Islamic History: Brave Hearts
Qaqa bin Amr - one man reinforcement

After the battle of Yamamah Khalid bin Al-Waleed, The Sword of Allah announced to his troops that the Caliph had given them permission to return home if they wished to do so, he was shocked by the result: thousands of his army left the army and returned Madinah and other places whence they had come. Whereas at the Battle of Yamamah he had commanded an army of 13,000 men, he was now left with only 2,000 men. Khalid wrote in haste to the Caliph, informing him of this alarming state of affairs and asking for reinforcements. When the letter reached Abu Bakr, he was sitting among his friends and advisers. He read the letter aloud so that all present might hear what it said. Then he sent for a young stalwart by the name of Qaqa bin Amr.

The young man arrived in the presence of the Caliph, armed and equipped for travel. The Caliph ordered him to proceed forthwith to Yamamah as a reinforcement to the army of Khalid. The Companions stared in amazement at the Caliph. "Are you reinforcing one whose army has left him, with one man?" they asked.

Abu Bakr looked for a moment at Qaqa. Then he said, "No army can be defeated if its ranks possess the likes of this man." And Qaqa bin Amr rode away to reinforce the army of Khalid!

But this was not the only action that Abu Bakr took to build up Khalid's forces. He also wrote to Muthanna and Mazhur bin Adi (an important chief in North-Eastern Arabia), instructing them to muster their warriors and consider themselves and their men under the command of Khalid for the invasion of Iraq.

Now Khalid came out of the desert and approached the Persians.

Hormuz, the Persian commander had deployed his army just forward of the western edge of Kazima, keeping the city covered by his dispositions. In front of the Persians stretched a sandy, scrub-covered plain for a depth of about 3 miles. Beyond the plain rose a complex of low, barren hills about 200 to 300 feet high. This range was part of the desert, running all the way to Hufair, and it was over this range that Khalid had marched to Kazima. Emerging from these hills, Khalid now moved his army into the sandy plain; and keeping his back to the hills and the desert, formed up for battle with the usual centre and wings. As commanders of the wings, he appointed Asim bin Amr (brother of Qaqa bin Amr) and Adi bin Hatim (the very tall chief of the Tayy). Some time in the first week of April 633 (third week of Muharram, 12 Hijri) began the Battle of Chains.

The battle started in grand style with a duel between the two army commanders. Hormuz was a mighty fighter, renowned in the Empire as a champion whom few would dare to meet in single combat. (In those chivalrous days no one could be a commanding general without at the same time being a brave and skilful fighter.) He urged his horse forward and halted in the open space between the two armies, though closer to his own front rank. Then he called, "Man to man! Where is Khalid?" 4 From the Muslim ranks Khalid rode out and stopped a few paces from Hormuz. The two armies watched in silence as these redoubtable champions prepared to fight it out.

Hormuz dismounted, motioning to Khalid to do the same. Khalid dismounted. This was brave of Hormuz, for a dismounted duel left little chance of escape; but on this occasion Hormuz was not being as chivalrous as one might imagine. Before coming out of the Persian ranks Hormuz had picked a few of his stalwarts and placed them in the front rank near the site which he had chosen for the duel. He instructed them as follows: he would engage Khalid in single combat; at the appropriate time he would call to the men; they would then dash out, surround the combatants and kill Khalid while Hormuz held him. The chosen warriors watched intently as the two generals dismounted. They felt certain that Khalid would not get away.

The generals began to fight with sword and shield. Each struck several times at his adversary, but none of the blows made any impression. Each was surprised at the skill of the other. Hormuz now suggested that they drop their swords and wrestle. Khalid, unaware of the plot, dropped his sword as Hormuz dropped his. They began to wrestle. Then, as they were locked in a powerful embrace, Hormuz shouted to his men, who rushed forward. Before Khalid realised what was happening he found himself and Hormuz surrounded by several fierce looking Persians.

Now Khalid knew. He was without his sword and shield, and Hormuz would not relax his iron grip. There seemed to be no way out of the predicament; but then, being a stronger man than Hormuz, Khalid began to whirl his adversary round and round, thus making it practically impossible for the Persians to strike at him.

A storm of sound arose over the battlefield as the two armies shouted-one with delight, the other with dismay. In this noise, their attention riveted on the wrestlers, the Persian killers did not hear the galloping hooves that approached them. They did not know what hit them. Two or three of them sprawled on the ground as headless trunks, before the others realised that the number of combatants in this melee had increased by just one more. The extra man was Qaqa bin Amr-the one-man reinforcement sent by Abu Bakr.

Qaqa had seen the Persian killers rush towards the two generals, and in a flash understood the perfidy of the enemy general and the peril which faced Khalid. There was no time to tell this to anyone; no time to explain or gather comrades to support him. He had spurred his horse into a mad gallop, and arriving in the nick of time, had set upon the Persians with his sword. Qaqa killed all of them! 1

Khalid, freed of the menace of the Persian killers, turned his entire attention to Hormuz. After a minute or two Hormuz lay motionless on the ground, and Khalid rose from his chest with a dripping dagger in his hand.

Khalid now ordered a general attack, and the Muslims, incensed by the treacherous plot of the enemy commander, went into battle with a vengeance. The centre and the wings swept across the plain to assault the Persian army. The Persians had suffered a moral setback with the death of their commanding general; but they were more numerous than the Muslims and, their iron discipline held them together. They fought hard. For some time the battle hung in the balance with the fast-moving Muslims assailing the front and the steady, chain-linked Persian infantry repulsing all assaults. But soon the superior skill and courage of the Muslims and the fatigue of the Persians began to tell, and after several attempts the Muslims succeeded in breaking the Persian front in a number of places.

Sensing defeat, the Persian generals commanding the wings-Qubaz and Anushjan-ordered a withdrawal and began to pull their men back. This led to a general retreat, and as the Muslims struck still more fiercely, the retreat turned into a rout. Most of the Persians who were not chained managed to escape, but those who were chain-linked found their chains a death trap. Unable to move fast, they fell an easy prey to the victorious Muslims and were slain in thousands before darkness set in to put an end to the slaughter. Qubaz and Anushjan managed to escape and succeeded in extricating a large portion of the army from the battlefield.

The first battle with the power of Persia was over. It had ended in an overwhelming victory for the Muslims.

The Battle of Qadisiyya
In July 6.36 A.D. the main Muslim army marched from Sharaf to Qadisiyya. Qadisiyya was on the west bank of the Ateeq, a branch of the Euphrates. It was the last staging camp in Arabia on the route to Iraq. Hira lay about thirty miles ahead.

The Commander of the Persian army wasRustam,. The Persian army had a strength of 60,000 men. There were 33 war elephants in the Persian army each mounted by several men armed with javelins and bows.

The Muslim Commander-in-Chief Saad b. Abi Waqas

Battle Of Qadisiyya The Second Day

At noon a small cloud of dust rose in the horizon on the way leading to Syria. Out of the cloud emerged a contingent led by Qaqa b. Amr. Umar had written to Abu Ubaida the Commander of the Muslim forces in Syria that whatever forces he could spare from the Syrian front should be sent to Iraq. After the fall of Yermuk Abu Ubaida sent a force of 1,000 men to Iraq under the Command of Hashim b. Utba who was a nephew of Saad b Abi Waqas. When Hashim neared Qadisiyya he sent an advance guard under Qaqa. As Qaqa arrived at the battle-field he gave the cry of 'Allah-o-Akbar', and this cry was taken up by the other Muslims who were thrilled at his arrival. Qaqa was a brother of Asim b. Amr.

Qaqa rushed into the battle-field and gave the challenge for a duel. The challenge was accepted by the Persian General Rahman the man who had commanded the Persians at the battle of the Bridge. In a few rounds Qaqa killed Bahman. Qaqa threw another challenge. This was accepted by the Persian General Beerzan.

In the duel that followed Beerzan was killed by Qaqa. Thereafter Qaqa returned to the Muslim lines. Addressing his men he said:

"O Muslims greet the enemy with the sword. Only with sword do men kill. Do as I do."

Battle Of Qadisiyya The Third Day
On the third day of the battle of Qadisiyya, the elephants were once again in the front of the Persian army. That altered the situation to the advantage of the Persians, and Rustam pressed this advantage into service. He ordered an attack, and the Muslims had to remain on the defensive.

Saad now directed that the elephants should be overpowered by blinding them and severing their trunks. Qaqa and his brother Asim took with them a strong group of the Bani Tameem, and moved towards the elephant which was causing the greatest havoc among the Muslim ranks. The Bani Tameem charged with cries of Allah-o-Akbar, struck at the Persians who surrounded the elephant, and moved forward through the gap created by their attack. Thereupon the Persians rushed to the flanks and rear of the elephant. There being no Persian in front of the elephant, Qaqa and Asim stole to the front and threw their javelins at the elephant. The javelins pierced the eyes of the elephant. The beast writhed with pain, and the Howdah that it carried came tumbling down. Qaqa and Asim fell on the Persians who had fallen with the Howdah and killed all of them. Then they severed the trunk of the elephant with strokes of their swords. In an agony of pain, the elephant turned and bolted away trampling the Persians under its feet.

Battle Of Qadisiyya The Last Day
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.

In the matter of stamina the refined Persians could be no match for the hardy Arabs. The strategy of Sa'ad was to wear down the Persians, and snatch away the victory from them.

The battle waged all the night long. About midnight, Qaqa shouted:

"We have strangled the enemy,
The enemy is now on the verge of collapse."

There were heavy casualties among the Persians, but they stood firm.

At sunrise the fighting ceased, but still the result was inconclusive. That was now the fourth day of the battle, and it was felt that it might be the last day of the battle. Qaqa addressed his men:

"If we fight for an hour or so more, the enemy will be defeated.
So, warriors of the Bani Tameem make one more attempt and victory will be yours."

Other Chiefs spoke in similar terms to their contingents. The Muslim warriors shouted "If you attack we are with you."

Qaqa hurled his contingent against the Persians with great violence. Seeing the Bani Tameem launch the attack, other Muslim contingents followed suit. The Persians too exhausted after continuous war for twenty-four hours were taken unawares at the resumption of battle. They stood up in battle formation to resist the Muslim charge, but now there were signs of weakness among the Persian ranks. The right wing of the Persians under Harmuzan was pushed back. After withdrawal they reformed and again stood their ground. By noon Qaqa and his men were able to pierce through the Persian center. They dashed towards the Persian Headquarters to get hold of Rustam, the Commander-in-Chief of the Persian forces.

At this time a strong dust storm lashed the battle-field. The storm blew in the faces of the Persians, and aided the onward advance of the Muslims. The canopy and the throne of Rustam were blown away by the dust storm and thrown in the Ateeq. Rustam was alone. He moved back and sought shelter behind a mule which carried in saddle boxes his personal belongings. A Muslim warrior Hilal b. Ullafa saw the mule and struck at the saddle boxes with his sword. Owing to poor visibility, Hilal could not notice Rustam, nor was Rustam able to see Hilal. The saddle box fell on Rustam. He cleared the box and ran towards the river. Hilal now saw Rustam, and ran after him. Rustam plunged in the river. Hilal jumped in the river after him. He dragged him to the bank, where drawing his sword he struck several blows at Rustam and killed him. Then he dragged the corpse of Rustam and threw it under the feet of the mule. Hilal exultant at having killed the Commander-in-Chief of the Persian forces shouted:

"By the Lord of the Kaaba,
I have killed Rustam,
I am Hilal bin Ullafa."

The Persians were not aware of the death of Rustam, and they went on fighting doggedly.

When Sa'ad came to know that Rustam had been killed, he ordered the Muslims to make one more attack and drive away the Persians. In the afternoon the Muslims mounted another attack. By this time even the Persians knew that their Commander-in-Chief had been killed. That demoralized the Persians and after putting up a last heroic resistance, the Persian front collapsed. With the collapse, the Persian warriors fled in panic to the river.

The chained Persians arrived at the bank of the Ateeq anxious to fly to safety. The victorious Muslims followed at their heel. Some Persians were picked up by the Muslims with their long spears. Those who plunged in the river, because of the heavy weight of their amours and chains were unable to cross to the other bank and were drowned.

At this stage Jalinus took command of what was left of the Persian army. He got control of the bridge head, and succeeded in getting a section of the Persian army cross the bridge safely.

The battle of Qadisiyya was now over. Out of 60,000 Persians who had taken the field, only 20,000 survived to tell the story of the disaster that they had met at the battle-field of Qadisiyya. 40,000 Persians were killed or drowned. The Muslim casualties numbered 6,000 out of a total force of 30,000. In the case of the Persians, out of every three persons only one survived: in the case of Muslims out of every five Muslims four survived to rejoice at the victory.