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The Battle of Badr


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The Jews of Madeenah who first broke their convenant with the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) were Banu Qaynuqa. They contended with the Muslims and spoke scornfully of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). Ultimately, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) besieged them - the siege lasting for fifteen nights - until Banu Qaynuqa surrendered unconditionally. The attack was raised on the recommendation of ‘Abdallah b. Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites. ( Ibn Hisham Vol. II, pp. 47-49)

Banu Qaynuqa operated a market in Madeenah and practised crafts such as that of the Goldsmith. (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. p. 348) They were forced to abandon the city although the number of people who could bear arms among them was seven hundred.


One might think that the result of the battle was unbelievable and illogical: the Makkans had lost only 140 fighters in the encounter. They still had over 800, that is more than double the whole Muslim contingent .One would suppose they should withdraw, then reorganize and resume the battle.

However, deeply scrutinizing the tactics employed by the Muslim army at this instance, their first battle, explains the resounding success. The reasons behind the success can be outlined as follows:

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was the supreme commander in the battle, an ideal leader who consulted with his companions, accepted good advices and went at the head of his forces when the need arose. This generated a magnificent discipline in the Muslim army, which is contrary to the deep divisions that characterize the armed forces of the enemies.

The Muslim soldier was known for exemplary fighting competence, rigorous discipline, obedience to the commander and a strong communal spirit which the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) had worked hard to inculcate in his companions. This was exemplified in the brotherhood between the Muhaajirun (Makkan Muslims) and the Ansaar (Madinan Muslims). On the opposite side, we see that extreme selfishness and individualism were dominant in the ranks of the Makkan pagan army.

The march of the Muslim army from Madeenah was in a combative form, which resembles modern fighting strategies. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) sent off a vanguard and left behind a rear-guard, made use of exploratory patrols, raided the enemy camps to take captives that divulge information before the battle and braved the war in a new fashion based on cooperation, that of fighting with closed ranks. On the other hand, the Makkan pagan army followed a hit-and-run approach.

The Muslim fighter enjoyed high morale emanating from firm faith. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) encouraged his men and enhanced their spirits with constant prayers and promising them with success.

The chief purpose of the Muslims was to destroy the heads of infidelity and remove the obstacles from the way of the mission. Assaulting the caravan of Quraish was only a tactical aim. This is why we find that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) decided to attack the Makkan Pagan army to realize the strategic chief purpose mentioned earlier in spite of the fact that the caravan (the tactical aim) had slipped away.

Muslims were fighting to attain God's pleasure, to raise God's word over all others and to remove material obstacles facing Islam which aims to liberate man from slavery and oppression. On the other side of the spectrum, the Pagans were fighting for lowly worldly aims, corrupt decrepit ideas or in fanatic support of a tribe or clan.

In brief we can see the results of the battle as follows:
a. The battle put in jeopardy Makkah's trade route with the Syrian territories.
b. It weakened Quraish's reputation and respect among Arabs.
c. It solidified the Muslims' position and the status of their new nucleus state in Madeenah.
d. It paved the way for spreading Islam among the tribes of Arabia by destroying the barrier of respect paid to Quraish which was defeated.
e. It enhanced the solidarity between the Muhajirun and the Ansaar.
f. It provided an occasion to pass as law the taking of a fifth of the spoils for the Muslim treasury. Quranic verses revealed immediately after the battle made this law which enhanced the Muslim treasury and the Muslim state budget. This law continued to be the greatest source of income for the treasury up to the end of the Muslim conquests in the early days of Islam.


K’ab b. Ashraf was a prominent leader of the Jews. An implacable enemy of Islam, he always did his utmost to get the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) into trouble. He was also a poet of considerable standing, availing his talents to compose and recite deregatory verse against the honour of Muslim women - an act intolerable enough to thwart one’s patience. Immediately after the battle of Badr he went all the way to Makkah to cry out for vengeance with inflammatory verses and stirred up the Quraish to even out the score of their defeat at Badr. Nevertheless, he returned to Madeenah where, in indomitable conceit, he continued his tirades against Islam. When the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) heard about his return to Madeenah, he said to his companions, “K’ab b. Ashraf had offended God and His Prophet. Who will rid me of him?” A few persons (Muhammad b. Maslamah accompanied by four of his friends) belonging to the Ansaars immediately offered their services and killed the enemy of God in K’ab b. Asraf. (Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. p. 348)

[1] A place in Yemen. Others say that it is the farthest point of Hijr Suhayli, (the commentator of Ibn Hisham) says that according to certain exegetes it was a city in Abyssinia. It, thus, meant a far off place. It has been mentioned as Bark-al-Ghimad by Ibn Hisham (zad al-Ma’ad Vol. I, p. 342).

[2] Zad al-Ma’ad, Vol. I, pp. 342-43, Ibn Hisham,, Vol. I, p. 614. Bukhari and Muslim have also related the conversation with a little variation.

[3] A detailed account of the defensive and offensive measures taken by the Apostle of God a Badr can be seen in the Hadis-I-Dif’a by aj. General Muhammad Akbar Khan, a Pakistan general, and the Al-Rasul al-Qa’id by Mahmud Shit Khattab, the ex-Commander-in-chief of the Araqi Armed Forces.

[4] See Zad al-Ma’ad and other biographies of the Apostle. Muslim relates (in Kitab ul-Jihad wal-Siyar) on the authority of ‘Umar b. al-Khattab that “on the day of Badr when the Apostle camped wit his three hundred and nineteen companions, he turned towards the Qibla and, raising his hands, started imploring God: “O God! Grant me the help which Thou didst promise me’. O God! Grant me what Thou hast promised to me. O God! If this small group of Muslims is exterminated today, Thou wilt be worshipped on earth no more!”

[5] ‘Abdur Rahman would have expected grown up men with him to assist him in the fight.

[6] Sahihaian, The incident quoted here has been taken from Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Maghazi, see Gazwa Badr. Ibn Kathir

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