Battle of al-Qādisiyyah

Battle of al-Qādisiyyah

Infobox Military Conflict

conflict=Battle of Qaddasiyyah
partof=the Muslim conquest of Sassanid empire|
date=16th – 19th November, 636
place=al-Qādisiyyah, Iraq
result=Decisive Rashidun victory
territory=Iraq annexed by Rashidun Caliphate
combatant1= Sassanid Persian empire
(Sassanid army)
combatant2= Rashidun Caliphate
(Rashidun army)
commander1=Rostam Farrokhzād
commander2=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)
(modern estimates)
casualties2=8,500 [The history of Tabari of al-Tabari Vol. XII]

The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (ArB|معركة القادسيّة; transliteration, Ma'rakat al-Qādisiyyah; PerB|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. Although there is little doubt that this battle occurred, scholarship suggests that its legend has grown manyfold and a whole mythological literature (full of "topoi") has developed around it. Particularly, uncertainty with respect to the date of the battle (variously given anywhere between 634 and 640 A.D, most likely to have been around 636 A.D), and the size of the forces, in addition to scarce mention in non-Muslim annals suggests that the current perception of al-Qādisiyyah differs starkly from the original event. Nonetheless, it remains a significant event in the history and memory of the modern Middle East; Saddam Hussein's evocation of this battle during the Iran–Iraq War exemplifies the emotive power of this ancient engagement.


At the time of Muhammad, the Sassanid Empire had been around for more than 300 years. During his time, the 22nd Sassanid king, Khosrau "Parwēz" (r. 590-628), son of Hormizd IV (r. 579–590) and grandson of Khosrau "Anushirwan the Just" (r. 531–579), most famous and celebrated of the Sassanid Kings.

At the beginning of his reign, Khosrau favoured the Christians. When in 602 the Byzantine Emperor Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus, his father-in-law, was murdered by a military rebellion led by Flavius Phocas Augustus (r. 602–610).

Khosrau ordered an invasion of Byzantium (called Rūm in Persian and Arabic). His armies plundered Syria and Asia Minor, and in 608 advanced to Chalcedon. In 613 and 614 Damascus and Jerusalem were taken by the General Shahrbaraz, and the True Cross was carried away in triumph. Soon after, General Shahin marched through Anatolia and conquered Egypt in 618. [Ashtiani, Abbas Iqbal and Pirnia, Hassan. Tarikh-e Iran (History of Iran), 3rd ed. Tehran: Kayyam Publishing House, 1973.]

The Byzantines could offer little resistance due to internal dissention and attacks by the Avars and Slavs. This defeat and eventual victory of the Romans is mentioned in the Qur'an in "surat" ar-Rūm.

Ultimately, in 622, the Emperor Heraclius, who had succeeded Phocas in 610 and ruled until 641, was able to take the field. In 624, he advanced into northern Medea, where he destroyed the great fire-temple of Ganzak. In 626, he fought in Lazistan (Colchis). In 626, Sassanid general Shahrbaraz advanced to Chalcedon and tried to capture Constantinople with the help of Avar allies. His attempt failed, and he withdrew his army from Anatolia later in 628.

Following the Khazar invasion of Transcaucasia in 627, Heraclius mounted a successful counterattack to roll back the territory lost to Sassanid Empire, defeated the Sassanid army at the final and decisive Battle of Nineveh and advanced towards Ctesiphon.

King Khosrau fled from his favourite residence, Dastgerd (near modern Baghdad), without offering resistance; some of the grandees freed his eldest son Kavadh II, whom Khosrau had imprisoned, and proclaimed him king. [Ashtiani, Abbas Iqbal and Pirnia, Hassan. Tarikh-e Iran (History of Iran), 3rd ed. Tehran: Kayyam Publishing House, 1973.]

Internal Conflicts of Succession

Four days afterwards, Khosrau was murdered in his palace by his son. Meanwhile, Heraclius returned in triumph to Constantinople; in 629 the Cross was given back to him and Egypt evacuated, while the Sassanid Empire, from the apparent greatness which it had reached ten years ago, sank into hopeless anarchy.

Kavadh II put his eighteen brothers to death and began negotiations with Heraclius but died after a reign of a few months. 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 Shahrbaraz, whose real name was Farrokhan. "Shahrbaraz" "Boar of the Empire" was a title given attesting to his dexterity in military command and his warlike persona, as the boar was the animal associated with the Zoroastrian yazata Vahram, the epitome of victory.

Shahrbaraz took Damascus and Jerusalem from the Byzantine Empire in 613 and 614 respectively during the Byzantine-Persian War, after which the Holy Cross was carried away in triumph. 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. In April 630 he failed to deal with the invasion of Armenia by a Khazar-Gokturk force under Chorpan Tarkhan.

On June 9, 630, Shahrbaraz was slain and Borandukht succeeded him.Borandukht was daughter of the Khosrau II. [Shahanshah: A Study of Monarchy of Iran By E. Burke Inlow, Inlow, E. Burke, pg. 13 ] She was one of only two women on the throne of the Sassanid dynasty - the other would be her sister Azarmidokht. She was made Queen of Persia on the understanding that she would vacate the throne upon Yazdgerd III's maturity.

Borandukht 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 taxes and minting coins. She appointed Rostam Farrokhzād as the commander-in-chief of the Persian army. Borandukht 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 and replaced by her sister Azarmidokht, who in turn was replaced by a noble of the Persian court, Hormizd VI. [Shahanshah: A Study of Monarchy of Iran By E. Burke Inlow, Inlow, E. Burke, pg. 13 ] He was followed by Yazdgerd III, who became Emperor at 16 after 5 years of internal power struggle.

The real pillars of the state were generals Rostam Farrokhzād and Firoz. However, there was violent friction between the two, which for the time being was repressed by pressure from the Persian courtiers. The coronation of Yazdgerd III infused new life into the Sassanid Persia. [Ashtiani, Abbas Iqbal and Pirnia, Hassan. Tarikh-e Iran (History of Iran), 3rd ed. Tehran: Kayyam Publishing House, 1973.]

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. [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. ] 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. [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari] 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 decisive 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. [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. ] 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. [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari] 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. [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. ] 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 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 at the Battle of Buwaib . [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari]

Persians counter-attack

The Muslims had occupied some areas, but their hold had not been firm. In the counter movements of the Persians the Muslims were pushed out of such areas. The Muslims retaliated and occupied such areas again. And again they abandoned them either of their own accord for strategically reasons or were pushed back. This to and fro process had been repeated several times, and this had led to political instability in the Suwad, the fertile area between the Euphrates and the Tigris. During this no decisive battle was fought to decide the fate of Iraq.Another revolution in Persia brought Yazdgerd III to the throne of Persia. He was young and intelligent, and on coming to the throne his principal concern was to take effective steps to drive away the Arabs from the soil of Iraq. With political stability at Ctesiphon the Persians now could mount a massive counter-attack to drive the Arabs away from Iraq. A large force was put under arms under the veteran General Rostam and was cantoned at Sabat near Ctesiphon. With the news of the preparations of this massive counter-attack Musanna 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. . [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari]

Muslims battle preparation

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 maternal uncle 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 with other corps, concentrated in northern Arabia, on his way to Iraq. Saad, being a man with little knowledge of strategy of War, though given the supreme command of the army, but was instructed by Caliph umar to sought 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 Qaddasiyyah and camped there in July 636. On reaching al-Qadisiyyah it was learnt that the Persian army under Rostam Farrokhzād had left from their capital.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 quit 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 the most brilliant general of time, Khalid ibn Walid was present there, 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, 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 . [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari]


Qadisiyya was a small town on the west bank of the river Ateeq, a branch of the Euphrates. It was the last staging camp in Arabia on the route to Iraq. Al-Hira laid about thirty miles west. According to present day geography it is situated at southwest of al-Hillah and Kufah in Iraq.

Battlefield of Qadisiyyah and Deployment of troops.
legend|#5200FA|Sassanid Persian army

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.

assanid Persian

Rostam reached Qaddasiyyah in July 636 and established his main encampment 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 16th 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.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.



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 literary directly involved in the battle strategies.Muslim army at this point was about 25,000 strong, including 7,000 cavalry. It’s strength rise 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. In Qadisiyya there was an old royal palace which stood at the extremity of the battle-field. Saad took a seat in the upper storey of the palace where he lay propped up by pillows. From this seat he directed the war operations and could have a good view of the battlefield. He appointed Khalid ibn Arfatah as his Deputy, who maintained liaison with the army, and carried out whatever instructions were issued by Saad from 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.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, mail armors. Infantry soldiers were more heavily armored then the horsemen. Hauberks and large wooden or wickerwork shields were used. Long-shafted spears were used. Infantry spears were two and a half meter long and that of cavalry were up to five and a half meters long.In swords, a short infantry weapon like that of Roman gladius and Sassanid long swords were bring used. Swords were hanged in baldric. Bows were about two meter long when unbraced, about the same size of famous English longbow. The maximum useful range of the traditional Arabian bow use to be about 150 meters. Early Muslim archers were infantry archers who proved to be very effective against the cavalry.The troops at Sassanid Persian front were lightly armoured as compared to the Rashidun troops deployed at Byzantine front.

The battle

Before the battle started, Caliph Umar dispatched a messenger to Saad instructing him to send an embassy with the object of inviting the Persians to Islam or to pay Jaziyah. Arab representatives with Numan ibn Maqran as their head were sent to Ctesiphon to meet with Emperor Yazdgerd III.The emissary, however failed in mission, 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: cquote|Congratulations! The enemy has voluntarily surrendered its territory to us (referring to the earth in the basket) . [The Battle of Al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine A.D. 635-637/A.H. 14-15 By Tabari] The Persians were well informed and well prepared. Rostam Farrokhzād who was encamped at Sabat, now left for Qadisiyyah and camped there. Roastam was inclined to avoid fighting; he once more opened peace negotiations. Sa’ad sent Rabi bin Amir and later Mughirah bin Zurarah to held talks. After the negotiations fails both sides prepared for the battle. Meanwhile Muslims received good news of the victory against Byzantines at Battle of Yarmouk fought in August 636.


On 16th November 636, the The Persians crossed river Ateeq. Both armies faced each other about 500 meters away from each other. Rashidun army was deployed facing north east, while the Sassanid army was deployed facing south west, taking river ateek at their rear. The battle began with personal duels. Muslims Mubarizuns stepped forwards and dueling begun in which many were slain on both sides. Muslim chronicles records several heroic duels between Sassanid commanders and Muslim commanders. The purpose of these duels was to lower down the moral of opposing army by killing there as many commanders as possible. And the "mubarizun" corps was highly trained fighters well suited to execute this tactics.After dueling was over, Rostam ordered his left wing to attack Muslims right wing. The Persians attack began with heavy showers of arrows, which caused considerable damage to the Muslims right wing. The Elephants corps led the charge. Muslim commander of right wing Abdullah ibn Al-mutim, ordered the Jareer ibn Abdullah, cavalry commander of right wing to deal with the Sassanid Elephant corps, Jareer led the charge against the advancing Elephants, Muslims cavalry was intercepted and engaged 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 was thrown into confusion, and began to fall back. Saad sent orders to Ath'ath ibn Qais, 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.Rustam now ordered his right center under Jalinus and right wing under Hormuzan to advance against the Muslims corps on their front. Muslims left wing and left center were first subjected to intense archery, followed by charge of Sassanid right wing and right center. The Elephants corps led the charge. The Muslim cavalry, on left wing and left center became unmanageable due to the charge of Elephant corps and was drove back by the combine action of Sassanid heavy cavalry and Elephant corps.Saad sent word to Asim ibn Amr, commander of left center, to do something about the Elephants. Asim’s strategy was to over come the archers on the Elephant’s 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, Muslims left wing follow suit. The tactics worked and Persians retire the Elephants to the position behind the front lines, followed by a counter attack of Muslims, infantry from front and cavalry from flanks. 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. Now Saad 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. There was considerable confusion and loss on both the sides. In the Muslim chronicles, the first day of the battle of Qaddasiyyah came to be known as "Yaum-ul-Armah" ("The Day of Disorder").

On 17th November, the second day of the battle begun with usual dueling between the champions. There were no Elephants today as all their elephants were rather wounded or their saddles were being repaired.At noon, while duelings were still going on, reinforcement from Syria reached. First came an advance guard under Qa’qa ibn Amr followed by the main army under its commander Hashim ibn Utbah, cousin of Saad. 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, who commanded Muslims left center. He was a veteran of Battle of Yarmouk and had served under Khalid during his invasion of Iraq.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.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. 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 literary 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 Sassanids right center towards Rostam's headquarter. Rustam again personally led a counter attack against the Muslims, and no breakthrough could be achieved. Fighting was hard and fierce. It continued till night had set in. Then the two armies pulled back to their camps.

On 18th November, third day of the battle begun. In a view of the reinforcement that Muslims received the previous day, Rostum didn’t want Muslims to be reinforced further and wanted to finish the business soon. Moreover the Elephants corps was once again in the front of the Sassanid army. That altered the situation to the advantage of the Sassanids, and Rostam pressed this advantage into service. He 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 there front. The Sassanid Persians attack begun with the volley of arrows and projectiles. Which led to a considerable damage to the Muslims. Muslims 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 horse once again got panicky and that led to confusion in the Muslim ranks. The Sassanid pressed the attack, and the Muslims fell back. 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. 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. He directed the orders that the elephants should be overpowered by blinding them and severing their trunks. After along struggle Muslims finally succeeded in mutilating the animals. The mutilated beasts rushed through the Sassanid ranks and made for the river. By noon no elephant was left on the battle-field. 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. In spite of the Muslim repeated charges the Karr wa farr, 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 horse stood their ground. The third day of the battle proved to be the hardest day of the war. There were heavy casualties on both sides, and the battle-field came to be strewn with dead bodies of fallen warriors. On the third day of the battle even at night there was no break in fighting. It was a moon-lit night, and in spite of fatigue after three days' strenuous battle, the armies continued to fight. It was now a war of stamina. Both sides were on the verge of human endurance, and whosoever could be steadfast for some time more was likely to win. Both the sides hoped that they were likely to win. The strategy of Saad was to wear down the Persians, and snatch away the victory from them. The battle waged all the night long. In the Muslim chronicles the third day of the Battle is known as "Yaum-ul-Amas". The night was called "Lailat-ul-Harir" by Arabs, meaning the Night of Clangor or Rumbling Noises.

On 19th November 636, it was now a fourth day of the battle. At sunrise the fighting ceased, but still the result was inconclusive.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 follow:

Muslims left center led by Qa’qa surged forward and attacked Sassanid right center, followed by the general attack by the Muslims corps. The Sassanids were taken unawares at the resumption of battle. Sassanids left wing and left center were pushed back. Qa’qa now again led a group of champions against the Sassanid’s left center and by noon Qaqa and his men were able to pierce through the Sassanid center. They dashed towards the Sassanid Headquarter and killed Rostam, the Commander-in-Chief of the Sassanid Persian forces. The Persians were not aware of the death of Rustam, and they went on fighting. Sassanid right wing under Hormuzan counter attacked and gained its lost position, as Muslims left wing retreated back to their original position, Muslims left center, now under Qa’qa’s command, when denied the support of left wing, also retreated back to its original position. 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. 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 other retreated in panic towards the river. 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 now over. Saad sent the cavalry in various directions to pursue the fleeing Persians and the stragglers that the Muslims met in the way were rather put to sword or taken captives. Even heavier casualties were suffered by Sassanids during these pursues.


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. [ Shahanshah: A Study of Monarchy of Iran By E. Burke Inlow, Inlow, E. Burke, pg. 13 ] 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 Sassanid 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: 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 full scale war against the Sassanid Persian empire was planned to finish the invasion. 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.

ee also

*Modern usage of al-Qādisiyyah
*Islamic conquest of Persia
*Muslim conquests
*Sassanid Empire
*Rashidun Caliphate
*Rashidun army



*Ashtiani, Abbas Iqbal and Pirnia, Hassan. "Tarikh-e Iran" ("History of Iran"), 3rd ed. Tehran: Kayyam Publishing House, 1973.
* at-Tabarī, Abū Ja`far Muhammad. "The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah and the conquest of Syria and Palestine". Edited and translated by Yohanan Friedmann. SUNY series in Near Eastern studies. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992.

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