Reason Of The Battle:
We have already spoken about Al-‘Ushairah Invasion when a caravan belonging to Quraysh had escaped an imminent military encounter with the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and his men. When their return from Syria approached, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) despatched Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullaah and Sa’eed bin Zaid northward to scout around for any movements of this sort. The two scouts stayed at Al-Hawra’ for some days until Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, passed by them. The two men hurried back to Madeenah and reported to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) their findings. Great wealth amounting to 50 thousand gold Dinars guarded by 40 men moving relatively close to Madeenah constituted a tempting target for the Muslim military, and provided a potentially heavy economic, political and military strike that was bound to shake the entire structure of the Makkan polytheists.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) immediately exhorted the Muslims to rush out and waylay the caravan to make up for their property and wealth they were forced to give up in Makkah. He did not give orders binding to everyone, but rather gave them full liberty to go out or stay back, thinking that it would be just an errand on a small scale.
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Emigrants, 61 from Aws and 170 from Khazraj. They were not well-equipped nor adequately prepared. They had only two horses belonging to Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad Al-Kindi, 70 camels, one for two or three men to ride alternatively. The Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) himself, ‘Alee and Murthid bin Abee Murthid Al-Ghanawihad only one camel. Disposition of the affairs of Madeenah was entrusted to Ibn Umm Maktum but later to Abu Lubabah bin ‘Abdul Mundhir. The general leadership was given to Mus’ab bin ‘Umair Al-Qurashi Al-‘Abdari, and their standard was white in colour. The little army was divided into two battalions, the Emigrants with a standard raised by ‘Alee bin Abee Talib, and the Helpers whose standard was in the hand of Sa’d bin Mu’adh. Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam was appointed to the leadership of the right flank, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr to lead the left flank, and the rear of the army was at the command of Qais bin Abee Sa’sa’ah. The General Commander-in-Chief was the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), of course.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), at the head of his army, marched out along the main road leading to Makkah. He then turned left towards Badr and when he reached As-Safraa’, he despatched two men to scout about for the camels of Quraysh.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already been aware that the route he was following was attended with dangers. He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم). His scouting men submitted to him reports to the effect that the Muslims were lying in ambush for his caravan. To be on the safe side, he hired Damdam bin ‘Amr Al-Ghifari to communicate a message asking for help from the Qurayshites. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah in frenzy. Felling himselff rom his camel, he stood dramatically before Al-Ka’bah, cut off the nose and the ears of the camel, turned its saddle upside down, tore off his own shirt from front and behind, and cried: “O Quraysh! Your merchandise! It is with Abu Sufyan. The caravan is being intercepted by Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and his companions. I cannot say what would have happened to them. Help! Help!”
The effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous and the news stunned Quraysh and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when the Muslims had intercepted Al-Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly mustered almost all of their forces and none stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who delegated someone who owed him some money. They also mobilized some Arab tribes to contribute to the war against the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم). All the clans of Quraysh gave their consent except Banu ‘Adi. Soon an excited throng of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600 mailed soldiers with a large number of camels, was clamouring to proceed to fight the Muslims. For food supplies, they used to slaughter an alternate number of camels of ten and nine every day. They were however afraid that Banu Bakr, on account of old long deep-seated animosity, would attack their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the guise of Suraqa bin Malik bin Ju’sham Al-Mudlaji - chief of Bani Kinana - saying to them: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.”
They set out burning with indignation, motivated by a horrible desire for revenge and exterminating anyone that might jeopardize the routes of their caravans:
“...boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the path of Allaah.” [8:47]
Or as the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said:
“O Allaah these are the haughty and conceited; they have come defying Allaah and defying His Messenger.”
They moved swiftly northward to Badr. On the way they received another message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan had escaped the Muslims. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and inclined it towards the Red Sea. By this manoeuvre, he was able to slip past the Madeenese ambush and was out of their reach.
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however haughtily and arrogantly insisted that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for making festivities. Now they wanted to punish the Muslims and prevent them from intercepting their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that Quraysh still had the upper hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence notwithstanding, Banu Zahrah, acting on the advice of Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq, broke away and returned to Makkah. Thenceforth Al-Akhnas remained ‘the well-rubbed palm tree’ for Bani Zahrah and was blindly obeyed in all relevant matters.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats made them desist from that idea.
The rest of the army, now 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped themselves beyond a sand dune at Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa.
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madeenese army reported to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) that a bloody encounter with the Makkans was inescapable, and that a daring step in this context had to betaken, or else the forces of evil would violate the inviolable and would consequently manage to undermine the noble cause of the Islaam and tread upon its faithful adherents. The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start the war activities within the headquarters of Islaam, Madeenah. A move of such nature would certainly damage and produce an infamous impact on the dignity and stance of the Muslims.
On account of the new grave developments, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) held an advisory military emergency meeting to review the ongoing situation and exchange viewpoints with the army leaders. Admittedly, some Muslims feared the horrible encounter and their courage began to waver; in this regard, Allaah says:
“As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad [(صلى الله علیه وسلم)) ] to go out from your home with the Truth, and verily, a party among the believers disliked it, disputing with you concerning the Truth after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death while they were looking (at it).” [8:5,6]
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) apprised his men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice. Abu Bakr was the first who spoke on the occasion and assured the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) of the unreserved obedience to his command. ‘Umar was the next to stand up and supported the views expressed by his noble friend. Then Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr got up and said: “O Messenger of Allaah! Proceed where Allaah directs you to, for we are with you. We will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses (عليه السلام):
“Go you and your Lord and fight and we will stay here;”
Rather we shall say:
“Go you and your Lord and fight and we will fight along with you.”
By Allaah! If you were to take us to Bark Al-Ghimad, we will still fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it.”
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) thanked him and blessed him.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Emigrants, who only constituted a minor section of the army. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) wanted, and for the more reason, to hear the Helpers’ view because they were the majority of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the brunt of the war activities. Moreover, the clauses of Al-‘Aqabah Pledge did not commit them to fighting beyond their territories.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) then said:
“Advise me my men!”
by which he meant the Helpers, in particular. Upon this Sa’d bin Mu’adh stood up and said: “By Allaah, I feel you want us (the Helpers) to speak.” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) directly said: “Oh, yes!” Sa’d said: “O Prophet of Allaah! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have vouchsafed to us and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice. We will obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by Allaah, Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to plunge into the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not grudge the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that Allaah will show you through our hands those deeds of valour which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allaah.”
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) was impressed with the fidelity and the spirit of sacrifice which his companions showed at this critical juncture. Then he said to them: “Forward and be of cheer, for Allaah has promised me one of the two (the lucrative course through capturing the booty or strife in the cause of Allaah against the polytheists), and by Allaah it is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate.”
In the immediate vicinity of Badr, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and his cavemate Abu Bakr conducted a scouting operation during which they managed to locate the camp of Quraysh. They came across an old bedouin nearby whom they manipulated and managed to extract from him the exact location of the army of the polytheists. In the evening of the same day, he despatched three Emigrant leaders, ‘Alee bin Abee Talib, Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Sa’d bin Abee Waqqas to scout about for news about the enemy. They saw two men drawing water for the Makkan army. On interrogation, they admitted that they were water carriers working for Quraysh. But that answer did not please some Muslims and they beat the two boys severely in order to exact from them an answer, even if it isn’t true, alluding to the caravan laden with wealth. The two boys thus lied, and so they were released. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) was angry with those men and censured them saying: “On telling the truth, you beat them, and on telling a lie, you released them!” He then addressed the two boys and after a little conversation with them he learned a lot about the enemy: number of soldiers, their exact location and names of some of their notables.
He then turned to the Muslims and said:
“Hearken, Quraysh has sent you their most precious lives.”
The same night it rained on both sides. For the polytheists it obstructed further progress, whereas it was a blessing for the Muslims. It cleaned them and removed from them the stain of Satan. Allaah sent rain to strengthen their hearts and to plant their feet firmly therewith. They marched a little forward and encamped at the farther bank of the valley. Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم) stopped at the nearest spring of Badr. Al-Hubab bin Mundhir asked him, “Has Allaah inspired you to choose this very spot or is it stratagem of war and the product of consultation? The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) replied “It is stratagem of war and consultation.” Al-Hubab said: “This place is no good; let us go and encamp on the nearest water well and make a basin or reservoir full of water, then destroy all the other wells so that they will be deprived of the water.” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, which they actually did at midnight.
Sa’d bin Mu’adh suggested that a trellis be built for the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) to function as headquarters for the Muslim army and a place providing reasonable protection for the leader. Sa’d began to justify his proposal and said that if they had been victorious, then everything would be satisfactory. In case of defeat, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) would not be harmed and he could go back to Madeenah where there were more people who loved him and who would have come for help if they had known that he was in that difficult situation, so that he would resume his job, hold counsel with them and they would strive in the cause of Allaah with him again and again.
A squad of guards was also chosen from amongst the Helpers under the leadership of the same man, Sa’d bin Mu’adh, in order to defend the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) in his headquarters.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) spent the whole night preceding the day of the battle in prayer and supplication. The Muslim army, wearied with their long march, enjoyed sound and refreshing sleep, a mark of the Divine favour and of the state of their undisturbed minds.
“(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from Him, and He caused rain to descend on you from the sky, to clean you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering, evil suggestions, etc.) of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby.” [8:11]
That was Friday night, Ramadan 17th., the year 2 A.H.
In the morning, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) called his men to offer the prayers and then urged them to fight in the way of Allaah. As the sun rose over the desert, the Prophet(صلى الله علیه وسلم) drew up his little army, and pointing with an arrow which he held in his hand, arranged the ranks.
Quraysh, on the other hand, positioned their forces in Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa opposite the Muslim lines. A few of them approached, in a provocative deed, to draw water from the wells of Badr, but were all shot dead except one, Hakeem bin Hizam, who later became a devoted Muslim. ‘Umair bin Wahab Al-Jumahi, in an attempt to reconnoiter the power of the Muslims, made a scouting errand and submitted a report saying that the Muslim army numbered as many as 300 men keen on fighting to the last man. On another reconnaissance mission he came to the conclusion that neither reinforcements were coming nor ambushes laid. He understood that they were too brave to surrender and too intent on carrying out their military duties to withdraw without slaying the largest number possible of the polytheists. This report as well as kindred relations binding the two belligerent parties together, slackened the desire to fight among some of the Qurayshites. To counteract this reason-based opposition advocated by a rival of his, ‘Utbah bin Rabi’a and others, Abu Jahl started an anti-campaign seeking vengeance on Muhammad’s followers for the Qurayshites killed at Nakhlah. In this way, he managed to thwart the opposite orientation, and manipulated the people to see his evil views only.
When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) began supplicating Allaah “O Allaah! The conceited and haughty Qurayshites are already here defying You and belying Your Messenger. O Allaah! I am waiting for Your victory which You have promised me. I beseech You Allaah to defeat them (the enemies).” He also gave strict orders that his men would not start fighting until he gave them his final word. He recommended that they use their arrows sparingly and never resort to sword unless the enemies came too close.
Abu Jahl also prayed for victory, saying: “Our Lord, whichever of the two parties was less kind to his relatives, and brought us what we do not know, then destroy him tomorrow.” They were confident that their superior number, equipment and experience would be decisive. The Noble Qur’aan, with a play on the word, told them that the decision had come, and the victory - but not in the sense they had hoped for:
“(O disbelievers) if you ask for a judgement, now has the judgement come unto you and if you cease (to do wrong), it will be better for you, and if you return (to the attack), so shall we return, and your forces will be of no avail to you, however numerous it be, and verily, Allaah is with the believers.” [8:19]
The first disbeliever to trigger the fire of the battle and be its first victim was Al-Aswad bin ‘Abdul Asad Al-Makhzumi, a fierce bad-tempered idolater. He stepped out swearing he would drink from the water basin of the Muslims, otherwise, destroy it or die for it. He engaged with Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who struck his leg with his sword and dealt him another blow that finished him off inside the basin.
The battle had actually started. Protected by armour and shields, ‘Utbah bin Rabi’a stepped forth between his brother Shaibah and his son Al-Waleed bin ‘Utbah from the lines of Quraysh and hurled maledictions at the Muslims. Three young men of the Helpers came out against them: ‘Awf and Mu’wwadh - the sons of Harith, and ‘Abdullaah bin Rawaha. But the Makkans yelled that they had nothing to do with them. They wanted the heads of their cousins. Upon this the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) asked ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith, Hamzah - his uncle, and his cousin ‘Alee (رضي الله عنه) to go forward for the combat. The three duels were rapid. Hamzah killed Shaibah, while ‘Alee killed Al-Waleed. ‘Ubaidah was seriously wounded but, before he fell, Hamzah fell upon ‘Utbah and with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. ‘Alee and Hamzah carried ‘Ubaidah back with his leg cut off. He died four or five days later of a disease in the bile duct.
’Alee was possessed of a deep conviction that Allaah’s Words were revealed:
“These two opponents (believers and disbelievers) dispute with each other about their Lord.” [22:19]
These verses were revealed in connection with men of Faith who confess their Lord and seek to carry out His Will (i.e. Muhammad’s followers at Badr Battle), and men who deny their Lord and defy Him (the people of Quraysh).
The duel was followed by a few more duels but the Makkans suffered terrible defeats in all the combats and lost some of their most precious lives. They were too much exasperated and enraged and fell upon the Muslims to exterminate them once and for all. The Muslims, however, after supplicating their Lord, calling upon Him for assistance, were made to hold to their position and conduct a defensive war plan that was successful enough to inflict heavy losses on the attackers. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) used to pray to his Lord ceaselessly persistently and day and night to come to their succour. When the fierce engagement grew too hot he again began to supplicate his Lord saying:
“O Allaah! Should this group (of Muslims) be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped.”
He continued to call out to his Lord, stretching forth his hands and facing Al-Qiblah, until his cloak fell off his shoulders. Then Abu Bakr came, picked up the cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and said: “O Prophet of Allaah, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfill what He has promised you.”
Immediate was the response from Allaah, Who sent down angels from the heavens for the help and assistance of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and his companions. The Noble Qur’aan observes:
“Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved.” [8:12]
Allaah, the All-Mighty, also inspired another message to His Messenger, saying:
“I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the other (following one another) in succession.” [8:9]
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), in his trellis, dozed off a little and then raised his head joyfully crying:
“O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you: Allaah’s victory has approached, by Allaah, I can see Gabriel on his mare in the thick of a sandstorm.”
He then jumped out crying:
“Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.” [54:45]
At the instance of Gabriel, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) took a handful of gravel, cast it at the enemy and said: “Confusion seize their faces!” As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew like furnace blast into the eyes of the enemies. With respect to this, Allaah says:
“And you (i.e. Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم) threw not when you did throw but Allaah threw.” [8:17]
Only then did he give clear orders to launch a counter-attack. He was commanding the army, inspiring confidence among his men and exhorting them to fight manfully for the sake of their Lord, reciting the Words of Allaah:
“And be quick for forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth.” [3:133]
The spirit he infused into his men was clearly witnessed by the valour of ‘Umair, a lad of sixteen, who flung away some dates he was eating crying out: “These (the dates) are holding me back from Paradise.” So saying he plunged into the thick of the battle and died fighting bravely. Unique deeds of valour, deep devotion and full obedience to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) were exhibited in the process of the battle. The army of the faithfuls was borne forward by the power of enthusiasm which the half-hearted warriors of Makkah miserably lacked. A large number of the polytheists were killed and the others began to waver. No wonder! The standard-bearers of Truth were given immediate help, and supernatural agencies (the angels), were sent to their assistance by their Lord to help them defeat the forces of evil.
The records of Hadeeth speak eloquently of the fact that the angels did appear on that day and fought on the side of the Muslims. Ibn ‘Abbas said: “While on that day a Muslim was chasing a disbeliever and he heard over him the swashing of a whip and the voice of the rider saying: ‘Go ahead Haizum’. He glanced at the polytheist who had (now) fallen down on his back. The Helper came to the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and related that event to him. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) replied: ‘You have told the truth. This was the help from the third heaven.”
One of the Helpers captured ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who said: “O Messenger ofAllaah, by Allaah this man did not capture me. I was captured by a man who was bald and had the most handsome face, and who was riding a piebald horse, I cannot see him here among the people. The Helper interrupted: “I captured him, O Messenger of Allaah.” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) replied:
“Be quiet, Allaah the All-Mighty strengthened you with the help of a noble angel.”
Iblees, the archsatan, in the guise of Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju’sham Al-Mudlaji, on seeing angels working in favour of the Muslims, and Quraysh rapidly losing ground on the battlefield, made a quick retreat despite the polytheists’ pleas to stay on. He ran off and plunged into the sea.
The ranks of Quraysh began to give way and their numbers added nothing but confusion. The Muslims followed eagerly their retreating steps, slaying or taking captive all that fell within their reach. Retreat soon turned into ignominious rout; and they flied in haste, casting away their armour, abandoned beasts of burden, camp and equipage.
The great tyrant Abu Jahl, however, on seeing the adverse course of the battle, tried to stop the tidal wave of the Islaamic victory by nerving the polytheists and encouraging them by all means available and adjuring them by Al-Lat and ‘Uzza and all symbols of paganism to stand firm in place and retaliate against the Muslims, but to no avail. Their morale had already been drastically reduced to zero, and their lines broken down. He then began to realize the reality of his arrogance and haughtiness. None remained around him except a gang of doomed polytheists whose resistance was also quelled by an Islaamic irresistible storm of true devotion-based valour and Islaam-orientated pursuit of martyrdom. Jahl was deserted and left by himself on his horse waiting for death at the hand of two courageous lads of the Helpers.
’Abdur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf related the following interesting story in this regard: I was in the thick of the battle when two youths, still seemingly inexperienced in the art of fighting, one on the right and the second on the left. One of them spoke in a secret voice asking me to show him Abu Jahl. I asked about his intention, to which he replied, that he had a strong desire to engage with him in a combat until either of them was killed. It was something incredible to me. I turned left and the other said something to the same effect and showed a similar desire. I acceded to their earnest pleas and pointed directly at their target. They both rushed swiftly towards the spot, and without a moment’s hesitation struck him simultaneously with their swords and finished him off. They went back to the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم), each claiming that he had killed Abu Jahl to the exclusion of the other. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) asked if they had wiped the blood off their swords and they answered that they had not. He then examined both swords and assured them that they both had killed him. When the battle concluded, Abu Jahl’s spoils were given to Mu’adh bin ‘Amr bin Al-Jumuh, because the other Mu’awwadh bin Al-‘Afraa’ was later killed in the course of the same battle. At the termination of the battle, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) wanted to look for this archenemy of Islaam, Abu Jahl. ‘Abdullaah bin Mas’ood found him on the verge of death breathing his last. He stepped on his neck addressing him: “Have you seen how Allaah has disgraced you?” The enemy of Islaam still defiantly answered: “I am not disgraced. I am no more than a man killed by his own people on the battlefield.” And then inquired “Who has won the battle?” Ibn Mas’ood replied “Allaah and His Messenger.” Abu Jahl then said with a heart full of grudge “You have followed difficult ways, you shepherd!” Ibn Mas’ood used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan aristocrats.
Ibn Mas’ood then cut off his head and took it to the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) who, on seeing it, began to entertain Allaah’s praise:
“Allaah is Great, praise is to Allaah, Who has fulfilled His Promise, assisted His servant and defeated the confederates alone.”
He then set out to have a look at the corpse. There he said:
“This is the Pharaoh of this nation.”
Some Significant Instances Of Devotion:
- The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) advised his companions to preserve the lives of Banu Hashim who had gone out to Badr with the polytheists unwillingly because they had feared the censure of their people. Among them, he named Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and Abu Bukhtari bin Hisham. He ordered the Muslims to capture, but not to kill them. Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah showed great surprise and commented saying: “We kill our fathers, children, brothers and members of our clan, and then come to spare Al-‘Abbas? By Allaah! If I see him I will surely strike him with my sword.” On hearing these words, the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم), addressing ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, said “Is it fair that the face of the Messenger’s uncle be struck with sword?” ‘Umar got indignant and threatened to kill Abu Hudhaifah; the latter later said that extreme fear had taken firm grip of him and felt that nothing except martyrdom could expiate for his mistake. He was actually killed later on during Al-Yamamah events.
- Abu Al-Bukhtari bin Hisham had already done his best to restrain his people, the Makkans, from committing any act of folly against the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) while the latter was still in Makkah. He also neither hurt nor was reported to have uttered anything repugnant with regard to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم). He had as well been among the people who tried to invalidate the boycott alliance taken against Banu Hashim and Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib.
Here, however, in the battle of Badr he insisted on fighting unless his compatriot was spared. Al-Mujdhir bin Ziyad Al-Balwi, with whom he was engaged in combat, replied that the other was not included in the Prophet’s recommendation. The combat went on to end in Al-Bukhtari’s death.
- ’Abdur-Rahmaan bin ‘Awf and Omaiyah bin Khalaf had been close friends during the pre-Islaamic era. When the battle of Badr ended, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan saw Omaiyah and his son among the captives. He threw away the armour he had as spoils, and walked with them both. Bilal, the Prophet’s caller for prayer, saw Omaiyah and soon all the torture he had been put to at the hand of this man dawned upon him, and swore he would have revenge on Omaiyah. ‘Abdur-Rahmaan tried to ease the tension and address embarrassing situation amicably but with no success. The Muslims gathered around and struck Omaiyah’s son with swords. At this point, ‘Abdur-Rahmaan called upon his old friend to run for his life but he was put to swords from different people and lay down dead. ‘Abdur-Rahmaan, completely helpless and resigned said: May Allaah have mercy on Bilal, for he deprived me of the spoils, and I have been stricken by the death of my two captives.
- On the moral level, the battle of Badr was an inescapable conflict between the forces of good and those of evil. In this context, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab did not spare the life of any polytheist even his uncle on the maternal side Al-‘As bin Hisham bin Al-Mugheerah.
- Abu Bakr shouted at his son ‘Abdur-Rahmaan, still a polytheist and fighting with them, “Where is my wealth, you wicked boy?” The son answered that it was gone with the wind.
- When the battle ended, the Muslims began to hold some polytheists in captivity. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) looked into the face of Sa’d bin Mu’adh, the Head of the Prophet’s guards, and understood that he was hateful to taking the enemy elements as prisoners. Sa’d agreed to what the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said and added that it was the first victory for the Muslims over the forces of polytheism, and he had more liking for slaying them than sparing their lives.
- On the day of Badr, the sword of ‘Ukashah bin Mihsan Al-Asdi broke down so the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) gave him a log of wood which he shook and it immediately turned into a long strong white sword. ‘Ukashah went on using that same sword in most of the Islaamic conquests until he died in the process of the apostasy wars.
- When the war activities had been concluded, Mus’ab bin ‘Umair Al-‘Abdari saw his brother, still a polytheist, being handcuffed by a Ansari. Mus’ab recommended that the Helper tighten the knot for the prisoner’s mother was wealthy enough to ransom her son. ‘Abu ‘Aziz, Mus’ab’s brother, tried to appeal to his brother through the family ties, but the latter firmly replied that the Helper was more eligible for brotherhood than him.
- When the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) ordered that the corpses of the polytheists be dropped into an empty well, Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah looked sadly at his dead father, who fought on the side of the polytheists. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) noticed that and asked him about it. Hudhaifah said that he had never held the least doubt that his father met his fate deservedly, but added that he wished he had been guided to the path of Islaam, and that is why he felt sad. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) whispered in his ears some comforting words.
The outcome of the battle was as aforementioned an ignominious rout for the polytheists and a manifest victory for the Muslims. Fourteen Muslims were killed, of whom six were from the Emigrants and eight from the Helpers. The polytheists sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and a like number taken prisoners. Many of the principal men of Makkah, and some of Muhammad’s bitterest opponents, were among the slain. Chief of these was Abu Jahl.
On the third day, the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) went out to look at the slain polytheists, and said:
“What an evil tribe you were as regards your Prophet, you belied me but the others have believed; you let me down while the others have supported me; you expelled m, whereas the others have sheltered me.”
He stood over the bodies of twenty-four leaders of Quraysh who had been thrown into one of the wells, and started to call them by name and by the names of their fathers, saying: “Would it not have been much better for you if you had obeyed Allaah and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s promise do come true; did you (also) find that the promises of your Lord came true?” Thereupon, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said: “OMessenger of Allaah! Why do you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) answered: “By Him in Whose hand is Muhammad’s soul! You do not hear better what I am saying than they do.”
Reaction In Makkah:
The polytheists havingreceived a large dose of disciplining and heavy defeat, fled awayin great disorder in the vales and hillocks heading for Makkahpanicked and too ashamed to see their people.
Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of bad tidings was Al-Haisaman bin ‘Abdullaah Al-Khuza’i. He narrated to them how their notables were killed. People there did not believe him at first and thought that he had gone mad, but soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan scene. Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith gave Abu Lahab a full account of the massacre and the disgraceful rout they sustained, with emphasis on the role that the angels played in bringing about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and gave vent to his feelings of resentment in beating, abusing and slapping Abu Rafi’, a Muslim, but reticent on his conversion, for reiterating the role of the angels. Umm Al-Fadl, another Muslim woman, greatly exasperated by Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behaviour, struck him with a log and cracked his head. Seven days later, he died of an ominous ulcer and was left for three days unburied. His sons, however, for fear of shameful rumours, drove him to a pit and keeping their distance, hurled stones and dust at him.
The defeat was a matter of great shame and grief for the Makkans. In almost every house there were silent tears for the dead and the captives. They were burning with humiliation and were thirsting for revenge. Wailing, lamenting and crying however were decreed strictly forbidden lest the Muslims should rejoice at their affliction.
Madeenah Receives The News Of Victory:
Two heralds, ‘Abdullaah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah were despatched to Madeenah, to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there.
The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madeenah featured different respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread news to the effect that the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) had been killed, and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Zaid bin Harithah was riding Al-Qaswaa’, the Prophet’s she-camel. Having reached, the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory, and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious, but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allaah’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) on the road leading to Badr.
Usamah bin Zaid related that they received the news of the manifest victory shortly after Ruqaiyah, the Prophet’s daughter, and the wife of ‘Uthmaan bin ‘Affan had been committed to earth. She had been terminally ill and the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) had asked ‘Uthmaan to stay in Madeenah and look after her.
Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) suspended any solution whereof until the Revelation was sent down.
’Ubadah bin As-Samit said: “We went out with the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allaah, the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others were guarding the Messenger of Allaah (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said: “We collected it, so no one else has any right to it.” Those who had pursued the enemy said: “You do not have more right to it than we do; we held the enemy at bay and then defeated them.” As for the men who had been guarding the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), they also made similar claims to the spoils.
At that very time, a Qur’aanic verse was revealed saying:
“They ask you (O Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)) about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allaah and the Messenger.’ So fear Allaah and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad (صلى الله علیه وسلم)), if you are believers.” [8:1]
On their way back to Madeenah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken Al-Khums (one-fifth). When they reached As-Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and ‘Uqbah bin Abee Muait, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, and harboured deep hatred towards Allaah and His Messenger (صلى الله علیه وسلم). In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, “Who will look after my children O Messenger of Allaah?” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) answered, “The fire (of Hell).” Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Faatimah had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) with his cloak if it had not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم). The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Alee bin Abee Talib.
At Ar-Rawhaa’, a suburb of Madeenah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous Madeenese who had come to congratulate the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) on the manifest victory that Allaah had granted him. Usaid bin Hudair, acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining Allaah’s praise, he excused himself for not having joined them on grounds that the Prophet’s intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept a caravan of camels only, he added that if it had occurred to him that it would be real war, he would have never tarried. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) assured Usaid that he had believed him.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) now entered Madeenah as a man to be counted for in a new dimension - the military field. In consequence, a large number of the people of Madeenah embraced Islaam, which added a lot to the strength, power and moral standing of the true religion.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.
Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islaam. The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab as to what he should do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying: “They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allaah could guide them to Islaam.” ‘Umar advised killing them, saying, “They are the leaders of Kufr (disbelief).” The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) and Abu Bakr to see them weeping. He showed extreme astonishment and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping.
The Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) said that a Qur’aanic verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying them:
“It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allaah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allaah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.” [8:67,68]
The previous Divine ordainment went as follows,
“Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom.” [47:4]
Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madeenah were not only prisoners of war but rather archcriminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.
The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 Dirhams in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike the Madeenese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed on grounds of being hard up. Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference to the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) but on condition that Abul-‘As allow Zainab to migrate to Madeenah, which he actually did.
In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhail bin ‘Amr. ‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but the Prophet (صلى الله علیه وسلم) turned down his suggestion for fear Quraysh should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allaah’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sa’d bin An-Nu’man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.
The Battle Of Badr In Its Qur'aanic Context:
The Chapter of Al-Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr, Ramadan 17th 2 A.H. It constituted a unique Divine commentary on this battle.
Allaah, the All-High, in the context of this Chapter draws on major issues relating to the whole process of Islaamization. Allaah, here draws the attention of the Muslims to the still lingering moral shortcomings in their character. He wants them to build an integrated, purified society.He speaks about the invisible assistance he sent down to His obedient servants to enable them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid themselves of any trait of haughtiness or arrogance that might sneak in. He wants them toturn to Him for help, obey Him and His Messenger (صلى الله علیه وسلم).
After that He delineated the noble objectives for which the Messenger (صلى الله علیه وسلم)launched that bloody battle, and directed them to the merits and qualities that brought about the great victory.The polytheists,hypocrites, the Jews and prisoners of war were also mentioned,being admonished to surrender to the Truth and adhere to it only.The question of the spoils of war was resolved and the principles and basics relevant to this issue were clearly defined.
The laws and rules pertinent to war and peace were legalized and codified,especially at this advanced stage of the Islaamic action. Allaah wanted the Muslims to follow war ethics dissimilar to those of pre-Islaamic practices. The Muslims are deemed to outdo the others in ethics, values and fine ideals. He wants to impress on the world that Islaam is not merely a theoretical code of life, it is rather mind cultivation-orientated practical principles. In this context, He established inter and intra-state relations.
The fast of Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the year 2 A.H.,appended by the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying Zakat (alms tax, poor-due) in order to alleviate the burden of the needy Emigrants.
A wonderful and striking coincidence was the establishment of Shawwal ’Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking) directly after the manifest victory of Badr. It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of Muslims leaving their houses praying, acclaiming Allaah’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favour and grace, and last but not least, the support He rendered them and through which the forces of the Truth overpowered those of evil.
“And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but He provided a safe place for you, strengthened you with His help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful.” [8:26]