Sat, 29 September 2007
The Sword of Allah refers to Khalid ibn al-Walid, the prophet Mohammad's top general. Khalid commanded over 100 battles and never lost, making him the most undefeated general in history. He usually fought in the front lines either as a cavalry commander or as a champion dueler. This is the first of a two-part episode. This part will cover Khalid's conquest of Byzantine Syria:
Some famous battles on the Syrian front include: Bosra, Ajnadayn, and Damascus. The Siege of Damascus saw the first use of Khalid's unit of elite cavalrymen, the Mobile Guard. However, the greatest battle in the theater was the Battle of Yarmouk. Khalid had removed from command by Umar (Abu Bakr's successor) but he still had operational command because the nominal commander respected him so much. The Battle of Yarmouk was fought between 100,000 Byzantines and 30,000 Arabs along a battle line 12 miles long. After a series of significant duels (including one where Khalid personally persuaded an enemy commander to convert to Islam), the main battle began. For the first few days, it was a stalemate. Eventually, though, Khalid managed to maneuver his cavalry all the way around the Byzantines and flank them.
Soon after the battle, Umar, who believed that Khalid was gaining too much power, removed Khalid from command completely.
For more information, read:
Dictionary of Battles by David Chandler
Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine