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IslamiCity > Articles > On the Path of the Beloved - The Battle of Badr
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The battle of Badr was the first battle between Muslims and Quraysh, and the first victory for Islam and the truth against Quraysh and falsehood.
Audio On the Path of the Beloved - The Battle of Badr

On the Path of the Beloved - The Battle of Badr
2/16/2014 - Religious Education Religious - Article Ref: AK0709-3374
Number of comments: 3
Opinion Summary: Agree:3  Disagree:0  Neutral:0
By: Amr Khalid
Amrkhaled.net* -

In the name of Allah, the All-Merciful, the Ever-Merciful. All praise be to Allah and prayers and blessings be upon His Messenger (SAWS). Yesterday was the anniversary of the battle of Badr, and today we will talk about it. This battle occurred on Friday the 17th of Ramadan in the second year after migration.

When the Prophet (SAWS) arrived to Madinah, there were many challenges: The migrants from Makkah who left their families, homes and properties were homeless and unemployed in Madinah. The nature of work in Madinah (farming) was different from what they were used to in Makkah (trade). Accordingly, their financial status was getting worse and they were getting poorer. Many of the poor migrants were called "Ahlul-Soffa" due to their abject poverty. The Prophet (SAWS) assigned a small place for them in his mosque, where they were to live until they find a better option. Furthermore, the customs in Madinah and the health atmosphere were totally different. The migrants felt lonely and estranged, being away from their homeland.

As for the Ansaar (Muslims from Madinah), there was rivalry between the two tribes "Aws" and "Khazraj" even after they embraced Islam. They were challenging each other: which of them would play the key role in the new society? Besides, there were still some disbelievers from Aws and Khazraj in Madinah. As the power of Islam was growing, there appeared the new category of hypocrites in the Muslim society. They declared themselves Muslims, yet they held grudges and hatred towards Muslims and plotted against them. In addition, there were three major Jewish tribes controlling the economy of Madinah: trading grains, dates, liquors, and clothes, and even owning the water wells. The Jews felt they were far better than the Arabs, as they thought the last Prophet would be one of them. Hence, when the Prophet came from the Arabs, the Jews felt angry and envious. Outside Madinah, Quraysh was still there, monitoring the events and bearing in mind that the struggle did not end. 

To control the internal affairs, the Prophet (SAWS) implemented the following three tactics: 

1- Building the mosque: not only for worshipping but also as a place where all Muslims (migrants and Ansaar, Aws and Khazraj) would meet, and their hearts and minds would converge.
2- Establishing brotherhood between migrants and Ansaar: by making one Muslim from the migrants live with a Muslim from the Ansaar. Hence, the problem of residence would be solved for the migrants, the migrants would teach the Ansaar about Islam, and the society would experience collaboration.

3- Setting a constitution of the rights and duties of citizenship for the inhabitants of Madinah: This would apply to the Muslims and the Jews, as they were to live together and co-exist in a new society based on the principles of Islam.

Accordingly, the society started to move towards charity and goodness. People were very positive and reacted positively to what the Prophet (SAWS) did. Unfortunately, nowadays people in our countries are the exact opposite. Let us examine an example of charity in Madinah. A poor migrant went to the Prophet as he was homeless. The Prophet asked the Muslims to host that poor man for the night. A man and his wife from the Ansaar took the man to their home, and started preparing dinner; unfortunately, the food was not enough, and their children were hungry. They were really poor, but they wanted to do something good. We have to learn that charity and generosity are not restricted to rich people only; any body who loves Islam can do this. Well, the poor couple put their children to sleep without dinner, dimmed the light, and placed the food before their guest. They pretended that they were eating with him so that he would have all the food. They did this without intending to tell anybody in order to gain Thawab (reward) and be rewarded by Allah (SWT). In the morning, when they went to perform the morning prayer, they found that the revelation was sent with an Ayah to the Prophet (SAWS). Allah sent what can be translated as, " ... and prefer (the Muhajirn) above themselves, even though penury be (their portion)" (TMQ, 59:9)[1]. They wanted to keep it as a secret, but Allah (SWT) wanted to announce it; they wanted to do it faithfully for the sake of Allah, and Allah wanted the news to spread and good to prevail. After the prayer, the Prophet (SAWS) told them, "Allah is satisfied with what you did with your guest last night". Allah (SWT) did this because the society was very poor and needy, hence values of good and beneficence had to prevail. When we started the projects of Life Makers (collecting clothes and Ramadan bags), some people suggested doing it secretly without announcing the numbers. Well, announcing such acts helps people to imitate each other and accordingly, good prevails. Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "secretly and in public" (TMQ, 2:274).

On the economical level, the society was very poor, but they moved towards developing all aspects of life. At that time the role of businessmen started. Othman Ibn-Affan, who was very rich, bought a water well from the Jews and offered it to the Muslims as a gift. The Prophet also set up a new market in Madinah, as the Jews were controlling the trade. This was to prepare new Muslim businessmen who would be able to shoulder the mission, e.g. Abdel-Rahman Ibn-Ouf. Youths also started having a role; 70 youths from the companions established a group to teach Ahlul-soffa some crafts (small projects) to practice by day like; turnery and smithery. At night, these youths used to teach them Qur'an. Those 70 companions were named "The Readers" because they taught people the Noble Qur'an. For their help in solving the economic problem in the society, Allah (SWT) rewarded them all with martyrdom at the same day. You can have a message in media, art, or business, and this would still be considered a big deed for Islam. Dear brothers and sisters! we have to note that good and beneficence does not only mean spending on orphanages or teaching Qur'an. 

At this time, the duties of Islam started to be revealed. Prayer was obligated during Al-Israa and Al-Mi'raj[2], but each prayer consisted of 2 Raka'as (unit of the prayer). However, in Madinah they were set to what we know now. Forms of worship were set here because Muslims were in need for a huge spiritual boost. Fasting was ordained for the first time in Madinah, two years after the migration. Hijab was set as a duty, and Zakat[3] too because the society needed money and funding. Notice that everything in our religion was revealed at the right time, when the society needed it. 

Creativity found an outlet as well: using the Mimbar (pulpit) was the idea of a woman from the companions. She told the Prophet (SAWS) that to achieve better communication, he should stand on a high place to see the people and to be seen by them while delivering his speeches. As for the Adhan (call for prayers), Muslims were wondering how to gather people for prayers. They wanted to have some method that is different from other religions. Abdullah Ibn-Zaid, one of the companions had a dream that a man taught him the words of the Adhan. He told the Prophet about the dream and the Adhan wording, and the Prophet said that it was a good vision. This man was thinking hard for the sake of Islam, and this was why Allah (SWT) guided him to what he was seeking. If you love Islam and dream for it, Allah (SWT) will send you ideas. Can you see that Abdullah is gaining Thawab until the Day of Judgment because he cared for Islam and dreamt for it? Notice that the Prophet (SAWS) asked Belal to make the call for prayers with the Adhan because he had a beautiful voice. Islam cares a lot for values of beauty, and the Prophet wanted the Adhan to be performed in the best way. 

The Prophet (SAWS) represented a role model for the people in this society. They were very poor, and when one of them went to the Prophet to complain of hunger, he found the prophet in the same state too. The Prophet never ate except after the people ate; months would pass before any cooking would be done in his house, and he mainly ate dates and water. Being such an example, the Prophet helped the people to be patient. If you can visit the houses of his wives, you will find them very small, although at that time they used to have big and nice houses. 

Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) set an example in selflessness as well. One time when it was very cold during a winter in Madinah; a woman from the Ansaar weaved a woolen outfit for the Prophet (SAWS). The Prophet was very happy to have it, and wore it for Fajr prayer. One of the Ansaar saw it and said, "What a beautiful outfit! Would you give it to me, Messenger of Allah?" The Prophet (SAWS) immediately took it off and put it on the man. The companions blamed the man for doing this, but the man said, "I didn't want it because of the cold, but to be shrouded with it in my grave". 

As for the situation outside of Madinah, the conflict between truth and falsehood did not end, although the "truth" left Makkah. Actually the battles and wars would start. There is something very important we have to note: within the current world events, we are not ashamed of Jihad, or of the Prophet's ahadith about martyrs and mujahedoon (fighters for the sake of Allah). We have to understand the reasons behind the Prophet's jihad. Remember the first words for the Prophet (SAWS) when he entered Madinah, "O people! Spread peace among you ...You will get in Jannah peacefully". The Prophet hated spilling blood; the total number of those who got killed during all the battles of the Prophet was 400, in 17 or 18 battles. The Prophet could have turned battles into blood baths, especially when conquering Makkah, but he did not. The Prophet (SAWS) got into these wars only for the sake of the Message. The Prophet wanted Quraysh to allow him to convey his message to the whole of mankind. Then they would be free to choose, because embracing the message cannot be enforced. Leaving Makkah was a solution for the Prophet because he was at a safe place where he was able to communicate his message freely to people. The Prophet (SAWS) did not escape from Makkah to live a luxurious life. Nevertheless, Quraysh was still an obstacle in the way of delivering the message. Arab tribes refused to listen to the Prophet because they had treaties and they allied with Quraysh, so they feared spoiling their relations and interests with them. The Prophet (SAWS) insisted on delivering the message of Allah, even if he was obliged to go into war. 

On the day of the battle of Badr, Otba Ibn-Rabi'a said, "O people of Quraysh! Let's get back to Makkah. Let Muhammad deliver his message to the people. If the Arabs kill him, you will be relieved. If he conquers the Arabs, his glory and honor is then yours." Abu-Jahl told him, "What a coward you are! Do we leave our money?" Again the problem was the personal interests: money, positions, superiority, idols, and the treaties with Arabs. The Prophet (SAWS) felt that if there would be no solution but war in order to deliver the message, then he would go for it, even he would get killed. 

Remember that many of the companions were deprived of their money and properties when they left Makkah; even the Prophet's house was taken and sold. The Prophet would never leave the rights of these people, and the ones who were killed, like Somaya. One may ask, why didn't the Prophet fight them when he was in Makkah? No! The Prophet respected his home and its system; he respected the rights and duties of citizenship. He knew he had no right to destroy his hometown. But after going to Madinah, he and Quraysh became two separate entities. Above all, Quraysh was preparing itself to fight the Prophet anyway. So the Prophet's wars were not defensive, and at the same time Islam did not prevail by the sword. The whole issue lies in the fact that the prophet (SAWS) wanted Quraysh to give him the opportunity to deliver his message to the people, but they refused.

Something very important then happened: the Kiblah (direction of prayer) changed from Bait Al-Makdis (Jerusalem) to Makkah. It is as if Allah (SWT) wanted them to focus on Makkah, because it is a strategic place and the center for all Arabs.

The Prophet (SAWS) started preparing his army for the struggle between truth and falsehood. He knew that there would be a battle with Quraysh. The Prophet (SAWS) asked the companions to get him a statistical report with the number of Muslims, those who could use weapons, and those who were literate. He wanted to determine the strength of the army he could prepare, and he knew that this religion would only spread through knowledge and education. 

The Prophet (SAWS) also established an intelligence service to make comprehensive investigation and research throughout the Arabian Peninsula, especially the roads between Makkah and Madinah. They were divided into small groups led by Talha Ibn-Obaidullah and Said Ibn-Zaid (Omar's brother-in-law), who were both promised to enter Al-Jannah. The Prophet ordered them to move in a small group of eight or ten people in the road between Makkah and Madinah and study it by heart, and track all the movements that occur there. They kept working for two years, getting all the possible news and information, passing by all the tribes on the road to convince them to be neutral. 

Furthermore, the Prophet (SAWS) sent brigades to move through the road between Makkah and Madinah, as a kind of training and in preparation for the war. All these brigades consisted of the migrants and did not include anyone from the Ansaar, because the migrants knew the road better.

Two months before the battle of Badr, the Prophet (SAWS) sent a brigade led by Abdullah Ibn-Jahsh. The Prophet gave him a sealed letter and told him to open it after two days. After two days, Abdullah read the letter which instructed him to go to a place between Makkah and Taif, a place very close to Makkah in order to get news and information about Quraysh. The Prophet knew the value of the intelligence service and the benefit of knowing the enemy's strength. The Prophet sent this brigade in the inviolable months (in which no warfare is permitted) to prevent any struggle or fight with Quraysh. He also instructed Abdullah not to force his companions to go with him. They all agreed to proceed, but two of them got lost and were captured by Quraysh (one of the two was Saad Ibn-Abi-Waqas). This happened on the last day in Rajab, and the companions were unsure as to what their reaction should be. At the same time a caravan of Quraysh was passing by them. The companions were not in agreement; some wanted to capture two from the Quraysh caravan, and others felt that this would be against the Prophet's orders, especially during the inviolable month. The final decision was to capture two from Quraysh for revenge. They shot an arrow, and it killed the caravan's leader. They unfortunately killed a man during the inviolable month, and got two captives before going back to the Prophet (SAWS). Once Quraysh knew of this incident, they spread the news that, "Muhammad killed in the inviolable months". The Prophet (SAWS) was very angry at Abdullah Ibn-Jahsh, until Allah (SWT) sent an Ayah that can be translated as, "They ask you concerning the Inviolable month, (and) fighting in it. Say, "Fighting in it is great (transgression); and barring from the way of Allah, and disbelief in Him and the Inviolable Mosque, and driving its population out of it, is greater (transgression) in the Reckoning of Allah; and temptation is greater than killing." (TMQ, 2:217). The Qur'an admitted the mistake committed by the Muslims, but declared that what Quraysh did was far worse. This applies nowadays to terrorism and violence; such acts are unjustified, unacceptable, and wrong, however, the absence of justice, truth and freedom is what led to all this.

The battle of Badr was the first battle between Muslims and Quraysh, and the first victory for Islam and the truth against Quraysh and falsehood. This battle is very important in history, and Allah (SWT) called it "The Day of the Criterion." Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "and what We sent down upon Our Bondman on the day of the all-distinctive Criterion, the day the two gatherings encountered" (TMQ, 8:41). Allah called it "Criterion" because it was a criterion distinguishing between right and false, values of justice and rightness and personal interest, and Quraysh's leadership and the Prophet's new leadership. Before Badr, Quraysh was in control of everything, but after it all the Arabs started to recognize the new power of the Prophet (SAWS) and got attracted to listen to him; the message started to spread everywhere. This resulted in a big change in the history of humanity.

Quraysh sent a caravan to the Levant led by Abu-Sufiyan, with a thousand camels and 10 thousand dinars. What an amount of money!! Note that this is the money of the companions who were deprived of it and of their properties when they left Makkah. The caravan was on its way back to Makkah, and was guarded by only 40 men, because Quraysh felt safe due to its treaties with the Arab tribes. Thanks to the intelligence service conducted by Said Ibn-Zaid and Talha, the Prophet (SAWS) knew of that caravan. The caravans coming from Levant used to pass by Madinah on their way to Makkah. The Prophet told the Muslims that Allah (SWT) would compensate them with the money of the caravan instead of what they lost when they emigrated. Remember when the Prophet planned to leave Makkah, he returned the valuables and money that were entrusted to him to their owners. Why didn't he take it to compensate the Muslims' rights that were seized by Quraysh? Isn't this a contradiction? How could he think now of attacking the caravan to take the money? The Prophet was trusted to keep the valuables and money in Makkah, and he knew that ethically this trust could not be betrayed. Besides, the Prophet was then a member of that society, and according to the code of citizenship the Prophet (SAWS) could never think of harming his society. But now, as a separate entity, the Prophet decided to regain the Muslims' rights that were previously seized by Quraysh.

The Prophet also aimed at warning Quraysh that he was able to obstruct their trading and traveling routes, so it would be better for them to let him communicate with people to deliver his message, instead of waging war. It is as if he was telling them that he did not want to fight. However, Quraysh was stubborn. The Prophet's army consisted of 313 companions. Abu Sufiyan knew that the Prophet (SAWS) was preparing an army, and he sent Amr Ibn-Damdam to tell Quraysh that the Prophet was planning to attack the caravan. That man tore his clothes and stained himself with blood before entering Makkah. He entered Makkah screaming "Help! Help! What a disaster! What a disaster." He falsely claimed that the Prophet Muhammad attacked Quraysh's caravan and took the money, although it hadn't happened yet. Abu-Jahl swore that they would go to fight the Prophet that night, and he quickly prepared the army. 

Three days before that, Aateka the Prophet's aunt who was living in Makkah had a dream that a man was calling the people of Makkah "O people of betrayal! Your end is after three days," then he threw some dust that was scattered into all the houses of Makkah. She knew that this meant something bad would happen in the town, and she told her brother Al-Abbas who told Al-Walid Ibn-Otba. The news spread, and Abu-Jahl started mocking Al-Abbas. He swore that if after three days nothing happened, he would hang a document in the Ka'ba declaring that Bani Hashim are the worst liars among Arabs. 

So, when Amr Ibn-Damdam brought the news, the army was prepared and consisted of 950 fighters, 200 of which riding horses, while the rest riding camels. An additional 100 camels were taken to feed the army. The Prophet was going to meet the caravan and did not plan for a battle. He took only 313 fighters riding two horses and 70 camels. Every three people shared riding a camel. The distance was 150 kilometers, and each of the three rode 1/3 the distance while the others walked. The Prophet (SAWS) was with Ali Ibn-Abu-Talib and another companion. Ali and the other companion were young so they wanted to walk and let the Prophet (SAWS) ride the camel, but he refused because he was so keen on gaining Thawab. Dear brothers, you should be ambitious about gaining Thawab.

Abu Sufiyan changed the direction of the caravan and followed another route away from Madinah. Then he sent to Quraysh to inform them that the caravan was safe. All of Quraysh's leaders, especially Utba Ibn-Rabi'a, wanted to return rather than fight. But Abu-Jahl refused, as he wanted the Arabs to know that Quraysh was still powerful and dominant.

Note that there were two men who did not go with the Quraysh army: Abu-Lahab and Omaya Ibn-Khalaf. Abu-Lahab was scared, and so he hired a man to replace him in the army. Yet, he was destined to die in Makkah. He was hitting a young servant of Al-Abbas, when the maid of Al-Abbas hit him with a piece of iron on his head. As a result, he was afflicted by a skin disease, and his skin started to fall until he died. His people feared to approach him because of the infection, and instead of burying him they pulled down the house over his body. As for Omaya, he was the one who used to torture Belal. One time while he was torturing Belal, he told him, "The Messenger of Allah told us that we will kill you." He believed him and asked if it would happen in Makkah or outside, but Belal did not know. He was really scared to go to the battle. Abu-Jahl's friend mocked him for his fear and cowardice, so he went with Quraysh and he was killed in the battle.

There were two men who were forced to go to the fight with Quraysh: Al-Abbas Ibn-Abdel-Mutalib, the Prophet's uncle, and Abul-Aas Ibn-Al-Rabi', the Prophet's son-in-law. Abul-Aas was still living with Zeinab, the prophet's daughter, in Makkah. Note that at the time, the prohibition of the marriage between Muslim women and non-Muslim men was not yet revealed. Abul-Aas was forced to fight with Quraysh against the Prophet in order not to be considered a coward. 

The Prophet's army included both migrants and Ansaar. The agreement between the Ansaar and the Prophet stated that they would defend him inside Madinah, but this battle was outside Madinah. The Prophet (SAWS) respected the limits of the agreement, and so he humbly sought advice from the fighters. He did not ask the Ansaar directly because he did not want to embarrass them. Some companions from the migrants talked and supported him enthusiastically, yet, he was waiting for the words of the Ansaar. Finally, Saad Ibn-Moaz, leader of the Aws tribe, spoke. As he knew the Prophet was concerned about the Ansaar's stand, he told the Prophet that they would fight with him until the last breath and would go with him wherever he went. He told the Prophet to take from their money what he wished, to hold peace with whoever he wished, or wage war against whoever he wished, and in all cases he will find them to be honest, loyal, and supportive that he may be satisfied with them. Can we say such words? Can we promise the Prophet (SAWS) that he will be satisfied with us on the Day of Judgment??

The Prophet (SAWS) adopted an innovative strategy. Quraysh was used to the technique of attack and flight; however, the Prophet (SAWS) set the whole army in one long row, hiding another row of archers behind them. When Quraysh would attack, the archers would shoot their arrows and confuse the fighters.

The prophet (SAWS) wanted to estimate the strength of the Quraysh army. He sent Ali Ibn-Abu-Talib and Az-Zubair Ibn-Al-Awwam as an investigation team. They caught a servant who was responsible for providing water to Quraysh's army. They hit him until he confessed, wrongfully, that he was a member of the caravan of Abu-Sufyan and not the army, because this is what they wanted to believe. The Prophet (SAWS) told them, "You hit him when he tells you the truth, and you leave him when he lies to you!" He then asked him, "How many people are in the army of Quraysh?"" The man answered, "I have no idea." The Prophet (SAWS) then asked him, "How many camels do they slaughter?" The man replied, "Sometimes nine and sometimes ten." The Prophet (SAWS) inferred, "The army ranges between 900 and 1000." Notice how the illiterate Prophet could calculate it! The Prophet (SAWS) then asked him, "Who is in the army?" The man replied that all the chiefs of Quraysh were there.

The companions of the Prophet were scared because they knew their power was not compatible with Quraysh's. In order to pull their spirits up, the Prophet (SAWS) immediately said, "Allah is the greatest! Quraysh has thrown to you the best of their sons." Note how much the Prophet (SAWS) cared about intelligence and preparations being two crucial factors in war.

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