The Battle Of Badr – The Battle Of Truth Against Falsehood

The Muslims who had gone to Madinah, had left all their belongings behind in Makkah and these had been taken by their enemies. Thus, when the Muslims heard that Abu Sufian, one of the leaders of Quraish, was on his way back to Makkah from Syria with a large caravan of goods, they decided that the time had come for them to retrieve some of their losses.Rasulullah SAW gave the Muslims permission for this attack and everyone began to get ready for the raid, for it had been revealed:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Permission to fight is given unto those who

fight because they have been wronged;

and Allah is surely able to give them victory;

(Al Quran xxii.39)

The Revelation had mentioned that a thing most serious with Allah was

to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to

disbelieved in Him and in the Holy Mosque,

and to drive his people from there…for persecution

is worse than killing.

(Al Quran ii.217)

The retrieval of their goods, however, was not their only reason for wanting to attack the caravan. The Muslims did not think they should simply remain safely in Madinah; they wanted to spread the message of Islam.

They thus felt that if Quraish wanted freedom to trade in safety, then the Muslims must also have freedom to believe in Allah, to follow Rasulullah SAW and spread His Word. It was, therefore, thought that the best and only way to get Quraish to understand this was to attack what was most important to them-a caravan.

The Battle of Badr has been referred to in the Qur’an as the “Day of Furqan”. Furqan in Arabic means to separate and to distinguish because on that day, Allah SWT clearly distinguished truth from falsehood. On that day, He gave the believers a sound victory and vanquished the hopes and aspirations of the disbelievers who were attempting to bring an end to the growing Islamic Movement.

Rasulullah SAW marched from Madinah on a Wednesday evening, 8 days after the beginning of Ramadan, with a small band of men numbering between 313 and 319. From this number, there were roughly 80 to 100 Muhajirun. And the rest of the men were Ansar.

The initial purpose for this expedition was to capture the caravan of Abu Sufian as it was carrying all of the possessions and belongings of the Muhajirun when they had left Makkah for Madinah, to Sham (Syria), where they were now going to be sold by the chiefs of Quraish for a great profit of money.

Their intention was one thing, but yet Allah SWT planned for them a much greater event as He alone knows where the good lies for the believers. The Muslims were materially unprepared for any large scale battle and they did not even intend to engage in a battle. As a result, they were first unaware of the war preparations made by the Quraish, who wanted to defend Abu Sufian’s caravan and inflict a heavy blow to the Muslims. The disbelievers came out of Makkah with 1,000 men, 100 horses, and 700 camels, greatly outnumbering the poorer Muslim army. The Muslims had only 2 horses, but some say that it was actually 3: the horse upon which Az-Zubair sat, Al-Miqdaad’s horse, and the horse upon which Abu Murthad Al-Ghinawi sat. In any case, three horses against one hundred were very disproportionate indeed!

As they were marching out of Makkah with these huge numbers and camels and horses, their attitude must have been one of great arrogance, pride, and contempt. This is the exact manner that Allah SWT described them with in the Qur’an, in Surah Al-Haafizh. Ibn Katheer said: “Allah SWT commanded the believers to fight sincerely and to always be mindful of Him. In this Ayat, Allah SWT commanded them not to imitate those pagans, who marched out of their homes بَطَرًا “boastfully, looking down upon everyone else” ورِئَاءَ النَّاس “and to be seen of men” (showing off).”

Now, Abu Sufian’s caravan was able to escape, so it seemed that there may be no armed conflict. However, Allah SWT had destined this great event to occur, and so, when Abu Jahl, the leader of the Quraish, was told that the caravan escaped safely and that the army should return to Makkah, he commented, “No, by Allah! We will not go back until we proceed to the Wells of Badr, slaughter camels there, drink alcohol, and female singers dance and sing to us. In this way, all the Arabs will always talk about us and what we did on that day.”

Thus, Abu Jahl refused to return to Makkah without first camping three days at Badr in such a way that all the Arabs would hear about their greatness. On the other hand, at this point, the Muslims had to decide what they should do. They could have returned to Madinah and avoided any bloodshed but had they done so, they may have looked cowardly in the eyes of the Arab tribes, who were all closely observing the struggle between the Quraish and the new Prophet.

They had to make a crucial decision.

Rasulullah SAW consulted with his followers, telling them that Allah SWT had promised them one of the two parties (either the caravan or the army):

وإذ يعدكم الله إحدى الطآئفتين أنها لكم

Allah has promised you one of the two: either the caravan or the army [Surah Al-Anfaal:7].

Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad, one of the Muhajirun, stated:

“O Messenger of Allah! March on as Allah guides you, and we are with you. I swear by Allah! We will not say to you as the Banu Israel (Children of Israel) said to Prophet Musa: ‘Go, you and your Lord, and fight them and we will sit here’ (5:24). Rather, we say to you: ‘Go, you and your Lord, to fight, and we will all fight along with you.’ I swear by the Being Who sent you with the truth, that if you order us, we will follow you to the extremity of the earth and fight with you until your goal is attained.”

A similar narration was recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari; Ibn Mas’ud Ra said:

“I was a witness to something that Al-Miqdaad Ibn Al-Aswad RA did, that I would like more than anything else, to have been the one who did it. Al-Miqdad RA came to Rasulullah SAW while he was supplicating to Allah SWT, and said: ‘We will not say as the people of Musa said (Go, you and your Lord, and fight you two). Rather, we will fight to your right, and to your left, and in front of you, and behind you.’ [Ibn Mas’ud said] I saw the Prophet’s face beaming with pleasure, because of what Al-Miqdaad said to him.”

After this, Sa’d Ibn Mu’aadh RA of the Ansar, perceiving that Rasulullah SAW wanted to hear explicitly from the Ansar, spoke:

 “We have believed in you and regard you as the true Messenger of Allah, and bear witness that what you have been given is the Truth. And on this we have given you our binding promise, to hear and obey.  March on as you desire and we are with you! I swear by Him Who has sent you with the truth, if you ask us to wade through the ocean, we will wade through with you, and not one of us will stay behind! We will be perfectly content with whatever may happen to us tomorrow, at the hands of our enemies for surely, we are patient in war, fierce in battle, and truthful in our company. Perhaps Allah will show you from us what will please you. Therefore, by the grace of Allah SWT , march on with us.” Thus, the stage was set for battle.

The Battle site – Badar War

The armies began to approach each other; Rasulullah SAW, with his army, was nearing Badr, while the Quraish were making their way out of Makkah. Neither of the armies knew of the exact position of the other army. Rasulullah SAW and Abu Bakr began to walk around the army and they walked away in the distance. They ended up meeting an old Bedouin man and Rasulullah SAW asked him, “Have you heard anything about the army of Muhammad, and the army of Quraish?” So the man said, “Tell me who you are and then I will tell you where they are.” Rasulullah SAW said, ‘If you tell us, we will tell you.’ So the old man said, “I received information that Muhammad and his army left Madinah on such-and-such a date. If this information is correct, they should now be in such-and-such place.” He then pointed out the right position of the Muslim army, and that indicated his truth. He then said, “And I’ve received information, that the army of Quraish have left on such-and-such date. If that information is correct, then they would be in such-and-such place.”

The Bedouin then asked Rasulullah SAW and Abu Bakr, “Who are you, were are you from?” Rasulullah SAW  said: نَحْنُ مِنْ مَاء “We are from water.” And he and Abu Bakr walked away:  The man began flipping his hands, saying: مِنْ مَاء؟ أَمِنْ مَاءِالعِرَاق؟ “What? From water? What do you mean? Are you from the water (rivers) of Iraq?” Rasulullah SAW meant that we were created from water as Allah SWT says in Surah Anbiya, Ayah 30: “Allah SWT has made every living being out of water.”

(Also if you didn’t understand what Rasulullah SAW meant, refer to the Qur’aan, 32:8)

On the night before the battle, Rasulullah SAW made a very long and intense du’a’ to Allah. He was praying under a tree, crying until the sun rose. He was standing up, raising his hands, to the point that the cloth on his shoulder dropped.

 “O Allah! I invoke You for Your promise (of victory). O Allah! If You decide (that we be defeated), You will not be worshipped!”

He was saying this because these 300 people at Badr were the only Muslims on the face of the earth. So Abu Bakr came, picked up the cloth of Rasulullah SAW, put it back on his shoulders, and he held his hand and said: كَفَاكَ مُنَاشَدَتَكَ رَبُّكَ

 “Enough of this. Because  Allah will surely fulfill His promise to you!”

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

When He made the slumber fall upon you as

a reassurance from Him and sent down water from the sky upon you,

in order that He might purify you, and remove from you the fear of Satan,

and strengthen your hearts and make firm (your) fret thereby.

 (Al Quran viii.11)

Rasulullah SAW went back to the tent, and he fell asleep. This was the graders fell down: race and blessing of Allah, that before the battle, Nu’as overtook many of the Muslims, and this is described beautifully in Surah Al-Anfaal, Ayah 11. Therefore, the Scholars have said:

“If a person feels sleepy on the battlefield that is from Allah. And if a person feels the urge to sleep during Salah, that is from Shaitaan.”

Illustration Only; Battle of Badr

After a while, Rasulullah SAW woke up smiling, and he declared: “O Abu Bakr! Rejoice with the victory of Allah. This is Jibreel (galloping) on his horse, with dust on his shoulders.” Rasulullah SAW left the shade, while reciting the verse:

“And the multitude will be made to flee, and they will show their backs (while running).” (54:45)

It rained on the eve of Badr. The Quraish who had arrived earlier, had taken over the main wells. The Muslims began to worry about how they would get water, so Allah sent down a heavy rain, allowing the Muslims to drink and use it for purity. And when the rain fell, it also made the sand firm. The battle began on Jumu’ah morning and Malik said, “It was the 17th day of Ramadan.” Allah SWT sent down, in support of Rasulullah SAW  and the Muslims, 1,000 angels! On one side, 500 angels were under the command of Jibril, and on the other, 500 angels were under the command of Mika’il.

Iblis, his flag holder, and the soldiers, came to the Armies of Quraish. Shaitaan appeared to them in the form of a human being, Suraqah Ibn Malik, who was actually the Chief of a great and powerful tribe, Banu Mudlij (but in fact, the real Suraqah was not present). And he began to praise them, saying:

“No one can defeat you today, no person from mankind can overcome you.“I am with you, I am your neighbor, I will fight with you to the end.”

‘Ali Ibn Abi Talhah RA reported that  ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas RA said:

“Shaitaan as well as his devil army and flag holders came on the Day of Badr. Shaitaan appeared in the shape of Suraaqah, and he said to the pagans, “None can defeat you today, and I will help you. When the 2 armies stood face to face, Rasulullah SAW took a handful of sand and threw it at the faces of the pagans, causing them to retreat. At that point, Jibril came towards Shaitan. When Shaitan, who was holding the hand of a pagan man, saw Jibril, he let go of his hand, and ran away with his soldiers. That man asked him, “O Suraaqah! You claimed that you would aid us!!” And Shaitan said as he was running, إني أرى ما لا ترون إني أخافالله والله شديد العقاب

 “Verily, I see what you do not see! Verily, I fear Allah for Allah SWT is severe in punishment!” He said this when he saw the angels coming towards him.” Among the many miracles at Badr, one of the most notable ones occurred when the two armies drew closer to each other’s. At that moment, Allah made the Muslims look few in the eyes of the disbelievers, and Allah made the disbelievers look few in the eyes of the Muslims. Thus, when the Quraish saw the Muslims, and how few they appeared, they laughed and said:

غَرَّ هَؤُلاَءِ دِينُهُمْ “These people have been deceived by their religion!” (8:49)

Site of The Battle of Badr

Qatadah said, “We were informed that when Abu Jahl saw Rasulullah SAW and his Companions, he said: ‘I swear by Allah! After this day, they will never worship Allah.’ He said this in viciousness.” For the Muslims, Allah made the disbelievers’ armies look small in their eyes as well. ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud said: “They were made to seem few in our eyes, so that I said to a man who was next to me, ‘Do you think they are 70?’ He said, ‘Rather they are 100.’”

The greatest support Allah SWT gave the Muslims in this battle was the army of Angels led by Jibril and Mikaa’I السلام. عليهم, Ibn ‘Abbas RA said: “When the disbelievers faced the Muslims, the Muslims attacked their faces with swords. When they fled, the angels smote their rear ends.” ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab RA said that while a Muslim man was pursuing a disbeliever during the battle, he heard the sound of a whip above him, and a rider saying: أَقْدِمْ حَيزُوم “Come, O Hayzoom!” Then the man turned around and looked at the disbeliever, who had suddenly fallen to the ground. When he investigated, he found that the idolator’s nose had a wound and his face was injured, just as if he received a strike from a whip on it. The man later came to Rasulullah SAWand told him of this, and Rasulullah SAW said: “You have said the truth. ذالِكَ مِنْ مَدَدِ السَّمَاءِ الثَّالِثَة That was from the reinforcements from the third heaven.”

The site if Badr war

In this battle, the greatest chiefs of the idolators was slain. Abu Jahl, the Fir’aun of this Ummah, was killed by two youth. Umayyah Ibn Khalaf, according to some reports, was killed by his previously owned slave, Bilal Ibn Rabah RA,  Abu Lahab, who could not attend the battle (but had to stay behind in Makkah due to a disease) soon received the news of Quraish’s defeat at Badr. Abu Suiaan returned and gathered the people in Makkah and told them, “The fact is that we met our enemy and turned our backs. They made us to flee. And I cannot blame our tribesmen because they faced not only them, but also men wearing white robes riding horses, who were between the skies and earth. They spared nothing, and no one ever had a chance.” Later on, a disease spread through the skull of Abu Lahab. It turned to septic, and its poison soon spread rapidly though his entire body, causing many dark pimples (filled with pus) to appear all over his body. He stayed like that for a week before he died.

When Abu Lahab finally died, his family and sons, fearing that they might be afflicted with his disease, were hesitant to bury him. So they left his decaying body to decompose in his home for 3 nights. It was only when someone rebuked them strongly and said, “It’s disgraceful; you should be ashamed of yourselves to leave your father to rot in his own house, and not bury him from our sight!”  That they decided to do something, but still with great reluctance. So from a safe distance, Abu Lahab’s sons threw water over his body, and removed his corpse with sticks, and left it by a wall on a high piece of ground outside Makkah, and they threw rocks and stones over it, until it was fully covered.

Badr’s Battle Strategy

{And this was just his share in this world. What about what is in store for him in the Hereafter?! Please see Surah 111 in the Quran. This is a message of warning, to all those who fight Allah, His Messenger and the believers.}

Rasulullah SAW  and the Muslims returned from Badr on a Wednesday that was 8 days before the end of Ramadaan. It is noted that there were only a few Shuhada’ from Badr. Only about 14 or so Muslims were martyred on that day while many of the idolaters were killed.

Regarding the prisoners of the Battle of Badr, this was the first ever battle of the Muslims, and so Rasulullah SAW consulted his Companions over this issue of what to do with these prisoners. Abu Bakr RA advised Rasulullah SAW to pardon them and accept ransom on their behalf (in order to free them). ‘Umar RA expressed that the disbelievers should be killed, and each one by his own relative (among the Muslims).

Rasulullah SAW went out for a while. The Companions were wondering, whose opinion Rasulullah SAW would choose, especially as everyone had various views on what to do. ‘Abdullah Ibn Rawaahah RA, for example, expressed his view, saying: “We should dig a trench, fill it with firewood, set it ablaze, and throw them all in.”

The Battle site – Badar War

In the end, Rasulullah SAW returned and said: “We will ransom the prisoners.” So they would accept ransom for the prisoners. There are some reports, that state they gave them the choice, to accept Islam and thus win their freedom, or they could be freed if they taught 10 Muslims how to read and write. This would be their ransom. Al-Haafizh Ibn Katheer mentioned an authentic narration recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan, from Ibn ‘Abbas that he said: Rasulullah SAW fixed 400 (Dirhams) in ransom from the disbelievers, in the aftermath of Badr.

How were the prisoners treated? A Scottish Orientalist by the name of Sir William Muir,  a very hostile critic of Islam, wrote:

“In pursuance of Muhammad’s commands, the citizens of Madinah and such of the emigrants who possessed houses, received the prisoners and treated them with much consideration. ‘Blessings are on the men of Madinah, said one of these prisoners in the later days, ‘they made us ride while they themselves walked. They gave us wheaten bread to eat when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates.’ “

Ibn Katheer said:

“Ibn ‘Abbas  RA  said: On the day of Badr  Rasulullah SAW commanded them to be kind to their prisoners, so they used to put the prisoners before themselves when it came to food… they would give food to these prisoners even though they themselves desired it and loved it.”

Whereas the Romans, the Assyrians, and Persians, used to put out their prisoners’ eyes with hot irons and flay them alive, feeding their skins to dogs, such that the prisoners preferred death to life, Islam taught their followers to treat prisoners with mercy and kindness.

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