The emigration to Madinah can never be attributed solely to attempts to escape from the jeers and oppression of the Makkans, but it was also borne out of a sense of cooperation with the aim of erecting the pillars of a new society in a secure place. Hence it was incumbent upon every capable Muslim to contribute to building this new homeland, strengthening it and supporting it. The leader and spiritual guide, would be no doubt the Noble Messenger, in whose hands exclusively all the affairs would be resolved.
In Madinah, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to deal with three distinctively different categories of people with different problems:
- His Companions, the noble and Allah -fearing foremost believers
- The Madinese polytheists who were not yet believers
- The Jews
1. As for his Companions, the conditions of life in Madinah were completely different from those they experienced in Makkah. In Makkah, they used to strive for one collective target, but physically, they were scattered, overpowered and abandoned. They were helpless in terms of pursuing their new course and their means, socially and materially, fell short of establishing a new Muslim community. Correspondingly, the Makkan Chapters of the Noble Qur’an were confined to describing the Islamic principles, establishing legislations pertaining to the believers individually, enjoining good and piety and forbidding evils and vices, as well as vivid descriptions of Paradise and Hell.
In Madinah, things were otherwise: here all the affairs of their life rested in their hands. Now, they were at ease and could quite confidently handle the challenges of building a new civilization, means of living, economics, politics, government administration, war and peace, classification of the issues of the Halaal (lawful) and Haraam (unlawful), worship, ethics and other relevant issues. Briefly, in Madinah they were at complete liberty to erect the pillars of a new Muslim community that would not only be completely different from the pre-Islamic code of life, but also distinctive in its features in the world as a whole. It was a society that could stand for the Islamic Call for whose sake the Muslims had been put to unspeakable tortures for ten years. No doubt, the construction of a society that runs in line with these ethics cannot be accomplished overnight, within a month or a year. It requires a long time to build, during which legislation and legalization runs simultaneously with mental and spiritual cultivation, training and education. Allah the All-Knowing of course undertook the legislation, and His Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) undertook the explanation, implementation and reformation:
``He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur’an, Islamic laws and Islamic Jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunnah : legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Muhammad).’’ [62:2]
The Prophet’s Companions rushed enthusiastically to assimilate these Qur’anic rules and fill their hearts with them:
``And when His Verses (this Qur’an) are recited unto them, they (i.e., the Verses) increase their Faith.’’ [8:2]
This task constituted the greatest challenge for Allah’s Messenger. In fact, this very purpose lay at the heart of the Islamic Call and the mission of Muhammad. It was never an incidental issue though, there were the matters that were required to be addressed urgently.
The Muslims in Madinah consisted of two parties: the first one were already settled in their abode, land and wealth, fully at ease, but seeds of conflict amongst them were deep-seated and evoked constant strife; they were Al-Ansar (the Helpers). The second party were Al-Muhajirun (the Emigrants), homeless, jobless and often penniless. Their number was not small, on the contrary, it was increasing day by day after the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had given them permission to leave for Madinah whose economic balance, began to show signs of imbalance aggravated by the economic boycott that the anti-Islamic groups imposed and consequently imports diminished and living conditions worsened.
2. The Madinese polytheists constituted the second group whom the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to deal with. These people had no control at all over the Muslims. Some of them had no ill will against the Muslims, but were in two minds of their ancestors’ religious practices, and developed some inclination towards Islam and before long they embraced the new faith and were truly devoted to Allah. However, some others developed evil intentions against the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his followers but were too cowardly to resist them publicly. Rather, under those Islamically favorable conditions, they were obliged to falsely show sociability and friendliness. `Abdullah bin Ubai, who had almost been given kingship over Al-Khazraj and Al-Aws tribes in the wake of the Bu`ath War between the two tribes, became the head of that group of hypocrites. The Prophet’s arrival and the vigorous rise of the new spirit of Islam negated that program and the idea was dropped. Seeing someone else (Muhammad) depriving him and his agents of the proposed superior position, ‘Abdullah bin Ubai was not be pleased, and for obvious reasons he showed an overt desire for Islam but with disbelief deeply-rooted in his heart. He also used to exploit certain events and the weak-hearted new converts to use them in his nasty schemes against the true believers.
3. The Jews, who had migrated to Al-Hijaz from Syria following the Byzantine and Assyrian persecution campaigns, were the third category of people on the demographic scene in Madinah. In their new residence, they assumed the Arab dress, language and way of life and there were also instances of intermarriage with the local Arabs, however they retained their ethnic prejudices and remained aloof from the surrounding environment. They even used to take pride in their Jewish-Israeli origin, and look down upon the Arabs, calling them illiterate, brutal, naïve and backward. They desired the wealth of their neighbors to be made lawful to them so that they could consume it in whichever way they liked.
``...because they say: `There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs).’’’ [3:75]
Religiously, they showed no zeal; their most common religious commodity was fortunetelling, witchcraft and the secret arts (blowing on knots), for which they used to attach to themselves advantages of science and spiritual superiority.
They excelled at the arts of earning money and trading. In fact, they monopolized the trade in cereals, dates, wine, clothes, export and import. For the services they offered to the Arabs, the latter paid heavily. Usury was a common practice amongst them, lending the Arab notables great sums to be wasted on poets who used to write poems in their honor, and other occasions of boosting their pride, and in return seizing their fertile land given as collateral.
They were very good at corrupting and scheming. They used to sow seeds of enmity between neighboring tribes and persuade each one to devise plots against the other leading to constant strife. Whenever they felt that the fire of hatred was about to subside, they would increase it by adopting new means so that they could always have the upper hand, and at the same time gain heavy interest rates on loans spent on inter-tribal warfare.
Three famous tribes of Jews were present in Yathrib (now Madinah): Banu Qainuqa`, allies of Al-Khazraj tribe, Banu An-Nadeer and Banu Quraizah who allied with Al-Aws and inhabited the suburbs of Madinah.
Naturally they beheld the new changes with disgust and were terribly hateful to them, simply because Allah’s Messenger was of a different race, and this point was in itself too repulsive for them to reconcile with. Second, Islam came to bring about a spirit of good relations, to terminate the state of enmity and hatred, and to establish a social system based on condemning the prohibited and promoting the lawful. Adherence to these principles of life implied paving the way for an Arab unity that could work to the disadvantage of the Jews and their interests at both the social and economic levels; the Arab tribes would then try to restore their wealth and land misappropriated by the Jews through usurious practices.
Naturally, the Jews had considered all these things ever since they had known that the Islamic Call would try to settle in Yathrib, and it was no surprise to discover that they harbored the greatest enmity and hatred towards Islam and the Messenger, even though they did not have the courage to uncover their feelings in the beginning.
The following incident can attest clearly to the terrible hostility that the Jews bore towards the new political and religious changes that came to stamp the life of Madinah. Ibn Ishaq, on the authority of the Mother of the Believers Safiyah narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyai bin Akhtab said: I was the child closest to the heart of my father and my uncle Abu Yasir. Whenever they saw me with another child of theirs, they would pamper me tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the arrival of Allah’s Messenger and his setting in Quba’ with Bani `Amr bin `Awf, my father, Huyai bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking despondently and completely depressed. I, as usual, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyai: “Is it really he (i.e., Muhammad)?’’ The former said: “It is he, I swear by Allah!’’ “Did you really recognize him?’’ they asked. He answered: “Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him.’’
An interesting story that took place on the first day the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stepped in Madinah, could be quoted to illustrate the disquiet and deep anxiety that beset the Jews. `Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain the veracity of his Prophethood. No sooner than he heard the Prophet’s answers he embraced
Islam, but added that if his people came to know that he had become a Muslim they would advance false arguments against him. The Prophet sent for some Jews and asked them about `Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. When it was disclosed to them that he had embraced Islam, they produced categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration `Abdullah bin Salam said, “O Jews! Fear Allah. By Allah the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allah sent to people with the Truth.’’ They replied, “You are lying.’’… That was the Prophet’s first experience with the Jews.
That was the internal picture within Madinah. As for the enemies outside, five hundred kilometers away in Makkah, there lay another detrimental threat, stern against Islam: the Quraish. For ten years, while at the mercy of the Quraish, the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of terrorism, boycott, harassment and starvation coupled by a well-planned psychological war and aggressive propaganda.
When they emigrated to Madinah, their land, wealth and property were seized, their wives detained and the socially humble in rank brutally tortured. The Quraish also schemed and made attempts on the life of the central figure of the Call, Muhammad. Due to their acknowledged temporal leadership and religious supremacy among the pagan Arabs, and having custodianship of the Sacred Sanctuary, the Quraish spared no effort in provoking the Arabs against Madinah and boycotting the Madinese socially and economically. A state of virtual war existed between the Makkan tyrants and the Muslims in their abode. It is foolish to blame the Muslims for the terrible consequences that were bound to result in the light of this long-standing hostility. The Muslims in Madinah were completely justified then if they were to seize the wealth of these tyrants, mete out an exemplary punishment to them in order to deter them from committing any foolishness against the Muslims and their sanctities.
This is a summary of the problems that Prophet Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) faced, and the complicated issues he was expected to resolve.
We testify that he shouldered the responsibilities of Messengership, and wisely discharged the duties of both temporal and religious leadership in Madinah. He accorded to everyone his due portion whether of mercy or punishment, with the former usually overlying the latter in the overall process of establishing Islam on firm ground among its faithful believers.
A New Society Being Built
We have already mentioned that Allah’s Messenger arrived in Madinah on Friday, 12th Rabi`ul-Awwal, 1 A.H., i.e., September 27, 622 C.E. and took the lower floor of Abu Ayyub’s house as a temporary residence.
Building the Prophet’s Masjid
The first task to which the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attended on his arrival in Madinah was the construction of a Masjid, at the very site where his camel knelt down. The land, which belonged to two orphans, was purchased. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself contributed to building the Masjid by carrying adobe bricks and stones while reciting verses:
``O Allah! there is no bliss but that of the Hereafter, I beseech you to forgive the Emigrants and Helpers.’’
The location had some graves of the polytheists which were dug up and then levelled and the trees planted around. The ground was cleared of weeds, shrubs, palm trees and rubbish. The Qiblah (the direction in which Muslims turn their faces in prayer) was constructed to face Jerusalem. Two beams were also erected to hold the ceiling up. It was square in form, each side measuring approximately 100 yards, facing towards the north and having three gates on each of the remaining sides. Nearby, rooms reserved for the Prophet’s household were built of stones and adobe bricks with ceilings of palm leaves. To the north of the Masjid, a place was reserved for the Muslims who had neither family nor home.
The Adhan (call for prayer summoning the Muslims to the Masjid) was initiated at this early stage of the post-migration era. The story of how this occurred, and the dream that `Abdullah bin Zaid had about it, is very popular and has been narrated by At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ahmad and Ibn Khuzaimah.The Masjid was not merely a place to perform prayers, but rather a center of Islamic learning where the Muslims were instructed in Islam and its doctrines. It served as an assembly place where the conflicting pre-Islamic trends used to reconcile. It was the headquarter wherein all the affairs of the Muslims were administered, and consultative and executive councils held.
The Brotherhood Between the Muslims
The Masjid being thus constructed, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) next turned his attention to cementing the ties of mutual brotherhood among the Muslims of Madinah, Al-Ansar (the Helpers) and Al-Muhajirun (the Emigrants). It was indeed unique in the history of the world.
A gathering of 90 men, half of whom were Emigrants and the others Helpers assembled in the house of Anas bin Malik where the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave the spirit of brotherhood his official blessing. When either of the two persons who had been paired as brothers passed away, his property was inherited by his brother-in-faith.
This practice continued till the following Verse was revealed at the time of the Battle of Badr, and the regular rule of inheritance was allowed to take its usual course:
``But kindred by blood are nearer to one another regarding inheritance.’’ [8:75]
Brotherhood-in-faith was considered superior to every distinction of race and kinship upholding the Islamic principle: none is superior to the other except on the basis of piety and God-fear.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attached to this brotherhood a valid contract; it was not just meaningless words but rather a valid practice relating to blood and wealth rather than a passing impulse.
The atmosphere of brotherhood created a spirit of selflessness infused deeply in the hearts of his followers, and produced very healthy results. For example, Sa`d bin Ar-Rabi’, a Helper, said to his brother in faith `AbdurRahman bin `Awf, “I am the richest man among the Helpers. I am glad to share half of my property with you. I have two wives, I am ready to divorce one and after the expiry of her ‘Iddah (the prescribed period for a woman divorcee to stay within her house unmarried), you may marry her.” However, `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf was not prepared to accept anything: neither property nor home. So he invoked blessings upon his brother and said: “Kindly direct me to the market so that I may make my fortune with my own hands.’’ And he prospered and got married very shortly by dint of his hard work.
The Helpers were extremely generous to their brethren-in-faith. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be Pleased with him) reported that they once approached the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with the request that their orchards of palm trees should be distributed equally between the Muslims of Madinah and their brethren from Makkah. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was hesitant to put this heavy burden upon them. It was, however, decided that the Emigrants would work in the orchards along with the Helpers and the yield would be divided equally among them.
Such examples point directly to the spirit of cordiality, sacrifice and selflessness on the part of the Helpers, and the feeling of appreciation, gratitude and self-respect that the Emigrants held dear to their hearts. They took only what helped them make a reasonable living. In short, this policy of mutual brotherhood was so wise and timely that many obstinate problems were resolved.
A Charter of Islamic Alliance
Just as the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had established a code of brotherhood among the believers, similarly he was keen on establishing friendly relations between the Muslim and nonMuslim tribes of Arabia. He established a treaty aimed at ruling out all preIslamic enmities and inter-tribal hostilities. He was careful not to leave any area in the charter that would allow pre-Islamic traditions to creep in or violate the new environment he wanted to establish. Here we look over some of its provisions: In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
This is a document from Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Messenger of Allah (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), concerning the Emigrants and Helpers and those who followed and strove with them.
They are one nation to the exclusion of other people.
The Emigrants of Quraish shall unite together and pay blood money from among themselves, and shall ransom honorably their prisoners. Every tribe of the Helpers shall unite together, as they were at first, and every section among them will pay a ransom for releasing its relative prisoners.
Believers shall not leave anyone poor among them by not paying his redemption money or blood money in kind.
Whoever is rebellious or whoever seeks to spread enmity and sedition, the hand of every God-fearing Muslim shall be against him, even if he be his son.
A believer shall not kill another believer, nor shall he support a disbeliever against a believer.
The protection of Allah is one (and is equally) extended to the humblest of the believers.
The believers are supported by each other.
Whosoever of the Jews follows us, shall have aid and help; they shall not be injured, nor any enemy be aided against them.
The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of Allah. Conditions must be fair and equitable to all.
It shall not be lawful for a believer, who holds by what is in this document and believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment, to help a criminal or give him refuge. Those who give him refuge and provide him help shall have the curse and anger of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Their indemnity is not accepted.
Killing a believer deliberately with no good reason entails killing the killer unless the heirs consider it otherwise.
Whenever you differ about a matter, it must be referred to Allah and to Muhammad(May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The Individual Role in the Society
With wisdom and intellect, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) erected the pillars of the new society. This phenomenon no doubt left its mark on the virtuous Muslims. He used to bring them up in the light of Islamic education, he taught them to purify their souls, enjoined them to observe righteousness and praiseworthy manners and was keen on infusing into them the ethics of good relations, honor, nobility, worship and first and foremost obedience to Allah and His Messenger. The following are some of the virtues he used to instill in the minds of his followers:
A man asked Allah’s Messenger which of the merits is superior in Islam. He remarked:
``That you provide food and extend greetings to one whom you know or do not know.’’
‘Abdullah bin Salam said: “When the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) arrived in Madinah, I went to see him and I immediately recognized through his features that he would never be a liar. The first things he (the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) said was:
‘O you people! Extend the greeting of peace among yourselves, provide food to the needy, maintain the ties of kinship, observe prayer at night while people are asleep, then you will peacefully enter the Garden (Paradise).’’’
And he said:
``He will not enter Paradise, whose neighbor is not secure from his wrongful conduct.’’
And he said:
``The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe.’’
And he said:
``None of you believes (truly) till one likes for his brother that which he loves for himself.’’
``The believers in their mutual love, are like the human body where when the eye is in agony, the entire body feels the pain; when the head aches, the whole body will suffer.’’
And he said:
``The bonds of brotherhood between two Muslims are like parts of a house, one part strengthens and holds the other.’’
And he said:
``Do not have malice against a Muslim; do not be envious of other Muslims; do not go against a Muslim or abandon him. O the servants of Allah! Be like brothers with each other. It is not permissible for a Muslim to desert his brother for over three days.’’
And he said:
``A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfills a need of his brother, Allah will fulfill his need. Whoever brings a Muslim out of discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection. And whoever screens a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.’’
``Show mercy to people on earth so that Allah will have mercy on you in heaven.’’
And he said:
“He is not a perfect believer, who goes to bed full and knows that his neighbor is hungry.”
“Abusing a Muslim is an act of disobedience and fighting him is disbelief.’’
“To remove something harmful from the road, is charity, and it is a part from the parts of Faith.”
He also would encourage the believers to spend in charity, reminding them of its benefits for which the hearts yearn:
``Charity erases sins just as water extinguishes fire.’’
“Clothing an under-clad Muslim, entitles you to a garment from the Paradise; feeding a hungry Muslim will make you eligible (by Allah’s Will) for the fruit of the Paradise; and if you provide water to a thirsty Muslim, Allah will provide you with a drink from `the Sealed Nectar’.’’
And he said:
``Try to avert Fire even by half a date (in charity); if not, by tendering a good word.’’
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also promoted the habit of not asking others for help unless one is completely helpless. He used to talk to his Companions about the merits, virtues and Divine reward for observing the prescribed acts of worship and rituals. He would always bring forth supporting proofs in order to link them physically and spiritually to the Revelation sent to him. Hence he would describe to them their duties and responsibilities in terms of the consequences of the Call of Islam, and at the same time emphasize the importance of comprehension and consideration.
This was his practice in order to boost their morale and instil noble values and ideals so that they could become paragons of virtue to be copied by subsequent generations.
`Abdullah bin Mas’ud once said: “If you are willing to follow a good example, then you have an option in the tradition of the deceased, because the living are likely to fall as easy prey to oppression (so they might hesitate in Faith). Follow the steps of Muhammad’s Companions. They were the best in this nation, the most pious, the most learned and the least compromising. Allah chose them to accompany the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and establish His religion. Therefore, become familiar with their virtues, follow their righteous way and adhere as much as you can to their manners and assimilate their biography, for indeed they followed unwavering guidance.’’
There is then the great Messenger of Allah whose moral values, attributes of perfection, talents, virtues, noble manners and praiseworthy deeds, entitle him to occupy the innermost recesses of our hearts, and become the dearest goal that the soul yearns for.
These were the attributes and qualities on whose basis the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to build a new society, the most wonderful and the most honorable society ever known in history. On these grounds, he strove to resolve the longstanding problems, and later gave humanity the chance to breathe a sigh of relief after a long exhausting journey on dark and gloomy avenues. Such lofty morals lay at the very basis of creating a new society with integrated members who would be immune to all fluctuations of time, and powerful enough to change the whole course of humanity.
A Treaty With the Jews
Soon after emigrating to Madinah and ensuring that the pillars of the new Islamic community were well established on strong bases of administrative, political and ideological unity, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started establishing clearly-defined relations with nonMuslims. All these efforts were exerted solely to provide peace, security, and prosperity to all humanity at large, and to bring about a spirit of understanding and harmony within his region, in particular.
Geographically, the closest people to Madinah were the Jews. While harboring evil intentions, and nursing a bitter feeling of resentment, they showed neither the least resistance nor the slightest hostility. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) decided to conclude a treaty with them with clauses that provided full freedom in faith and wealth. He had no intention whatsoever of following severe policies involving expulsion, seizure of wealth and land or hostility.
The treaty came within the context of the larger framework relating to interMuslim relationships.
The most important provisions of the treaty are the following:
The Jews of Bani `Awf are one community with the believers. The Jews will profess their religion and the Muslims theirs.
The Jews shall be responsible for their expenditure, and the Muslims for theirs.
If attacked by a third party, each shall come to the help of the other.
Each party shall hold counsel with the other. Mutual relations shall be founded on righteousness; sin is totally excluded.
Neither shall commit sins to the prejudice of the other.
The wronged party shall be aided.
The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war so long as they are fighting alongside the believers.
Madinah shall remain sacred and inviolable for all those who join this treaty.
Should any disagreement arise between the signatories to this treaty, then Allah the All-High and His Messenger shall settle the dispute.
The signatories to this treaty shall boycott the Quraish commercially; they shall also abstain from extending any support to them.
Each shall contribute to defending Madinah, in case of a foreign attack, in its respective area.
This treaty shall not hinder either party from seeking lawful revenge.
Madinah and its suburbs, after the endorsement of this treaty, turned into a coalition state, with Madinah proper as capital and Muhammad as `president’; authority lay mainly in the hand of the Muslims, and consequently it was a real capital of Islam. To expand the zone of peace and security the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started entering into similar treaties with other tribes living around `his state’.
The Bloody Struggle
The Attempts of the Quraish to Provoke the Muslims and Their Contact With `Abdullah bin Ubai
The Quraish, offended at the escape of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) along with his devoted Companions, and jealous of his growing power in Madinah, kept a strict watch over the Muslims left behind and victimized them in every possible way. They also established secret contacts with `Abdullah bin Ubai Ibn Salul, chief of Madinese polytheists, and head designate of the tribes `Aws and Khazraj before the Prophet’s emigration. They sent him a strongly-worded ultimatum ordering him to fight or expel the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), otherwise they would launch a widespread military campaign that would kill his people and arrest his women.
His pride wounded and kingship no longer his, `Abdullah bin Ubai Ibn Salul responded positively to his Quraishite co-polytheists. `Abdur-Rahman bin Ka`b said, “When this reached `Abdullah bin Ubai and those who were worshippers of idols with him, they gathered together to fight against Allah’s Messenger.
When the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) heard about it, he visited them and said:
`The threat of the Quraish to you has expired. They cannot conceive a plot against you more than you intend to harm yourselves. Are you willing to fight with your sons and brethren?’
When they heard this from the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) they all left.
Their chief, however, seemingly complied, but at heart, he remained a wicked unpredictable conspirator along with the Quraish and the envious Jews.
Small fights and provocations started to pave the way for a major confrontation between the Muslims and polytheists.
Publicizing the Intent for Enmity in the Sacred Masjid
Sa`d bin Mu`adh, an outstanding Helper, announced his intention to perform `Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) and headed for Makkah. He went to Umaiyah bin Khalaf, and said, “Tell me of a time when it is empty so that I may be able to perform Tawaf around the Ka`bah.’’ So Umaiyah went with him about midday. Abu Jahl met them and said, “O Abu Safwan! Who is this man accompanying you?’’ He said, “He is Sa`d.’’ Abu Jahl addressed Sa`d saying, “I see you wandering about safely in Makkah in spite of the fact that you have given shelter to the people who have changed their religion, and support them. By Allah, if you were not in the company of Abu Safwan, you would not have gone to your family safe and sound.’’
Sa`d, raising his voice, said to him, “By Allah! If you should stop me from doing this, I would certainly stop you from something that is more valuable to you, that is your passageway through Madinah.’’
Such provocative actions continued and the Quraish sent the Muslims a note threatening to put them to death in their own homeland. These were not mere words, for the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) received information from reliable sources attesting to real intrigues and plots being hatched by the enemies of Islam. Precautionary measures were taken and a state of alert was called for, including the positioning of security guards around the house of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and strategic points. Muslim recorded that `Aishah said that Allah’s Messenger lay down on bed during one night on his arrival in Madinah and said: “Is there a pious person from amongst my Companions who would keep watch over me during the night?”
She said: “We were in this state when we heard the clanging noise of arms. He (the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) said: `Who is it?’ He said: `This is Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas.’ Allah’s Messenger said to him: `What brings you here?’ Thereupon he said: ‘I feared (lest any harm should come to) Allah’s Messenger so I came to serve as your guard.’
Allah’s Messenger invoked blessings upon him and then he slept.’’
This state of close vigilance continued ceaselessly until the Words of Allah were revealed saying:
``Allah will protect you from mankind.’’ [5:67]
Here, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) looked out from the dome of his house asking his people to go away, he said:
``O people! Leave me for indeed Allah the Mighty and Majestic shall protect me.’’
The Prophet’s life was not the only target of wicked schemes, but rather the lives and the entire community of the Muslims. When the Madinese provided the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his Companions with safe refuge, the desert bedouins began to look at them all in the same perspective, and outlawed all Muslims.
Permission to Fight
At this critical situation, with the Quraish having the intention of pursuing their aggressive and devilish plans, Allah the All-High gave the Muslims the permission to take arms against the disbelievers:
``Permission to fight is given to those (i.e., believers against those disbelievers), who are fighting them, (and) because they (believers) have been wronged, and surely Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory.’’ [22:39]
This Verse was revealed in the larger context of Divine instructions to eliminate all aspects of falsehood, and hold in honor the symbols and rites of Allah:
``Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order for Iqamatus-Salat : [i.e., to perform Salat (prayer) -- the five compulsory, congregational prayers (the males in mosques)], to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity, poor-due), and they enjoin Al-Ma`ruf (i.e., Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e., disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e., they make the Qur’an as the Law of their country in all the spheres of life].’’ [22:41]
Doubtlessly, the permission to fight was revealed in Madinah after emigration, not in Makkah, still the exact date whereof is in doubt.
The permission to fight was already there, but in the light of the prevailing state of affairs, it was wise for the Muslims to bring the commercial routes leading to Makkah under their control. To realize this strategic objective, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to choose either of two options:
- Enter into treaties with the tribes inhabiting either the areas adjacent tothe routes or between these routes and Madinah. With respect to this course of action, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had already signed, together with the Jews and other neighboring tribes, the aforementioned pact of cooperation and good neighborliness.
- Dispatching successive armed missions along the strategic commercialroutes.
Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions
With a view to implement these plans, the Muslims started real military activities, which at first took the form of survey patrols delegated to explore the geopolitical features of the roads surrounding Madinah and others leading to Makkah, and building alliances with the tribes nearby. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to impress upon the polytheists and Jews of Madinah as well as the bedouins in its vicinity, that the Muslims had smashed their old fears, and had become so strong that they could not be attacked without receiving any harm from them. He also wanted to display the power of his followers in order to discourage the Quraish from committing any military folly against him which might put in danger their economic life and means of living, and to stop them from persecuting the helpless Muslims detained in Makkah. Consequently he would avail himself of this opportunity and resume his job of propagating the Divine Call freely.
The following is a summary of these missions and errands:
1. The Seeful-Bahr Mission
It occurred in Ramadan 1 A.H., i.e., 623 C.E., led by Hamzah bin `AbdulMuttalib and comprising 30 Emigrants with a definite task of intercepting a caravan belonging to the Quraish. It was a caravan of 300 people including Abu Jahl bin Hisham. The two parties encountered each other and aligned in preparation for fighting. Majdi bin `Amr, on good terms with both sides, happened to be there and managed to prevent an imminent clash.
On that occasion, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) accredited the first flag in the history of Muslims. It was white in color and was entrusted to Abu Marthad Kannaz bin Husain Al-Ghanawi, to carry.
2. The Rabigh Mission.
In Shawwal, 1 A.H., i.e., April 623 C.E., Allah’s Messenger dispatched `Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib at the head of 60 horsemen of Emigrants to a spot called Batn Rabigh where they encountered Abu Sufyan at the head of a caravan of 200 men. There were a few arrows shot but no actual fighting.
It is interesting to note that two Muslims, Al-Miqdad bin `Amr Al-Bahrani and `Utbah bin Ghazwan Al-Mazini, defected from the caravan of Quraish and joined the ranks of `Ubaidah. The Muslims had a white flag carried by Mistah bin Athathah bin Al-Muttalib bin `Abd Manaf.
3. The Kharrar Mission
It occurred in Dhul-Qa`dah 1 A.H., i.e., May 623 C.E., the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dispatched Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas at the head of 20 horsemen, and instructed them not to go beyond Al-Kharrar. After a five-day march they reached the spot to discover that the camels of the Quraish had left the day before; their flag, as usual, was white and carried by Al-Miqdad bin `Amr.
4. The Invasion of Al-Abwa’ or Waddan
It was in Safar 2 A.H., i.e., 623 C.E. Allah’s Messenger set out himself at the head of 70 men, mostly Emigrants, to intercept a caravan of camels belonging to the Quraish, leaving behind Sa`d bin `Ubadah to administer the affairs in Madinah. He reached Waddan without incident.
In the process of this campaign, he contracted a non-aggression pact with `Amr bin Makhshi Ad-Damri. The provisions of the pact were as follows:
“This is a document from Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, concerning Bani Damrah in which he established them safe and secure in their wealth and lives. They can expect support from the Muslims unless they oppose the religion of Allah. They are also expected to respond positively in case the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) seeks their help.’’
This was the first invasion under the leadership of Allah’s Messenger. It took fifteen days, with a white flag carried by Hamzah bin `Abdul-Muttalib.
5. The Invasion of Buwat
It took place in Rabi`ul-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e., 623 C.E. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), at the head of 200 Companions, marched for Buwat to intercept a caravan belonging to the Quraish comprising 100 Quraishites, Umaiyah bin Khalaf among them, and 2500 camels. When he reached Buwat, the caravan had left. Before leaving Madinah, he mandated Sa`d bin Mu`adh to handle the affairs until his return.
6. The Invasion of Safwan
In Rabi`ul-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e., 623 C.E., Kurz bin Jabir Al-Fihri at the head of a small group of polytheists raided the pastures of Madinah and looted some animals. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), at the head of 70 men, left Madinah to fight the aggressors. He went in their pursuit till he reached a place called Safwan near Badr but could not catch up with them. This mission came to be known as the preliminary Badr Invasion. During his absence, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) entrusted Zaid bin Harithah with administrating the affairs in Madinah. The standard was white in color and entrusted to `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him) to carry.
7. The Invasion of Dhil-’Ushairah
It was in Jumada Al-Ula and Jumada Al-Akhirah the first or second 2 A.H., i.e., November/December 623 C.E. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) at the head of 150-200 Helpers, with 30 camels which they rode turn by turn, set out to intercept a Quraishite caravan. He reached Dhil-’Ushairah but the camels had left some days before. These camels were the same that he went out to intercept on their return from Syria, and were the direct reason for the break out of the Battle of Badr. In the process of this campaign, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) contracted a treaty with Bani Mudlij and their allies Bani Dumrah. Abu Salamah bin `Abdul-Asad Al-Makhzumi was left as the administrator of Madinah in his absence.
8. The Nakhlah Mission
It took place in Rajab 2 A.H., i.e., January 624 A.H. Allah’s Messenger dispatched `Abdullah bin Jahsh Asadi to Nakhlah at the head of 12 Emigrants with six camels.
`Abdullah was given a letter by the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but was instructed to read it only after two days. He followed the instructions and discovered that he was asked to go on to a place called Nakhlah standing between Makkah and At-Ta’if, intercept a caravan of the Quraish and collect news about their intentions. He disclosed the contents of the letters to his fellows who willingly obeyed the orders.
At Nakhlah, the caravan passed carrying loads of raisins (dried grapes), foodstuff and other commodities. Notable polytheists were also there such as `Amr bin Al-Hadrami, `Uthman and Naufal, sons of `Abdullah bin AlMughirah, and others. The Muslims held consultations among themselves with respect to fighting them taking into account Rajab which was a sacred month (during which, along with Dhul-Hijjah, Dhul-Qa`dah and Muharram, war activities were suspended as was the custom in Arabia then). At last they agreed to engage with them in fighting. `Amr bin Al-Hadrami was shot dead by an arrow, `Uthman and Al-Hakam were captured whereas Naufal escaped. They came back with the booty and the two prisoners. They set aside one-fifth of the booty assigned to Allah and His Messenger, and took the rest.
The Messenger disapproved of this act and suspended any action as regards the camels and the two captives on account of the Prohibited Months already mentioned. The polytheists, on their part, exploited this golden opportunity to charge the Muslims and accuse them of violating what is Divinely inviolable. This idle talk was a source of great consternation to Muhammad’s Companions, until at last they were relieved when the Revelation came down giving a decisive answer and stating quite explicitly that the behavior of the polytheists in the entire incident was much more blameworthy and far more serious than the act of the Muslims:
``They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months (i.e., 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar). Say, `Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allah is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allah, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid Al-Haram (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.’’ [2:217]
The Words of Allah were quite clear and said that the uproar created by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities had been repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting the believers. The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already been violated and their Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been the target of repeated attempts on his life. In short, that sort of propaganda could deservedly be described as simply a shameful act.
Shortly afterwards, the two captives were released and blood money was given to the father of the man who was killed.
This has been a summary of pre-Badr platoons and invasions. None of them witnessed any looting of property or killing people except when the polytheists committed such crimes under the leadership of Kurz bin Jabir Al-Fihri. It was, in fact, the polytheists who had initiated such acts. No wonder, for such behavior was ingrained in their character.
After this event, the Quraish began to realize the real danger that the Muslims in Madinah could present. They came to know that the Muslims Madinah were always been on the alert, watching their commercial caravans closely. It was then common knowledge to them that the Muslims in their new abode could span and extend their military activities over an area of 300 miles, and bring it under full control. However, with the new situation borne in mind, the Makkans could not be deterred and were too obstinate to come to terms with the new rising power of Islam. They were determined to bring about their fall by their own hands and with this thoughtlessness they prepared for the great Battle of Badr.
The Muslims, on the other hand, and at the command of their Lord, were ordered to go to war in Sha`ban 2 A.H:
“And fight, in the way of Allah those who fight you; but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allah likes not the transgressors. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (polytheism or calamity) is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid Al-Haram (the Sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. But if they cease, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (polytheists, and wrongdoers, etc.).’’ [2:190-193]
Before long, Allah revealed different Verses teaching the Muslims the stratagems of fighting, urging them to go to war and illustrating the relevant rules:
“So, when you meet (in fight -- Jihad in Allah’s cause), those who disbelieve, smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e., take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e., free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e., are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. He will guide them and set right their state. And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them (i.e., they will know their places in Paradise more than they used to know their houses in the world). O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm.’’ [47:4-7]
Shortly afterwards, Allah began to rebuke the hypocrites, the weak at heart, and the cowardly elements:
``But when a decisive Surah (explaining and ordering things) is sent down, and fighting (Jihad -- the holy fighting) is mentioned (i.e., ordained) therein, you will see those in whose hearts is a disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with a look of one fainting to death.’’ [47:20]
The prevalent conditions made it an overriding priority to encourage the Muslims to fight. Any leader with deep insight would order his soldiers to get ready for any sort of emergency, let alone the All-Knowing Exalted Lord, Who is All-Aware of the minutest details of affairs. The event of that encounter with the polytheists dealt a heavy blow to the pride of the Quraish and created a terrible restlessness among them.
The aforementioned Qur’anic Verses, enjoining the Muslims to strive in the cause of Allah, indicated the incipient clashes that would be crowned by a decisive victory for the Muslims, and final expulsion of polytheists out of the Sacred City, Makkah. They referred to rules relevant to the treatment of captives and slaughtering the pagan soldiers till the war ended and laid down its burdens. All of these could act as clues to a final triumph that would envelop the struggle of the Muslims towards their noble objectives.
Another event of great significance occurred in the same month, Sha`ban 2 A.H., i.e., February 624 C.E., which was a Divine commandment ordering that Al-Qiblah be changed from Jerusalem to the Sacred Masjid in Makkah. This was of a great advantage to the Muslims at two levels. First, it brought about a kind of social sifting, so to speak, in terms of the hypocrites of the Jews and others weak at heart, and revealed their true nature and inclinations. The ranks of the Muslims were thereby cleared from those elements that stirred discord and conflict. Second, facing a new Qiblah, the Sacred Masjid in Makkah, referred to a new role awaiting the Muslims which would start only after the repatriation of the Muslims to their Sacred City, Makkah for it was not logical for the Muslims to leave their Qiblah at the mercy of non-Muslims.
The Muslims, therefore, at the command of Allah and on account of these Divine clues, increased their activities. Their tendency towards striving in the cause of Allah and encountering His enemies in a decisive battle was greatly intensified.
The Battle of Badr – The First Decisive Battle in the History of Islam
Reason of the Battle
We have already spoken about Al-`Ushairah Invasion when a caravan belonging to the Quraish escaped an imminent military encounter with the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his men. When their return from Syria approached, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dispatched Talhah bin `Ubaidullah and Sa`id bin Zaid northward to scout around for any movements. 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 their findings to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Great wealth amounting to 50,000 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 establishment of the Makkan polytheists.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) immediately encouraged the Muslims to rush out and intercept the caravan to make up for the 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 a task on a small scale.
The Size and Strength of the Muslim Army
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Emigrants, and 61 men from the ‘Aws and 170 from the Khazraj tribes. They were not wellequipped or 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. Allah’s Messenger himself, `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) and Marthad bin Abi Marthad Al-Ghanawi had only one camel. Administration of the affairs of Madinah was entrusted to Ibn Umm Maktum but later to Abu Lubabah bin
`Abdul-Mundhir. The flag was given to Mus`ab bin `Umair Al-Qurashi Al-’Abdari, and their standard was white in color. The little army was divided into two battalions, the Emigrants with a standard raised by `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him), 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), of course.
The Muslim Army Moves Near Badr
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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-Safra’, he dispatched Basbas bin `Amr Al-Juhani and `Adi bin Abi Az-Zaghba’ Al-Juhani to scout about for the camels of the Quraish.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already been aware that the route he was following was full of dangers. He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad. His scouting men submitted 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 Quraish. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah in a frenzy. Dismounting his camel, he stood dramatically before the Ka`bah, cut off the nose and the ears of the camel, turned its saddle upside down, tore off his own shirt from the front and behind, and cried: “O Quraish! Your merchandise! It is with Abu Sufyan. The caravan is being intercepted by Muhammad and his companions. I cannot say what would have happened to them. Help! Help!”
The People of Makkah Hasten for Battle
The effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous; the news stunned the Quraish and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when the Muslims had intercepted the Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly gathered 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). All the clans of Quraish gave their consent except Banu `Adi.
Preparing the Makkan Army
Soon an excited group of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600 soldiers in mail armor, with a large number of camels, was clamoring proceed to fight the Muslims. For supplies, they would slaughter an alternate number of nine or ten camels every day.
The Problem of Banu Bakr
They were however afraid that Banu Bakr, on account of their old deepseated hostility, would attack their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the guise of Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju’sham AlMudliji, chief of Bani Kinanah, telling them: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.”
The Army of Makkah Begins its Movement
They set out burning with anger, motivated by a consuming desire for revenge and exterminating anyone that might put in danger the routes of their caravans:
``...boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the path of Allah.’’ [8:47]
Or as the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“O Allah these are the proud and arrogant; they have come to fight Allah and to fight His Messenger.”
“And they went in the morning with strong intention, thinking that they have power.’’ [68:25]
They moved swiftly northward to Badr, passing the valley of `Usfan, Qadid, then Al-Juhafah. Here they received another message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan had escaped the Muslims.
The Caravan Escapes
Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and headed towards the Red Sea. By this move, he was able to slip past the Madinese ambush and was out of their reach.
The Makkan Army Considers Returning
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however proudly and arrogantly insisted that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for festivities.
They wanted to punish the Muslims and deter them from intercepting their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that the Quraish still had the upper hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
In spite of Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence, 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 matters of importance.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats made them give up that idea.
The rest of the army, now numbering 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped beyond a sand dune at Al-’Udwatul-Quswa.
The Difficult Position of the Muslim Army
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madinese army reported to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 Islam and tread upon its faithful believers. The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start the war within the headquarters of Islam, Madinah. A move of this nature would certainly damage the Islamic Cause and produce a negative impact on the dignity and position of the Muslims.
A Meeting for Consultation
On account of the new grave developments, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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, Allah says:
``As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad) 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) apprised his men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice. Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) was the first who spoke and assured the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of the unreserved obedience to his command. `Umar (May Allah be Pleased with him) was next. Then Al-Miqdad bin `Amr got up and said: “O Messenger of Allah! Proceed where Allah directs you to, for we are with you. We will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses:
`Go you and your Lord and fight and we will stay here;’
rather we shall say:
`Go you and your Lord and fight and we will fight along with you.’
By Allah! If you were to take us to Birk Al-Ghimad, we will still fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it.”
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then praised him and supplicated for him.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Emigrants, who only constituted a minor section of the army. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted, and with greater reason, to hear the Helpers’ view because they were the majority of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the burden of the war activities. Moreover, the clauses of the Pledge of Al-`Aqabah did not commit them to fighting beyond their territories.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then said:
``O people! Advise me!’’
by which he meant the Helpers, in particular. Upon this Sa`d bin Mu`adh stood up and said: “By Allah, I feel you want us (the Helpers) to speak.’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) directly said: “Oh, yes!’’ Sa`d said: “O Prophet of Allah (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have granted to us and we declare in clear 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 Allah, Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to throw ourselves into the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not deny the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that Allah will show you through our hands those deeds of bravery which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allah.’’
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was impressed with the loyalty and the spirit of sacrifice which his Companions showed at this critical point. Then he said to them:
“Move ahead and receive good news, for Allah has promised me one of the two (the rewarding course through capturing the booty or strife in the cause of Allah against the polytheists), and by Allah it is as if I now see the enemy lying prostrate.’’
The Messenger and the Survey of the Enemy
In the immediate vicinity of Badr, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his Companion Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) conducted a scouting operation during which they managed to locate the camp of the Quraish. They came across an old bedouin nearby from whom they managed skillfully to extract the exact location of the army of the polytheists. In the evening of the same day, he dispatched three Emigrant leaders, `Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him), AzZubair 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. So they brought them back with them. Upon interrogation, they admitted that they were water carriers working for the Quraish. This answer did not satisfy some of the Muslims and they beat the two boys severely in order to exact from them an answer, even if it was not true, referring to the caravan laden with wealth. The two boys thus lied, and so they were released. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who had been busy in prayer was angry with the men and censured them saying:
“On telling the truth, you beat them, and on telling a lie, you released them! By Allah the truth is that they were from the Quraish!’’
He then addressed the two boys, and after a little conversation with them he learned a lot about the enemy: the number of soldiers, their exact location and the names of some of their notables.
He then turned to the Muslims and said:
“This is Makkah sending to you its 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. Allah sent rain to strengthen their hearts and to plant their feet firmly therewith.
The Muslim Army Marches Ahead
They marched a little forward and encamped at the farther bank of the valley. Muhammad stopped at the nearest spring of Badr. Al-Hubab bin Mundhir asked him, “Has Allah inspired you to choose this very spot or is it strategy of war and the product of consultation?’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied “It is strategy of war and consultation.’’ Al-Hubab said: “This place is no good; let us go and encamp at 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, which they conducted at midnight.
Preparing the Trellis for the Headquarters
Sa`d bin Mu`adh suggested that a trellis be built for the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 were victorious, then everything would be satisfactory. In case of defeat, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 Allah with him again and again. A squad of guards was also chosen from among the Helpers under the leadership of Sa`d bin Mu`adh, in order to defend the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in his headquarters.
Allah’s Messenger planned the positions of his army, walking throughout the place of the planned confrontation, pointing with his hand saying:
“This is the position of so-and-so tomorrow, if Allah wills, and this is the position of so-and-so tomorrow, if Allah wills.’’
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then spent the whole night in prayer near a tree. The Muslim army, tired from their long march, enjoyed sound and refreshing sleep, a mark of the Divine favor 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]
This was the night preceding Friday, Ramadan 17, the year 2 A.H, and they had originally left for battle on the 8th or the 12th.
Positioning the Makkan Army
The Quraish, on the other hand, positioned their forces at Al-’UdwatulQuswa opposite the Muslim lines. A few of them approached, in an act of provocation, to draw water from the wells of Badr, but were all shot dead except one, Hakim bin Hizam, who later became a devoted Muslim. `Umair bin Wahb Al-Jumahi, in an attempt to explore the power of the Muslims, made a survey and submitted a report saying that the Muslim army numbered as many as 300 men keen on fighting to the last man.
On another scouting mission he came to the conclusion that neither more force was coming nor were any 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 confronting parties together, lessened the desire to fight among some of the Quraishites. To counteract this opposition based on sound reason advocated by a rival of his, `Utbah bin Rabi’ah and others, Abu Jahl started a countercampaign seeking revenge on Muhammad’s followers for the members of the Quraish killed at Nakhlah. In this way, he managed to counter the opposing argument, and manipulated the people to see his evil views only.
The Two Armies Meet
When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) began supplicating Allah:
“O Allah! The proud and arrogant Quraish are already here rebelling against You and belying Your Messenger. O Allah! I am waiting for Your victory which You have promised me. I beg You Allah 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 carefully and never resort to the sword unless the enemies came very 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 that their superior number, equipment and experience would be decisive. Allah revealed:
``(O disbelievers) if you ask for a judgment, now has the judgment 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, Allah is with the believers.’’ [8:19]
The First Clash
The first disbeliever to start the assault of the battle and become its first victim was Al-Aswad bin `Abdul-Asad Al-Makhzumi, a fierce badtempered 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 Dueling Begins
The battle started in earnest. Protected by armor and shields, `Utbah bin Rabi`ah stepped forth between his brother Shaibah and his son Al-Walid bin `Utbah from the lines of Quraish and cursed the Muslims. Three young men of the Helpers came out against them: `Awf and Mu’awwidh, the sons of Harith, and `Abdullah bin Rawahah. However, the Makkans shouted that they had nothing to do with them. They wanted the heads of their cousins. Upon this the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 combat. The three duels were rapid. Hamzah killed Shaibah, while `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him)killed Al-Walid. `Ubaidah was seriously wounded but, before he fell, Hamzah fell upon `Utbah and with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) and Hamzah carried `Ubaidah back with his leg cut off. He died four or five days later of a disease of the bile duct.
`Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) used to swear that Allah’s Words were revealed about them:
``These two opponents (believers and disbelievers) dispute with each other about their Lord.’’ [22:19]
The duel was followed by a few more duels but the Makkans suffered terrible setbacks in all the combats and lost some of their most precious lives. They were too frustrated and angry and fell upon the Muslims to destroy them once and for all. The Muslims, however, after supplicating their Lord and calling upon Him for help, were made to hold onto their position and conduct a defensive war plan that successfully inflicted heavy losses on the attackers. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) prayed to his Lord persistently day and night to come to their help. When the fierce engagement grew frenzied he began to supplicate his Lord again saying:
“O Allah! 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 (May Allah be Pleased with him) came, picked up the cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and said: “O Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) of Allah, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfill what He has promised you.’’ The response from Allah was immediate, Who sent down angels from the heavens for the help and assistance of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his Companions. The Noble Qur’an 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.’’ [8:12]
Allah the All-Mighty also inspired another message to His Messenger, saying:
``I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the other (following one another) in succession.’’ [8:9]
The Descent of the Angels
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in his trellis, dozed off a little and then raised his head calling loudly in joy:
“O Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him), glad tidings are there for you: Allah’s victory has approached, by Allah, I can see Jibreel (May peace be upon him!) on his mare in the thick of a sandstorm.”
He then came swiftly upon the ground reciting aloud:
``Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.’’ [54:45]
At the instance of Jibreel (May peace be upon him!), the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 into the eyes of the enemies. With respect to this, Allah says:
``And you (i.e., Muhammad) threw not when you did throw but Allah threw.’’ [8:17]
Only at this juncture did the Prophet give clear orders to launch a counterattack. He commanded the army, inspiring confidence among his men and encouraging them to fight manfully for the sake of their Lord, reciting the Words of Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!):
``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 valor 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.’’ Saying this he ran into the thick of the battle and died fighting bravely. Unique deeds of valor, deep devotion and complete obedience to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) were exhibited in the course of the battle.
The army of the believers fought 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. Little wonder, when 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 of evil.
The records of Hadith speak clearly 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 Allah’s Messenger and related that event to him. The Prophet replied: `You have told the truth. This was help from the third heaven.’”
One of the Helpers captured `Abbas bin `Abdul-Muttalib, who said: “O Messenger of Allah, by Allah, 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 Allah.’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied:
``Be quiet, Allah the All-Mighty strengthened you with the help of a noble angel.’’
Iblis (Satan) Flees From the Battle
Iblis, in the guise of Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju’sham Al-Mudliji, on seeing angels working in favor of the Muslims, and Quraish rapidly losing ground on the battlefield, beat a hasty retreat despite the polytheists’ pleas to stay on. He ran off and jumped into the sea.
The Makkan Ranks Begin to Flee
The ranks of Quraish began to give way and their numbers added to nothing but confusion. The Muslims followed their retreating steps eagerly, killing or taking captive all those who fell within their reach. Retreat soon turned into humiliating flight; and they fled in haste, casting away their armor, abandoned beasts of burden, camp and equipment.
Abu Jahl Stands Firm
The great tyrant Abu Jahl, upon seeing the adverse course of the battle, tried to stop the tidal wave of the Islamic victory by provoking the polytheists and encouraging them by all the means available and begging them in the name of Al-Lat and Al-`Uzza and other pagan deities to stand firm in place and hit back against the Muslims, but to no avail. Their morale had already been reduced to zero, and their lines broken down. He then began to realize the reality of his pride and arrogance. None remained around him except a gang of ill-fated polytheists whose resistance was crushed by an overwhelming storm of courage inspired by true piety and courage and the pursuit of martyrdom. Abu 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 hushed 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 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 responded to their intense desire 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 Allah’s Messenger, each claiming that he had killed Abu Jahl to the exclusion of the other. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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-Jamuh, because the other Mu`awwidh bin Al-`Afra’was later killed in the course of the same battle.
At the conclusion of the battle, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) wanted to look for the 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 Allah has disgraced you?’’ The enemy of Islam still rebelliously 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 “Allah and His Messenger.’’ Abu Jahl then said with a heart full of bitterness: “You have followed difficult ways, you shepherd!’’ Ibn Mas’ud used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan nobles.
Ibn Mas’ud then cut off his head and took it to Allah’s Messenger who, on seeing it, began to praise Allah:
``Allah is Great, praise is to Allah, Who has fulfilled His Promise, helped His servant and Alone defeated the Confederates.’’
He then set out to have a look at the corpse. There he said:
``This is the Pharaoh of this nation.’’
Some Significant Instances of Devotion
- The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) advisedhis Companions to preserve the lives of some men from Banu Hashim who had gone out to Badr with the polytheists unwillingly because they feared the censure of their people. Among them, he named Al-`Abbas bin `AbdulMuttalib and Abul-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 Allah! If I see him I will surely strike him with my sword.’’ On hearing these words, Allah’s Messenger, addressing `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be Pleased with him), said: “Is it fair that the face of the Messenger’s uncle be struck with a sword?’’ `Umar (May Allah be Pleased with him) got angry and threatened to kill Abu Hudhaifah; later he said that extreme fear had taken firm grip of him and felt that nothing except martyrdom could expiate for his mistake. He was killed later on during the events of Al-Yamamah.
- Abul-Bukhtari bin Hisham had already done his best to restrain his people, the Makkans, from committing any act of folly against the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Besides, he had been among the people who tried to invalidate the boycott alliance taken against Banu Hashim and Banu `Abdul-Muttalib.
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 fighting, replied that the other was not included in the Prophet’s recommendation. The fight went on to end in Abul-Bukhtari’s death.
- `Abdur-Rahman bin `Awf and Umaiyah bin Khalaf had been close friends during the pre-Islamic era. When the Battle of Badr ended, `AbdurRahman saw Umaiyah and his son among the captives. He threw away the armor he had as spoils, and walked with them both. Bilal, the Prophet’s caller for prayer, saw Umaiyah 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 Umaiyah. `Abdur-Rahman tried to ease the tension and turn the difficult situation around favorably but with no success. The Muslims gathered around and struck Umaiyah’s son with swords. At this point, `AbdurRahman called upon his old friend to run for his life but he was put to the sword by different people and lay down dead. `Abdur-Rahman, completely helpless and resigned said: “May Allah 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 evil. In this context, `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be Pleased with him) did not spare the life of any polytheist even his maternal uncle, Al-`As bin Hisham bin Al-Mughirah.
- Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) shouted at his son `AbdurRahman, still a polytheist and fighting with them, “Where is my wealth, you wicked lad?’’ The son answered that it was gone with the wind.
- When the battle ended, the Muslims captured some polytheists and heldthem in captivity. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 averse to taking the enemy as prisoners. Sa`d said that it was the first victory for the Muslims over the forces of polytheism, and he would have preferred slaying them than sparing their lives.
- On the day of Badr, the sword of `Ukashah bin Mihsan Al-Asdi brokedown so the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 the same sword in most of the Islamic conquests until he died during the apostasy wars.
- When the war ended, Mus`ab bin `Umair Al-’Abdari saw his brother, stilla polytheist, being handcuffed by an Ansari man. 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 by invoking family ties, but the latter firmly replied that the Helper was more eligible for ties of brotherhood than him.
- When the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 (May the peace and blessings of Allah 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 he wished he had been guided to the path of Islam, and that is why he felt sad. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) consoled him and whispered some words of comfort in his ears.
As mentioned, the outcome of the battle was a humiliating defeat 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 similar number taken prisoners. Many of the prominent men of Makkah, and some of Muhammad’s bitterest opponents, were among the slain. Chief of these was Abu Jahl.
On the third day, Allah’s Messenger 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 me, whereas the others have sheltered me.’’
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 Allah and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s Promise does come true; did you (also) find that the promises of your Lord came true?’’
Thereupon, `Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “O Messenger of Allah! Why do you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?’’ The Prophet answered:
“By Him in Whose Hand is Muhammad’s soul! You do not hear what I am saying any better than they do.’’
Makkah Receives the Distressful News
The polytheists, having suffered a large punishment and a heavy defeat, retreated in disarray toward the valleys and hills fleeing back to Makkah in a panic state, too ashamed to see their own people.
Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of the bad news to the Makkans was Al-Haisuman bin `Abdullah Al-Khuza’i. He related to them the death of their nobles. At first, the Makkans did not believe him, thinking that he had gone mad; soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan state.
Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith gave Abu Lahab a full account of the death and the disgraceful defeat they suffered, emphasizing on the role played by the angels in bringing about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and, expressing his feelings of hatred, began to beat, abuse, and slap Abu Rafi` (May Allah be Pleased with him), who was a Muslim, while reiterating the role of the angels. Ummul-Fadl (May Allah be Pleased with him), who was a Muslim woman, became frustrated by Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behavior and struck him with a stick, splitting his head. He would die seven days later from the worst type of ulcer and remained unburied for three days. For the fear of a shameful rumor being spread, his sons took him to a pit and, while maintaining their distance, hurled stones and dust at him [in order to bury 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.
Madinah Receives the Victorious News
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) dispatched `Abdullah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah to Madinah to convey to the Muslims there the good news of the victory.
The multiethnic and ideological structure of Madinah displayed different reactions to the news. Some from among the Jews and the hypocrites spread the rumor that the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had been killed, and to support their false assertion they relied on the fact that Zaid bin Harithah (May Allah be Pleased with him) was riding AlQaswa’, the Prophet’s she-camel. The two emisaries, upon reaching Madinah, conveyed to the Muslims the good news of victory. They furnished detailed information concerning the course of events that transpired so as to establish a sense of reassurance deep within the hearts of the anxious, but joyous Muslims. They immediately started chanting Allah’s Name and began entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. The chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) on the road leading to Badr.
Usamah bin Zaid (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related that they received the news of the victory shortly after Ruqaiyah(May Allah be Pleased with her), the Prophet’s daughter, and the wife of `Uthman bin `Affan (May Allah be Pleased with him) had been buried. She had been terminally ill and the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had asked `Uthman (May Allah be Pleased with him) to remain behind in Madinah and tend to her.
Disputes Over the Spoils of War
Before leaving the scene of the battle, disputes concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslims, since the rule relating to its distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) suspended any solution concerning it until Revelation was sent down.
`Ubadah bin As-Samit (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “We set out with Allah’s Messenger(May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and I witnessed [the Battle of] Badr with him. The battle started and Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!), defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims went in pursuit of the enemy, some remained behind collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others remained guarding Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), remaining on alert for any emergency or for a surprise attack.
When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said: ‘We were the ones to collect it, so no one else has any right to it.’ Those who went in pursuit of the enemy said: ‘You have no more right to it than we do; we held the enemy and then defeated them.’ Those who were guarding the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: ‘We feared that the enemy may strike him so we remained behind becuae of that.’ In this regard, Allah revealed:
“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allah and the Messenger.’ So fear Allah and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), if you are believers.”' [8:1]
So Allah’s Messenger distributed it among the Muslims.
The Army of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Returns to Madinah
After remaining three days at Badr, Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) began leading the army and the captives toward Madinah. They were also accompanied by a group of wounded captives who were under the care of `Abdullah bin Ka`b (May Allah be Pleased with him). On their way back they stopped at a large sandy hill and the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) divided the spoils equally among the fighters, after taking a fifth. Upon reaching asSafra’, he ordered the execution of an-Nadr bin al-Harith, who was the carrier of the pagan standard during the battle of Badr. The reason for his execution was because he was one of the worst criminals of the Quraish against Islam, and because he was one of those who persecuted Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It was `Ali bin Abu Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him) who beheaded him.
When he reached `Irquz-Zabyah, he ordered that the execution of ‘Uqbah bin Abu Mu’ait. We have already mentioned some of the ways in which he would harm Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He was the one who placed the entrails of a dead animal on the head of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) while he was praying; he was also the one who wrapped his garment around the Prophet’s neck, nearly killing him and Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) was the one who came to his aid. When the order for his execution was given he asked: “Who will look after my children?” The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied: “The fire.” He was executed by `Asim bin Thabit Al-Ansari, and some say it was done by ‘Ali bin Abu Talib. The execution of these two tyrants was essential due to the atrocities they both committed during and outside of the battle.
The Joyous Reception of the People of Madinah
At Ar-Rawha’, which was a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous people of Madinah who had come out to congratulate the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for the victory that Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!) granted him. Usaid bin Hudair (May Allah be Pleased with him), acting as the spokesman for the other believers, mentioned Allah’s praise. He sought to excuse himself for not joining the army on grounds that the Prophet’s intention was interception of the caravan and not war. If it had occurred to him that a battle would take place, then he would never have remained behind. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) assured Usaid that he believed him.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) entered Madinah as a man who was seen in another light, that of the military field.
As a result of this a large number of the people from Madinah embraced Islam. This added immensely to the strength, power, and moral standing of the true religion.
The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) encouraged the Muslims to treat the prisoners kindly. This occurred to such an extent that the captors would offer their captives their bread [which was the more valued part of the meal] and eat the dates themselves.
The Judgment Concerning the Captives
Prisoners of war constituted an issue that needed to be resolved as it was a new phenomenon in Islamic history. The Prophet consulted Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him)and ‘Umar bin al-Khattab(May Allah be Pleased with him)concerning the prisoners. Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him)suggested that they be ransomed, explaining his reasoning by saying: “They are after all our relatives, and the money would give us strength against the disbelievers. Additionally, Allah(Might and majesty belong to Him!) may guide them to Islam.” ‘Umar advised the execution of some of them, saying: “They are the leaders of disbelief.”’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) preferred the advice of Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him)over that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar(May Allah be Pleased with him) visited the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and found Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him) and him weeping. He showed extreme astonishment for this and inquired as to the reason why they were weeping, to ascertain if it would cause him to weep as well, or else he would pretend to weep. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related to him that a Qur’anic Verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom for the captives instead of executing them:
“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 Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not for a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.” [8:67, 68]
The previous Divine ordainment was as follows:
“Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e., free them without ransom) or ransom.”' [47:4]
It included the permission to accept ransom, which is why no punishment was imposed. They were only rebuked for taking prisoners before taking control of all the lands of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but war criminals, upon whom modern law would apply the death sentence as a means of justice.
The ransom amount for each prisoner ranged from 1000 to 4000 dirhams, according to the financial capacity of the captive. Another form of ransom was of an educational type. Since most of the people of Makkah, unlike those of Madinah, were literate so each prisoner, who was unable to make payment of the ransom, was entrusted with teaching reading and writing to ten children. Once the group of children had become proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another group of prisoners were released without ransom on grounds of their poor condition. Zainab(May Allah be Pleased with her), the daughter of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace to her as a show of respect to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). However, they freed him on condition that he would permit Zainab to migrate to Madinah, which he did.
Among the captives was Suhail bin ‘Amr, who was an eloquent orator of poetry. ‘Umar suggested that his front teeth be pulled out so as to handicap him from speaking, however the Prophet dismissed his suggestion for fear that the Quraish would seek a similar revenge, and also out of the fear of Allah’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sa’d bin An-Nu’man, who had been detained in Makkah while performing
‘Umrah by Abu Sufyan, was released in exchange for Abu Sufyan’s son `Amr.
The Battle of Badr in the Qur’anic Context
The Chapter of Al-Anfal (Spoils of War) was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr, on the 17th of Ramadan in 2 A.H. It constituted a unique divine commentary on this battle.
Allah, the All-High, in this Chapter draws on major issues relating to the entire process of Islamization. Allah draws the attention of the Muslims to the remaining moral shortcomings within their character. He wants them to build a united and purified society. He tells them about the invisible help He sent down for His obedient servants in order for them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid themselves of any characteristic of arrogance or pride that might creep inside them. He wants them to turn to Him for help, in obedience to Him and His Messenger.
Afterwards, He describes the noble objectives for which the Messenger launched that battle, and directs them to the merits and qualities which brought about that great victory.
The polytheists, hypocrites, Jews, and prisoners of war are also mentioned, and admonished to surrender to the truth and adhere only to it.
Resolution is given to the question pertaining to the spoils of war, and the principles and basics which are relevant to this issue are clarified.
Laws and rules pertinent to war and peace are legalized and codified, especially at the advanced stage of the Islamic action. Allah wanted the Muslims to observe ethics of war that were dissimilar to those practiced during the pre-Islamic period, as the Muslims are considered to have surpassed others in ethics, values, and ideals. Allah wants to impress on the world that Islam is not a mere theoretical code of life, but it is based on practical principles that cultivate the mind and provide a way of life. In this context, He established both inter and intra relations.
The fast of Ramadan was made obligatory in the year 2 A.H.. At this time Zakat (alms tax, poor-due) was also imposed on the Muslims in order to lessen the financial burden of the needy Emigrants.
Directly after the manifest victory at Badr, a wonderful and striking event was established : the ‘Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking). It was the finest display ever witnessed of Muslims, where they left their houses, praying, acclaiming Allah’s name and speaking His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favor and grace, and for the support He rendered on them. It was through this support that the forces of truth overpowered the forces 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]