh, Published by Osprey Publishing, 2007 ISBN 1846031087, 9781846031083
  5. ^ a b c Akram, A. I. The Sword of Allah: Khalid bin al-Waleed, His Life and Campaigns, Nat. Publishing House. Rawalpindi, 1970. ISBN 0-71010-104-X.
  6. ^ a b c d e f The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari
  7. ^ The Muslim Conquest of Persia By A.I. Akram. page 133 ISBN 0195977130, 9780195977134
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j The History of Al-Tabari: The Challenge to the Empires, Translated by Khalid Yahya Blankinship, Published by SUNY Press, 1993, ISBN 0791408523, 9780791408520
  9. ^ a b The countries and tribes of the Persian Gulf, By Samuel Barrett Miles,Published by Garnet & Ithaca Press, 1994, ISBN 187393856X, 9781873938560
  10. ^ Shahanshah: A Study of Monarchy of Iran By E. Burke Inlow, Inlow, E. Burke, pg. 13


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