Conquest of Syria
A translation of Futuhu-Sham:
”The Inspiring History of The Sahabah’s (RA)
Conquest of Syria as Narrated by the Great Historian of Islam.”
Writer: al-Imam al-Waqidi
Translated: by Sulayman al-Kindi
- Part One: Damascus
- Part Two: Hims
- Part Three: Al-Yarmuk
- Part Four: Baytul Muqaddas
- Part Five: Antioch
Futuhusham is an Arabic book by al-Imam al-Waqidi describing the Sahabah’s (ra) conquest of ash-Sham (which today includes;
- and parts of Arabia,
- Iraq and Turkey
Having been requested to translate this book into English, I accepted primarily to earn Allah’s pleasure from whatever good might arise from it and also to attain two secondary goals.
Firstly, Rasulullah (saw) said with regard to loving the Sahabah (ra), “Whoever loves them, loves them because he loves me. if this book can be used to inculcate the love of the Sahabah (ra) in the reader’s heart, love for Rasulullah (saw) is also increased. This subject needs no elaboration since ‘Ulama have extensively dealt with it.
However, the second goal of making Muslims realise the importance of History needs more elaboration. Muslims are generally ignorant of their history, thus developing an inferiority complex towards the West. This is, in fact, a deliberate strategy by the West. In the past, great ‘Ulama of all mathahib have rendered service to the science of History. Ibn Khaldun al-Maliki is globally recognised to be the father of the principles of studying history. Ibn Jawzi al-Hambali noted, “A faqih has to have knowledge of other sciences like history…” The Mufassir, Ibn Kathir ash-Shaﬁ‘i put great effort in compiling his celebrated history book, ‘Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah’.
Similarly al-Imam al-Bukhari also saw the need for studying and compiling works on history. Today we feel qualiﬁed to dissect the works of these Ulama and pick and choose what we want. Thus we will quote the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir and the Hadith of al-Bukhari but never spare a glance at the Histories.
What authority do we have to decide that such-and-such a subject must be preserved while other sciences of our ancestors should be thrown away? Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali an-Nadwi was one of the greatest Hanaﬁ ‘Ulama of our time and both ‘Arabs and Indians acknowledge his status, but would he have attained this status if he had not mastered History? Amongst his most ‘ popular compilations are Tarikhul-Islam (on the life of the Prophet (PBUH)). An important beneﬁt of studying History is that it is necessary for the preservation of Hadith. Thus the Muhaddith Ibn Hajr al-‘Asqalani says in Nukhbatul-Fikr, “Breaks in chains of narrators are discovered by knowing that the narrators did not meet. There is therefore a need to know History.”
An-Nadwi narrates an example of the use of History to the Alim – the Jews produced a scroll of crumbling paper with writing in the old script. It claimed that Rasulullah (saw) had exempted the Khaybar Jews from payment of Jizyah and was signed by Sa‘d bin Mu‘ath. ‘Ulama unversed in History gave fatwa that they should be exempted. Ibn Taymiyah however declared it a fake based on his knowledge of History – Sa‘d died before the Battle of Khaybar so he could not have signed the treaty!
Allah Himself makes use of History to remind us of His favours. For example, Allah lists in the Quran various favours He bestowed upon Banu Israel during their history. If one considers the number of historical events mentioned in the Quran, one will realise that for a clear understanding of Tafsir some knowledge of History is essential. The same also applies to understanding Hadith. It can also be inferred from the Quran that an important function of History is for us to take lessons and rectify ourselves. Thus Allah often refers to past events by way of warning, for example:
”Has the news of those before you not reached you – the nation of Nuh, ‘Ad and Thamud?” [ Quran: 9.-69]
The Prophets also adopted this approach and reminded their people of the past. Thus Shu‘ayb (a.s.) said to his people,
”O my people! Let not my opposition cause you to suﬂer a fate similar to that of the people of Hud, Nuh or Salih and the people of Lut are not far off from you.” [Quran: 11:89]
The believer at Fir‘awn’s court also wamed his people of past punishments,
”And the Believer said, “O my people! Verily I fear for you a fate like that which befell the groups. Like the fate of the people of Nuh, ‘Ad, Thamud and those who cam after them… ” [Quran: 40:30]
These verses amply demonstrate the admonitory nature History is supposed to have on us, but unfortunately we rarely take heed of‘ History. One of the saddest events in the History of Islam is the loss of al-Andalus [now Spain and Portugal]. This was an Islamic land with a majority Muslim population. The Muslims were defeated and Islam banished until not a single Muslim remained in the land. Five hundred masajid were converted into churches. All the causes for al-Andalus’s collapse can be found amongst us today – laziness for Jihad; lack of inviting to Allah; the Muslim governments not implementing Shari‘ah; drinking of wine; Muslims helping Christian armies against other Muslims etc.
It is sad that we do not pay heed whereas our enemies study these events. VT Rajashekar, the editor of Dalit Voice ‘ noted, “Islam’s ejection from Spain was a subject for keen study by the Hindu extremists in the 30’s and the Muslims in India are totally ignorant of the History of Islamic decline in Spain and the events surrounding it.” Willnwe wake up before disaster hits us too? It is commonly acknowledged that by pondering over the Creation, recognition of the Creator is gained. Allah says:
”Verily in the creation of the Heavens and Earth and in the alternating of night and day are signs for the ones of intelligence…” [3:I90]
However, few realise that Allah (sw) is free from time and space restrictions which are also creations. So time and its passage (i.e. History), if pondered over, is also a means of gaining His recognition if we ponder over Allah’s planning. ’Allah says.
”He regulates every affair from the Heavens to the Earth then it goes up to Him in one day the length whereof is 1000 years of your reckoning.” [32:5]
One tafsir of this verse is that one thousand years before an event comes to pass Allah (sw) creates such things which eventually leads to its materialisation one thousand years later. Thus an examination of such events will make one realise that there is a Power higher than Man which controls events – that there is one All-Powerful Creator, Allah. Let us take half of one thousand years and examine how Allah used the tribe of Khuza‘ah for ﬁve centuries (525 years) to implement Rasulullah’s conquest of Makkah.
In 120 A.D., the impending bursting of the great Marib Dam led to the dispersal of the Saba Nation of which three tribes (Aws, Khazraj and Banu ‘Uthman) headed for Yathrib (now Madinah). On the way, Banﬁ ‘Uthman broke off from the other tribes and settled down in Marr azh-zhahran and were hence named Khuza‘ah (the seceders). Marr azh-zhahran was close to Makkah so Khuza‘ah were in a position to conquer the Holy City and rule there for two hundred years. Qusayy, the chief of Quraysh, married Hubba bint Hulayl, daughter of the chief of Khuza’ah, and conquered Makkah in 440 A.D. Their son, ‘Abd Manaf, was the next chief and then, aﬂer him, Hashim bin ‘Abd Manaf.
A man named Nawfal usurped Hashim’s son, ‘Abdul Mutalib, of his position and so Khuza’ah again entered Makkah’s history and entered into alliance with Banﬁ Hashim in support of ‘Abdul Muttalib whom they regarded as the grandson of their son, ‘Abd Manaf. According to the Treaty of Hudaybiyah which Rasulullah (saw) signed with the. Quraysh, each tribe could join the Muslims in alliance or they could join the Quraysh.
Lineage played a great role in ‘Arab politics and since Khuza‘ah had close relations with Rasulullah (saw), the grandson of ‘Abdul Muttalib, and were already allies of the tribe, Banﬁ Hashim, Khuza’ah joined the Muslims while their enemies, Banﬁ Bakr, joined the Quraysh. In 8 Hijri, Banﬁ Bakr and Quraysh jointly attacked Khuza‘ah thus breaking the treaty and so in a process that led back 525 years, Khuza‘ah joined Rasulullah to conquer Makkah in Ramadan 8 Hijri. “And Allah is the best of planners!”
Discrepencies In Translation
The reader’s pardon is sought for any human errors which are bound to occur in translating this book. However, it must also be noted that different copies of ancient ‘Arabic manuscripts often differ widely. This should be borne in mind when comparing the translation with ‘Arabic originals, if differences are found. However, if any clear mistakes are found the translator would appreciate being informed thereof The author’s sparse chapter headings are unsuitable for an English book. The translator has therefore created chapters and divided the book into ﬁve parts at his own discretion.
Note of thanks:
We ﬁrstly thank Allah and then all else who assisted in any way in this translation. Special help was rendered by:
- Abu Humayra
- Abu ‘Abdirrahman
- Mawlana Muhammad Wadiwala
- M. H.
- B. V.
- Jet Printers
- ‘Adil Wadi
- Abu ‘Aliyah
- Teacher Isma‘il Sahib
- Abu Muhammad
- Nizham Rasila
The author of this book is al-Imam Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin ‘Umar al- Waqidi al-Madani who was bom at the beginning of 130 Hijri in al-Madinah al-Munawwarah. His sumame is derived from his grandfather’s name, Waqid, and thus he became famous as al-Imam al-Waqidi. He began his studies in Madinah. Amongst his prominent teachers Were Ibn Abi Thahab Ma‘mar bin Rashid, al-Imam Malik bin Anas and al-Imam Sufyan ath-Thawri. Initially he eamed a living as a wheat trader, but when a calamity struck he migrated to Iraq in 180 Hijri during the reign of Mamun ar-Rashid.
There Yahya al-Barmaki Welcomed him due to his great leaming and he was included as one of Mamﬁn’s elite. He was soon appointed as judge and held this post until his death on 11 Thul Hijjah 207 Hijri. He is buried in the graveyard of Khayzaran. The Imam was both a Muhaddith and Historian but since he concentrated on History, his hadith narrations need to be scrutinised before acceptance whereas he is doubtlessly acknowledged as a master of History.
Besides Futuhusham, al-Imam al-Waqidi also Wrote:
- Al-Maghazi an-Nabawi (Campaigns of the Prophet (pbuh))
- Fath Ifriqiyah (Conquest of North Africa)
- Fath al-‘Ajam (Conquest of Iran)
- Fath Misr wal-Iskandriyah (Conquest of Egypt and Alexandria)
- Akhbar Makkah (Narrations of Makkah)
- At-Tabaqat (The Generations)
- Futuh al-‘Iraq (Conquest of Iraq)
- Sirah Abi Bakr wal-Wafat (Life and death of Abu Bakr (ra))
- Kitab as-Sardah (Birth of the Prophet (pbuh))
- Tarikh al-Fuqaha (History of the Jurists)
- Kitab al-Jamal (Battle of the Camel)
- Kitab as-Sifﬁn (Battle of Sifﬁn)
- Maqtal al-Husayn (Massacre of Al-Husayn)
- Tafsir al-Quran etc.
The word ‘Syria’ as used in this book refers not to the area of the modern republic, but to the larger ancient region called ‘ash-Sham’ in ‘Arabic. It bears great signiﬁcance in Islam viz. the Quran calls it a ‘Blessed Land.’ In it is al-Masjid al-Aqsa; it is home to more Prophets than any other land; many Prophets are buried there, such as Ibrahim many Sahabah are buried there, such as Mu‘awiyah Syrian ‘Ulama are countless, for example, al-Imam an-Nawawi. Syria has produced many great warriors (as-Sultan Nﬁruddin) and martyrs (ash-Shaykh ‘Abdullah al-Azzam). ‘lsa will descend in Damascus and have his capital at Baytul Muqaddas; ad-Dajjal will be slain at Lud; the Abdal (a special group of saints) are mostly found in Syria; and Syria is the Place of Gathering for Judgement Day.
‘O Allah! If this book ﬁnds acceptance in Your Court then convey the reward of it to the soul of Abu Basir and to the souls of all pious believers of the Kindah tribe.