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
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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