When Khālid in 634 made his memorable dash westward from al-Ḥīrah he left the ‘Irāq front in the hands of his Bedouin ally al-Muthanna ibn-Ḥārithah, sheikh of the banu-Shaybān. In the meantime the Persians were preparing a counter-attack and succeeded in almost annihilating the Arabian bands at the Battle of the Bridge1 near al-Ḥīrah, November 26, 634. Undaunted, al-Muthanna undertook a new raid and in October or November of the following year scored over the Persian general Mihrān a victory at al-Buwayb on the Euphrates. But al-Muthanna was no more than a Bedouin chief, with no Madīnese or Makkan connections, and had not heard of or accepted Islam until after the death of the Prophet. The Caliph ‘Umar therefore chose Sa‘dibn-abi-Waqqāṣ, oneofthose Companions promised Paradise by Muhammad at the conclusion of the Battle of Badr, as commander in chief and sent him at the head of new reinforcements to al-‘Irāq. By that, time the victory of Yarmūk had been won and the fate of Syria sealed. Sa‘d with his 10,000 men measured his strength for the first time with the Persian Rustam, the administrator of the empire, at al-Qādisiyah, not far from al-Ḥīrah.
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- 2.‘Irāq probably a loan-word from Pahlawi meaning “lowland”, corresponds to Ar. Sawad black land, used to bring out the contrast with the’Arabian desert Yāgiit, vol. iii, p. 174; cf A. T. Olmstead, History of Assyria (New York, 1927), p. 60.Google Scholar