The battle of Badr is the first major battle in the history of Islam. It is the legendary account of 313 brave and courageous companions of the Holy Prophet ﷺ standing against the tyranny of their 1300 enemies on the 17th of Ramadan.
Outwardly the battle of Badr appeared a lost hope for the Muslims, but they were true devotees possessing sincere faith and conviction in the power and help of Allah ﷻ. They practiced the deen and applied the Sunnah with great devotion and commitment. In these circumstances, a group of few were divinely helped to victory by Allah Azwajjal. The battle of Badr is a truly epic reminder for the Ummah of today. If we expect divine help, then we too must become serious and committed believers.
Background to the Battle of Badr
Despite our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ migrating from his homeland of Makkah to blessed Madinah, the enemies of Quraysh continued to harbour hatred towards Islam and its followers. They were angry and jealous of the increasing power and influence of Islam emanating from Madinah and so they secretly planned with polytheists in Madinah to revolt against the Muslims. They hatched several plans and used to send threatening letters to ﷺ in his new home.
Revelation regarding battle
At this critical situation with the Quraysh intending to pursue aggressive action against the Muslims Allah ﷻ sent permission to take arms against the believers:
﴿أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَـتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُواْ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ ﴾
“(Permission (to fight) is given to those (believers) fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, Allah is able to give them victory.)”
The Muslims therefore decided to bring the commercial routes leading to Makkah under their control to demonstrate their strength and to deter the enemies from battling them.
A few pre-Badr missions took place without any real conflict but then in Rajab 2 AH, ﷺ dispatched Abdullah bin Jahsh to Nakhlah with twelve Muhajir companions and six camels. He was ordered to intercept a caravan of Quraysh and collect news about their intentions. During this mission one of the Qurayshi was killed.
Then after this event the Quraysh realised that the Muslims in Madinah were a real threat but they were too stubborn to try and make peace with the Muslims. They were determined to try and bring the collapse of Islam. Then in Shaban, Alllah ﷻ sent a command to go to war to the Muslims.
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.
And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.
And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah . But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors”.
The size and strength of the Muslim Army
On average there were approximately:
- 313 companions in the Muslim army
- They only had 2 horses
- 70 camels
The Muslim army was poorly equipped and not particular well prepared for military engagement. They carried the white flag and the Beloved Prophet ﷺ was the general commander of the entire army. The Muslim army may have been deficient in supplies but were in no way short of spirit and drive to confront the enemy. The Muslim army moved towards Badr.
Quraysh hasten for war
The Quraysh were warned of the possible ambush and were ready to take revenge and they all setoff. The Quraysh took:
- 1300 soldiers
- 100 horsemen
- 600 soldiers in metal armour
- Large number of camels
A meeting for consultation
Because of the new grave development ﷺ held an advisory military emergency meeting to review the ongoing situation and exchange views with army leaders. ﷺ appraised the men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice.
Abu Bakr RA spoke first and assured ﷺ of their unreserved obedience to his command. Umar RA was next confirming their obedience.
Then Miqdad bin Amr RA said “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Proceed where Allah directs you to, for we are with you”. We will not say as the children of Israel said to Moses – “Go and your Lord and fight and we will stay here” rather we shall say: “Go you and your Lord and fight and we will fight along with you”.
The three people that had spoken were from the Emigrants and ﷺ wanted to hear from the Ansaris.
Rasoolallah ﷺ said “O people! Advise me!” but he inferred he meant he wanted to hear from the Madinese. Then Sa’d bin Mu’adh RA said “By Allah, I feel you want us the Ansaris to speak”. And then Sa’d went on to say:
“O Prophet of Allah ﷺ! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have granted to us and we declare in clear terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We will obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by Allah, Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to throw ourselves into the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not deny the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that Allah will show you through our hands those deeds of bravery which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allah”.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was impressed with the loyalty and the spirit of sacrifice with his Companions showed at this critical point.
Then ﷺ said: “Move ahead and receive good news, for Allah has promised me one of the two (the rewarding course through capturing the booty or strife in the cause of Allah against the polytheists) and by Allah it is as if I now see the enemy lying prostrate”.
Night before the battle commences
During the night the companions slept whilst Rasoolallah ﷺ spent the night in prayer asking Allah ﷻ for his help and mercy. It is reported that ﷺ said:
“Be of good cheer, Abu Bakr; the help of Allah has come to thee. Here is Jibreel and in his hand is the rein of a horse which he is leading, and he is armed for war”
Battle ready to commence
Then the battle was ready the commence. The Quraysh travelled and stopped in a distance where they indicated they were ready for battle.
Quraysh offer of a triple duel
Then Utbah who was still being taunted by Abu Jahl stepped up from the ranks and gave a challenge for single combat – 1-2-1 duel. In his honour his brother Shaybah and his son Walid stood beside him for honour. The challenge was accepted by Awf RA of Ansar and his brother and another Sahaba.
When the three went for the duel Utbah said our problem is not with you, the people of Madinah. He said we want the people who are from us, the Quraysh to fight us. Then Utbah shouted to ﷺ to send the people from Quraysh.
Rasoolallah ﷺ decided that his family should duel as it was their responsibility above all. ﷺ chose Hamza RA to fight Shaybah, Ali RA to fight Walid and Ubaydah RA who was the oldest and most experienced in the army to fight Utbah. It was a 3 on 3 fight.
Ali RA and Hamza RA very quickly killed their opponents. Ubaydah RA was still fighting Utbah. Ubaydah RA struck Utbah to the ground but Utbah severed one of Ubaydah RA legs. Then whilst Utbah was on the floor Hamza RA and Ali RA struck the killing blow. They then carried Ubaydah RA to the camp. He was losing great quantities of blood but the only question on his mind was, was he a martyr. He asked this to ﷺ and ﷺ replied yes indeed you are.
Then there was stillness and quiet. But not for long as Quraysh shot an arrow and a freedman of Umar RA fell to the ground. A second arrow pierced the throat of Harithah bin Suraqah RA, a young companion as he was drinking at the water well. Then ﷺ encouraged his men by saying:
“By Him in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad ﷺ, no man will be slain this day, fighting against them in steadfast hope of his reward, advancing not retreating, but Allah shall straightaway enter him into Paradise”
Whoever heard this dropped whatever they were doing, took their swords in readiness of the command. Rasoolallah ﷺ then gave the order of charge: Ya Mansur Amit “O those who are victorious. Slay!”. Then the soldiers chanting this charged on to meet the enemy
Miracles at Badr 1
At one point when the Quraysh were at their highest point a sword of one of the Muslims broke. He went to ask ﷺ for another weapon. ﷺ gave him a wooden club saying fight with this. He took it and brandished it. It became in his hand a long strong gleaming sword. This sahaba fought with it for the rest of Badr and in all other battles – it was named ‘Al Awn’ which means Divine Help.
Miracles at Badr 2
The angels fought alongside the Sahaba. Rasoolallah ﷺ had been promised “I will help you with a thousand of the angels, troop on troop”. The angels had also been given a divine message:
“When thy Lord revealed unto the angels: Lo,I am with you, so make firm the believers. I shall cast terror into their hearts of the disbelievers. It is for you to strike off their heads, and to smite their every finger”.
The presence of the angels was felt. It was only visible or audible in different degrees to the different sahaba. One of the believers was pursuing a man of the enemy and the mans head flew from his body before he could reach him, struck off by an unseen hand. Some saw angels riding on horses hooves didn’t touch the ground. Angel Gibreel led wearing a yellow turban. The other angels wore white turbans.
Most of Quraysh retreated and escaped. 50 approx were mortally wounded or killed outright. 50 approx were taken captive. In terms of the Muslims, none were captured but 14 were martyred.
After the battle
As so many Quraysh soldiers had come the Muslims were still concerned that they might turn back again to fight so they kept guard and were on alert. Then a few select companions went to speak to ﷺ about the captive.
Of them Umar RA and Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh RA were of the view that the captives should be killed because of the actions and abuse against the Muslims. Abu Bakr RA preferred that they were kept alive – perhaps they may become Muslim he thought. Rasoolallah ﷺ inclined towards that view.
Later in the day when Umar RA returned to ﷺ shelter he saw that ﷺ and Abu Bakr RA were crying on account of a revelation that had come and a message for the captives:
“O Prophet ﷺ, say unto those captives who are in your hands: If God knoweth any good in your hearts, He will give you better than that which hath been taken from you, and He will forgive you. Verily God is Forgiving, Merciful”.
Despite these idolaters had fought in earnest against ﷺ Allah Ta’la was still ready to show them his mercy.
The arch-enemy of Islam – Abu Jahl in Badr
There was one enemy who the Muslims wanted to know about – Abu Jahl. Rasoolallah ﷺ gave orders for his body to be searched for in the battlefield. Abdullah ibn Masud RA went out to look for him. When he found him Abu Jahl was lying on the ground but Abu Jahl still had enough life to recognise the enemy.
Abu Jahl had abused Abdullah ibn Masud RA who came from a poor background in Makkah, even hitting him in the previous days.
Abdullah RA put his foot on the neck of Abu Jahl. Even though Abu Jahl couldn’t even move his body he still had the arrogance to still be abusive “O worthless shepherd, you have stood upon a very strong mount” – talking about himself.
Then he asked how the battle went and he told him that Allah and his Rasool ﷺ won.
Abu Jahl in his remaining moments, in total pain and agony knowing he is going to die said: “Tell your Prophet that I have hated him all my life, and even now, the fire of hatred is burning fiercely in my heart”.
Then Abdullah ibn Masud struck off his head and took it to ﷺ. Rasoolallah ﷺ and companions were pleased at the death of Abu Jahl and ﷺ described him as the Pharoah of his times
There was one young companion, Harithah ibn Suraqah RA, who had been killed by an arrow by the enemies before the battle had commenced, he was one of the early martyrs in the battle.
His mother was concerned whether his death would also be included as a martyr as it was before the battle commenced and she asked ﷺ “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ, please tell me about Harithah, if he is in paradise I may bear my loss with patience, and if not then I can weep for him”.
Rasoolallah ﷺ said: “Mother of Harithah, in paradise are amy gardens, and verily your son has attained all the highest of them, Jannatul Firdaws”.
Abbas, the uncle of ﷺ was one of the captives. The Ansar were related by lineage and asked ﷺ if they could release Abbas without taking a ransom. Rasoolallah ﷺ declined and said no, you will not even forego a single dirham.
Then ﷺ told his uncle that you are a rich man, ransom yourself and your two nephews Aqil and Nawfal. Abbas responded saying “I was already a Muslim, but the people of Quraysh made me fight with them”. ﷺ said “About your Islam, Allah knows best, if what you are saying is the truth, Allah will reward you. But outwardly you have fought against us, so pay the ransom”
Then Abbas replied saying he had no money. Rasoolallah ﷺ said: “where is the money you left with Umm Fadl (Abbas’ wife)? You two were alone when you said to her ‘If I am killed then this is for our sons”’.
It was only then that faith truly entered into heart of Abbas RA.
Abbas RA said:
“By Him who sent you the truth, nobody knew of this but Umm Fadl and I. Now I know that you are the Messenger of Allah”.
Outwardly the battle of Badr appeared a lost hope for the Muslims, 313 vs 1300! But, the Muslims were real devotees and possessed sincere faith and conviction in the power and help of Allah ﷻ. They practiced the deen and applied the Sunnah with great devotion and commitment. In these circumstances, a group of few were divinely helped to victory by Allah Azwajjal.
We too can hope to receive the divine help of Allah ﷻ in whatever difficulty and challenge we are facing, personal trial or across the tribulations facing the Ummah.
But first we must individually become the true lovers and followers of Rasoolallah ﷺ, Allah ﷻ and Islam. It is only then that we will receive the help of Allah Almighty.
If you wish to help the Ummah, your community, your family or yourself, then begin at the micro level. Begin with you! Inshallah, then day by day you will see a change and will be able to strengthen your community by servicing them with their needs and that of humanity as a whole.
If you wish to make a change then why not begin your FREE personal journey with Prophetic-Path.com where a real change can be made today.