The Battle of Ninevah and Conquest of Iran by the Muslim forces
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On December 12,627 AD, the Battle of Ninevah was fought in Iraq in which a Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius of the Eastern Roman Empire defeated the Persian forces of Emperor Khosrau II of Iran’s Sassanid Empire, commanded by the Armenian General, Rokh Vehan (Rahzadh). The Byzantine victory in the 26-year long Roman-Iranian war, broke the power of the Sassanid dynasty, which a few years back in the early stages of the war, had conquered much of the Levant, Egypt, and most of Anatolia (modern day Turkey), even besieging the Byzantine capital, Constantinople (Istanbul).
It is worth noting that the pagan Arabs on learning of the victories of the fire-worshipping Persians over the monotheistic Christians had rejoiced and mocked Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), saying the fledgling Muslim community will soon be annihilated. In response, Allah revealed the opening ayahs of Surah Roum, saying although the Romans have been vanquished in the nearby lands, soon they will triumph. With Constantinople under Persian siege, Heraclius became emperor, and immediately forged an alliance with the Turkic Khaqanate of the Gokturks, who in 626 sent a 40,000-strong army of nomads to ravage the Persian Empire in the Caucasus, distracting the Iranian forces’ attention, and resulting in their retreat from the Roman front.
The Battle of Ninevah followed by the sack of several cities in Iraq, made the Iranian army rebel and overthrow Khosro II; replacing him with his son Kavadh II in 628. Khosro perished in a dungeon after suffering for five days on bare sustenance — he was shot to death slowly with arrows on the fifth day. Both the superpowers were so exhausted from their long wars that within a decade their territories were overrun by a new force from the Arabian Desert – the Muslims. Here it is worth mentioning that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) had written letters to both the emperors, inviting them to Islam. Heraclius showed respect to the letter, while Khosro showed disdain by tearing it and ordering his governor in Yemen to invade the Hijaz, but was soon killed.
Last Sassanid monarch decisively defeated by the Muslim forces
On December 20, 642 AD, Muslims decisively defeated the forces of the 29th and last Sassanid monarch of the Persian Empire, Yazdgerd III, near the western Iranian city of Nahavand, in the crucial battle called “Fath al-Fotouh” (Victory of Victories), since it ended the 416-year Sassanid rule over what is now Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, Chechen and Daghestan), and parts of Central Asia and modern Turkey.
According to the early Iranian Muslim historian, Abu Ja’far at-Tabari, Firouzan, who led the Persian army of 50,000 demoralized soldiers, was outmaneuvered by a force of 30,000 Arab Muslims. Yazdgerd fled to Khorasan where the people did not welcome him and after his failure to raise an army, he was murdered in 651 by a miller in Marv (presently in Turkmenistan).
In addition to the firm faith of Muslims, what led to the defeat of Yazdgerd was the fact that the Iranians, who were fed up with the tyranny and corruption of Sassanid kings and the irrationality of Zoroastrian tenets, enthusiastically accepted the truth of Islam, given its egalitarian values of monotheism, justice, fraternity, and equality. Soon Iranian Muslims turned into flag-bearers for promotion and spread of the divine religion of Islam, its ethereal teachings, and its scientific and cultural endeavours.