wall of the Arabs(MP War ī Tāzīgān) or the
ditch of Shāpūr(Ar. khandaq Sābūr); to their left were sand dunes stretching towards a small lake near present-day Najaf; a thinning extension on the Euphrates River (called al-ʿAtīq) flowed in front of the army, terminating in that lake; and the marshlands of southern Iraq covered the right flank.
At this point, the Muslims sent several envoys to meet with Rostam (and, according to some accounts, with Yazdegerd). These emissaries, notably al-Mughīrah b. Shuʿbah ath-Thaqafī, unnerved the Persian leadership with their shabby and unkempt dress, cavalier and disruptive attitude, and their arrogance and certainty in the strength of their cause. Tearing fine carpets with their swords, piercing cushions and pillows with their spears, and jumping audaciously onto Rostam’s throne, they expressed clearly their rejection of Persian culture and their unwillingness to compromise, despite the generous pecuniary offers to buy them off. Having ominous premonitions, Rostam tried to delay the Battle, but succumbed ultimately to the desire to punish them for their behaviour.
The third night, known as the
Night of Howling (Ar. laylat al-harīr), saw the Muslims gaining the advantage and a fierce windstorm that commenced on the fourth morning aided them by blowing sand in the faces of the Persian soldiers. Rostam, who directed the Persian army from atop his throne, took shelter in the shade of a mule after the wind knocked the canopy off of his throne and into the ʿAtīq. An Arab soldier, sometimes claimed to be Hilāl b. Alqamah (or Hilāl b. ʿUllāfah), made his way through the broken Persian lines and chanced upon Rostam, when he swung his sword and knocked a sack off the mule and onto the general’s back. Seeing the throne and noticing the garments worn by the man attempting to flee by swimming across the ʿAtīq, Hilāl recognised him as the famous Rostam. Having caught and beheaded him, he exclaimed:
By the Lord of the Kaʿbah! This news caused the total collapse of the Sāsānian army, elements of which had already commenced retreat. In the mayhem, a group of several thousand soldiers who had chained themselves together drowned in the ʿAtīq, while the Muslims pursued and killed many others; some accepted defeat and Islam.
flag of Kāveh). The Arab fighters became known as
the people of al-Qādisiyyah(Ar. ahl al-Qādisiyyah’) and held highest prestige (and pay) of the later Arab settlers within Iraq and one of its important garrison town, al-Kūfah.
According to most accounts, Saʿd and his army pursued immediately the fleeing Persian army up to the outskirts of al-Madāʾin, despatching a few smaller forces who attempted to halt them along the way. After a brief (or long) siege, the Arabs succeeded in penetrating first the western parts of the capital and then the eastern parts, as the royal family and nobility fled eastwards, the Persians relinquishing contrôl over Iraq for good. Thus, the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah broke the power of the Sāsānians, opened the way for the swift Arab-Muslim conquest of the alluvial ‘black’ land of central Iraq (known as the Sawād), and enabled the easy capture of the Sāsānian capital. The Muslims continued their campaign later, defeating two Sāsānian attempts at halting their advance attacks at Jalūlāʾ and at Nehāvand, destroying and supplanting ultimately the Iranian empire.
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