Conquest of Iraq
Allah the Almighty enabled Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas (ra) the honour of conquering Iraq.
Once, during the Battle of Khandaq, the Companions (ra) went to the Holy Prophet (sa) and said that there was a boulder in the ditch which would not break. The Holy Prophet (sa) went and struck the boulder thrice with a pickaxe and with every blow, the boulder crumbled slightly; the Holy Prophet (sa) proclaimed “Allahu Akbar” [Allah is the greatest] in a loud voice and the Companions (ra) also followed in raising the slogan. During this incident, while striking one of the blows, the Holy Prophet (sa) said, “I have been shown the white palaces of Midian falling.” What he saw was fulfilled at the hands of Hazrat Sa‘d (ra).
(Roshan Sitarey, Ghulam Bari Saif, Vol. 2, p. 79)
There were two great powers in the surroundings of Arabia; the Persian and the Byzantine empires. Much of Iraq was under the control of the Chosroes and his royal palaces were situated in Midian. The famous battles of Midian, Qadisiyyah, Nahawand, and Jalula were fought under the leadership of Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas (ra).
The background to Midian is that it is located by the Tigris River, a little south of Baghdad in Iraq. Since many cities were established here one after the other, the Arabs gave it the name of Midian, meaning a cluster of cities. Qadisiyyah was also a city in Iraq where a famous battle was fought between the Muslims and the Persians, known as the Battle of Qadisiyyah. Present day Qadisiyyah is located 15 farsakh [approximately 50 miles] from Kufa. Nahawand is a city located in present day Iran and is seventy kilometres south of Hamadan, the capital of the region. Jalula is a city in present day Iraq which is located near the eastern corner of the Tigris River. A battle between the Muslims and the Persians was fought here. It was named Jalula because the city became filled with the corpses of Iranians.
In Iraq, during the Caliphate of Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), Hazrat Musanna bin Haritha (ra) sought permission to attack as the Persians constantly caused trouble on the border. Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) granted permission and sent a large army with Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed (ra) to assist. When Hazrat Abu Ubaidah (ra) submitted to Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) for reinforcements in Syria, Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra) sent Hazrat Khalid (ra) to help him and Hazrat Khalid bin Waleed (ra) appointed Hazrat Musanna (ra) to deputise in Iraq. However, as soon as Hazrat Khalid (ra) left Iraq the campaign lost momentum. When Hazrat Umar (ra) became the Caliph, he returned attention towards the campaign in Iraq. Hazrat Musanna (ra) had consecutively rendered defeat to enemies in Buwaib and other battles and taken hold of a large expanse of land in Iraq. At that time, Iraq was under the control of the Chosroes. When the Persians saw the strength of Muslims in battle and their consecutive victories, it opened their eyes. They replaced their queen, Buran Dukht, with Yazdegerd, the true heir of Chosroes. Upon ascending the throne, he immediately united all the powers of the Iranian empire and kindled a fire of fury and revenge in the entire nation against Muslims. Under these circumstances, Hazrat Musanna (ra) was forced to retreat from the Arabian border. When Hazrat Umar (ra) came to know of these incidents, he sent emissaries throughout Arabia, who delivered passionate addresses calling on the Muslims to take a stand against Chosroes. The result was that it stirred emotions in Arabia and resulted in people hearkening from all directions, ready to present themselves for the sake of Islam with their lives in the palms of their hands, [as it were]; flocking to the royal court of the Caliphate.
Hazrat Umar(ra) sought counsel as to who should be appointed to lead this expedition. Upon the suggestions of the people, Hazrat Umar(ra) prepared to lead it himself, however Hazrat Ali(ra) and other prominent companions were against this. Subsequently, Hazrat Saeed bin Zaid’s(ra) name was proposed but in that very instance, Hazrat Abdur Rahman bin Auf(ra) stood up and said, “O Leader of the Faithful! I know just the individual for this expedition.” Hazrat Umar(ra) enquired who it was and Hazrat Abdur Rahman(ra) bin Auf proposed the name of Hazrat Sa‘d bin Abi Waqas(ra). Upon this, everyone agreed with the proposal of Hazrat Sa‘d(ra). Regarding Hazrat Sa‘d(ra), Hazrat Umar(ra) stated:
اِنَّہٗ رَجُلٌ شُجَاعٌ رَامٍ
“He is a brave and fearless man; and an excellent archer.”
Hazrat Musanna(ra) was waiting for Hazrat Sa‘d(ra) along with 8,000 brave soldiers at Zi Qar, which is a place situated between Kufa and Wasit, but during this, he passed away. [Prior to his demise] He had appointed his brother Hazrat Muana(ra) as the commander of the army. According to the instructions he had received, Hazrat Muana(ra) met Hazrat Sa‘d(ra) and conveyed to him the message of Hazrat Musanna(ra). Hazrat Sa‘d(ra) took an assessment of the strength of his army which consisted of approximately 30,000 soldiers. Hazrat Sa‘d(ra) organised the army by dividing them under each flank and also appointed an officer for both. They then proceeded ahead and besieged Qadisiyyah. The Battle of Qadisiyyah took place towards the end of 16 AH. The disbelievers numbered approximately 280,000 and also had 30 elephants and the Iranian army was under the command of Rustam. Hazrat Sa‘d(ra) invited the disbelievers to Islam and for this he sent Hazrat Mughirah bin Shu‘ba(ra). In response, Rustam stated that the Muslims were enduring hardship and they were only doing this in order to alleviate their condition. Therefore, he said he would grant them provisions in such abundance that it will be plentiful for them. Hazrat Mughirah(ra) replied that they had answered the call of God’s Messenger(sa) and were inviting them to profess belief in the One God and His Prophet(sa). If they were to accept this invitation, then it would be better for them, otherwise the matter between them would be settled by the sword, i.e., a battle. It was they [Iranians] who instigated the battle; the Muslims on the other hand did not want to fight and in fact called them towards Islam, but since they insisted on fighting, hence the Muslims said in that case the matter would be settled by the sword.
Upon hearing this, Rustam became enraged and since he was an idolater, he said, “I swear by the sun and the moon, before the light of day, we shall begin the battle and will destroy all of you.”
Hazrat Mughriah (ra) replied:
لَاحَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّۃَ اِلَّا بِاللّٰہِ
“Allah alone is the source of all power.”
After saying this, he mounted on his horse. Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) had received instructions from Hazrat Umar (ra) that they were to first invite them to Islam. Therefore, Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) sent a delegation which included the famous poet and cavalier, Hazrat Amr bin Ma‘di Karib (ra) and Hazrat Asha‘th bin Qais Kindi (ra). When they saw Rustam, he enquired where they were going, to which they replied that they were going to meet with his King [Wali]. Thereafter, this detailed conversation took place between the two. The members of this delegation stated that the Holy Prophet (sa) had promised them that they would be granted control of his land. In reply, Rustam asked for a basket full of dirt and said, “Here you go, you can place our land on top of your head.”
Hazrat Amr bin Ma‘di Karib (ra) quickly stood up and placed the basket of dirt in his sack and stated that this was to serve as a sign to indicate that they would indeed take control of their land. Thereafter, they went to the royal court of the King of Iran and conveyed to him the message of Islam. The king became enraged and ordered them to leave his royal court and also stated that had they not come as emissaries, he would have had them killed. He then ordered Rustam to teach them a lesson they would never forget. It was a Thursday, after the Asr prayer when the battle commenced. Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) raised the slogan of “Allahu Akbar” [Allah is the greatest] three times and upon reciting this for the fourth time, the battle began. Hazrat Sa‘d (ra) was unwell at the time and sat on an elevated secure post in the fortress of Udhaib, directing his forces.
(Roshan Sitarey, Ghulam Bari Saif, Vol. 2, pp. 79-82) (Atlas Fatuhat-e-Islamiyyah, p. 81, p. 100, p. 188, p. 126) (Mu‘jam-ul-Buldan, Vol. 4, p. 333, Dar-ul-Kutub al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut)