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.'
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.'
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
,' 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
Abu Jahl refused to return to
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
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
, but the rest of the army followed Abu Jahl.
Quraysh army marched until they reached the sandy foothills on the
western side of the
, 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.
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.
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
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?'
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.
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.
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!'
battle of Badr took place on Friday morning, the seventeenth day of
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
. 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!" '
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
, 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.'
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
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
apostle of Allah sent a messenger ahead to bear the glad tidings of
victory, and then set off himself for
, 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'
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
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.
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'.
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.” ‘
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.
‘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.’
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
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.
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
During the year
which followed the battle of Badr the apostle made several small raids
on the Quraysh; while at
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