Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Campaign of Badar

Description: Towards the second year of the Hijrah, responded to the Makkah hostilities against the Muslims. Badar campaign was one of the most decisive battles in human history that changed the political balance of the Arabian Peninsula.

By Al-Husssaini.

As the Prophet Muhammad’s priority as ruler was to establish a mosque for public worship and the constitution of the State, he was alert about the threat from the Quraish who sworn to end of his religion.

Enraged that the Prophet had migrated and well received in Medinah, they heightened their persecution against the Muslims who stayed behind in Makkah. They also make secret alliances with some polytheists of Medinah, such as Abdullah ibn Ubai, the head of the polytheists and the tribe of the Banu Aws and Khazraj ordering him to kill or expel Prophet Muhammad SAW which they agreed. They gathered to fight against Allah Messenger. When the Prophet heard about it He went to see 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 son and bretheren?”The Quraish often sent messages threatening Muslims of Medinah warning of their annihilation. Towards the second year of the Hijrah, the Mekkan launched a series of hostilities against the Muslims of Medinah. They sent men in parties to destroy the fruit trees of the Muslims of Medinah and to take away their flocks. It was the moment of severest trial to Islam.

It was at this time that God had given the Muslims permission to take arms against the disbelievers:

“Permission to fight is given to those [believers], who are fighting them, [and] because they [believers] have been wronged, and surely Allah is Able to give them [believers] victory.” [Surah Al-Hajj, 22: 39]


It became the duty of the Prophet SAW to take serious measures to guard against any plot rising from within or a sudden outside attack. He put Medinah in a state of military discipline. He had to send frequent reconnoitering missions to guard against any sudden onslaught. There were about eight of such missions them that took place between 1st and 2nd Hijrah. And no sooner did the Prophet SAW organize his state than a large well-equipped army of the Makkans was afield.

Several small expeditions were sent, led either by the Prophet SAW himself or the muhajirin for the purpose of reconnoitering the routes which led to Makkah, as well as forming alliances with other tribes. Other expeditions were led in order to intercept some caravans returning from Syria en route to Makkah, a way that could place economic pressure of the Quraish in order to quit their harassment of the Muslims. Few of these expeditions ever saw actual battle, but through them, the Muslims established their new position in the Arabian Peninsula, that they were no longer an oppressed and weak people, but rather their strength had grown and were now a formidable force not easily reckoned with. The Quraish were not deterred and obstinate to the Muslims, but determined to bring them down and prepared for the battle of Badar. The Muslim was ordered to go to war in Sha’aban of 2nd Hijrah:

“And fight, in the way of Allah those fight you; but transgress not the limit.Truely Allah likes not the transgressors. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [polytheism or calamity] is worth than killing. And fight not with them at Masjidil 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 Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and [all and every kind of] worship is Allah [Alone]. But if they6 cease, let5 there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun [polytheists, and wrongdoers, etc].” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 190-193]

The Campaign of Badar

On one expedition, the Quraishite caravan on their route to Syria had escaped the Muslims. The Muslims waited for its return. The Muslims spotted the caravan, led by Abu Sufian himself, pass by them, and hurriedly informed the Prophet SAW. The interception of the caravan would have great measure of economic impact, and would shake the entire society of the Makkans. The Muslim reconnoiters found that the caravan would be halting at the wells of Badar, and prepared to intercept it and hurriedly informed the Prophet SAW of it and he encouraged to seize, but did not bind them, it to make up for they had forced to give up in Makkah.

Abu Sufian on his southward journey sent an urgent message to Makkah that an army should be dispatched to deal with the Muslims. Grasping the catastrophic consequences if the caravan were intercepted, they immediately rounded as much power as possible and departed to encounter the Muslims. On way to Badar, the army received news that Abu Sufyan managed to escape the Muslims by driving the caravan to an alternative route along the seashore. But the Makkan army, constituting of one thousand men marched under Abu Jahal, a great enemy of Islam, marched to Badar in order to teach a lesson to the Muslims, dissuading them from attacking any caravans in the future.

When the Muslims came to know of the advance of the Makkan army, they knew that a daring step must be taken in the matter at the Badar, to prevent the Makkans undermine the cause of Islam, possibly even proceeding to Medina desecrating lives property and wealth there.

The Prophet SAW, held and advisory meeting to determine the course of action. The Prophet SAW did not want to lead the Muslims, especially the Helpers who were the far majority of the army and were not even bound by the Pledge of Aqaba to fight beyond their territories, into something they did not agree to it.

A man from the Helpers, Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh stood reaffirmed their devotion to the Prophet SAW and the cause of Islam. From his words were the following:

“O Prophet God! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have vouched safe to us, and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice. We obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by God Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to plunge into the sea, we will do that most readily, and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not grudge the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that God will show you through our hands those deeds of valor which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of God”.

After this show of extreme support and love for the Prophet SAW and Islam by both the Emigrants and the Helpers, an army made up of ill-equipped 300-317 men, 82-86 Muhajirin, 61 Aws and 170 from Khazraj tribes was made ready for the adventure. They had only seventy camels and three horses between them, so the men rode by turns. They went forward to what is known in history as al- Yawm al-Furqan, the Day of Discrimination; discrimination between light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong.

The little army was divided into two, the Muhajirin was in the hand of ‘Ali bin Abu Talib and the Ansar was in the hand of Sa’ad bin Mu’adh. Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam took the right flank leadership, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amar lead the left flank, at the rear was the command of Qais bin Abi Sa’sa’ah. The General Commander-in-Chief was the Prophet SAW.

The Muslim armies gathered to forestall the idolaters by occupying the valley of Badar, situated near the sea between Makkah and Medinah. When the Prophet Muhammad SAW noticed the army of the infidels approaching the valley, he prayed that the small band of Muslims might not be destroyed. Preceding the Day of the battle, the Prophet SAW spent the whole night in prayer and supplication.

The battle was fought on 17 Ramadhan in the second Hijrah [624 C.E].

It was customary for the Arabs to start the battles with individual duels. The Muslims gained an advantage in the duels, and some notaries of the Quraish had been killed. The Quraish enraged the fell upon the Muslims in order to exterminate them once and for all. The Muslims kept a strategic defensive position, which in turn produced heavy losses for the Makkans. The Prophet SAW was beseeching His Lord with all his might by this time, extending his hands so high that his cloak fell off his shoulders. At that point, he received a revelation promising of the help of God:

“I will help you with a thousand of the angel’s one behind another in succession.” [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:9]

Upon hearing the good news, the Prophet ordered the Muslims took an offensive. The result of the battle was that the Meccans were driven back with great loss. A large number of idolaters remained prisoners in the hands of the Muslims. They were, contrary to all usage and traditions of the Arabs, treated with the greatest humanity. The Prophet SAW gave strict orders that sympathy should be shown to them in their misfortune and that they should be treated with kindness. These instructions were faithfully obeyed by the Muslims to whose care the prisoners were confided. Dealing with this event, Sir William Muir, in his book Life of Muhammad, quotes one of the prisoners saying: "Blessing be on the men of Medinah; they made us ride, while they themselves walked; they gave us wheaten bread to eat, when there was little of it, contenting themselves with dates."

The great army of Quraish was overwhelmed by the zeal, valor and faith of the Muslims, and after facing heavy losses; they could do nothing but flee. The Muslims were left alone on the field with a few doomed Makkans, the Quraish were defeated and Abu Jahal was killed. The promise of God came true:

“Their multitude will be defeated, and they will turn their backs (in flee).” [Surah Al-Qamar, 54:45]

In this, one of the most decisive battles in human history, with manifest victory for the Muslims Fourteen Muslims killed, six were Muhajirin and eight were Ansars The polytheist sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and like numbers were taken prisoners.

Almighty Allah said: And Allah has already made you victorious at Badar, when you were a weak little force. So fear Allah much [abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden and love Allah much, perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained] that you may be grateful. [Remember] when you [Muhammad] said to the believers, "Is it not enough for you that your Lord [Allah] should help you with three thousand angels; sent down? Yes, if you hold on to patience and piety, and the enemy comes rushing at you; your Lord will help you with five thousand angels having marks of distinction. Allah made it not but as a message of good news for you and as an assurance to your hearts. And there is no victory except from Allah the All Mighty, the All Wise. That He might cut off a part of those who disbelieve, or expose them to infamy, so that they retire frustrated." [Surah Ali-‘Imran, 3:123-127 Quran].

The remarkable circumstances, which led to the victory of Badar, and results, which followed from it, made a deep impression on the minds of the Muslims; the angels of the heaven had battled on their side against their enemies. The division of the spoils created some dissension between the Muslim warriors. For the moment, the Prophet SAW divided it equally among all. Subsequently, a Quran revelation laid down a rule for future division of the spoils. According to this rule, a fifth was reserved for the public treasury for the support of the poor and indigent, while the distribution of the remaining four fifths was left to the discretion of the Chief of the State. A large number people of Madinah embraced Islam which added to the strength.

Makkah reeled under the shock, where Abu Sufian was left as the dominant figure in the city, and he knew better than anyone that the matter could not be allowed to rest there. Success breeds success, and the Bedouin tribes, never slow to assess the balance of power, were increasingly inclined towards alliance with the Muslims, and Islam gained many new converts in Medinah.

The Surah Al-Anfal was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badar, Ramadhan 17th 2 AH. It constitutes a unique Divine commentary on this battle. Allah draws the attention of the Muslims to the whole process of Islamization that the Muslims the still remaining moral shortcomings in their character. Allah wants them to build a united and purified society. He tells them about the invisible help sent down to accomplish their objectives. Muslims was told to rid themselves off any characteristics of arrogance, to turn to Allah for help, obey Him and the Messenger. The polytheist, hypocrites, the Jews and prisoners of war were admonished to submit to the Truth and adhere to it. The Laws and rules pertinent to the war were codified. Allah impressed that Islam is based on practical principles that cultivate mind and provide a way of life.

The fast of Ramadhan was established as an obligatory observance in the year 2 Ah. Along with the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying Zakat [mandatory charity]. So the establishment of Shawwal ‘Eid directly after the victory of Badar.

The Qiblah

In the second year after the migration, The Prophet received command to change the Qiblah from Jerusalem to the Ka'abah at Makkah. The Qiblah (the direction toward which the Muslims pray) had been Jerusalem. The Jews imagined that the choice implied a leaning toward Judaism and that the Prophet stood in need of the instruction. The Prophet longed for the Qiblah to be changed to the Ka’abah. The first place on earth built for the worship of God, and rebuilt by Abraham. A whole portion of Surah al-Baqarah relates to this Jewish controversy.

The next battle between the Quraish and the Muslims was the Battle of Uhud, a hill about four miles to the north of Medinah. The Quraish idolaters, to revenge their loss at Badar, made tremendous preparations for a new attack upon the Muslims.


See: Prophet Muhammad. 19.

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