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 Sirat Rasoul Allah

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13- Badr  

When the apostle of Allah arrived near Badr he received news of the whereabouts of the Quraysh, and sent several of his com­panions to the well at Badr to investigate further. The com­panions brought back two slaves, watermen of the Quraysh, who confessed to Muhammad that 'The Quraysh are at the rear of that sandhill.' The apostle asked, 'How many men are there?’ and they replied, 'Many!' He asked, 'What is their number?' but the slaves said that they did not know. 'How many camels do they slaughter daily?' The slaves replied, 'Some days nine, and some days ten', and the apostle said, 'Then they must be from nine hundred to one thousand in number.'

Meanwhile, two of the companions had gone back to the well to fetch water, and they overheard a conversation between two girls and a tribesman, who said, 'Tomorrow or the day after tomorrow the caravan will arrive.'

Abu Sufyan, however, had scouted ahead of his caravan and he reached the water unobserved, after the two companions had left. There he asked the tribesman if any strangers had been seen and was told, 'No one suspicious, except two riders, who alighted near the hill, took water to fill their water‑bottles and departed.' Abu Sufyan went to the spot where they had halted and, examining the camel‑dung there, found that it contained date‑stones. 'This is the fodder of Medina ,' he exclaimed, and returning briskly to the caravan he diverted it from the road and along the coast, and by‑passed Badr altogether. They hastened on beyond the reach of danger and when Abu Sufyah decided the caravan had reached safety he sent a message to the Quraysh army telling them they could return to Mecca .

But Abu Jahl refused to return to Mecca without giving a dis­play of strength at Badr. 'We shall stay there three days, slaughter cattle, feast the people, drink wine, and be entertained by singing‑girls. All Arabia will hear of us, of our march, of our festivity, and they will respect us ever afterwards! Therefore, let us proceed.' One group, who saw no further purpose in the expedition, returned to Mecca , but the rest of the army followed Abu Jahl.

The Quraysh army marched until they reached the sandy foothills on the western side of the valley of Badr , but they were impeded by rain and mud sent by Allah. In the valley itself Muhammad and his force were not so hampered, and they reached the wells of Badr first and halted at the nearest of them. Al‑Hubab inquired of the apostle if this halting‑place were the choice of Allah, and when the apostle replied that it had been selected according to his own strategy and according to no higher instruction, al‑Hubab said: 'Then let the people arise and march to the well next to the enemy; on the way, let us close up all the wells except the last. Around that, let us make a reservoir and fill it with water; then, when we fight, we shall drink, but not the enemy.' The apostle replied, 'Thy advice is good! and they acted accordingly.

Some of the Quraysh, however, went down to the reservoir and the apostle said, 'Let them drink', but only one man of those who drank survived the next day's battle. This was Hakim, who later professed Islam.

That night the Quraysh sent Umayr to spy out the number of the companions. He circled the army, then returned to report: 'They are a little more or less than three hundred in number; but give me time to see whether they have any other men in ambush or in reserve.' He again departed, and rode some dis­tance, but returned and said, 'I have not seen anything; but listen to me. Battles bring misfortune. The camels of Medina carry sudden death. These men have no other refuge or protec­tion than their swords and I believe that not one of them will die without first killing one of us. If one of us dies for every one of them, what will life have to offer after that?'

Then Utba rose and addressed the Quraysh: 'You will gain nothing by attacking Muhammad and his companions! If you conquer him, many of his men being our kinsmen, you will never escape the loathing of those fellow Quraysh whose kinsmen you have slain. Return therefore, and let Muhammad fight with other Arabs.' But Abu Jahl sneered, 'His lungs are swollen with fear at the sight of Muhammad and his companions! We shall not retreat until Allah decides between us and Muhammad', and he sent a message to Amir, the man whose brother had been killed at Nakhla, the first man killed in Islam. 'Your ally wishes to turn back. Arise, therefore, and avenge the murder of your brother by leading the people on to fight.' Thus the flame of war was fanned, the Quraysh became fixed in their evil course, and the advice of Utba was spurned.

When Utba heard of Abu Jahl's insult he cried, 'We shall see which of us two is the coward!' and sought a helmet to put on his head; but he could not find one in the whole army to fit because his skull was so great. So he wrapped a piece of cloth around his head.

Soon the apostle of Allah saw the Quraysh entering the valley, and he prayed. 'Allah! These are the Quraysh with their arrogance and vanity, who have offended Thee and accused Thy apostle of falsehood. 0 Allah! Grant me Thy promised aid and annihilate them this day!'

The battle of Badr took place on Friday morning, the seven­teenth day of Ramadan.

One man of the Quraysh, a vicious, quarrelsome fellow, now stepped forth from the army and said, 'I call Allah as witness that I shall drink from their reservoir and destroy it, or die in the attempt.' Hamza advanced to do battle with him and when they met Harnza struck him violently and severed his leg between the knee and the foot. The man fell on his back and the blood from his leg spurted towards the Quraysh army; but he dragged himself on to the reservoir to redeem his vow. Hamza slew him there.

Next, Utba came forth, flanked by his brother and his son, and uttered the challenge to single combat. Three men of the Helpers stepped forward, but the Quraysh refused to fight with them and cried: 'Let us fight with equals from our own tribe! So the apostle of Allah gave them Ubayda and Hamza and Ali, and they said, 'Agreed. These are noble and our equals!' Ubayda confronted Utba, Hamza confronted the brother of Utba, and Ali

the son. Ubayda and Utba wounded one another, but Hamza and Ali killed their opponents at once and then turned and slew the wounded Utba. Thereafter, they carried Ubayda back to his companions.

The apostle of Allah took up a handful of gravel, and threw it in the direction of the Quraysh. 'May confusion strike them! he cried, and ordered his companions to attack.

Victory was theirs, and Allah slew many of the Quraysh chiefs, and caused many of their nobles to be taken prisoner. According to one of Muhammad's followers, on the day of Badr one Abu Daud 'followed an idolater in order to strike him down, and lo! his head fell off ere my sabre reached it; then I knew that some other agency had killed him'. Turbans are the diadems of the Arabs, and the sign of the angels on that day was white turbans, flowing at the back; only Gabriel wore a yellow turban. The angels never fought with distinguishing marks except on the day of Badr. They were present at other battles, but merely to increase the numbers, not to fight.

Ukkasha fought on the day of Badr until his sword broke in his hand. Then the apostle went to him and gave him a piece of wood, saying, 'Fight with this'. When he took it in his hand and waved it, it became a sword with a long blade, strong, gleaming and sharp. He fought with it until Allah bestowed victory upon the Muslims that day, and kept it, and fought many battles with it in the company of the apostle of Allah.

As the companions were engaged in taking captives after the battle, the apostle of Allah saw signs of displeasure on the face of Sad, who stood beside him. The apostle said: 'You seem dis­pleased with what the people are doing?' and Sad replied, 'Yes, by Allah. This is the first defeat which Allah has visited on the infidels, and I would rather have seen wholesale slaughter than this preservation of life.' The apostle of Allah, however, had told his companions that day: 'I know for a certainty that many of the Banu Hashim and others of the Quraysh have been brought against their will to fight us. If, therefore, any man of you meets one of the Banu Hashim he is not to kill him.' The apostle gave similar instructions concerning his uncle al‑Abbas and certain others of the Quraysh who had protected the apostle in the past. Nevertheless, the slaughter was great.

On the day of Badr, after the battle, Abdul‑Rahman passed near some Quraysh who had been unable to flee, and saw his old friend Ummaya with his son. Ummaya exclaimed: 'Are you willing to take me prisoner? My ransom will be of more value to you than the plunder you are laden with! Throwing away his plunder, Abdul‑Rahman took him and his son by the hand and walked with them. 'But Bilal saw him with me, and it was Um­maya who had tormented Bilal when he was a slave at Mecca . When he caught sight of him now, he exclaimed, "Worst of infi­dels! Let me die if he be allowed to live!" and he cried out to the companions of the apostle to kill Ummaya. They formed a ring round us, and I tried to protect him, but a man struck off the leg of the son of Ummaya and he fell to the ground. Then Ummaya uttered a cry such as I had never heard before. I said to him, 'Save thyself. I can no longer help thee,' and the people fell upon them with their swords and killed them both; and I said "May Allah have mercy on Bilal! My plunder has gone and he has deprived me of my captives, too!" '

After the apostle of Allah had done with the enemy, he ordered that the body of Abu Jahl be sought among the slain. The first man who had encountered Abu Jahl in the battle was Muadh, who had attacked him, and struck off his foot and ankle; but Abu Jahl's son dealt Muadh such a blow as almost cut his hand from his arm. 'It remained dangling at my side held only by the skin,' said Muadh. 'After that the battle drew me away from Abu Jahl and I continued to fight all day, dragging my hand after me; but after a while it annoyed me too much, and I placed my foot on it and wrenched it off. Then I threw it away.' Another of the companions later smote the crippled Abu Jahl, but there still remained a spark of life in him. When Muhammad ordered the search he was found by Abdullah b. Masud. 'I found him in his last agony and recognized him. I placed my foot on his neck ‑ for he had once caught hold of me in Mecca , insulted me, and kicked me in the chest ‑ and said to him "Allah has at last put you to shame, o enemy of Allah!" He retorted, "In what way has He put me to shame? Is it shame to a man that you have killed him? Tell me who is victorious this day?" I replied, "Allah and His apostle!" Then I cut off his head and brought it to the apostle of Allah and said, "This is the head of Abu Jahl, the enemy of Allah!" Then I threw the head down before the apostle, and he praised Allah.'

Then the apostle of Allah ordered the slain to be thrown into a pit and all were thrown into it, except Ummaya, whose body was so swollen that it could not easily be taken out of its armour; therefore they threw as much earth and rubble on the body as would cover it. When the bodies had been thrown into the pit the apostle said, 'Now, you people of the pit, have you realized the truth of your Lord's promise? For I have found what my Lord promised me has been fulfilled.' His companions said: 'Do you speak to dead men?' and he replied, 'They know that what I say is true !'

After the battle the apostle ordered all the plunder to be collected, and the companions disputed about it. Those who had collected it said, 'It belongs to us', and those who had pursued the enemy said, 'Had it not been for us, you would not have been able to collect it.' Those, too, who had guarded the person of the apostle lest he be attacked, said, 'You have no greater right to it than we. We desired to fight, but we could not leave the apostle of Allah.' Then Allah took out of their hands all cause for dispute, entrusting His apostle with the distribution of the spoils; and he promised equal shares to all the Muslims.

The apostle of Allah sent a messenger ahead to bear the glad tidings of victory, and then set off himself for Medina , with the army, plunder, and prisoners. At Rauha, the faithful met to congratulate him on the victory which Allah had granted to him and his companions. But Salama exclaimed: 'Why do you con­gratulate us? By Allah, we met only bald‑headed old men whom we slaughtered like hobbled camels!' At this the apostle smiled and said, 'But, nephew, those were the elders of the community 1'

At al‑Safra, on the return journey, the apostle ordered one of the prisoners, al‑Nadr, to be executed, and another, Uqba, later in the journey. The apostle of Allah reached Medina one day ahead of the prisoners, and when they arrived he distributed them among his companions, saying, 'Treat the captives well.' And they treated them with great kindliness.

Soon after his return the apostle assembled the Jews in the market‑place and addressed them: 'Make profession of Islam before Allah punishes you as He has punished the Qurayshl' But they replied: 'Do not deceive yourself! You have slain a few Quraysh who were inexperienced and did not know how to fight. If you had fought with us, you would have learnt that we are men, such as whom you have not yet encountered.' Then Allah sent down the verse, 'Say to those who disbelieve, "You will be conquered and gathered together in hell. It was a miracle when the two armies met at Badr. One army fought in the name of Allah; the other was thrice their number but thought the Believers as numerous as themselves. But Allah gives strength by His aid to those whom He will." Surely in that there is a lesson for those with eyes to see'.

Concerning the affair of Badr, Allah revealed a whole Sura, The Spoils. 'Say "The spoils belong to Allah and to His apostle . . . Allah promised that one of the two parties [the caravan, or the Quraysh army] would fall to you, and some hoped that it might be the weaker one [the caravan]; but Allah proposed to establish the truth of His word, and to cut down the uttermost part of the Unbelievers. When you prayed for assistance from your Lord, beholding the multitude of your enemies, Allah said, 'I shall aid you with a thousand angels in serried ranks.' . . . And Allah instructed His angels, 'I shall throw terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off their fingers, because they have resisted Allah and His apostle and Allah is severe in His punishment.'

' ". . . Those who feign belief in Allah are dumb concerning whatever is good, and deaf concerning the truth. If Allah knew there to be any good in them He would make their feigned belief into reality. If these Hypocrites had gone forth to battle with you, they would have turned back and failed you.

' "Ye who believe! Remember when you were few and weak in the land, dreading the threat of being despoiled, He sheltered you, strengthened you with His aid, and provided you with good things, that you might be thankful. . . . Fear Allah! He will grant you deliverance, and will expiate your sins, and will for­give you; for Allah is generous. . . . And if those who dis­believe give up their disbelief, what is past shall be forgiven them, but if they come to attack you, they shall fare like those slain on the day of Badr. Therefore fight them, till there be no more persecution and all belong to Allah alone. Allah is your guardian and He is the best guardian and the best helper.

Whenever you win plunder, a fifth shall belong to Allah and His apostle, and his kindred, and orphans,    and the poor, and the traveller.

When you meet an army in battle, stand firm and remember Allah, that you may prosper; and do not quarrel, lest My cause should suffer. Be not like those who make parade of their deeds in pursuit of the approbation of men, but act purely for the sake of Allah and for His reward in giving your religion victory; work only for this, and covet nothing else. . . . Prepare against the infidels what force you are able, that you may strike terror into your enemy and that of Allah. And whatever you shall expend for the religion of Allah, it shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be without reward. But if they incline to peace, do you also incline to peace; and trust in Allah, for He heareth and knoweth all things.

0, apostle of Allah! Stir up the Faithful to war; if twenty of you persevere, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be one hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve because they are a people who are not inspired.” ‘

When this verse was revealed the Muslims thought it very hard and difficult that twenty of them should fight against two hun­dred, and one hundred against one thousand; so Allah eased the burden and replaced that verse with another: ‘Now Allah hath eased you, for He knew you were weak. If there be one hundred of you who persevere, they shall overcome two hundred by the permission of Allah; and if you be one thousand, you shall overcome two thousand.’ That is to say, they were to fight if the enemy outnumbered them by two to one, but they were permitted to retreat from any more uneven contest.

Allah said, ‘You have sought ransoms and worldly goods, but Allah wants the next world’, meaning that they should kill to spread His religion, which is the path to the next world. Allah had before this time determined not to mete out punishment save when His prohibitions were disregarded; otherwise the men of Badr would have been punished severely for taking cap­tives. However, He allowed the spoils of war to the apostle and his companions as a gift from Allah the merciful, the compas­sionate. He said, ‘Enjoy therefore what you have acquired, for it is lawful and good; and fear Allah, for Allah is forgiving and merciful.’

Then He called the Muslims to unite and made the Helpers and the Emigrants friends in religion, and declared infidels of all creeds to be alike excluded from the friendship of Muslims. ‘Unless you do this, there will be doubt on earth and great corruption.’

In all, eighty‑three Emigrants and two hundred and thirty ­one Helpers took part in the battle of Badr, and eight of these died as martyrs in the fighting. Fifty Quraysh were slain and forty‑three were made prisoner.

The battle of Badr was a turning‑point in the history of Islam and ‘the Three Hundred’ who fought there became the most honoured of Believers. The apostle made full use of the divine intervention which had made such a victory possible, and the victory itself has been transmitted through the centuries in exhaustive detail. Badr also made total conflict with the people of Mecca inevitable: their honour had been brutally sullied by an outcast, and, furthermore, it was now clear that Muhammad intended to wrest from them the spiritual and temporal influence they had for so long wielded in the Arabian peninsula. The Quraysh had no alternative but to carry matters to a conclusion.

In Medina itself the apostle continued to be harassed by both Jews and Hypocrites. Not yet strong enough to take action against them as groups, he resorted to other tactics. The months following Badr are marred by increasing ruthlessness and fanaticism, and by murders carried out in a spirit of impassioned and bloody righteous­ness. The year after Badr passed in an atmosphere of excitable unrest, and then came the salutary battle of Uhud.

During the year which followed the battle of Badr the apostle made several small raids on the Quraysh; while at Mecca those sons whose fathers had been slain as Unbelievers at Badr gathered their people together to fight the apostle. And they sent their emissaries out into the countryside to stir up the people against him


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