Badr: The First Battle in Islam

Badr: The First Battle in Islam
Badr: The First Battle in Islam

The Quraish had started large -scale preparations to assault Medina. The trade caravan which had gone to Syria that year directed by Abu Sufyan was substantially provided . Every Quraishite placed all his savings in that caravan, and it was determined that whatever the earning accrued that year, it would not be presented to the traders but would be spent on arms, horses, and other items of war to combat the Muslims of Medina.

This news did bring about much worry in Medina. When Abu Sufyan was returning back  from Syria, he was scared that the Muslims might opposed his trade caravan. He sent a messenger well in advance to inform the leaders of the Quraish of his terrors . Upon receiving the message, a well-provided army of one thousand Meccans walked towards Medina under the leadership of Abu Jahl.

They had arrived Badr (200 miles from Mecca and 80 miles from Medina) by the time news came that the trade caravan was passing just three miles on the seaside from the Quraishites' camp, and that it had not encountered any assault from the Muslims yet. But since the Meccans were so eager on granting battle to Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) and his followers, they determined to marched towards Medina anyway. After all, was not the objective of sending such a trade caravan this very battle?! So, why should they return to Mecca when they had one thousand well-provided warriors among them who were adequate to teach the Muslims a lesson? They camped at the trend of Badr.

Now let us see what was occurring in Medina. When news came that the trade caravan was coming from Syria (on the north side) and that the Meccan army was stepping towards Medina (from the South), the Muslims thought that they would be crushed between these two enemy groups.

Now, there were two choices before the Muslims in Medina: to either protect themselves from being conquered by the Meccans with all their resources from the rich Syrian trade, or make another choice (one which had the least risk for the time being and which also promised a rich trophy ): fall upon the Quraishi caravan returning from Syria amply loaded and guided by Abu Sufyan with only 40 not so well-armed men. From a worldly point of view, this latter course was the safest and the most profitable, and many Muslims preferred it. The other choice , which was actually adopted on the recommendation of the Prophet as guided by God, was to leave the trophy alone and to walk out boldly against the well-armed and well-provided Quraishite army of 1,000 men coming from Mecca.
This situation is described in the following ayats of the Qur'an:

Just as your Lord caused you (O Prophet!) to go forth from your house with the truth, though a party of the believers were averse, they disputed with you about the truth after it had become clear, (and they went forth) as ifthey were being driven to death while they looked (at it). And when Allah promised you one of the two parties that it shall be yours, and you loved that the one not armed should be yours, and Allah desired to manifest the truth of what was true by His words and to cut off the root of the unbelievers. That He may manifest the truth of what was true and show the falsehood of what was false, even though the guilty ones disliked it.(Qur'an, 8:5-8) 
These verses obviously display that the Meccan army was already on its way long before the Muslims came out of Medina to advocate themselves. Also, they obviously display that although some Muslims desired to evade the Meccan army and to assault the trade caravan, that notion was not accepted, and that the determined target and objective of their march was to combat the Meccan army which was already on its way.

This obviously belies the vicious and mischievous propaganda of Western writers who pretend that the Prophet had intended to assault the trade caravan of the Quraish and that the Quraish had come out only to save their caravan. The verses of the Qur'an are the only contemporary record of the events of Badr. If there is any writing by anyone, which goes against this authentic narrative, it must be thrown out of window.

You may wonder why the enemies of Islam work so much to display this battle of Badr as one in which the Quraishites (poor souls!) were pursuing just to save their trade caravan. The cause is this: It was the first battle between the Quraishites and the Muslims, and if the responsibility of this first battle is laid on the heads of the Muslims, then all following battles could be portrayed as being the continuance of this battle and, thus, the Holy Prophet could be displayed as a warrior prophet who by his plundering designs obliged the "peace-loving" Meccans to combat !
Anyhow, let us return to our narration . The Meccan army was in dominance of the stream of Badr, and the ground of their campsite was of stable clay. Contrarily, the Muslims were far from the stream and thus encountered difficulty in finding water. To make matters worse, many Muslims had nocturnal discharge while asleep and became “unclean’ (najis). And the ground under them was sandy which was possiblely to prohibit quick running during the battle.
God helped them by sending rain which supplied them with water sufficient for their requires and made the sandy ground stable for them, while the firm clay of the Meccans' side got muddy and slippy , making their stand and riggers difficult.
Referring to this, Allah says in the Qur'an: (Remember) when He caused  drowsiness to fall on you as a security from Him and sent down upon you water from the cloud so that He might thereby purify you and take away from you the uncleanness of Satan, so that He might fortify your hearts and keep (your) footsteps thereby firm.(Qur'an, 8:11)
In this background, look at the hint of some Western “scientists ’ who have written that the Prophet had taken control of the stream of Badr and by rejecting water to the Meccans, reduced them to defeat!
Anyhow, the truths of the actual battle are, in short, as follows: With an ill-provided body of three hundred and thirteen persons, 61 from the Aws and 170 from the Khazraj, having among them just two horses and seventy camels (which they straddled by turn), the Prophet stepped to Badr, about eighty miles from Medina, to meet the Meccan army. Young Ali was the standard-bearer. The forces met on Friday, the 17th of the month of Ramadan, 2 A.H. (March 16, 624 A.D.). According to the customs of the Arabs, three Quraishite fighters challenged their adversaries to singular contests . They were ‘Otbah, Abu Sufyan's father-in-law and father of Hind who attempted to chew Hamzah's liver, as the reader will come to know later, al-Walid, ‘Otbah's son, and Shaybah, brother of ‘Otbah, all Umayyads.
They enjoyed a great deal of influence in their tribe. Three Ansar advanced forward accepting their affront , but the Quraishites rejected to accept them as their equals and instead summoned the “Meccan renegades,’ as they called them, to come out to meet them on the battleground . Ali and ‘Obaydah, both cosuins of the Prophet, as well as Hamzah the valiant, his uncle, all Hashemites, responded to the affront , and the struggle between these six men broke out. It was a severe and lengthy duel . Ali and Hamzah succeeded in the end in overcoming their adversaries , al-Walid and Shaybah respectively, whom they slew. Then they went to help‘Obaydah who was strictly injured and almost defeated by ‘Otbah. They killed ‘Otbah and captivated ‘Obaydah who died of his hurts four days later.

After these individual contests , a pitched battle broke out . The stakes were high. Both armies combated bravely but the Muslims were animated by holy zeal. In the thick of the battle, the Prophet was watching the course of the battle densely; he prayed to God, seriously beseeching Him thus: “O Lord, forget not Thy promise of assistance! O Lord! If this small band were to perish, there will be none to worship Thee.’ Coming out of his canopy, he cast a handful of gravel into the air towards the enemy saying, “Confusion seize their faces!’ He called out to his men saying, “Courage, my children! Close your ranks! Discharge your arrows, and the day is yours!’ According to Abu al-Fida', both armies heard his voice. The pagans imagined that they saw angelic warriors; the Quraishi line wavered, and a number of their most brave and distinguished men fell.
Allah describes this battle in the following verses: (Remember) when you sought aid from your Lord, so He answered you: I will assist you with a thousand angels following one another. And Allah only gave it as a good news and so that your hearts might thereby be at ease, and victory is only from Allah; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.(Qur'an, 8:9-10)

The Muslims got the upper hand. Their leader, the Prophet, sat under a canopy thatched with palm branches which was established and closely guarded by Sa’d ibn Mu’ath. Abu Bakr did not join the ranks of the warriors but sat by the Prophet's side. The Meccan pagans took to combat in a shameful manner. In their haste, they threw their shield away, giving up their transport animals with all their camping tools and equipment. They suffered a wretched defeat.
They were driven back, leaving seventy dead, containing a number of their  prominent chiefs and the most brave of their men. The Muslims dug up a deep hole wherein they threw the bodies of the slain Meccan pagans, containing  those of ‘Otbah, Shaybah, al-Walid (Khalid's father; read above his story and how Allah condemned him), Umayyah, and Abu Jahl. The Prophet addressed them thus: “O ‘Otbah! O Shaybah! O Walid! O Umayyah! O Abu Jahl! Alas! Have you found what your gods promised you to be the truth?! What my Lord promised me I have found to be true! Woe unto you! You refused me, your Prophet! You cast me forth while others gave me shelter ; you combated me while others came to my assistance !’ “O Prophet!’ said ‘’Omar ibn al-Khattab, who was standing by his side, “Do you really speak to the dead?!’ “Yes,’ the Prophet answered , “for they perceive what I spoke to them better than you.’ All this is recorded in Madarij al-Nubuwwah and Rawdat al-Ahbab.
Half of these seventy were killed by Ali ibn Abu Talib alone. It was his first war. Seventy others were taken prisoners. The Muslim army had lost only fourteen men, six from the Muhajirun and eight from the Ansar.

The prisoners were treated with wonderful kindness with the exception of a couple who were most famous ; these were ‘Oqbah ibn Abu Mu’eet and al-Nathr ibn al-Harith, who had to be beheaded. Even the hostile critic Muir says: “In pursuance of Mahomet's commands, the citizens of Medina and such of the refugees as possessed houses received the prisoners and treated them with much regard .

‘Blessings be on the men of Medina', said one of these prisoners in later days, ‘they made us ride while they themselves walked; they gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, satisfying themselves with dates.'‘ The more wealthy prisoners paid ransom and were set free. The others were asked to teach ten persons each to read and write and this teaching was to count as their ransom. After all, in these times of developement and enlightenment, with all the charters and conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, history does not record another instance even remotely as generous and as humane as the Muslims' dealings of the prisoners taken in their very first meeting about fourteen hundred years ago.

Among the captives were ‘Abbas, an uncle of the Prophet, Nawfal ibn al-Harith, and Aqil ibn Abu Talib, both cousins of the Prophet, and Abul-’As ibn al-Rabee’, husband of Zainab daughter of Khadija and Muhammad's step-daughter. ‘Abbas was bravely built; he was a man of tall stature. He was captivated by Abul Yasar, a man comparatively thin, lean, and short! When asked how a man so small could defeated him, ‘Abbas said that his captor looked to him at the time like a giant.

Indeed, there was a Sign (of Divine interference) for you in the two hosts (that) met together in the (Badr) encounter: one party fighting in the way of Allah and the other unbelieving, whom they saw twice as many (or as big) as themselves with the sight of the eye, and Allah strengthens with His aid whomsoever He pleases; most surely there is a lesson in this for those who have sight.(Qur'an, 4:13) 

‘Abbas saw the size of Abul Yasar appearing to him twice as big as he actually was, and he was not big at all… ‘Abbas was asked to pay ransom for himself and for his nephews Nawfal and Aqil. He answered that if he paid up the ransom, he would be reduced to begging charity of Quraish for the rest of his life. But to his great astonishment, the Prophet uncovered to him the secret of the gold which he had entrusted to his wife at midnight before leaving with the Meccan force ! Then he recited the following verse of Surat al-Anfal: O Prophet! Say to the captives in your hands: If Allah knows of anything good in your hearts, He will give you beter than what has been taken away from you and will forgive you, and Allah is most Forgiving, most Merciful.(Qur'an, 8:70) 

‘Abbas was now persuaded beyond the shade of doubt that his nephew was neither a pretender nor an ordinary man; how else did he know about what went on between him and his wife in the depth of the night? He confessed that nobody could know of that incident except God, so he readily embraced Islam, and so did his nephews. A few years later, when he found himself a man of great riches , he reflected on the verse cited above and confessed  that the prediction was achieved.

In order to secure the liberation of Abul ‘as, his wife Zainab sent some of her jewelry, containing a necklace presented to her by her mother Khadija, wife of the Prophet, as a wedding gift. The Prophet identified the necklace as soon as he saw it. Sadly reflecting upon Khadija, he went back it to Abul ‘as, asking him to give it back to Zainab. He freed him without any ransom on one condition: that he bring Zainab to him. Zayd ibn Harithah accompanied  Abul ‘as back to Mecca, and after a few days, both men returned  together with Zainab, the Prophet's step-daughter. Zainab, now a Muslim, rejected toreturn  to her pagan husband unless he accepted Islam. He embraced Islam six years later in 630 A.D. after the conquest of Mecca by the Muslims and after appearing before the Prophet as a prisoner of war for the second time.
Quraish's defeat at Badr was the death strike to Abu Lahab, the only Hashemite who was a bitter adversary of the Prophet, and he died of sadness one week after the battle at the loss of his friends and relatives, especially al-Walid, Shaybah and ‘Otbah.
Battle and Aftermath 

The battle of Badr was considerable in more ways than one. It revealed the great dedication of the disciples to their reason and their entire belief in the Prophet and his mission. Stood before them in the Meccan ranks were many of their close relatives, sons, fathers, or uncles. Thus, the Prophet's uncle ‘Abbas, Ali's brother ‘Aqil, Abu Bakr's son, Huthaifah's father and ‘’Omar's maternal uncle, to name a few, figured in the Meccan force . Yet the disciples never faltered. Personal feelings and sentiments were subjected to the supreme cause. Such was the material from which Islam arose.

  The battle also confirmed that mere numeral supremacy and matching gallantry are of no avail if the reason is not righteous. God aids those who make sacrifices in His cause.
The battle of Badr had far-reaching results . Till then, the Muslims were a harassed band evading any major struggle . This victory presented them trust in their physical power. They could now meet army with army [43]. They were soon recognized as a power to be reckoned with and smaller tribes were warned against joining forces against them. This victory dealt a fierce bang to the prestige of Quraish. A number of their chiefs, such as Abu Jahl, ‘Otbah, Shaibah, Zam’ah, ‘As ibn Hisham, and Umayyah ibn Khalaf had been killed and, consequently, Abu Sufyan became their undisputed chieftain.

‘Abdullah ibn Ubay and his oscillating followers proclaimed Islam, though in name only, and as munafiqun (hypocrites), they were always a source of danger. The Jews of Medina and its vicinity were alarmed at the new power that had emerged. Their enmity towards the Muslims, however, did not abate, and a Jewish tribe, Banu Qinaqa’, had to be strafed not long after Badr as will be discussed later. The ignominy of the defeat made the Meccans more bitter and grumpy and the cry of “Revenge!’ was on all lips.
[41] Al-Miqdad ibn `Amr is very famous  in history as al-Miqdad ibn al-Aswad al-Kindi (of Banu Kindah). His date of birth is  anonymous , but he died in 33 A.H./653 A.D. He was one of the earliest converts to Islam who received a great deal of oppression and tornment at the hands of pagan Meccans. He is so famous that writers use only his first name when they write about him. He participated in the battles of Badr, Uhud,  

al-Khandaq (moat), and in all expeditions. He is one of those who interrupted the “election” of Abu Bakr as the successor to the Prophet, knowing, having been there, that Ali had already been appointed by the Prophet for the position .
[42] He is one of the greatest figures in early Islamic history, one of the pillars upon which Islam was standing although he was in the company of the Propher for a short period of time (only 5 years). An complete volume can be written about his merits. His entire name is Abu `Amr Sa`d ibn Mu`ath ibn Imri'ul-Qays (the famous poet) ibn Zayd ibn `Abdul-Ashhal ibn Jasham ibn al-Harith ibn al-Khazraj ibn al-Thubayt. The entire name of his last ancestor (al-Thubayt) is: `Amr ibn Malik ibn al-Aws al-Ansari al-Awsi al-Ashhal. His mother's name was Kabsha daughter of Rafi`.. She was one of the companions of the Prophet. The date of his birth is anonymous, but he died in 5 A.H./626 A.D. He is one of the dignitaries of Medina who participated in the Battle of Badr, and he is notorious for his love for the Prophet's descent(Ahl al-Bayt), so much so that even Imam Hasan al-`Askari praises him. He embraced Islam at the hands of the great sahabi Mus`ab ibn `Omayr after the first Pledge of Aqaba, that is, in 622 A.D. The Prophet loved him so much that he damned his killer , Haban ibn al-`Arqa (al-Arqa being the name of his mother; his father's name is unknown), who shot him with an arrow during the Battle of the Khandaq. He died one month after being shot under the weight of his hurt . He is the one who arbitrated the Muslims' struggle with Banu Qurayzah, the Jews of Medina. The Prophet once said about him after his death, Each mourner lies save one that mourns Sa`d ibn Mu`ath. This is recorded in Al-Isiti`ab where we are told that the Prophet ordered a tent erected for Sa`d inside the Medina mosque after his receiving the injury from the arrow so that he would visit him every day. Surely Sa`d deserves more space in this book, but we pray the Almighty to forgive us for our flaws and to reward Sa`d on our behalf with the best of His rewards, Allahomma Ameen.
[43] The Muslims of today, with rare exceptions, are helpless and spineless because they gave up their creed and became the friends, servants, stooges and confederates of the Western foes of Islam. This is why they cannot face army with army. This is why when our Muslim sisters in Bosnia were raped and their children and men slaughtered, the reaction of the Muslim world was almost totally muted; Muslims are toothless; they are Muslims only in name. It is only when Muslims are able to meet army with army that they will gain the respect of the world community. There is no room for weaklings except in the graveyard . Might is still right; it has always been so, and it will always remain so…

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