Conquest of Syria and Palestine

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CONQUESTS OF SYRIA & PALESTINE 634-638 A.D:

Situation is Syria on Umar’s Accession:

  • Rapid advancement towards Syria.
  • Emperor Heraclius had fled from Emessa to Antioch in Northern Syria, which became his second capital.

Advance on Damascus:

Damascus—Capital of Byzantine Syria.

  • “Queen of cities”, fertility, mild climate, water availability.
  • Syrian, Arab and Greek population.
  • Liberated from Persians by Heraclius.
  • Khalid summoned Amr Bin al-As from Palestine and Shurahbil from Jordan to siege Damascus.
  • The city was captured with mild resistance.
  • Poll-tax of 1 Dinar and one Jarib (20 months of wheat) per head implemented which was raised later by Umar.
  • Khalid advanced towards Antioch, leaving Yazid as commander of the city of Damascus.
  • Syrian people opened the doors for Arabs for they wanted liberation from their old masters.
  • Heraclius collected a large army under his brother Theodore’s.
  • The both Armies met at Yamruk (a valley).
  • Muslims 30,000 men.
  • Syrians 100,000 – 200,000 men.
  • Syrians were well equipped but a heterogeneous force, weakened by racial and religious antipathies among the Greeks, Armenians and Syrian Arab soldiers. Jealousy. Not accustomed to dry, hot and dusty weather/environment of desert.
  • Muslims were united, morale high disciplined under the greatest commander of the time, Khalid bin Walid.
  • A fierce battle took place. Muslims faced resistance first but then easily defeated the enemy.
  • The defeat turned into a rout for Syrians.
  • Muslim losses 3000 men.
  • Syrian losses 140,000 men.
  • Heraclius fled to Constantinople from Antioch.
  • Syria captured. “Syria is as quite as a camel”, wrote Khalid to caliph when faced no resistance.
  • After the victory, Khalid was dismissed by caliph for his material severity, extravagance in personal matters.
  • Later he was exonerated from all charges and fought as an ordinary soldier under the command of Abu Ubayda.
  • Hazrat Umar devised a policy to systematically capture the Syria not by arms but through negotiations etc.

Capture of Jerusalem:

  • Inhabited by Greeks, minority Syrians.
  • Gave resistance to Arabs.
  • Amr bin al-As siege Jerusalem.
  • Artabun surrender to caliph in person who visited Jerusalem on his request.
  • Caliph showed a spirit of tolerance, justice and peaceful treatment to the non-Muslims.
  • Byzantine power was shattered.
  • Arabs were welcomed by locals.
  • After capturing of Caesarea in Oct 640, whole Syria and Palestine were subjected to Muslim rule.
  • Rebellion efforts by Heraclius from Asia minor which were nipped in the bud by Abu Ubayda.
  • Some areas of Asia minor also captured.
  • Christians of Mesopotamia accepted Islam.
  • Jizya not applied to non-Muslims Zakat had to be paid.

Plague of Imwas:

  • A terrible epidemic broke out in items, Damascus, and other towns of Syria where Arab troops were garrisoned.
  • Umar had to left Madinah for Syria due to the havoc played by plague.
  • 25,000 Arab soldiers died including commanders like Abu Ubayda, Muadh bin Jabal, Shurabil, Yazid Bin Abu Sufyan etc.

Administration of Syria:

  • Caliph travelled to Syria in 639.
  • Appointed Muawiya as the Governor of Syria which he held for 20 years before becoming the caliph.
  • Divided the Syria into four military districts. They were Damascus, Hims, Jordan and Palestine.

The Dhimmis:

  • Non-Muslims were allowed to keep their faith on two conditions;
  1. Pay taxes.
  2. Remain peaceful and loyal to their new masters.

They became. “protected people or briefly “Dhimmis”, for they were under the protection of Islam. ”

Jizya & Kharaj:

  • Jizya was a pool tax paid by able bodied men.
  • Women, children, Invalids except.
  • Kharaj or land tax, non-Muslim land owners and cultivators. Both in cash and kind.

Constitution of Umar:

  • Treaties with people of captured areas – contracts of Umar.
  • Muslim law of war and peace, international relations, treaties and treatments of non-Muslims evolved from contracts of Umar.
  • The treaties granted rights and freedoms to non-Muslim subjects of Islam state and also imposed some responsibilities.
  • Freedom of religion and conscience.
  • Rights of property and life.
  • Freedom of trade and commerce
  • Freedom of personal law and equality before law in criminal cases.
  • Perform duties to state.
  • Pay taxes
  • Remain loyal and peaceful.

Duties

CompulsoryDesirable
i.                    Not insult the Quran, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.W) and Islam.i.                    Distinctive clothing
ii.                  Not to marry Muslim womenii.                  Not to build houses higher than of Muslims.
iii.                Not to attempt to convert Muslim or injure his life or propertyiii.                Not to drink in public
iv.                Not to assist enemies of Islamiv.                Not to sound their wooden bells

 

v.v.                  To bury- their dead in silence
vi.vi.                Not to mount horse.

 

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