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The Battle of Badr

The Battle of Badr

The battle of Badr was the most important among the Islamic battles of Destiny. For the first time the followers of the new faith were put into a serious test. Had victory been the lot of the pagan army while the Islamic Forces were still at the beginning of their deve -lopments, the faith of Islam could have come to an end. No one was aware of the importance of the outcome of the Battle as the Prophet ( saw ) himself. We might read the depth of his anxiety in his prayer before the beginning of the Battle when he stood up supplicating his Lord :

God this is Quraish. It has come with all its arrogance and boastfulness, trying to discredit Thy Apostle. God, I ask Thee to humiliate them tomorrow. God, if this Muslim band will perish today, Thou shall not be worshipped. 1

At this battle in which the pagan army consisted of 950 fighters and 314 (including the Messenger), the Islamic defense was a combination of three defensive lines :

1. The personality of the Messenger, his leadership and his unequalled firmness. He ( saw ) was to the Muslims the final refuge at Badr and at every battle he attended.

2. The Hashmites ( the clan of the Prophet ), led by Ali Ibn Abu Talib who entered this battle relatively obscure and came out with unequalled military fame. His military performances became the popular subject of the Arab caravans conversations throughout the Arabic Peninsula.

3. The hundreds of companions of the Messenger whose hearts were filled with the faith and readiness for sacrifice. Many of them viewed matrydom to be a gain, equal to life and victory. These good companions were the army of Islam, its first line of defense and thick wall behind which the Messenger ( saw ) used to stand. Thet were the attackers and the defenders.

As to the clan of the Messenger they were the ones that he used to call before any one else, to offer the heavy sacrifice. They used to stand in the first line of defense opening for the army the way through their thrusts in the line of the enemies. When the general offensives began and every companion participated, the clan of the Messenger ( saw ) were the most damaging to the enemies. They were so at Badr and at the following battles. The battle began when Utbah Ibn Rabi - ah, his son Al Walid and his brother Sheibah ( all from the Ommayad ) stood infront of the pagan army and asked the Prophet ( saw ) to send to them their equals for a dual. Hundreds of companions were around him and many of them were expecting to be called upon by the Prophet ( saw ) but he choose to start from his own family. The load was heavy and the heavy load could be carried only by the people to whom it belonged as he called upon Ali, Al Hamza and Obeidah Al Harith ( all from the clan of the prophet ) to face the three warriors. Ali destroyed Al Walid and Al Hamza killed Utbah; then they both assisted Obeidah against his opponent Sheibah. Sheibah died immediately and Obeidah was the first martyr at this battle. He died after he lost his leg. When the general offensive began, hundreds of companions participated in the battle and offered sacrifices and pleased their Lord. But the members of the house of the Messenger ( saw ) distinguised themselves. Ali's endeavour was unique at this battle. When Hanthala Ibn Abu Sufyan faced him, Ali liquified his eyes with one blow from his sword. He annihilated Al Auss Ibn Saeed, and met Tuaima Ibn Oday and transfixed him with his spear, saying " You shall not dispute with us in God after today. "

The Messsnger ( saw ) took a handful of gravel when the battle was extremely heated. He threw it at the faces of the pagans saying " May Your faces be disfigured. God, terrify their hearts and invalidated their feet. " The pagans ran away, turning their faces to no one. The Muslims went on killing them and taking prisoners. 70 pagans met their death, and the Muslims took from them 70 prisoners. History preserved in its records only fifth of the names out of the 70 pagan loses. Twenty [2] or twenty two [3] of them died at Ali's hand. This battle laid the foundation of the Islamic State and made out of the Muslims a force to be reckoned with by the dwellers of the Arabic Peninsula.

The March to The Wells Of Badr

The time was now at hand for Abu Sufyan to return with all the wares that he and his fellows had acquired in Syria. The holy Prophet sent two scouts ahead to Hawra on the sea shore due west of Medina to bring him news as soon as the caravan arrived. This would enable him, by a quick march to the south-west, to overtake it further down the coast. His two scouts were hospitably received by a chief of Juhaynah who hid them in his house until the caravan had passed.

The Betrayal

But he and they might have spared themselves their pains, for someone in Medina, no doubt one of the hypocrites or one of the Jews, had already sent word of the Prophet's plans to Abu Sufyan, who immediately hired a man of the Ghifari tribe, Damdam by name, to go with all speed to Mecca and urge Quraysh to march out at once with an army to their rescue, while he himself pressed forward along the coastal route, travelling by both day and night. The Prophet rather than risk being too late decided not even to wait for the return of his scouts. So by the time they reached Medina he had already set out with an army of Emigrants and Helpers, three hundred and five men altogether. At that time there were seventy-seven able bodied Emigrants in Medina and all these were present on this occasion except for two scouts, who arrived back from the coast too late to set out. At the first halt, which was still in the oasis, the Prophet's cousin Sa'ad of Zuhrah noticed his fifteen year old brother Umayr looking troubled and furtive and he asked him what was the matter.

"I am afraid. That the Messenger of God will see me and say I am too young and send me back. And I so long to go forth. It might be that God would grant me martyrdom!"

As he feared, the Prophet did indeed noticed him when he lined up the troops and said he was too young and told him to go home. But Umayr wept and pleaded and the Prophet reluctantly let him stay and take part in the expedition. Sa'ad commented.

"He was so young that I had to fasten the straps of his sword belt for him."

The White Banner

This was given to the Prophet's young cousin, Ali Ibin Abe Taleb, whose was his ancestral right to carry the Banner of Muslims in war, but the Banner carrier also needed to be carried by a man of most exceptional character and courage, since Ali proved in number of occasions that none other was his equal, in all the Prophet struggles of establishing Islam, either in battle or in time of peace. After the vanguard came the Prophet himself, preceded by two black pennants:

1. One for the Emigrants.

2. One for the Helpers.

These were borne respectively by:

1. Mus'ab, no doubt because he was of the clan of Abd Ad-Dar

2. Sa'ad Ibin Mu'adh of Aws of the Helpers.

There were only seventy camels in the Muslim army, which the men rode by turns, sometimes three or four men at a time to one camel, and three horses, one of which belonged to Zubayr. During the Prophet's absence from Medina, the prayers were to be led by Ibin Umm Maktum, the blind man referred to in the Revelation:

"He frowned and turned away when the blind man came unto him."
Koran:80 - verse:5-10

Meanwhile In the City Of Mecca

Shortly before the arrival of Damdam, the Prophet's aunt Ateekah had a dream which terrified her and left her with a conviction of impending disaster for Quraysh. She sent for her brother Abbass and told him what she had seen:

"I saw a man riding a camel and he halted in the valley and cried at the top of his voice:

'Haste ye forth, O men of perfidy, unto a disaster that in three days shall lay you prostrate.'

I saw the people gather round him. Then he entered the Mosque with the people following him, and from out of their midst his camel carried him up to the roof of the Kabah, and again he cried out the same words. Then his camel bore him to the top of Mount Abu Qubays, and yet again he cried out to the people as before. Then he wrenched free a rock and sent it hurtling down the slope, and when it reached the foot of the mount it split into fragments, nor was there any house or any dwelling in Mecca but was smitten with a piece of it." Abbass recounted his sister's dream to Utbah's son, Waleed, who was his friend, and Waleed told his father, and the news quickly spread throughout the whole city. The next day Abu Jahl exclaimed in the presence of Abbass, with gleeful mockery:

"O sons of Abd Al-Muttaleb, since when hath this prophetess been uttering her prophecies amongst you? Is it not enough for you that your men should play the prophet? And now must your women do the same?"

Abbass could not find a rejoinder, but Abu Jahl had his answer the next day, when the crags of Abu Qubays resounded with the powerful voice of Damdam. The people streamed out of their houses and out of the Mosque to where he had halted in the valley. Abu Sufyan had paid him handsomely, and he was determined to play his part well. He had turned round his saddle and was seated with his back to his camel's head; and in further sign of calamity he had slit his camel's nose, so that the blood poured forth from it, and he had rented his own shirt to ribbons and Damdam shouted.

"Men of Quraysh! The transport camels, the transport camels! Your goods which are with Abu Sufyan! Mohammad and his companions are upon them! Help! Help!"

The town was immediately in an uproar. The caravan now in danger was one of the richest of the year, and many were those who had reason to fear the loss of it. An army of about a thousand men was quickly mustered.

"Does Mohammad and his fellows think that this will be as the caravan of Ibin Al-Hadrami?"

They said, referring to Ameer, the confederate of Abdu Shams who had been killed by an arrow in the sacred month at Nakhlah. The clan of Adi were alone in not taking part in the expedition. But every other chief of clan led out a contingent except Abu Lahab, who sent in his own stead a man of Makhzum who owed him money. But the Bani Hashim and the Bani Abd Muttaleb had none the less their interests in the caravan and reluctantly felt in honor bound to defend it, and Abbass went with them.

The Clan Chief Umayyah of Jumah

Hakim of Assad Khadeejah's nephew, went out with the same purpose. Like Abu Lahab, Umayyah of Jumah had also decided to stay at home, for he was an elderly man of excessive corpulence; but while he was sitting in the Mosque Utbah came to him with a censer of incense which he placed before him, saying:

"Scent thyself with that! For thou art surely of the women!"

"God curse thee!"

Said Umayyah, and made ready to set out with the others.

The holy Prophet had by now left the direct route from Medina to the south and was making for Badr, which lay on the coastal route from Syria to Mecca, to the west. It was at Badr that he hoped to waylay Abu Sufyan, and he sent ahead two of their allies of Juhaynah, who knew the of the caravan.

At The Wells Of Badr

The two scouts halted on a hill above the well and when they went to draw water from the well, they spoke to the Arabs of a near by village and Bedouins who came to draw water for their animals. They learnt of a huge richly laden caravan of many camels that was due any day now to replenish their water supply. On learning this, they made haste back to the Prophet with the news. But if they had just stayed a little longer they would have seen a solitary rider approaching the wells from the west. It was Abu Sufyan himself, who had hastened ahead of the caravan in order to see whether it was safe to proceed to Mecca by the nearest route, that is by the wells of Badr. On reaching the water wells he found a villager there watering his flock of sheep and he asked him if he had seen any strangers. He answered that he had seen two riders who had made a halt on the hill above and who had then drawn some water and taken it away with them. Abu Sufyan went to their halting place and took up some of the camel dung which he broke into pieces. There were some date stones in it.

"By God! This is the fodder of Yathrib."

He hastened back to his followers, and turning the caravan away from the road they pressed on at full speed along the shore by the sea, leaving Badr on their left. Meantime the two scouts from the wells of Badr returned to the Prophet with the news that the caravan was expected to reach Badr on the following day or the day after. They would certainly stop at Badr, which had long been one of the great halts on the road between Mecca and Syria, and there was ample time for the Muslims to surprise them and overpower them. Then came the news that Quraysh had set out with an army to rescue their caravan. This had always been considered as a possibility, but now that it had become a fact the Prophet felt bound to consult his men and to let theirs be the choice between advancing and retreating. An ally of the Bani Zuhrah who had only recently come to Medina, Miqdad by name, rose to his feet and added:

"O Messenger of God. Do what God hath shown thee to do. We will not say unto thee as did the 'Children of Israel' said unto Musa:

Go thou and thy Lord and fight and we shall sit here. But we say: Go thou and thy Lord and fight, and with you we also will fight, on the right and on the left, before thee and behind thee."

Koran:5, 24

Abd Allah Ibin Mas'ud used to tell in after years of the great light that dawned on the Prophet's face when he heard those words and as he blessed his close and trusted Companion Miqdad. Not that he was surprised, for he knew that the Emigrants were unreservedly with him. But could the same be said of all the Helpers who were now present? The army had set out from Medina in hope of capturing the caravan. But now it seemed that they might have to encounter something much more formidable. Moreover, when the Helpers had pledged allegiance to him in Aqabah, they had said that they were not responsible for his safety until he had entered their territory, but that when he was with them they would protect him as they protected their wives and their children. Would they be prepared to help him against an enemy now that he was no longer in Yathrib?

"Men, give me your advice."

He said, expressing himself in general but meaning the Helpers, some of whom had already divined his thoughts, though none of them had yet spoken. But now Sa'ad Ibin Mu'adh rose to his feet.

"It would seem. That we are the men thou meanest, O Messenger of God."

He said, And when the Prophet assented he went on:

"We have faith in thee and we believe what thou hast told us, and we testify that what thou hast brought us is the truth, and we have given thee our binding oaths to hear and obey. So do what thou wilt, and we are with thee. By Him who hath sent thee with the truth, if thou shouldst bid us cross yonder sea and didst plunge into it thyself, we would plunge into it with thee. Not one man of us would stay behind. Neither are we averse from meeting our enemy tomorrow. We are well tried in war, trusty in combat. It may be that God will show thee prowess of ours such as shall bring coolness to thine eyes. So lead us on with the blessing of God."

The Prophet rejoiced at his words; and the certainty came to him that they would indeed have to contend with either the army or the caravan but not with both.

"Onwards, and be of good cheer, for God the All Highest hath promised me one of the two parties, and even now it is as if I saw the enemy lying prostrate."

Although they were prepared for the worst, there was still hope that they would be able to attack the caravan and be well on their way back to Medina, enriched with plunder and prisoners, before the army of Quraysh arrived. But when they had reached a halt that was less than a day's march from Badr, the Prophet rode on with Hamzah and obtained some information from an old man from which he concluded that the Meccan army was already near. Returning to the camp he waited until nightfall and sent his three cousins Ali Ibin Abe Taleb, Zubayr and Sa'ad with some others of his companions to the well of Badr to see if either the army or the caravan or both had drawn water from it, or if anyone there had had any news of either party. At the well they chanced upon two men who were loading their camels with water for the army of Quraysh, and having overpowered them they brought them back to the Prophet, and he began to question the two men, who said that they were the army's water carriers. And now that the Quraysh army was just beyond the hill before them but that they couldn't be precise of their number, but it was between nine hundred and a thousand. Then the Prophet questioned.

"And what leaders of Quraysh are amongst them?"

They named fifteen and these included,

1. of Abdu Shams, the brothers Shaybah and Utbah and his son Waleed;
2. of Nawfal, Harith and Tu'aymah;
3. of Abd Ad-Dar, Nadr, who had pitted his tales of Persia against the Koran;
4. of Assad, Nawfal;
5. of Makhzum, Abu Jahl;
6. of Jumah, Umayyah;
7. of Ameer, Suhayl.

Hearing these eminent names, the Prophet remarked when he rejoined his men:

"This Mecca hath thrown unto you the best morsels of her liver."

It was not long before news of the thousand strong army reached Abu Sufyan, and by that time he had reached a point from which his rescuers were between him and the enemy. Realizing that the caravan was now safe, he sent a messenger to Quraysh, saying:

"Ye came out to defend your camels and your men and your goods; and God hath rescued them, therefore return."

This message reached them when they were already encamped at Jubfah, a little to the south of Badr. There was yet another reason why they should advance no further. Gloom had been cast over the whole camp on account of a dream - almost a vision - that Juhaym, a man of Muttaleb, had.

"Between sleeping and waking. I saw a man approach on horseback, leading a camel. Then he halted and said: Slain are Utbah and Shaybah and Abul Hakam and Umayyah."

And he went on to mention other clan chiefs of Quraysh that the horseman had named.

"Then. I saw him stab his camel in the chest and let it run loose through the camp and there was no tent that was not spattered with its blood."

When Abu Jahl was told of this he said in a tone of triumphant derision:

"Here is yet another prophet from the sons of Muttaleb! By God, we will not return until we have been at Badr. Three days will we stay there; we will slaughter camels and make feast and make flow the wine and the songstresses shall play and sing for us; and the Arabs will hear how we marched forth and of our mighty gathering, and they will stand in awe of us for ever. Onwards to Badr!"

The he cried and most gathered around joined his cry. However not all were impressed and taken in by Abul Jahl. For Akhnas Ibin Shafeeq had come out with Zuhrah, whose confederate he was, and he now urged them to pay no attention to Abu Jahl, so they returned, from Juhfah to Mecca every man of them. Taleb also returned with some of his fellow clansmen, for words had passed between him and others of Quraysh who had said:

"O sons of Hashim, we know that even though ye have come out with us, your hearts are with Mohammad."

Beyond the hill, a little to the north east, the Muslims were breaking camp. The Prophet knew that it was imperative for them to reach the waters of Badr before the enemy, so he ordered an immediate advance. Not long after they had started rain began to fall, and he rejoiced in it as a sign of favour from God, a blessing and an assurance. The rain refreshed the men and laid the dust and made firm the soft sand of the valley of Yalyal where now they were marching; but it would impede the enemy, who had yet to climb the slopes of Aqanqal, which lay over to the left of the Muslims, on the opposite side of the valley from Badr. The wells were all on the gentler slopes of the near side, and the Prophet ordered a halt at the first well they came to. But a man of Khazraj, Hubab Ibin Al-Mundhir, came to him and said:

"Messenger of God, this place where now we are; hath God revealed it unto thee, that we should neither advance nor retreat from it, or is it a matter of opinion and strategy of war?"

The Prophet replied that it was merely a matter of opinion, where upon Hubab said:

"Then this is not the place to halt, but take us on, O Messenger of God, until we come unto that one of the large wells which is nearest to the enemy. There let us halt, and stop up the wells that lie beyond it and make for ourselves a cistern. Then will we fight the enemy, and all the water will be ours to drink, and they will have none."

The Prophet at once agreed, and Hubab's plan was carried out in every detail. The further wells were stopped and the cistern was built, and every man filled his drinking vessel. Then Sa'ad Ibin Mu'adh came to the Prophet and said:

"O Prophet of God, let us build for thee a shelter and put thy riding camels in readiness beside it. Then will we meet our enemy, and if God strengthen us and make us victorious over them, that is what we fervently desire. But, if not, then thou canst mount and ride to join those whom we left behind us. For as to some of those who came not out with thee, O Prophet of God, even our love for thee is not greater than theirs, nor had they stayed behind, if they had known thou wouldst meet with war. Through them God will protect thee, and they will give thee good counsel and fight at thy side."

The Prophet praised him and invoked blessings upon him, and the shelter was fashioned with branches of palms. That night God sent down a peaceful sleep upon the believers, and they awoke refreshed.

Ref :1. Abdul Malik Ibn Husham Al Seerah Al Nabaweyah ( Biography of the Prophet ) Published by Mustafa Al Babi Al Halabi, Egypt, 1955 A.D Part 2 page. 621 2. Same as above Part 2 page. 708-713 3. Al Maghazi ( The Invasions ) published by Oxford Printing. Part 1 page. 152.

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