|The Battle of Badr 1|
|Library - Islamic Conquests|
The Battle of Badr.
(Ramadan, 2 Hijra, i.e., 623/24, C.E)
"And God did certainly assist you at Badr when you were weak ; be careful of your duty to God then, that you may give thanks." Quran (13:122)
Badr is a village where a fair is held every year. Nearly eighty miles from Medina, it lies close to the spot where the Syria-Medina routs winds its way through difficult valleys.
As already said the Quraish had started preparations for an attack on Medina, immediately after the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) had left Mecca. They had written to 'Abdullah Ibn Ubayy to kill Muhammad (peace and blessings of allah be upon him), else they would fall upon him and make an end of the Medinites as well as the Prophet. Small parties of the Quraish had hovered round Medina, and Kurz Fihri (one of the chiefs of Mecca) had been bold enough to make off with some live-stock from the pasture-lands of the city.
The first thing necessary for an attack was enough money to bear the expenses of the expedition. Consequently, the trade caravan that left Mecca that spring was liberally financed, each Meccan investing whatever he had in cash.
Not only men, but also women, who rarely did any business, contributed without a single exception. the caravan had not yet left Syria for homeward journey, when Hadrami was accidently slain (refer to 2nd chapt). For the angry Quraish it had the effect of adding fuel to the fire. In the mean time a baseless rumour went round in Mecca that the Muslims were coming out to plunder the caravan. The Quraish now rose like an angry storm overwhelming all Arabia.
When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) came to know if it, he called Muslims together and informed them of the situation. Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) and others expressed their readiness to lay down their lives, but the Holy Prophet's glance was turned towards the Ansar (The Medinites Muslims). The Ansar when they had first pledged their support had promised to unsheathe their swords only when the enemy fell upon Medina. Sa'd Ibn 'Maaz, head of the tribe of Khazraj, rose to his feet and said to the Prophet, "Is it we you mean? Then order us, and, by Allah, we will jump into the sea."
This is the version of Sahih Muslim Bukhari has it that Midqad told the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) that they would not, like the followeres of Moses, tell him to go with his God and do the fighting; they would on the other, fight on his right and his left, in front and in the rear. At this speech the face of the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) brightened up.
In short, on the 12th of Ramadan, on the 2nd year of the Hijra, the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) marched out of the city with three hundred followers. They had gone about a mile, when the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) reviewed the Muslim army. Those who were young were sent back as situation like these were fraught with dangers and not meant for youngsters.
'Umair Ibn Abi Waqqas, a child of tender age, was likewise told to return. He burst into tears and thus got the Prophet's permission. His brother, Sa'd Ibn Abi Waqqas, himself hung a sword round his neck. Now the total number was 313 out of which 60 were Muhajirs and the rest Ansars. The Jews and the Hypocrites at Medina could not be trusted to remain loyal in the absence of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ; so Abu Lubaba Ibn 'Abd al-Mundhir was appointed the Governor of Medina and ordered to return back to the city. 'Aliyah (the elevated suburb of Medina) was placed in charge of 'Asim Ibn 'Adi. After making these arrangements, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) proceeded towards Badr, the side from which the Meccans were reported to be coming. Two reporters...... Basbasah and 'Adi..... had been sent in advance to bring news of the movements of the enemy. Passing by Rauha, Munsarif, Dhat-Ajdhal, Ma'alat and Athil, the Muslim army came to Badr on the 17th of Ramadan. The reporters brought the news that the Quraish had reached the other end of the valley. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stopped here and the army encamped.
The quraish had set out from Mecca in full spendour of military equipment. They were a thousand strong besides a 100 cavalry men. All the grandees of the Quraish were present except Abu Lahab, who had been compelled to absent himself by an unavoidable circumstance. He had however, sent a substitute. Supplies were so abundant that the chiefs of the quraish, as, 'Abbas Ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, 'Utba Ibn Rabi'a, Harith Ibn 'Amir, Abu Jahl, 'Umayya and others slaughtered, each by turn, ten camels a day to feed the army. 'Uthba Ibn Rabi'a, the most honoured among them held the chief command.
On reaching Badr the Quraish learnt that the caravan under Abu Sufyan had passed and was then out of danger. The men from the tribes of Zahra and 'Adi suggested that it was then needless to resort to fighting. But Abu Jahl would not agree. The Zahra and Bani 'Adi turned back, and the rest of the army moved on.
Having reached earlier, the Quraish occupied a favourable site. On the other hand the Muslims encampment had not even a well or spring, and the place was so sandy that the feet of the camels sank deep into it. Hubab Ibn Mundhir asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whether the choice of camp had been made in obedience to a divine directive or in view of military exigency. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told him that it was not because of a command from God. Then Hubab suggested that it would be far better to move forward, and take possession of the spring and render the surrounding wells useless for the enemy. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) liked this suggestion and acted accordingly. By the grace of Allah they were lucky enough to have a good rain, which caused the dust to settle down. Rain water was also collected in tanks at various places, so as to be serviceable for ablution and bath. It is to this favour of God that the Qur'an refers when it say:
"And when He sent down upon you water from the cloud that He might thereby purify you." ______ (2:1)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had now in his possession the supply of water, but the universal benefactor, who will be dispensing the heavenly water of Kauthar (the name of a stream in Paradise as mentioned in the Qur'an) in the Hereafter, was not willing to put limits to his bounties, and allowed the enemy free access. It was night and the faithful put off their weapons and had a whole night's rest; only one man (the Prphet) kept awake, praying all the time. When day broke, the Muslims were called to congregational prayer, and the prayer was followed by a sermon on Jihad.
The Quraish were thirsting for battle. Nonetheless, there were a few tender hearts who shuddered at the idea of blood-shed. One of them, Hakim Ibn Hizam, who later on embraced Islam, went up to 'Utba, the Commander-in-Chief of the Quraish army, and said to him that eternal reputation could be his that day if he liked. 'Utba asked how it was possible. Hakim replied that the main grievance of the Quraish was the murder of Hadrami, and as Hadrami was his ally he had better pay off his blood money. 'Utba, a good-natured man agreed. But Abu Jahl's approval had to be taken. Hakim took 'Utba's mesage to Abu Jahl, who was laying out arrows from out of the quiver. "I see," said he, as the message was delivered to him, "Utba's courage has failed him." Hudhaifa, the son of 'Utba had turned a Muslim and had come with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Abu Jahl suspected that 'Utba shrank from battle that no harm should come to his son.
Abu Jahl called Hadrami's brother, and said, "Do you see? The only chance to claim penalty for your brother's murder is slipping a way from under your very nose". 'Amir, according to the custom of the Arabs tore off his clothes, and completely nude from head to foot, started throwing up dust and shouting out "O 'Amra ! O, 'Amra !" This set the whole army aflame.
'Utba was furious at the taunt of Abu Jahl, and retorted that the field of battle would tell which of them would come off with the blot of cowardice. Saying this he asked for a helmet. But his skull was so big for any helmet that could be found. As a last resort he wound a piece of cloth round his head and got himself armed.
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) being averse to seeing his hands stained with blood, the Companions raised at one end of the field a shed of stones for him to stay there. Sa'd Ibn Mu'adh stood at the entrance with a naked sword that none might dare to enter it.
Help and victory had been promised by God, the very elements were at work to aid the Muslims, the angels themselves were at arrayed on their side; yet acting humanly, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had to think of arranging his forces in order of battle. Mus'ab Ibn 'Umair was appointed the flag bearer of the Muhajirs (the Meccan Muslims), Hubab Ibn Mundhir of Khazraj, (tribe) and the standard of the Aus (tribe) was given to Sa'd Ibn Mu'adh.
Early in the morning the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was putting his forces in battle-array. With an arrow in his hand, he said to the Faithful to draw up in lines so that none should be out of place even by an inch. Noise is a common feature of battle-fields, but they were all forbidden to utter a single cry.
On this occasion when the Muhajirs were pitted against overwhelming numbers, re-inforcement by a single person ought to have been welcome. But to keep the plighted word was as dear to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as life itself. Two Companions, Hudhaifa Ibn al-Yaman and Abu Husail had been off on a journey. On their way back they were stopped by the infidels under the belief that they were going to the help of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They denied and promised not to take part in the fight. They reached the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and related the whole story; the Prophet remarked that he would honour their word in any case, and that he required no help but that of God.
Now there were two forces face to face, truth against untruth, light against darkness, Islam against infidelity. The Qur'an says:
"Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts which met together in encounter, one party fighting in the way of God and the other unbelieving." _____ (2:12)
A strange spectacle it was indeed! The fate of Monotheism in this wide world depended on a few lives. The two authentic books of Hadith report that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), in earnest devotion and with his hands out-stretched, was praying to Allah in these words: "O' Allah ! fulfill this day, Thy promise made unto me." So absorbed was he, and unconscious of himself, that his shroud would slip down from over his shoulders and he did not know it. Sometimes he would lay his forehead on the ground and pray: "O' Allah, if this little band is wiped off this day, none shall ever worship Thee till the end of world." His agony moved his friends to tears and Abu Bakr (Allah be peased with him) consoled him saying that Allah would certainly fulfill His Promise. Ultimately, with a pacfied soul, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) rose reciting:
"Soon shall the host be routed, and they shall turn their backs." _____ (2:45)
Thus did the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) foretell the victory that was to come.
By this time the forces of the Quraish had drawn nearer, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) ordered his Companions not move forward but to check the advancing enemy with their arrows when they got near enough.
This battle brought to view a unique scene of sacrifice and reckless valour. When the two armies met, warriors saw their own near and dear ones under the flash of their steel. Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) steped forward, a naked sword in hand, to engage his own son who had not come over to Islam upto that time. When 'Utba came out, his Muslim son Hudhaifa advance to meet him; and the sword of 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him), was red with the blood of his maternal uncle.
The Battle started when 'Amir Hadrami who claimed his brother's blood come out of the ranks. Mehja', a freed slave of 'Umar, went out to meet him and was killed.
'Utba, the chief in command, had been stung to the quick by the taunt of Abu Jahl. He came out of the line with his brother and son; and called for an adversary. It was customary with men of repute among the Arabs to go out to the battlefield with a special mark of distinction. 'Utba had a feather of an ostrich stuck on his chest. 'Auf, Mu'adh and 'Abdullah Ibn Rawaha came out to meet the Quraish notables. 'Utba asked them their names; and on learning that they were all Ansaris, he said he had nothing to do with them. Then he called to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying they (Mu'adh and others) were not his equals. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked Ansaris to retire. Hamza, 'Ali and 'Ubaida (Allah be pleased with them ) took up the challenge. They had helmets over their faces and could not be recognized. 'Utba asked who they were? They told him their names and parentage. "Yes", said 'Utba, "You are a match for us." 'Utba engaged Hamza, Walid came upon 'Ali and both the infidels were slain. But 'Utba's brother, Shaiba, wounded 'Ubaida. 'Ali (Allah be pleased with him) came up and killed him. He lifted up 'Ubaida on his shoulders and brought him to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 'Ubaida (Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) if he had earned martyrdom, the Prophet assured him that he was dying a martyr. "Had Abu Talib been alive", said 'Ubaida (Allah be pleased with him), "he would have admitted that I am the person to whom this couplet of his applies ....
"We shall not hand over Muhammad to the enemies till we die fighting and get separated from our wives and children."
'Ubaida,(not the one mentioned above) son of Sa'id Ibn al-'As, then came out of the ranks, clad in iron from head to foot. "I am Abu Kirsh", he cried. Zubair came forward to meet him. No part of 'Ubaida's body was visible except the eyes. Zubair aimed his spear at eye and with one stroke, laid Abu Kirsh dead on the ground. The spear had sunk so deep that it came off only when Zubair pulled hard at it with his feet on the dead body; but its ends had both got upturned. This spear was preserved as a relic. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) took it from Zubair (Allah be pleased with him), it passed to each of the four Caliphs one after the other, ultimately coming into the possession of 'Abdullah Ibn Zubair. Zubair received several wounds in this battle, the one of the shoulder being so deep that, when healed up, one could pass a finger into it, which was quite a fun for 'Urwa, the little son of Zubair. The sword with which he had fought had become all indented. When 'Abdullah Ibn Zubair (son of Zubair) (Allah be pleased with him) was slain, 'Abd al-Malik asked 'Urwa if he could recognize the sword. "Yes", was the reply. "How will you do it?" again asked 'Abd al-Malik. "I shall know it", said 'Urwa, "from the notches on the blade made in the battle of Badr." 'Abd al-Malik testified to this statement and recited the line: "In them (the swords) are cuts resulting from strokes in the battle." Then 'And al-Malik gave the sword to 'Urwa. 'Urwa had its price estimated and it was found to be worth three thousand; its blade had silver work on it.
Now started a general attack. The infidels were fighting confident of their strength, but the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) on the other side, was seeking Divine help with his forehead on the ground.
Abu Jahl had been notorious for his mischief and hostility towards Islam. Mu'awwidh and Mu'aadh, two brothers from amongst the Ansar, had consequently taken a vow to destroy thir accursed fellow whenever they could catch sight of him, or get themselves martyred.
'Abd al-Rahman Ibn 'Auf (one of the companions of Prophet) reported that he was at his post, when all of a sudden he saw the two young men coming up, one on his right and the other on his left. One of them whispered in his ear, "Where is Abu Jahl ?" "My god nephew", said 'Abd al-Rahman, "What business have you with Abu Jahl ?" "I have vowed to God," said the young man, "that whenever I happen to meet him, I will kill him or be killed myself." Before 'Abd al-Rehman could make a reply, the other youth was whispring to him the same words. 'Abd al-Rehman pointed to the place where Abu Jahl stood. That very instant the two swooped down on him like falcons and, Abu Jahl was groveling in dust. These youths, Mu'awwidh and Mu'adh, were the sons of 'Afra. 'Ikrama, the son of Abu Jahl attacked Mu'adh from behind and dealt a blow with his sword on the left shoulder, with the result that the arm was almost severed. and left dangling by a mere shred of muscle. Mu'adh continued to fight in this mutilated condition ; but the dangling arm was causing trouble. Pressing the hand under a foot, he tore it off, and now he was free to move.
Before the commencement of the battle, the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) had said that, with the Quraish, there were many who had been forced to join the army against their will. The Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) had even told their names, and Abu al-Bakhtari was one of them. Mujdhar, who was an Ansari, sighted Abu al-Bakhtari and told him that, the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) having ordered them to refrain from killing him, he would let him go. Abu al-Bakhtari had a companion, and asked if protection would be extended to his companion as well. Mujdhar refused. Abu al-Bakhtari then said that he could not stand the taunt of the Quraish women that Bakhtari left his companion in the lurch to save his own life. Then reciting a war song he attacked Mujdhar and was killed. The song said that a man of noble birth cannot desert a friend till he is himself put to death or his friend finds a way out.
On the death of 'Utba and Abu Jahl, the Quraish were shaken in their resolve and the army lost heart.
The arch-enemy of the Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him), Umayya Ibn Khalaf had also joined the Quraish army. Sometime back, 'Abd al-Rehman Ibn 'Auf had promised him safety if he came to Medina. The battle should have been a nice opportunity for the Muslims to be revenged upon this enemy of God. 'Abd al-Rehman did his best to let Umayya make good his escape. He took him to a hill, but was detected by Bilal who let the Ansar know of it. In an instant some Muslims fell upon him. 'Abd al-Rehman asked him to lie down, and when he had done so, 'Abd al-Rehman bent down over him to protect him against attack. But the assailants reached out their hands from under the legs of 'Abd al-Rehman and dispatched him. 'Abd al-Rehman himself was severely wounded in the leg which remained scarred for a long time.
After the death of Abu Jahl, 'Utba and others, the Quraish laid down their arms. The Muslims now began taking them prisoners. 'Abbas, 'Aqil (brother of 'Ali), Naufal, Aswad Ibn 'Amir, 'Abdullah Ibn Zam'a and a host of other leading persons were captured.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of allah be upon him) asked the Muslims to bring news how Abu Jahl had fared. 'Abdullah Ibn Masa'ud searched for him among the dead and found him struggling with death. "Is it you, Abu Jahl?" asked 'Abdullah. "Is it" he retorted, "a matter for pride that a man has been killed by his own community." Abu Jahl had once struck 'Abdullah with a stone. In a revengeful mood 'Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud placed his foot on his neck. "O goat-herds-man," cried abu Jahl, "look, where thou placest thy foot." 'Abdullah cut his head off, brought it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and placed it at his feet.
Western historians, who can think only in terms of material causes and affects, are left wondering how a body of three hundred footmen could vanquish one thousand adversaries reinforced with a hundred horse. But Divine help has many a time worked wonders like that. Nevertheless, the miracle of Badr has much to satisfy even those who have no eyes but for externals. The Quraish were a disunited horde. 'Utba, the commander-in chief was not agreeable to fighting, and the tribe of Zahrah had turned back from Badr. The rains had affected the battle-field in a manner that the site occupied by the Quraish had been rendered too muddy for moving to and fro. The Quraish were over awed and miscalculated the number of the Muslims to be double of themselves, to which the Qur'an refers in these words :
"Indeed there was a sign for you in the two hosts that met, one host fighting in the way of Allah, and the other disbelieving, beholding themselves, with their own eyes, twice as many as they." _______ (3 : 13)
The Quraish had no order discipline, whereas, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), with an arrow in his hand, had personally arranged his men in lines. Again the Muslims had passed restful night and woke up fresh in the morning, while Quraish had been too perturbed to have a good sleep.
These may be ascribed as the causes that explain that event. They are however, accidents. How and why did they happen to so combine and coincide? This was the way help came from God. Comparing the Quraish and the Muslim armies, no military expert could expect a victory for the Muslims. The Quraish had wealth on their side, some of them feeding the entire force single-handed, the Muslims were penniless; the Quraish numbered one thousand, while the Muslims were only three hundred; The Quraish had a hundred horsemen, the Muslims had only two horses ; very few Muslims had a full equipment or weapons, on the other hand, each of the Quraish was clad in steel from head to foot.
With al these odds against them, the Muslims found, at the end of the battle, that they had lost only fourteen, six Muhajirs and eight Ansaris. On the other hand, the Quraish were crushd to the back-bone; and almost all the dignitaries who had led the tribes and had been reputed warriors were wiped off. Of these, Shaiba, 'Utba, Abu Jah, Abu al-Baktari, Zam'a Ibn al-Aswad, 'As Ibn Hisham, Umayya Ibn Khalaf, Muabbeh Ibn al-Hajjaj, were the cream of Meccans. About seventy men were killed and as many taken prisoners. Out of the seventy prisoners two, 'Uqbh and Nadr Ibn Harith, were put to death and the rest brought to Medina as captives. The captives included 'Abbas (one of the uncle of the Prophet), 'Aqil and Abu al-'As, the second was the brother of 'Ali ('Ali was among the most reputed companion of the Prophet and also the fourth Caliph) and the third, the son-in-law of the Prophet.
It was usual with the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to get a dead body buried wherever he came across one. On this occasion the number was so great that it was difficult to bury them separately. He therefore, ordered the corpses to be thrown into a well that lay near-by. Only the dead body of Umayya which had got so sowllen that it could not be removed from the place was buried on the spot.
The prisoners were brought before the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in Medina, when Sauda, the wife of the Prophet, was also present. She saw Suhail Ibn 'Umar, a kinsman of hers, among the prisoners, and could not help saying : "You too have put fetters on your feet, like women. Could not you die fighting.
The prisoners of war were distributed in twos and fours among the Companions, with instructions to look to their comfort. The Companions carried out the Prophet's wishes so faithfully that they offered their food to the prisoners, while they themselves had to be content with mere dates.
Abu 'Aziz, the brother of Mus'ab Ibn 'Umair, was one of the prisoners. He says that the Ansaris who had charge of him used to place bread before him while they themselves took date. He felt ashamed and forced it into their hands, but they would not even touch it and returned it to him. This was because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had ordered the Companions to treat the prisoners well.
One of the captives was Suhail Ibn 'Amir, an eloquent speaker, who used to harangue against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in public. 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him) sugested to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to get two of his lower teeth pulled out to rob him of his fine delivery. "If I disable him", replied the Prophet, "God may disable my limbs in return, though I am His Messenger."
'Abbas had no shirt on. He was a tall man and no shirt could be found to fit his size. 'Abdullah Ibn Ubbay, the prince of the Hypocrites, alone was equally tall and he made a present of his shirt. Sahih al-Bukhari says that it was to return this kindness that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), on the death of 'Abdullah, offered his own shirt for his dead body.
It is generally reported that on reaching Medina the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) consulted the Companions concerning the fate of the prisoners of war. Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) was in favour of setting them free for ransom as all of them happened to be their own kith and kin. But in the opinion of 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him), Islam knew no kinship and they all deserved to be put death __each to be slain by his own Muslim kinsman. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) approved the suggestion of Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) and the prisoners were set free on payment of ransom. At this step God expressed His displeasure and the following Verse was revealed:
"Were it not that a writ had already gone forth from Allah, there would surely have touched you a mighty torment for that which ye took." _______ (8 : 67)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him), as the story runs, burst into tears at this admonition from God.
This is a report found in almost every book of histroy and tradition. As to the cause of displeasure, however, there is a difference of opinion. The words in Tirmidhi (one of the book containing sayings i.e, hadith of the Prophet) lead one to conclude that upto that time there had been received no instructions regarding booty. The Companions, following the prevailing custom, had taken to collecting booty and thus incurred Divine displeasure. In the absence of a previous injunction in this respect, the offence was pardoned and the booty already seized declared legal. The Verse expressing displeasure is followed by the Verse which runs thus : (Qur'an)
"Eat ye then of that which ye have obtained of spoil lawful and clean, and fear Allah, verily Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (8:69)
This Verse clarifies that what had come into the hands of the Muslims was made lawful; and that was the booty they had procured? In short, according to the versions of Sahih Muslim (one of the book containing sayings i.e, hadith of the Prophet) and Tirmidhi the Divine displeasure was due to either the charging of ransom or the collection of booty. In the words of Sahih Muslim when the Verse expressing God's displeasure was revealed, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) burst into tears; and when 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him) asked him the reason, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remarked: "I am shedding tears because of the displeasure of Allah at the charging of ransom by your fellow Companions." Generally this Verse has been misconstrued, and the displeasure ascribed to having spared the lives of prisoners; to which the following Verse is believed to lend support:
"It behoveth not a prophet that he should have captives until he hath greatly slaughtered in the land." _____ Qur'an (8 : 67)
But this Verse is really intended to prohibit taking prisoners before there takes place a good deal of fighting. It does not yield the conclusion that prisoners taken before shedding of blood have to be put to death after the battle is over.
In short each prisoner was charged 4,000 Dirhams. Those who were poor to pay were set free without any ransom, and those who knew haw to write were asked to teach it to ten Muslims children in lieu of their ransom. Zaid Ibn Thabit learnt writing under this arrangement.
The Ansar offered to forgo the ransom for 'Abbas as he was their nephew on the mother's side. But the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not like this preferential treatment and 'Abbas too had to pay. The ransom charged was generally fixed at 4,000 Dirhams, but the wealthy were made to pay more. 'Abbas was rich and consequently, he was asked to pay a larger sum. He complained to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) he could not understand that the principle of equality established by Islam made no difference between man and man ___ kinsman or no kinsman, plebian or patrician, were all alike. (But with this scrupulous sense of duty and equality, the Prophet, had that feeling heart which made sleep impossible when 'Abbas groaned at night. Only when people had undone the knot, the Prophet could sleep.)
The son-in-law of the Prophet, Abu al-'As, was also among the prisoners of war. He had no money to pay. He sent word to his wife, Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who was at Mecca to send him the money. When Zainab had been given in marriage, Khadija, the wife of the Prophet, had bestowed on her a valuable necklace as part of dowry. Along with the sum of money Zainab sent the necklace as well. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was moved to tears when he saw that token of love presented twenty-five years back. He asked the Companions if they would consent to return to the daughter the relic of a dead mother. They most willingly nodded assent and the necklace was returned.
Being set free, Abu al-'As reached Mecca and sent Zainab to Medina. Abu al-'As was a tradesman. A few years later he set out for Syria with a good deal of merchandise. On the way back, he fell into the hands of a party of Muslims, who took possession of his merchandise; and divided it among themselves. Abu al-'As stole away to Zainab, and she gave him shelter. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) requested the people who had attacked him to return his merchandise, if they pleased. They gave a ready consent, and returned everything they had seized. Now this was a stroke that was sure to hit. Abu al-'As reached Mecca, cleared his accounts with his partners and turned a Muslim. He told the Meccans that he had come to Mecca and settled his accounts with them so that they might not accuse him of having turned a Muslim to evade their demands for payment of their money.
The news of the rout at Badr reached Mecca and there was wailing and weeping in every house. Touched with shame, the Quraish had it announced that no lamentations would be permitted. Aswad had lost three sons but the sense of national honour did not allow him to shed a single tear. One day he heard some crying and wailing and thought that the Quraish had perhaps allowed it. "Go," he said to his servant, "See who is weeping. Has that been permitted? My bosom is all on fire. Could I but cry my grief out; it would be a relief to me." The servant came back with the news that a woman was weeping for a lost camel, and spontaneously the following lines fell from his lips:
"She weeps for the loss of a camel and can't sleep. Oh, weep not for a camel. Shed thy tears on the Badr where fate failed us. If thou hast to weep, then weep for 'Aqil, weep for Harith who was a lion among the lions."
'Umair Ibn Wahb was deadly hostile to Islam. With Safwan Ibn Umayya sitting by his side at a place called Hujr, 'Umair lamenting the fate of those who had fallen in the battle of Badr. "By God," excalimed Safwan, "Life has lost all its relish now." "Right you are," said 'Umair, "had I not been in debt or encumbered with children, I would have ridden to Medina and killed Muhammad. My son is a prisoner there!" "Care not for your debts or your children," replied Safwan, "I will look to all your affairs." 'Umair went home, dipped his sword in poison and reached Medina. 'Umar (Allah be pleased with him), having read his intentions from his face, caught hold of his neck and brought him to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) "Let off his neck," said the Prophet, and then turned to 'Umair saying, "Get nearer. What is the object of your visit?" "I have come," said 'Umair, "to plead for the release of my son." "Why then are you armed with a sword?" the Prophet asked. "Swords were of no avail at Badr," came the reply. "Why! Did not, you and Safwan sitting at Hujr hatch a plot to kill me," answered the Prophet. 'Umair was stunned at the disclosure of his secret and excalimed "O Muhammad, verily you are a Prophet. By God, none except Safwan and myself knew of this affair." The Quraish who should have heard of the murder of the Prophet, were now served with the news of 'Umair's conversion.
'Umair, the brave, now a Muslim, returned to Mecca, the Mecca of which the very sands were at this time thirsting for Muslim blood. On reaching Mecca, he started preaching Islam and many a damned soul got the light through his labours.
‘Umair agreed and asked Safwan to be reticent on the whole scheme. He left for Madinah, having with him a sword to which he applied some kind of lethal poison. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab saw him at the door of the Mosque and understood that he had come with evil intentions. He immediately went into the Mosque and informed the Prophet (Peace be upon him). He was let in looped by the sling of his sword and in greeting he said “good morning”, to which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied that Allâh had been Gracious and taught them the greeting of the dwellers of the Paradise: “peace be upon you!” To a question raised by the Prophet (Peace be upon him), about his object, ‘Umair said that he had come to see that his captured son was well treated. As for the sword, which the Prophet (Peace be upon him) asked him about, he cursed it and said that it gained them nothing. On exhorting him to tell his real goal, he remained obdurate and did not divulge the secret meeting with Safwan. Here the Prophet (Peace be upon him) got impatient and he himself revealed to ‘Umair his secret mission. ‘Umair was taken by surprise, and incredible astonishment seized him, and immediately bore witness to the Messengership of Muhammad (Peace be upon him) He then began to entertain Allâh’s praise for having been guided to the ‘Straight Path’. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was pleased and asked his Companions to teach ‘Umair the principles of Islam, recite to him the Noble Qur’ân and release his son from captivity. Safwan, meanwhile, was still entertaining false illusions as to the approaching redemption of honour, and burying the memory of Badr into oblivion. He was impatiently awaiting ‘Umair’s news but to his great surprise, he was told that the man had embraced Islam and changed into a devoted believer. ‘Umair later came back to Makkah where he started to call people unto Islam and he did actually manage to convert a lot of Makkans into Islam.
Consequences of Badr
The battle of Badr had manifold effects on the religious and political conditions. In fact it was the first step of Islam towards progress. The powerful grandees of the Quraish, each of whom stood like a wall of steel in the way of Islam, were all wiped off. On the death of 'Utba and Abu Jahl, the Supreme leadership of the Quraish devolved on Abu Sufyan, which paved the way for the Umayyad ascendancey ; but the hay-day of the power of the Quraish was over.
In Medina 'Abdullah Ibn Ubbay Ibn Salul had been till now a declared infidel. He now made a show of crossing over to Islam, though throughout life he remained a hypocrite and died as such. The tribes of Arabia that had watched the trend of events were overawed, though not won over.
Side by side with the favourable turns, the hostile forces also showed new developments. The Jews had entered into a pact to remain aloof. But the decisive victory at Badr roused their jealousy, which they could not rein back. Details shall follow when we speak of the Jews.
Till now the Quraish had to lament the single loss of Hadrami. After the battle of Badr every Meccan house went into mourning and each Meccan child thirsted for revenge. The Ghazwa of Sawiq and the battle of Uhud were the out come of the vehemence of this feeling.
An Essential Point
The fact thus stands definitely established that the battle of Badr was not the sequel to a plundering expedition. But it is our duty to explain how the entire body of biographers mistook a fact so patent and manifest, and why in books like Sahih al-Bukhari, we meet with statements that the original case of the battle was the attack planned against the trade caravan.
As a matter of fact, in keeping with the rules of military campaigns, it was seldom disclosed where expedition was to be sent and why. In Sahih al-Bukhari (Ghazwa Tabuk) there is a report on the authority of Ka'b Ibn Malik, a well-known Companion, who reports that : "Whenever the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) decided on a Ghazwa, he would speak of some other place."
The Commentators of Sahih al-Bukhari have explained the word "Turiah" saying that on such occasions the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used ambiguous and double meaning words. "I do not feel inclined to accept this interpretation of the word as a general rule. However it can be gathered from a survey of events that on certain occasions the real object was so ambiguously expressed that people were left making different conjectures. It is how Sa'd Ibn Khaithama might have come to know before-hand, on the occasion of Badr, that a fighting force, not a trade-caravan, was to be handled; while on the contrary, in Sahih al-Bukhari on the authority of Ka'b Ibn Malik himself we meet with a report to the effect that on the occasion of Badr only the trade caravan was the objective."
We have already pointed out that an occurrence reported by a narrator (not excepting the Companions) is, in many cases, not the objective truth, but the interpretation of the narrator himself, that is, he reports as he viewed it. This is what happened in the case of Badr. No wonder then that the Companions guessed differently, and the guess in accord with the general temperament of the people got current.
By Allama Syed Sulaiman Nadwi (R.A)
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