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The Battle of Badr
category: History & Biographies
In the second year of the Hijrah, during the month of Ramadan, the Muslims came up against the infidels in the decisive battle of Badr which was to prove the turning point not only in the destiny of Islam but of the entire human race.
This event in which the under equipped Muslims emerged victorious still stands today as one of the founding moments in Islamic history. The battle of Badr was one of the major signs of God, in which He demonstrated that those who believed in Him and His religion would in the end be made victorious despite the apparently overwhelming obstacles in store ahead. This day has been remembered in the Holy Qur'an as the “Day of Criterion (between right and wrong)”:
“If you believe in Allah and that which We revealed unto Our slaves on the Day of Criterion (between right and wrong), the day when two armies met.” [Qur'an 8:41]
The circumstances that led to this battle began with the news received by the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) that a great caravan with lots of money and merchandise, was being led by Abu Sufyan on its way back to Makkah from Syria. A state of belligerence already existed between the Muslims and the Quraish, for the latter was doing all in their power to harm and abuse the Muslims, to impede their progress and to seize their rising power. They were sparing none of their financial and physical resources to get on the job and their armed detachments very often waded deep into the limits of Madeenah and its pastures to pound upon the Muslims.
Abu Sufyan, was one of the worst enemies of Islam, therefore, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) asked the Muslims to get ready to intercept the caravan. However, since it was a commercial caravan the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) did not make any elaborate arrangements for fighting, but merely positioned himself in order to catch it flat-footed.
Informed of the Prophet’s (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) decision to stop him, Abu Sufyan sent a courier to Makkah with an urgent request for reinforcements. Thereupon, the Quraish ably supported and accompanied by all the notable chiefs of Makkah hastily formed an armed force. Such support group enlisted every man available therein from the neighbouring tribes - and this army went forth to assist the caravan. The Quraish were so flared up that hardly a man was left behind in Makkah.
FAITHFULNESS OF THE ANSAAR
News came to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) that a strong Makkan army was on its way to engage him in a battle. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) thereupon summoned his followers and solicited for their advice. He really wanted to ascertain the reaction of the Ansaars, for, their original oath of allegiance with him obliged them to defend him in Madeenah and did not compel them to take part in a military expedition outside their territory. The Muhajirin responded first and assured him of their help and loyalty. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), however, repeated his appeal and the Muhajirin gave similar reply but the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) threw the same question once again for the third time. Now the Ansaar realised that the question was meant for them. S’ad b. Mu’ad immediately got up to say in reply, “O Prophet of God, it appears that the question is directed to us and you want to have our answer. Perhaps you think, O Prophet of God, that the Ansaar have offered to help you on their own territory only. I want to tell you in behalf of the Ansaar that you may lead us wherever you like, align with whom you may desire or break relations with whom you may think fit; you may take whatever you desire from our property and give us as much as you want; for, whatever you would take from our property would be dearer to us than what you would leave for us. We will follow whatever you command us to do. By God, if you go ahead until you reach Bark Ghimdan(1), we will accompany you, and by God if you march into the sea, we will also do it with you.”
Then Miqdad got up and said, “O Prophet of God, we will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses: 'Go thou and thy Lord and fight, we will sit here;' [Qur'an 5:24] We will fight with you on your left and on your right, in your front and in your rear.”
The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was delighted to hear the replies given by his companions. He said, “Go ahead with glad tidings.”(2)
ENTHUSIASM OF THE YOUNGSTERS
When the detachments went out from Madeenah, a boy of sixteen, whose name was ‘Umair b. Abi Waqqas also accompanied the warriors stealthily because he feared that if the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) saw him, he would send him back due to his juvenile age. When his elder brother, S’ad b. Abi Waqqas saw ‘Umair avoiding detection of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), he verified this. “Umair replied, “I am afraid that the Prophet of God will send me back due to my age, but I want to take part in the battle. God may perhaps honour me with martyrdom.” When the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) saw ‘Umair, he asked him to go back but he started crying and so he was allowed to stay with them. ‘Umair was killed in the battle and thus his heart's desire was fullfiled. (Usd ul-Ghaba, Vol. IV, p. 148)
STRENGTH OF THE CONTENDING PARTIES
The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) rallied forth to the battlefield with three hundred and thirteen combatants who were not even well-equipped. The Muslims had seventy camels and two horses on which men rode by turns; (Zad al-ma’ad, Vol. I, p. 342) there was nothing to distinguish the soldiers from the captains, not even the eminent companions like Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (radiallahu 'anhumaa) or the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) himself bore any mark of distinction.
The standard banner of the army was given to Mus’ab b. ‘Umayr, the flag of the Muhajirin was with ‘Ali and that of the Ansaar with S’ad b. Muadh.
Upon learning of the approaching Muslim army, Abu Sufyan turned his caravan towards the seacoast. He also sent word to the Quraish army, when he was at a safe distance from the Muslims, to go back home as it it was no longer essential for them to proceed ahead. Many of the Makkans too wanted to return home but Abu Jahl insisted to charge ahead in order to punish the raiders. His forces were a thousand strong with all the veterans and noted fighters of Makkah and all were well-armed. He did not want to miss the opportunity to engage the Muslims in battle. (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. I, p. 343 and Ibn Hisham, Vol. pp. 618-19) On coming to know the names of the Makkan chiefs accompanying Abu Jahl, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) remarked: “Makkah has brought the pieces of heart to you!”
THE DEMOCRATIC WAY
The Quraish army halted on reaching a Wadi (valley) near Badr while the Muslims pitched their tents on the other side of the enemy. Hubab b. Al-Mundhir, however, called upon the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to inquire: “O Prophet of God, is this a place which God has ordered you to occupy, so that we cannot leave the place, or is it a matter of opinion and military tactics?” “No”, replied the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), “It is only a matter of opinion and military tactics.” Hubab then said, “O Prophet of God, it is not the place we should occupy.” He suggested another place nearer to the water (wells of Badr), which was more suitable for engaging the enemy. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) agreed and ordered his men to move there immediately. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 620)
The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and some of his close companions were the first ones to arrive at the new camping ground that evening; a cistern was built and filled with water from which the enemy was also allowed to replenish its drinking-vessels. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. I, p. 622)
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