THE BATTLE OF BADR THE FIRST DECISIVE BATTLE IN THE HISTORY
We have already spoken about Al-‘Ushairah Invasion when a caravan belonging
to Quraish had escaped an imminent military encounter with the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) and his men. When their return from Syria approached,
the Prophet (Peace be upon him) despatched Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullâh and
Sa‘id bin Zaid northward to scout around for any movements of this sort.
The two scouts stayed at Al-Hawra’ for some days until Abu Sufyan, the
leader of the caravan, passed by them. The two men hurried back to Madinah
and reported to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) their findings. Great
wealth amounting to 50 thousand gold Dinars guarded by 40 men moving relatively
close to Madinah constituted a tempting target for the Muslim military,
and provided a potentially heavy economic, political and military strike
that was bound to shake the entire structure of the Makkan polytheists.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) immediately exhorted the Muslims to rush
out and waylay the caravan to make up for their property and wealth they
were forced to give up in Makkah. He did not give orders binding to everyone,
but rather gave them full liberty to go out or stay back, thinking that
it would be just an errand on a small scale.
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Emigrants, 61 from
Aws and 170 from Khazraj. They were not well-equipped nor adequately prepared.
They had only two horses belonging to Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Al-Miqdad
bin Al-Aswad Al-Kindi, 70 camels, one for two or three men to ride alternatively.
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) himself, ‘Ali and Murthid bin
Abi Murthid Al-Ghanawi had only one camel. Disposition of the affairs
of Madinah was entrusted to Ibn Umm Maktum but later to Abu Lubabah bin
‘Abdul Mundhir. The general leadership was given to Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair
Al-Qurashi Al-‘Abdari, and their standard was white in colour. The little
army was divided into two battalions, the Emigrants with a standard raised
by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and the Helpers whose standard was in the hand
of Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh. Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam was appointed to the leadership
of the right flank, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr to lead the left flank, and the
rear of the army was at the command of Qais bin Abi Sa‘sa‘ah. The General
Commander-in-Chief was the Prophet (Peace be upon him), of course.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), at the head of his army, marched out
along the main road leading to Makkah. He then turned left towards Badr
and when he reached As-Safrâ’, he despatched two men to scout about for
the camels of Quraish.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already
been aware that the route he was following was attended with dangers.
He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad (Peace be
upon him). His scouting men submitted to him reports to the effect that
the Muslims were lying in ambush for his caravan. To be on the safe side,
he hired Damdam bin ‘Amr Al-Ghifari to communicate a message asking for
help from the Quraishites. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah
in frenzy. Felling himself from his camel, he stood dramatically before
Al-Ka‘bah, cut off the nose and the ears of the camel, turned its saddle
upside down, tore off his own shirt from front and behind, and cried:
“O Quraish! Your merchandise! It is with Abu Sufyan. The caravan is being
intercepted by Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his companions. I cannot
say what would have happened to them. Help! Help!”
The effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous and the news stunned
Quraish and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when
the Muslims had intercepted Al-Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly
mustered almost all of their forces and none stayed behind except Abu
Lahab, who delegated someone who owed him some money. They also mobilized
some Arab tribes to contribute to the war against the Prophet (Peace be
upon him). All the clans of Quraish gave their consent except Banu ‘Adi.
Soon an excited throng of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600
mailed soldiers with a large number of camels, was clamouring to proceed
to fight the Muslims. For food supplies, they used to slaughter an alternate
number of camels of ten and nine every day. They were however afraid that
Banu Bakr, on account of old long deep-seated animosity, would attack
their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to
them in the guise of Suraqa bin Malik bin Ju‘sham Al-Mudlaji — chief of
Bani Kinana — saying to them: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from
They set out burning with indignation, motivated by a horrible desire
for revenge and exterminating anyone that might jeopardize the routes
of their caravans:
“…boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the
path of Allâh. ” [8:47]
Or as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“O Allâh these are the haughty and conceited; they have come defying
Allâh and defying His Messenger.”
They moved swiftly northward to Badr. On the way they received another
message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan
had escaped the Muslims. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention
of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and inclined it towards
the Red Sea. By this manoeuvre, he was able to slip past the Madinese
ambush and was out of their reach.
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to
return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however haughtily and arrogantly insisted
that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for making festivities.
Now they wanted to punish the Muslims and prevent them from intercepting
their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that Quraish still had the upper
hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence notwithstanding, Banu Zahrah, acting
on the advice of Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq, broke away and returned to Makkah.
Thenceforth Al-Akhnas remained ‘the well-rubbed palm tree’ for Bani Zahrah
and was blindly obeyed in all relevant matters.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats
made them desist from that idea.
The rest of the army, now 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped
themselves beyond a sand dune at Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa.
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madinese army reported to the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) that a bloody encounter with the Makkans was inescapable,
and that a daring step in this context had to be taken, or else the forces
of evil would violate the inviolable and would consequently manage to
undermine the noble cause of the Islam and tread upon its faithful adherents.
The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start
the war activities within the headquarters of Islam, Madinah. A move of
such nature would certainly damage and produce an infamous impact on the
dignity and stance of the Muslims.
On account of the new grave developments, the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) held an advisory military emergency meeting to review the ongoing
situation and exchange viewpoints with the army leaders. Admittedly, some
Muslims feared the horrible encounter and their courage began to waver;
in this regard, Allâh says:
“As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad [Peace be upon him) ] to
go out from your home with the Truth, and verily, a party among
the believers disliked it, disputing with you concerning the Truth
after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death
while they were looking (at it).” [8:5, 6]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) apprised his men of the gravity of the
situation and asked for their advice. Abu Bakr was the first who spoke
on the occasion and assured the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of the unreserved
obedience to his command. ‘Umar was the next to stand up and supported
the views expressed by his noble friend. Then Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr got up
and said: “O Messenger of Allâh! Proceed where Allâh directs you to, for
we are with you. We will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses
(Peace be upon him):
“Go you and your Lord and fight and we will stay here;”
Rather we shall say:
“Go you and yourLord and fight and we will fight along with you.”
By Allâh! If you were to take us to Bark Al-Ghimad, we will still fight
resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) thanked him and blessed him.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Emigrants, who only constituted
a minor section of the army. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) wanted, and
for the more reason, to hear the Helpers’ view because they were the majority
of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the brunt of the war activities.
Moreover, the clauses of Al-‘Aqabah Pledge did not commit them to fighting
beyond their territories.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then said: “Advise me my men!”
by which he meant the Helpers, in particular. Upon this Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh
stood up and said: “By Allâh, I feel you want us (the Helpers) to speak.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) directly said: “Oh, yes!” Sa‘d said: “O
Prophet of Allâh! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have
vouchsafed to us and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have
brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice.
We will obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by Allâh,
Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to plunge into
the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind.
We do not grudge the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced
in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that Allâh will show
you through our hands those deeds of valour which will please your eyes.
Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allâh.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was impressed with the fidelity and the
spirit of sacrifice which his companions showed at this critical juncture.
Then he said to them: “Forward and be of cheer, for Allâh has promised
me one of the two (the lucrative course through capturing the booty or
strife in the cause of Allâh against the polytheists), and by Allâh it
is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate.”
In the immediate vicinity of Badr, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and
his cavemate Abu Bakr conducted a scouting operation during which they
managed to locate the camp of Quraish. They came across an old bedouin
nearby whom they manipulated and managed to extract from him the exact
location of the army of the polytheists. In the evening of the same day,
he despatched three Emigrant leaders, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Az-Zubair bin
Al-‘Awwam and Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas to scout about for news about the enemy.
They saw two men drawing water for the Makkan army. On interrogation,
they admitted that they were water carriers working for Quraish. But that
answer did not please some Muslims and they beat the two boys severely
in order to exact from them an answer, even if it isn’t true, alluding
to the caravan laden with wealth. The two boys thus lied, and so they
were released. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was angry with those men
and censured them saying: “On telling the truth, you beat them, and on
telling a lie, you released them!” He then addressed the two boys and
after a little conversation with them he learned a lot about the enemy:
number of soldiers, their exact location and names of some of their notables.
He then turned to the Muslims and said: “Hearken, Quraish has sent you
their most precious lives.”
The same night it rained on both sides. For the polytheists it obstructed
further progress, whereas it was a blessing for the Muslims. It cleaned
them and removed from them the stain of Satan. Allâh sent rain to strengthen
their hearts and to plant their feet firmly therewith. They marched a
little forward and encamped at the farther bank of the valley. Muhammad
(Peace be upon him) stopped at the nearest spring of Badr. Al-Hubab bin
Mundhir asked him, “Has Allâh inspired you to choose this very spot or
is it stratagem of war and the product of consultation?” The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) replied “It is stratagem of war and consultation.” Al-Hubab
said: “This place is no good; let us go and encamp on the nearest water
well and make a basin or reservoir full of water, then destroy all the
other wells so that they will be deprived of the water.” The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, which they
actually did at midnight.
Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh suggested that a trellis be built for the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) to function as headquarters for the Muslim army and a place
providing reasonable protection for the leader. Sa‘d began to justify
his proposal and said that if they had been victorious, then everything
would be satisfactory. In case of defeat, the Prophet (Peace be upon him)
would not be harmed and he could go back to Madinah where there were more
people who loved him and who would have come for help if they had known
that he was in that difficult situation, so that he would resume his job,
hold counsel with them and they would strive in the cause of Allâh with
him again and again.
A squad of guards was also chosen from amongst the Helpers under the
leadership of the same man, Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, in order to defend the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) in his headquarters.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) spent the whole night preceding the day
of the battle in prayer and supplication. The Muslim army, wearied with
their long march, enjoyed sound and refreshing sleep, a mark of the Divine
favour and of the state of their undisturbed minds.
“(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from
Him, and He caused rain to descend on you from the sky, to clean
you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering,
evil suggestions, etc.) of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts,
and make your feet firm thereby.” [8:11]
That was Friday night, Ramadan 17th., the year 2 A.H.
In the morning, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) called his men to offer
the prayers and then urged them to fight in the way of Allâh. As the sun
rose over the desert, the Prophet(Peace be upon him) drew up his little
army, and pointing with an arrow which he held in his hand, arranged the
Quraish, on the other hand, positioned their forces in Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa
opposite the Muslim lines. A few of them approached, in a provocative
deed, to draw water from the wells of Badr, but were all shot dead except
one, Hakeem bin Hizam, who later became a devoted Muslim. ‘Umair bin Wahab
Al-Jumahi, in an attempt to reconnoiter the power of the Muslims, made
a scouting errand and submitted a report saying that the Muslim army numbered
as many as 300 men keen on fighting to the last man. On another reconnaissance
mission he came to the conclusion that neither reinforcements were coming
nor ambushes laid. He understood that they were too brave to surrender
and too intent on carrying out their military duties to withdraw without
slaying the largest number possible of the polytheists. This report as
well as kindred relations binding the two belligerent parties together,
slackened the desire to fight among some of the Quraishites. To counteract
this reason-based opposition advocated by a rival of his, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a
and others, Abu Jahl started an anti-campaign seeking vengeance on Muhammad’s
followers for the Quraishites killed at Nakhlah. In this way, he managed
to thwart the opposite orientation, and manipulated the people to see
his evil views only.
When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other,
the Prophet (Peace be upon him) began supplicating Allâh “O Allâh! The
conceited and haughty Quraishites are already here defying You and belying
Your Messenger. O Allâh! I am waiting for Your victory which You have
promised me. I beseech You Allâh to defeat them (the enemies).” He also
gave strict orders that his men would not start fighting until he gave
them his final word. He recommended that they use their arrows sparingly
and never resort to sword unless the enemies came too close.
Abu Jahl also prayed for victory, saying: “Our Lord, whichever of the
two parties was less kind to his relatives, and brought us what we do
not know, then destroy him tomorrow.”. They were confident ththeir superior
number, equipment and experience would be decisive. The Noble Qur’ân,
with a play on the word, told them that the decision had come, and the
victory — but not in the sense they had hoped for:
“(O disbelievers) if you ask for a judgement, now has the judgement
come unto you and if you cease (to do wrong), it will be better
for you, and if you return (to the attack), so shall we return,
and your forces will be of no avail to you, however numerous it
be, and verily, Allâh is with the believers.” [8:19]
The first disbeliever to trigger the fire of the battle and be its first
victim was Al-Aswad bin ‘Abdul Asad Al-Makhzumi, a fierce bad-tempered
idolater. He stepped out swearing he would drink from the water basin
of the Muslims, otherwise, destroy it or die for it. He engaged with Hamzah
bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who struck his leg with his sword and dealt him another
blow that finished him off inside the basin.
The battle had actually started. Protected by armour and shields, ‘Utbah
bin Rabi‘a stepped forth between his brother Shaibah and his son Al-Waleed
bin ‘Utbah from the lines of Quraish and hurled maledictions at the Muslims.
Three young men of the Helpers came out against them: ‘Awf and Mu‘wwadh
— the sons of Harith, and ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha. But the Makkans yelled
that they had nothing to do with them. They wanted the heads of their
cousins. Upon this the Prophet (Peace be upon him) asked ‘Ubaidah bin
Al-Harith, Hamzah — his uncle, and his cousin ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased
with him) to go forward for the combat. The three duels were rapid. Hamzah
killed Shaibah, while ‘Ali killed Al-Waleed. ‘Ubaidah was seriously wounded
but, before he fell, Hamzah fell upon ‘Utbah and with a sweep of his sword,
cut off his head. ‘Ali and Hamzah carried ‘Ubaidah back with his leg cut
off. He died four or five days later of a disease in the bile duct.
‘Ali was possessed of a deep conviction that Allâh’s Words were revealed:
“These two opponents (believers and disbelievers) dispute with
each other about their Lord.” [22:19]
These verses were revealed in connection with men of Faith who confess
their Lord and seek to carry out His Will (i.e. Muhammad ’s followers
at Badr Battle), and men who deny their Lord and defy Him (the people
The duel was followed by a few more duels but the Makkans suffered terrible
defeats in all the combats and lost some of their most precious lives.
They were too much exasperated and enraged and fell upon the Muslims to
exterminate them once and for all. The Muslims, however, after supplicating
their Lord, calling upon Him for assistance, were made to hold to their
position and conduct a defensive war plan that was successful enough to
inflict heavy losses on the attackers. The Prophet (Peace be upon him)
used to pray to his Lord ceaselessly persistently and day and night to
come to their succour. When the fierce engagement grew too hot he again
began to supplicate his Lord saying:
“O Allâh! Should this group (of Muslims) be defeated today, You
will no longer be worshipped.”
He continued to call out to his Lord, stretching forth his hands and
facing Al-Qiblah, until his cloak fell off his shoulders. Then
Abu Bakr came, picked up the cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and
said: “O Prophet of Allâh, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He
will surely fulfill what He has promised you.”
Immediate was the response from Allâh, Who sent down angels from the
heavens for the help and assistance of the Prophet (Peace be upon him)
and his companions. The Noble Qur’ân observes:
“Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed.
I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved.”
Allâh, the All-Mighty, also inspired another message to His Messenger,
“I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the
other (following one another) in succession.” [8:9]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), in his trellis, dozed off a little and
then raised his head joyfully crying:
“O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you: Allâh’s victory has
approached, by Allâh, I can see Gabriel on his mare in the thick
of a sandstorm.”
He then jumped out crying:
“Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their
At the instance of Gabriel, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) took a handful
of gravel, cast it at the enemy and said: “Confusion seize their faces!”
As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew like furnace blast into
the eyes of the enemies. With respect to this, Allâh says:
“And you [i.e. Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] threw not when you
did throw but Allâh threw.” [8:17]
Only then did he give clear orders to launch a counter-attack. He was
commanding the army, inspiring confidence among his men and exhorting
them to fight manfully for the sake of their Lord, reciting the Words
“And be quick for forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise
as wide as are the heavens and the earth.” [3:133]
The spirit he infused into his men was clearly witnessed by the valour
of ‘Umair, a lad of sixteen, who flung away some dates he was eating crying
out: “These (the dates) are holding me back from Paradise.” So saying
he plunged into the thick of the battle and died fighting bravely. Unique
deeds of valour, deep devotion and full obedience to the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) were exhibited in the process of the battle. The army of
the faithfuls was borne forward by the power of enthusiasm which the half-hearted
warriors of Makkah miserably lacked. A large number of the polytheists
were killed and the others began to waver. No wonder! The standard-bearers
of Truth were given immediate help, and supernatural agencies (the angels),
were sent to their assistance by their Lord to help them defeat the forces
The records of Hadith speak eloquently of the fact that the angels
did appear on that day and fought on the side of the Muslims. Ibn ‘Abbas
said: “While on that day a Muslim was chasing a disbeliever and he heard
over him the swashing of a whip and the voice of the rider saying: ‘Go
ahead Haizum’. He glanced at the polytheist who had (now) fallen down
on his back. The Helper came to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon
him) and related that event to him. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied:
‘You have told the truth. This was the help from the third heaven.”
One of the Helpers captured ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who said: “O
Messenger of Allâh, by Allâh this man did not capture me. I was captured
by a man who was bald and had the most handsome face, and who was riding
a piebald horse, I cannot see him here among the people.” The Helper interrupted:
“I captured him, O Messenger of Allâh.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him)
“Be quiet, Allâh the All-Mighty strengthened you with the help
of a noble angel.”
Iblîs, the archsatan, in the guise of Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju‘sham
Al-Mudlaji, on seeing angels working in favour of the Muslims, and Quraish
rapidly losing ground on the battlefield, made a quick retreat despite
the polytheists’ pleas to stay on. He ran off and plunged into the sea.
The ranks of Quraish began to give way and their numbers added nothing
but confusion. The Muslims followed eagerly their retreating steps, slaying
or taking captive all that fell within their reach. Retreat soon turned
into ignominious rout; and they flied in haste, casting away their armour,
abandoned beasts of burden, camp and equipage.
The great tyrant Abu Jahl, however, on seeing the adverse course of the
battle, tried to stop the tidal wave of the Islamic victory by nerving
the polytheists and encouraging them by all means available and adjuring
them by Al-Lat and ‘Uzza and all symbols of paganism to stand firm in
place and retaliate against the Muslims, but to no avail. Their morale
had already been drastically reduced to zero, and their lines broken down.
He then began to realize the reality of his arrogance and haughtiness.
None remained around him except a gang of doomed polytheists whose resistance
was also quelled by an Islamic irresistible storm of true devotion-based
valour and Islam-orientated pursuit of martyrdom. Jahl was deserted and
left by himself on his horse waiting for death at the hand of two courageous
lads of the Helpers.
‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf related the following interesting story in this
regard: I was in the thick of the battle when two youths, still seemingly
inexperienced in the art of fighting, one on the right and the second
on the left. One of them spoke in a secret voice asking me to show him
Abu Jahl. I asked about his intention, to which he replied, that he had
a strong desire to engage with him in a combat until either of them was
killed. It was something incredible to me. I turned left and the other
said something to the same effect and showed a similar desire. I acceded
to their earnest pleas and pointed directly at their target. They both
rushed swiftly towards the spot, and without a moment’s hesitation struck
him simultaneously with their swords and finished him off. They went back
to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), each claiming that he had
killed Abu Jahl to the exclusion of the other. The Prophet (Peace be upon
him)asked if they had wiped the blood off their swords and they answered
that they had not. He then examined both swords and assured them that
they both had killed him. When the battle concluded, Abu Jahl’s spoils
were given to Mu‘adh bin ‘Amr bin Al-Jumuh, because the other Mu‘awwadh
bin Al-‘Afrâ’ was later killed in the course of the same battle. At the
termination of the battle, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) wanted to look
for this archenemy of Islam, Abu Jahl. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud found him
on the verge of death breathing his last. He stepped on his neck addressing
him: “Have you seen how Allâh has disgraced you?” The enemy of Islam still
defiantly answered: “I am not disgraced. I am no more than a man killed
by his own people on the battlefield.” And then inquired “Who has won
the battle?” Ibn Mas‘ud replied “Allâh and His Messenger.” Abu Jahl then
said with a heart full of grudge “You have followed difficult ways, you
shepherd!” Ibn Mas‘ud used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan aristocrats.
Ibn Mas‘ud then cut off his head and took it to the Messenger of Allâh
(Peace be upon him) who, on seeing it, began to entertain Allâh’s praise:
“Allâh is Great, praise is to Allâh, Who has fulfilled His Promise,
assisted His servant and defeated the confederates alone.”
He then set out to have a look at the corpse. There he said: “This is
the Pharaoh of this nation.”
Here, however, in the battle of Badr he insisted on fighting unless
his compatriot was spared. Al-Mujdhir bin Ziyad Al-Balwi, with whom
he was engaged in combat, replied that the other was not included in
the Prophet ’s recommendation. The combat went on to end in Al-Bukhtari’s
- The Prophet (Peace be upon him) advised his companions to preserve
the lives of Banu Hashim who had gone out to Badr with the polytheists
unwillingly because they had feared the censure of their people. Among
them, he named Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and Abu Bukhtari bin Hisham.
He ordered the Muslims to capture, but not to kill them. Abu Hudhaifah
bin ‘Utbah showed great surprise and commented saying: “We kill our
fathers, children, brothers and members of our clan, and then come to
spare Al-‘Abbas? By Allâh! If I see him I will surely strike him with
my sword.” On hearing these words, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be
upon him), addressing ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, said “Is it fair that the
face of the Messenger’s uncle be struck with sword?” ‘Umar got indignant
and threatened to kill Abu Hudhaifah; the latter later said that extreme
fear had taken firm grip of him and felt that nothing except martyrdom
could expiate for his mistake. He was actually killed later on during
- Abu Al-Bukhtari bin Hisham had already done his best to restrain his
people, the Makkans, from committing any act of folly against the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) while the latter was still in Makkah. He also neither
hurt nor was reported to have uttered anything repugnant with regard
to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). He had as well been among the people
who tried to invalidate the boycott alliance taken against Banu Hashim
and Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib.
- ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf and Omaiyah bin Khalaf had been close friends
during the pre-Islamic era. When the battle of Badr ended, ‘Abdur-Rahman
saw Omaiyah and his son among the captives. He threw away the armour
he had as spoils, and walked with them both. Bilal, the Prophet’s caller
for prayer, saw Omaiyah and soon all the torture he had been put to
at the hand of this man dawned upon him, and swore he would have revenge
on Omaiyah. ‘Abdur-Rahman tried to ease the tension and address embarrassing
situation amicably but with no success. The Muslims gathered around
and struck Omaiyah’s son with swords. At this point, ‘Abdur-Rahman called
upon his old friend to run for his life but he was put to swords from
different people and lay down dead. ‘Abdur-Rahman, completely helpless
and resigned said: May Allâh have mercy on Bilal, for he deprived me
of the spoils, and I have been stricken by the death of my two captives.
- On the moral level, the battle of Badr was an inescapable conflict
between the forces of good and those of evil. In this context, ‘Umar
bin Al-Khattab did not spare the life of any polytheist even his uncle
on the maternal side Al-‘As bin Hisham bin Al-Mugheerah.
- Abu Bakr shouted at his son ‘Abdur-Rahman, still a polytheist and
fighting with them, “Where is my wealth, you wicked boy?” The son answered
that it was gone with the wind.
- When the battle ended, the Muslims began to hold some polytheists
in captivity. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) looked into the face of
Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, the Head of the Prophet’s guards, and understood that
he was hateful to taking the enemy elements as prisoners. Sa‘d agreed
to what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said and added that it was the
first victory for the Muslims over the forces of polytheism, and he
had more liking for slaying them than sparing their lives.
- On the day of Badr, the sword of ‘Ukashah bin Mihsan Al-Asdi broke
down so the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave him a log of wood which
he shook and it immediately turned into a long strong white sword. ‘Ukashah
went on using that same sword in most of the Islamic conquests until
he died in the process of the apostasy wars.
- When the war activities had been concluded, Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-‘Abdari
saw his brother, still a polytheist, being handcuffed by a Ansari. Mus‘ab
recommended that the Helper tighten the knot for the prisoner’s mother
was wealthy enough to ransom her son. ‘Abu ‘Aziz, Mus‘ab’s brother,
tried to appeal to his brother through the family ties, but the latter
firmly replied that the Helper was more eligible for brotherhood than
- When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ordered that the corpses of the
polytheists be dropped into an empty well, Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah
looked sadly at his dead father, who fought on the side of the polytheists.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) noticed that and asked him about it.
Hudhaifah said that he had never held the least doubt that his father
met his fate deservedly, but added that he wished he had been guided
to the path of Islam, and that is why he felt sad. The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) whispered in his ears some comforting words.
The outcome of the battle was as aforementioned an ignominious rout for
the polytheists and a manifest victory for the Muslims. Fourteen Muslims
were killed, of whom six were from the Emigrants and eight from the Helpers.
The polytheists sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and a
like number taken prisoners. Many of the principal men of Makkah, and
some of Muhammad ’s bitterest opponents, were among the slain. Chief of
these was Abu Jahl.
On the third day, the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) went out
to look at the slain polytheists, and said:
“What an evil tribe you were as regards your Prophet, you belied
me but the others have believed; you let me down while the others
have supported me; you expelled m, whereas the others have sheltered
He stood over the bodies of twenty-four leaders of Quraish who had been
thrown into one of the wells, and started to call them by name and by
the names of their fathers, saying: “Would it not have been much better
for you if you had obeyed Allâh and His Messenger? Behold, we have found
that our Lord’s promise do come true; did you (also) find that the promises
of your Lord came true?” Thereupon, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said: “O Messenger
of Allâh! Why you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?” The Prophet
(Peace be upon him) answered: “By Him in Whose hand is Muhammad ’s soul!
You do not hear better what I am saying than they do.”
The polytheists having received a large dose of disciplining and heavy
defeat, fled away in great disorder in the vales and hillocks heading
for Makkah panicked and too ashamed to see their people.
Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of bad tidings was Al-Haisaman
bin ‘Abdullah Al-Khuza‘i. He narrated to them how their notables were
killed. People there did not believe him at first and thought that he
had gone mad, but soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible
bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan scene. Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith
gave Abu Lahab a full account of the massacre and the disgraceful rout
they sustained, with emphasis on the role that the angels played in bringing
about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and gave vent
to his feelings of resentment in beating, abusing and slapping Abu Rafi‘,
a Muslim, but reticent on his conversion, for reiterating the role of
the angels. Umm Al-Fadl, another Muslim woman, greatly exasperated by
Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behaviour, struck him with a log and cracked his
head. Seven days later, he died of an ominous ulcer and was left for three
days unburied. His sons, however, for fear of shameful rumours, drove
him to a pit and keeping their distance, hurled stones and dust at him.
The defeat was a matter of great shame and grief for the Makkans. In
almost every house there were silent tears for the dead and the captives.
They were burning with humiliation and were thirsting for revenge. Wailing,
lamenting and crying however were decreed strictly forbidden lest the
Muslims should rejoice at their affliction.
Two heralds, ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah were despatched
to Madinah, to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there.
The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madinah featured different
respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread
news to the effect that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had been killed,
and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Zaid bin
Harithah was riding Al-Qaswâ’, the Prophet’s she-camel. Having reached,
the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory,
and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order
to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious,
but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allâh’s Name
and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went
out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on
the road leading to Badr.
Usamah bin Zaid related that they received the news of the manifest victory
shortly after Ruqaiyah, the Prophet ’s daughter, and the wife of ‘Uthman
bin ‘Affan had been committed to earth. She had been terminally ill and
the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had asked ‘Uthman to stay in Madinah and
look after her.
Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils
of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their
distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider,
the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) suspended any solution whereof
until the Revelation was sent down.
‘Ubadah bin As-Samit said: “We went out with the Messenger of Allâh (Peace
be upon him) and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allâh,
the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued
the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp,
and others were guarding the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) and
were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came
and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said:
“We collected it, so no one else has any right to it.” Those who had pursued
the enemy said: “You do not have more right to it than we do; we held
the enemy at bay and then defeated them.” As for the men who had been
guarding the Prophet (Peace be upon him), they also made similar claims
to the spoils.
At that very time, a Qur’ânic verse was revealed saying:
“They ask you [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] about the spoils
of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allâh and the Messenger.’ So fear
Allâh and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allâh
and His Messenger [Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ], if you are believers.”
On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had
taken Al-Khums (one-fifth). When they reached As-Safra’, he ordered
that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were An-Nadr bin Al-Harith
and ‘Uqbah bin Abi Muait, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah,
and harboured deep hatred towards Allâh and His Messenger (Peace be upon
him). In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology,
and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot
his pride and cried out, “Who will look after my children O Messenger
of Allâh?” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered, “The fire (of Hell).
” Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a
sheep onto the head of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) while he was prostrating
himself in prayer, and Fatimah had come and washed it off him? He had
also strangled the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with his cloak if it had
not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet (Peace be upon
him). The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib.
At Ar-Rawhâ’, a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the
joyous Madinese who had come to congratulate the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) on the manifest victory that Allâh had granted him. Usaid bin Hudair,
acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining
Allâh’s praise, he excused himself for not having joined them on grounds
that the Prophet ’s intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept
a caravan of camels only, he added that if it had occurred to him that
it would be real war, he would have never tarried. The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) assured Usaid that he had believed him.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) now entered Madinah as a man to be counted
for in a new dimension — the military field. In consequence, a large number
of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, which added a lot to the strength,
power and moral standing of the true religion.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners
so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their
bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.
Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it
was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. The Prophet (Peace be upon
him) consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab as to what he should
do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them,
explaining this by saying: “They are after all our relatives, and this
money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allâh
could guide them to Islam.” ‘Umar advised killing them, saying, “They
are the leaders of Kufr (disbelief).” The Prophet (Peace be upon
him) preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following
day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr to see
them weeping. He shextreme astonishment and inquired about the situation
so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said that a Qur’ânic verse had been revealed
rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying
“It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war
(and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter
(among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world
(i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires
(for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were
it not a previous ordainment from Allâh, a severe torment would
have touched you for what you took.” [8:67,68]
The previous Divine ordainment went as follows,
“Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them
without ransom) or ransom.” [47:4]
Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why
no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before
subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken
to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather archcriminals of
war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence
of death or prison for life.
The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 Dirhams
in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form
of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike
the Madinese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford
the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing
and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor
would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed
on grounds of being hard up. Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet (Peace
be upon him), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace.
The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference
to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but on condition that Abul-‘As allow
Zainab to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did.
In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhail bin ‘Amr.
‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from
speaking, but the Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned down his suggestion
for fear Quraish should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and
on the other for fear of Allâh’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sa‘d bin An-Nu‘man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released
in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.
The Chapter of Al-Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion
of the battle of Badr, Ramadan 17th 2 A.H. It constituted a unique Divine
commentary on this battle.
Allâh, the All-High, in the context of this Chapter draws on major issues
relating to the whole process of Islamization. Allâh, here draws the attention
of the Muslims to the still lingering moral shortcomings in their character.
He wants them to build an integrated, purified society. He speaks about
the invisible assistance he sent down to His obedient servants to enable
them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid
themselves of any trait of haughtiness or arrogance that might sneak in.
He wants them to turn to Him for help, obey Him and His Messenger (Peace
be upon him).
After that He delineated the noble objectives for which the Messenger
(Peace be upon him) launched that bloody battle, and directed them to
the merits and qualities that brought about the great victory.The polytheists,
hypocrites, the Jews and prisoners of war were also mentioned, being admonished
to surrender to the Truth and adhere to it only. The question of the spoils
of war was resolved and the principles and basics relevant to this issue
were clearly defined.
The laws and rules pertinent to war and peace were legalized and codified,
especially at this advanced stage of the Islamic action. Allâh wanted
the Muslims to follow war ethics dissimilar to those of pre-Islamic practices.
The Muslims are deemed to outdo the others in ethics, values and fine
ideals. He wants to impress on the world that Islam is not merely a theoretical
code of life, it is rather mind cultivation-orientated practical principles.
In this context, He established inter and intra-state relations.
The fast of Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the
year 2 A.H., appended by the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying Zakat
(alms tax, poor-due) in order to alleviate the burden of the needy
A wonderful and striking coincidence was the establishment of Shawwal
‘Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking) directly after the manifest
victory of Badr. It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of
Muslims leaving their houses praying, acclaiming Allâh’s Name and entertaining
His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favour and
grace, and last but not least, the support He rendered them and through
which the forces of the Truth overpowered those of evil.
“And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the
land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but He provided
a safe place for you, strengthened you with His help, and provided
you with good things so that you might be grateful.” [8:26]