Battle of Badr: The first of the great battles of Islam

Battle of Badr: The first of the great battles of Islam

It was here that a band of 313 Muslims, mostly unarmed and with two horses and 70 camels between them, led by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him.

By Khwaja Mohammed Zubair

Published: Sun 5 Jul 2015, 12:16 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:15 PM

And indeed Allah assisted you at Badr when you were weak, so be careful (to your duty) to Allah so that you may be of the thankful ones. When you said to the believers ‘Does it not suffice that your Lord should assist you with three thousand angels sent down.’ Sura Aal-e-Imran 3:123 & 124.

The battle of Badr was the first of the great battles of Islam. The faithfuls were put to the first real test during this battle.

The importance of the Battle of Badr cannot be over-estimated. In the long chain of significant events in the history of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) struggle against the Makkan oppressors, it was an event after which the early Muslim community felt itself free to make rapid advances. Badr represented the first major test to the new and nascent organisation founded by the Prophet.

No one was aware of the importance of the outcome of the battle as the Prophet (peace be upon hom) himself. We might read the depth of his anxiety in his prayer before the beginning of the battle when he stood up supplicating his Lord: “God this is Quraish. It has come with all its arrogance and boastfulness, trying to discredit Thy Apostle. God, I ask Thee to humiliate them tomorrow. God, if this Muslim band will perish today, Thou shall not be worshipped.”

The Battle of Badr was fought on the 17th of Ramadan in 624 AD (the second year of the Hijra) about 50 miles south-west of Madina near the point where the then Madina-Syria caravan route wound its way through a difficult terrain.

It was here that a band of 313 Muslims, mostly unarmed and with two horses and 70 camels between them, led by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), met a well-armed and well-equipped army of their pagan enemies of Makkah, numbered over a thousand, and won, by God’s help, a splendid victory that established the standard of truth never to be lowered again.

The Makkah army had among its leaders some of the most experienced warriors of Arabia including Abu Jahl, the inveterate foe and persecutor of Islam. After individual combats, according to the customs of Arabia, between Hamza, Ali and Obaidah on the side of the Muslims and three braves from the Makkah ranks, a pitched battle ensued. The stakes were great. Both the forces fought valiantly but the Muslims were animated by holy zeal.

It was impossible, without the miraculous aid of God, for such a small and ill-equipped force, as was the Muslim band, to defeat the large and well-equipped force of the enemy. But their firmness, zeal and discipline won them divine aid.

The Battle of Badr came in the wake of the worst kind of persecution of Muslims. The Prophet of Islam and his devoted band of followers had patiently endured untold hardship, tyranny and oppression for 13 years and ultimately had to abandon their hearths and homes, sacrificing whatever worldly possession they had.

The little exiled community of Makkah Muslims, with their friends in Madina, had organised themselves into a God-fearing community, but were constantly in danger of being attacked by their pagan enemies of Makkah, in alliance with some of the disaffected elements (Jews and hypocrites) in or near Madina itself. The design of the Makkans was to gather all the resources they could, and with an overwhelming force, to crush and annihilate the Prophet and his party.

To this end, Abu Saufyan, a leader of the pagan Makkah was leading a richly laden caravan from Syria to Makkah. He called for armed aid from Makkah. There were two alternatives before Muslims in Madina, to have themselves being overwhelmed by the Makkans with all the resources from the rich Syrian trade. One which had least danger for the time being and also promised much booty, was to fall upon the caravan returning from Syria with only 40 men unarmed. From a worldly point of view, this was the safest and most lucrative course.

The other alternative which was actually adopted on the recommendation of the apostle by the guidance of God, was to leave the booty alone and march out boldly against the well-armed and well-equipped army of 1,000 men coming from Makkah. The Muslims had no more than 300 men, ill armed to oppose the force. But if they could defeat it, it would shake the selfish autocracy which was in possession in Makkah.

The consequence of the victory at Badr was, therefore, far reaching. It gave the nascent Muslim state of Madina the much needed self-confidence and moral strength to stand on its own at a time when the holy Prophet had almost lost all hopes of withstanding the persecution. It dealt a severe blow to the prestige of pagan Makkah..

(The writer is a former Khaleej Times staffer)

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