The battle of Badr


When was the battle of Badr ?

On the seventh of Ramadhan, the 2nd year after the Hijrah,

The place and the Parties of the Battle:-

The battle was between the Muslims and Quraish of Makkah at Badr

The description of the battle:
The Battle of Badr is one of the greatest and most famous battles of Islam .
A caravan was going from Makkah to Syria under the leadership of Abu Sufyan, and the Prophet went up to Zatul Ashirah to pursue the caravan and stayed there till the beginning of the following month, but could not lay hands on it. The time of the return of the caravans was almost certain, because in early autumn the caravans of Quraysh used to return from Syria to Makkah.

The Prophet sent Talha bin 'Ubaydullah and Sa'id bin Zayd) for collecting information about the route and itinerary of the caravan, the number of its guards, and the nature of their merchandise. The information received was as under:
1. It is a big caravan and all Makkans have shares in its merchandise.
2. The leader of the caravan is Abu Sufyan and there are about forty persons who guard it.
3. The merchandise is loaded on one thousand camels and its value is about fifty thousand dinars.

As Quraysh had confiscated the property of Muslim Muhajirs residing in Madina, it was only appropriate that the Muslims should also confiscate their merchandise and if they persisted in withholding the property of the Muhajir Muslims on account of their enmity and obstinacy, the Muslims should, as a retaliatory measure, divide their merchandise amongst themselves as war booty.

Hence, the Prophet turned to his companions and said: "O people! It is the caravan of Quraysh. You can go out of Madina to take possession of the property of Quraysh. It is possible that your condition may improve".

In the circumstances the Prophet left Madina with 313 men in the month of Ramadan of the second year of migration to confiscate the property of Quraysh encamped by the side of the well of Badr.

While going to Syria Abu Sufyan had realized that the Prophet was pursuing his caravan. He was, therefore, careful at the time of his return and enquired from other caravans whether Muhammad had occupied the trade routes.
It was reported to him that the Prophet had left Madina along with his companions and might be pursuing the caravan of Quraysh.

The forces of truth and falsehood faced each other for the first time in the Valley of Badr. The number of the army of truth did not exceed 313 whereas the army of falsehood was three times as big as that. The Muslims were not properly equipped.

Their means of transport consisted of about seventy camels and a few horses, while the enemy had come with full strength to knock down Islam. In spite of all this, however, truth was victorious and the enemy returned to Makkah after having sustained heavy losses.

The Prophet encamped in the northern passage of Badr at the foot of the mountain called,'al-'Udwatud Dunya' and was waiting for the caravan to pass when a fresh report was received. It changed the thinking of the commanders of the Islamic army and opened a new chapter in their lives. It was reported to the Prophet that the people of Makkah, who had come out to protect the caravan, were centralized in the same environs and various tribes had participated in forming this army.

The grand leader of Muslims saw himself on the crossroads. He and his companions had come out of Madina to confiscate the merchandise and were not in a position, whether from the point of view of numbers or that of military equipments, to confront a big Makkan army, and now if they had returned from the way they had come, they would have lost the glory which they had earned by means of manoeuvers and military demonstrations.

As it was very much likely that the enemy might continue his advance and attack the centre of Islam (Madina), the Prophet considered it expedient not to retreat but to put up a good fight with the available strength up to the last moment.

The point worth consideration was that the majority of the soldiers consisted of the Ansar and there were only seventy four Muhajirs amongst them and the agreement which the Ansar had made with the Prophet at 'Aqabah was a defence pact and not a war pact.

The Muslim army proceeded under the command of the Prophet and encamped near the wells of Badr.
Different parties started collecting information about Quraysh as well as about their caravan.

The Prophet said to them: "Where are Quraysh?" They replied that they were on the other side of the mountain which was situated in the desert. Then he asked them about their numbers, and they replied that they did not know it for certain.

He asked: "How many camels do they slaughter every day?" They replied that they slaughtered ten camels on one day and nine on the other. The Prophet then remarked that their number was between nine and ten hundred. Thereafter he enquired from them about the chiefs of Quraysh.
They replied that 'Utbah bin Rabiyyah, Shaybah bin Rabiyyah, Abul Bakhtari bin Hisham, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Hakim bin Hizam, Umayyah bin Khalaf etc. were amongst them. The Prophet turned to his companions and said:
"The city of Makkah has thrown out the pieces of its heart (i.e. its dearest children)"

Now that the Prophet had received complete information about the arrival of the caravan and the position of Quraysh, it became necessary for him to turn to the preliminaries of his job.

The news of the escape of the caravan circulated amongst the Muslims. Those who had greedily kept an eye on the merchandise were very much disturbed by this development.

Allah revealed the following verse to strengthen their hearts:
Allah has promised to grant your victory over one of the two bands, but you wished to fight the one that was unarmed. He sought to fulfil His promise and to annihilate the unbelievers, so that truth should triumph and falsehood be uprooted, though the wrongdoers wished otherwise. (Surah al-Anfal 8:7)

When Abu Sufyan succeeded in taking away his caravan safely by adopting a route other than that of Badr, he immediately sent a messenger to the people who had come to the rescue of the caravan to inform them about the safety of the caravan and to tell them to return the way they had come, because the real object of mobilization was to protect the caravan and it had been achieved.
When the representative of Abu Sufyan conveyed his message to the chiefs of Quraysh a strange split appeared amongst them.

The people belonging to the tribes of Bani Zohrah and Akhnas Shariq with their allies returned the way they had come. They said: "Our object was to protect the large merchandise of Bani Zohrah and that object has been achieved". Talib bin Abu Talib who had been compelled by Quraysh to leave Makkah also returned after a verbal dispute during which it was said to him:
"The hearts of you Hashimites are with Muhammad".

As opposed to the suggestion of Abu Sufyan, Abu Jahl insisted that they should go to the region of Badr, stay there for three days, kill camels, drink wine and hear the minstrel girls sing so that their valour might reach the ears of the Arabs and they should have a high regard for them for ever.

The fascinating words of Abu Jahl made Quraysh wait at that place and halt at an elevated point in the desert behind a mound. Heavy rain made movement difficult for them and kept them from proceeding further.

However, rain did not have any bad effect on the slope of the desert (al-'Udwatud Dunya) where the Prophet had encamped. The Muslims, therefore, moved, as ordered by the Prophet, and occupied a place by the wells of Badr.
Badr is a vast region. Its southern side is high (al-'Udwatul Qaswa and the northern area is low and sloping (al-'Udwatud Dunya). Water was available in this desert in large quantities from the wells which had been dug and it had always been the halting place for the caravans.

Hubab bin Manzar, who was one of the experienced soldiers said to the Prophet: "Have you alighted here in accordance with the command of Allah, or because you have considered this place to be fit for fighting a battle?"
The Prophet said: "No specific order has been revealed in this regard and if you have a more appropriate place in view you may mention it so that I may change the place if the exigencies of war make it necessary. Hubab said: It is expendient that we should occupy the place by the side of the water which is nearest to the enemy. We should build a tank there so that water may be available regularly for men and animals".

The Prophet appreciated the viewpoint of Hubab and ordered the army to move. This incident shows clearly that the Prophet attached extraordinary importance to consultations and respected the views of the people in public matters.15

Sa'd M'az said to the Prophet: "We propose to set up for you a shelter on a high mound from where the entire battlefield will come into view. It will be looked after by the guards, and the orders of the Supreme Commander will be communicated from there to the subordinate commanders.

Allah has promised to grant you victory over one of the two bands (the caravan and those who had come to defend it), but you wished to fight the one that was unarmed. He sought to fulfil His promise and to annihilate the believers, so that truth should triumph and falsehood be uprooted, though the wrongdoers wished otherwise. (Surah al-Anfal, 8:7)

On the 17th of Ramadan of the second year of migration Quraysh descended, early in the morning, from behind the sandy mound into the desert of Badr. When the Holy Prophet saw them he raised his face to the sky and said: "O Allah! Quraysh are up, with pride and arrogance, to fight against You and to deny Your Prophet! Send the aid which You have promised me and destroy them today! "

It was an old custom of the Arabs that in the beginning of a battle single combats were resorted to, and later general fighting began.

After Aswad Makhzumi had been killed, three famous warriors of Quraysh came out of their ranks and challenged for a fight. They were two brothers 'Utbah and Shaybah, sons of Rabiyyah, and Walid bin 'Utbah and all of them were fully armed. They roared and ran their horses in the field and called their opponents to fight.

Three brave men from amongst the Ansars named 'Awf, Ma'uz and Abdullah Rawahah came out of the ranks of the Muslims. 'Utbah, however, realized that they were from Madina and said to them: "We have nothing to do with you".

Then a man (from amongst Quraysh) shouted: "O Muhammad! Send our equals to fight with us!" The Prophet turned his face to 'Ubaydah, Hamzah and Ali and said: "Get up". The three brave men covered their heads and faces and of they went to the battlefield. All the three persons introduced themselves. 'Utbah accepted all of them for a combat and said: "Yes, you are our equals".

Some say that in this combat each warrior fought with his rival of the same age. Ali, who was the youngest of them met Walid (maternal uncle of Mu'awiyah), the middle-aged amongst the Muslims (Hamzah) faced 'Utbah (maternal grandfather of Mu'awiyah) and Ubaydah, who was the oldest amongst the Muslim combatants fought with Shaybah, who was oldest from the other side.

Ibn Hisham, however, says that the opponent of Hamzah was Shaybah and that of Ubaydah was Utbah. Now let us see which of the two views is correct. By assessing these views, the real position becomes clear:
1. Historians write that Ali and Hamzah killed their opponents in the very first moment and then hurried to help 'Ubaydah and killed his adversary as well.
2. In a letter written by Ali, the Commander of the Faithful to Mu'awiyah he reminds him in these words: "The sword with which I finished off your maternal grandfather ('Utbah, father of Mu'awiyah's mother, Hind) and your maternal uncle (Walid bin 'Utbah) and your brother (Hanzala) is still with me

As a consequence of the warriors of Quraysh being killed general attack started, and Quraysh began attacking in groups. The Prophet ordered that the Muslims should refrain from attacking and should prevent the advance of the enemy by means of archery.
Then he came down from the Tower of Command and arranged the lines of his soldiers with a stick. At that moment Sawad bin Ghazbah was standing somewhat forward as compared with the line.

The Prophet hit the stick on his belly and said: "Don't stand ahead of other soldiers".Sawad then said: "This blow given to me was unjustified and I want to take revenge".
The Prophet pulled up his shirt immediately and said: "Avenge yourself on me". And then all the soldiers saw that Sawad kissed the chest of the Prophet and put his arm round his neck and said: "I wished to kiss your chest during the last moments of my life."

Once he came suddenly and said to the Muslims with a loud voice: "I swear by Allah who controls Muhammad's soul that whoever fights steadfastly today and his fighting is for Allah's sake and is killed shall be sent by Allah to Paradise".

The signs of victory of the Muslims began to appear soon. The enemies were stricken with terror and began to flee. The Muslims, who were fighting with the help of their faith, and knew that both killing and being killed were blessings of Allah, were perfectly undaunted and nothing stopped their advance.

In this battle fourteen men from amongst the Muslims were killed. As regards Quraysh seventy of them were killed and seventy others were captured. Those captured included their chiefs named Nazar Harith, 'Uqbah Mu'it, Abu Ghurrah, Suhayl 'Amr, Abbas and Abul As.

The martyrs of Badr were buried in a corner of the battlefield. Their graves still exist and devoted Muslims visit them to offer their respects.
Later the Prophet ordered that the dead bodies of Quraysh might be collected and thrown in a well. When the body of 'Utbah was being brought to the well the eyes of his son (Abu Huzayfah) fell on it and he turned pale.


After The Battle Of Badr
Many Muslim historians believe that in the Battle of Badr single combats and collective attacks continued till midday and the battle came to an end after noontide, when Quraysh fled and some of them were captured. After burying the martyrs the Prophet performed afternoon prayers at that place and came out of the desert of Badr before sunset.

According to the Islamic law the prisoners of war become slaves of the Muslims and every one of them is required to work according to his capacity. Educated persons are employed on educating others and industrialists impart instruction in the field of industry. These slaves cannot become free in any case unless they are first purchased by someone, and this had been the practice of the Prophet and of the Muslims during the battles fought and the conquests made by them.

Reading list