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The Battle of Badr


category: History & Biographies


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“When thy Lord inspired the angels (saying) I am with you. To make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite their necks and smite of them each finger.” [Qur'an 8:12]


Full of enthusiasm, everybody seemed to be bent upon outdoing others in deeds of valor and the acquisition of martyrdom. Even close friends and true brothers vied with one another to excel over the other. ‘Abdur Rahman b. Auf says: “I was fighting in my row on the day of Badr, when, lo! I saw on my right and left two very young boys; and did not feel quite happy to see them on my sides.(5) Suddenly, one of them asked me in a low voice, so that his companion should not hear: O my uncle! Show me Abu Jahl! I said: O my brother’s son! What have you to do with him? - He answered: I have vowed before God that I shall kill him when I see him, or shall be killed by him! - And the other boy spoke to me likewise in a low voice, so that his companion should not hear. I pointed him out to them, and they threw themselves upon the person in question like two hawks and struck him down. They were the sons of ‘Afra.”(6)

When Abu Jahl was killed, the Prophet of God (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) remarked, “This is Abu Jahl, the Pharoah of this nation.”


The day of Badr drew towards its close with the Muslims sensing and already assured of success whereas the infidels were being trampled in the dust. On this occasion the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) paid homage to God, saying: “Praise be to Allah who fulfilled His promise, and helped His servant and alone routed all the enemies.” That was exactly what had happened, for the Qur’an also says: “Allah had given you the victory at Badr, when you were contemptible. So observe your duty to Allah in order that you may be thankful.” [Qur'an 3:123]

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) ordered that the dead among the infidels should be thrown into a pit. As the Muslims casted them into the dug hole, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) went there and said standing over the place: “O people of the pit, did you find that what your Lord said is true? For I have found what my God promised me to be true.” (Bukhari, on the authority of Bara b. ‘Azib)

On the day of Badr, seventy infidels were slain and an equal number were taken captive. Casualties among the Muslims were fourteen, six belonging to the Muhajirin and eight to the Ansaar. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. II, p. 463)


The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) returned to Madeenah at the head of a victorious army. The enemies of Islam were appalled and disheartened by the victory at Badr. The Prophet’s (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) prestige soared in Madeenah and his influence extended over the surrounding district. A large number of persons who had been hesitant for so long from the place accepted the faith of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).

‘Abdallah b. Rawaha was one of the two persons sent by the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to Madeenah in advance, before he returned to the city. He gave the good news to the people, saying, “Rejoice, O Ansaar for the Prophet of God is safe and infidels have been killed and captured”. Then he enumerated the names of the Qurayshite nobles that accompanied the delegation as they found him singing song of joy; some took the news to be true while others were confounded. Then the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) returned to Madeenah followed by the prisoners of war with the Prophet’s (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) slave Shuqran keeping an eye on them. (Ib Kathir, Vol. II, pp. 470-73) When the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) reached Ruha, the Muslims met and congratulated him and his companions on the victory God had given them.

The defeat suffered by the polytheists plunged Makkah into gloom. There was not a house in the city, which did not go into mourning. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. pp. 647-48). The Makkans stood aghast and agitated. Abu Sufyan swore that until he had fought with the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) again he would not take a bath. The suppressed Muslims of Makkah, on the other hand, breathed a sigh of relief and felt elated as well as vindicated.


Of the captives was Abu ‘Aziz b. ‘Umayr. B. Hashim, a real brother of Mus’ab b. ‘Umayr. The two brother were the standard bearers of the rival armies.

Mus’ab b. ‘Umyr passed by his brother when an Ansaari young man was tying up the hands of Abu ‘Aziz b. ‘Umayr. Mus’ab called out, “Bind him fast, for his mother is sufficiently rich; perhaps she would pay a handsome ransom.”

Turning to Mus’ab in amazement, Abu ‘Aziz b. ‘Umayr said, “Brother, is it you to give this counsel?” “You are not my brother”, replied ‘Umayr, “He is my brother who is tying up your hands.”


The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) ordered his followers to treat the prisoners generously. He said, “Deal kindly with them.” Abu ‘Aziz b. ‘Umayr relates that he had lodged with an Ansaari family after being brought from Badr. They gave him bread for the morning and evening meals but they themselves took only dates as ordered by the Messenger of God (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). If anybody had a morsel of bread, he gave it to Abu ‘Aziz although he felt ashamed and refused it, but they returned it untouched and insisted on his acceptance of it. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. II, p. 475)


The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) accepted ransom for the prisoners according to their means; the Quraish kinsmen of the captives paid sums of money in exchange for their liberty, while those who could not pay any ransom were set free without any payment. The Prophet’s uncle ‘Abbas b. ‘Abdul Muttalib, his cousin, ‘Aqil b. Abi Talib,(Ibn Hisham Vol. II, p. 3) his son-in-law, Abul ‘As b. Ar-Rab’I, who was married to his daughter Zaynab, were among the prisoners of war but none was shown any favour; all were treated like the other captives.

There were some prisoners who were unable to pay any ransom. But as they were literate they were allowed to earn their freedom by teaching the art of reading to the children of Ansaar, with ten children each for every prisoner available. (Musnad Ahmad b. Hanbal, Vol. I, p. 247) (Tabaqat Ibn S’ad, Vol. II, p. 14) Zaid b. Thabit was one of those who had been taught by the captives of Badr. The importance attached to edification and enlightenment by the Prophet of Islam (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) as exemplified by his decision on this occasion needs no further explanation.


The ironclad oath of Abu Sufyan, as mentioned earlier, bound him to refrain from even splashing water over his head until he had wreaked havoc on the Muslims. The chief of the Jewish tribe of Bani an-Nadir, who offered the information he desired about Madeenah. Thereupon Abu Sufyan succeeded in getting away after killing two of the Ansaars.

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) got a warning of the evil raiders and went out in their pursuit. Abu Sufyan eluded the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) but was obliged to throw away a good deal of his provisions consisting of foodgrains, especially parched corn or al-sawiq, and hence the expedition goes by such a name. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 144-45)

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