Battle of Badr
The Quraysh, who had begun to prepare to attack Madinah after the prophet’s emigration there, wrote to ‘Abdullah bin Ubay that he should assassinate the Prophet (PBUH), or face the retributive action against him and his people. (Sunan Abi Dawood, 2: 67.) The small troops of the Quraysh wandered around Madinah (in search of an opportunity to hurt Muslims in person and property). Kurz Fahri once attacked a place as close to Madinah as its pastures. In order to arrange for the expenses of the war against the Muslims, the people of Makkah gave all their wealth to a trade caravan going to Syria: even women, who usually did not participate in business, actively took part in it. The trade caravan had not yet left Syria when the incident of the accidental death of Hazrami took place, which added fuel to the fire. In the meantime, a rumor spread in Makkah that the caravan returning from Syria was under the threat of attack by the Muslims from Madinah. The wrath of the Quraysh now spread throughout Arabia. (Seeratun Nabi, vol. 1: 315. Kurz Fahri’s incident is mentioned in Taabaqat Ibn S’ad 2: 9, and that of Khazrami in Sunan Bayhaqui, 9: 11. )
When the Prophet (PBUH) came to know about the situation, he called his Companions and consulted them on the issue. ( It should be kept in mind that this incident occurred after the Prophet’s coming out of Madinah. The Prophet (PBUH) had come out of Madinah to chase the caravan of Abu Sufyan when he learned that a large army of the disbelievers had already reached close to protect the caravan. He consulted his Companions on the issue. This should also be borne in mind that the Prophet (PBUH) had come out of Madinah to chase away the caravan of Abu Sufyan in the face of the danger of the attack on Madinah that he was apprehending. It is clearly mentioned in history that the Quraysh had sent this caravan for trade mainly for the purpose of financing the war with its profit.) Hazrat Abu Bakr and other Muhajiree spoke enthusiastically to show their fidelity to Islam, but the Prophet (PBUH) was looking toward the Ansar. The Ansar had committed at the time of offering allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) that they would defend him when his enemies attacked Madinah. When the Prophet (PBUH) asked the gathering for their opinion the second and the third time, the Ansar realized that he wanted to know their opinion. S’ad bin Mu’az came forward and spoke, “Perhaps the Prophet (PBUH) understands that we, the Ansar, do not consider it their obligation to come out of our city to defend him. Here I speak for the Ansar that we stand by the Prophet (PBUH) without any reservation. Enter into a treaty with any party or reject any such offer, and take whatever you like from our property and give us from our property whatever you like, for whatever you take from our property will be more pleasing to us than what you leave for us. We will obey whatever you command. If you proceed up to the Ghemaad Spring, we will be with you, and if you command us to enter into the sea, we will jump into it.” (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 625, Fathul Bari, 7: 287-88, Sahih Muslim, Al-Jihad was Siyar, Bab Ghazwae Badr.) Hazrat Miqdad, another Ansar, added, “We are not the ones who would say like the people of Bani Israel:
‘So go you and your God and fight you two, we are sitting right here [Al-Maidah, 6: 24).’
We are ready to fight for you from your right and from your left, from the front and from the back.” The countenance of the Prophet (pbuh) brightened by hearing the words of the Ansar. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi.)
March Toward the Battlefield
The Prophet (pbuh) came out of the city on the 12th of Ramadan in the second Hijri with about 300 hundred Companions. He made a stopover after covering a mile and looked at his army. The underage boys were asked to return. When ‘Umayr bin Waqqas, a young boy, was asked to return on this ground, he burst into tears and was ultimately allowed by the Prophet (PBUH) to join. His own brother S’ad bin Waqqas helped him wear the sword around his neck. Now the total number of the Muslim soldiers was 313, sixty Muhajir and the rest Ansar (Details are recorded in Ibn S’ad and the event of Hazrat ‘Umayr ® is mentioned in Asadulghaba.) There were only two horses in the army: one belonged to Hazrat Zubayr® and the other to Miqdad bin Al-Aswad. There were seventy camels, on each of which two to three persons rode by turn. The Prophet (PBUH) himself shared a camel the same way with Hazrat ‘Ali and Marthad Ghanwi and rode it only when his turn came.
The Quraysh had advanced from Makkah with great preparation. They were 1,000 and were divided into ten battalions, each consisting of 100 soldiers. All the chiefs of the Quraysh were with the army. Abu Lahab who was unable to come due to some excuse had sent a person in his place. The arrangement of supply was done this way that the chiefs of the Quraysh – ‘Abbas, ‘Utba bin Rabi’a, Harth bin ‘Aamir, Nasr bin Al-Harith, Abu Jahl, and Umayya – each used to slaughter ten camels a day by turn to feed the soldiers. ‘Utba bin Rabi’a, who was the most respectable chief of the Quraysh, was in command. (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 3: 360, Musnad Ahmad, 2: 193.)
When the Quraysh learned after reaching close to Badr that Abu Sufyan’s caravan (which was coming from Syria) had escaped unhurt, the chiefs of the Zahra and ‘Adi tribes declared that there was then no need to fight the Muslims, but as Abu Jahl did not agree to it, these two tribes returned from there and the rest of the Quraysh army proceeded forward. (Mustadrak Haakim, 3: 426, Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 619.)
As the Quraysh had reached Badr earlier, they had taken positions at strategically advantageous places. Where the Muslims encamped, there was no spring or well to provide water for the army, and also the land was so sandy that the feet of the camels sank in it (thus restricting their movement). Hubab bin Munzir asked the Prophet (PBUH) if he had chosen the site for pitching his camps according to a divine revelation (Wahi), or on the basis of his personal opinion. When the Prophet (PBUH) replied that it was not done in the light of a divine revelation, he suggested to the Prophet (pbuh) to take the water spring in control and make the water wells in the area unusable. The Prophet (pbuh) approved of the proposal and asked his Companions to take necessary actions in this regard. By way of Allah’s favor, it rained and so the sand settled down. Also, the Muslims collected water by making provisional small water tanks. The Qur`an also mentions this rainfall as His favor:
“And He caused water (rain) to descend on you from the sky, to clean you thereby” [Al-Anfal: 11].
Although the Muslims captured the water spring, the Prophet (PBUH) kindly allowed the enemies to take water from there. (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 620, Dalaelun Nabuwwah lil Bayhaqui, 3: 35, Imam Haakim has mentioned Hubab’s proposal in Mustadrak, 3: 326, but Imam Zahabi has called it Munkar.)
At night the Companions put down their arms and lay for rest. But only one person – the Prophet (PBUH) – stayed awake all night and remained engaged in supplicating to his Lord up until daybreak. In the morning he called the Muslims for Salah and after Salah gave a sermon on Jihad. (Zadul Ma’ad, 3: 179, Dalaelun Nabuwwah lil Bayhaqui, 3: 39, As Sunanul Kubra lin Nasai, Kitabus Salah.)
Before the Battle Began
Although the Quraysh were so eager to begin the battle, there were some good-hearted persons among them who sincerely detested bloodshed. Hakeem bin Hezam was one such person (who later embraced Islam). He went to ‘Utba, the commander of the army, and said, “If you wish, this day may commemorate your name as savior forever.” Upon ‘Utba’s inquiry, he told him, “The only claim of the Quraysh against the Muslims is for Hazrami’s blood. He was your ally. If you pay blood money for him, the dispute will be over.” ‘Utba was a good-hearted person and readily accepted the proposal. But as Abu Jahl’s consent was necessary, Hakeem went to him. Abu Jahl was arranging his arrows. As soon as Hakeem conveyed ‘Utba’s message to him, he commented, “So ‘Utba has lost heart.” ‘Utba’s son Huzayfa had accepted Islam and was accompanying the Prophet (PBUH) in this battle. On this ground Abu Jahl accused ‘Utba of trying to evade the battle so that his son might be saved from being hurt.
Abu Jahl called Hazrami’s brother ‘Aamir and told him that he was about to lose his claim of revenge for the death of his brother. ‘Aamir tore his dress and, according to the Arab tradition, started chanting calls of lamentation, Wa ‘Amarah, wa ‘Amarah. The soldiers of the Quraysh flew into a fury at this sentimental appeal.
When ‘Utba learned about Abu Jahl’s accusation against him, he said in rage, “The battlefield will show who takes upon himself the disgrace of cowardice.” He then asked for a helmet to wear. As his head was quite large and a helmet to fit his size was not available, he covered his head with a piece of cloth and wore arms. (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 622-23, Zadul Ma’ad, 3: 779.)
As the Prophet (PBUH) abhorred to shed blood by his own hands, the Companions had erected a shade for him aside in the field to stay there during the battle. S’ad bin Mu’az guarded the door (Zadul Ma’ad, 3: 620.)
Although Allah had promised victory and the angels were accompanying to help, the Prophet (PBUH) arranged his army strategically to fulfill the condition of adopting all necessary means to meet a challenge. He set up three separate battalions of the Mahajireen, Aws, and Khazraj tribes, and gave the flag of the Muhajireen to Mus’ab bin ‘Umayr, that of Khazraj to Hubab bin Munzir, and that of Aws to S’ad bin Mu’az.
Early in the morning he started arranging soldiers in rows. He had an arrow in his hand with the help of which he straightened the lines to ensure that everybody kept his position properly. Raising hue and cry is common in a battle, but the Prophet (PBUH) instructed Muslims to observe complete quiet. (Seeratun Nabi, 1: 320.)
At this time when the Muslims were seriously outnumbered and the addition of even one soldier to their side was so welcome, the Prophet (PBUH) fully observed the Islamic principle of honoring a promise. Abu Huzayfa bin Al-Yamaan and Abu Husayl, two Companions, who were coming from Makkah, were detained by the disbelievers on the charge that they were on the way to help the Prophet (PBUH) .They declined the charge and were allowed to continue their journey only when they gave their word not to participate in the battle from the Prophet’s side. Right before the battle they presented themselves to the (PBUH) and told him about the incident. The Prophet (pbuh) commented, “We will keep the promise in all circumstances. We depend only on Allah’s help.”
Now the two armies stood face to face. It was a fight between truth and falsehood, enlightenment and ignorance, Islam and unbelief:
“There has already been a sign for you (O Jews) in the two armies that met (in combat i.e. the Battle of Badr). One was fighting in the Cause of Allah, and as for the other, (they) were disbelievers” [Aale-‘Imran, 3: 13].
It was a strange sight to see. In this wide world, the prospect of Tawheed (Oneness of God) depended on the fate of only a few believers. It is related in Saheeh Muslim that the Prophet (PBUH) was greatly moved on the occasion and supplicated to His Lord in these words: “O God! Fulfill the promise You have made to me.” He was so absorbed in saying his supplication that he did not even notice when the sheet he was covering himself with slipped off his shoulder. Restlessly, he fell in prostration and said, “Lord! If this small group of believers is annihilated, there will remain none on the face of the earth to worship You.”
The Prophet’s restlessness touched the heart of his associates who were around. Hazrat Abu Bakr (Sahih Muslim, Kitabul Jihad was Siyar, Babul Wafa` bil ‘Ahd. ) consoled him with these words, “Allah will fulfill His promise.”
Then the Qur`anic verse,
“Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs”. [Al-Qamar: 5]
promising victory to Muslims, was revealed. Thereafter contentment spread over the Prophet’s countenance and he recited this verse with gratitude. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul Maghazi.)
Now the army of the Quraysh reached quite close. The Prophet (PBUH) forbade the Muslims from advancing and instructed them to shoot the enemies with arrows when they came within the range. (PBUH) also spoke about the virtue of steadfastness, the divine help accorded to the steadfast, victory, and reward in the Hereafter. He said that those who were killed in the path of Allah would surely enter paradise. Hearing his word, ‘Umayr bin AlHumam asked, “The paradise whose vastness equals the size of the earth and the sky, O Prophet of Allah?” The Prophet (PBUH) replied in the affirmative and asked him, “Why do you ask this question?” He replied, “Never for the sake of questioning, but due to eagerness that I might be blessed with it.” The Prophet (PBUH) told him, “You will be blessed with it.” ‘Umayr took out dates from his quiver and started eating. Then he said, “If I wait till I finish eating, it will take a long time.” Uttering these words, he threw the dates to the ground, advanced and, fighting with the disbelievers, fell a martyr. (Sahih Muslim, Kitabul I Marah, Bab Thubootul Jannah lil Shaheed. )
This battle was a unique test for Muslims. When the two armies faced each other, the fighters saw that their beloved ones were within the striking range of their swords. When Hazrat Abu Bakr’s son, who was not yet a Muslim, appeared, Hazrat Abu Bakr drew his sword and advanced to fight against him. (Seerat Ibn Hisham, 1: 238.)When ‘Utba stepped forward, his son Huzayfa came forward to challenge him. Hazrat ‘Umar faced his own maternal uncle in the battlefield and struck him to death. (Seeratun Nabi, Allama Shibli No`mani, 1: 322)
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