Rashidun Caliphate armies win the Battle of al-Qadissiyah, 636 CE

Today on the 19th of November in 636 CE, a 4-day-long Battle of Qadissiyah ended with the victory of the Rashidun Caliphate over the Sassanid Empire. Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas commanded the Rashidun forces while the Sassanids were commanded by their greatest hero Rustam.

The battle was contested hotly for 3 days because the Sassanids outnumbered the Rashidun armies. On the 4th day, Sassanid commander Rustam was killed in the battle. With his death, the Sassanid troops lost their morale and started to flee. Thus, the Muslims won this crucial battle.

At this time, the Rashidun Caliphate forces were fighting both on the eastern and western fronts. Khalid bin Walid was fighting on the western front in Syria against the Byzantines. Khalid had already defeated the Byzantines in the Battle of Yarmouk on August 20, 636 CE.

When the Caliph Umar bin Khattab came to know about the Sassanid engagements with the Muslim armies, he immediately ordered to send reinforcements from the western front to help Sad bin Abi Waqas. The reinforcements arrived on the second day of the battle. This was certainly a morale booster for the Muslim armies.

Sa’d was unwell so he appointed Khalid ibn Urfuta as his deputy to help him command the battle from the sick-bed. With all the difficulties, Sa’d fulfilled his duty effectively.

Background

Previously, in the Battle of Jasr or Bridge (October, 634 CE), the Muslims faced a brutal defeat against the Sassanids. The chief commander of the Muslims Abu Ubayd al-Thaqafi also lost his life in the battle. The Caliph Umar bin Khattab was mortified at the news of this disaster and began to prepare for another combat.

The very next month on November 9 in 634 CE, the Rashidun armies under the command of Al-Muthanna ibn Haritha once again met the Sassanid forces in the Battle of Buwaib, a few miles from Kufa. The Sassanids were defeated after a hard contest.

The details in between the time of two years (634 – 636 CE) are scarce. However, during this time, the Sassanids were preparing for a massive attack on the Muslim strongholds of Iraq. In November 636 CE, a huge army of the Sassanids led by their greatest hero Rustam finally confronted the Muslims in the Battle of Qadissiyah.

Fall of the Sassanid Empire

A 4 century-old Sassanid empire with their defeat in the Battle of Qadissiyah was crippled. The last Sassanid emperor Yazdegerd III was now waiting for his chance in the capital Ctesiphon. After a few weeks, Sa’d bin Abi Waqas now moved towards Ctesiphon.

Rashidun armies began the siege of the Sassanid capital Ctesiphon between January to March, 637 CE. Yazdegerd could not resist anymore and fled to Hulwan in Media. With the fall of their capital, the Sassanids tried to regain the lost territories but were once again defeated in the Battle of Nahavand, fought in December 641.

Yazdegerd III now escaped to the Merv area but was unable to raise another substantial army. In 651 CE, he was killed and his death officially marked the end of the Sassanid royal lineage and empire.

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