The Great Battle of Badr

The expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh constitued the crossroads of Islamic policy. It was the occasion when Waqid ibn `Abdullah al Tamimi shot an arrow at `Amr ibn al Hadrami and killed him, thus shedding blood by a Muslim hand for the first time. It was in regard to this sortie that the Qur'anic verses constituting the Islamic position on war and fighting were revealed. And it was in consequence of this revelation that fighting was permitted, but only against those who seek to compel the Muslims to renounce their religion and who stand in the way of calling men unto God. The same expedition constituted also the crossroads of Muslim policy toward Quraysh, for it now opened the door for the two parties to compete in military power and strength as they had done formerly in word and idea. It was after that expedition that the Muslims began to think seriously of extracting their goods from Quraysh by force and conquest. The Quraysh saw in this an opportunity to stir up the whole peninsula against Muhammad and his companions, and therefore accused them of the most heinous crime in the eyes of all Arabs, namely the desecration of the holy months. In the resultant situation, Muhammad became convinced that there was no more hope of reaching any kind of agreement with them. Toward the beginning of autumn of the second year A.H., Abu Sufyan led a great caravan toward al Sham. It was this trade which the Muslims had previously threatened when the Prophet-may God's peace and blessing be upon him-joined the expedition to al `Ushayrah in person. When the Muslims reached that locality, the caravan of Abu Sufyan had passed two days earlier. The Muslims decided to withdraw and wait for the caravan's return. When that time came and the caravan was supposedly in the vicinity of Madinah, Muhammad sent Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah and Said ibn Zayd to reconnoitre its where abouts. The two men ran in the direction of the usual trade route and arrived at the campsite of Kashd al Juhaniy in al Hawra'. There, they hid until the caravan passed. They returned quickly to Madinah in order to give Muhammad the information he asked for.

 

The Muslims Mobilize for Badr

Muhammad did not await the return of his two messengers from al Hawra'. He had already heard that the caravan in question was a very large one and that practically all the Makkans were involved in the trade it carried since all Makkan capitalists had already bought a share in it. The goods the caravan carried were estimated at 50,000 dinars. Muhammad feared that if he were to await the news of his two messengers, the caravan would pass him by on its return to Makkah as it had passed him by on its northward trip to Syria earlier. Consequently, he called the Muslims together and addressed them in the following words: "Yonder is the caravan of Quraysh, Mobilize your forces and seek to capture it. Perhaps God may give it to you as booty." Some Muslims responded and others did not. Some non-Muslims were anxious to join, but Muhammad prevented them from doing so until they had believed in God and his Prophet.

 

Abu Sufyan's Messenger to Quraysh

On the other side, Abu Sufyan had also heard of Muhammad's sortie to intercept his caravan on its way north to al Sham, and he was equally apprehensive that the Muslims would again attempt to do so on his return. He therefore sought to learn of their movements as assiduously as the Muslims sought to learn of his. He was especially apprehensive of the return trip because his trade, so far, had been particularly successful. The same al Juhaniy who played host to Muhammad's messengers at al Hawra' was asked by Abu Sufyan concerning the Muslims. A1 Juhaniy did not tell the truth to Abu Sufyan; but this did not matter inasmuch as Abu Sufyan already knew as much about the Muslims as the Muslims knew about him. He feared a catastrophe because his caravan had but thirty or forty men to guard it. Anticipating danger, he decided to send Damdam ibn `Amr al Ghifari in haste to Quraysh with the message that Muhammad and his companions had set out to intercept the caravan and to appeal to them to send men for escort. As instructed by Abu Sufyan, just before he entered Makkah, Damdam cut off the ears of his camel, broke its nose, turned its saddle sideways, tore his own robe in front and in back, and entered the city standing on the back of his camel shouting

"O People of Quraysh, your wealth and trade are being lost. Abu Sufyan and the caravan are being intercepted by Muhammad and his companions. Perhaps you may still catch them. Help! Help!" As soon as he heard the news, Abu Jahl called upon all Makkans to join in the rescue operation. He, a man of acid temper, eloquent speech, and strong insight, could inflame any audience. The Quraysh, however, were not in need of eloquent speeches to rise against Muhammad. Every one of them had a share in the trade this caravan carried.

 

Old Enmity of Quraysh and Kinanah

At the time, a group of Makkans felt that Quraysh had been too unjust toward its Muslim members for having compelled them to emigrate first to Abyssinia and then to Madinah. This group, hesitant to answer the call of Abu Jahl, simply hoped that the caravan would not be destroyed. This same group remembered that the Quraysh and Kinanah tribes were quite alienated from each other and were only waiting for an opportunity to avenge themselves against each other. They feared that should the Quraysh all go out to meet Muhammad and protect their caravan, the Banu Bakr of Kinanah might seize the opportunity to attack them from behind. This cautious judgment would nearly have carried the day against the appeal of Abu Jahl were it not for the arrival upon the scene of Malik ibn Ju'shum al Mudliji, a nobleman and leader of Banu Kinanah. He said, addressing the Makkans : "I deliver myself to you as a surety that Kinanah will not pounce upon you in your hour of need." With this, the group supporting Abu Jahl and `Amir ibn al Hadrami for general mobilization and war against Muhammad and his companions, succeeded in convincing the Makkans in favor of war. No reason remained for any Makkan capable of fighting to stay behind, or for the incapable to equip and send somebody in his stead. None of the noblemen of the Quraysh stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who sent in his stead al `As ibn Hisham ibn al Mughirah in compensation for some four thousand dirhams the latter owed him which he was not able to pay back. `Umayyah ibn Khalaf, a very old and obese man, decided to stay behind. He was visited in the mosque by `Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt and Abu Jahl. The first carried an incense burner; the second, instruments of beautification for women. `Uqbah placed the incense burner in Umayyah's hands and said, "O Abu `Ali, fill your atmosphere with incense for you are a woman." Abu Jahl handed over the instruments of beautification and said, "0 Abu `Ali, beautify yourself for you are only a woman." At this, Umayyah rose and said, "Buy for me the best and strongest camel in Makkah." He rode it and joined the force. Because of this and like tactics, no man capable of bearing arms remained behind.

 

The Path of the Muslim Army

The Prophet, may God's blessing be upon him, had started off from Madinah with his companions on the eighth day of Ramadan in the second year A.H. He had appointed `Amr ibn Maktum to lead the prayer in Madinah, and Abu Lubabah, whom he called back from al Rawha', to govern Madinah in his place during his absence. The Muslim force was preceded by two black flags, and their camels counted seventy. Since three or four men were assigned to one camel, each one rode for only a brief while. Muhammad's share in riding was like that of his companions. He, `Ali ibn Abu Talib, and Marthad ibn Marthad al Ghanawi had one camel assigned to them. Abu Bakr, `Umar, and `Abd al Rahman ibn `Awf shared another. The total number of men on this expedition amounted to three hundred and five. Eighty-three of them were Muhajirun, sixty-one belonged to al Aws, and the rest to al Khazraj. Their pace was swift because they feared Abu Sufyan would pass them by if they tarried. They arrived to a place called `Iraq al Zubiah where they found a Bedouin whom they asked concerning the caravan but could not learn anything from him. They continued on their march until they arrived at a valley called Dhafiran where they encamped. It was at this moment that the news reached them that the Quraysh had come out in force to meet them and protect the caravan. This news radically changed the situation. It was no more a question of intercepting- Abu Sufyan, his caravan, and the thirty or forty escorts who were no match for Muhammad and his companions. The whole of Makkah, led by its, nobles and elders, was out to protect its trade. If the Muslims were to catch up with Abu Sufyan, overcome his men and take away his camels and all they carried, would the Quraysh not follow and catch up with them, stirred up by this new attack of the Muslims and encouraged by their great numbers and armaments? Would they not catch up with the Muslims and fight them to the finish? On the other hand, if Muhammad were to return without victory, would not both the Quraysh and the Jews of Madinah realize his weakness and seek to take advantage of it? Would he then not have to compromise and, perhaps, suffer a Jewish tyranny in Madinah such as the Quraysh tyranny he had suffered in Makkah? In such eventuality, how could the revelation of truth and the religion of God ever become successful or achieve victory?

Muhammad consulted the members of his expedition concerning the news just received. After Abu Bakr and `Umar presented their views, al Miqdad ibn `Amr stood up and said: "0 Prophet of God, press forward toward that which Cod has shown you. We are with you. By God, we shall never say to you, as the Jews had said to Moses, `Go alone with your Lord and fight with Him for us, while we remain here and await your return.' Rather, we say, `Go forth, you and your Lord to fight, for we are fighting with you.'" A1 Miqdad's speech was followed by silence. The Prophet said: "Speak out, 0 men, and give me your counsel." He was especially anxious to hear al Ansar's view who, on the day of al `Aqabah, pledged to protect him as they would their children and women but not to permit any aggression with him outside their own area. When al Ansar realized that he was waiting for them to speak, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh, their leader, rose and addressed Muhammad: "Does it seem, 0 Prophet of God, that you are seeking to hear our view?" The Prophet answered, "Indeed." Sa'd said, "We have believed in you, and we have witnessed that what you have brought to us is the truth. We have covenanted with you to hear and to obey. Go ahead with whatever you decide, for we are with you. By Him who sent you as a prophet, if you lead us toward the sea, we shall enter into it with you and not one of us will stay behind. We do not fear that you cause us to face our enemy tomorrow. We shall hold fast to our ground and stand firm or press forward toward the enemy in solid ranks. We hope that God will show you such of our deeds as you may not be disappointed therein but may be proud of. Lead us forth with God's blessing." Sa'd had hardly finished his words when Muhammad 's face radiated with joy and his eyes shone with energy. He said: "Go forward and be optimistic; for God had premised me one of the twoeither the caravan or the Makkan army. By God, it is as though I see the enemy lying prostrate in the field." When the force arrived at Dhafiran, Muhammad advanced on his camel alone and, reaching an old Bedouin settler in the area who did not know him, asked about Quraysh, as well as about Muhammad and his companions, and learned that the caravan of Quraysh was indeed close by.

 

Reconnaissance and Espionage

When Muhammad returned to his party, he sent 'Ali ibn Abu Talib, al Zubayr ibn al `Awwam, and Sa'd ibn Abu Waqqas with a number of other companions to the well of Badr to seek out fresh news. The little group returned with two boys who, upon interrogation by Muhammad, revealed that the Quraysh army stood behind the hill on the further side. When they could not answer his questions regarding the strength of the Quraysh army, Muhammad asked how many animals they killed for food every day. The boys answered, "Nine on one day and ten on the other." The Prophet concluded from this that their number must be between nine hundred and one thousand. He also learned from the two boys that the leaders of Quraysh were all present. Turning to his own companions he said, "There is Makkah confronting you with all its sons in one body." It was therefore absolutely necessary, he thought, that Muslims mobilize all efforts, harden their hearts and wills, and prepare themselves for a battle so fierce that none would emerge victorious from it except those whose hearts were completely possessed by faith in God alone.

 

Escape of the Caravan and Abu Sufyan

As 'Ali and his companions came back from Badr with the two youths and some information about Quraysh, two other Muslims went in a slightly different direction to seek news of the caravan. They came to a sandhill not too far from the springs of Badr. There they took a jug and went down to the spring to get some water. While they were there they overheard two maid servants involved in an argument in which the one was asking the other to pay back her debt to her; the latter answered that either on the next day or the day after the caravan would come for whom she would work, and she would earn enough to pay her back. The two men returned to Muhammad and reported what they heard. As the caravan approached the area, Abu Sufyan marched ahead reconnoitering the territory, apparently fearful that Muhammad might have preceded him to the place. When he arrived at the spring, he met Majdi ibn `Amr, whom he asked whether anyone had been seen in the vicinity. Majdi answered that he had not seen anyone except two idlers who stopped at the nearby sand dune, and pointed to the spot where the two Muslims stopped in order to get the water. Abu Sufyan came to the spot and found some refuse of their two camels. As he examined it, he found it contained grains which he recognized as coming from crops known to be grown and used in Madinah. He returned quickly to his caravan and altered its course. By leading it toward the sea coast with great speed, he managed to escape.

The morrow arrived while the Muslims were still awaiting the arrival of the caravan. The news now reached them that the caravan had passed them by on a different route and that the Quraysh army were still in the vicinity close by. With this news, whatever hope for booty some of them may have entertained collapsed. The Prophet discussed with his companions whether or not they should now return to Madinah and not force a showdown with the Quraysh army. In this connection, the following verses of the Qur'an were revealed: "Now that God has promised that one of `the two' shall fall to you, you wish that it would be the one devoid of strength or resistance. But, rather than easy booty, God wishes that the truth become supreme, that justice be done, and that the unbelievers be scattered."[Qur'an, 8:7]

 

Prospects of Battle

For their part, the Quraysh asked themselves the same question. What need do they have to fight now that their caravan had escaped? Was it not better for them to return to their homes and to let the Muslims return to theirs empty handed? These were the thoughts of Abu Sufyan, who sent word to the Quraysh to this effect. He told them, "You have prepared for war and come out in strength in order to protect your caravan, your men, and your goods. God has saved all these. Return, then, home." Some men agreed. Abu Jahl thought otherwise. To Abu Sufyan's message, he responded, "By God, we shall not return home until we have come to Badr, spent three nights in eating good food, drinking wine, and reveling, that all Arabs may hear of our sortie, our strength, and continue to fear us." The locality of Badr was the center of a seasonal gathering in that part of Arabia. For the Quraysh to withdraw soon after the escape of their caravan might be interpreted as fear of Muhammad and his companions. This event would increase Muhammad's power and encourage the spread of his cause. Such would especially be the case as the expedition of `Abdullah ibn Jahsh, the killing of ibn al Hadrami, the capture of two Qurayshis, and Quraysh's loss of the caravan were all common knowledge throughout the desert.

 

The Muslims Camp at Badr

There was some hesitation in the camp of Quraysh, whether to follow Abu Jahl or return home. Banu Zuhrah, under the leadership of al Akhnas ibn Shariq, listened to Abu Sufyan's counsel and returned home; but they were alone. All the rest followed Abu Jahl in deciding to encamp as if in preparation for war and to consult with one another later on. They set up camp on the farthest side behind a sand dune which they took as center. The Muslims, on the other hand, having now missed the booty, decided together to stand firm should the enemy engage them. They hurried to the springs of Badr while a rain which fell upon them from heaven helped their quick advance to that place. When they reached the first water well, Muhammad dismounted with the intention of camping there. Cognizant of the area, al Hubab ibn al Mundhir ibn al Jamuh approached the Prophet and said: "0 Prophet of God, is this spot where you have dismounted a place to which God has guided you and, therefore, may we neither step beyond it nor stay far behind it? Or is this simply a question of ordinary war strategy, of measures and moves and counter measures and moves?" Muhammad answered, "It is indeed the latter, just as you said." A1 Hubab then said, "0 Prophet of God, this is not a good place to be. We should move forward until we reach the well closest to the enemy. There we would bring a trough to it to fill with water and then fill the well with sand. We would fight the enemy; and when we withdraw we would be able to drink, whereas they would not." Muhammad, immediately agreeing, rose to go forward with his force. He sent a reminder to all his companions that he is but a man like them, that all decisions have to be taken by all of them in consultation with one another, that he will not decide anything without them finally, and that he stands in great need of their good counsel.

 

Building a Booth for the Prophet

When they completed the building of the trough, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh addressed the Prophet thus: "0 Prophet of God, let us build a booth for you to stay in, and let us prepare for you some mounts before we engage our enemy. If God gives us the strength and we are victorious, that would be fine and well. If otherwise, you would then ride these mounts, join the rear ranks of our forces and return home. Many Muslims have stayed in Madinah who do not love you any less than we do. No one had expected that our expedition would turn out to be one of war. Had they realized this, they would not have let you go out without them. On your return to Madinah, they would be there to protect you, counsel you and fight with you." Muhammad thanked Sa'd and prayed for him. The booth was readied for the Prophet and preparations were made for his return in case of defeat so that he would not fall into the hands of his enemies as a captive.

 

The True Faith of the Muslims

We must pause here to appreciate with wonder the faithfulness of the Muslims, their great love for Muhammad, and their absolute conviction of the truth of his prophethood. They knew too well that Quraysh far exceeded them in number; in fact, their enemy had three times as many fighters as they. Nonetheless, they decided to stand firm in the cause and to fight. After they saw their booty escape, whatever motivation they had for material gain must now be discounted. All this notwithstanding, by siding with the Prophet they confirmed his prophethood and strengthened his ranks. They were not sure of victory, though they wished for it; and they were afraid of defeat. Nonetheless, they thought of protecting the Prophet and arranged lest he should fall a captive in the hands of his enemies. They planned for him to return to Madinah and join the Muslims behind. What stand is more wonderful than this! What faith guarantees victory as this faith of theirs!

 

Hamzah Kills Ibn `Abd al Asad

The Quraysh arranged and readied themselves for battle. Their spies had informed them that the Muslims were three hundred strong or a little more, that they had neither provisions nor a hiding place, and that their only protection was their swords, determined as they were to kill before falling. As the cream of Quraysh forces had joined this expedition, the wise among them feared that should a number of these fall by Muslim hands, Makkah would soon lose its position of leadership. However, they could not speak out for fear that Abu Jahl would accuse them of cowardice. Nonetheless, `Utbah ibn Rabi'ah did. "0 men of Quraysh," he advised his peers, "we will surely not achieve anything by meeting Muhammad and his companions in battle. If we should defeat them, every one of us would recognize in their dead a cousin, an uncle, or a relative from his own clan and tribe. Return to your homes and leave Muhammad alone among the tribes. Should they kill him and defeat him, your purpose would have been met. Should it turn out to be otherwise, you will not have to suffer the consequences." But when Abu Jahl heard these words of `Utbah, he raged in anger, sent after `Amir ibn al Hadrami, and said to him: "Your ally is shamelessly courting men to return to Makkah now that you have beheld your enemy with your own eye. There is your enemy, on whom you ought to avenge yourself. Rise and avenge the slaying of your brother." `Amir stood up and yelled, "Woe! `Amr shall be avenged! To battle! To battle!" With this, the last chance of peace was shattered. Al Aswad ibn `Abd al Asad al Makhzumi, springing out of the ranks of the Quraysh toward the Muslims, sought to destroy the trough which they had just built. Hamzah ibn `Abd al Muttalib struck him with his sword. The blow cut off his leg, and the victim fell on his back with his leg bleeding profusely. Immediately Hamzah struck him again and killed him. Nothing draws the swords out of mens' sheaths faster than the sight of blood. Nothing stirs the will to kill more than the sight of a friend slain by an enemy hand in front of his own people.

 

Engagement of the Two Armies

As soon as al Aswad fell, `Utbah ibn Rabl`ah, flanked by his brother Shaybah on one side and his son al Walid ibn `Utbah on the other, sprang forth and challenged the Muslims to duel. A number of youths from Madinah went out to meet them. When Shaybah recognized them, he said: "We have not come to fight you. Rather we want to fight our own tribesmen." The Quraysh crier called forth: "0 Muhammad, send out our own peers of our own tribe to fight us." At this, Hamzah ibn `Abd al Muttalib, `Ali ibn Abu Talib, and 'Ubaydah ibn al Harith advanced forth. A duel was fought in which Hamzah killed Shaybah, and 'Ali killed al Walid. Then both of them came to assist `Ubaydah who had not yet finished off `Utbah. When the Quraysh army saw this, they advanced in force and the two armies collided. It was the morning of Friday, seventeenth of Ramadan, 2 A.H.

 

Muhammad's Prayer and Invocation

Muhammad led the Muslims and organized their ranks. As he looked over the Quraysh army and compared them with his thin ranks and poor equipment, he felt quite apprehensive. He returned to his booth with Abu Bakr, strongly moved by fear and pity for the career of Islam should the Muslims lose on this day. Turning his face to Makkah and his whole soul to God, he began to pray, calling on God to give him victory. He prayed to God for a very long while, and was heard repeating the following words: "0 God, here is Quraysh with all her tribe seeking to belie your Prophet. 0 God, give us the assistance which You promised. 0 God, if this little army perishes, when will You be worshiped again?" Muhammad prayed with hands raised to heaven. His mantle fell off and Abu Bakr had to pick it up and put it back on his shoulders. Abu Bakr said to him: "0 Prophet of God, enough calling on God; He will surely give you what He promised. Muhammad continued to pray, pouring out his whole soul in pious invocation to God to help him in this hour of precipitous danger. After near collapse, he came back to himself and told of a vision he saw of God's victory. With radiant face, he went out to meet his men and incited them to put their faith in God and enter the battle without fear. He assured them one by one: "By Him who controls Muhammad's soul, not one of you today fights and falls but God will enter him into His paradise."

 

Muslim Morale

Out of Muhammad's strong soul a stronger power than God might have imparted on any other occasion spread among the Muslim ranks, fortifying their will and determination and making each and every one of them the equivalent of two-nay ten-men in strength. We can easily imagine the effect of this sudden reinforcement of Muslim morale upon their personalities when the cause is as morally justified as theirs has been. The feeling of patriotism with which modernity is familiar is certainly one such supporting moral justification in modern wars. The soldier who exposes himself to all kinds of danger in the belief that he is defending his fatherland walks into battle with superior morale; the greater his love for and faith in his fatherland, the more frightful the risks he stands prepared to take. Consequently, nations inculcate upon their young at a very tender age the love of the fatherland and the will to sacrifice for its sake. Conviction of the fatherland's right to justice, freedom, and the higher human values reinforce the soul; and this, in turn, doubles the material power issuing from the person. Those who remember the allied propaganda against the Germans during World War II will recall that the allies saturated the atmosphere with their claim that they were fighting a war for the sake of freedom and justice, and were laying down their lives in a last war against the militaristic state of Germany precisely in order to usher in an age of peace and security and light. This allied propaganda not only doubled the strength of their soldiers but provided them as well with a warm welcome freely given by most peoples of the world. But what patriotism and what cause of peace and security dare compare with what Muhammad was calling for! For Muhammad, it was a matter of one's communion with ultimate reality, of union with all being in a bond giving man determining power in the universe, and of blazing for him the path of goodness, blessedness and perfection. Yes, indeed: What kind of patriotism or cause of peace dares to stand beside the communion with God which puts to an end the persecution of the believers for their faith in Him and removes the hindrances of idolatry and associationism from the path of God? If patriotism increases the power of the soul by as much power as corresponds with the value of fatherland, and if the love of peace for mankind increases the power of the soul by as much power as corresponds with the value of the whole of mankind, how great must have been the power of the soul when it was reinforced by faith in total being as well as in the Creator of total being? Surely it makes that soul capable of moving mountains, of determining the heavenly bodies, of exerting its power and influence supremely over all men endowed with less faith? Moral power doubles and redoubles material power. When, before the battle, this strength was not at its highest because of division within Muslim ranks, Muslim material power suffered in consequence. But the situation changed, and their power increased tremendously under the inspiration of Muhammad. And it was this new resurgence of power by this means that compensated the Muslims for their small number and poor equipment. It was in connection with this spiritual phenomenon that the two Qur'anic verses were revealed

" `0 Prophet, urge the believers to fight.' If there be twenty steadfast men they will overcome two hundred. And if there be a hundred, they will overcome a thousand unbelievers. These are a people devoid of knowledge, faith, or conviction. For the present, God has lightened your burden. He knows that there is weakness in you. So if there be a hundred steadfast men among you, they will overcome two hundred; and if there be a thousand, they will overcome two thousand by God's permission. God is surely with those who are steadfast."[Qur'an, 8:65, 8:66]

 

Bilal Kills Umayyah ibn Khalaf

At Muhammad's urging and inspiration, his standing in their midst and inciting them against the enemy, and his announcement that paradise belongs to the men of valor who plunge fearlessly into the ranks of the enemy, the Muslims doubled and redoubled their strength. Before entering battle, they resolved to direct their attention to the leaders and nobles of the Quraysh. They planned to seek them and to kill them first, remembering the persecution and travails they suffered at their hands in Makkah, especially the blocking of the road to God and to the holy mosque. Bilal saw Umayyah ibn Khalaf and his son on the field surrounded by a number of Muslims who had recognized him and sought to take him as captive. This Umayyah was Bilal's previous master who used to torture him by forcing him down to the ground where he placed a large rock on his chest, letting him burn under the torrid sun in order to force him to abjure Islam. Bilal survived all these travails in certainty of his faith while repeating continuously, "God is one! God is one!" When his eyes fell upon Umayyah in the field, he shouted, "Umayyah, the head of idolatry! Death to me if he escapes!" and charged furiously toward him. The Muslims surrounding Umayyah sought to prevent Bilal from reaching him. Bilal called to them at high voice: "O Helpers of God! The head of idolatry is Umayyah ibn Khalaf. Death to me if he escapes!" He charged again toward Umayyah and killed him. Mu'adh ibn `Amr ibn al Jamuh killed Abu Jahl ibn Hisham. Hamzah, `Ali and other Muslim heroes penetrated deeply into enemy lines, forgetting themselves, their small numbers, and their being surrounded by their enemies. Muslims hurled themselves into the melee. The dust rose, the battle raged at its hottest and wildest, and the heads of the Quraysh flew off their bodies. Possessed by their faith and chanting, "God is one! God is one!" the Muslims exerted tremendous power and pressed ever forward. It was as if space and time had lost their meaning, and God's angels were hovering above to encourage and draw them ever forward. They were so great that even their arms brandishing their swords in the air and striking the necks of their enemies seemed as if they moved not by ordinary human power but by the supernatural power of God Himself. Muhammad was in the midst of the battlefield fighting as well as observing his companions. At one moment he took dirt in his hand and threw it in the face of an advancing party of Quraysh, commanding his companions to stand firm. The Muslims stood their ground and forced the superior enemy to withdraw. It did not matter to the Muslim that he was surrounded by his enemies. His soul was filled with the breath of God; this divine spirit made him ever-firm and gave him the very power with which he wielded his arms. It was of this battle that God said: "Your lord revealed to the angels that He is with you and commanded them to give firmness to those that believe. He announced that He will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. God commands: `Smite your enemies; strike off their heads and forearms . . . You killed them not when you did, but it was God who killed them; and you threw not when you did throw your arrows but it was God who threw them."[Qur'an, 8:12, 17]. When the Prophet saw that God had fulfilled His promise and given the Muslims victory, he returned to his booth. The Quraysh were not only withdrawing but running away, and the Muslims were pressing after them to capture those of them whom they did not kill on the battlefield.

 

The Muslims Spare the Just

This was the great battle of Badr that established Muslim power throughout the Arabian Peninsula and began the movement of Arab unity under the leadership of Islam. It was the beginning of a large Islamic empire which gave the world a civilization which has so far played and will ever play a very important role in the history of the universe. It may surprise some readers to learn that as he urged his companions to fight the enemy and scatter their forces, Muhammad asked them not to kill Banu Hashim and some other leaders of the Quraysh despite the fact that they were all arrayed in battle on the other side. In so doing, he was not seeking any advantage for his tribe or relatives. Muhammad was too noble to be moved by such considerations. Rather he wanted to reward Banu Hashim for their protection of him and of his cause during thirteen long years between his commission to prophethood and emigration. It should be remembered that his uncle, al `Abbas, was the one who concluded the covenant of al `Aqabah. He also remembered other members of the Quraysh besides the Banu Hashim, who once sought to revoke the boycott pact which imprisoned the

Muslims in one of the districts of Makkah with little or no food supplies. Muhammad considered a good deed as worthy of regard-of a gesture equal to it in charity and good will despite the idolatry of its author. Thus, he interceded with the Muslims at the hour of battle on behalf of those Makkans who did the good deeds. Some of them, however, refused Muhammad's good will move and kind gesture. Such was the case of Abu al Bakhtari, who was responsible for the rescinding of the boycott pact but who fought and was killed in battle.

 

People of the Grave

The people of Makkah ran away from the field despondent, dejected, and mourning their dead. They would hardly catch sight of their companions when their eyes would fall down in shame for what had happened. The Muslims remained at Badr until the end of the day. They collected the dead of the Quraysh and buried them on the spot. Muhammad and his companions spent that night on the battlefield burying the dead, collecting the booty and keeping their eyes on the captives. As the night drew on, Muhammad sat down to think both of this victory, which God had just given the Muslims despite their small number, and the terrible defeat He had inflicted upon an enemy devoid of a sound faith capable of fusing their large numbers into one strong will. He pondered the matter over many long hours of the night. He was even heard addressing the dead in their new graves: "0 people of the grave"! he murmured, "O `Utbah ibn Rabi'ah ! 0 Shaybah ibn Rabi'ah ! 0 Umayyah ibn Khalaf ! 0 Abu Jahl ibn Hisham !" After calling by name the fallen one by one, he addressed them in these words: "Have you really found that which your Lord had promised you? I have found what my Lord had promised me. But have you? The Muslims who overheard him asked, "Are you calling the dead?" and the Prophet answered, "They hear me no less than you do, except that they are unable to answer me." The Prophet of God looked Abu Hudhayfah ibn `Utbah straight in the face and realized that he was pale. He asked him, "O Abu Hudhayfah, are you despondent over the sad fate your father met today?" Abu Hudhayfah answered, "No, by God, 0 Prophet of God! I have not censured my father or bemoaned his fate. I have known him to be a wise and good man, and I had hoped that his wisdom and virtue would one day lead him to Islam. When I saw what befell him, I remembered his idolatry despite all the hope I had entertained for him. Thus I am only sorry for him." The Prophet of God spoke to him gently and prayed for him.

 

Muslim Differences Concerning Booty

When the morning came and it was time for the Muslims to return to Madinah, they began to consider the disposition of the booty. Those who collected it claimed it as their own. Those who ran after the enemy and captured the captives said: "By God, we deserve it more than they; for without us it would not have been realized." Those who were guarding Muhammad and protecting him against a resurgence of the enemy forces, said: "Neither one of you deserve the booty. We surely could have killed the enemy and taken possession of his goods, but we preferred to protect the Prophet of God and, therefore, we stayed behind near him while you went out capturing and collecting it." At this Muhammad commanded every Muslim to return every piece of the booty he had taken and to keep all the booty together until he had reached judgment regarding it, or God had revealed the way it should be disposed of.

 

Equal Division of the Booty

Muhammad sent to Madinah `Abdullah ibn Rawahah and Zayd ibn Harithah to bring news of. the victory to the people of Madinah. He and his companions returned to Madinah accompanied by the captives and carrying the booty of war. He had appointed `Abdullah ibn Ka'b as the guardian of it. After reaching the valley of al Safra', Muhammad camped on a hill and there began to divide the booty among the Muslims in equal parts. Some historians claim that Muhammad had divided the booty after he had appropriated one-fifth of it in accordance with the Qur'anic command: "And know that whatever you take as spoils in war, a fifth thereof shall go to God, His Prophet, the kindred, the orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer. If you believe in God and in what We send down to Our servant and the day of decision [the day of Badr] when the two armies met, you will accept this division. God has power over all things."[Qur'an, 8:41] Most biographers, especially the earlier among them, believed that this verse was revealed after the battle of Badr as well as after Muhammad's division of its booty. They hold that Muhammad had divided the booty in equal parts, giving to the fighter with a horse twice the amount he gave to the fighter on foot, and allowing the share of the Muslims who were killed at Badr to go to their heirs. They also hold that Muhammad had assigned a share to the Muslims who were left behind in Madinah on assignment to work for the Muslim cause there during the absence of the army in Badr, or who had remained in Madinah for good reason. Muhammad divided the booty justly. Not only did he include in his division the soldier but also everyone who worked for the cause and helped achieve this victory, whether on the battlefield or far from it.

 

Execution of Two Captives

While the Muslims were on their way back to Madinah, two of the captives were executed, al Nadr ibn al Harith and `Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt. Neither Muhammad nor his companions had until that moment any law regarding the captives regulating their execution, ransom, or enslavement. A1 Nadr and `Uqbah were terribly hard on the Muslims in Makkah and had inflicted upon them all the harm and injury they could. A1 Nadr was executed when the captives were arrayed in front of the Prophet near the locality called al Uthayl. As the Prophet looked at al Nadr, the latter trembled and called to his neighbor: "Muhammad is surely going to kill me. He had looked at me with eyes in which I saw the judgment of death." His neighbor rejoined: "You are a coward." AI Nadr approached Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr, the closest of the captives to Muhammad and asked him: "Please approach your relative concerning me. Let him allow me to be one of his companions. If you do not, I am certain he is going to kill me today." Mus'ab replied, "You used to speak all kinds of calumnies against the Book of God and His Prophet; you also used to persecute and harm his companions." Al Nadr said, "Had Quraysh taken you captive, I would have never allowed them to kill you as long as I was alive"; to which Mus'ab replied, "By God I do not believe you; I am not like you; Islam has severed my relations with you." Al Nadr was the captive of al Miqdad who expected to receive a great ransom from the captive's family. When al Miqdad heard the conversation regarding the execution of al Nadr, he said: "Al Nadr is my captive. Hands off!" At this the Prophet-may God's blessing be upon him-said: "Strike his neck. 0 God, give al Miqdad plenty of Your bounty instead." `Ali ibn Abu Talib executed the Prophet's order with the sword. As the party arrived at `Irq al Zubyah, the Prophet ordered the execution of `Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt. When `Uqbah pleaded, "Who will take care of my children, 0 Muhammad?" Muhammad answered, "The fire." According to one version, it was `Ali ibn Abu Talib who executed him; according to another, it was `Asim ibn Thabit.

News of the Victory in Madinah

Before the Prophet and the Muslims reached Madinah, the two messengers, Zayd ibn Harithah and `Abdullah ibn Ka'b, had arrived and entered the city from different directions. `Abdullah galloped through the city on his horse and Zayd ibn Harithah followed him riding on al Qaswa', Muhammad's she-camel. Both were calling al Ansar and announcing to them the victory, mentioning the names of the fallen idolators. The Muslims, pleased to hear the news, went out of their houses and gathered in the streets acclaiming this great victory. As for the Jews and the idolators of Madinah, they were saddened by this turn of events. Indeed, they even tried to convince themselves as wellas the Muslims in Madinah that it was not true. They proclaimed at the top of their voices: "Muhammad was killed, and his companions were defeated. There is his she-camel which we all know. Had he achieved victory, his she-camel would have stayed there. Zayd said otherwise because he lost his mind out of terror in the course of fighting." The Muslims, however, quickly confirmed the news and went on with their celebration. Only the death of Ruqayyah, daughter of the Prophet, which had occurred on that day, marred their joy. As his daughter was sick on the day Muhammad left for Badr, he ordered her husband, `Uthman ibn `Affan, to stay behind and take care of her. When the idolators and munafiqun realized that the news of victory was true, they felt that their position was degenerating into one of weakness and isolation. A Jewish leader said, "Death for us is better on this day than life. What kind of life can we have now that the noblest of men, their lords and kings-the Makkan guardians of security and peace-are dead or vanquished?"

 

The Captives of Badr

The Muslims entered Madinah without the captives who were to follow the next day. When they did, Sawdah, daughter of Zam’ah and wife of the Prophet, was returning from a morning visit to the relatives of the two sons of ‘Afra’. She saw Abu Yazid Suhayl ibn Amr, one of the captives, whose hand was bound to his neck. Unable to control her indignation at the sight, she approached him and said, "O Abu Yazid! Did you give yourself up, and surrender voluntarily? Woe! The pity that you had not fallen nobly and met a heroic death on the battlefield!" Muhammad called her away and said to her, "O Sawdah, are you inciting the man against God and against His Prophet?" She answered, "O Prophet of God, by Him who sent you a Prophet of the truth, I could not control myself when I saw Abu Yazid with his hand tied to his neck and felt impelled to say what I said." Muhammad distributed the captives among his companions and said to them, "Treat them well." The question of what to do with them, to kill them or to accept ransom for them, continued to trouble him. Many of them are strong warriors; their hearts are now filled with hatred following their defeat and shameful captivity. If he were to accept ransom for them, surely they would wage another war against him. And yet, if he were to kill them would he not incite their people in Quraysh to further acts of violence? To a new height of enmity which might be avoided if he were to accept their ransom?

 

Abu Bakr and Umar’s Views Regarding the Captives

Muhammad submitted the matter to the Muslims and sought their advice. He wanted them to share freely in the decision. The Muslims, for their part, discovered that the captives desired to live and, therefore, that a great amount of wealth could be reaped from them as ransom. The captives sent word to Abu Bakr knowing that he was the nearest to the Quraysh and the most merciful and compassionate of the Muslims as well as the closest adviser and friend of Muhammad. They said to Abu Bakr: "O Abu Bakr, among us are fathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins of the Muslims. The most distant of us is still a relative. Approach your friend on our behalf and ask him to forgive us or to allow us to be ransomed. Abu Bakr promised them to do his best. At the same time, they feared that ibn al Khattab would counsel against Abu Bakr’s pleas; therefore, they sent after him to ask as they did Abu Bakr. ‘Umar ibn Khattab looked at them in anger and did not answer. The two approached Muhammad and each presented his point of view. Abu Bakr appealed to Muhammad's gentleness and stirred his compassion. He pleaded, "0 Prophet of God, you are dearer than my father and my mother. Your captives consist of men who are parents, sons, cousins, uncles and brothers of your own people. The most removed of them is still a member of your clan and a blood relative. Be good to them and forgive them. God will forgive you and be good to you. Otherwise allow them to be ransomed and take from them that which would increase the Muslims in power. Perhaps, by such action, God will soften their hearts toward Islam." Muhammad listened without answering. `Umar, coming after Abu Bakr, sat in his place and pleaded: "0 Prophet of God, these are the enemies of God. They have belied you, fought you, and banished you. Strike their necks. They are the leaders of idolatry and misguidance. By this course God will consolidate Islam and bring low the idolators." Again Muhammad did not answer. Later, Abu Bakr returned to Muhammad and sought once more to stir his compassion by reminding him of the captives' relation and hoping for their conversion to Islam in case they were allowed to live. `Umar, too, the exemplar of stern justice, returned to Muhammad to plead once more still unmoved as ever by any feelings of leniency or mercy. When both Abu Bakr and. `Umar said all they had to say, Muhammad withdrew to his room to ponder the matter alone. When he came out, he found the Muslims divided between Abu Bakr's view and `Umar's. He consulted them again, characterizing both Abu Bakr and `Umar for their benefit. Abu Bakr, Muhammad said, was like Michael, a carrier of God's pleasure and forgiveness. Compared with the prophets he is like Ibrahim who was sweeter to his people than honey itself. Ibrahim's people had condemned him to the fire and threw him into it, but all he could say to them was, "Fie on you and on that which you worship instead of God! Would you not use your reason ? . . . Whoever follows me is surely of me, but whoever disobeys me, God is merciful and forgiving."[Qur'an, 21:67; 14:36] Abu Bakr is like Jesus when the latter said: "If You punish them they are only Your servants; and if You forgive them, You are the All-Wise and Almighty"[Qur'an, 5:118], `Umar, on the other hand, is like Gabriel among the angels. He is the carrier of God's wrath and condemnation of His enemies. Among the prophets he is like Noah when the latter said: "O God, spare not one of the unbelievers;" or like Moses when he said: "0 God, destroy their wealth and confirm them in their error that they may not believe until they receive the painful punishment."[Qur'an, 71:26; 10:88] Then turning to the Muslims, the Prophet said: "You have families to support. Do not therefore let any of these captives escape before you receive a ransom from him. Otherwise, strike off his neck." As the Muslims consulted with one another, one of the captives, a poet by profession, and Abu `Izzat `Amr ibn `Abdullah ibn `Umayr al Jumahi by name, stepped forward toward the Prophet and said: "I have five daughters whom I must support. Do give me to them as your charity, O Muhammad. For my part I pledge to you that I shall never fight you nor will I ever criticize you." The Prophet forgave him and sent him back to his family without ransom. He was the only captive thus liberated. But he violated his pledge and fought again against the Muslims in the battle of Uhud, a year later. There he was taken captive, and, this time, executed. After a while, the Muslims reached a consensus to accept ransom for the captives. The following verse of the Qur'an was revealed on this occasion

"It does not behoove a prophet to hold captives; nor to tyrannize in the world. You seek the advantages of this world whereas God wishes you to seek the advantages of the other. God is almighty and all-wise."[Qur'an, 8:67]

 

Orientalists' Controversy

A number of Orientalists pause at this affair of the captives of Badr and especially at the execution of al Nadr and `Uqbah. They argue: Doesn't this prove the thirst of this new religion for blood? Without such thirst, the two captives would not have been executed. It would have been more charitable and nobler for the Muslims after they won the battle to return the captives and to be satisfied with the booty they acquired. The Orientalists' argument is designed to stir mercy and compassion simply in order to provide means for condemning Islam and its Prophet. But such emotions were utterly out of place on the day of Badr, and much more so a thousand or more years after that battle. The incoherence of the argument is evident upon comparison of the execution of al Nadr and `Uqbah with what happens today and will always happen as long as western civilization rules the world under the banner of Christianity. Is their execution comparable in any possible manner to what the Christian imperialists do when they put down the uprisings of their colonies against their rule? Is it equivalent to any part, however, infinitesimal, of the slaughter that took place in the first or second World War? Is it at all comparable to the events of the French Revolution, or the many other revolutions which have taken place among the Christian nations of Europe?

 

Revolution against Idolatry

There is no doubt that the whole matter between Muhammad and his companions was one of a strong revolution led by Muhammad against idolatry and its adherents. It was a revolution that started in Makkah where Muhammad and his companions were subjected to all kinds of suffering for thirteen long years. Thereafter, the Muslims emigrated to Madinah and there organized themselves and built up their strength under revolutionary principles dominating the scene in both their camp and the Quraysh's. The Muslims' emigration to Madinah, the peace they had concluded with the Jews, all the skirmishes preceding the battle of Badr as well as the battle of Badr itself all these were steps in the general plan of revolution, but not its guiding principles. They constitute the policy line decided by the leader of this revolution and his companions as instruments in the realization of principles which the Prophet had received from God. The policy of a revolution should not be confused with its principles. The plan followed cannot be identified with the purpose for which it was drawn. Since Islam made human brotherhood the foundation of its civilization, it had to seek that civilization by following whatever means are necessary, including violence.

 

The Slaughter of St. Bartholomew's Day

What the Muslims did with the captives of Badr was an instance of sublime mercy and charity when compared with what happened in the revolutions praised by the western peoples as embodiments of justice and mercy. What happened to the captives of Badr was really nothing compared to the many slaughters carried out in the name of Christianity such as that which occurred on St. Bartholomew's Day in France. This slaughter is really a curse in the history of Christianity unmatched by anything in the whole history of Islam. It was a slaughter planned deliberately during the night. The Catholics rose the next morning to slaughter systematically the Protestants of Paris and France with deception, wantonness, and the lowliest and worst kind of cruelty. If the Muslims had killed two of the fifty captives for the cruel suffering they had previously inflicted upon the Muslims during thirteen years in Makkah, it was an act of further mercy and benefit which occasioned the revelation of the already quoted verse: ` It does not behoove a Prophet to hold captives; nor to tyrannize in the world. You seek the advantages of this world, while God wishes you to seek the advantages of the other. God is almighty and all-wise."[Qur'an, 8:67]

 

Warning to Makkah

While the Muslims were celebrating the victory God had granted to them, al Haysuman ibn `Abdullah al Khuza'i was making his way toward Makkah. He was the first one to reach the city to announce to its people the defeat of the Quraysh and the fall of its leaders and nobles. Makkah was so shaken by the news that it hardly believed what it heard. AI Haysuman, however, was not angry but insisted on the veracity of his news and shared their grief. When the Makkans finally realized what had happened, they were so shocked that they fell to the ground. Indeed, Abu Lahab was immediately seized by a fever and died seven days later. The Quraysh, consulting together on the course of action to follow, agreed not to mourn their dead lest Muhammad and his companions be pleased at their suffering. They also decided not to seek to ransom their captives lest Muhammad and his companions increase their demands. A number of days passed while the Quraysh bore their tragedy silently. But an occasion soon presented itself. Mikraz ibn Hafs arrived seeking to ransom Suhayl ibn `Amr. `Umar ibn al Khattab hated to see Suhayl return home unharmed. He therefore asked Muhammad: "0 Prophet of God, let me cull out Suhayl's front teeth so that he would never be able to exercise his oratory against you." Without hesitation, Muhammad grave this supremely noble answer

"I shall not mutilate anyone under any circumstance. God would mutilate me though I am His Prophet."

 

Ransom and Conversion of Abu al 'Asi ibn al Rabi`

Zaynab, daughter of the Prophet, sent out to ransom her husband Abu al 'Asi ibn al Rabi`. Included in the wealth she sent for the ransom was a necklace that once belonged to Khadijah, the Prophet's wife, which the latter had given to her daughter on the day of her wedding to Abu al 'Asi. When the Prophet saw the necklace, he remembered his former wife and was deeply moved. He said to his companions: "If you find fit to send her captive back to her and to return to her what she paid, do so." The Prophet had also agreed with the captive, Abu al 'Asi, that he would divorce his wife Zaynab now that Islam had separated the two spouses. Muhammad sent Zayd ibn Harithah and another companion to escort Zaynab to Madinah, Soon, however, Abu al 'Asi left Makkah on a trade trip to al Sham. When he passed by the vicinity of Madinah, a Muslim patrol discovered and confiscated his caravan. While in Madinah he managed to reach his wife Zaynab under the shadow of night and begged her to intervene on his behalf. She did and his goods were returned to him. He ran back to Makkah with his goods and there returned to each his due. He asked all his creditors to speak out in case they had any claim against him. When none spoke out and everyone thanked him for his loyalty, he announced to his fellow Makkans : "I witness that there is no God but God, and that Muhammad is His servant and prophet. By God, I have not refrained from joining Islam earlier except out of fear of suspicion that I have run away with your goods. Now that everyone has received his due and my reputation is safe, I declare my conversion." He returned to Madinah, and the Prophet permitted his wife Zaynab to return to him. The Quraysh continued to ransom their captives with varying amounts running from 1000 to 4000 dirhims per person. As for those prisoners who were too poor to afford a ransom, Muhammad granted them their liberty as a gift.

 

Quraysh Mourns Her Dead

Having ransomed her captives, Quraysh still felt the wounds of her tragedy. Makkah could find no reason to make peace with Muhammad, and the memory of defeat at his hand remained alive for a long time to come. For one whole month, the women of Quraysh mourned their dead. They shaved off their hair, whipped themselves, and cried when a dead man's camel or mare was paraded in the streets. Only Hind, daughter of 'Utbah and wife of Abu Sufyan, did not cry in public at all. She was once asked by other Quraysh women about this mastery of nerve: "Would you not publicly mourn your father, your brother, your uncle, and your other fallen relatives?" She answered: "Were I to mourn them publicly, the news will reach Muhammad and his companions and the women of Banu al Khazraj who will all be pleased at my misfortune. No, by God, I shall not mourn them publicly until I have avenged them. Fat and perfume shall be forbidden to me until we have defeated the enemy. By God, if crying would take away sadness from my heart I would have cried. But I know that sadness will not leave me until I have seen with my own eye vengeance taken on the murderers of my dear ones." True to her vow, Hind never touched fat or perfume, nor came close to her husband's bed until the battle of Uhud ; and she spared no moment or occasion to incite her fellow Makkans to war. As for her husband, Abu Sufyan, he vowed never to wash himself until he had defeated Muhammad.