The Islamic world in its Middle Ages faced major political and military challenges, the most serious of which was the Mongol challenge, which began since the first quarter of the seventh century AH / thirteenth century AD, where the Mongols came out of the far east of Asia like a penetrating arrow that hardly anyone stops, penetrating Asian and European societies and countries, until the feet of the Mongols reached West Asia and the shore of the Mediterranean, and they were able within four decades to overthrow the Abbasid and Ayyubid states, and dozens of other powers and countries, and to kill tens of millions of lives. innocent, and to destroy the enormous cultural elements of the Islamic and human heritage. The Mamluks in Egypt were able to repel their attack in the battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 658 AH / 1260 AD and then in other battles in the Levant and Anatolia, until the situation between the two states settled on the demarcation of borders so that the Euphrates River became the border between the Mamluk state in the west and the Mongol state in the east.

Despite this, the Mongols continued to harass the Mamluks, working with all their might to eliminate them and end their state. The Mamluk-Mongol conflict lasted for more than half a century, during which most of the battles took place in the Levant, during which thousands of Levantine Muslims fell until the advent of Sultan Al-Nasir "Muhammad bin Sultan Al-Mansur Qalawun" in his second term. In this era, the role of the scholar "Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah" during confrontations is noticeable at the intellectual level as well as at the military and tactical levels. People fought between the Mongols and the Mamluks, thinking that Mongol Islam was pure and unambiguous, so Ibn Taymiyyah played a decisive role in tipping the balance of the Mamluks. Why, then, did the Mamluk-Mongol conflict last for more than half a century? How did the confrontations between the two teams lead to the Battle of Shaqhab?

Mongols occupy Damascus

The Mongols managed to capture Homs after defeating the Mamluks, and looted all the villages and lost their hands (social media)

The Mongols have always seen the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt, the Levant and the Hijaz as a serious threat to their survival, as the Mamluks have worked to support the Abbasids to recover their king and their capital Baghdad since the reign of Sultan al-Zahir "Baibars". This concern remained real and sometimes stated in peer correspondence between the two groups, so the Mongol khan "Mahmud Ghazan" did not lose sight of this serious challenge. The plan "Ghazan" attack on the Levant in 697 AH, and to implement his plan sent to Anatolia Mongol army estimated at ten thousand horsemen with twenty-five thousand fighters. The usual Mongol plan involved attacking the Mamluks from the north Rumi (Anatolia) under their control, and from the east after crossing the Euphrates, but the Mongol commander "Salamash" went out of obedience to "Gazan" and wanted independence in Anatolia, and was helped by the Turkmen of the people of the region as well as the Mamluks ([1]).

For this reason, "Ghazan" was forced to send an army to fight "Salamash" and defeated him, and then "Salamash" fled and took refuge in the Mamluk state, which helped him with a military division through which he tried to restore his family, but the forces of "Ghazan" surrounded him in the straits of Rum / Anatolia and he was killed there. The Mamluk assistance to senior Mongol dissident commanders did not stop, as "Nayrouz", the military commander of "Ghazan", sent a message to the Mamluk Sultan at the time, Al-Mansur, "Saif al-Din Lashin" (Lajin) asking him to send a military division to protect him during his escape from the Mongol country to the Mamluk state in the east, but the messages fell into the hands of "Ghazan" and he ordered to kill him immediately ([2]).

This incident gave sufficient justification to "Ghazan" to move and fight the Mamluks, so preparations began for a huge military campaign that included alongside the Mongols military divisions from countries under Mongol sovereignty, such as Armenians and Karaj in northern Iran (today's Kyrgyzstan or Georgia), in addition to the dissident Mamluk princes and soldiers who took refuge in him, estimated at about five hundred princes. Finally, after months of preparations and preparations, the huge Mongol forces coming from Iraq and Iran crossed the Euphrates River, and when the Mamluk forces in Aleppo saw that they were unable to confront, they withdrew, and then the Mongol forces advanced until they entered Hama and from there headed towards Wadi al-Khazindar, specifically the area of the Al-Murooj complex east of Homs, where the vanguards of the Mamluk army met in the year 699 AH / 1299 AD([3]).

The Battle of Shaqahab (social media)

On the other hand, the Mamluk sultan al-Nasir Muhammad ordered the senior princes to prepare and go out to meet the enemy, and they had already left Cairo through Palestine until they reached Damascus, then continued their advance to the north until they camped near Homs, and began to send reconnaissance forces (scouts) to find out the news, numbers and equipment of the Mongols. In the Wadi al-Khazindar area, east of Homs, the Mamluk and Mongol armies met face to face, and because of the strength, abundance and skill of the Mongol army, the starboard and the Mamluk facilitator fled, and the military division was fixed in the heart, but the Mongols surrounded them, "and the Sultan was delayed to the direction of Homs until he realized the night, the Islamic soldiers began the way, and they were defeated to the guarded lands of Egypt, and the Tatars followed them," as the historian "Abu al-Fida" mentions in "The Brief in the News of Humans"([4]).

The Mongols then managed to seize Homs after the defeat of the Mamluks, and looted all that reached their hands from the villages and loss, and committed massacres, and headed south and seized Baalbek and the Bekaa, and then to Damascus in order to seize it, and so fled from Damascus thousands towards Egypt and others, and there was no left in the city, which was filled with thieves and looters, but a group of its people agreed to send a delegation of scholars to "Ghazan" headed by the judge of judges "Badr al-Din Muhammad bin Jama'a" and Sheikh "Taqi al-Din Ahmed bin Taymiyyah" asking him for safety.

Among that delegation was a sheikh from the desert of Damascus named "Omar bin Abi Bakr al-Balsi" who mentioned the strength and courage of "Ibn Taymiyyah" in the face of "Ghazan", saying: "He (Ibn Taymiyyah) said to his translator: "Tell Kazan you claim that you are a Muslim and with you muezzins, and a judge, and an imam, and a sheikh, as we have reached, so we invaded, and entered our country on what? And your father and grandfather Hulagu were disbelievers, and they did not invade the countries of Islam, but a covenant of faithfulness, and you made a covenant and you were treacherous, and you said what you fulfilled." Ibn Taymiyyah said the truth, and only God Almighty feared. He brought food near to the congregation, and they ate of it, except Ibn Taymiyyah, and he was told, "Don't you eat?" He said, "How can I eat of your food, and all of what you have plundered from the sheep of men, and cooked it with what you have cut down from the trees of the people?" Then Kazan asked him to pray, he said in his prayer: "Oh God, if your servant this Mahmoud but fighting to be your word is supreme, and to be the whole religion for you, support him, and support him, and his king the country and the people, and if he but hypocrisy and reputation, and a request for the world, and to be his word is supreme, and to humiliate Islam and its people, let him down, and earthquake, and destroy, and cut off his plot", so he made us collect our clothes for fear that they would be contaminated with his blood if he ordered to kill him. ([5])

"Ghazan" did not adhere to the safety he gave to the scholars, as his soldiers came to Damascus and looted it, and they remained occupying the Levant for four months, and when they heard that the Mamluk forces in Egypt were preparing again to attack them and restore the Levant, they were forced to withdraw back to their state in Iraq, and left a Mongol garrison on Damascus led by the dissident Mamluk prince "Qabjaq", who expelled the Mongols and declared his loyalty again to the Mamluks, and then the Levant returned to Mamluk rule again after more than a hundred harsh days, in which prices rose, The people were indignant at the low level of security, and the domination of the Mongols([6]).

The road to Shaqhab

Despite the departure of the Mongols from the Levant after this harsh lesson inflicted by the Mamluks, "Ghazan" prepared to attack again in the following year (700 AH), but bad weather conditions and rain and snow hindered him from continuing to move, and he returned to his country after his forces looted Antioch and some nearby areas. A few months later, in Ramadan of the same year, Ghazan learned that the Mamluks were preparing to take revenge, so he sent a delegation headed by Mosul judge Kamal al-Din Musa bin Yunus to Damascus, from where he sent three of them to Cairo and arrived at the end of the year. Nasser and senior princes read the message "Gazan" in which he revealed the reasons for his attack on the Levant, and attributed it to the attack of the Mamluks on the outskirts of his state, and accused the rulers of Egypt of injustice and departure from the requirements of religion, and showed himself as a protector of the fever of Islam, and threatened the Mamluks not to involve themselves in the face of their power ([7]).

For his part, Nasser sent a letter to "Ghazan" in which he mentioned the primacy of the Mamluks in embracing Islam and defamation of it from the Mongols, and refused to give up their position in the Islamic world, and also revealed that the Mongols are the ones who began treachery and evil, and that he dealt with him as peer to peer ([8]). These correspondences did not bear the desired fruit, so the war resumed again after one year and the Mongols moved with their armies of 130,<> fighters led by "Qatlushah" until they crossed the Euphrates River, and headed towards Hama and seized it, from which a Mongol military division set off towards "Al-Qaryatayn", an area near Homs, in which the Mamluks were able to defeat the Mongol division and annihilate it, a battle that paved the way for the decisive battle in Shaqhab.

This victory was important to raise the morale of the Mamluks, but the Mongols decided to seize Hama, from which they set off for Damascus, where Sultan Al-Nasir "Muhammad bin Qalawun" had not yet brought the Egyptian army to the Levant, and the whole burden was on the shoulders of the Levantine Mamluk army, forcing the people of the Levant to flee. However, the Egyptian army led by Nasser finally met with the Levantine army in the Marj al-Safar area, specifically in a village called Shaqhab south of Damascus (which belongs to the governorate of Damascus countryside today), and waited for the Mongol army to meet([9]).

Before the meeting, the Sultan and the Abbasid Caliph, "Abu al-Rabi' Suleiman al-Mustakfi Billah," embarked on sharpening the motivation, and arranging the army, and the jurists and scholars, led by the scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, had a pivotal role in raising morale, he preached to the people and fixed them on the battle line, saying: "You are Mansouron, and by God, you are Mansouron!" Ibn Taymiyyah was not satisfied with that, but walked to Sultan Al-Nasser "Muhammad bin Qalawun" invites him to fight and proves his heart, and Sultan Al-Nasser had hit him severely weakened from meeting the Tatars, Ibn Taymiyyah pulled from his buttons and sat down to remind him thanks to jihad and the necessity of protecting the countries of Islam, then entered the month of Ramadan on Friday, and people prayed in Taraweeh prayers that the Muslim army would be victorious, and they sat waiting for news. The Levantine soldiers stood close to the village called Kiswa in the countryside of Damascus, army leaders came and asked Ibn Taymiyyah to walk to the Sultan urges him to walk to Damascus, he walked to him and urged him to come to Damascus after he almost returned to Egypt, and asked the Sultan to stand in the battle of fighting, Ibn Taymiyyah told him: "Sunnah that the man stands under the banner of his people, and we of the Levant Army do not stand only with them"([10]).

Isaac of the Mongols on Ghabaghab

The encyclopedic author and historian "Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri al-Masri" was one of the participants in the battle, and he mentioned in his encyclopedia "The End of the Lord in the Arts of Literature" the names of eighteen great Mamluk princes, each of whom led a hundred horsemen and a thousand soldiers. Al-Nuwayri was in the Mamluk army facilitator, and described in detail the scene of preparation and coalescence, and the defeat of the Mamluk army at first and then the sultan's strengthening of it with soldiers and princes from the heart. As for the Maysara, she was able to defeat the starboard of the Mongol army, which Al-Nuwayri estimated at twenty thousand fighters, and was defeated. Then the night came between the two groups, and the Mongols took refuge in a mountain in the region called "Ghabagheb", so the Mamluks surrounded them and besieged them, and the siege continued until the next day, Sunday, 3 Ramadan 702 AH / April / April 1303 AD ([11]).

After that, the Mamluks opened a gap in the circle that they ruled over the Mongols, in order to single out the retreating Mongol military divisions, and their plan succeeded in separating the masses of withdrawers, which facilitated their killing and entrapment as described by "Al-Nuwayri": "When they fled, the soldiers carried them and exterminated them killing and capturing, and the soldiers followed them for the rest of the day until night. Since Monday was the fourth of the month, Sultan Prince Sayf al-Din Salar, Emir Izz al-Din Aybak al-Khazindar, and other soldiers Ramadan their tracks."[12]

The Mamluk prince and historian Baibars al-Dawadar, who also witnessed the battle, stated that the number of Mongol forces that were besieged in Mount Ghabaghab amounted to 80,13 soldiers divided into three divisions, and that they were exhausted by the siege and the lack of troops and water, which made it easier for the Mamluks to kill them([14]). The well-known historian "Salah al-Din al-Safadi" commented on the miserable condition of the Mongols after their defeat in that battle by saying: "Which I think that from the time Genghis Khan appeared, what happened to the Mongols after the incident of Ain Jalut nor to this day, such as the incident of Shaqhab, almost came on their kind annihilation, the death of their family and welcomed, and what escaped them only from his fortress term, or chose families for what he found from the reverence"([<>]).

Eventually, the Mongol commander, Qatlushah, fled with a few of his supporters toward the Euphrates, some drowning and others dying in the desert of Iraq. The victory of the Mamluks over the Mongols was a great news in the Islamic world, especially in Damascus and Cairo, which received Sultan Al-Nasser, the Mamluk army and 1600 Mongol prisoners with a full reception, in which decorations and lights were raised, and in which glads sounded, and poets organized their poems and songs[15]. Thus, the battle of "Shaqhab" was the last military chapter in ending the Mongol military myth in the region, as it was only thirty years ago until the Ilkhanid Mongol state fell in Iraq and Iran, and other Turkmen and Mongol states were established on its remains that were preoccupied with their internal conflicts and differences, and then the Mamluks, after more than half a century of resistance, were able to eliminate the Mongol myth, irrevocably.



(1) Al-Nuwayri: End of Al-Arb 31/372, 373.

(2) Al-Nuwayri: End of Al-Arb 27/410.

(3) Al-Mansouri: the royal masterpiece, p. 156.

(4) Abu al-Fida: abbreviated in the news of humans 4/43.

(5) Ibn Kathir: The Beginning and the End 18/182, 183.

(6) Ibid.

(7) al-Maqrizi: al-Suluq 2/340, 341.

(8) Taqqosh: History of the Mamluks in Egypt and the Levant, pp. 245, 246.

(9) Al-Dawadari: treasure of pearls 9/83-85.

(10) Ibn Kathir: The Beginning and the End 18/27.

(11) Al-Noueiri: the end of the Lord 32/30-32.

(12) Al-Nuwayri: End of Al-Arb 32/32, 33.

(13) Mansouri: butter idea p. 377.

(14) Safadi: notables of the era and agents victory 4/6.

(15) Ibn Habib: the ticket of the Prophet 1/246, 247.