How Could the Early Muslims Conquer the Persian Empire?
The Persian Empire was undeniably great during the height of the Islamic conquest. Although with contrasting sources, as great as the Persian Empire was, it dictates that the Persian army outnumbered the Muslim forces at key battles of Al-Qadisiyya and Nehāvand (M. Morony).
Despite the greater number, battle experience, and military achievements, the great empire of Persia lacked the humble beginnings led by an astounding man leading them both in war and in prayer.
Muhammad’s Military Influence
The Islamic preacher Muhammad had a huge vantage point in achieving one of the world’s greatest successful insurgencies. As God’s only prophet, his charismatic appeal cultivated a community of believers called Ummah (Gabriel, R.) – a fortress of Islamic insurgents that became the pillar of the Islamic Empire.
With the military generously remunerated and alliances greatly rewarded, the Islamic empire grew uncontrollably, creating an ideology of soldiers doing God’s work on earth even when using terrorism to ensure discipline to his followers and to strike fear into the enemy (Gabriel, R.).
His legacy remained even after he died. Muhammad planted unconventional military strategies, such as combined force of cavalry and infantry, as well as non-military strategies, ranging from the religious appeal and alliance building to bribery and political assassination (Gabriel, R.). This legacy was evident to the succeeding battles won during the time of his successors, called caliphs (Litvinskiĭ).
Fall of the Sasanian Empire
Where the Islamic empire held strength, the Sasanian empire presented frailty. As the new Islamic military showed strength in faith and loyalty, the Iranian military needed to chain their men in tens to prevent them from retreating (Litvinskiĭ).
Another downside of the Persian Empire was their association of the Zoroastrian Church, which greatly persecuted other existing religions. Islam’s freedom to exercise old beliefs contributed to their success in the Persian-ruled Mesopotamia, an area largely professing Christianity and Judaism (Litvinskiĭ).
All these factors added up with a battle-worn Persia, caused by the protracted war with the Byzantines (M. Morony), led to the defeat of one of the greatest empires in world history.
Litvinskiĭ, Boris Anatol’evich, Chang Kuan-ta., and R Shabani Samghabadi. History Of Civilizations Of Central Asia. 1st ed. Paris: Unesco, 1996. Print.
M. Morony, “ʿARAB ii. Arab conquest of Iran,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, II/2, pp. 203-210, Web. 12 Nov. 2016
Gabriel, R. “Muhammad: The Warrior Prophet | Historynet“. HistoryNet. N.p., 2007. Web. 12 Nov. 2016.