Battle of Badr

OCTOBER 1984 BATTLE OF BADR 45 BATTLE OF BADR (Muhammad Zafrulla Khan) Space would not permit of even the briefest reference to all the precautions that the Holy Prophet took, and all the measures that he adopted, for the building up of the Muslim community, for the security of Medina, and for the ultimate triumph of the faith. By way of illustration, however, a brief account might be set out of the first battle fought out in Islam. About a year after the Emigration, intelligence began to reach the Prophet that the Meccans were preparing a strong force to advance upon Medina. Their pretext was that one of their large caravans returning from Syria was likely to be attacked by the Muslims at a point near Medina,, and that an adequate force had to proceed north to secure its safe passage. They may have been’ genuinely apprehensive concerning the caravan, in view of their declared objective of putting an end to the Prophet and the Muslims by use of force. It was a large caravan, carrying valuable merchandise and was accompanied by a sizeable armed guard. By the time the Meccan army set out on its march north, however, news arrived that the caravan had passed safely through the danger zone. Nevertheless, the Meccan army continued its march in the direction of Medina. On the side of the Muslims, permission to take up arms in defence having been accorded in Divine revelation (22:40 — 42), the Prophet assembled a force of just over three hundred Muslims from Mecca and Medina, and marched out with them. This heterogeneous body—it scarcely deserved the designation ‘force’-—-was united only by the common bond of faith and the determination to die in defence of it. It included some of the older Meccan Muslims who were good fighters, but the greater number were young men who had had little, if any, combat experience. Their devotion to the faith and their zeal in its support were their only qualifications. Ill-armed, in poor physical condition, with but two horses, and a few camels, they presented a pitiful contrast to the Meccan army, which consisted of a thousand tried warriors, well-armed, and well-mounted. THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS OCTOBER 1984 After a march of three days, the Muslims arrived at Badr and took up their position near a well. The ground underfoot was sandy and the few experienced fighters in the group were apprehensive that this would be a serious handicap during battle, as the sand would not permit easy and rapid movement. The Meccan army on its arrival took up a position opposite on firm clay soil. Night set in. The Prophet spent the greater part of it in earnest prayer and supplication. He had firm faith in every Divine promise, but he also realised fully the complete supremacy of the Divine Being and the many weaknesses that beset mortals. He prayed for success; he prayed for strength; he prayed for steadfastness for himself and those with him. Part of his prayer during that fateful night has come down to us. It reveals the core of his anxiety: Lord, if Thou wilt suffer this little band to perish, Thy Holy Name will no more be glorified on earth and there will be none left to worship Thy Majesty in true sincerity. The morning approached. There had been a shower of rain which firmed the sand underfoot while turning the clay into slippery mud, and the Muslims were comforted and encouraged. They beheld, in hope and fear, the dawn of the day which was to decide the issue of the most fateful contest ever waged in the history .of man between the forces of truth and righteousness, and those of falsehood and ignorance. The Prophet drew up his men in battle array and, leaving them with his instructions, retired again to supplicate the Divine. He was prostrate before his Lord in agony when the general fighting began. Abu Bakr approached him and put a gentle hand on his shoulder, saying: Messenger of Allah, thou hast prayed enough. The Prophet raised himself and announced that God had just given him to understand that the time had arrived for the fulfilment of the prophecy revealed sometime earlier at Mecca: The hosts shall be routed and will turn their backs in flight. Aye, the Hour is their appointed time; and the Hour will be most calamitous and most bitter (54:46). The Muslims had their backs to the rising sun, while it shone in the faces of Quraish. For a short while the advantage appeared to be with Quraish on account of the superiority of their numbers and equipment. The Holy Prophet took up a handful of gravel and sand and threw it in the direction of the enemy. Immediately a fierce gust OCTOBER 1984 BATTLE OF BADR 47 of wind began to blow gravel and sand into the faces of Quraish, which almost blinded them, and made their movements erratic and ineffective. The issue now was no longer in doubt. The flower of the chivalry of Quraish was soon left upon the field, dead and dying. Seventy, all leading men of Quraish, including Abu Jahl, were killed and an equal number taken prisoner, including the Prophet’s uncle, Abbas, and one of his sons-in-law. Of the Muslims, fourteen, six Emigrants and eight Ansar, became martyrs and no one was taken prisoner. The Prophet, while giving thanks to God for the great deliverance which He had vouchsafed, was deeply grieved that so many of Quraish had perished in pursuit of their vain purpose. There was much debate as to the fate of the prisoners. According to Arab custom, they could have been despatched immediately; but the Prophet determined that those who could offer suitable ransom would be released on payment of ransom, and those who could not offer ransom would be released as an act of grace. The ransom of such of the prisoners as were literate was fixed at teaching ten Muslim boys to read and write. When news of the catastrophe reached Mecca, there was mourning in every house. But all customary lamentations and other expressions and exhibitions of grief were forbidden by the Elders till Quraish had had time to reorganise their forces and to avenge the disastrous defeat. The profits gained by the caravan that had arrived safely in Mecca were not distributed, but were reserved for the purpose of equipping another force against the Muslims. There is no other instance in human history of such a clear and decisive Divine Sign in support of truth against falsehood. The grave disparity in all respects between the opposing forces predicated the certain and utter ruin of the weaker side. Except for the succour and grace of God, there can be no feasible explanation of the disaster that overtook Quraish. The unequal struggle would continue for another four years, but there is no doubt that the spine of the vaunted might of Quresh was effectively broken in the field of Badr. 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