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Forum Lockeddid the arabs get lucky

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote es_bih Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-May-2009 at 05:32
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Aye, I agree that Akram's "Sword of Allah" is a pretty good source on the issue. Its not just because he was a military officer though, John Baggot Glubb was also a military officer, and his book "The Great Arab Conquests" isn't anywhere near as good or well reseached.

It's also true that there was no sandstorm at Yarmouk. Not even Gibbon reports one.
Originally posted by hiddenhistory hiddenhistory wrote:

byzantine emperor was suffering from dementia

Quote been lucky enough to have their opponents led by an old man suffering from dementia. the confusion and effect on morale this must have caused the byzantines should not be overlooked

Originally posted by Sun Tzu Sun Tzu wrote:

Byantines did not have very competent commanders

What?? I have never before heard that Heraclius had dementia. Heraclius's campaign was both brilliant and wise. He did everything a strategic commander could possible do to ensure victory for his troops. He ammassed well supplied, superior, forces to confront an inferior foe. He had numerical and equipment superiority, and he was able to dictate where and when to fight important battles. Ajnadeen and Yarmouk are both examples of this. He used sea routes to the Roman's best advantage, had large number of Arab auxileries, and the manuevering prior to Yarmouk was brillant. He completely out positioned the Muslim army and forced them to fall back without a battle.

The Romans only did one thing wrong; they lost all the important battles. They could not beat the muslim army in combat despite all the strategic advantages they had. They lost duels before battles, and lost actions during them. They could not bribe or subvert, and their people kept crossing over to the Arabs (such as George before Yarmouk, or Jonah the Lover at Damascus).

The Persians, while they did not have the genious of Heraclius, were certainly not incompentant either. They raised great armies after armies, all vastly superior to the muslim army, and they kept getting beaten by an numerically and technologically inferior foe. If anything the persians forght harder than the Romans (they certainly gain that reputation) despite magnificent manuevers by the Muslims like Khalid's pincers at Muzayyah, Saniy and Zumeil
Originally posted by Reg Reg wrote:

Rather than see it as luck, I think of it as a calculated strategy. The Arabs weren't oblivious of what went outside their lands and must have known that the aftermath of the war between Byzantium and Persia was the right time to strike. They knew they were the underdogs and they knew they couldn't take either enemy head on under normal circumstances, but circumstances weren't normal and so the Arabs wisely struck. Byzantium was not able to mount a solid defense of the Levantine and Egyptian provinces, instead they relied on naval attacks for which the Arabs had no counter at that point, but they weren't sufficient to turn the tide in any way. Yarmouk was won by the competence of the Arab commander and army, not the sand storm nor the Arabs under Byzantine command who defected. As for the Sassanids they simply weren't able to mobilize an adequate defense and as a result the Arab-Persian war was rather one-sided with few exceptions.

Nice theory but it doesn't add up. Despite the previous Roman-Persian war both empires were still able to use their vast depth to their advantage. The war may have contributed to the Empires not being able to raise great armies past the 2 Roman ones or 4 persian ones that confronted the initial invasion, but considering that the resources they did raise were so much larger than the Muslim forces we can't blame the previous war for their defeat. The Empires should have gained victory with what they had, even if they couldn't raise anything past what they had because of war weiryness.

Also, there was no calculated strategy involved when planning the invasion. Far from striking at Persia and Rome at the opportune time, they struck accidentally. The war with persia, for example, really started when the Lakhmid dynasty was annexed by Persia in 602 - before the Roman-Persian war. Many former Lakhmids (such as the Bani Bakr) refused to accept defeat, and forght persia continously from that period of time. When the Bani Bakr converted to Islam, the muslim state inherited this pre-islamic war. The first major invasion of Iraq by Khalid bin al Walid only occured because a chief of the Bani Bakr, Muthanna bin Harith, went to Khalif Abu Bakr (raa), told him of the huge success the Bani Bakr were having, and asked for more troops and help.
The Bani Bakr were fighting the persians all through the Roman-Persian war, all through the Persians defeat, and all through the immediate aftermath, but they only started acheiving successes after their conversion to Islam & the death of the prophet (saw). In the words of Muthanna bin Harith himself;
"In the Jahilliya [before Islam] 100 persians could defeat 1000 Arabs, now [after Islam] 100 arabs can defeat 1000 persians"
Khalid's army was sent to Iraq to assist Muthanna, in fact, Khalid had just finished campaigning in the Ridda wars and the majority of his army left and went home instead of proceeding directly into Iraq.

This should be sufficient in showing you that there was no calculated strategy.
Quote Were one to follow your reasoning; that the empires had more than enough time to recover and the Arabs were the ones weakened by war, that would make them superhuman, and a development like this needs clear, believable causes.

I don't think there is any point in even pretending that this war can be interpreted from a secular persepective, and I don't think there is anything to gain in trying. Not just this war but this whole period - starting from the Eithiopian defeat at Makka - is rigged in favour of Islam. For example George Ostogorsky in the history of the Byzantine State said on the issue;
"What ensued is well known and documented but remains inexplicable: 'one of the most profoundly unintelligible series of events in history', in the words of a distinguished British historian, Fergus Miller"
The obvious answer, even if non-muslims find it distasteful, is that if you wish to find clear proof that God favoured the Sahaba it is plain for all to see in the history of this war, and the period.


Good read as always Omar Clap.

I still have to read "Sword of Allah."

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-May-2009 at 07:52
Aftermass of Perso-Roman war of 603-628 was so devastated for Persians. Persia was on chaotic time and Persians had 9 kings in 4 years (628-632) which shows how weak they were. Arabs started attacking Persia in 633. If you don't call it luck then what do you call it?Disapprove

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasanid

Khosrau II 591 to 628
Kavadh II 628
Ardashir III 628 to 630
Shahrbaraz 630
Purandokht (Empress) 630 to 631
Peroz II 631
Azarmidokht (Empress) 631
Khorezadh Khosrau 631
Hormizd VI 631 to 632
Yazdgerd III 632 to 651

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31-May-2009 at 13:50
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Nice theory but it doesn't add up. Despite the previous Roman-Persian war both empires were still able to use their vast depth to their advantage. The war may have contributed to the Empires not being able to raise great armies past the 2 Roman ones or 4 persian ones that confronted the initial invasion, but considering that the resources they did raise were so much larger than the Muslim forces we can't blame the previous war for their defeat. The Empires should have gained victory with what they had, even if they couldn't raise anything past what they had because of war weiryness.


You are right, they should have and it really doesn't speak in favour of their competence that they didn't. Of course it's not the first nor last time in history that a motivated and capable underdog is able to overcome an empire, but it's just as surprising each time.

Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

I don't think there is any point in even pretending that this war can be interpreted from a secular persepective, and I don't think there is anything to gain in trying. Not just this war but this whole period - starting from the Eithiopian defeat at Makka - is rigged in favour of Islam. For example George Ostogorsky in the history of the Byzantine State said on the issue;
"What ensued is well known and documented but remains inexplicable: 'one of the most profoundly unintelligible series of events in history', in the words of a distinguished British historian, Fergus Miller"
The obvious answer, even if non-muslims find it distasteful, is that if you wish to find clear proof that God favoured the Sahaba it is plain for all to see in the history of this war, and the period.


Sigh. I know you are a Muslim, but I also know you aren't an idiot, and historians have long since stopped explaining wars by whose side was favoured by god. Muslims might find it distasteful, but everything can be explained from a secular perspective. Wink
Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in geār-dagum,
þeod-cyninga, þrym gefrunon,
hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 00:32
with regard to herculeis dementia see byzantium the early centuires by norwich. during the persian wars he was one of the finist generals in history. during the campaign against the arabs he was hesitant and slow. norwich states that he was suffering the dementia that would later become clear. as for gods will with regard to arab victory. does this mean that for the 1000 years before god was a roman, or that for the last 400 years he has been a christian. gods only relevence to the arabs wars was that he increased motivation on the part of the arabs. but as i had said before this motivation would not have been enough had they attacked 40 years before. or 40 years after
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 00:39
Islam was a major part of their motivation as well as a unifying ideology, but traditional pre-islamic Arab warrior ideals were important too.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Akolouthos Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 01:27
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

I don't think there is any point in even pretending that this war can be interpreted from a secular persepective, and I don't think there is anything to gain in trying. Not just this war but this whole period - starting from the Eithiopian defeat at Makka - is rigged in favour of Islam. For example George Ostogorsky in the history of the Byzantine State said on the issue;
"What ensued is well known and documented but remains inexplicable: 'one of the most profoundly unintelligible series of events in history', in the words of a distinguished British historian, Fergus Miller"
The obvious answer, even if non-muslims find it distasteful, is that if you wish to find clear proof that God favoured the Sahaba it is plain for all to see in the history of this war, and the period.


Then how is one to understand the subordination, in the early-modern era, of much of the Muslim world to the nominally Christian, yet increasingly secular European powers?

It really is interesting, because I believe we are of one accord when it comes to our basic methodological premise (that God is active in history). I just think that it is a bit odd to look at a specific period conducive to establishing a pro-Islamic interpretation of God's interaction with history in light of all the later details which argue to the contrary. That said, I have definitely been guilty of the same when it comes to the history of the Christian Church, especially in doing the history of the anti-Christian ascendancy after the period termed "the Enlightenment", so I don't really know how to proceed in much of my own research. I think the key is that it all hinges upon a look toward the eschaton, but reconciling our faith in what will ultimately transpire in the future with the particulars of how it is transpiring in the present is interesting to say the least. All this has given me more to think about, not less, never fear. Wink

It seems like the methodological principle itself would be a good topic for a collaborative thread in the near future. I'm not ready to abandon my method of doing history just yet, nor, would I imagine, are you; still it does seem to bear some examination. Would you be interested? I can think of a few others who may be.

-Akolouthos


Edited by Akolouthos - 01-Jun-2009 at 01:27
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 01:33
true all these factors played a part, religion and the unity and motivation it brought, traditional warrior ideals and the talent of the arab commanders. all these played a part. however i still feel that all of this would still not have been enough to have defeated the empire as it was both byzantine and persian before the wars.and had they been given even another 30 years before the arab onslaught i also feel both empires would have recovered enough to have seen off the arabs.even after losing most of their empire the byzantines still staged a dramatic and steady come back from 800 to the death of basil in 1025. had it not been for the attack taking place when it did the arabs would have been confined to the desert and the whole of world history would have been different.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Super Goat (^_^) Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 01:36
Quote the byzantines and the romans before them had 500 years of dealing with arab raiders and had never had any trouble in seeing them off. the difference this time was an ehusted empire led by a dementia sufferer


The difference is that up to that point Arabia was never united in the way that it was under one banner.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 01:44
Yeah, we have overlooked that so far, and it may be the most important factor.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 02:39

then tyhe question is now to mesure the united strength of the arabs. the sources i have read all say the arab armies were all much smaller than that of their opponents. again was it not down to very poor leadership on the part of the byzantines and persians. had khosrua 11 and and a young herculies been in charge. given that both byzantine and persian armies were larger, better equipped, tactically and more experienced would the arabs still have won. if my sources are wrong about the size of arab armies then please correct me.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 04:37
Originally posted by hiddenhistory hiddenhistory wrote:

with regard to herculeis dementia see byzantium the early centuires by norwich. during the persian wars he was one of the finist generals in history. during the campaign against the arabs he was hesitant and slow. norwich states that he was suffering the dementia that would later become clear.

Stating something doesn't make it so. I've already said that Heraclius's strategic leadership was brilliant, so tell me, what more could you have wanted from the Roman Emperor?
Heraclius set up the battles in the best manner for the Romans, his troops then proceeded to loose the battles, but we can't blame Heraclius for his troops. If anything, Heraclius knew what he was facing much better than most Romans, having himself, a few years eariler told the Roman court that the future lay with Islam (see my signature).
I'm usually a pretty confident armchair general, and if I were Heraclius, with the benefit of hindsight, I can't see anything I could've done differently. U.S. Grant and Scipio & Flavious are the only other two campaigns I can really say that about.

Dementia sounds like a similar story to the sandstorm at Yarmouk, an excuse designed to explain away the Muslim victory.

Quote as for gods will with regard to arab victory. does this mean that for the 1000 years before god was a roman, or that for the last 400 years he has been a christian.

Originally posted by Ako Ako wrote:

Then how is one to understand the subordination, in the early-modern era, of much of the Muslim world to the nominally Christian, yet increasingly secular European powers?

If you wish to understand why God wills one group of people to victory or domination over another, you must first understand God's motivation. That is something that no-one can really understand, what appears one way may be another, and whom we assume are 'favoured' may in fact not be. God does not necessarily grant victory or worldly wealth to the pious. That was what being taught from the Battle of Uhud, and that should be self-evident from the life of Jesus (saw).
Originally posted by Ako Ako wrote:

It really is interesting, because I believe we are of one accord when it comes to our basic methodological premise (that God is active in history). I just think that it is a bit odd to look at a specific period conducive to establishing a pro-Islamic interpretation of God's interaction with history in light of all the later details which argue to the contrary.

In this period we have a straw to clutch to that we don't have in any other period. There was a revelation, which give us an idea about motivation (ie, we were told) and it is extremely well documented - unlike every earily prophet. We know the conversations and the characters of all the people involved.
If you view it from a perspective of safe guarding, and spreading the message, then their victory in the Persian & Roman Empires becomes self-explainatory. God has said that
he will safeguard the last revelation, and if you view the regions history from 570 to the Fitna & the rise of the Ummayids, it is almost as if normal operating conditions of the world have been suspended in order to create the right tests and fertile ground to spread and teach Islam. After Muawiyah came to power, Islam is both universal, and safe from tampering, and it is as if normality was restored to history.

Quote
Sigh. I know you are a Muslim, but I also know you aren't an idiot, and historians have long since stopped explaining wars by whose side was favoured by god.

Historians who explain everything in history by who's side is favoured by God are basically giving up and taking a wild stab. For the most part, it is useless. Secular analysis is a very power tool (or model) at our disposal, however when analysising anything we are limited by the tools we use. A very simple tool like the 'favoured by God' approach usually does not lead us to a deep understanding. The secular analysis tool has the ability to teach us more, however it will only teach us so much. We do not live in a secular universe, and as such that tool is apriori limited. When we are discussing this period the secular analysis tool gives us no, or non-sensical answers. What it says does not correlate with what was recorded. In this period this tool is useless and we should discard it.

We have to ensure that the analysis our model gives us matches with the data we measure. If we do a god-based analysis of the 17th century, there are too many unknowns to make it anything but useless. If we do a secular based analysis of the 7th century then the output (like the Romans were unable to fight due to war-weariness, the Arabs were fresh, Heraclius was demented) doesn't match with recorded history.
Originally posted by Ako Ako wrote:


It seems like the methodological principle itself would be a good topic for a collaborative thread in the near future. I'm not ready to abandon my method of doing history just yet, nor, would I imagine, are you; still it does seem to bear some examination. Would you be interested? I can think of a few others who may be.

I get the feeling that this thread will head in that direction anyway
Originally posted by hiddenhistory hiddenhistory wrote:

however i still feel that all of this would still not have been enough to have defeated the empire as it was both byzantine and persian before the wars.and had they been given even another 30 years before the arab onslaught i also feel both empires would have recovered enough to have seen off the arabs.

I think everything was setup to ensure the Arab victory.
"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote hiddenhistory Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 05:18
perhaps it was. and perhaps it was all a plan by god that it worked out this way, but you could say that for any part of history. for example that it was gods plan that the germans would kill 6 million jews or that wellington would win in 1815. but we will never know this for sure. any man who stnads up and says i know what god is thinking is like an ant standing saying i know how computers work. we cant because its beyond our limited understanding. so could we leave god out of this and focus on historical facts. otherwise we should all say its gods will for every thing and close this site down.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 06:51
Hello to yoy all
 
Heraclius's strategy in fighting the Arabs was sound and nearly payed off. He explicitly told his commanders never to engage them in open battle and manuever their way through Syria after the rout of Ajnadeen.
 
It nearly worked, for two years after Ajnadeen Byzantine armies eluded Khalid and his troops, gave them what they needed, streatched them thin (they conquered all the major cities except Aleppo) and at the same time gathered enough troops for a massive counter-offensive. By the time of Yarmouk, help from Arabia all but stopped coming, help was sent to the Persian front, and everything was good. Then the counter offensive came and Khalid took his chance he was waiting for. He dragged them on a wild goose chase from Hama to Hims to Damascus and finally to Yarmouk where he waited for them and forced the battle there. There, against all of Heraclius's wise advice his commanders attacked and lost everything. Historial narritives written by clergymen of that period tell of the terrible loss, 50k+ killed. After this Byzantium had simply no chance to defend Syria.
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Reginmund Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Jun-2009 at 17:46
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Historians who explain everything in history by who's side is favoured by God are basically giving up and taking a wild stab. For the most part, it is useless. Secular analysis is a very power tool (or model) at our disposal, however when analysising anything we are limited by the tools we use. A very simple tool like the 'favoured by God' approach usually does not lead us to a deep understanding. The secular analysis tool has the ability to teach us more, however it will only teach us so much. We do not live in a secular universe, and as such that tool is apriori limited. When we are discussing this period the secular analysis tool gives us no, or non-sensical answers. What it says does not correlate with what was recorded. In this period this tool is useless and we should discard it.


Sorry, I can't have a historical discussion based on the uncertain premise that anything resembling our notion of god exists, and even if our sources to the causes behind the Arab conquests are unsatisfactory it does not prove otherwise. From my perspective there is no reason to put faith in anything beyond what can be established by secular tools, and if you're going to incorporate deism as part of your argument it becomes worthless to me and every other serious historian on the planet. Not that I outright deny the possibility or even desirability of a god, but it's a different discussion altogether that should never be brought up in a historical debate.

Either the Arab conquests are explained through study of the source material, or they aren't explained at all. The sources could have been better, of course, but the study of the ones that exist have yielded several theories, all of which are more credible than anything involving divine intervention.


Edited by Reginmund - 01-Jun-2009 at 17:48
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Temujin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jun-2009 at 20:18
another factor which hasn't been considdered so much is the already mentioned Lakhmids for Persia and the Ghassanids changing sides too which weakened the Byzantines. between Rome/Byzantium and the Persian Empire were a few Arab vassal states which were highly militarized due to their function and locality. an early example would be Palmyra. both empires depended on those vassals and them breaking off not only weakened their own empries respecitvely but also strenghtened the Arab war effort considderably with man-power and skilled warriors. this, other than Arab unity and strong believe in their new faith as well as their leadership are the main contributiong factors to their victories, of course the previous Byzantine-Persian war also played into this.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bernard Woolley Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Jun-2009 at 17:19
It's probably also worth mentioning that the civil wars left the Arabs with an enormous supply of veteran soldiery (probably most of the male population) to draw upon. I would say this goes a long way towards explaining why the early Islamic armies just seemed to work better than their opponents'.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-Jun-2009 at 23:32
Originally posted by Temujin Temujin wrote:

another factor which hasn't been considdered so much is the already mentioned Lakhmids for Persia and the Ghassanids changing sides too which weakened the Byzantines. between Rome/Byzantium and the Persian Empire were a few Arab vassal states which were highly militarized due to their function and locality. an early example would be Palmyra. both empires depended on those vassals and them breaking off not only weakened their own empries respecitvely but also strenghtened the Arab war effort considderably with man-power and skilled warriors. this, other than Arab unity and strong believe in their new faith as well as their leadership are the main contributiong factors to their victories, of course the previous Byzantine-Persian war also played into this.


I would add to this that Iran was in the midst of civil war and unrest when the Arabs invaded a few years after a decades long war with Byzantium.  Couple that with a discontented and exhausted Iranian population and the outcome was not in doubt.    It would take at least 20-30 years for both Persia and Byzantium to have fully recovered from their war of attrition, in terms of manpower and other resources.   
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