Section 2

The Kingdom of Hira.


The Kingdom of Hira.

Arab origin of the kingdoms of Hira and Ghassan

I will now briefly trace the original history of the two kingdoms of Hira and Ghassan in the north of Arabia, both of which were Arab in their origin, and exercised a constant and important influence upon the Peninsula.

The Azadites emigrate to the north and east 120 A.D.

These States took their rise, subsequent to the Christian era, in the migratory impulse which led so many tribes to move northward from Yemen, and transplant themselves from the shores of the Indian sea to those of the Mediterranean, and along the banks of the Euphrates. The emigration of the AZDITES, an extensive tribe descended from Cahlan the brother of Himyar, has been already fixed as having occurred about the year 120 A.D. 1. One portion moved east towards Oman; the other passed northward through Najran and the Hedjaz to Syria, but left many off-shoots by the way, some of which commingled with the Bedouin tribes of Najd, while others settled at Mecca and Medina and played a prominent part in the subsequent history of those cities.

The Codhaite race emigrates to the vicinity of Mecca and thence disperses in various directions northward and eastward 175-200 A.D.

The CODHAITE tribe, descended from Himyar 2, inhabited Mahra a country to the east of Aden, where they were ruled by their own kings. At a period probably anterior to the movement of the Azdites, this people, pressed by the Himyarite monarchy, and labouring under the difficulties occasioned by the great commercial changes, migrated to the neighbourhood of Mecca.

There they fell out with the local tribes, and finally dispersed themselves in various directions. The Bani Aslam settled north of Medina in the valley of Wadi-al-Cora: the Bani Kaib in Dumat-al-jandal on the Syrian border: the Bani Salih on the east of Palestine: the Bani Yazid in Mesopotamia: and the Tyam Allat in Bahrein. The dispersion took place towards the close of the second century.

Bani Iyad &c

About the same time, the BANI IYAD and other off-shoots of the famous Meccan tribe 3 (the ancestors of the Coreish,) spread themselves eastward in the Peninsula.

The city of Hira founded by bands of these tribes A.D. 200

From each of these sources, certain bands of Azdite, Codhaite, and Meccan, Arabs, wandered towards Bahrein, where opposed in their eastward progress by the Persian Gulph, they combined together about the year 190 A.D., and, guided by the coast and by the southern bank of the Euphrates, alighted on the site of HIRA, a few miles north-west of the more modern Cufa. There, attracted by the rich and well watered vicinity, the strangers took up their abode, and about A.D. 200 laid the foundations of the city. The Arsacide monarchy was then crumbling under revolt and disastrous war; and the young colony, swelled by needy adventurers and desperate refugees from Arabia, grew unmolested rapidly into an important State. Another city not far distant from Hira, called Anbar, was either founded, or havinig been previously in existence was taken possession of; by the Arabs 4.

The first kin Malek, 196-215 A.D.

It appears that there was at first both an Adzits and a Codhaite chief, the former at Anbar, the latter at Hira. The rule of MALIK the Azdite was terminated by his son, who in the darkness mistook him for an enemy, and killed him with an arrow. The dying father repeated these touching lines; -

"Day after day I instructed him in the art of shooting; And, when his arm became strong, he tunmed against me his bow."

Special advantages possessed by Hira for early historical record

The incident shows with what detail even at that remote period the history of Hira has been preserved. As we advance, the detail becomes closer and more certain. The position of Hira, adjoining the empire of Persia, and on the highway to Syria, induced an early civilization and acquaintance with letters. Arab poets frequented the court of Hira, and their effusions were prized and preserved. There was thus abundant opportunity of poetical as well as of public record; and both having been conveyed down to the era of Islam, the history of this kingdom deserves our confidence.

Jodzeima 206-268 A.D.

The parricide fled to Oman; and another son, JODZEIMA, succeeded to the government. During his reign the Sassanide dynasty arose in strength upon the ruins of the Arsacide. The Codhaite chief with his Bedonin followers spurned the claims of Persia upon their allegiance, and departed to Syria.

Hira becomes dependent of Persia

Thus Jodzeima and the Azdite party were left in undivided possession of Hira, which with its Arab tribes 5 became the willing vasal of the Persian king.

Wars of Jodzeima with the Arabs of Yemen and Syria

Jodzeima made frequent incursions into Arabia, and in one of them was overtaken and beaten by the army of the Himyar monarch, Hassan Tobba. But his greatest and most continued efforts were directed against the Arab allies of the Roman Empire in Syria.

Hira and the Mesopotamian Arabs sided with Persia; the Syrian tribes with Rome

As Persia looked for the allegiance of Hira and the eastern tribes, so Rome claimed as her allies or retainers the Arabs of Western Syria. In the struggle between the empires, the two Syrian tribes and the Mesopotamian Arabs were wont to fight on their respective sides. Thus rivalry and frequent warfare sprang up, fomented by the private enmities of the Arab clans, and often receiving unexpected illustration in the pages of Roman history.

Jodzeima wars against the Syrian chief Amr, and kills him 260-270 A.D.

It was after the middle of the second century, according to Arabian authority, that the Roman Emperor (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus,) invested the chief of the Bani Samayda, Odenath with the sovereignty of Syrian Arabia. The third or fourth in descent from him was Amr son of Tzarib, whose kingdom extended to the Euphrates and embraced a portion of Mesopotamia. He waged war in the middle of the third century, with various success, against Jodzeima king of Hira, by whom he was at length killed.

the widow of Amr. Zebba, entraps and murders Jodzeima

His widow, 6 Zeid, avenged the death of Amr by inviting Jodzeima under pretence of marriage to her capital, where she put him to death. The Arab annals abound with marvellous tales of Zebba. She possessed a tunnel below the Euphrates, and on either bank a fortress, one commanded by herself, the other by her sister Zeinab. Her summer residence was Tadmor, or Palmyra.

The son of Jodzeima by a singular strategem surprises Zehba who poisons herself

The successor of Jodzeima (Amr son of Adi) resolved to revenge his murder, and by a stratagem introduced into the queen's citadel 2,000 warriors concealed as merchandize in in bags lining across the backs of camels. Taken by surprise, Zebba fled to her river fortresses and, having in vain endeavoured to escape by one or the other, destroyed herself with a subtle poison which she always carried in a ring 7. With Zebba the dynasty of Odzeina fell into obscurity.

Amr and Zebba, identified with Odenathus and Zenobia.

These details leave little doubt of the identity of Odenathus and his wife Zenobia of classical fame, with the Amr and Zebba of Arabic history. The family of Odenath, honoured with many immunities and illustrated by the royal suname of Septimius Severus, revolted against Rome, and about the middle of the third century declared Palmyra an independent government. Septimius Odenath, after hesitating betwixt the allegiance of Rome and Persia and on the captivity of Valerian inclining towards Sapor, at length entered upon a decisive struggle with Persia, and in several engagements vanquished the Persian armies, ravaged Mesopotamia, and covered himself with glory. By artful movements in a critical period of civil discord, he rendered essential service to the Emperor Gallienus, and was elevated as his colleague to the imperial purple. He was assassinated at Emessa by his nephew Maeonius 8.

267 A.D.

But Zenobia killed the murderer and after a short but splendid reign, and an opposition to the Roman army far from contemptible, fled from Palmyra and was made prisoner as she reached the Euphrates.

273 A.D.

It can hardly be doubted tinat the Arabs and the Romans have styled the same hero by different appellations - the former by his proper name of Amr, the latter by his patronymic Odenath. As little need we hesitate to recognise in Zebba of Tadmor the Zenobia of Palmyra: beauty, chastity, commercial riches, acquaintance with the tongues of Syria, Greece, Italy and Egypt, and many other particulars common to both, point to one and the same individual 9. The Arabian Zebba perished in a fruitless attempt to escape from her river battlements; the Roman heroine was captured as she was about to cross the Euphrates in a boat. But the Arabs mistook the enemy of Zenobia; it was not the king of Him, but the Emperor of Rome 10.

Laikhmite dynasty.

We return to Jedzeima, the Prince of Hira. His daughter married Adi son of Rabia, the Lakhmite king of Yemen, (who emigrated with his family to Irac 205 A.D. 11 ) and

Amr 268-288 A.D.

gave birth to AMR, whom Jozeima adopted as his successor. Strange and fabulous are the Arab legends of this child. He was carried off by the genii, and after many years found by a cistern in the desert, with long dishevelled hair and nails like the dawn of a bird. After Jodzeima's death he vanquished Zebba, as already related, and achieved several conquests. Amongst these was Mesopotamia; for after Zenobia's fall, the Roman's loosened their grasp on that province, and it fell under the empire of Persia and the government of Hira 12.

Imrul Cays I. 288-338 A.D.

Amr was succeeded by his son IMRUL CAYS I. who according to certain Arabian authors, was a convert to Christianity. The fact is improbable;

Christianty Introduced

but it is not unlikely that Christianity had been introduced among his subjects before the beginning of the fourth century 13.

The king of Persia attacks the Arabs and digs the trench of Sapor

It was in this reign that Sapor II, of Persia visited some of the tribes of Central and Northern Arabia with severe reprisals for ravages committed during his minority. The brunt of his fury fell upon the Bani lyad, Bani Bakr, and other families of Meccan origin. To prevent similar incursions the king also caused a deep

trench to be dug from the Persian Gulph along the frontier of Irac; aud, though it formed but a feeble obstacle to the Arab insurgents, yet three centuries later, on the Moslem conquest, the remained of the Khandac-Sabur or "trench of Sapor" were still visible near Cadeslya.

Noman I. 390-418 A.D.

After two or three intervening reigns NOMAN I. reached the throne. Under his auspices Hira became prosperous and powerful, and acquired the appellation Hirat at Noman, contracted by the Syrians, Greeks, and Romans into Hirta.

Educates Bahram Gour

Yezdegird, king of Persia, entrusted the education of his son, Bahram Gour, to Noman, who built for his use on a salubrious site the famous palace of Khawarnac.

Palace of Khawarnac

The Greek architect Palace imprudently divulged that if a certain stone, known to himself alone, were removed, the edifice would fall to the ground: Noman resolved that the secret should perish with the builder: the unfortunate Sinnimar was precipitated from one of the lofty bastions and dashed to pieces 14.

Symeon the Stylite visited by multitudes from Mesopotamia &C 410 A.D.

Under Noman Christianity made rapid progress. It was about the year 410 A.D. that Simeon the Stylite retired to the top of a hill of Antioch, and by a life of wonderful austerity, and the fame of miraculous powers, attracted multitudes to his presence. Irac and Arabia heard the rumour of his virtues. Many Arabs joined the throng of his admirers, and became well disposed to Christianity. Noman, fearing perhaps lest enthusiasm for the Syrian monk might engender a leaning towards the Roman government, forbade his subjects under pain of death to visit the desert sanctuary. But the monarch saw a dream by night, in which Simeon appeared to chide him, and caused two of his disciples to administer a severe castigation for his ungodly conduct. The prince awoke smarting under the visionary chastisement, and

Noman I. encourages Christianity abdicates and disappears, 418 A.D.

made haste not only to withdraw the prohibition, but to allow the erection of churches and welcome the ministration of ecclesiastics. This narrative was received by a Roman General from the mouth of Noman who added that, but for the dread of the Persian monarch, he would not have hesitated himself to become a Christian 15. It is agreed by all that Noman abandoned idolatry, and it is affirmed by some that he embraced the Christian faith. There is at any rate, good ground for believing that, dissatisfied with

the world, and anxious to pass the rest of his days in quiet devotion, he abdicated the government, and about 418 A.D. disappeared 16.

Mundzir I. 418-462 A.D.

Noman was followed by MUNDZIR I. who finished the education of the famous Bahram, and aided him in securing the Persian crown. The persecution of Christianity, persevered in by Bahram, rekindled hostilities with the Roman empire.

Hostilities with the Romans

The Romans besieged Nisibis; Babram hurried to its succour, while Mundzir with a cloud of Arabs threatened Syria and even Antioch. The churches were filled with suppliants to avert the coming vengeance; a panic seized the Arab troops, who turned their arms against each other and precipitated themselves into the Euphrates 17. This occurred early in the reign of Mundzir. In 422 A.D. a lasting peace was concluded and we hear little more of him from the Greek and Latin historians, whose incidental notices of the border Arabs are confined to the wars between the two empires.

Noman III 498-503 A.D.

Towards the end of the fifth century hostilities again broke out between Persia and Constantinople, and Noman III. during his short reign was constantly engaged, with various fortune, in warfare with the Roman troops. About the beginning of the sixth century, an irruption of Arabs, independent alike of the Roman and of the Persian rule, carried terror and devastation throughout Syria. These were the Bani Bakr and other central clans, who under the guidance of the Kinda chief Harith, son of Amr at Macsur,

Irruption of Harith and central tribes into Syria and Mesopotamia

(of whom there will be further mention hereafter,) threw themselves into Western Syria: but, having in 502 A.D. concluded a treaty with the Roman emperor, they turned their arms against the kingdom of Hira, defeated the troops sent to oppose them, and

Interregnum at Hira

plundered the country all around. The panic and confusion were so great that Harith seized possession of the defenceless city and assumed the government; but in a short time he retired with his Arab hordes to their native deserts 18.

Imrulcays III 503-513 A.D. relations with Central Arabia

After this interregaum, IMRULCAYS III became fixed in the government of Hira. In a previous incursion into Arabia, he had carried off the unrivalled beauty Ma-al-Sama, or "water of the heavens", who bore him a son and successor, named Mundzir 19. The seizure of this lady occasioned serious hostilities with Central Arabia; but they were at last put a stop to by the marriage of Mundzir with Hind daughter of Harith, the marauding chief noticed above.

Mundzir III. 513-562 A.D.

The early part of the reign of Mundzir III. was full of trouble. At this time the communist principles of the imposter Mazdak

Reign of Socialism in Persia and expulsion of Mundzir from Hira

adopted and enforced by the sovereign Kobad, were rife in Persia, and threatened society throughout the land with utter

disorganization. Mundzir rejected the abominable doctrines; and in the year 518 A.D. his domains were by the Persian court assigned to the Arab Harith. But principles so abhorrent from human nature could not long hold their ground. The imposter carried his arrogance to the pitch of demanding the queen of Persia: - her son, the future Kesra (Chosroes) Anushirvan, boiled with indignation at the request; but he repressed his anger, and bided his time for revenge. The socialists20 redoubled their efforts, and Kobad at last seeing his throne in danger, abandoned the sect to his son. Kesra was not long in beheading Mazdac, and in one morning 100,000 of his followers are said to have atoned with their lives for their unheard of enormities.

Mudzir's subsequent prolonged and prosperouss reign

Mundzir, now aided by Kesra, having expelled Harith from Hira and pursued him with slaughter into Arabia, re-entered upon the government, 523 A.D. His reign was thenceforward not only prolonged but prosperous, and he attained to a power unknown by any of his predecessors.

Ecclesiastical statements that he was a Christian not supported

Abul Feda asserts, and Christian historians generally believe, that Mundzir III. was a convert to Christianity: but the conclusion is contradicted by stronger evidence. In the beginning of his reign he may have prosecuted enquiries into our faith; but there seems no reason to doubt that, like the generality of Arabs in his day, he remained a Pagan, and that towards the end of his life he alternately protected and persecuted the Christians.

He confutes an Eutychian embassy

Eutychian doctrine was at this time supported by the Emperor Anastasius, and caused dissension in the church. Severus, the Patriarch of Antioch, shortly after the accession of Mundzir III, sent two bishops to gain him over to his side; The prince listened a while to their arguments; but at last having adroitly entrapped them into the confession that angels could not die, he drew the deduction that much less could the divine nature be subject to death, and caused his reverend guests to retire in confusion. The story is probably founded on fact, and illustrates the opposing heterodoxies that were gradually paving the way for Islam.

A deputation from Constantinople is present when Mundzir III recieves tidings of the massacre, in Najran, 524 A.D.

Another deputation deserves especial notice. Two Grecian generals having fallen by the chance of war into the hands of the king of Hira, the emperor Justin sent an ambassador named Abraham, with the bishop Simeon, to demand their deliverance. Failing to find Mundzir in his capital, they set out on the 20th January, A.D. 524, for his camp, which they reached ten days journey to the south of Hira. Their mission was successful. It was during this visit that Mundzir received the letter before noticed from the Jewish prince of Yemen, Dru Newas, giving tidings of the butchery of the Christians in Najran, and inviting him to follow the example he had set. After causing the letter to be read aloud to the army, in which was a great multitude of Christians, Mudzir thus addressed them : - "See ye not how your fellow Christians are treated elsewhere? why will not ye renorence the religion of Jesus? Think ye that I will treat you more favourably than other princes who have proscribed them?" From amid the ranks, a soldier boldly replied;-" We were Christians before we were thy subjects. No one dare make us renounce our faith: if forced to defend ourselves, the arm and the sword of each of us are as good as the arm and the sword of any other." Daunted by the courageous answer, Mundzir continued to the Christians their liberty; but it is sufficiently evident that he was not a Christian himself 21.

Allegiance of Central Arabia transferred to Persia, 530 A.D.

Soon after the death of Harith, the influence of the tribe of Kinda, the representative of the Himyar dynasty in Central Arabia, waned and expired. The Abyssinian invaders (525 A.D.) were regarded with aversion by the Arabs, and the allegiance hitherto yielded to their predecessors in the government of Yemen was transferred to the house of Hira, or rather to Persia of which

Mundzir prosecutes a long and destructive warfare against the Roman and their Arab allies

it was the vassal 22. This important change, which occurred about 530 A.D., enabled Mundzir, relieved of all apprehension from the south, and even strengthened by a new reserve of allies from that quarter, to prosecute his Parthian warfare against Syria. Suddenly as a thunderstorm his troops would darken some fated spot, sweeping in their train terror and devastation, captivity and death; they would as suddenly disappear, scorning the pursuit of the Roman army, which could find no sign of their enemy but in his ravages. For thirty years, with few intervals of truce, these hostilities were waged either against the Romans, or their ally the Arab dynasty of Ghassan 23. It was in this period that Belisarius distinguished himself in repelling the inroads of the Choaroes, which reached even to Antioch 24, and in preserving the Roman frontier. Mundrir was at last killed 562 A.D., in a campaign against Harith V., of the Ghassan line 25.

Amr III. 562-574 A.D.

AMR III. avenged the death of his father, by a fierce and instant attack upon the Ghassanide kingdom. Peace was soon after concluded between Persia and the Roman Empire. But Amr, dissatisfied at the discontinuance of a pension previously received by his father, sent an embassy of complaint to Constantinople; he was mortified by the incivility with which it was received, and again overran Syria with his armies.

Hostilities in Syria and Central Asia

He also waged bloody wars with the Bani Tay and Bani Tamim, the latter of whom had murdered his brother. He met with his death A.D. 574, in a singular mode, highly illustrative of Arab manners. He had vaingloriously sworn that his own mother should be served by the mother of the haughtiest Arab in the land. At an appointed festival, the mother of Amr a warrior-poet of the Bani Taghlib, was invited into the tent of the prince's mother, who sought to entrap her into the apparently insignificant act of handing to her a dish. But the proud spirit of the Arab lady spurned the office, and resenting the affront she screamed aloud for help. Amr the poet sprang forward at his mother's call, and struck Amr the prince dead upon the spot. It was in the eighth year of this king's reign that Mahomet was born.

Mundzir IV. 580 A.D. joins the Romans: for his defection banished to Sicily

Henceforward the glory of Him declined, and there is even an uncertainty about some of the successions to its sovereignty. In 580 A.D., MUNDZIR IV. was raised to the throne. Jealous of his brothers, or anticipating the success or the Romans, he repaired with his suite to Constantinople and abandoned the Persian cause.

Subsequently, he again changed sides and went over to Hormuzd the Persian monarch, who conferred on him the crown of Hira. He fell at last as a captive into the hands of the Romans, and for his defection was banished to Sicily 26.

Noman V. Abu Cabus 583-605 A.D.

NOMAN V. ABU CABUS succeeded to the throne. He was brought up by Adi, who was one of the most renowned of the city poets 27, and whose life illustrates the history of Hira. His remote ancestor Ayub (Job), of the Bani Tamim, a Bedouin tribe of Meccan origin 28, committed murder, fled to the court of Hira and, being received with distinction, settled there. The sixth in descent from him was the poet Adi, whose father and grandfather both held offices of trust at Hira 29.

His preceptor Adi employed at the Court of Persia 575 A.D.

Adi and his father were charged with the education of the young Noman. In process of time Adi,

received at the Court of Persia the post of Arabic Secretary to the Monarch. In 581 A.D. he was despatched on a specific embassy to Constantinople, and entrusted with a rich present for the Emperor Tiberius. He travelled back by the imperial relays of horses, and by a route calculated to convey the largest idea of the power and resources of the Roman Empire. On his return to Medain or Ctesiphon, he obtained leave of absence to revisit him, where he was received by the prince and the people with triumphant acclamation. On this occasion he met, at the church of Tuma, Hind, the granddaughter of the reigning prince Mundzir IV., and daughter of his own pupil Noman. As the damsel partook of the Sacrament, Adi caught a glimpse of her, and

Marries Hind daughter of Noman V.

became enamoured 30. His passion was reciprocated, and she was scarce eleven years old, they were united in marriage.

Adi and Hind both Christians

These facts show that both Adi and Hind professed the Christian faith. It is agreed by all that Noman V. was likewise of the same religion; and by some his conversion is attributed to the instruction of his preceptor Adi 31.

Adi imprisoned and murdered by Noman

It was by Adi's influence at the court of Persia that Noman V. was chosen from amongst his brothers to be the king of Hira. But that influence procured for Adi enemies at home. he was misrepresented to Noman who, forgetful of what he owed to him both as preceptor and patron, deceitfully invited him to Hira, cast him into prison and, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the king of Persia, put him to death. His widow Hind retired to a convent, which was thenceforward called by her name (Dayr Hind). She survived to see Hira fall into the hands of the

Singular vicissitudes in the history of his widow Hind

Moslem army. To crown the strange vicissitudes of her life, the warrior Mughira, the Mahometan commander of Irac, repaired to her convent in the year 661 A.D. and demanded the hand of the princess, then about ninety years of age, in marriage. "If it were my youth or my beauty," she replied, "that dictated the proposal, I should not refuse; but your desire is that you may say The kingdom of Noman, and with it his daughter, have passed into my hands. Is not that your thought?" Mughira confessed that it was, and she scorned the union. This insulting interview she did not long survive.

Noman V. defeated by the Bani Yarbo

Hira no longer retained the prestige of victory over the Central Arabs. The troops of Noman V. were discomfited by the Bani Yarbo, a branch of the Bani Tamim, from whom his court wished to take the Ridafa or Lieutenancy, and give it to another tribe 32. The two sons of Noman were captured, but generously released by the Bani Yarbo, who preserved the privileged post.

He incurs the displeasure of the Perian Court

Noman V. is famous in the annals of Arabia chiefly because his reign approached close upon the rise of Islam, and he was the patron or the of several renowned poets who celebrated his name 33. But his end was darkened by disgrace and misfortune. Zeid, the son of Adi, resolved, by a stratagem, as singular as it proved successful, to revenge the murder of his father. He pictured in warm colours the charms of the women of Hira before the king of Persia, who readily adopted the suggestion that some of the fair relatives of his vassal might well adorn the royal harem. An embassy, charged with this errand, was despatched to Noman who, surprised and alarmed by the demand, expressed aloud his wonder that the monarch of Persia was not satisfied with the antelope beauties of his own land. The term was equivocal, and Noman was denounced as having insulted the females of Persia by likening them to cows. The wrath of the Chosroes fell heavily upon his ungallant vassal, and he fled from him. Alter vainly wandering in search of allies among the Arab tribes, he left his arms in the custody of Hani, a chief of the Bani Bakr, and in despair delivered himself up to the king of Persia. The unfortunate prince was passed in mockery between two long rows of lovely girls splendidly attired, and by each was taunted with the question whether she was a Persian cow.

The Lakhmite dynasty terminates 605 A.D.

He was cast into prison, and there died or was murdered. Thus ended the LAKHMITE DYNASTY in the year 605 A.D., having lasted for the long space of 327 years.

An Arab raised to the government of Hira

An Arab of the tribe of Tay, who had rendered service in action to the king of Persia, was raised, but within circumscribed limits, to the government of Hira. Meanwhile the Chosroes demanded of Hira the arms and property which Noman had deposited with him.

The Bani Bakr oppose the king of Persia and defeat him in the battle of Dzu Car, 611 A.D.

The Bani Bakr resented the claim, and indignant at the murder of Noman assumed a hostile attitude, and carried pillage and confusion into the Persian provinces. The king vainly endeavoured to check them by conferring upon Cays, one of the Bani Bakr chiefs, an extensive grant of land around Obolla, on the right bank of the Tigris. But, notwithstanding the efforts of Cays and the hospitality by which he sought to render popular the Persian cause, the depredations still continued, and the king resolved on inflicting a signal retribution upon his rebellious vassals. The influence of Hira assisted in swelling with Arab allies the vast Persian army, which was to crush the Bani Bakr. But the word of alarm had been given, and as it rapidly passed from clan to clan amongst the ramifications of that great tribe, the Arabs flocked to the rendezvous in the valley of Dzu Car. The opposing ranks were about to close, when the iron-hearted Hantzala, who had been by acclamation chosen commander, with his own hand severed the girths of the camels on which were seated his wife and the other women of the tribe; and thus abandoned them, in case of defeat, to certain captivity. The Arabs fought with desperate bravery, and the Persian army was completely routed.

This defeat, ominous of the fate of Persia, took place A.D. 611. A few months previous, Mahomet, now forty years of age, had entered on his prophetical career.

Hira becomes a Satrapy of Persia

The Chosroes, enraged at this defeat, deposed Iyas, the Arab Governor of Hira; which, ruled thereafter by a Persian grandee Zadiya, fell into the rank of a common Satrapy, and remained thus till swallowed up in the Mahometan Empire.

The Arab tribes shake off their fealty to Persia and transfer it to Mahomet, 628-631 A.D.

The Bani Bakr continued to maintain the independence which they had achieved at Dzu Car. The other tribes of Central Arabia, hitherto held in vassalage by the Persian king through his Arab representative at Hira, now spurned the patronage of a Persian Satrap, and regarded with contempt the power of a nation torn by discord, and of a throne paralyzed by unceasing successions. The warrior Prophet was now rising into view as the paramount chief in Arabia, and the central and western tribes between 628 and 631 A.D. joyfully transferred their allegiance from a foreign and decrepit power to a native and rigorous government. But the Arab tribes of Mesopotamia, who professed Christianity, still continued for some years longer to oppose Islam, and to recognize the authority of Persia.

The Life of Mahomet, Volume I [Table of Contents]