ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀs (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: Talented and capable, ʿAmr is perhaps the best of the second generation of Arab generals during the expansion of Islam.
An early opponent of Islam, ʿAmr ibn al-ʿās became one of the great generals in the propagation of the Islamic faith. He converted in 629, shortly after Muhammad’s successful resistance in Medina to the Meccan challenge. Quickly earning the respect of his superiors, he was given command of a column in the Syrian campaign. In 634, he participated in victorious battles against Byzantine armies at Dathin, near Beer Shevaʿ, and Ajnadain, in Palestine. As one Arab force moved eastward into Mesopotamia, ʿAmr ibn al-ʿās led 3,500 men to Egypt, where, after being reinforced, he defeated the Byzantine army at Heliopolis in 640. This provided a base from which to lay siege to the Byzantine fort of Babylon (later Cairo), which fell in April, 641. After taking Alexandria, in 642, he was appointed governor of Egypt, from which he conquered Libya in 643.
In the Muslim Civil War of 657-661, ʿAmr overcame his resentment at having been dismissed as governor and supported Muʿāwiyah I against Muhammad’s relative ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib, playing a key role in the Battle of Siffīn (657). Muʿāwiyah and his generals lost heavily (45,000 to ʿAlī’s 25,000) but emerged victorious after a duplicitous arbitration suggested by ʿAmr. Reconquering Egypt for Muʿāwiyah, in 659,...
(The entire section is 326 words.)
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