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 Battle of Mutah

The Battle of Mu`tah was fought in 629 CE (5 Jumada al-awwal 8 AH in the Islamic calendar), near the village of Mu`tah, located in the Jordan Valley, to the east of the Jordan River, between a force of Muslims dispatched by their prophet Muhammad and an army of the Byzantine Empire army. In historical Muslim sources, the battle is usually portrayed as a heroic feat wherein the Muslims faced off against a vastly larger Roman force.[3] Western academic scholars however view the battle as an unsuccessful expedition aimed at conquering the Arabs living to the east of Jordan.[4]

Battle of Mu`tah
Part of the Byzantine-Arab Wars
Date: 629
Location: Near Karak, Jordan
Result: Disputed
 
Combatants
Muslims Byzantine (Roman) Empire[1] and Ghassanids
Commanders
Zayd ibn Harithah
Ja`far ibn Abu Talib
Abdullah ibn Rawahah[2]
Khalid ibn al-Walid Theodorus
Strength
3,000 [2] Unknown but in many reliable sources the count was(100,000sassinad-100,000easteren roman)
Casualties
Unknown Unknown

Background
A year after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah brought a period of peace with the Quraish[5] and the conversion of Badhan the Sassanid governor of Yemen[6] to Islam bringing many of the southern Arabian sheikhs and their tribes to Islam, Muhammad began to focus on the Arab tribes in the Bilad al-Sham to the North. Here he is reported to have sent envoys and missionaries to the Banu Sulaym and Dhat al Talh who were killed. Accounts vary on the specific trigger for the muslim expedition, some report it as the murder of the 15 people sent to Dhat al Talh, others report an account of the murder of a messenger by Suhrabil a Ghassanid governor of al Balqa`.[7] headed to the governor of Basra. The expedition sent to the north was the largest muslim army raised against a non-meccan confederate force and would be the first with cronfrontation with the Byzantines who controlled the region through alliances with regional frontier.


Account from Islamic history

Mobilizatition of the armies
According to most accounts Muhammad dispatched 3,000 troops to the area in Jumada al-awwal of the year 8 A.H. (629 C.E.), for a quick expedition to surprise and punish the Ghassanids. The army was led by Zayd ibn Haritha, whose deputy was Jafar ibn Abi Talib, who in case of his death was supposed to be replaced by the poet Abdullah ibn Rawahah.

Suhrabil, however is reported to have gained word of the expedition and prepared his forces and sent to the Byzantines for aid. Muslim historians reported that the Byzantine emperor Heraclius himself had gathered an army and arrived to camp at Moab where they met up with their arab allies, while others relate that it was rather his brother Theodorus who did this. The combined force is usally reported as either 100,000 or, 200,000 strong. When the Muslim troops arrived at the area to the east of Jordan and learnt of the size of the Byzantine army, they wanted to wait and send for reinforcements from Medina. Abdullah ibn Rawaha however is reported to have taken them to task at this and inspired into the soldiers so that they immediately resumed their march upon the enemy.


The Battle
The Muslims engaged the Byzantines at their camp by the village of Musharif and then withdrew drawing them towards Mu`tah, with an aim to gain strategic advantages. Khalid ibn Al-Walid reported that the fighting was so intense that he used nine swords which broke in the battle. In the six days of the battle, [citation needed] all three Muslim leaders fell one after the other as they took command of the force: first, Zayd ibn Haritha, then Jafar ibn Abi Talib, then Abdullah ibn Rawaha. After the death of the latter, the troops asked Thabit ibn Arkan to assume command; however, he declined and offered Khalid ibn al-Walid to take the lead. Al-Walid, seeing that it was meaningless to remain in Mu`tah decided to prepare a withdrawal. He countinued to engage the Byzantines in skirmishes and avoid pitched battle. He rearranged his troop deployments one night by reshuffling the right and left flanks, as well as bringing forward a division from the rear. His intention was to convey to the Byzantines the impression that reinforcements had arrived from Medina. He also positioned the Muslim cavalry behind a hill, and ordered them to advance to the Muslim army the following morning while raising as much desert sand as they could, creating the impression that further reinforcements were arriving. The Byzantines disengaged from the conflict the following morning and withdrew from battle allowing the Muslim force to safely retreat to Medina. The Byzantines did not follow the Muslims as they thought that another army would be lying in wait for an ambush.

Muslim commentators on the battle have often lauded the skirmishing