Battle of Badr

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Battle of Badr
Badr.jpg
Date 2/624
Location Badr region
Result Mulims victorious
Belligerents
Muslims Polytheists of Quraysh
Commanders
The Prophet (s) Abu Jahl
Strength
313 950
Casualties
14 martyrs (6 from Muhajirun and 8 from Ansar) 70 were killed and 70 were arrested
Qur'an mentioned this event in sura Al 'Imran:12-13, 123-127, al-Nisa':77-78, and Anfal: 1-19, 36-52, 67-71

The Battle of Badr is the first and most important battle between the Muslims and the polytheists of Quraysh during the early history of Islam. It has been mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an has explains about it with special attention in a broad manner in suras such as al-Anfal and Al 'Imran. Although the Muslims were limited in men and resources, but with the heavenly guidance they received and their courage, especially Ali (a) and Hamza Sayyid al-Shuhada', the war resulted in the decisive victory of Muslims.

The term "Battle(s) of Badr" is the name for three battles in the early history of Islam:

  • The First Badr or the Battle of Safwan
  • The Great Badr or the Badr al-Qital
  • Badr al-Maw'id

When the name is used alone, the second battle is meant.

Location and Time

Main article: Badr

Badr was a place where the Arabs gathered and its market was exhibited in the month of Dhu l-Qa'da for eight days. Nowadays, the area of Badr has turned into a city 155 kilometers away from Medina, 310 kilometers from Mecca and approximately 45 kilometers from the shore of the red sea.

According to a famous narration, this important event happened on Friday, 17th of Ramadan/March 16, and according to another narration, on Monday, seventeenth, or nineteenth of Ramadan in the 2nd Hijri year/624.

Reason

Before their migration, Muslims were hurt, harmed, tortured, and exiled by the polytheists, being thrown out of their home and city and denied the right to perform hajj. God had forbidden Muslims to stand up against the polytheists of Quraysh and instead were commanded to only bear patience. After their migration to Medina, while reminding the oppression the polytheists had imposed on the Muslims, God permitted Muslims to fight. [Note 1]

Before the Battle of Badr, Muslims had numerous operations and battles intended to harm the trade caravans of Quraysh; none of which was successful except the Sariyya of Nakhla. This operation was executed in a prohibited month with the leadership of 'Abd Allah b. Jahsh, one month and half before the Battle of Badr; with the killing of one polytheist ('Amr b. al-Hadrami) and the capturing of two others, the trade caravan was successfully pillaged. The Quraysh considered this as a disgrace to themselves amongst the Arab tribes and demanded blood money for the death of 'Amr b. al-Hadrami. This issue had a considerable impact on the occurring of the Battle of Badr. One of the caravans that the Muslims failed to pillage was a trade caravan lead by Abu Sufyan to Gaza. The Prophet (s) followed it to Dhu l-'Ushayra (5 stations away from Medina) but did not reach it, so he returned to Medina.

Abu Sufyan had been warned that upon his return, the Muslims shall be waiting for his caravan, therefore, he sent Damdam b. 'Amr from the land of Tabuk to Mecca to request help from the Quraysh. On the other hand, the Noble Prophet's (s) reporters, Gabriel according to some narrations, informed the Noble Prophet (s) on the returning of the caravan to Mecca from Gaza.

Activities of the Two Armies

Muslims Leave Medina

As the caravan was on its way back to Mecca, the Noble Prophet (s) ordered his army to leave Medina for a victory battle on the caravan or the army of the polytheists. Upon this announcement, he himself left Medina as well. According to the famous opinion, the Noble Prophet (s) left Medina with 313 men on the twelfth or thirteenth of Ramadan. In his first stop, he observed his army's parade and turned back a couple of the soldiers for being too young.

Abu Sufyan's Activities

Abu Sufyan, who had received reports on the Prophet's (s) decision when he was in Syria, sent a letter which is written in an emotive way to the people of Mecca requesting help to defend his caravan. Since most of the people of Mecca had a share in the caravan, an army of 950 men, commanded by Abu Jahl ('Amr b. Hashim), marched towards Badr. The army was consisted of the men from all the tribes, except Banu 'Udayy b. Ka'b, and with the presence of all the nobles except Abu Lahab, who had sent al-'As b. Hisham instead of himself. Although such a big army was gathered, yet not all the nobles of Quraysh agreed on the decision, such as 'Utba, Shayba, and Umayya b. Khalaf, all of whom were killed in the battle.

Settlement of Muslims in Badr

The place of Muslims' settlement in Badr

After a couple of stops, the Prophet (s) reached "Bi'r al-Rawha" on the fifteenth of Ramadan/March 14, where he prayed next to the well and cursed the nobles of Quraysh, including Abu Jahl and Zam'at b. Aswad.

When they were close to Badr, Gabriel informed the Prophet (s) about the Quraysh army getting close. The Prophet (s) consulted his Companions. It is said Abu Bakr and 'Umar gave their opinion but since their speech has not been narrated, it is understood that what they said was not acceptable.

Sa'd b. Mu'adh, the head of 'Aws, representing the Ansar, announced their obedience of the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) became very delighted upon the speech of Miqdad and Sa'd and said, "God has promised me victory on one of the two groups (the trade caravan or the army sent from Mecca)." With the speech of the Prophet (s) the Muslims raised the flag of war and marched towards Badr where they got there on the 17th of Ramadan at night. With the advice of Hubab b. Mundhir, the army settled next to the closest well to the enemy.

On the command of the Prophet (s) all the wells, except those under the control of the Muslim Army were filled and agents were identified to report on the stationing of the caravan and the Quraysh army.

Settlement of the Polytheists in Badr

The place of polytheists' settlement in Badr

On the other side, Abu Sufyan settled near Badr with much care and anxiety. After spying, he learned that the Muslims are close to Badr. He immediately changed the caravan's path and went to Mecca through the coast. Then he sent a letter to the Quraysh who were still in Juhfa and encouraged them to return to Mecca. The result was the returning of Talib b. Abi Talib and all the men of Banu Zuhra (and according to some references, Banu 'Udayy). The rest were forced to continue their path because of Abu Jahl's stubbornness to show off his power to the Muslims and the rest of the Arab tribes.

The Quraysh army reached Badr after the Muslims and settled behind a hill. 'Umayr b. Wahb al-Jumahi and Abu Usama al-Jushami were ordered to study the state of the Muslims and both reported that they are weak in numbers and facilities but are all united in their decision to fight and die while fighting.

The Prophet (s) sent a couple of men, one of whom was Ali (a), to a well close to the enemy to report. They encountered two soldiers responsible for water from the Quraysh army and arrested them. After investigating, it was understood that 900 – 1000 men existed in the Quraysh army, most of whom were the nobles of Quraysh and were settled behind the sandy hills. The Prophet (s) said, "Mecca has sent its loved ones to you."

Al-Waqidi has narrated that when the Meccans settled in Badr, Muhammad (s) sent them a letter warning them not to fight and showing his disinterest in engaging in war with Quraysh.


Qur'an's View on the Settlement of the Two Sides

The Qur'an has given a detailed description on the situation of the Polytheists and Muslims.

Course of Events

Deployment of Troops

A sunshade was set up for the Prophet (s) and Sa'd b. Mu'adh accepted the duty to guard it with the help of a couple of people from the Ansar. Yet according to a narration from Imam Ali (a) in the book Musnad of Ahmad b. Hanbal and most historical sources, the Prophet (s) was the closest person to the enemy; when conflict became tough, Muslims sought refuge to him. It is probable that the sunshade was installed as the commandership base and the Prophet (s) went there some times.

In the beginning, the Prophet (s) announced his disinterest in war with Quraysh through a letter and warned them of such. Some figures such as Hakim b. Hizam saw the letter as fair and asked to return, yet the warmongering and pride of Abu Jahl prevented.

During the morning, the Prophet (s) began arranging the army, at the same time the Quraysh army came from the hill. When God's Messenger saw them he said, "Oh Lord, this is Quraysh which has come to deny you and your messenger and fight us with their arrogance and vanity. Oh God, I ask for the victory that you promised me. Oh God, destroy them in the day." The Prophet's (s) army had its back was to the sunshine whereas the Quraish army faced it. The flag of leadership which was called 'Uqab, and was only held by the nobles and special people, was in the hands of Ali (a).

One on One Fights and the Beginning of the War

Before the one on one fight began, in order to stimulate the feelings of the people, Abu Jahl ordered 'Amir al-Hadrami to cut his hair and pour sand on his head, demanding his brother's blood. It is said: 'Amir was the first person to attack the Muslim army and attempt to disorganize their position. But the Prophet's (s) soldiers showed stability. The harsh and constant criticizes of Abu Jahl and Quraysh to 'Utba, forced him to be the first to start the one on one fight with Muslims with his son al-Walid and Shayba, even though he was one of the people who had tried to end the war.

The Prophet (s) sent Hamza, Ali (a), and 'Ubayda b. Harith to the war arena. Hamza killed 'Utba, Ali (a) killed al-Walid and, with the help of Hamza and Ali (a), 'Ubayda killed Shayba. According to a narration from Imam Ali (a), he had a role in all three fights.

Fate

After the death of 'Utba, Shayba, and al-Walid, the war began but with heavenly help and the courage of the Muslims, the Polytheist would soon be defeated. According to history, in the middle of the war, the Prophet (s) picked up some pebbles from the ground, threw it towards the Qurayshies, and cursed them. This event resulted in the defeat and retreat of the Quraysh. The Quraysh army left its belongings and fled the war scene while some people took the news of defeat to Mecca.

The names of Muslims who was martyred in the Battle of Badr. This tablet is installed in their burial place in Badr

The battle of Badr finished with the martyrdom of 14 Muslims (6 Muhajirun and 8 Ansar) and the death of 70 Polytheist and the capturing of the same number. Ibn Qutayba reported that 50 soldiers were killed from Quraysh and 44 captured, 35 of whom were killed by Ali (a). This was while many of them had fled to the surrounding deserts, waiting to escape at night.

The Prophet was waiting to hear news about the death of Abu Jahl. He had called Abu Jahl the leader of polytheists and Pharaoh of the Umma. When he heard the news of his death he said, "Oh God! You have done as you promised." Abu Jahl was killed by two young Muslims called Mu'adh b. 'Amr and Mu'adh b. 'Afra, while he had some life left 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud decapitated him.

Another person who had been cursed by the Prophet (s) and he had asked for his death was Nawfal b. Khuwaylid whom was killed by Ali (a). With his death the Prophet (s) said "Allah Akbar" and said, "Thanks to the Lord who accepted my request."

Although the Battle of Badr took no longer than half a day, but it is one of the most important events in the early history of Islam. The Prophet (s) said, "Satan has never been weaker and more helpless than the day of 'Arafa, except on the day of Badr."

Aftermath

Dividing the Spoils of War

The spoils of war were gathered in one place on the order of the Prophet (s). After burying the body of the martyrs, the corpse of the dead polytheist were thrown into a well, the Prophet (s) addressed the corpses and said: "did you find the promise of your Lord true? I found the promise of my Lord true", when he was questioned that how does he speak with the dead, the Prophet (s) said: "indeed they heard what I said but they can not reply". Along with the captured soldiers, the Muslims went back to Medina, each with their share of the spoils of war which was divided among them on their way back.

On the way back, two of the captured polytheists who were one of the main figures responsible for torturing the Muslims in Mecca were sentenced to death and Imam Ali (a) executed the verdict. On the command of the Prophet (s), Abu l-Bakhtari (al-'As b. Hisham) was exempted from the death sentence because of his help during the economic siege against the Muslims in the Shi'b Abi Talib. In the first moment of his capture, Umayya b. Khalaf, who had wildly tortured Bilal b. Ribah, was attacked and killed by him. The rest of the captured polytheists were spread amongst the Muslims and the Prophet (s) emphasized on treating them well. Later, most of them, such as al-'Abbas b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, were freed by paying ransom. A couple of the captured soldiers who were educated but poor were freed upon educating children of the Ansar and Muhajirun. Some other captured soldiers were freed without paying ransom.

Reflection in Medina

The Prophet (s) stayed in Badr for three days. He then sent Zayd b. Haritha and 'Abd Allah b. Rawaha from Athil to Medina to announce the victory of the Muslims in Medina.

The Battle of Badr caught widespread attention amongst the Muslims, Jews and the hypocrites in Medina. The news was so important that neither Muslims, nor the hypocrites or Jews believed Zayd b. Haritha and Abd Allah b. Rawaha, saying they did not know what they were talking about. Upon hearing the news, the nobles of Khazraj went to Bi'r al-Rawha and congratulated the Prophet (s) on his victory and those who had been absent from the war apologized.

Once, when consuming alcoholics had not been outlawed yet, some figures of Muhajirun, including Abu Bakr gathered in Abu Talha al-Ansari's house, mourning and singing poems for the dead of Quraysh while drinking alcohol. When the Prophet (s) was informed of their poems, he went to them with glower. Al-Zamakhshari said the person who said the poems was Umar who when saw the Prophet's (s) glare, sought refuge to God and vowed to God to never drink again.

Another aftermath of the Badr war was the Ansar's concern with their Jew allies. Therefore, they warned the Jews, "embrace Islam before the same thing which happened to Quraysh happens to you."

Reflection of Badr in Mecca

The reflection of the Battle of Badr was much more widespread in Mecca. Similar to the people of Medina, the Meccans also could not believe what they had heard and strongly denied the news, accusing them of delirium.

In order to keep the Polytheists hatred of Muslims high, Abu Sufyan advised his people to avoid any kind of grieve or poetry for the mourning of their people, and also forbid them from any kind of pleasure and enjoyment. However, Mecca had fallen into a month long grieve. There was no house which did not mourn for its dead. The women messed their hair. Quraysh composed so many sorrowful poems for its dead that they have been used in history and literary books as well.

In the Quran

The Battle of Badr has been mentioned in sura Al 'Imran, 12-13, 123-127, sura al-Nisa', 77-78 and, sura al-Anfal, 1-19, 36-51, 67-71. These verses similarize the failed attempt of the Polytheists to that of the previous tribes, specifically the Pharaoh. The Quran says the reason to this battle was their being decepted by Satan.

According to the Quran some Muslims refused to take part in the jihad, whereas God was supporting the faithful; he distressed the polytheists and made them seem few in the eyes of the Muslims, he sent rain and other elements to bless them with victory. More importantly, and more clearly, the angels came to the help of the Muslims make them brave.

Apart from the Quran, some of those present in Badr, such as Imam Ali (a) from the Muslims and Abu Sufyan b. al-Harith from the polytheists have reported seeing the angles too and therefore, Muslim scholars have no doubt about it. Narrations from the Prophet (s) himself and other companions of the Battle of Badr describe this event.

See Also

Notes

  1. Those who are fought against are permitted [to fight] because they have been wronged, and Allah is indeed able to help them. (Quran 22:39)

References

  • The material for this article is mainly taken from غزوه بدر in Farsi Wikishia.