Muslim conquest of Khuzestan

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This article presents the occupation of southwestern Iran by Muslims in the 7th century according to Tabari's The History of the Prophets and Kings. The land considered in this article was known as Susiana at the time of the Sassanid Empire and now it is known as Khuzestan. Tabari refers to it as Ahvaz.

An Account of the Circumstances Leading to the Conquest of Ahvaz[edit]

Tabari starts relating the occupation of Khuzestan in Vol. 13, paragraph# 2534, pp. 114–115:

"In that year, I mean 17, the conquest of Suq al-Ahwaz, Manadhir and Nahr Tira took place according to some; according to others, that was in the year 16 after Hijrah.

According to al_sari-Shuyab-Muhammed, Talhah, al-Muhallab, and Amr: Al-Hurmuzan was one of the seven noble families among the Persians. His territory was Mihrijan Qadhaq and the district of al_Ahwaz. These were families who were higher in rank than anybody in Fars. When al- Hurmuzan was routed at the battle of al-Qadisiyyah, he headed for his territory and fought him who attacked them. Al-Hurmuzan used to make raides on the people of Maysan and Dastimaysan [Transl. note: These are districts north of al-Basra and west of al_ahwaz.] from two directions, Manadhir and Nahr Tira."

In order to avoid misunderstanding of the last sentence we quote these paragraphs from the events of year 14. (Vol. 12, pp. 171–172):

"According to Abayah b. Abd Amr: I participated in the conquest of al-Ubullah with Utbah. Utbah sent Nafid b. al-Harith to Umar with the news of the conquest. The people of Dastimaysan gathered [an army] against us. Utbah said: I think that we should march against them. We marched and confronted the governor(marzuban) of Dastimaysan. We fourth him; his companions were defited and he was taken prisoner, his mantle and belt being seized. Utbah sent him [to Umar] with Anas b. Hujayyah al-Yashkuri. According to Abu al-Malih al-Hudhali: Utbah sent Anas b. Hujayyahto Umar with the belt of the governor of the Dast-i Maysan. Umar said to him: "What is the condition of Muslims?" Anas said: "The [wealth of this] world has engulfed them, and they are dripping with gold and silver." The people became attracted by al-Basra and came to live there."

Then Tabari relates the battle between people of Maysan and Muslims and victory of the latter. This returns to Hurmuzan (Vol. 13 pp. 115–116):

"Utbah b. Ghazwan asked Sa'd for reinforcements, so the latter sent him Nu'yam b. Muqarrin and Nu'yam b. Mas'ud, ordering them to go to the highest point of overlooking Maysan and Dastimaysan until they had reached a position between al-Hurmuzan (and his people ) were and Nahr Tira. Utbah b. Ghazwan sent Sulma b. al-Qayn and Harmalah b. Muraytah out on a certain mission. They were two of the Companions of the Messenger of God, who had made the Hijrah with him; both from Adawiyyah clan of Hanzalah. They arrived at the border of the land of Maysan and Dastimaysan, at a point between al-Hurmuzan and Manadhir. There they called upon Banu al-Ami. So Ghalib al-Walili and Kulayb b. Wail al-Kulaybi responded. They had separated from Nu'aym (b. Muqarrin) and Nuaym (b Masud) and turned away from them. Now they went to Sulma and Harmala. After they had arrived there, the latter said, "You are from the same tribe therefore you may not desert us. When the day such-and-such has come, rise against al-Hurmuzan. One of us will attack Manadhir, the other Nahr Tira and we will kill al-Hurmuzan's fighters. Then we will come to you again. God willing, there is no other enemy other that al-Hurmuzan." After the two men from the Ami b. Malik clan had promised their cooperation, they returned to their clansmen who, in their turn, also agreed to help."

Tabari explains the origin of the name al-Aam: (Vol. 13, Paragraph# 2536, pp. 116–117):

"There is a story explaining how this man called al-Ami came by his name. This al-Ami was Murrah b. Malik b. Hanzalah b. Malik b. Zayd Manat b. Tamim, with whom, as well as with al-Usayyah b. Imri al-Qays, there settled a mixed bunch of people from Ma'ad.[Translator's note: Ma'ad is a collective name for northern Arab tribes.] Those people who were of the opinion that he should not give support to Persians in controlling al-Ardawan had believed him to be blind to what was the proper course of action. Concerning this attitude, Ka'b b. Malik, his brother -sometimes it is Sudday (b. Malik who is mentioned) - composed the following verses (in tawil):

(Though) once a good man, now our Murrah is blind, and, deaf to his kinsman's pleas, he has set out to settle away from us, spurning his land, and seek with the Persian lords power and fame."

Then Tabari explains the meaning of Ami as I quoted above. In the next paragraph (2537, page 118) Tabari says that at that particular night, Sulma, Harmala, Nu'aym and Hurmuzan "came face to face at a spot between Duluth and Nahr Tira, Sulma b. al-Qayn at the head of the warriors from al-Basraand Nuaym b. Muqarrin in the command of those from al-Kufah. Then fighting broke out." "Then the news that Mandahir and Nahr Tira had been taken reached al-Hurmuzan. So God broke his strength and that of his army and defeated him and his troops. The Muslims killed and captured as many as they wanted from them and they pursued them until they came to a halt on the bank of the Dujail[Transl. note: nowadays Karun] , having occupied all the land this side (i.e. that is west) of the river. They encamped opposite Suq al-Ahwaz. In the meantime, al-Hurmuzan had crossed the bridge to Suq al-Ahwaz and taken up residence there."

Tabari next says (paragraph 2538 Vol. 13, pp. 119–120):

"When Muslim warriors invaded al-Hurmuzan's territory and set up their camp close to where he was in al-Ahwaz, he realized that he lacked manpower to overcome them. So he begged for peace, whereupon they wrote about that proposal to Utbah, asking him for directives in this matter. Al-Hurmuzan sent a letter to Utbah who, while accepting the proposed peace treaty, answered that al-Hurmuzan was to remain in control of all of al-Ahwaz and Mihrijan Qadhaq with the exception of Nahr Tira and Manadhir and that area of Suq al-Ahwas that the Muslims had already conquered. What we had liberated from Persian rule would not be returned to them. Sulma b. al-Qayn placed a garrison in Manadhir under the command of Ghalib, and Harmala placed one in Nahr Tira under the command of Kulayb. They had formerly commanded the forces of al-Basra.

Settlement of Banu al-Ami between Tigris and Karun[edit]

Meanwhile groups of Banu al-Ami left their former dwelling places and took up residence in al-Basra, one group after another. Utbah wrote about that to Umar and sent a delegation." Then al-Anaf b. Qays [a leader of Tamim in al-Basra] told Umar (paragraph# 2539): "We kept on moving from one place to another, until we arrived at a piece of open country. Well, our brothers among the inhabitants of al-Kufah have settled in a place rich in vegetation, overflowing with sweet springs and lush pald groves; in a never-ceasing flow its frute produce reaches them. But we, the people of al-Basra, we have settled in a soggy swamp, which does not produce anything. One side faces the desert and the other side gives on to a brackish river. Supplies reach this region like a tricle from ostrich's gullet. Our houses are crammed, our daily rations poor. Our numbers are large but our nobles are few in number. Many of us have fought vigorously, but our finances are strained, while our plots of land are small. In the past God enriched us and increased our land. So may you now enrich us, Commander of the Faithful, and increase the daily rations assigned to us so that we may survive!

So Omar reviewed their dwelling places which they had occupied until they moved out into the desert. Then he gave them the region as their share in the booty and allotted plots to them, also taken from what used to belong to the Persian royal family. Thus all the land between the Tigris and the desert became fay' land. They divided it among themselves. The other properties of the royal family in the land around al-Basra were thus dealt with in the same manner as the land of al-Kufah was dealt with " "The land occupied by the people of al-Basrah consisted of two halves, one was divided up into plots; the other was left for the benefit of the armed forces and the community."

Occupation of Ahvaz City and settlement of Muslims[edit]

"While the people of al-Basrah and those who were living under their protection were thus engaged, a controversy flared up, each side putting forth contradictory claims concerning the boundaries of their lands, between al-Hurmuzan on the one hand and Ghalib and Kulayb on the other. Sulma and Harmala went there to see what going on among them and found Galib and Kulayb to be in the right and al-Hurmuzan to be wrong. So they separated the quarreling parties. Moreover al-Hurmuzan went back on his word and withheld what he had accepted to pay. Then he called upon the Kurds to help him, whereupon his army grew in strength."

Now (paragraph 2541) Omar sends "Hurqus b. Zuhair al-Sadi one of the Prophet's Companions as reinforcement." and "So, when they crossed over the bridge to the other side, fighting broke out while they were still on that part directly facing Suq al-Ahwas. In the end al-Hurmuzan was beaten. He set out in the direction of Ramhurmuz took a village called al-Shaghar on the dam of Arbuk and finally alighted at Ramhurmuz. Hurqus conquered Suq al-Ahwaz and took up residence there. Then he entered the mountain region, and the administration of the whole region from Suq al-Ahwaz all the way to Tustar became well organized. He imposed the jizah, wrote the news about the conquest to Umar and sent fifth parts of the booty acquired in the different areas, dispaching a delegation to carry this to him."

Tabari quotes a poem by "al-Aswad b. Sari" (paragraph 2542):

"We wrested from al-Hurmuzan a whole area so rich in provisions in every district. It's dry land and water supply well in balance, when excellent groves come to early fruition. This land has a turbulent stream into which por tributaries from both sides, always overflowing."

Then In paragraph 2543, Tabari says:

"When al-Hurmuzan had arrived in Ramhurmuz and the province of al_ahwaz had become full of the Muslims settling in it, even right in front of him, he sent a peace agreement and sent messages to Hurqus and Jaz asking for this."

Hurmuzan was defeated again in Ramhormoz.