THE first battle, in the cause of Islam, was led by the Prophet (PBUH) on the 17th of Ramadan, in the second year of the Hijra. The Prophet, along with his army marched out of Medina towards Badr. Meanwhile, Abu Sufyan was busy building up his army, resources and the evidently lack of courage. He was continuously monitoring the movement of the Muslim army. The Quraish were consumed by the fire of revenge and were arrogantly confident of victory. The Quran says, “boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder men from the path of Allah” (VIII: 47). Initially, the Makkans under the command of Abu Sufyan were reluctant to engagement and took a de-tour towards the red sea, but upon insistence of Abu Jahl, they headed to Badr with over 1000 soldiers and encamped there.
The Quraish, then made their first move and reached the battlefield, fully equipped, that besides men, included 300 horses and 700 camels. Muslims in contrast were strikingly only 313 men in number, most ill equipped with only 2 horses and 70 camels. The Quraish took all the vantage points at Badr. Muslims could not get any well or spring. Then Hubab bin Mundhir suggested to take a nearby spring; the same night it rained heavily and small reservoirs were improvised to store water” and He caused rain to descend on you from heaven, to clean you therewith, to remove from you the stains of Satan, to strengthen your hearts and to plant your feet fairly therewith” (VIII:II). The Muslims were thereafter in full control of water, but the merciful Prophet (PBUH) allowed the enemies to make use of water. When the two armies approached closer and were visible to each other, the Prophet, it is quoted in Sahih Bukhari supplicated this, “O! Allah! The proud and arrogant Quraish are already rebelling against you and belying your messenger. O! Allah! I am waiting for your victory which you have promised me. I beg you Allah to defeat the enemies”. The assistance of your Lord and He answered you, “I will assist you with a thousand of the angels, ranks on ranks.” (VIII: 9)
The battle began on the morning of Friday, 17th of Ramadan, 2 AH. Fully protected with armor and shield, Otaibah, Shaibah and Al Walid bin Utbah stepped forward from the ranks of Quraish. They started abusing Muslims, from the helpers, three young men came out, but the Makkans’ said, since these lads were of no consequence to them, they wanted the heads of their cousins. Upon this, prophet (PBUH) asked Ubaidah, Hamza (his uncle) and Ali (his cousin) to go forward for the combat. The three duels were short and quick. Hamza killed Shaibah, while Ali killed Al Walid. Ubaidah was seriously wounded, but before he fell, Hamza, with a sweep his sword severed the head of Otaibah. Ali and Hamza carried Ubaidah back with his leg cut off. He died four days later. Following this, there were several duels, in which the Makkans suffered heavily. Following this single handed duels, the Makkans made a general attack on the Muslim army. Abu Jahl and several prominent Makkans were slain. The rest of them took to their heels and fled. The Muslims captured 70 of them as prisoners of war.
The victory at Badr, with Divine help, was essentially victory of truth over falsehood. Quran says, “Allah helped you at Badr, when ye were a contemptible little force, then fear Allah, thus ye may show your gratitude” (III: 123). The help from Allah came, when the Prophet was loudly reciting the revelation, he had received, “their multitude will be put to flight and they will show their backs (54: 45). Historians have recorded that on the guidance of Arch angel Jibrail, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) took a handful of dust and gravel and cast it at the enemy and said, “Confusion seize their faces”. As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew into the eyes of the enemy. In relation to this event, the Quran confirms it and says, “and you (Prophet PBUH) threw not when you did throw but Allah threw” (VIII: 17). The aspect of divine help, at Badr has been beautifully summed by Martin Lings in his biography of the prophet, “the presence of the angels was felt by all, as a strength by the faithful and as a terror by the infidels, but that presence was visible or audible to few, and in varying degrees. Two men of a neighbouring Arab tribe had gone to take part so they hoped in the looting after the battle. A cloud swept by them, a cloud filled with the neighing of stallions, and at once all the men dropped instantly dead. “ His heart burst with fright” said the one who lived to tell of it, judging from what his own heart had felt….others had brief glimpses of the angels riding on horses whose hooves never touched the ground, led by Jabrail wearing a yellow turban whereas the turbans of other angels were white, with one end left streaming behind them.”
The issue of the prisoners of war was decided upon by the receipt of their revelation, “it is not for a prophet to hold captives until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. Ye look for temporal goods of this world, but Allah looketh to the Hereafter, and Allah is exalted in might, wise (VIII: 67). On how treatment was to be meted out to the unbelievers, the revelation also made clear, that the prophet’s decision to spare the captives was accepted by Allah.” O! Apostle, say to those who are captives in your hands, if Allah finds any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you; and He will forgive you, for Allah is oft forgiving, most merciful (VIII:70). The battle of Badr clearly established the roots of Islam. The persecution of Muslims eased off-the number of Muslims only confirmed to grow thereafter. May Allah bless all the martyrs of Islam.
— The writer is a senior banker with interest in Religion.