The Umayyad Caliphate spelt Omayyad, was the second of the four major caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. The caliphate was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty; the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, was a member of the Umayyad clan. The family established dynastic, hereditary rule with Muawiya ibn Abi Sufyan, long-time governor of Syria, who became the sixth Caliph after the end of the First Muslim Civil War in 661. After Mu'awiyah's death in 680, conflicts over the succession resulted in a Second Civil War and power fell into the hands of Marwan I from another branch of the clan. Syria remained the Umayyads' main power base thereafter, Damascus was their capital; the Umayyads continued the Muslim conquests, incorporating the Transoxiana, the Maghreb and the Iberian Peninsula into the Muslim world. At its greatest extent, the Umayyad Caliphate covered 11,100,000 km2 and 33 million people, making it one of the largest empires in history in both area and proportion of the world's population.
The dynasty was overthrown by a rebellion led by the Abbasids in 750. Survivors of the dynasty established themselves in Cordoba in the form of an Emirate and a Caliphate, lasting until 1031; the Umayyad Caliphs were considered too secular by some of their Muslim subjects. Christians, who still constituted a majority of the Caliphate's population, Jews were allowed to practice their own religion but had to pay a head tax from which Muslims were exempt. There was, the Muslim-only zakat tax, earmarked explicitly for various welfare progammes. Muawiya's wife Maysum was a Christian. Relations between the caliphate's Muslim and Christian subjects were stable in this time; the Umayyads were involved in frequent battles with the Christian Byzantines without being concerned with protecting themselves in Syria, which had remained Christian like many other parts of the empire. Prominent positions were held by Christians, some of whom belonged to families that had served in Byzantine governments; the employment of Christians was part of a broader policy of religious accommodation, necessitated by the presence of large Christian populations in the conquered provinces, as in Syria.
This policy boosted Muawiya's popularity and solidified Syria as his power base. According to tradition, the Umayyad family and Muhammad both descended from a common ancestor, Abd Manaf ibn Qusai, they came from the city of Mecca in the Hijaz. Muhammad descended from Abd Manāf via his son Hashim, while the Umayyads descended from Abd Manaf via a different son, Abd-Shams, whose son was Umayya; the two families are therefore considered to be different clans of the same tribe. While the Umayyads felt deep animosity towards the Hashimites before Muhammad, their animosity deepened after the Battle of Badr of 624; the battle saw. This fueled the opposition of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, the grandson of Umayya, to Muhammad, his family, Islam as a whole. Abu Sufyan sought to exterminate the adherents of the new religion by waging another battle against the Medina-based Muslims only a year after the Battle of Badr, he did this to avenge the defeat at Badr. Scholars regard the Battle of Uhud as the first defeat for the Muslims, since they incurred greater losses than the Meccans.
After the battle, Abu Sufyan's wife Hind, the daughter of Utba ibn Rabi'ah, is reported to have cut open the corpse of Hamza, taking out his liver which she attempted to eat. In 629, within five years of the defeat in the Battle of Uhud, Muhammad took control of Mecca and announced a general amnesty for all. Abu Sufyan and his wife Hind embraced Islam on the eve of the conquest of Mecca; the Umayyad's ascendancy began when Uthman ibn Affan, an early companion, second cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad became the third Caliph. Uthman placed some members of his clan at positions of power. Most notably, he appointed his first cousin, Marwan ibn al-Hakam, as his top advisor, which created a stir among the Hashimite companions of Muhammad, as Marwan had been permanently exiled from Medina by Muhammad. Uthman appointed his half-brother, Walid ibn Uqba, whom Hashimites accused of leading prayer while under the influence of alcohol, governor of Kufa and appointed his foster-brother Abdullah ibn Saad as the Governor of Egypt, replacing Amr ibn al-As.
Most notably, Uthman consolidated Muawiyah's governorship of Syria by granting him control over a larger area. Muawiyah proved a successful governor, he built up a loyal and disciplined army composed of Syrian Arabs and befriended Amr ibn al-As, the ousted governor of Egypt. In 639 Muawiyah was appointed as the governor of Syria after the previous governor Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah died in a plague along with 25,000 other people. In 649 Muawiyah set up a navy manned by Monophysite Christian and Jacobite Syrian Christian sailors and Muslim troops, who defeated the Byzantine navy at the Battle of the Masts in 655, opening up the Mediterranean. Uthman's rule saw the relaxing of restrictions instituted by the second Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khatt
Muslim conquest of the Levant
The Muslim conquest of the Levant known as the Arab conquest of the Levant occurred in the first half of the 7th century, refers to the conquest of the region known as the Levant or Shaam to become the Islamic Province of Bilad al-Sham, as part of the Islamic conquests. Arab Muslim forces had appeared on the southern borders before the death of prophet Muhammad in 632, resulting in the Battle of Mu'tah in 629, but the real invasion began in 634 under his successors, the Rashidun Caliphs Abu Bakr and Umar ibn Khattab, with Khalid ibn al-Walid as their most important military leader. Syria had been under Roman rule for seven centuries prior to the Arab Muslim conquest and had been invaded by the Sassanid Persians on a number of occasions during the 3rd, 6th and 7th centuries. During the Roman period, beginning after the fall of Jerusalem in the year 70, the entire region was renamed Palaestina, subdivided into Diocese I and II; the Romans renamed an area of land including the Negev and the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula as Palaestina Salutaris, sometimes called Palaestina III or Palaestina Tertia.
Part of the area was ruled by the Arab vassal state of the Ghassanids' symmachos. During the last of the Roman-Persian Wars, beginning in 603, the Persians under Khosrau II had succeeded in occupying Syria and Egypt for over a decade before being forced by the victories of Heraclius to conclude the peace of 628. Thus, on the eve of the Muslim conquests the Romans were still in the process of rebuilding their authority in these territories, which in some areas had been lost to them for twenty years. Politically, the Syrian region consisted of two provinces: Syria proper stretched from Antioch and Aleppo in the north to the top of the Dead Sea. To the west and south of the Dead Sea lay the province of Palestine. Syria was a Syriac and Hellenized land with some Jewish presence and with a Arab population in its eastern and southern parts; the Syriac Christians and Arabs had been there since pre-Roman times, some had embraced Christianity since Constantine I legalized it in the fourth century and moved the capital from Italy to Byzantium, from which the name Byzantine is derived.
The Arabs of Syria were people of no consequence until the migration of the powerful Ghassan tribe from Yemen to Syria, who thereafter ruled a semi-autonomous state with their own king under the Romans. The Ghassan Dynasty became one of the honoured princely dynasties of the Empire, with the Ghassan king ruling over the Arabs in Jordan and Southern Syria from his capital at Bosra; the last of the Ghassan kings, who ruled at the time of the Muslim invasion, was Jabla bin Al Aiham. The Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, after re-capturing Syria from the Sassanians, set up new defense lines from Gaza to the south end of the Dead Sea; these lines were only designed to protect communications from bandits, the bulk of the Byzantine defenses were concentrated in Northern Syria facing the traditional foes, the Sassanid Persians. The drawback of this defense line was that it enabled the Muslims, advancing from the desert in the south, to reach as far north as Gaza before meeting regular Byzantine troops; the 7th century was a time of rapid military change in the Byzantine Empire.
The empire was not in a state of collapse when it faced the new challenge from Arabia after being exhausted by recent Roman–Persian Wars, but utterly failed to tackle the challenge effectively. Muhammad died in June 632, Abu Bakr was appointed Caliph and political successor at Medina. Soon after Abu Bakr's succession, several Arab tribes revolted against him in the Ridda wars; the Campaign of the Apostasy was completed during the eleventh year of the Hijri. The year 12 Hijri dawned, on 18 March 633, with Arabia united under the central authority of the Caliph at Medina. Whether Abu Bakr intended a full-out imperial conquest or not is hard to say. After successful campaigns against the Sassanids and the ensuing conquest of Iraq, Khalid established his stronghold in Iraq. While engaged with Sassanid forces, he confronted the Ghassanids, Arab clients of the Byzantines. Medina soon recruited tribal contingents from all over the Arabian peninsula. Only those who had rebelled during the Ridda wars were excluded from the summons and remained excluded from Rashidun armies until 636, when Caliph Umar fell short of manpower for the Battle of Yarmouk and the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah.
The tradition of raising armies from tribal contingents remained in use until 636, when Caliph Umar organised the army as a state department. Abu Bakr organised the army into each with its own commander and objective. Amr ibn al-A'as: Objective Palestine. Move on Elat route across Valley of Arabah. Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan: Objective Damascus. Move on Tabuk route. Shurahbil ibn Hasana: Objective Jordan. Move on Tabuk route after Yazid. Abu Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah: Objective Emesa. Move on Tabuk route after Shurahbil. Not knowing the precise position of the Byzantine army, Abu Bakr ordered that all corps should remain in touch with each other so that they could render assist
Muslim conquest of Sicily
The Muslim conquest of Sicily began in June 827 and lasted until 902, when the last major Byzantine stronghold on the island, fell. Isolated fortresses remained in Byzantine hands until 965, but the island was henceforth under Muslim rule until conquered in turn by the Normans in the 11th century. Although Sicily had been raided by the Muslims since the mid-7th century, these raids did not threaten Byzantine control over the island, which remained a peaceful backwater; the opportunity for the Aghlabid emirs of Ifriqiya came in 827, when the commander of the island's fleet, rose in revolt against the Byzantine Emperor Michael II. Defeated by loyalist forces and driven from the island, Euphemius sought the aid of the Aghlabids; the latter regarded this as an opportunity for expansion and for diverting the energies of their own fractious military establishment and alleviate the criticism of the Islamic scholars by championing jihad, dispatched an army to aid him. Following the Arab landing on the island, Euphemius was sidelined.
An initial assault on the island's capital, failed, but the Muslims were able to weather the subsequent Byzantine counter-attack and hold on to a few fortresses. With the aid of reinforcements from Ifriqiya and al-Andalus, in 831 they took Palermo, which became the capital of the new Muslim province; the Byzantine government sent a few expeditions to aid the locals against the Muslims, but preoccupied with the struggle against the Abbasids on their eastern frontier and with the Cretan Saracens in the Aegean Sea, it was unable to mount a sustained effort to drive back the Muslims, who over the next three decades raided Byzantine possessions unopposed. The strong fortress of Enna in the centre of the island was the main Byzantine bulwark against Muslim expansion, until its capture in 859. Following its fall, the Muslims increased their pressure against the eastern parts of the island, after a long siege captured Syracuse in 878; the Byzantines retained control of some fortresses in the north-eastern corner of the island for some decades thereafter, launched a number of efforts to recover the island until well into the 11th century, but were unable to challenge Muslim control over Sicily.
The fall of the last major Byzantine fortress, Taormina, in 902, is held to mark the completion of the Muslim conquest of Sicily. Under Muslim rule, Sicily prospered and detached itself from Ifriqiya to form a semi-independent emirate; the island's Muslim community survived the Norman conquest in the 1060s and prospered under the Norman kings, giving birth to a unique cultural mix, until it was deported to Lucera in the 1220s after a failed uprising. Throughout the imperial Roman period, Sicily was a prosperous backwater. Only in the 5th century did it suffer from raids by the Vandals operating from the coasts of North Africa. In 535, the island came under Byzantine control and was raided by the Ostrogoths in the Gothic War, but calm returned thereafter. Protected by the sea, the island was spared the ravages inflicted on Byzantine Italy through the Lombard invasions of the late 6th and early 7th centuries, retained a still flourishing urban life and a civilian administration, it was only the increasing threat of the Muslim expansion.
As John Bagnell Bury writes, "A fruitful land and a desirable possession in itself, Sicily's central position between the two basins of the Mediterranean rendered it an object of supreme importance to any Eastern sea-power, commercially or politically aggressive. Following the onset of Muslim attacks against North Africa, it became a crucial strategic base, for a while, in 661–668, it was the residence of the imperial court under Constans II. Constituted as a theme around 690, its governing strategos came to assume control over the scattered imperial possessions in the southern Italian mainland; the island was raided thereafter in the first half of the 8th century, but did not come under serious threat until the Muslims completed their conquest of North Africa and moved into Hispania as well. It was Abd al-Rahman al-Fihri, the Abbasid governor of Ifriqiya, who first made plans to invade the island in force and attempt to capture it and Sardinia in 752–753, but he was thwarted by a Berber rebellion.
In 799, the founder of the Aghlabid dynasty, Ibrahim ibn al-Aghlab, secured recognition of his position as autonomous emir of Ifriqiya by the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid, thereby marking the establishment of a independent state centred on modern Tunisia. In 805, Ibrahim concluded a ten-year truce with the Byzantine governor of Sicily, renewed by Ibrahim's son and successor Abdallah I in 813. During this time, the Aghlabids were too preoccupied with their rivalry with the Idrisids to the west to plan any serious assault on Sicily. Instead, there are testimonies of commercial traffic between Sicily and Ifriqiya, of the presence of Arab traders on the island; the occasion for the invasion of Sicily was provided by the rebellion of the tourmarches Euphemius, commander of the island's fleet. According to and fictional accounts, driven by lust for a nun, he had forced her to marry him, her brothers protested to Emperor Michael II, the Byzantine ruler ordered the island's strategos, Constantine Soudas, to investigate the matter and if the charges were found true, to cut off Euphemius' nose as punishment.
Thus it came that Euphemius, returning from a naval raid against the African coast, learned
Battle of Carthage (698)
The Battle of Carthage was fought in 698 between a Byzantine expeditionary force and the armies of the fifth Umayyad Caliphate. Having lost Carthage to the Muslims in 695, Emperor Leontios sent the navy under the command of John the Patrician and the droungarios Tiberius Apsimarus, they entered the harbor and recaptured it in a stunning surprise attack in 697, which resulted in the city's Arab forces fleeing to Kairouan. Emir Hasan ibn al-Nu'man was in the middle of a campaign in the Greater Maghreb region, but withdrew from campaigning in the field to confront the renewed Roman challenge to the emerging caliphate and he drew plans at Kairouan to retake Carthage the following spring, it is estimated. The Romans sent out a call for help to their allies, the native Berbers, to enemies the Visigoths and the Franks. Despite the king of the Visigoths, sending a force of 500 warriors in order to help defend Carthage, the Romans were in disarray due to in-fighting and were sapped of much of their strength.
Hasan ibn al-Nu'man, enraged at having to retake a city that had not resisted the Roman take over, offered no terms except to surrender or die. The Emperor Leontios had given his forces instructions of victory or death; the Romans left Carthage and attacked the Emir's army directly, but were defeated, the Roman commander decided to wait out the siege behind the walls of Carthage to let the Arabs exhaust themselves, since he could continue to be resupplied from the sea. The defenders were faced with Hasan's overwhelming force deployed in ferocious attacks as his men made repeated attempts to scale the walls with ladders, they combined this land assault with an attack from the sea that caused the Roman commanders to withdraw from the city and subsequently resulted in the second and final great destruction of Carthage. The Romans retreated to the islands of Corsica and Crete to further resist Muslim expansion. John the Patrician was murdered after a conspiracy at the hands of his co-commander, Tiberius Apsimarus.
Tiberius Apsimarus instead of taking the step of returning to Africa to fight the Muslims, sailed instead to Constantinople. After a successful rebellion he rose to the throne as Tiberius III, was deposed by former emperor Justinian II, now known as the Rhinotmetus; the conquest of North Africa by the forces of Islam was now nearly complete. Hasan's forces met with trouble from the Zenata tribe of Berbers under al-Kahina. and they inflicted a serious defeat on him and drove him back to Barqa. However, in 702 Caliph Abd al-Malik reinforced him. Now with a large army and the support of the settled population of North Africa, Hasan pushed forward, he decisively defeated al-Kahina in the Battle of Tabarka, 85 miles west of Carthage. He developed the village of Tunis, ten miles from the destroyed Carthage
Sack of Amorium
The Sack of Amorium by the Abbasid Caliphate in mid-August 838 was one of the major events in the long history of the Arab–Byzantine Wars. The Abbasid campaign was led by the Caliph al-Mu'tasim, in retaliation to a unopposed expedition launched by the Byzantine emperor Theophilos into the Caliphate's borderlands the previous year. Mu'tasim targeted Amorium, a Byzantine city in western Asia Minor, because it was the birthplace of the ruling Byzantine dynasty and, at the time, one of Byzantium's largest and most important cities; the caliph gathered an exceptionally large army, which he divided in two parts, which invaded from the northeast and the south. The northeastern army defeated the Byzantine forces under Theophilos at Anzen, allowing the Abbasids to penetrate deep into Byzantine-held Asia Minor and converge upon Ancyra, which they found abandoned. After sacking the city, they turned south to Amorium. Faced with intrigues at Constantinople and the rebellion of the large Khurramite contingent of his army, Theophilos was unable to aid the city.
Amorium was fortified and garrisoned, but a traitor revealed a weak spot in the wall, where the Abbasids concentrated their attack, effecting a breach. Unable to break through the besieging army, the commander of the breached section attempted to negotiate with the Caliph without notifying his superiors, he concluded a local truce and left his post, which allowed the Arabs to take advantage, enter the city and capture it. Amorium was systematically destroyed. Many of its inhabitants were slaughtered, the remainder driven off as slaves. Most of the survivors were released after a truce in 841, but prominent officials were taken to the caliph's capital of Samarra and executed years after refusing to convert to Islam, becoming known as the 42 Martyrs of Amorium; the conquest of Amorium was not only a major military disaster and a heavy personal blow for Theophilos, but a traumatic event for the Byzantines, its impact resonating in literature. The sack did not alter the balance of power, shifting in Byzantium's favour, but it discredited the theological doctrine of Iconoclasm, ardently supported by Theophilos.
As Iconoclasm relied on military success for its legitimization, the fall of Amorium contributed decisively to its abandonment shortly after Theophilos's death in 842. By 829, when the young emperor Theophilos ascended the Byzantine throne, the Byzantines and Arabs had been fighting on and off for two centuries. At this time, Arab attacks resumed both in the east, where after twenty years of peace due to the Abbasid civil war Caliph al-Ma'mun launched several large-scale raids, in the west, where the gradual Muslim conquest of Sicily was under way since 827. Theophilos was an ambitious man and a convinced adherent of Byzantine Iconoclasm, which prohibited the depiction of divine figures and the veneration of icons, he sought to bolster his regime and support his religious policies by military success against the Abbasid Caliphate, the Empire's major antagonist. Seeking divine favour, responding to iconophile plots against him, Theophilos reinstated active suppression of the iconophiles and other perceived "heretics" in June 833, including mass arrests and exiles and confiscations of property.
In Byzantine eyes, God seemed indeed to reward this decision: al-Ma'mun died during the first stages of a new, large-scale invasion against Byzantium, intended to be the first step in conquering Constantinople itself, his brother and successor al-Mu'tasim withdrew to focus on internal matters, having trouble establishing his authority, needing to confront the ongoing rebellion of the Khurramite religious sect under Babak Khorramdin. This allowed Theophilos to achieve a series of modest victories over the next few years, as well as to bolster his forces with some 14,000 Khurramite refugees under their leader Nasr, baptized a Christian and took the name Theophobos; the emperor's successes were not spectacular, but coming after two decades of defeats and civil war under iconophile emperors, Theophilos felt justified in claiming them as vindication for his religious policy. The emperor began to publicly associate himself with the memory of the militarily successful and fanatically iconoclast emperor Constantine V, issued a new type of the copper follis coin, minted in huge numbers, which portrayed him as the archetypical victorious Roman emperor.
In 837, Theophilos decided—at the urging of the hard-pressed Babak—to take advantage of the Caliphate's preoccupation with the suppression of the Khurramite revolt and lead a major campaign against the frontier emirates. He assembled a large army, some 70,000 fighting men and 100,000 in total according to al-Tabari, invaded Arab territory around the upper Euphrates unopposed; the Byzantines took the towns of Sozopetra and Arsamosata and plundered the countryside, extracted ransom from several cities in exchange for not attacking them, defeated a number of smaller Arab forces. While Theophilos returned home to celebrate a triumph and be acclaimed in the Hippodrome of Constantinople as the "incomparable champion", the refugees from Sozopetra began arriving at Mu'tasim's capital, Samarra; the caliphal court was outraged by the brutality and brazenness of the raids: not only had the Byzantines acted in open collusion with the Khurramite rebels, but during the sack of Sozopetra—which some sources claim as Mu'tasim's own birthplace—all male prisoners were executed and the rest sold into slavery, some captive women were raped by Theophilos
Siege of Melite (870)
The Siege of Melite was the capture of the Byzantine city of Melite by an invading Aghlabid army in 870 AD. The siege was led by Halaf al-Hādim, a renowned engineer, but he was killed and was replaced by Sawāda Ibn Muḥammad; the city withstood the siege for some weeks or months, but it fell to the invaders, its inhabitants were massacred and the city was sacked. The Maltese islands had been part of the Byzantine Empire since 535 AD, archaeological evidence suggests that they had an important strategic role within the empire; when the early Muslim conquests began in the 7th century, the Byzantines were threatened in the Mediterranean, so efforts were made to improve the defences of Malta. At this point, they might have built a retrenchment which reduced Melite to one third of its original size. A Muslim reconnaissance raid to Malta might have taken place in 221 AH. Most details about the siege of Melite are known from Kitab al-Rawd al-Mitar, written by Muhammad bin'Abd al-Mun'im al-Himyarī in the 15th century.
This account states that the attack on Melite was led by an engineer Halaf al-Hādim, killed during the siege. The invaders wrote to the Aghlabid ruler Abu ‘Abd Allāh, who ordered Muḥammad Ibn Hafāğa, the governor of Sicily, to send a new leader; the wali Sawāda Ibn Muḥammad was sent, he continued the siege and captured Melite. Its ruler Amros was taken prisoner, the invaders "demolished its fortress, they looted, desecrated whatever they could not carry." Marble from Melite's churches was used to build the bridge leading to it. Al-Himyarī further states that the island of Malta remained an uninhabited ruin after the siege, at times being visited by shipbuilders and those who collect honey; the island was repopulated by Muslims in 440 AH, who built a settlement known as Medina on the ruins of Melite. The Byzantines were repelled. Al-Himyarī's account was discovered in 1931, the first full edition was published in 1975 in Beirut; the passage relating to Malta remained unknown until being translated to English in 1990.
It is the most detailed source about the siege, it contains some information, not found in any other sources. The account suggests that the siege lasted for a few weeks or some months; the rulers mentioned in the source confirm that the siege took place sometime between 255 and 257 AH. Some other sources state that in 870 Malta was a Muslim settlement, at the time it was besieged by a Byzantine fleet. After an Aghlabid relief force was sent from Sicily, the fleet retreated without a fight on 28 Ramadan 256; this resulted in ill-treatment of the island's Greek population, the bishop was arrested and imprisoned in Palermo, while the island's churches were destroyed. The use of marble from the churches of Melite in the castle of Sousse is confirmed by an inscription on the castle which translates to: Although al-Himyarī states that Malta remained an "uninhabited ruin" after the siege and it was only repopulated in 1048–49, archaeological evidence suggests that Mdina was a thriving Muslim settlement by the beginning of the 11th century, so 1048–49 might be the date when the city was founded the date of construction of the city walls
Siege of Babylon Fortress
The Babylon Fortress, a major military stronghold of the Byzantine Empire in Egypt, was captured by forces of the Rashidun Caliphate after a prolonged siege in 640. It was a major event during the Muslim conquest of Egypt. Amr ibn al-A `; this expectation turned out to be wrong. At the outposts of Pelusium and Bilbeis, the Muslims had met stiff resistance; the siege of Pelusium had lasted for that of Bilbeis for one month. Both battles were preludes to the siege of Babylon, a larger and more important city. Here, resistance on a larger scale was expected. After the fall of Bilbeis, the Muslims advanced near modern Cairo; the Muslims arrived at Babylon some time in May 640 AD. Babylon was a fortified city, the Romans had prepared it for a siege. Outside the city, a ditch had been dug, a large force was positioned in the area between the ditch and the city walls; the Muslims besieged the fort of Babylon some time in May 640. The fort was a massive structure 18 metres high with walls more than 2 metres thick and studded with numerous towers and bastions.
A Muslim force of some 4,000 men unsuccessfully attacked the Roman positions. Early Muslim sources place the strength of the Byzantine force in Babylon about six times the strength of the Muslim force. For the next two months, fighting remained inconclusive, with the Byzantines having the upper hand by repulsing every Muslim assault; some time in May 640 AD, `. The Byzantines had anticipated this and had therefore guarded the roads leading to the city, they had fortified their garrison in the nearby town of Lahun. When the Muslim Arabs realized that Fayoum was too strong for them to invade, they headed towards the Western Desert, where they looted all the cattle and animals they could, they subsequently headed to Oxyrhynchus, defeated. The Arabs returned to Lower Egypt down the River Nile. In July,'Amr wrote to'Umar requesting reinforcement; the army was composed of the veterans of the Syrian campaigns. With these reinforcements,'Amr was unsuccessful. By August 640,'Umar had assembled another 4,000 strong force, which consisted of four columns, each of 1,000 elite men.
Zubair ibn al-Awam, a renowned warrior and commander, veteran of the Battle of Yarmouk and once a part of Khalid ibn Walid's elite mobile guard, was appointed the supreme commander of army—'Umar had indeed offered Zubair the chief command and governorship of Egypt, but Zubair had declined. The column commanders included Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, Ubaidah ibn as-Samit, Kharijah ibn Huzaifah; these reinforcements arrived at Babylon sometime in September 640. The total strength of the Muslim force now rose to 12,000, quite a modest strength to resume the offensive. Fifteen kilometres from Babylon was Heliopolis; the Muslim army reached Heliopolis in July 640. It was the city of the Sun Temple of the Pharaohs and was famous for its grandiose monuments and learning institutions. There was the danger that forces from Heliopolis could attack the Muslims from the flank while they were engaged with the Roman army at Babylon. With some detachments,'Amr and Zubair marched to Heliopolis. There was a cavalry clash near the current neighbourhood of Abbaseya.
The engagement was not decisive, although it resulted in the occupation of the fortress located between the current neighborhoods of Abdyn and Azbakeya. The defeated Byzantine soldiers retreated to either the Babylon Fortress or the fortress of Nikiû. At an unguarded point of the wall of Heliopolis and some of his picked soldiers scaled the wall of the city, after overpowering the guards, opened the gates for the main Muslim army to enter the city. Heliopolis was thus captured by the Muslims.'Amr and Zubair returned to Babylon. When news of the Muslims' victory at Heliopolis reached Fayoum, its Byzantine garrison under the command of Domentianus evacuated the city during the night and fled to Abuit. From Abuit, they fled down the Nile to Nikiu without informing the people of Fayoum and Abuit that they were abandoning their cities to the enemy; when news of this reached'Amr, he ordered a body of his troops to cross the Nile and invade Fayoum and Abuit. The Muslim soldiers captured the entire province of Fayoum without any resistance from the Byzantines.
The Byzantine garrison at Babylon had grown bolder than before and had begun to sally forth across the ditch, though with little success. There had been a stalemate between the Muslim and Byzantine forces at Babylon, until the Muslim commanders devised an ingenious strategy and inflicted heavy casualties on the Byzantine forces by encircling them from three sides during one of their sallies; the Byzantines were able to retreat back to the fort, but were left too weak for any further offensive action. This situation forced the Byzantines to negotiate with the Muslims; the Byzantine general Theodore shifted his headquarters to the Isle of Rauda, whilst Cyrus of Alexandria, popularly known as Muqawqis in Muslim history, entered into negotiations with the Muslims, which failed to give any productive results. Emissaries were exchanged between Theodore and'Amr, leading to'Amr meeting Theodore in person. After fruitless negotiations, the Muslims acted on 20 December, when, in a night assault, a company of hand picked warriors led by Zubair managed to scale the wall, kill the guards and open the gates for the Muslim army to enter.
The city of Babylon was captured by the Muslims on 21 December 640, using tactics similar to those used by Khalid ibn Walid at Damascus. However Theodore and his army man