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Civilization Proposal: Arabs/ Rashidun Caliphate/ Umayyads

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Articles from Encyclopedia Iranica:


i. Arabs and Iran in the Pre-Islamic Period

As two of the most prominent ethnic elements in the Middle East, Arabs and Iranians have been in contact with each other, and at times have had their fortunes intertwined, for some three millennia. Herodotus (3.5) relates how in the 6th century B.C. the Achaemenid Cambyses marched against Egypt through northern Arabia after making a transit agreement with the local Arab ruler, probably one of the kings of Leḥīān in the northern Ḥeǰāz and how in the following century Xerxes employed camel-mounted Arab archers in his forces. The honored position of Arabs as “allies” of the Persian empire is also indicated in Achaemenid sculptured reliefs at Persepolis (E. F. Schmidt, Persepolis III, Chicago, 1969, pp. 112f.). On the northern fringes of Arabia at least, and in the Syrian Desert region, the world empires contending for mastery in western Asia—the Greeks, Romans, and then Byzantines on one side and the Achaemenids, Parthians, and Sasanians on the other—traditionally sought the alliance of local Arab chiefs and enrolled their tribesmen as frontier auxiliaries (the Greek symmachoi and Roman limitanei).

In the period after Alexander the Great, the policy of his Seleucid successors aimed at extending their authority over Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf in order to control the sea routes and to benefit from the commerce of the Gulf ports and South Asia: several centuries earlier, Darius (522-486 B.C.) had sent the Greek navigator Scylax of Caryanda on an exploratory voyage round the coasts of the Arabian peninsula. In 205-04 B.C. the Seleucid Antiochus III the Great sailed from his base at Seleucia on the Tigris along the southern shores of the Gulf as far as Chattene and the port of Gerrha. Gerrha, probably situated in what was later Qaṭīf opposite Bahrain island, was an entrepot for exotic imports from India and the aromatics of South Arabia, the Arabia Odorifera of the ancients. Aramaic and Greek inscriptions of this period from the Qaṭīf coastlands and from the island of Failaka off modern Kuwait testify to this Seleucid interest in the Gulf and its commercial potential.

After 129 B.C., with the decay of the Seleucid empire, a predominantly ethnically Arab principality arose in Lower Iraq, based on a settlement on the lower Tigris banks named Charax of Hyspaosines. While the founder, Hyspaosines, bore a purely Iranian name, he is described as king of the Arabs in that region, and he ruled over what must have been a predominantly Arab population in the district of Characene or Mesene (later Arabic, Maysān), even though the cultural language there, as in all Mesopotamia, was doubtless Aramaic. In central Iraq, the Parthian capital of Ctesiphon became a center for the spread of Iranian influence over the whole region.

In northern Iraq, another Arab principality was established by the middle of the 1st century B.C. at Hatra (Ar. al-Ḥażr), one of a crescent of Arab kingdoms situated along the northern fringe of the Syrian Desert as far west as Palmyra and Emesa. The more westerly kingdoms, eventually went down before the advancing Romans; those in the east came under considerable Parthian political and cultural influence, so that even certain of the early rulers of Edessa bore Iranian names. Hatra remained the firm ally of the Parthians in their epic struggle with Rome; among its rulers were three with the typically Arsacid name of Sanatrūk, while the “king of the Arabs” (Aramaic, malkā ḏī ʿAraḇ) in the 1st century A.D. had the Parthian name of Vologases. Much more than a caravan city, Hatra had an important shrine for sun worship that attracted rich votive offerings. Hatra’s fortunes declined with those of its Arsacid patrons, and it was occupied and plundered by the Sasanian Šāpūr I (A.D. 241-72, the Sābūr-al-ǰonūd of later Arabic historians). In later Islamic lore Hatra became an example of the fleetingness of human achievement and earthly prosperity, but its memory lived on, and the pre-Islamic poet al-Aʿšā began a famous qaṣīda with praise of the former al-Ḥażr.

The Sasanians, once they had become masters of Ctesiphon, continued the ancient Seleucid policy of involvement in the Gulf region to which was added, in the 6th century, intervention in South Arabia as well (see below). The founder of the Sasanian dynasty, Ardašīr I (d. A.D. 240), secured the head of the Gulf and the districts of Ahvāz and Maysān, with new settlements established at Sūq al-Ahvāz and Karḵ Maysān, and then, according to Ṭabarī (I, p. 820), drove southward into Bahrain. It is possible that Gerrha was sacked, for Ardašīr seems to have built a new settlement called (?) Fīrūz Ardašīr, on the site of earlier Chatta.

Not surprisingly, these imperialist designs provoked an Arab reaction. During the early years of the reign of Šāpūr II (A.D. 309 or 310-79), Arabs crossed the Gulf from Bahrain to the Ardašīr-ḵorra littoral of Fārs and raided the interior. In retaliation, Šāpūr led an expedition through Bahrain, defeated the combined forces of the Arab tribes of Tamīm, Bakr b. Wāʾel, and ʿAbd-al-Qays, and advanced temporarily into Yamāma in Central Naǰd. Frontier defenses were set up in Lower Iraq against the Bedouins, including a trench and rampart (the ḵandaq Sābūr of the Arabic historians); wells were blocked up, and Arab captives were harshly treated (whence Šāpūr’s name in the Arabic sources, Sābūr Ḏu’l-aktāf “he who pierces or dislocates shoulders”). Following the ancient Persian practice of mass population resettlement, the Sasanians carried off tribesmen of Taḡleb, Bakr b. Wāʾel, and Ḥanẓala and implanted them in Kermān and Ahvāz.

It is possible that a recently discovered settlement on an island off the northern tip of the Musandam peninsula in northern ʿOmān, a site commanding the sea route through the narrow Straits of Hormoz, may date from this time. Certainly, ʿOmān was regarded as a key region for the Persian policy of hegemony throughout the Gulf. Geographically separate from the plains of eastern Arabia and geologically more akin to the Zagros mountain region of southern Persia, ʿOmān has often been linked culturally and even politically with Persia. Already, Šāpūr I—on the evidence of the Naqš-e Rostam inscription—claimed ʿOmān (Pers. Mazūn) as part of his empire. In later times, some degree of control was certainly established. Persian officials and garrison troops settled in the coastal plain and also on the cultivable slopes of the Jabal Aḵżar; their administrative center of Rostāq permanently implanted a Persian name in ʿOmān. Relations between these Persian colonists and the indigenous Azd Arabs of the interior were normalized during Ḵosrow Anōšīravān’s reign (A.D. 531-79) by a treaty that gave the Āl Jolandā paramountcy, as tributaries and auxiliaries of Persia, over the Arabs of ʿOmān. It is possible, though not proven, that the Persians developed agriculture extensively there and introduced the system of qanāts to convey water for irrigation from the mountain slopes.

Persian control over central and northern Mesopotamia was exercised through the Arab dynasty of the Lakhmids, who had their court and their capital at al-Ḥīra (Aramaic Ḥērṯā “fortified encampment”) near the later Muslim garrison of Kūfa. Ḥīra was a creation of the Tanūḵ Arabs; the antiquarian Ebn al-Kalbī (d. 204/819 or 206/821) situates its founding in the reign of Ardašīr I after the Sasanians had taken over Iraq from the Parthians, but it is equally probable that its growth was a slower, more gradual process. At all events, Ḥīra became essentially an Arab town, strategically situated as the starting point for caravan traffic westward across the Syrian Desert. Although Syriac was the learned and hieratic language for its population, a large proportion of whom were Nestorian Christians, famed for their literacy (the so-called ʿEbād “devotees” of Arabic sources), ethnically they must have been Arab. The Lakhmid rulers themselves, the Manāḏera or Naʿāmena of Arabic sources, remained pagan and strongly attached to the culture and traditions of the Arabian Desert; only at the very end of the dynasty did al-Noʿmān III (ca. A.D. 580-602) become Christian. The great Bedouin poets of the Jāhelīya frequently sought the patronage of the Lakhmid kings (see Lakhmids).

In general, the Lakhmids remained faithful Sasanian vassals, holding the northwestern fringes of the desert against pressure from the Byzantines and their Arab Ghassanid allies and against incursions from the Bedouins of Naǰd. The Sasanian prince Bahrām V, known as Bahrām Gōr (r. A.D. 421-39), grew up at the court of Ḥīra under the tutelage of al-Monḏer I al-Noʿmān I al-Aʿwar, and eventually gained the throne in Ctesiphon with Lakhmid help against the Persian nobles who had killed his brother Šāpūr. Other regroupings and alliances took place outside the usual pattern. Thus the evidence of the famous proto-Arabic al-Namāra inscription from southern Syria commemorating the death in 328 of the “king of all the Arabs” Emro ’l-Qays al-Badʾ b. ʿAmr b. ʿAdī shows that this potentate, who governed the North Arab tribes as far as the Ḥeǰāz, on behalf of the Sasanians, had at the end of his life transferred his allegiance to the Byzantines. Yet on the whole, the Lakhmid kings of the 5th and 6th centuries bore a substantial share of the fighting against the Byzantines over control of the Syrian Desert fringes. Thus, al-Noʿmān II was heavily involved in the Byzantino-Sasanian warfare and scored a victory against the East Romans at Ḥarrān in 502.

The 6th century is the best-documented period of Lakhmid history. Al-Monḏer II (A.D. 503-54) was delegated by the Sasanian emperors—shortly after 531, according to Ṭabarī—to rule over much of northern and eastern Arabia, including Bahrain, ʿOmān, Yamāma, Naǰd, and the Ḥeǰāz as far west as Ṭāʾef. Some degree of Persian influence appears to have been exercised as far northwest as Yaṯreb (Islamic Medina) through the agency first of the local Jewish tribes of al-Nazīr and Qorayẓa and then, in the second half of the 6th century, by a Lakhmid tax collector. Al-Monḏer III managed to survive the powerful bid for control over northeastern Arabia made early in his reign by the rival chief of Kenda, al-Ḥāreṯ b. ʿAmr, who for three years (525-28) actually occupied Ḥīra itself; in revenge, al-Monḏer largely extirpated the ruling house of Kenda. In 531 he played a leading role in the Persian campaign that culminated in the victory over Byzantium at Callinicum on the Euphrates; he was eventually killed in a battle with the Ghassanids near Qennasrīn, probably the Yawm-al-ḥīār of the Arabic sources.

The extent of Persian political influence over the Lakhmid royal family can be seen in the name of one ruler, Qābūs b. al-Monḏer III (A.D. 569-73), arabized from Kāvūs, a typically Iranian epic name. Among the Lakhmids’ troops are mentioned the ważāʾeʿ, described as Persian cavalrymen sent to Ḥīra by the emperor for a year’s tour of duty. The Arabic poets who thronged the Lakhmid court at Ḥīra and who also visited Ctesiphon had at least some exposure to Persian culture and its technical vocabulary; the 9th-century critic Ebn Qotayba says of the great Jāhelī poet Maymūn b. Qays al-Aʿšā’s fondness for using Persian words, “al-Aʿšā used to visit the court of the kings of Persia, and because of that, Persian court words abound in his poetry” (Ketāb al-Šeʿr wa’l-šoʿarāʾ, ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1900, pp. 136-37).

The end of the Lakhmids’ independence seems to be connected with their attempts to through off a Persian tutelage that had become irksome. Al-Noʿmān III b. al-Monḏer IV (A.D. 580-602), the first Christian Lakhmid king, eventually quarreled with Ḵosrow II Aparvēz, who deposed and killed him. This weakening of the Lakhmid bulwark against nomadic pressure from the interior of Naǰd may well have contributed to the Arab Muslim breakthrough into Iraq and Bahrain some thirty years later, just as the victory of Bedouins of Bakr b. Wāʾel and Šaybān over the Persians and their allies at Ḏū Qār near Kūfa sometime between 604 and 613 demonstrated to the Arabs the deterioration of Persian defenses in that quarter.

Finally, the 6th century witnessed strenuous attempts to extend Persian power into South Arabia as well as into the north and east of the peninsula. Long before this, there had been diplomatic contacts; a Sabaean inscription from Maʾreb mentions an embassy from the Himyarite king Šammar Yohaṛʿeš of Yemen and Hadramaut (later 3rd century A.D.) to the Persian twin capitals of Ctesiphon and Seleucia. In the 6th century, the Sasanians were able to take advantage of the decline of Himyarite central power and political fragmentation in Yemen, together with the confessional discords exacerbated by Ethiopian attempts to support the indigenous South Arabian Christian community. The Yemenite ruler Ḏū Nowās, a convert to Judaism, seems to have been encouraged in his persecution of the Christians of Naǰrān (the latter traditionally and, it now seems, correctly identified with the Koranic (Aṣḥāb al-oḵdūd “Companions of the trench”) by the anti-Christian and pro-Persian Lakhmid al-Monḏer III, even though the latter could supply no material help for that distant corner of Arabia. The opportunity for direct Persian intervention in South Arabia did not come until about 570, when the rule of the Ethiopian-backed governor in Yemen, Masrūq b. Abraha, provoked a Yemeni uprising under Sayf b. Ḏī Yazan, who appealed first to the Lakhmids, and then directly to Ḵosrow Anōšīravān. Although South Arabia was remote from Persia itself, Anōšīravān was tempted by the prospect of extending Persian influence along the southern coast of Arabia and controlling the Gulf of Aden, thereby blocking Byzantine trade up the Red Sea. An expeditionary force under the Persian general Vahrēz fought its way to the Yemeni capital, Ṣaṇʿā, expelled the Ethiopians, and eventually installed Sayf b. Ḏī Yazan’s son Maʿdīkareb as a Persian vassal ruler. A colony of Persian officials and soldiers settled in Yemen, and their Muslim descendants formed the group of the Abnāʾ in early Islamic times.

It is improbable that centuries of contacts between the Arabs and Persians, above all in eastern Arabia, should not have left behind some legacy in the fields of thought and culture, but such a legacy is not easy to quantify or to evaluate. In centers like Ctesiphon the Arabs acquired some familiarity with the externals of Persian life—the impressive buildings, the court ceremonial, the military institutions like the mailed, heavily armed cavalrymen, the ceremonies and practices of Zoroastrianism,—yet these had no penetrating effect on society within the Arabian peninsula. The Lakhmid kings, with their circles of Bedouin poets and their alliances with the tribesmen of the interior seem to have been quintessentially Arab rulers rather than largely persianized ones. The most lasting result of Arab-Persian contacts in these centuries was an influx of Persian words into the classical ʿarabīya, especially those with religious and cultural references; as early as the Namāra inscription we find the Middle Persian tāg (crown) borrowed into Arabic; subsequent borrowings are discernible in the Jāhelī poets and in the Koran itself, where they were evaluated by later Muslim philologists concerned with the moʿarrabāt.
ii. Arab Conquest of Iran

During the first two centuries of the Muslim era (7th-8th centuries A.D.) the Sasanian state and much of the east Iranian region in Central Asia were conquered by the mostly Arab armies of the early Islamic state. The accounts of this conquest are often contradictory, the exact course of events unclear, precise dates for even major events elusive, and the size of the armies difficult to determine. Persian forces appear to have outnumbered Muslim armies at key battles such as Qādesīya and Nehāvand; they fought bravely, contested the Muslim advance fiercely, and attempted to throw off tribute arrangements afterwards. The fall of the Sasanians has been attributed to the class and religious strife in their society, the absence of popular support for an elitist regime, conflict among the nobles, dynastic instability, and the cost of the recent, long, and unsuccessful war with the Byzantines. The ultimate success of the Muslims has also been explained by their organization and determination, the effect of their faith on their morale, their ability to recruit and co-opt forces as they expanded, and their greater mobility.

The Sasanian position in the Arabian peninsula had been based on a system of military colonies and tribal alliances in the Yemen, ʿOmān, and Bahrain; it collapsed when their defeat by the Byzantines left them unable to support their garrisons and Arab protégés. The death of Ḵosrow II, June, 628 coincided with the treaty of Ḥodaybīa between Moḥammad and the Meccans, which was followed by a four-year succession crisis that enabled the Muslims to build up their own alliances. Persian agents in the peninsula, abandoned by the Sasanians and challenged by local rivals, were attracted to the rising Islamic state at Medina, especially after Mecca fell to Moḥammad in 8/630. The Persian governor at Ṣaṇʿāʾ became a Muslim and acknowledged Moḥammad, who confirmed him as his agent in the Yemen. The marzbān at Haǰar in Bahrain also converted to Islam and recognized Moḥammad, as did the Arab protégés of the Sasanians in Bahrain and ʿOmān. Zoroastrians in these two areas were allowed to pay tribute.

When Moḥammad died in 10/632 the Persians (abnāʾ) of Ṣaṇʿāʾ remained loyal but faced two local Arab opposition movements. Their leader, Fīrūz was appointed Muslim agent there after they helped kill al-Aswad, but Qays b. Makšūḥ drove them out of Ṣaṇʿāʾ. A Muslim army sent by Caliph Abu Bakr defeated Qays, pacified the Yemen, and proceeded to Ḥażramawt, leaving Fīrūz to hold Ṣaṇʿāʾ. At the same time, the Zoroastrians of Bahrain withheld tribute, joined the local Arab movement in support of the Lakhmid ruler there, and besieged the pro-Muslim Arabs of the ʿAbd-al-Qays. An army sent by Abū Bakr under al-ʿAlāʾ al-Ḥażramī defeated this movement and began the real conquest of Bahrain; about the same time the rebels were defeated in ʿOmān.

After the defeat and death of Mosaylema in the Yamāma in Rabīʿa I, 12/May-June, 633, Ḵāled b. al-Walīd marched north through eastern Arabia to join forces with Muslim elements of the Banū ʿEǰl and Šaybān who were raiding the Sawād of Iraq. At the battle of Ḏāt al-Salāsel between Bahrain and Obolla, Ḵāled’s army met and defeated Sasanian frontier forces under Hormoz. This victory enabled Ḵāled to penetrate the lower line of Sasanian frontier defenses near the coast and invade Maysān, where he defeated the survivors of Hormoz’s army and reinforcements from al-Madāʾen at the battle of Maḏār in Ṣafar, 12/March-April, 633. Ḵāled then turned west, going to the north of the swamps to Walaǰa in the territory of Kaskar, where he was joined by some of the local ʿEǰl and ambushed and defeated a combined Persian and Arab army. Continuing west to Zandavard and Hormozǰerd, he reached the Euphrates at Ollays, where he defeated local Persians and Christian Arabs under Jābān.

Ḵāled’s maneuver through lower Iraq brought him to the vicinity of Ḥīra behind the line of Sasanian defensive positions along the middle Euphrates. Defeating the cavalry of the marzbān of Ḥīra, Ḵāled joined forces with al-Moṯannā b. Ḥāreṯ of the Šaybān and invested Ḥīra. After the marzbān fled to al-Madāʾen, the notables of Ḥīra arranged terms of tribute with Ḵāled in the summer of 12/633. Ḵāled is also said to have imposed an annual tribute on Anbār after the Persian garrison evacuated. When he defeated a force of the Sasanians’ Christian Arab auxiliaries from the tribes of Bakr, ʿEǰl, Taḡleb, and Namer at ʿAyn al-Tamr, the Persian garrison evacuated, and the town and its fortress fell to the Muslims. But while Ḵāled was occupied with the conquest of Dūmat al-Jandal, Persian forces joined by Arabs of Taḡleb and Namer reinforced the line of strongholds west of ʿAyn at-Tamr south of the Euphrates. Ḵāled’s forces took these positions in detail from east to west, slaughtered the Persian and Arab garrisons, captured their dependents, and finished by defeating a combined force of Persians and Arabs of Eyād, Namer, and Taḡleb at the end of this line at Ferāż on 15 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 12/21 January 634. Ḵāled then returned to Ḥīra, made tribute arrangements for much of the central Sawād, and left for Syria in the spring of 13/634 after placing al-Moṯannā in charge of Ḥīra.

Ḵāled’s raid on Iraq in 12/633 destroyed most of the Sasanian fortifications along the desert border, crippled their Arab allies, and triggered a major Sasanian effort to recover the Sawād and restore its border. In 10/632 the enthronement of a youthful (aged sixteen or twenty-one) grandson of Ḵosrow II as Yazdegerd III ended the succession crisis, but the defense of the Sawād was largely undertaken by other members of the royal family, such as Narsī, and members of the Persian high nobility to protect their own property. Rostam organized the Sasanian recovery of the Sawād and coordinated the activities of Narsī and Jābān, who raised local resistance in the provinces of Kaskar and Beh-Qobāḏ. After the death of Abū Bakr in 13/634 the local arrangements made with the Muslims were terminated all along the Euphrates; the Muslims were driven out, and al-Moṯannā withdrew to Ḵaffān.

ʿOmar’s first concern was to deal with the Byzantine counterattack in Syria, but he sent Abū ʿObayd with 1,000 men to reinforce al-Moṯannā and take command of the Iraqi front. Abū ʿObayd invaded the Sawād and defeated local Persian forces under Jābān at Namāreq, under Narsī below Kaskar, and under Jālīnūs in Bārūsmā, but he retreated across the Euphrates to Marwaḥa before a relief force with elephants under Bahman Jāḏūya from Babel. Ambushing Abū ʿObayd from the opposite bank of the Euphrates, the Persians inflicted a disastrous defeat on the Muslim forces at the Battle of the Bridge in Šaʿbān, 13/October, 634. The Persians were prevented from following up this victory by factional strife at al-Madāʾen. About the same time, al-ʿAlāʾ b. al-Ḥażramī completed the conquest of Bahrain.

After the Battle of the Bridge, ʿOmar sent contingents from several Arab tribes under Jarīr b. ʿAbdallāh al-Baǰalī to reinforce al-Moṯannā, who was also joined by local Christian Arabs of Namer and Taḡleb. Mehrān, son of Mehrbandāḏ of Hamadān, who was sent to Ḥīra to deal with this buildup of Arab forces on the Iraqi frontier, crossed the Euphrates on a bridge of boats and attacked their camp at Noḵayla on the Bowayb canal, most likely in the fall of 14/635. Al-Moṯannā and Jarīr defeated the Persians, and inflicted heavy casualties, Mehrān among them. The victory at Noḵayla/Bowayb left the Sawād virtually undefended; the remaining Persian border posts along the desert frontier were taken, and Muslim raiding parties fanned out over the Sawād. Destructive raids by al-Moṯannā and his lieutenants pillaged villages, markets, and encampments from Kaskar to Anbār.

To prevent the Persians from sending aid or mounting a counterattack from the direction of Maysān and Ḵūzestān ʿOmar sent ʿOtba b. Ḡazwān with a few hundred men to create a diversion in lower Iraq toward the end of 14/635. From his camp at the deserted frontier post of Ḵorayba, in the spring of 15/636, ʿOtba’s force attacked and conquered al-Obolla, Forāt, Abar-Qobāḏ, and Dast-e Maysān, defeating and killing the marzbān at the battle of Maḏār. As success attracted Arab tribesmen to this front, the encampment at Ḵorayba grew into the garrison city of al-Baṣra.

In 15/636 ʿOmar sent Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ to Iraq with an army of between 6,000 and 10,000 men. Al-Moṯannā died shortly after his arrival, and Saʿd took command of all the forces on the Euphrates front. He was met by a major Persian force with thirty elephants under Rostam, who advanced across the Euphrates and camped at Qādesīya behind the defensive line of the Nahr al-ʿAtīqa. The Muslim forces in the Sawād fell back and regrouped under Saʿd at the fortress of ʿOḏayb and the nearby village of Qādes to await reinforcements from Syria. After the two armies had faced each other for four months, the Persians were defeated in a fierce three-day battle, with heavy casualties on both sides, probably in Jomādā I, 16/June, 637. The battle of Qādesīya, which was decided by the arrival of the Syrian reinforcements and the death of Rostam, was a decisive victory for the Muslims and a military disaster for the Persians. The Persians were totally routed, and fugitive Persian soldiers were pursued and killed in the villages, reed thickets, and river banks. Some 4,000 Iranian soldiers (the Ḥamrāʾ) joined the Muslim army at Qādesīya, shared equally in the booty, and participated in the subsequent campaign; the fate of the Sawād was settled. As the survivors of Qādesīya headed for al-Madāʾen, the Sasanian garrisons in the eastern Jazīra were evacuated. Contingents in advance of the main Muslim army spread out across the Sawād in systematic pursuit of the remnants of the Persian army, which they prevented from regrouping. Local notables, such as Bestām, the dehqān of Bors, assisted the victors. The Persians tried to gather their forces and make a stand at Bābel but were defeated and rescattered by the Muslim vanguard under Zohra b. ʿAbdallāh b. Qatāda, who also drove them out of Sūra and Kūṯa. During this march Muslim soldiers began to equip themselves with the weapons, armor, and horses of the fallen Persians.

As Saʿd approached al-Madāʾen, the garrison at Sābāṭ was slaughtered, although Šīrzāḏ, who joined Saʿd there, built twenty mangonels for his use at the siege of Vēh-Ardašīr. The Muslims besieged al-Madāʾen for two or three months or for over a year. After an attempt to defend Vēh-Ardašīr the Sasanian garrison evacuated it, crossed to the east bank of the Tigris, and cut the floating bridge behind them. The Muslims surprised the Sasanians by fording the Tigris and besieged the eastern half of al-Madāʾen. At the fall of Vēh-Ardašīr Yazdegerd III lost his nerve, sent his dependents to Ḥolwān, left Mehrān of Ray and Naḵīrǰān to evacuate the royal treasure, and fled from al-Madāʾen with his courtiers. Persian soldiers and nobles began to escape from the city, and in the confusion thousands of Persian horsemen are said to have been captured. Saʿd entered the nearly deserted city, captured most of the royal treasure, accepted the surrender of the people in the White Palace and at Rūmīya in return for tribute, and quartered the Muslim army there.

Toward the end of 16/635 two Muslim columns advanced north and east from al-Madāʾen. One moved up the Tigris under ʿAbdallāh b. Moʿtamm and took Takrīt with the help of Arabs of Namer and ʿEǰl in the town who went over to the Muslim side during the siege. The other, under Hāšem b. ʿOtba, pursued the Persian refugees and soldiers along the road to Ḥolwān with a vanguard of 12,000 men, including the Ḥamrāʾ. The Sasanian rearguard under Ḵorrazād, Rostam’s brother, entrenched their baggage and dependents at Ḵāneqīn and attempted to cover the retreat, but Hāšem defeated them with heavy losses at Jalūlāʾ. A flying column including Ḥamrāʾ under Qaʿqāʿ b. ʿAmr pursued the survivors to Ḵāneqīn, where every fighting man who could be caught was killed, and their women, children, and property were captured. When he heard of the defeat at Jalūlāʾ and the death of Mehrān of Ray at Ḵāneqīn, Yazdegerd abandoned Ḥolwān and headed for Ray, leaving a holding force at Ḥolwān under Ḵosrowšonūm. In the last major engagement of this campaign Qaʿqāʿ routed the forces of Ḵosrowšonūm at Qaṣr-e Šīrīn and occupied Ḥolwān, which he garrisoned with some of the Ḥamrāʾ. Soon afterward the Persians who had fled from al-Madāʾen were allowed to return upon agreeing to pay tribute, and the Muslim army evacuated and settled at Kūfa. By 17/638 Kufan forces had conquered Māsabādān and Mehraǰānqaḏāq in the western Jebāl.

The fall of Iraq had serious consequences for the subsequent conflict because it had been the most important part of the Sasanian empire. The capital at al-Madāʾen had been the apex of their administrative system, and Iraq had provided about one-third of their annual tax revenues. In addition, they lost the royal treasure, substantial military forces that perished defending Iraq, and the leadership of many high-ranking nobles. The Muslims now held these resources and were assisted by former members of the Sasanian army and administration who had defected. By 20/641 the organization of the military dīvān at Baṣra and Kūfa provided regular support for Muslim soldiers; by the 640s, Muslim armies based in Iraq were as well organized, provisioned, and equipped as the Sasanians themselves.

The next phase of the conflict opened in Ḵūzestān, where Hormozān organized an active defense, raiding Dast-e Maysān and Maysān, but was driven out in 18/639 by forces from Baṣra and Kūfa and had to deal with risings by Arab Bedouins on the border of Ḵūzestān and by the Kurds of Fārs. Yazdegerd sent his vanguard of several hundred heavy cavalrymen (asvārān, asāwera) under Sīāh al-Oswārī from Isfahan towards Eṣṭaḵr. Increasing his force along the way Sīāh turned westward from Fārs into Ḵūzestān and reinforced the garrisons there. Against stiff resistance the conquest of Ḵūzestān was undertaken by Basran forces under Abū Mūsā al-Ašʿarī. Hormozān’s troops were garrisoned separately in the fortified cities of Ḵūzestān, and Abū Mūsā besieged them one at a time. Hormozān was driven out of Sūq al-Ahvāz and fled to Šūštar, where Abū Mūsā besieged him for eighteen months to two years with Kufan reinforcements, while Rām-Hormoz surrendered on terms. In 19/644, al-ʿAlāʾ b. al-Ḥażramī attacked Fārs by sea from Bahrain; he reached Eṣṭaḵr but was beaten back to the coast by the marzbān of Fārs. Šūštar fell to Abū Mūsā in 21/642 with the help of a Persian, who arranged to open the gates in return for his own security. Hormozān held out for a while in the citadel but finally surrendered and was sent to Medina. Afterward, Sūs and Jondīšāpūr were besieged and fell, and Basran forces entered the southern Jebāl. Sīāh and his asāwera surrendered, joined the Muslims, and settled in Baṣra. In 20/641, Kufan forces under ʿOtba b. Farqad marched up the Tigris, took Nineveh on terms, founded Mosul across the river, and conquered the districts along the Tigris and Greater Zāb as far as western Azerbaijan.

By 21/642 Yazdegerd had raised a major army in the Jebāl and sent it to Nehāvand to block any Muslim advance from that direction and possibly to retake Iraq. The threat that this army seemed to pose to Muslim positions it Iraq led ʿOmar to combine the Kufan and Basran forces under al-Noʿmān b. ʿAmr b. Moqarren al-Mozanī and to send them against the Persians with reinforcements from Syria and ʿOmān. The course of the battle fought at Nehāvand in the summer of 21/642 is difficult to reconstruct in tactical terms. As usual, it is said to have lasted several days, to have resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, including al-Noʿmān and the Persian general Mardānšāh, son of Hormoz, and to have been decided by a ruse or by the arrival of the Muslim reinforcements.

The Muslim victory at Nehāvand was a second military disaster for the Sasanians; it secured Iraq and Ḵūzestān for the Muslims, ended any concerted resistance in the Jebāl, and opened the Iranian plateau to the Muslims. Yazdegerd fled to Isfahan and then to Eṣṭaḵr. During 22-23/643-44 Kufan and Basran forces broke up and fanned out over western Iran to deal with local resistance. Several places in the Jebāl were claimed as conquests by both the Kufans and the Basrans before and after Nehāvand. Some places, such as Hamadān and Ray, were taken and retaken several times. Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān accepted the surrender of the town and district of Nehāvand from its lord, called Dīnār, who was captured during a sortie; he arranged to pay tribute in return for protection for the walls, property, and houses of the people there. One Kufan force took Hamadān on similar terms and headed for Ray. The territory of Ray was taken from the marzbān, possibly with the help of a local notable called Farroḵān, on terms similar to Nehāvand. A tribute of 500,000 dirhams was imposed on Ray and Qūmes; in return the fire temples were not to be destroyed nor the people killed or enslaved. Another Kufan force took Qazvīn in 24/644, and from there Ḥoḏayfa b. al-Yamān marched west to Azerbaijan, where he defeated the marzbān, took the capital of Ardabīl, and imposed a tribute of 100,000 dirhams. According to the terms made by Ḥoḏayfa, the people were not to be killed or taken captive; they would be protected from the Kurds, and their fire temples would not be destroyed. The people of Šīz were allowed to keep their fire temple and to perform their dances at religious festivals.

Meanwhile Basran forces under the general command of Abū Mūsā conquered and garrisoned Dīnavar and may have taken Māsabādān and Mehraǰānqaḏāq. In 23/644 one Basran force conquered the urban centers of Jayy and Yahūdīya at Isfahan, where the defense organized by the ostāndār failed due to internal divisions among the garrison and people. The terms arranged by the pāḏḡōspān provided for the usual payment of tribute in return for security for lives and possessions. A number of Persian notables became Muslims, while others emigrated to Kermān. Other Basran units took Kāšān by force, captured and garrisoned a village at Qom, raided the two towns of Ṭabasayn in Qūhestān that controlled the approach to Khorasan, and raided Šīrǰān and Bam in the territory of Kermān.

The other main thrust of Basran forces after Nehāvand was southeastward from Ḵūzestān into Fārs, initially to deal with resistance organized among the Persians and Kurds of Ḵūzestān by Fīrūz. Abū Mūsā himself defeated these forces at Bayrūḏ in 23/643-44, pacified the countryside, and invaded Fārs to support ʿOṯmān b. Abi’l-ʿĀṣ, who had crossed from Bahrain. ʿOṯmān established a base at Tawwaǰ, and he or his brother, al-Ḥakam, defeated and killed the governor of Fārs near Rīšahr. Tribute was imposed on Eṣṭaḵr, Arraǰān, Dārābīerd, and Fasā, and al-Ḥakam was left in charge.

After the death of ʿOmar in 23/644, many of the places in Azerbaijan, the Jebāl, and Fārs that had been conquered in the two years after Nehāvand withheld tribute and had to be retaken. The second wave of Muslim expansion under ʿOṯmān (24-35/644-56) secured strategic control and tribute to support the military establishment in Iraq, provided booty to satisfy latecomers to the garrison cities, and served to occupy and direct the energies of the Muslim soldiers. A new tribute of 100,000 dirhams was imposed on Hamadān, while the former urban centers at Isfahan and Ray were destroyed, and Muslim garrisons and masǰeds were established in new settlements at both places. A garrison of 500 men supported by land grants was settled at Qazvīn, for defense against the Daylamīs. Beginning in 25/645-46 Kufan forces under al-Walīd b. ʿOqba campaigned in the two frontier districts (ṯoḡūr) of Ray and Azerbaijan. Each year, one-quarter of the 40,000 soldiers in Kūfa campaigned, 4,000 in Ray and 6,000 in Azerbaijan. Al-Walīd raised the tribute of Azerbaijan to 800,000 dirhams per year and sent advance forces to raid Mūqān, Ṭālešān, and Armenia for booty and captives. From about 30/650, when Saʿīd b. al-ʿĀṣ was governor of Kūfa, the northern frontier was stabilized. Al-Ašʿaṭ b. Qays al-Kendī completed the pacification of Azerbaijan; a Muslim garrison and masǰed were established at Ardabīl, and raids were made against the Daylamīs in Gīlān, Gorgān, and Ṭabarestān, but little new territory was occupied.

The main concerns of the Muslims in the Jebāl and Azerbaijan were strategic security and tribute. Direct control was exercised by garrisons at a few key former Sasanian urban administrative centers. The original arrangements of tribute in return for security for the inhabitants and their children and property tend to be schematized in Arabic literature but probably reflect the general circumstances. Tribute is represented as tax in this literature and tended to be raised after rebellions. The countryside was controlled indirectly, if at all, through local authorities who were willing to collaborate. The Muslim advance in the north does not seem to have gone beyond former Sasanian territory, and by the 650s there was a permanent frontier there, from which the Muslim forces engaged in raids and defense against Kurds, Daylamīs, and Khazars.

Yazdegerd had made his way to Eṣṭaḵr and tried to organize a base for resistance in the province of Fārs, where tribute was withheld after the death of ʿOmar. The real conquest of Fārs and the remainder of the Sasanian empire to the east was undertaken by ʿAbdallāh b. ʿĀmer b. Korayz, the governor of Baṣra (29-45/649-55). The Basran army was composed mainly of Arabs of the tribe of Tamīm and the Banū Solaym clan of the ʿAbd-al-Qays. The 1,000 asāwera who had settled at Baṣra and become allies of Tamīm fought in the vanguard. In a single, hard-fought, and sometimes destructive campaign, Persian resistance in Fārs was crushed by 30/650. Dārābīerd was surrendered by its herbaḏ, but Eṣṭaḵr put up stiff resistance, although Yazdegerd had moved to Gūr (Fīrūzābād). The walls of Eṣṭaḵr were destroyed by mangonels, and some 40,000 defenders are said to have perished in the fighting, which left Eṣṭaḵr ruined and eliminated the last significant Sasanian military force and many noble families. Afterward Gūr fell quickly; Kāzerūn and Sīrāf were occupied, and Yazdegerd fled to Kermān, pursued by a Basran force that perished in a snowstorm at Bīmand.

Impecunious and arrogant, with a large retinue to support, Yazdegerd alienated the marzbān of Kermān and left for Sīstān just ahead of another Basran force, which defeated and killed the marzbān in heavy fighting. Having lost the support of the governor of Sīstān by demanding tax arrears, Yazdegerd headed for Marv. Nevertheless, in 30/650-51 or 31/651-52 ʿAbdallāh b. ʿĀmer sent force to Sīstān under Rabīʿ b. Zīād al-Ḥāreṯī, who took Zāleq, Karkūya, Haysūn, and Nāšrūḏ on terms and besieged Zarang, where the marzbān, notables, and Zoroastrian chief priest, surrendered after heavy fighting outside the town. Rabīʿ imposed an annual tribute of 1,000 slave boys bearing 1,000 golden vessels and garrisoned Zarang with his force. ʿAbdallāh b. ʿĀmer headed for Khorasan with the main Basran force and sent Moǰāseʿ b. Masʿūd to complete the conquest of Kermān. The fall of the main towns of Sīrǰān, Jīroft, Bam, and Hormūz caused considerable disruption in Kermān, and many people fled to the mountains or Makrān where they were aided by the Kōfīčīs/Qofṣ, or to Sīstān, Khorasan, or overseas. Their abandoned houses and lands were divided among the Arabs, who settled there and paid tithes (ʿošr) on them.

The struggle for Khorasan in 31/651 involved attempts by local officials and notables to secure autonomy, complicated by the intervention of the Hephthalites of Bāḏḡīs and Herat and by the Muslims. Māhūya, the marzbān of Marv, resented Yazdegerd’s financial demands and allied with Nēzak Ṭarḵān, the Hephthalite ruler of Bāḏḡīs, who helped him defeat Yazdegerd’s followers. Yazdegerd was killed by a miller as he fled from Marv, and his son Pērōz took refuge in China. About the same time ʿAbdallāh b. ʿĀmer sent his vanguard under al-Aḥnaf b. Qays with Tamīmī Arabs and 1,000 asāwera via Ṭabasayn, where he reestablished peace terms, conquered Kūhestān (whose people were aided by Hephthalites from Herat), and imposed a tribute of 600,000 dirhams on the province. Ebn ʿĀmer and his lieutenants conquered the districts in the territory of Nīšāpūr, defeated Hephthalites from Herat who came to aid the Iranians, and besieged the capital at Abaršahr for a month. Let into the city by the commander of one of its quarters, the Muslims besieged the marzbān in the citadel until be agreed to a tribute of 700,000 or one million dirhams for the entire province. Afterward local notables arranged terms at Nasā for 300,000 dirhams and at Abīvard for 400,000 dirhams, while Saraḵs was taken by force. The kanārang or marzbān of Ṭūs arranged to pay a tribute of 600,000 dirhams.

Ebn ʿĀmer dealt with the Hephthalites next, sending a force against Herat, where the ruler agreed to a tribute of one million dirhams for Herat, Bāḏḡīs, and Pūšang. Māhūya at Marv then secured peace for a tribute of one million dirhams or one million dirhams and 100,000 ǰarīb-measures of wheat and barley and the quartering of Muslims in local houses. From Marv Ebn ʿĀmer sent al-Aḥnaf b. Qays with 5,000 men to invade Ṭoḵārestān in 32/652. His force of 4,000 Arabs and 1,000 Iranian Muslims accepted terms of 300,000 dirhams for the district of Marv-al-rūd from the garrison in the fortress but besieged the town, where the fighting was bloody until the marzbān arranged a tribute of 60,000 or 600,000 dirhams and a mutual defense agreement. With heavy fighting and many casualties, al-Aḥnaf then repelled a force of 30,000 men from Gūzgān, Ṭālaqān, and Fāryāb, plus people from Čaḡānīān, defeated the survivors, and conquered Gūzgān. Taking Ṭālaqān peacefully and Fāryāb by force, he reached the capital at Balḵ, where the people made peace for 400,000 or 700,000 dirhams; he raided Ḵᵛārazm unsuccessfully and rejoined Ebn ʿĀmer. In the winter of 32/653 Ebn ʿĀmer returned to Baṣra, leaving 4,000 men to hold Marv.

Ebn ʿĀmer’s campaign brought the border to the Oxus river and imposed tribute in eastern Iran, but he left only small holding forces at Nīšāpūr, Marv, and Zarang. Local officials and notables regarded tribute as a temporary expedient to secure their own positions, sometimes, against local rivals, with Muslim military backing and may have tried to play off the Muslims against the Hephthalites. Led by Qāren and an army of 40,000 men, who were supported by the people of Kūhestān, Herat, and Bāḏḡīs, they took advantage of Ebn ʿĀmer’s departure with most of his army to withhold tribute. The Muslims were driven out of Nīšāpūr, and Nēzak took Balḵ. The garrison at Marv survived until 33/653-54, when Ebn ʿĀmer sent Ebn Ḵāzem, who defeated and killed or captured Qāren. The same year the people of Zarang expelled the Muslim garrison, and Ebn ʿĀmer sent ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Samora, who besieged the marzbān, doubled the tribute, and campaigned eastward with a force of 6,000 men, taking the region from Roḵḵāǰ to Zamīndāvar, Bost, and Zābol by 35/656.

While the Muslims were preoccupied with their own conduct during the first civil war (35-41/656-61), most of Iran slipped out of their control, and there may have been restoration attempts by members of the Sasanian royal family in Ṭoḵārestān and Nīšāpūr. With tribute turning into taxes, the reestablishment of Muslim control combined reconquest with the suppression of revolt against the governors and protégés of the Islamic state. The Hephthalites of Bāḏḡīs, Herat, and Pūšang withheld tribute, as did Nīšāpūr; the people of Zarang overthrew their Muslim garrison, while Arab Bedouins raided the towns of Sīstān on their own. ʿAlī’s instructions for local notables to turn over their tribute to Māhūya at Marv in 36/656-57 provoked a rebellion against the latter in eastern Khorasan that was not suppressed until after ʿAlī’s death. After Ṣeffīn, when ʿAlī was busy with Kharijite revolts in Iraq and Fārs, widespread tax revolt broke out in the Jebāl, Fārs, and Kermān in 39/659; the tax collectors were driven out, and Zīād b. Abīhi was sent to suppress it. The rebels at Eṣṭaḵr were crushed, and Zīād pacified Fārs and Kermān. ʿAlī also managed to send a force that retook Nīšāpūr.

Eastern Iran was reconquered under Moʿāwīa. Campaigns reopened in 41/661 when Ebn ʿĀmer again became governor of Baṣra and its eastern dependencies and sent ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Samora, who reconquered Sīstān, retook Zarang, and attacked the Zonbīl, or king, of Zābolestān, retaking Bost and al-Roḵḵaǰ and entering Kabul after a siege. Al-Mohallab attacked the Qofīčīs and marched through Baluchistan toward Sind. But after Ebn Samora was dismissed in 44/664, the Zonbīl resisted Muslim control until about 53/673, when he agreed to pay a tribute of one million dirhams. Ebn ʿĀmer’s lieutenants also pacified eastern Khorasan, destroyed the Buddhist temple of Nawbahār at Balḵ and retook that city, and collected tribute from Herat, Pūšang, and Bāḏḡīs again in 43/663. Zīād, who succeeded Ebn ʿĀmer at Baṣra in 45/665, reorganized and consolidated Muslim government in Khorasan; in 47/667 his governor raided Ḡūr, taking captives and booty. In 51/671 Zīād settled a permanent garrison of 50,000 Arabs of Tamīm and Bakr from Baṣra and Kūfa at Marv, which became the main center for defense and expansion on the northeastern frontier. Āmol was raided in 53/673, but an attack on Ṭabarestān was turned back with heavy Muslim losses. Raids across the Oxus began in 54/674, when ʿObaydallāh b. Zīād, governor of Khorasan, devastated the Bukhara oasis, took Rāmetīn and Paykand, defeated a Turkish relieving army, and imposed a tribute of one million dirhams on Bukhara. The next governor of Khorasan, Saʿīd b. ʿOṯmān, crossed the Oxus in 56/676, defeated an army of Soghdians, Turks, and people from Keš and Nasaf, entered Bukhara and raided Samarkand with Bukharan allies. The citadel of Samarkand surrendered after a hard-fought three-day siege. Saʿīd imposed a tribute of 700,000 dirhams, took forty or eighty noble youths as hostages, and then took Termeḏ peacefully. Salm b. Zīād also campaigned beyond the Oxus under Yazīd I (61-64/680-83), when several thousand more Arabs of Azd were settled at Marv. Salm is said to have returned to Bukhara and Samarkand, fought the Soghdians, and imposed a tribute of 400,000 dirhams on Ḵᵛārazm. But the army his brother Yazīd led against the Zonbīl from Sīstān in 61/681 was defeated with heavy losses.

The outbreak of the second Muslim civil war at Moʿāwīa’s death in 61/680 ended expansion in the east for twenty-five years, and after the death of Yazīd in 64/683 order collapsed in Khorasan and Sīstān. Arab tribes fought among themselves; Mūsā b. ʿAbdallāh b. Ḵāzem established a rebel Arab enclave at Termeḏ, the rulers of Central Asia withheld tribute, Hephthalites raided Khorasan, and the Zonbīl attacked Sīstān but was defeated and killed in 661/685. From 72/691 the governors of ʿAbd-al-Malek (65-86/685-705) reestablished order in Khorasan and Sīstān, but the new Zonbīl turned back one Muslim army in 74/693-94 and massacred another in 78/697. In 79/699 Ebn al-Ašʿaṯ mounted a systematic campaign to occupy the Zonbīl’s territory with a network of garrisons, officials, and communications but was provoked by al-Ḥaǰǰāǰ’s impatience with his slow progress to rebel and march back with his army to Iraq where he was defeated. Raids across the Oxus were resumed under al-Mohallab (d. 82/702) with little success, although Mūsā was defeated and killed at Termeḏ by 85/704.

Muslim expansion to the east of the Sasanian territory, where they faced local Hephthalite, Soghdian, and Turkish forces, was more difficult. After the collapse of the western Turkish state in the mid-7th century this region was politically fragmented among many small states jealous of their independence, with entrenched local interests, military traditions, and nominal Chinese backing. Rulers such as Nēzak and the Zonbīl defended themselves effectively, paid tribute when forced, and took advantage of Muslim conflicts. Muslim forces were relatively small at first and likely to be outnumbered by local coalitions; although able to impose tribute on separate cities, by leaving the native elite intact they faced communal rebellions. As conditions of a semi-permanent frontier developed in the later 7th century, fighting grew increasingly bitter and destructive, raids produced little more than booty and slaves, while growing Muslim forces concentrated in the east suffered from increasing tribal and factional conflicts. Under al-Walīd I (86-96/705-15), Qotayba b. Moslem, al-Ḥaǰǰāǰ’s governor of Khorasan, began the mass recruitment of local non-Arabs to swell the size of armies for conquest and to offset tribal Arabs in the army, and coopted the fighting ability of native rulers’ forces as allies. Beginning in 86/705 Qotayba made annual campaigns across the Oxus with a Muslim army enlarged with conscripts and mawālī from Khorasan, Nēzak’s forces from Bāḏḡīs, and the dahāqīn of Balḵ. Qotayba took Paykand in 87/706, took Rāmetīn and defeated a Soghdian and Turkish force relieving Bukhara in 88/707, and took Bukhara itself in 90/709; there he imposed a tribute of 200,000 dirhams, quartered a Muslim garrison in the city, and installed Ṭoḡšāda, son of the ḵātūn of Bukhara as a Muslim protégé. That winter Nēzak led the princes of Ṭoḵārestān in rebellion but was defeated, captured, and killed in 91/710. Qotayba forced the Zonbīl to pay tribute in 92/711, took and garrisoned Ḵᵛārazm in 93/712, and used levies from Ḵᵛārazm and Bukhara and a unit of noble Bukharan archers to attack Samarkand, where Ḡūrak surrendered after his Soghdian and Turkish allies were defeated. A Muslim garrison was left in the citadel to collect the tribute. To eliminate the Soghdians and Turks Qotayba took Šāš, invaded Farḡāna, and reached Esfīǰāb by 95/714 but was killed in an army mutiny in Farḡāna after the death of al-Walīd in 96/715.

Qotayba’s method of using local levies and installing garrisons secured Central Asia for about ten years. His successor, Yazīd b. al-Mohallab conquered Gorgān with Khorasanian recruits in 98/717 but was unsuccessful in Ṭabarestān. Muslim control in the east began to relax again under ʿOmar II (99-101/717-20), when the Zonbīl stopped paying tribute, because of factional and tribal conflict among the Muslim ruling elite, the collection of ǰezya from converts complicated by the presence of large numbers of non-Arabs in the army, the desire of the Soghdian princes to avoid paying tribute, and the rise of the powerful Torgeš state among the Turks in the Ili basin in 98/716. In the 720s the Torgeš intervened on behalf of the Soghdians and led a counteroffensive against the Muslims. By 103/722 Saʿīd b. ʿAmr al-Ḥarašī had restored control over Soḡd, but in 106/724 Moslem b. Saʿīd was defeated disastrously by the Torgeš in Farḡāna when the Arabs of Azd in his army deserted, and in 108/726 the Zonbīl annihilated a Muslim army from Sīstān. Asad b. ʿAbdallāh al-Qaṣrī was more successful raiding Ḡaṛčestān and Ḡūr in 107/725-26. From 110/728 to 113/731 the Torgeš allied with the Soghdian princes and a descendant of Yazdegerd III called Ḵosrow to drive the Muslims out of Central Asia. The fighting was fierce but indecisive, and the Muslims managed to hold Samarkand. In 113/723 Hešām settled a new garrison of 20,000 Iraqis at Marv and posted the former garrison to defensive posts on the frontier. In 116/734 the garrison of 4,000 men in Gūzgān rebelled under al-Ḥāreṯ b. Sorayǰ of Tamīm; they were joined by the Arab garrison at Marv-al-rūd and by Hephthalites at Gūzgān, Fāryāb, and Ṭālaqān but were defeated by the new garrison from Marv, so al-Ḥāreṯ went to join the Torgeš. In 119/737 the Torgeš defeated the Muslims north of the Oxus, crossed the Oxus, and invaded Khorasan but were defeated by the Arabs and Hephthalites at Kārestān. The Torgeš state collapsed after the death of the khan in 120/738, and by 123/741 Naṣr b. Sayyār, the governor of Khorasan, had reconquered Central Asia as far as Šāš and Farḡāna with an army that included 20,000 Soghdian conscripts. Control of Central Asia was finally secured by the Muslim victory over the Chinese on the Talas river in 133/751.

The Muslim conquest of Iran meant the eclipse of Iranian monarchic traditions except to the extent that these were adopted by Muslim Arab rulers and the loss of political support for Zoroastrians. However, Sasanian soldiers and local notables who defected to the Muslims, possibly as a consequence of local conflicts, secured a position in the new regime. Notables who survived by virtue of agreements they made for tribute during the conquest collected it in their own districts. In the east such tribute arrangements had the effect of establishing protectorates but had to be constantly reimposed. Only the major centers were occupied, and some regions, such as Gīlān, Ṭabarestān, Ḡūr, Zābolestān, Baluchistan, and Makrān, were never permanently controlled. Ṭabarestān was finally conquered under al-Manṣūr by 144/761. The conquest had the effect of driving west Iranians eastward as refugees or of bringing them there as part of the Muslim forces, thus establishing the roots of Persian culture in eastern Iran. East Iranians were taken west as captives to Iraq, Syria, and Arabia, and as Muslims Iranians dispersed throughout the Islamic Empire as far as North Africa.

The conquest also brought Muslim Arab settlers to Iran, initially as garrisons to ensure the payment of tribute, and tended to concentrate them in frontier regions. Because the conquest of most of Iran turned out to be permanent, Islam eventually spread among Iranians, and Arabic became the language of religion, literature, and science in Iran. In this respect the Muslim Arab conquest marks a major turning point in the history of Iran.


Edited by Mega Mania
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Note I think you have totally ignored the Sasanian Empire



As you can see the largest in the Islamic world and successors of Parthia after their defeat to the Romans.

Essentially, these guys are the Persians.

The Arabs took advantage from the decline of the Sassanids after 28 years of war against the Romans.

They are Arabs! The Persian was incorporated into caliphate later by the Arabs due to lack of manpower (skilled warrior).

Ansar Warrior from End of Antiquity mod:


Arab Guarsman (Haras)


Spearmen (Rammaha)


Edited by Mega Mania
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The Arabs took advantage from the decline of the Sassanids after 28 years of war against the Romans.

They are Arabs! The Persian was incorporated into caliphate later by the Arabs due to lack of manpower (skilled warrior).

Regardless of who and when they took advantage, the Sasanian Empire was still a legitimate empire from 224 to 651 ;)

Edited by Romulous
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Units (Pre-Islamic and Islamic)

1. Infantry

Rajil (Infantry)

2. Missiles

Ramiy (archer)

3. Cavalry

Fursan (cavalry)

Bedouin Raider (camelry)

4. Champion Unit

Mubarizun (Elite Infantry, divided by three classes sword, bow and javelin)

Ansar Cavalry

5. Client Troops

Mawali Infantry (Spearman)

Al-Asawira (mounted Archer)

6. Siege

Falakan-e Majaniq (Persian Mangonel)

Umayyad Period

1. Infantry

Shurtah (Urban Prefect)

Rammaha (Spearman)

2. Missile

Ramiy (Archer)

2. Cavalry


Bedouin Raider (Camelry)

3. Champion unit

Al-Haras Al-Khass

Al-Haras Al-Qasr

4. Client Troops

Mawali Infantry (Spearman)

Al-Asawira (Mounted Archer)

Berber Auxiliary (Skirmisher)

5. Navy

Byzantine Dromon

Edited by Mega Mania
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I have some suggestions about the Muslims to radically change their game play from others. Religion was a very big part of this empire, so I am using that as a basis for my suggestions.


The Muslims are a faction that have weaker units than most other factions. They are slightly vulnerable in the late game, having only several key buildings to construct, and instead of upgrading their phase, they must elect one of four historical caliphs, which each either unlock a specific building, units or technologies (I can explain that later). In addition, it also spawns that leader, who has a special power. After "researching" all of the caliphs, the Muslims have the option to either upgrade to the Umayyad or Abbasid Caliphate, which unlocks special units from Iberia or Persia respectively.


It is a unique building of the Muslims. It is both the religious and political hub of the Muslims, and does a few things:

-Expands territory

-Trains champion units

-increases the attack and hitpoints of units within its aura.

-Used as a stockpile

-Trains the Slogan Bearer

The Slogan Bearer is a unique unit that holds the flag of the Islamic Shahadah. When ordered, the slogan bearer has an ability to decrease the attack strength of all enemy units in his aura, and that is signalled by the slogan bearer shouting Islamic phrases or Slogans (Such as Takbir (Allahu Akbar), Ahadun Ahad (He is one, He is one)).

The mosque can be upgraded to either increase its aura or increase territory capabilities.


Muslim units have two special things that make them stand out from other units:

-They are 10% weaker than their other counterparts at the same cost (That also means female villagers, who gather 10% weaker than other female villagers)

-They all have the ability to perform prayer to increase their efficiency.


Each individual unit can be ordered to pray anywhere on the map. When ordered, the unit goes through an animation that lasts 30 seconds, during which that unit cannot do anything else, even retaliate. Completing the prayer animation causes various effects:

For any soldier, it increases their attack power by a certain percent. For female villagers, completing a prayer animation will make them 10% more efficient.

Units can pray for a maximum of five times until they will no longer be able to receive improvement. As a consequence of that, soldiers of any type cannot be upgraded through the barracks for their ranks.

Starting Phase:

In the beginning of the game, Muslims only have access to citizen infantry spearman, female villager, house, stockpile, mosque, farmstead, farms, corrals, palisades and outposts. That is why rushing to elect a leader quickly is important.


Instead of advancing into various phases, the Muslim faction instead has leaders to elect that unlock certain abilities, technologies or units depending on what they did in real life. It also spawns that leader. Choosing a leader kills the leader that you chose before, so that there is only one leader at one time. Choosing a leader is cheaper than normal phasing, but each leader specializes in one thing so that it is balanced.

The first leader you choose costs 400 food and 400 wood. Each leader you elect costs the initial price, plus 200 stone and metal.

There are four leaders to choose from in this order: Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Abu Bakr:

During his lifetime, Abu Bakr mostly fought rebellions in the Ridda Wars and began the campaigns against the Sassanid and Byzantine empires. He will unlock the following things:


-All other citizen infantry

-First tier of economic upgrades.

The Abu Bakr leader is a cavalry swordsman that increase the hitpoints of units within his aura.

Umar Ibn al-Khattab:

During his lifetime, Umar focused on political and civil administration, and focused mostly on consolidating the power in the area under Muslim control. Electing him offers various abilities:

-Unlocks the market, blacksmith, tower and walls as well as their technologies.

-Boosts the territory power of all buildings.

The Umar ibn al-Khattab leader is a cavalry spearman that decreases the training and construction time of buildings within his aura.

Uthman ibn Affan:

During his reign, the Caliphate developed a navy and had many reforms that led to economic prosperity. Electing him offers various things:

-Unlocks all economic upgrades, the dock and all ships.

-Buildings are 10% cheaper to construct. Mosques are 25% cheaper.

The Uthman ibn Affan leader is a spearman that increases productivity of all resource-gathering operations within his aura.

Ali ibn Abi Talib:

He spent most of his reign quenching rebellions, though one thing he did was to decrease centralization of capital control and divided the revenues from the state treasury equally among Muslims. He was very concerned with agriculture. He unlocks various things:

-Unlocks anything that has not yet been unlocked (Fortresses, wonders, champion units, etc.)

-Unlocks an upgrade that improves farming by 50%, but decreases metal gathering by 40%.

-Units are cheaper to train.

The Ali ibn Abi Talib leader is a swordsman who shares all the bonuses of the past leaders, but has a less effective outcome.

Imperial phase:

After electing the last leader, the Muslim faction can then upgrade to the last phase from which they have to choose whether they want to become the Umayyad Caliphate or the Abbasid Caliphate. The upgrade costs 1000 of each resource, and will unlock a military outpost, another unique building that trains units specific to this upgrade. It also can be used to increase territory. When the Imperial phase is reached, the last leader, Ali ibn Abi Talib, dies.

If the Umayyad Caliphate is chosen, the player will be able to build Iberian units from the military outpost. If the Abbasid Caliphate is chosen, the player will be able to build Persian units from the military outpost. For either case, the units will be fully upgraded and trained at the highest rank. After that, I have no other ideas.

Edited by Sanguivorant
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The variety that evolves is very welcome.

I read about "level up" where you choose between several options instead of a hard phase-up in another topic.

The kind of decision outlined in the OP as to choose between two or more state-forms/caliphates can be done via technologies (phase-ups are techs too).

The leadership spawning would need some coding, something like a inline Javascript function in the tech. I think that's doable, but might be difficult to maintain, though I think we should give it a try if we don't find a way to use the current XML modifications of the schemas which are defined in the component/*.js for the same effect (I think creation of unit on tech-research is pretty impossible curently though I don't know if the <modification> element could somehow be reused for this purpose other than in a hacky way.).

When ordered, the slogan bearer has an ability to decrease the attack strength of all enemy units in his aura, and that is signalled by the slogan bearer shouting Islamic phrases or Slogans

If we find a consense about whether it should be an Aura or a new Attack type then we can speak about it. The Attack type means that we have to give the attack order explicitely and the strenght of individual enemies will be lessened, one by one. (as we don't have area attack)

The aura apparently is a steady effect without deactivation (though this might be possible somehow) - and has an effect in a certain area.

Don't you want to give access to all the generals at once, or only the choice between two at a time (as of phase-up)?

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The idea is that one Caliph succeeds the other, and each one has a different method of game play. Some of the ideas I've outlined are just things which would make the faction unique. I don't mind any change to the idea, since I'm not the one making the mod in the first place.

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Here's a video depicting some early Islamic warriors during the battle of Yamama. It might give some inspiration:

It was only after the end of the Rashidun Caliphate when soldiers began to wear luxuriously. In the beginning, most just wore baggy, white or green clothing along with a chest plate and a helmet. So obviously, they were at a huge disadvantage when it came to fighting the Byzantines, a much better equipped and trained military. It was only through high morale and leadership that they managed to expand outside of Arabia, so that should be the main part of their gameplay.

Edited by Sanguivorant
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  • 2 weeks later...

Early Islamic Caliphate army lacks armour is a truth, but later they obtained more armour from the Persian armouries as they conquer more Persian lands.

By the way, i was thinking about adding a new unit to the Caliphate army:

Jarwajaraya (javelinman)

Dabbabat (siege tower)

Edited by Mega Mania
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-Batalla de Badr en el 624 según una miniatura iraní

-Batalla de Yamana (633). Jalid ibn al-Walid derrota al falso profeta Musaylima. Autor Angus McBride

-Carga de la caballería árabe durante la invasión de Iraq por Jalid. La mayoría de la caballería eran camellos.

Despliegue de la caballería árabe en las alas, o bien como reserva, manteniendo la infantería en el centro que aguantaba las repetidas cargas adversarias, cuando estaban debilitados, la caballería iniciaba la carga

Jalid ibn al-Walid conocido como “la espada de Alá”. Fuente película Omar






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4 hours ago, Zoosant said:

Will You incluye the visigoth faction to the game or the kingdom of Castilla and Aragón ? Or the caliphate of Córdoba


Not right now we are splitting from 500 AD to 1000 AD(Dark Age) then the second part with the rest.

Los visigodos van estar. no lo dudes. y por supuesto los reinos medievales y la famosa reconquista.





Edited by Lion.Kanzen
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Umayyad Caliphate
Abdul Rahman al-Ghafiqi


Hi everyone!
Let's take a look at Islamic invaders

Very big thanks for invitation at this mod, I hope I'll be useful original.gif
Work with Umayyads was (and still is) very challenging and interesting for me.

First I want to show you are some workflows pictures I made during process. I want to say thanks to all those great guys (see credits), without them I'd maybe never made this pack original.gif

So, let's start (what you see is not all stuff I've made, but main part of this):

Notice all of these are not so fancy in the game, it's just my VariantsEditor settings original.gif










I've god just one headache - long Arabic tunics. I've made some models, looks nice at static, but they look ugly when animated. Leg part stretching like hell and this is not what I want to get, I'll try to do something with this later.

20 NEW UNITS. From all wide Umayyad Empire (some screens has post-processing, so they looks maybe more fancier then they are in the game):

























I hope you'll like it original.gif








Ahiga for some CRoC stuff and learning about file organization original.gif
Kuauik for beautiful Persian helmet model
All those great guys from OSP: Al_Mansur, Naif, Pino, Lucas, Fred, Njunja (sorry if I forgot someone)
Warman for his tutorial


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