By: Emad Hamdy
The battle of “Malaz Kard” (Manzikert) (1071-AD – 463 -AH) is considered one of the Muslims’ everlasting days, not less than the battles of Badr, Yarmouk, Qadisiyyah, Hittin, `Ain Jalut, Sagrajas and other greatest battles that changed the course of history and influenced its movement. It was the first step towards terminating the existence of the Eastern Byzantine Empire which dominated the world at that time. Manzikert was also the beginning of the emerging Seljuk state rise which occurred in Maa waraa’ an-nahr regions (Transoxiana) and Persia.
Malaz Kard or Manzikert was a well-fortified Asian country located on Marades river. It was very similar to Constantinople.
The great hero “Alp Arslan” (a title that means ‘the brave lion’) assumed the rule of the Seljuk state in (455 AH / 1063 AD) succeeding his uncle “Toghrol Bic”. Alp Arslan was a righteous, discerning and ambitious leader. He managed to kindle the spirit of Jihad among his soldiers and people.
Alp Arslan arranged for a large campaign against the adjacent Christian regions and led his army to the south of Azerbaijan. Then, he directed westward to conquer the Karag lands and the regions that overlooking the Byzantine lands. His great conquests continued in the Armenian territories. Thereby, the Seljuk’s way to cross into Anatolia became paved. Alp Arslan moved to Anatolia and seized Niksar Amuriyah and Konya. At that moment, the Byzantine Emperor realized the calamity, and decided to go out himself to discipline Alp Arslan and terminate the Seljuk state.
The Byzantine Emperor “Romanus” prepared a huge army consisting of two hundred thousand soldiers from the Romans, the Russians, Armenians, Karaj, Khazar, the Franks and Bulgarians. Romanus led them from Constantinople and headed to Malaz Kard (Manzikert) where the Seljuk army camped.
The number of Alp Arslan’s army was about fifteen or twenty thousand soldiers, for he didn’t have enough time to ask for support. He fell in an awkward situation, as he had to confront a very huge army with his small army that did not exceed twenty thousand soldiers. Alp Arslan determined to stun Romanus’s army to achieve any swift victory to be able to negotiate with the Roman emperor for reconciliation or armistice.
Alp Arslan could achieve an initial progress in the battle, and despite the victory signs, he was worried and afraid of the shortage of military supplies and the numeral superiority of the Romans, which urged him request a truce but it was rejected by Romanus who thought that Muslims were afraid of facing him. Romanus refused the proposal of the truce in utter sarcasm and arrogance.
Hence, the Sultan Alp Arslan recognized the inevitability of fighting. He sacrificed himself for God’s sake and started inflaming the spirit of Jihad for Allah’s sake in his soldiers. He went to his teacher “Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Abdul-Malik Al-Bukhari Al- Hanafi” seeking his advice. The teacher and big scholar said encouraging him ”You are fighting for the sake of the religion that Allah promised to grant it prominence and victory over other religions. I hope that Allah has written this conquest in your name. Fight them on Friday while the mosques sheikhs pray for the Mujahidun (fighters).”
The Muslim soldiers prepared themselves well for the promised day, and the two armies met on Thursday in (463 AH). Sultan Alp Arslan led the army during the Jumu`ah prayer and supplicated Allah in an invocation and submission. He addressed his army saying ”We are facing our enemy now, and I want to engage into the battle at this time, while the imams (leaders of prayer) are supplicating God for us. I could either accomplish my goal or go a martyr to paradise. Whosoever of you wants to follow me, let him follow me, and whosoever of you wants to leave, let him leave. Today, I am not your Sultan, I am one of you. I am a soldier like you.” Then, he tied his horse tail with his hands, and the soldiers did the same. Then, he dressed a white cloth and said: “This is my shroud in case I have been killed.”
When the war flared up, the Muslims embarked boldly and bravery upon their enemies like predatory lions. They were assiduous in eradicating them. It was a short time before the war dust dispersed and the battle field was filled with the Romans’ corpses. The victory was established and Romanus was defeated, captured and brought handcuffed to Alp Arslan.
The Islamic historic books registered a dialogue occurred between Sultan Alp Arslan and Romanus as follows:
Alp Arslan: Woe unto you! Didn’t I ask you for a truce?
Romanus: Don’t scold me.
Alp Arslan: What would you do if you captured me?
Romanus: All kind of maltreatment.
Alp Arslan: What do you expect of me?
Romanus: Killing, vilification or forgiveness for ransom, but I think you won’t do the third one.
Alp Arslan: It is the third one which I intended to do.
Romanus ransomed himself in return for paying one Million and five hundred thousand golden dinars, and release the Muslim captives.
As soon as the defeat news reached Constantinople, Romanus’s parish removed his name out of the reign records, and Mikhail “the seventh” was appointed as an emperor. Then, Romanus was arrested and his eyes were gouged out.
After the victory in this battle, the Seljuk continued in their progress towards Asia Minor, and they conquered Konya, and Aq, till they reached to Kutahya, and this region became a part of the Muslim lands up till now.
Concerning “Alp Arslan,” the history books told us that the days of his regime were the best in justice, prosperity and welfare. Also, Allah made it easy for him to conquer the Roman lands.
One of his grandchildren was named “Muhammad Al Fatih who paved the same way of his grandfather Alp Arslan until he conquered Constantinople, the capital city of Byzantine Empire, declaring the absolute termination of the Roman existence in this area.
* Emad Hamdy holds a bachelor of Islamic Studies in English from Al-Azhar University, faculty of Languages and Translation. Emad is a previous translator at Al-Huda TV channel, and currently works as an official Imam and teacher in Egypt.