The Battle Of Badr
The First Decisive Battle In The History Of Islam
وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللہُ بِبَدْرٍ وَّاَنۡتُمْ اَذِلَّۃٌ ۚ فَاتَّقُوا اللہَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُوۡنَ
And indeed He [Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala] aided you at Badr when you were few in number. So fear Him so that you may show gratitude.
Reason Of The Battle
It all began with the al ‘Ushayrah Invasion when a caravan belonging to Quraysh had escaped an imminent military encounter with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his men. When their return from Syria approached, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam despatched Sayyidina Talhah ibn ‘Ubayd Allah and Sayyidina Sa’id ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma northward to scout around for any movements of this sort. The two scouts stayed at al Hawra’ for some days until Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, passed by them. The two men hurried back to Madinah and reported to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam their findings. Great wealth amounting to fifty thousand dinars (gold coins) guarded by 40 men moving relatively close to Madinah constituted a tempting target for the Muslim military, and provided a potentially heavy economic, political and military strike that was bound to shake the entire structure of the Makkan polytheists.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam immediately exhorted the Muslims to rush out and waylay the caravan to make up for their property and wealth they were forced to give up in Makkah. He did not give orders binding to everyone, but rather gave them full liberty to go out or stay back, thinking that it would be just an errand on a small scale.
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Muhajirin—61 from Aws and 170 from Khazraj. They were not well-equipped nor adequately prepared. They had only two horses belonging to Sayyidina al Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam and Sayyidina al Miqdad ibn al Aswad al Kindi radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, 70 camels, one for two or three men to ride alternatively. The Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself, Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Murthid ibn Abi Murthid al Ghanawi radiya Llahu ‘anhuma had only one camel. Disposition of the affairs of Madinah was entrusted to Sayyidina Ibn Umm Makhtum radiya Llahu ‘anhu but later to Sayyidina Abu Lubabah ibn ‘Abd al Mundhir radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The general leadership was given to Sayyidina Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair al Qurashi al ‘Abdari radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and their standard was white in colour. The little army was divided into two battalions, the Muhajirin with a standard raised by Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, and the Ansar whose standard was in the hand of Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Mu’adh radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Sayyidina al Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam was appointed to the leadership of the right flank, Sayyidina al Miqdad ibn ‘Amr to lead the left flank, and the rear of the army was at the command of Sayyidina Qays ibn Abi Sa’sa’ah radiya Llahu ‘anhu. The General Commander-in-Chief was Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, of course.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, 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 al Safra’, he despatched two men to scout about for the camels of Quraysh.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already been aware that the route he was following was attended with dangers. He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. His scouting men submitted to him reports to the effect that the Muslims were lying in ambush for his caravan. To be on the safe side, he hired Damdam ibn ‘Amr al Ghifari to communicate a message asking for help from the Quraysh. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah in a frenzy. Felling himself from 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 front and behind, and cried, “O Quraysh! 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 effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous and the news stunned Quraysh and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when the Muslims had intercepted the Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly mustered almost all of their forces and none stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who delegated someone who owed him some money to go on his behalf. They also mobilized some Arab tribes to contribute to the war against Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. All the clans of Quraysh gave their consent except Banu ‘Adi. Soon an excited throng of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600 mailed soldiers with a large number of camels, were clamouring to proceed to fight the Muslims. For food supplies, they used to slaughter an alternate number of camels of ten and nine every day. They were however afraid that Banu Bakr, on account of old long deep-seated animosity, would attack their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the guise of Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju’sham al Mudlaji—chief of Banu Kinanah—saying to them, “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.”
Allah speaks of this:
وَ اِذْ زَیَّنَ لَہُمُ الشَّیۡطٰنُ اَعْمَالَہُمْ وَقَالَ لَا غَالِبَ لَكُمُ الْیَوْمَ مِنَ النَّاسِ وَ اِنِّیۡ جَارٌلَّكُمْ
And [remember] when Satan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, “No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector.”
They set out burning with indignation, motivated by a horrible desire for revenge and exterminating anyone that might jeopardise the routes of their caravans:
وَلَا تَكُوۡنُوۡا کَالَّذِیۡنَ خَرَجُوۡا مِنۡ دِیَارِہِمۡ بَطَرًا وَّ رِئَآءَ النَّاسِ وَیَصُدُّوۡنَ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللہِ
Do not be like those who left their homes boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the path of Allah.
Or as Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:
O Allah these are the haughty and conceited; they have come defying Allah and defying His Messenger.
They moved swiftly northward to Badr. On the way they received another message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan had escaped the Muslims. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and inclined it towards the Red Sea. By this manoeuvre, he was able to slip past the Muslim ambush and was out of their reach.
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however haughtily and arrogantly insisted that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for making festivities. Now they wanted to punish the Muslims and prevent them from intercepting their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that Quraysh still had the upper hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
Notwithstanding Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence, Banu Zahrah, acting on the advice of al Akhnas ibn Shurayq, broke away and returned to Makkah. Thenceforth al Akhnas remained ‘the well-rubbed palm-tree’ for Banu Zahrah and was blindly obeyed in all relevant matters.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats made them desist from that idea.
The rest of the army, now 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped themselves beyond a sand dune at al ‘Udwat al Quswa.
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madani army reported to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that a bloody encounter with the Makkans was inescapable, and that a daring step in this context had to be taken, or else the forces of evil would violate the inviolable and would consequently manage to undermine the noble cause of the Islam and tread upon its faithful adherents. The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start the war activities within the headquarters of Islam, Madinah. A move of such nature would certainly damage and produce an infamous impact on the dignity and stance of the Muslims.
On account of the new grave developments, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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:
کَمَاۤ اَخْرَجَکَ رَبُّکَ مِنۡۢ بَیۡتِکَ بِالْحَقِّ ۪ وَ اِنَّ فَرِیۡقًا مِّنَ الْمُؤْمِنِیۡنَ لَکٰرِہُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۵﴾ یُجَادِلُوۡنَکَ فِی الْحَقِّ بَعْدَ مَا تَبَیَّنَ کَاَنَّمَا یُسَاقُوۡنَ اِلَی الْمَوْتِ وَہُمْ یَنۡظُرُوۡنَ
As your Rabb caused you [O Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] 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).
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam apprised his men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice. Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the first who spoke on the occasion and assured Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam of the unreserved obedience to his command. Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu was the next to stand up and supported the views expressed by his noble friend. Then Sayyidina al Miqdad ibn ‘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 Banu Isra’il said to Sayyidina Musa ‘alayh al Salam:
فَاذْہَبْ اَنۡتَ وَرَبُّکَ فَقَاتِلَاۤ اِنَّا ہٰہُنَا قٰعِدُوۡنَ
Go you and your Lord and fight. We will stay here.
Rather we shall say:
اذهب أنت وربك فقاتلا إنا معكما مقاتلون ، فوالذي بعثك بالحق لو سرت بنا إلى برك الغمادلجالدنا معك من دونه ، حتى تبلغه.
Go you and your Lord and fight and we will fight along with you. By Allah! If you were to take us to Bark al Ghima, we will still fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam thanked him and blessed him.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala guaranteed His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّبِیُّ حَسْبُکَ اللہُ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَکَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِیۡنَ
O Nabi, sufficient for you is Allah and whoever follows you of the believers.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Muhajirin, who only constituted a minor section of the army. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wanted, and for the more reason, to hear the Ansar’s view because they were the majority of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the brunt of the war activities. Moreover, the clauses of the ‘Aqabah Pledge did not commit them to fighting beyond their territories.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam then said, “Advise me, my men!” by which he meant the Ansar, in particular. Upon this Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Mu’adh radiya Llahu ‘anhu stood up and said, “By Allah, I feel you want us (the Ansar) to speak.” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam directly said, “O yes!” Sa’d said:
O Rasulullah! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have vouchsafed to us and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice. We will obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by Allah, 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 Allah will show you through our hands those deeds of valour which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allah.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was impressed with the fidelity and the spirit of sacrifice which his Companions showed at this critical juncture. Then he said to them, “Advance and be of cheer, for Allah has promised me one of the two (the lucrative course through capturing the booty or martyrdom in the cause of Allah against the polytheists), and by Allah it is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate.”
وَ اِذْ یَعِدُكُمُ اللہُ اِحْدَی الطَّآئِفَتَیۡنِ اَنَّہَا لَكُمْ وَتَوَدُّوۡنَ اَنَّ غَیۡرَ ذَاتِ الشَّوْکَۃِ تَكُوۡنُ لَكُمْ وَیُرِیۡدُ اللہُ اَنۡ یُّحِقَّ الۡحَقَّ بِکَلِمٰتِہٖ وَیَقْطَعَ دَابِرَ الْکٰفِرِیۡنَ ۙ﴿۷﴾ لِیُحِقَّ الْحَقَّ وَیُبْطِلَ الْبَاطِلَ وَلَوْکَرِہَ الْمُجْرِمُوۡنَ
[Remember, O believers], when Allah promised you one of the two groups – that it would be yours – and you wished that the unarmed one would be yours. But Allah intended to establish the truth by His words and to eliminate the disbelievers. That He should establish the truth and abolish falsehood, even if the criminals disliked it.
In the immediate vicinity of Badr, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Companion of the cave Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu conducted a scouting operation during which they managed to locate the camp of Quraysh. They came across an old bedouin nearby whom they manipulated and managed to extract from him the exact location of the army of the polytheists. In the evening of the same day, he despatched three Muhajirin leaders: Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Sayyidina al Zubair ibn al ‘Awwam, and Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas radiya Llahu ‘anhum to scout about for news about the enemy. They saw two men drawing water for the Makkan army. On interrogation, they admitted that they were water carriers working for Quraysh. But that answer did not please some Muslims and they beat the two boys severely in order to extract from them an answer, even if it was not true, alluding to the caravan laden with wealth. The two boys thus lied, and so they were released. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was angry with them and censured them saying, “On telling the truth, you beat them, and on telling a lie, you released them!” He then addressed the two boys and after a little conversation with them he learned a lot about the enemy: the number of soldiers, their exact location and names of some of their notables. He then turned to the Muslims and said, “Harken, Quraysh has sent you their most precious lives.”
The same night it rained on both sides. For the polytheists it obstructed further progress, whereas it was a blessing for the Muslims. It cleaned them and removed from them the stain of Shaytan. Allah sent rain to strengthen their hearts and to plant their feet firmly therewith.
اِذْ یُغَشِّیۡكُمُ النُّعَاسَ اَمَنَۃً مِّنْہُ وَیُنَزِّلُ عَلَیۡكُمۡ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً لِّیُطَہِّرَكُمۡ بِہٖ وَیُذْہِبَ عَنۡكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ وَلِیَرْبِطَ عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِكُمْ وَیُثَبِّتَ بِہِ الۡاَقْدَامَ
[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.
They marched a little forward and encamped at the farther bank of the valley. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam stopped at the nearest spring of Badr. Sayyidina al Hubab ibn Mundhir radiya Llahu ‘anhu asked him, “Has Allah inspired you to choose this very spot or is it a stratagem of war and the product of consultation?” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “It is stratagem of war and consultation.” Al Hubab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “This place is no good. Let us go and encamp on the nearest water well and make a basin or reservoir full of water, then destroy all the other wells so that they will be deprived of the water.” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, which they actually did at midnight.
Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Mu’adh radiya Llahu ‘anhu suggested that a trellis be built for Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to function as headquarters for the Muslim army and a place providing reasonable protection for the leader. Sayyidina Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu began to justify his proposal and said that if they had been victorious, then everything would be satisfactory. In case of defeat, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam 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 amongst the Ansar under the leadership of the same man, Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Mu’adh radiya Llahu ‘anhu, in order to defend Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam in his headquarters.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam spent the whole night preceding the day of the battle in prayer and supplication. The Muslim army, wearied with their long march, enjoyed sound and refreshing sleep, a mark of the Divine favour and of the state of their undisturbed minds.
اِذْ یُغَشِّیۡكُمُ النُّعَاسَ اَمَنَۃً مِّنْہُ وَیُنَزِّلُ عَلَیۡكُمۡ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ مَآءً لِّیُطَہِّرَكُمۡ بِہٖ وَیُذْہِبَ عَنۡكُمْ رِجْزَ الشَّیۡطٰنِ وَلِیَرْبِطَ عَلٰی قُلُوۡبِكُمْ وَیُثَبِّتَ بِہِ الۡاَقْدَامَ
[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.
That was Friday night, Ramadan 17th, the year 2 A.H.
In the morning, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam called his men to offer the prayers and then urged them to fight in the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala. As the sun rose over the desert, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam drew up his little army, and pointing with an arrow which he held in his hand, arranged the ranks. Quraysh, on the other hand, positioned their forces in al ‘Udwat al Quswa opposite the Muslim lines. A few of them approached, in a provocative deed, to draw water from the wells of Badr, but were all shot dead except one, Hakim ibn Hizam, who later became a devoted Muslim. ‘Umair ibn Wahab al Jumahi, in an attempt to reconnoitre the power of the Muslims, made a scouting errand and submitted a report saying that the Muslim army numbered as many as 300 men keen on fighting to the last man. On another reconnaissance mission he came to the conclusion that neither reinforcements were coming nor ambushes laid. He understood that they were too brave to surrender and too intent on carrying out their military duties to withdraw without slaying the largest possible number of the polytheists. This report as well as kindred relations binding the two belligerent parties together, slackened the desire to fight among some of the Quraysh. To counteract this reason-based opposition advocated by a rival of his, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah and others, Abu Jahl started an anti-campaign seeking vengeance on Muhammad’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam followers for the Quraysh killed at Nakhlah. In this way, he managed to thwart the opposite orientation, and manipulated the people to see his evil views only.
When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam began supplicating to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, “O Allah! The conceited and haughty Quraysh are already here defying You and belying Your Messenger. O Allah! I am waiting for Your victory which You have promised me. I beseech 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 sparingly and never resort to sword unless the enemies came too close. Abu Jahl also prayed for victory, saying, “Our Lord, whichever of the two parties was less kind to his relatives, and brought us what we do not know, then destroy him tomorrow.” They were confident that their superior number, equipment and experience would be decisive. The Noble Qur’an, with a play on the word, told them that the decision had come, and the victory—but not in the sense they had hoped for:
اِنۡ تَسْتَفْتِحُوۡا فَقَدْ جَآءَكُمُ الْفَتْحُ ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَنۡتَہُوۡا فَہُوَ خَیۡرٌ لَّكُمْ ۚ وَ اِنۡ تَعُوۡدُوۡا نَعُدْ ۚ وَلَنۡ تُغْنِیَ عَنۡكُمْ فِئَتُكُمْ شَیۡئًا وَّلَوْ کَثُرَتْ ۙ وَ اَنَّ اللہَ مَعَ الْمُؤْمِنِیۡنَ
[O disbelievers] if you ask for a judgement, now has the judgement come unto you and if you cease [to do wrong], it will be better for you, and if you return [to the attack], so shall we return. And your forces will be of no avail to you, however numerous it be. And verily, Allah is with the believers.
The first disbeliever to trigger the fire of the battle and be its first victim was al Aswad ibn ‘Abd al Asad al Makhzumi, a fierce bad-tempered idolater. He stepped out swearing he would drink from the water basin of the Muslims, otherwise, destroy it or die for it. He engaged with Sayyidina Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib radiya Llahu ‘anhu, who struck his leg with his sword and dealt him another blow that finished him off inside the basin.
The battle had actually started. Protected by armour and shields, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah stepped forth between his brother, Shaybah, and his son, al Walid ibn ‘Utbah, from the lines of Quraysh and hurled maledictions at the Muslims. Three young men of the Ansar came out against them: ‘Awf and Mu’awwadh—the sons of Harith—and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. But the Makkans yelled that they had nothing to do with them. They wanted the heads of their cousins. Upon this Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked Sayyidina ‘Ubaydah ibn al Harith, Sayyidina Hamzah—his uncle, and his cousin Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhum to go forward for the combat. The three duels were rapid. Sayyidina Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu killed Shaybah, while Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu killed al Walid. Sayyidina ‘Ubaydah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was seriously wounded but, before he fell, Sayyidina Hamzah radiya Llahu ‘anhu fell upon ‘Utbah and with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. Sayyidina ‘Ali and Sayyidina Hamzah carried Sayyidina ‘Ubaydah radiya Llahu ‘anhum back with his leg cut off. He passed away four or five days later of a disease in the bile duct. Sayyidina ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu was possessed of a deep conviction that Allah’s Words:
ہٰذٰنِ خَصْمٰنِ اخْتَصَمُوۡا فِیۡ رَبِّہِمْ ۫
These two opponents (believers and disbelievers) dispute with each other about their Lord.
were revealed in connection with men of Faith who confess their Lord and seek to carry out His Will (i.e. Muhammad ’s followers at Badr Battle), and men who deny their Lord and defy Him (the people of Quraysh).
The duel was followed by a few more duels but the Makkans suffered terrible defeats in all the combats and lost some of their most precious lives. They were too much exasperated and enraged and fell upon the Muslims to exterminate them once and for all. The Muslims, however, after supplicating to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, calling upon Him for assistance, were made to hold to their position and conduct a defensive war plan that was successful enough to inflict heavy losses on the attackers. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to pray to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala ceaselessly and persistently, day and night to come to their succour. When the fierce engagement grew too hot he again began to supplicate to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala saying:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنْ تُهْلِكْ هَذِهِ الْعِصَابَةَ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْإِسْلَامِ لَا تُعْبَدْ فِي الْأَرْضِ
O Allah! Should this group of Muslims be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped on the earth.
He salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam continued to call out to Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, stretching forth his hands and facing al Qiblah, until his cloak fell off his shoulders. Then Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu came, picked up the cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and said:
يَا نَبِيَّ اللَّهِ ، كَفَاكَ مُنَاشَدَتُكَ رَبَّكَ ، فَإِنَّهُ سَيُنْجِزُ لَكَ مَا وَعَدَكَ
O Nabi of Allah, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfil what He has promised you.
Immediate was the response from Allah, Who sent down angels from the heavens for the help and assistance of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The Glorious Qur’an observes:
اِذْ یُوۡحِیۡ رَبُّکَ اِلَی الْمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ اَنِّیۡ مَعَكُمْ فَثَبِّتُوا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا ؕ سَاُلْقِیۡ فِیۡ قُلُوۡبِ الَّذِیۡنَ کَفَرُوا الرُّعْبَ
Remember when Allah revealed to the angles, “Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, the All-Mighty, also inspired another message to His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saying:
اِذْ تَسْتَغِیۡثُوۡنَ رَبَّكُمْ فَاسْتَجَابَ لَكُمْ اَنِّیۡ مُمِدُّكُمۡ بِاَلْفٍ مِّنَ الْمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ مُرْدِفِیۡنَ ﴿۹﴾ وَمَا جَعَلَہُ اللہُ اِلَّا بُشْرٰی وَلِتَطْمَئِنَّ بِہٖ قُلُوۡبُكُمْ ۚ وَمَا النَّصْرُ اِلَّا مِنْ عِنۡدِ اللہِ ؕ اِنَّ اللہَ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ
[Remember] when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand of the angels, each behind the other (following one another) in succession.” And Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. And victory is not but from Allah. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in his trellis, dozed off a little and then raised his head joyfully crying:
O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you: Allah’s victory has approached! By Allah, I can see Jibril ‘alayh al Salam on his mare in the thick of a sandstorm!”
He then jumped out crying:
سَیُہۡزَمُ الْجَمْعُ وَ یُوَلُّوۡنَ الدُّبُرَ
Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.
At the instruction of Jibril ‘alayh al Salam, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam took a handful of sand, cast it at the enemy and said, “Confusion seize their faces!” As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew like furnace blast into the eyes of the enemies. With respect to this, Allah says:
وَمَا رَمَیۡتَ اِذْ رَمَیۡتَ وَلٰکِنَّ اللہَ رَمٰی
And you [i.e. Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] threw not when you did throw but Allah threw.
Only then did he give clear orders to launch a counter-attack. He was commanding the army, inspiring confidence among his men and exhorting them to fight manfully for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, reciting the Words of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala:
وَسَارِعُوۡۤا اِلٰی مَغْفِرَۃٍ مِّنۡ رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّۃٍ عَرْضُہَا السَّمٰوٰتُ وَالۡاَرْضُ ۙ اُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِیۡنَ
And be quick for forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth.
The spirit he infused into his men was clearly witnessed by the valour of Sayyidina ‘Umair radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a lad of sixteen, who flung away some dates he was eating crying out, “These (the dates) are holding me back from Jannat.” So saying he plunged into the thick of the battle and died fighting bravely. Unique deeds of valour, deep devotion, and full obedience to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam were exhibited in the process of the battle. The army of the faithful was borne forward by the power of enthusiasm which the half-hearted warriors of Makkah miserably lacked. A large number of the polytheists were killed and the others began to waver. No wonder! The standard-bearers of Truth were given immediate help, and supernatural agencies (the angels), were sent to their assistance by Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala to help them defeat the forces of evil.
The records of Hadith speak eloquently of the fact that the angels did appear on that day and fought on the side of the Muslims.
عن ابن عباس قال بينما رجل من المسلمين يومئذ يشتد في إثر رجل من المشركين أمامه إذ سمع ضربة سوط فوقه وصوت الفارس يقول أقدم حيزوم فنظر إلى المشرك أمامه فخر مستلقيا فنظر إليه فإذا قد حطم أنفه وشق وجهه كضربة السوط فأحضر ذلك أجمع فجاء الأنصاري فحدث ذلك رسول الله فقال صدقت ذلك من مدد السماء الثالثة
Sayyidina Ibn ‘Abbas radiya Llahu ‘anhuma 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 Hayzum.’ He glanced at the polytheist who had (now) fallen down on his back. The Ansari came to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and related that event to him. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, ‘You have told the truth. This was the help from the third heaven.’”
One of the Ansar captured ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al 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 Ansari interrupted, “I captured him, O Rasulullah.” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam replied, “Be quiet, Allah, the All-Mighty strengthened you with the help of a noble angel.”
Iblis, the arch satan, in the guise of Suraqah ibn Malik ibn Ju’sham al Mudlaji, on seeing angels working in favour of the Muslims, and Quraysh rapidly losing ground on the battlefield, made a quick retreat despite the polytheists’ pleas to stay on. He ran off and plunged into the sea.
فَلَمَّا تَرَآءَتِ الْفِئَتٰنِ نَکَصَ عَلٰی عَقِبَیۡہِ وَقَالَ اِنِّیۡ بَرِیۡٓءٌ مِّنۡكُمْ اِنِّیۡۤ اَرٰی مَا لَا تَرَوْنَ اِنِّیۡۤ اَخَافُ اللہَ
But when the two armies sighted each other, he (Satan) turned on his heels and said, “Indeed, I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah.”
The ranks of Quraysh began to give way and their numbers added nothing but confusion. The Muslims followed eagerly their retreating steps, slaying or taking captive all that fell within their reach. Retreat soon turned into ignominious rout; and they fled in haste, casting away their armour, abandoned beasts of burden, camp and equipage.
The great tyrant Abu Jahl, on seeing the adverse course of the battle, tried to stop the tidal wave of the Islamic victory by nerving the polytheists and encouraging them by all means available and adjuring them by Lat and ‘Uzza and all symbols of paganism to stand firm in place and retaliate against the Muslims, but to no avail. Their morale had already been drastically reduced to zero, and their lines broken down. He then began to realize the reality of his arrogance and haughtiness. None remained around him except a gang of doomed polytheists whose resistance was also quelled by an Islamic irresistible storm of true devotion-based valour and Islam-orientated pursuit of martyrdom. Abu Jahl was deserted and left by himself on his horse waiting for death at the hand of two courageous lads of the Ansar.
Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhu related the following interesting story in this regard:
I was in the thick of the battle when two youths came to me, still seemingly inexperienced in the art of fighting, one on the right and the second on the left. One of them spoke in a secret voice asking me to show him Abu Jahl. I asked about his intention, to which he replied, that he had a strong desire to engage with him in a combat until either of them was killed. It was something incredible to me. I turned left and the other said something to the same effect and showed a similar desire. I acceded to their earnest pleas and pointed directly at their target. They both rushed swiftly towards the spot, and without a moment’s hesitation struck him simultaneously with their swords and finished him off. They went back to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, each claiming that he had killed Abu Jahl to the exclusion of the other. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam asked if they had wiped the blood off their swords to which they answered in the negative. 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 Sayyidina Mu’adh ibn ‘Amr ibn al Jamuh radiya Llahu ‘anhuma, because the other—Sayyidina Mu’awwadh ibn al ‘Afra’ radiya Llahu ‘anhu—was later killed in the course of the same battle. At the termination of the battle, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam wanted to look for this archenemy of Islam, Abu Jahl. Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu 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 defiantly answered, “I am not disgraced. I am no more than a man killed by his own people on the battlefield.” He then inquired “Who has won the battle?” Sayyidina Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied, “Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and His Messenger.” Abu Jahl then said with a heart full of grudge, “You have followed difficult ways, you shepherd!” Sayyidina Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan aristocrats. Sayyidina Ibn Mas’ud radiya Llahu ‘anhu then cut off his head and took it to the Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who, on seeing it, began to entertain Allah’s praise, “Allah is Great! Praise belongs to Allah, Who has fulfilled His Promise, assisted His servant and defeated the confederates alone.”
He then set out to have a look at the corpse. There he said, “This is the Pharaoh of this nation.”
Some Significant Instances Of Devotion:
- Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam advised his Sahabah radiya Llahu ‘anhum to preserve the lives of the Banu Hashim who had gone out to Badr with the polytheists unwillingly because they had feared the censure of their people. Among them, he named al ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib and Abu Bukhtari ibn Hisham. He ordered the Muslims to capture, but not to kill them. Sayyidina Abu Hudhayfah ibn ‘Utbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu 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, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, addressing Sayyidina ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu, said, “Is it fair that the face of the Messenger’s uncle be struck with a sword?” Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu got incensed and threatened to kill Sayyidina Abu Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu if he does not obey the command of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The latter later said that extreme fear had taken firm grip of him and he felt that nothing except martyrdom could expiate for his mistake. He was actually martyred later on during al Yamamah events.
- Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman ibn ‘Awf radiya Llahu ‘anhu and Umayyah ibn Khalaf had been close friends during the pre-Islamic era. When the battle of Badr ended, Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw Umayyah and his son among the captives. He threw away the armour he had as spoils, and walked with them both. Sayyidina Bilal radiya Llahu ‘anhu, Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mu’adhin, saw Umayyah and all the torture he had been put to at the hand of this man dawned upon him. He thus swore he would have revenge on Umayyah. Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman radiya Llahu ‘anhu tried to ease the tension and address the embarrassing situation amicably, but with no success. The Muslims gathered around and struck Umayyah’s son with swords. At this point, Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman radiya Llahu ‘anhu called upon his old friend to run for his life but he was put to swords from different people and lay down dead. Sayyidina ‘Abd al Rahman radiya Llahu ‘anhu, 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 those of evil. In this context, Sayyidina ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu did not spare the life of any polytheist even his uncle on the maternal side al ‘As ibn Hisham ibn al Mughirah.
- Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu shouted at his son ‘Abd al Rahman, still a polytheist and fighting with them, “Where is my wealth, you wicked boy?” The son answered that it was gone with the wind.
- When the battle ended, the Muslims began to hold some polytheists in captivity. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam looked into the face of Sayyidina Sa’d ibn Mu’adh radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the head of the Prophet’s guards, and understood that he was hateful to taking the enemy elements as prisoners. Sayyidina Sa’d radiya Llahu ‘anhu agreed to what Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said and added that it was the first victory for the Muslims over the forces of polytheism, and he had more liking for slaying them than sparing their lives.
- On the Day of Badr, the sword of Sayyidina ‘Ukkashah ibn Mihsan al Asadi radiya Llahu ‘anhu broke so Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave him a log of wood which he shook and it immediately turned into a long strong white sword. Sayyidina ‘Ukkashah radiya Llahu ‘anhu went on using that same sword in most of the Islamic conquests until he was martyred in the fight against the apostates after the demise of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
- When the war activities had been concluded, Sayyidina Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair al ‘Abdari radiya Llahu ‘anhu saw his brother, still a polytheist, being handcuffed by an Ansari. Sayyidina Mus’ab radiya Llahu ‘anhu recommended that the Ansari tighten the knot for the prisoner’s mother was wealthy enough to ransom her son. ‘Abu ‘Aziz, Mus’ab’s brother, tried to appeal to his brother through their family ties, but the latter firmly replied that the Ansari was more eligible for brotherhood than him.
- When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered that the corpses of the polytheists be dropped into an empty well, Sayyidina Abu Hudhayfah ibn ‘Utbah radiya Llahu ‘anhu looked sadly at his dead father, who fought on the side of the polytheists. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam noticed that and asked him about it. Sayyidina Abu Hudhayfah radiya Llahu ‘anhu said that he had never held the least doubt that his father met his fate deservedly, but added that he wished he had been guided to the path of Islam, and that is why he felt sad. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam whispered in his ears some comforting words.
The outcome of the battle was as aforementioned an ignominious rout for the polytheists and a manifest victory for the Muslims. Fourteen Muslims were killed, of whom six were from the Muhajirin and eight from the Ansar radiya Llahu ‘anhum. The polytheists sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and a like number taken prisoners. Many of the principal men of Makkah, and some of Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam bitterest opponents, were among the slain. Chief of these was Abu Jahl.
On the third day, the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went out to look at the slain polytheists, and said, “What an evil tribe you were as regards to your Messenger. You belied me but the others believed; you let me down while the others supported me; and you expelled me whereas the others sheltered me.”
He stood over the bodies of twenty-four leaders of Quraysh 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 subhanahu wa ta ‘ala and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s promise do come true; did you (also) find that the promises of your Lord came true?” Thereupon, Sayyidina ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhu said, “O Messenger of Allah! Why do you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered, “By Him in Whose hand is Muhammad’s soul! You do not hear better what I am saying than they do.”
Reaction In Makkah
The polytheists having received a large dose of disciplining and heavy defeat, fled away in great disorder in the vales and hillocks heading for Makkah panicked and too ashamed to see their people. Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of bad tidings was al Haysaman ibn ‘Abdullah al Khuza’i. He narrated to them how their notables were killed. People there did not believe him at first and thought that he had gone mad, but soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan scene. Abu Sufyan ibn al Harith gave Abu Lahab a full account of the massacre and the disgraceful rout they sustained, with emphasis on the role that the angels played in bringing about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and gave vent to his feelings of resentment in beating, abusing, and slapping Sayyidina Abu Rafi’ radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a Muslim, but reticent on his conversion, for reiterating the role of the angels. Sayyidah Umm al Fadl radiya Llahu ‘anha, another Muslim woman, greatly exasperated by Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behaviour, struck him with a log and nearly cracked his skull. Seven days later, he died of an ominous ulcer and was left for three days unburied. His sons, however, for fear of shameful rumours, drove him to a pit and keeping their distance, hurled stones and dust at him.
The defeat was a matter of great shame and grief for the Makkans. In almost every house there were silent tears for the dead and the captives. They were burning with humiliation and were thirsty for revenge. Wailing, lamenting, and crying however were decreed strictly forbidden lest the Muslims should rejoice at their affliction.
Madinah Receives The News Of Victory
Two heralds, Sayyidina ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah and Sayyidina Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhuma were despatched to Madinah to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there. The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madinah featured different respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread news to the effect that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had been killed, and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Sayyidina Zaid ibn Harithah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was riding al Qaswa’, Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam camel-cow. Having reached, the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory, and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious, but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala’s name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the road leading to Badr.
Sayyidina Usamah ibn Zaid radiya Llahu ‘anhuma related that they received the news of the manifest victory shortly after Sayyidah Ruqayyah radiya Llahu ‘anha—Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam daughter and the wife of Sayyidina ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan radiya Llahu ‘anhu—had been buried. She had been terminally ill and Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam had asked Sayyidina ‘Uthman radiya Llahu ‘anhu to stay in Madinah and look after her.
Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam suspended any solution whereof until the Revelation was sent down. Sayyidina ‘Ubadah ibn al Samit radiya Llahu ‘anhu said:
We went out with Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allah, the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others were guarding the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said, “We collected it, so no one else has any right to it.” Those who had pursued the enemy said, “You do not have more right to it than we do; we held the enemy at bay and then defeated them.” As for the men who had been guarding Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, they also made similar claims to the spoils. At that very time, a Qur’anic verse was revealed saying:
یَسۡـَٔلُوۡنَکَ عَنِ الۡاَنۡفَالِ ؕ قُلِ الۡاَنۡفَالُ لِلہِ وَ الرَّسُوۡلِ ۚ فَاتَّقُوا اللہَ وَ اَصۡلِحُوۡا ذَاتَ بَیۡنِکُمۡ ۪ وَ اَطِیۡعُوا اللہَ وَ رَسُوۡلَہٗۤ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ مُّؤۡمِنِیۡنَ
They ask you [O Muhammad salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam] 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 if you are believers.
On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken al Khums (one-fifth). When they reached al Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were al Nadr ibn al Harith and ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’it, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah and harboured deep hatred towards Allah and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to the oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, “Who will look after my children, O Messenger of Allah?” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam answered, “The fire (of Hell)!” Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Sayyidah Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam with his cloak if it had not been for Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to intervene and release Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The heads of both criminals were struck off by Sayyidina ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
At al Rawha’, a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous people of Madinah who had come to congratulate Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the manifest victory that Allah had granted him. Sayyidina Usayd ibn Hudayr radiya Llahu ‘anhu, acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala’s praise, excused himself for not having joined them on the grounds that Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept a caravan of camels only. He added that if it had occurred to him that it would be real war, he would have never tarried. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam assured Usayd that he had believed him.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam now entered Madinah as a man to be counted for in a new dimension—the military field. In consequence, a large number of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, which added a lot to the strength, power, and moral standing of the true religion. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.
Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam consulted Sayyidina Abu Bakr and Sayyidina ‘Umar ibn al Khattab radiya Llahu ‘anhuma as to what he should do with the prisoners. Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying, “They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers. Moreover, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala could guide them to Islam.” Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu advised killing them saying, “They are the leaders of kufr (disbelief).” Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu called on Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and Sayyidina Abu Bakr radiya Llahu ‘anhu to see them weeping. He was extremely astonished and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that a Qur’anic verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying them:
مَا کَانَ لِنَبِیٍّ اَنۡ یَّكُوۡنَ لَہٗۤ اَسْرٰی حَتّٰی یُثْخِنَ فِی الۡاَرْضِ ؕ تُرِیۡدُوۡنَ عَرَضَ الدُّنْیَا ٭ۖ وَاللہُ یُرِیۡدُ الۡاٰخِرَۃَ ؕ وَاللہُ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ ﴿۶۷﴾ لَوْلَا کِتٰبٌ مِّنَ اللہِ سَبَقَ لَمَسَّكُمْ فِیۡمَاۤ اَخَذْتُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِیۡمٌ
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 a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.
The previous Divine ordainment went as follows:
فَاِمَّا مَنًّۢا بَعْدُ وَ اِمَّا فِدَآءً حَتّٰی تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ اَوْزَارَہَا
Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom.”
Which included an area providing permission to take ransom. That is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather arch-criminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.
The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 1000 and 4000 dirhams (silver coins) in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension. Most of the Makkans, unlike the Madanis, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released without ransom on grounds of being hard-pressed. Sayyidah Zainab radiya Llahu ‘anha, the eldest daughter of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, paid the ransom of her husband Abu al ‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in respect to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam but on condition that Abu al ‘As allows Sayyidah Zainab radiya Llahu ‘anha to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did. In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhayl ibn ‘Amr. Sayyidina ‘Umar radiya Llahu ‘anhu suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam turned down his suggestion for fear that Quraysh should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sayyidina Sa’d ibn al Nu’man radiya Llahu ‘anhu, a pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.
The Battle Of Badr In Its Qur’anic Context
The Chapter of al Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion of the Battle of Badr, 17 Ramadan 2 A.H. It constituted a unique Divine commentary on this battle. Allah, the All-High, in the context of this Chapter draws on major issues relating to the whole process of Islamisation. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala, here draws the attention of the Muslims to the still lingering moral shortcomings in their character. He wants them to build an integrated, purified society. He speaks about the invisible assistance he sent down to His obedient servants to enable them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid themselves of any trait of haughtiness or arrogance that might sneak in. He wants them to turn to Him for help, obey Him, and His Messenger salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
After that He delineated the noble objectives for which Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam launched that bloody battle, and directed them to the merits and qualities that brought about the great victory. The polytheists, hypocrites, the Jews, and prisoners of war were also mentioned, being admonished to surrender to the Truth and adhere to it only. The question of the spoils of war was resolved and the principles and basics relevant to this issue were clearly defined.
The laws and rules pertinent to war and peace were legalised and codified, especially at this advanced stage of the Islamic action. Allah wanted the Muslims to follow war ethics dissimilar to those of pre-Islamic practices. The Muslims are deemed to outdo the others in ethics, values, and fine ideals. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala wants to impress on the world that Islam is not merely a theoretical code of life, it is rather mind cultivation-orientated practical principles. In this context, Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala established inter and intrastate relations. The fast of Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the year 2 A.H, appended by the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying zakat (mandatory alms) in order to alleviate the burden of the needy Muhajirin radiya Llahu ‘anhum.
A wonderful and striking coincidence was the establishment of Shawwal ‘Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking) directly after the manifest victory of Badr. It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of Muslims leaving their houses praying, acclaiming Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala’s Name, and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favour and grace, and last but not least, the support He rendered them and through which the forces of the Truth overpowered those of evil.
وَاذْكُرُوۡۤا اِذْ اَنۡتُمْ قَلِیۡلٌ مُّسْتَضْعَفُوۡنَ فِی الۡاَرْضِ تَخَافُوۡنَ اَنۡ یَّتَخَطَّفَكُمُ النَّاسُ فَاٰوٰىكُمْ وَ اَیَّدَكُمۡ بِنَصْرِہٖ وَ رَزَقَكُمۡ مِّنَ الطَّیِّبٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُوۡنَ
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.
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala commends the faith of the Muhajirin and Ansar radiya Llahu ‘anhum in these glowing words and assures them forgiveness and Jannat:
وَالَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا وَہَاجَرُوۡا وَجٰہَدُوۡا فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللہِ وَالَّذِیۡنَ اٰوَوۡا وَّنَصَرُوۡۤا اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُوۡنَ حَقًّا ؕ لَہُمۡ مَّغْفِرَۃٌ وَّرِزْقٌ کَرِیۡمٌ
Those who have believed and emigrated (i.e. the Muhajirin) and fought in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided (i.e. the Ansar)—it is they who are the believers, truly. For them is forgiveness and noble provision.
And Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said in their regard:
لعل الله اطلع على من شهد بدرا فقال اعملوا ما شئتم فقد غفرت لكم
Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala glanced at the participants of Badr and said, “Do as you please for I have indeed forgiven you.”
Adapted from Al-Rahiq al-Makhtum by Sayf al-Rahman Mubarakpuri
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 123
 Surah al Anfal: 48
 Surah al Anfal: 47
 Surah al Anfal: 5, 6
 Surah Ma’idah: 24
 Al Sirah al Nabawiyyah by Ibn Hisham
 Surah al Anfa: 64
 Surah al Anfal: 7, 8
 Surah al Anfal: 11
 Surah al Anfal: 11
 Surah al Anfal: 19
 Surah al Hajj: 19
 Sahih Muslim hadith no. 3315
 Sahih Muslim hadith no. 3315
 Surah al Anfal: 12
 Surah al Anfal: 9, 10
 Surah al Qamar: 45
 Surah al Anfal: 17
 Surah Al ‘Imran: 133
 Sahih Muslim hadith no. 1763
 Surah al Anfal: 48
 Surah al Anfal: 1
 Surah al Anfal: 67, 68
 Surah Muhammad: 4
 Surah al Anfal: 26
 Surah al Anfal: 74
 Sahih al Bukhari hadith no. 3966Back to top