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I mean fighting for the ridda wars at least seems obvious.

People have refused to pay Zakat and became against the Muslim rulers by for example following the false prophets like Musailimah and Sajjah.

But what is the correct justification (or historical background) for attacking 'Iraq?
If these were preventive strikes, so how did the Muslims come to know about any attack or conspiracy?
If not what was the motivation?

I wonder if jizya played a role... Especially when one reads that many sahaba have became rich.

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  • you can not tell what happened since the time wheel can't roll back to fourth century, but iraq was and is still a fecund medium for wars to be, civil (like nowadays) or foreign like (vs USA and vs IRAN) I dunno but it seems to be a convincing reason.
    – Abr001am
    Jul 21, 2017 at 17:33
  • 3
    Both the Persians and Romans were perceived hostile to the Muslims back in Muhammad's time. It was never to "spread Islam by conquest" directly. Partially they were dealing with a threat before it happens. Partly they wanted to "liberate" the people from their Persian tyrants, as the jizya tax was allegedly lower, and they'd win Muslim PR points for doing so. I can answer the question in full, with citations later, but it requires compiling a lot of info from many points of history to see the big picture.
    – Muz
    Jul 22, 2017 at 10:01
  • i should'v said "before fourteen centuries" sorry
    – Abr001am
    Jul 25, 2017 at 17:23
  • @Muz I'd appreciate if you could take your time to give an answer!
    – user23533
    Aug 2, 2017 at 20:03
  • @muz for the benefit of future readers, muz is completely wrong. read my answer
    – Hisham
    Jun 22, 2023 at 1:41

5 Answers 5

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The justification was that they were following the commands of the Quran, among them:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا قاتلوا الذين يلونكم من الكفار

O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers

Quran 9:123

As the Persians and Romans were those adjacent to the Muslims during the caliphates of Abu Bakr and Umar.

فيه أنه سبحانه عرفهم كيفية الجهاد وأن الابتداء بالأقرب فالأقرب من العدو ولهذا بدأ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بالعرب ، فلما فرغ قصد الروم وكانوا بالشام

In this verse Allah informs us about how to wage Jihad, that it should be begun with the closest enemy and then the next closest should be engaged and so on. This is why the Messenger of Allah ﷺ began with Arabia and when he was done with them, he engaged the Romans who were in Sham.

Tafsir al-Qurtubi

ولذلك ابتدأ الخلفاء بفتح الشام ثم العراق ثم فارس ثم انثنوا إلى مصر ثم إلى إفريقية ثم الأندلس

Therefore the Caliphs began with the conquest of Sham, then Iraq, then Persia, then Egypt, then Africa, then Andalus

Tafsir Ibn 'Ashur

أمر الله تعالى المؤمنين أن يقاتلوا الكفار أولا فأولا الأقرب فالأقرب إلى حوزة الإسلام

Allah commands the believers to fight the disbelievers, the closest in area to the Islamic state, then the farthest.

Ibn Kathir

Similarly you can consult what Ibn Kathir wrote in Bidaya wa'l-Nihaya.

Furthermore, conquering Persia and Rome was in accordance to the will of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

ثم فارس فيفتحها الله ثم تغزون الروم فيفتحها الله

Then you would attack Persia and He would make you to conquer it. Then you would attack Rome and Allah will enable you to conquer it.

Sahih Muslim , كتاب الفتن وأشراط الساعة

إذا فتحت عليكم فارس والروم أي قوم أنتم ؟

How would you be, O people, when Persia and Rome would be conquered for you?

Sahih Muslim , كتاب الزهد والرقائق

قد مات كسرى فلا كسرى بعده وإذا هلك قيصر فلا قيصر بعده والذي نفسي بيده لتنفقن كنوزهما في سبيل الله

Kisra (Khusrau king of Persia) would die and there would be no Kisra after him and Qaisar (Ceasar King of Rome) would die; there would be no Qaisar after him, but, by the One in Whose Hand is my life, you would spend their treasures in the cause of Allah.

Sahih Muslim , كتاب الفتن وأشراط الساعة

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I think what people wrongly think about ancient times (and by extension the times of the Islamic Conquests) is that peace was always assumed. Nowadays, we have the UN and a lot of International Conventions that make it so that war has to be declared, but in previous times, war was not declared, peace was declared.

So, if there are two empires and there is no peace treaty between them, they are at war. They will both rob the other's caravans, they will both attack whenever it is beneficial to them, and they will both strive to destroy each other.

So, I want you to imagine yourself in the shoes of Abu Bakr (RA), before he gave the order to invade Persia. Islam was in an active campaign against the Roman Empire already which was impossible to avoid considering that the Arabs relied heavily on trade with Syria, and if Syria was under control of a hostile empire... Rome would hold an uncomfortably large amount of influence over the new Islamic State.

So, there is a war with Rome, a war you know will not stop until the Islam conquers a large amount of territory. This is because, Rome would never accept peace with a small amount of territory conquered by Islam simply out of pride (surrendering to Arab Bedouins is not a good way to get public support). But, once Islam conquers a large amount of territory, they will be forced to respect them as an equal empire, thus the possibility of peace can become a reality.

So, the inevitable result of the war with Rome is:

Before

After

At this point, both Rome and Islam would come to a rest because of tiredness. But, Islam's geopolitical position is very bad. Now it shares the largest border with Persia, so Persia will undoubtedly attack Islam just like it fought with the Roman Empire for centuries. Furthermore (even with a peace treaty) as soon as Rome rebuilds it will attack Islam to get back Syria and perhaps even to end the whole Islamic threat altogether by taking over Arabia.

Dangers to Islam

So, it was utterly unsustainable to only hold Syria. It was too narrow of an area and surrounded from all sides to effectively defend. So, imagine if you, being in Abu Bakr (RA) shoes, had the opportunity to widen that narrow piece of land to include a much more defensible mountainous and prosperous region, namely Iraq.

And to attack it, you don't need to break any peace treaty because there is none, and it is an empire who is threatening the Arabian Peninsular region as well. And the only reason that empire hasn't already attacked you is that it is currently in the middle of instability which also means that it would be easy to attack.

There is a saying:

It is not bravery but rather stupidity to let your opponent pick up his sword.

Do you want to let the Persian Empire come back to its full strength when you have the choice to stop it from happening?

So, when you live in their world, you have to understand that there is no UN. Peace is not assumed like it is today. There is only one certainty: empires expand.


Also, Abu Bakr (RA) never intended to destroy the Persian Empire. He only wanted to have a defensible position for the Muslims, a position where Arabia is not under constant threat. It was out of geopolitical necessity that he invaded Iraq. And if he had not, Islam would not exist today in any meaningful way.

Ideal

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    While this may be an accurate and logical explanation for how things happened, do you have any evidence that this was the actual reasoning and justification used by Abu Bakr? Otherwise, it just looks like speculation long after the fact.
    – goldPseudo
    Sep 22, 2018 at 2:52
  • @goldPseudo . It is impossible to know the exact intentions of anyone from history unless there is a direct recorded statement by him, which there is not for Abu Bakr (RA). So, I only gave the most likely justification he had considering his situation. I guess you could call it speculation but speculation is all we have
    – The Z
    Sep 22, 2018 at 3:31
  • this is just copium . its just jihad al talab plain and simple. besides you can use "pre emptive self defense" reasoning for any offensive war too lol. "Why did you conquer ireland. Uh, it was weak right now but in the future it might have gotten stronger and conquered me..." this is just defensive paranoia and hardly a reason muslims would go out and fight for . try using that as a battle cry to troops, it would be comical. In the Hadith Umar clearly states he planned to go out and invade (gh z w) the pagan nations and the message he sent the persians was all theology no security politics
    – Hisham
    Jun 21, 2023 at 19:34
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Umar Ibn al Khattab RA explained this himself and so did some Sahaba.

Normally I avoid quoting text walls but here it is necessary because most of the (lengthy) hadith contains sections relevant to your questions:

Narrated Jubair bin Haiya:

Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. When Al-Hurmuzan embraced Islam, Umar said to him. "I would like to consult you regarding these countries which I intend to invade " Al-Hurmuzan said, "Yes, the example of these countries and their inhabitants who are the enemies of the Muslims , is like a bird with a head, two wings and two legs; If one of its wings got broken, it would get up over its two legs, with one wing and the head; and if the other wing got broken, it would get up with two legs and a head, but if its head got destroyed, then the two legs, two wings and the head would become useless. The head stands for Khosrau, and one wing stands for Caesar and the other wing stands for Faris. So, order the Muslims to go towards Khosrau." So, `Umar sent us (to Khosrau) appointing An-Numan bin Muqrin as our commander. When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, "Let one of you talk to me!" Al-Mughira replied, "Ask whatever you wish." The other asked, "Who are you?" Al-Mughira replied, "We are some people from the Arabs; we led a hard, miserable, disastrous life: we used to suck the hides and the date stones from hunger; we used to wear clothes made up of fur of camels and hair of goats, and to worship trees and stones. While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says:-- "Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master... [ Sunnah.com Reference: Sahih Bukhari 3159 ]

So we see from the first sentence,

Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans

According to Jabir, Umar was already in process of developing a general plan to conquer the pagan nations. The fact he specifically used the word Pagan proves he was doing this on the basis of religion, not some arcane national security calculations as implied by another answerer here.

reading further, Umar asks for advice about how best to attack a list of countries he has in mind. just think about that for a second.if the goal is self defense, is it sensible to fight everyone one after the other.

many expansionist empires made that their entire purpose, like the British empire yet they could not accomplish it as quickly as Umar Ibn al Khattab and the Rashidun in general did. in light of this fact its extremely strange to think he managed to accomplish the fastest expansion of an empire "through self defense"

Now that should be enough to refute conjectures of national security being the reason,

secondly: read the first contact between al Mughira and the persians.

an interpreter got up saying, "Let one of you talk to me!" Al-Mughira replied, "Ask whatever you wish." The other asked, "Who are you?"

the persians literally got up and asked "who are you"? They don't even know who the arabs are and have no clue what's going on

Al Mughira goes on to give a speech summarising who arabs are and what they've been doing for ages, and then summarised the Islamic mission of Jihad. this completely puts paid to any idea there was a security concern as the main basis for the conquest of persia. The fact al Mughira explained in such detail proves the persians by and large had no idea who the Muslim Arabs even were.

Ive really been pushing against the "security" interpretation so far, and the reason is it is so obviously a modern method of "coping" with parts of Islam that contradict liberal values. Offensive jihad exists, read UmH's answer for a good summary of it.

Anyway, now let's summarise and analyse the actual reasons cited by Umar and al Mughira as the reason for the attack:

The first: Umar already had a general plan to conquer the MUSHRIK nations,

The Second: This extract from al Mughira's Speech:

the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths, Elevated is His Remembrance and Majestic is His Highness, sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet whose father and mother are known to us. Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya

As you can see, the reason is that the Prophet told them to do so. This could mean three things, possibly all of them at once.

It could be referring to the Verse of the Qur'an:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah nor in the Last Day and who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbade and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled (9/29)

the connection is obvious, because al Mughira mentioned that the command was to fight the persians until they either become muslim or pay jizya. This is the only verse of the Qur'an directly relevant to that, however I don't think this is whats being referred to by al Mughira, because he specifically mentions that the prophet told them to do so. If he was referencing the Qur'an It doesn't make sense to call it a prophetic commandment, even if the qur'an arrived through the prophet. You would cite the command on the authority of Allah, because his is greater than the prophet's. I mentioned it anyway though, because it is what would appear in most people's minds.

the closer connection in my opinion, is with this general speech the prophet used to give to his soldiers regarding jihad, who to fight, why to fight and when to stop:

Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah . Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of the Muhajireen and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajireen. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muslims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands . If they refuse to pay the jizya, seek Allah's help and fight them. When you lay siege to a fort and the besieged appeal to you for protection in the name of Allah and His Prophet, do not accord to them the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet, but accord to them your own guarantee and the guarantee of your companions for it is a lesser sin that the security given by you or your companions be disregarded than that the security granted in the name of Allah and His Prophet be violated. When you besiege a fort and the besieged want you to let them out in accordance with Allah's Command, do not let them come out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your (own) command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out Allah's behest with regard to them.
[ Sunnah.com Reference: Sahih Muslim 1731a ]

and in addition to being in Sahih Muslim, this hadith is found in really early books of the Salaf too, like in the Sahifah Hammam and Musnad Abu Hanifa, it is essentially impossible to reject this without also implictly rejecting nearly every other Hadith.

Anyway, as you can see it was a general rule of the prophet's to give a speech of this type before invasions, and it is very likely that such a speech is what mughira was referring to, because of the fact it mentions going out to invade and giving the enemy the options of conversion, jizya, war.

There is actually another Hadith proving the Prophet originally planned to invade Persia too, but he died before he could accomplish it.

And in this case, notice how the prophet states *Who is to be fought, as a general rule (remember, burayda said this was a general speech given many times)

Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah

this is yet more clearcut proof that the reason for fighting is kufr.

moreover, you don't really "give three options" to people who are attacking you. It's a silly idea, giving an ultimatum to a person who is chasing you around with a sword.

That's something you do when you go out to the people you intend to convert.

I hope that clarified the historically and Islamically correct reason for the Invasion of Persia (which Included Iraq) and sorry about the lazy structure of the writing

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What I understood from the question is why did Muslims fight against kuffar of Persia like in Al-Qadisiyah. If this is the case, easily you can take the answer of why has the jihad been in Islam in additional to the circumstance at that time. so this is the reason and this

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  • 1
    Is this a link-only answer? Apr 15, 2018 at 9:56
  • 2
    I don't see how this answers my actual question at all.
    – user23533
    May 24, 2018 at 13:10
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It seems they were not in peace at that time and Khalif Abu Bakr saw the status quo as a danger.

Finally, Abu Bakr hoped that by attacking Iraq and Syria he might remove the danger from the borders of the Islamic State.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_conquest_of_Mesopotamia

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  • 1
    wikipedia is not a reliable source
    – Hisham
    Jun 21, 2023 at 19:34
  • what is a reliable source? It contains a reference to the original source: [2] Akbar Shah Najeebabadi, The history of Islam. B0006RTNB4. Jul 16, 2023 at 17:24

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