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The first battle of Islam at Badr

(200 Miles from Mecca and 80 Miles from Medina) The emigration of the Holy Prophet to Medina had turned the enemies from Mecca more hostile, and they constantly kept on thinking how they could overthrow him, and put an end to Islam. The Meccans and their allies started to bring their raids to the very outskirts of Medina, destroying the fruit trees of the Muslims and carrying away their flocks.

The winter of 624 A. D. saw the invasion of Medina by a strong force of Meccans led by Abu Jahl (an uncle of the Prophet) consisting of an army of 1000 strong with 700 camels and 100 horses.

 

Receiving information about this force, the Prophet decided to meet the enemy outside Medina. He set out with three hundred and thirteen of his followers. This small force was marshalled out of Medina with the youthful Ali holding the Banner of the Prophet. 1

Warfare in those days followed a different pattern. Before the general battle began, a number of duels were fought between the leading warriors on each side. When the Muslims reached the fertile vale of Badr, a favourite watering place and camping ground on the caravan route, three stations northwards from Mecca, the Prophet ordered a halt, taking up a suitable position near a stream of fresh water, to await the arrival of the infidel army. It was on the next day, Friday, 17th Ramazan 2 A.H. or January 13th 624 A.D., that the enemy, blowing their trumpets, approached the Muslims, and both forces were arrayed in battle.

Three of the infidel warriors, Utba, the father-in-law of Abu Sufyan, his brother Shaiba, and Al-Walid came out of the ranks and arrogantly challenged the Muslims. Three Ansars of Medina stepped forward to meet this challenge. This greatly enraged the Meccans who refused to combat with the Ansars saying, "We have not come all this way to cross arms with the Medinites, against whom we bear no grudge. We challenge the people of Mecca who have the courage to defy us." Upon this Ali and Ubayd ah, cousins of the Prophet, and Hamza his uncle, responded to the challenge. In the words of Col. Bodley, "At the taunt of the Quriashite, Ali dashed out of the Muslim ranks glitering in breast-plate and helmet. He was soon followed by Ubaydah bin al-Harith, a paternal cousin of Muhammad and Hamza who wore an ostrich feather in his cuirass. The three companions were thus closely related to Muhammad and fulfilled the Quraish for Hashimite blood!"

"The three duels were as rapid as they were murderous. Hamza killed Shaiba, while Ali killed Al-Walid. Ubaydah was mortally wounded, but before he fell, Ali and Hamza were able to come to his rescue. Hamza hurled himself at Utba, and with a sweep of his sword cut off his head. In a few minutes three of Mecca's most important warriors had been sent to find out the truth about the hell which Muhammad had promised them!"

"With a cry of rage three more Meccans darted from under Abu Jahl's banner and assailed the Muslim champions (Ali and Hamza). They too went down before the sword of Islam. A further three were dealt with the same fate. There was a moment of hesitancy among the Quraishites. Muhammad did not miss his advantage. With a sharp order he sent his soldiers charging into a general attack."

The line of the Quraish wavered and a number of their bravest and noblest fell; they took to flight ignominously, and in their haste to escape they threw away their armour and abandoned their transport animals with all their camp and equipage. Seventy of the bravest Quraish were slain and forty-five taken prisoners, and their commander, Abu Jahl, was amongst the slain.

Though it was the first engagement of the youthful Ali, he showed surprising results and was praised by one and all. He killed no less than sixteen-though some historians give him credit for thirty-six--of the bravest and the most prominent of the Quraish army.

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1 Tabari; Kamil; Ibn Athir; Ahmad Hanbal; Durr Manthur.

Adapted from: "Ali, The Magnificent" by: "Yousuf N. Lalljee"