Fall of the Persian Empire

During the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr (, may Allah be pleased with him), Hazrat Khalid bin Walid conquered part of the Persian Empire known as the Kingdom of Hira. Then he was ordered by Hazrat Abu Bakr (, may Allah be pleased with him) to join the expedition to Syria.

At the time of his departure, he appointed Muthanna bin Harith as the commander of the Islamic army. The Persians became furious at the loss of the kingdom of Hira and the Emperor sent a large army under the command of a very famous General, Rustam the Commander-in-Chief of Persian armies.
In view of the growing pressure of Persians, Muthanna requested Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) for reinforcement. At that time there was a large gathering of Muslims in Madinah waiting to take pledge of loyalty (Bai’at) at the hand of the new Khalifa (Hazrat Umar). He put the matter before the Muslims but did not get any response in the beginning. Then Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) in his sermons stressed the importance of Jihad and a large number of Muslims volunteered to help Muthanna against the Persians. Abu‘Ubaid ath-Thaqafi was appointed as the commander of the Islamic army comprising five thousand men. In the meantime Persians attacked the places conquered by Muslims and they lost some of them. In the early stage of the battles Rustam sent his subordinates to face Muslims.

It is reported from Hazrat Ibn Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) that Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) dispatched an army to Persia, making a man called Sariyya (, may Allah be pleased with him) the leader of it. It is said that one day Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) was delivering the Friday sermon in Madinah. In it he said loudly “Ya Sariyya al-jabal!” which means “O Sariyya, [towards] the mountain!”, and then resumed the sermon.
After a month a courier came from the army bearing of good news. He said, “The people of the army heard Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him)’s voice on that day. We all went towards the mountain and Allah made us victorious.”

The severe famine and plague

In the year 17-18 A.H, Hijaz and Syria were faced by severe famine and drought. Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) took steps to get food supplies from Egypt, part of which had been conquered by Hazrat Amr bin al-‘As (, may Allah be pleased with him). He sent three big ships of grains to Madinah which were unloaded in the presence of Hadzrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him). He himself distributed the grains among the needy.
Hazrat Umar (, may Allah be pleased with him) did not take any delicacy (butter etc.) during the famine period. When he was requested to take care of his health, he said, “If I don’t taste suffering, how can I know the sufferings of others?”

When the famine became intolerable, he prayed to Allah in a big gathering of Muslims. It has been narrated that the prayers had not even finished when rains started to pour down.

About the same time, plague spread in most parts of Iraq, Syria and Egypt and it caused great havoc not only to civilians but also to the Muslim armies. After the plague, Hazrat Umar went to Syria to inspect the losses caused by the plague. Three important figures, Hazrat Abu Ubaidah, Mu’adh bin Jabal and Yazid bin Abu Sufyan (, may Allah be pleased with him) had passed away. He appointed Mu’awiyah bin Abi Sufyan as the Governor of Damascus in place of his brother Yazid bin Abi Sufyan.

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