The Life of Muhammad (PBUH)

By: Allama Baqir Sharif al-Qarashi

Translation by: Abdullah al-Shahin

p. 439-448


The battle of Badr had a great importance in the history of Islam, for by this battle Allah had given a great victory to the Prophet (a.s.) and his followers, honored his religion, degraded his enemies, and defeated his opponents. In fact, the battle of Badr was the beginning of the raising of the banner of Islam and the conquests of Muslims that reached everywhere.

The trade of Abu Sufyan

The economic life in Mecca depended mainly on the trading to Sham from which the merchants of Mecca brought what their people needed of necessary and luxurious goods. It happened that a great trading caravan of Abu Sufyan set out with seventy men from Quraysh. After buying all the goods needed, the caravan set out back towards Mecca. When the Prophet (a.s.), who waited for an opportunity to weaken the economic abilities of Quraysh, knew about that, he said to his companions, “Here are the camels (caravan) of Quraysh, get out for them that may Allah make you possess them.”[1]

Abu Sufyan came to know about that; therefore, he feared that Muslims might attack the caravan, kill the young men with him in the caravan, and confiscate their goods.

Abu Sufyan sought the help of Quraysh to protect him and the goods with him. He sent a messenger who arrived in Mecca in a very miserable case after he himself had cut the ears of his camel, broke its nose, and gouged out one of its eyes, and torn his own shirt crying out,

“O people of Quraysh, the caravan! The caravan! Your monies with Abu Sufyan have been attacked by Muhammad and his companions, and I see that you may not reach them…help…help!”

This call was like a thunderbolt to the people of Quraysh who were totally terrified, for they feared for their monies and for their chief Abu Sufyan and their young men with him. Therefore, all men of Quraysh hurried up to support Abu Sufyan and protect their trade.

The march of Muslims

The Prophet (a.s.) with his three hundred and five companions, who were armed with faith, set out from Medina on the eighth of Ramadan in the second year of Hijra. They had no enough weapons or equipments. They had seventy camels only that each two, three, or four men of them participated in a camel alternately. The Prophet (a.s.), Imam Ali (a.s.), and Marthad bin Abi Marthad participated in a camel. Muslims hastened to follow after Abu Sufyan and his caravan, but they were informed that he had slipped away and the people of Quraysh had come to support him and guard the caravan.

For his high morals, the Prophet (a.s.) used to consult with his companions on different matters, for Allah had said to him, “and consult with them upon the affairs.”[2] Anyhow, after knowing that Quraysh had come to support their trade, the Prophet (a.s.) consulted with his companions. Al-Miqdad bin Amr said to him, “O messenger of Allah, go on to what Allah the Almighty has inspired you with, and we will be with you. By Allah, we will not say to you as the Children of Israel said to Moses, (So go you and your Lord and fight! We will sit here”[3]but we say: go you and your Lord and fight, and we will fight with you. By Him Who has sent you with the truth, if you take us to Bark al-Ghimad,[4] we will strive with you until you win…”

The Prophet (a.s.) thanked al-Miqdad and prayed Allah for him, and then said to his companions, “Suggest to me, O people…” He meant by this the Ansar who were the pillar of his army, for they had paid homage to him in al-Aqaba that they would protect him as they protected their own children and women as long as he was in their country. He also wanted to see whether they were still bound to their covenant and promise to him. Sa’d bin Mu’ath, who understood what the Prophet (a.s.) meant, said, “O messenger of Allah, as if you mean us!”

The Prophet (a.s.) said, “Yes.”

Sa’d added, “We have believed in you and considered you truthful. We have witnessed that what you have brought is the truth and given to you for that our covenants and promises to listen and obey. Therefore, take us to whatever you want. We are with you. By Him Who has sent you with the truth, if you review us before this sea and you plunge into it, we will plunge into it with you and no one man from us will lag behind. We do never hate that you meet by us our enemy tomorrow. We are patient in war and loyal in the meeting that may Allah make you see from us what may delight you. So take us with the blessing of Allah…”

The Prophet (a.s.) was delighted by Sa’d’s speech and he said to his companions, “Go on and be delighted! Allah has promised me of one of the two parties.[5] By Allah, as if I am seeing now the deaths of the people (of Quraysh).”

And what the Prophet (a.s.) said came true; that after a few days the chiefs and the notables of Quraysh were killed and their bodies were thrown into the well.

The Prophet (a.s.) began inquiring the news of Quraysh, their place, and their numbers. He asked some of his companions, at the head of whom was Imam Ali (a.s.), to bring him the necessary information about the opponents. Imam Ali (a.s.) went out with his group and could arrest two young men from Quraysh. After questioning these two young men, the Prophet (a.s.) knew that the army of Quraysh was about nine hundred or one thousand armed men among whom were the most prominent chiefs and notables of Quraysh. Then he said to his companions, “This is Mecca that has cast to you the apples of its eye…”

Yes, Mecca sent the dearest of its people to be degraded and avenged by Allah the Almighty and be killed by the most honored men of His people and the guards of His religion.

Muslims waited for the passing of Abu Sufyan to attack him with his caravan, but he slipped away after having known the way that Muslims had followed.

Abu Sufyan sent a messenger to the people of Quraysh telling them that the trade caravan was safe and asking them to go back to Mecca. Many of them approved this suggestion, but Abu Jahl said to them, “We do not go back until we go to Badr and remain there three days. Then, we slaughter camels, have food, drink wine, and songstresses play (and sing) to us, so that the Arabs will hear about that and they will fear us.” Some men responded and remained with him and others went back to Mecca.

The Muslims stopped at the valley of Dahas which was a plain place that if they whenever wanted to leave, they could, but the people of Mecca stopped at a rough place that if they wanted to leave, they could not easily. That was from the wrath of Allah against them.

Anyhow, this place that the Prophet (a.s.) and the Muslims stopped at was not good for battling. Al-Hubab bin al-Munthir said to the Prophet (a.s.), “O messenger of Allah, has Allah the Almighty ordered you to stop at this place that you should neither exceed nor stay behind, or it is the opinion, the war, and the trick?”

The Prophet (a.s.) said, “No, but it is the opinion, the war, and the trick.”

Al-Hubab said, “O messenger of Allah, this is not a suitable place. March with the people until we reach the nearest well to the people (the opponents) to stop there. Then, we bury all the wells around that well and we build a pool around it and fill it with water. Then, we begin fighting them, and so we will have water to drink, but they won’t.” The Prophet (a.s.) approved this suggestion because an army would be most in need of water. The Prophet (a.s.) and his army marched until they reached the nearest well, and then they built a pool around it and filled it with water.

Quraysh sent Umayr bin Wahab al-Jumahi to see the number of warriors in the Muslim army. He went on his horse roving around the Muslims’ camp, and then came back saying to his people that Muslims were about three hundred a few more or a few less. Then, he went roving in the valley around them to see whether the Muslims had ambushes or aids. He came back saying to his people, “I found nothing, but, O people of Quraysh, I saw disasters bearing deaths. The camels of Yathrib carry terrible death. They are people that have no protection or a shelter except their swords. By Allah, I see that no man of them is killed except after killing a man from you. If they kill from you like their number, then what good is there in living after that?”

Yes, his insight was true. The camels of (Yathrib) Medina carried lions supplied with faith and longing for martyrdom in the way of Allah, whereas the army of Quraysh was sinking in amusement and impudence.

Utbah bin Rabee’ah advised Quraysh saying, “I see death-defying people that you shall not reach…O people, tie it to my head today and say: ‘Utba bin Rabee’a has become coward’, though you know well that I am not coward…”

Utbah, who was one of the most reasonable and aware men of his tribe, wanted to spare his people’s lives and properties. The Prophet (a.s.) looked at him while riding a red camel and said to his companions, “If there is goodness in one of the people (of Quraysh), it shall be in the man of the red camel; if they obey him, they will be saved…”

Abu Jahl said, “We will not go back until Allah will judge between us and Muhammad…it is not as what Utbah said, but he saw that Muhammad and his companions eat fat camels (or sheep) and that his son is with them, so he feared from you for him (his son).”

However, Quraysh did not turn to reason, but they insisted on fighting the Prophet (a.s.) who said to his companions, “By him in Whose hand the soul of Muhammad is, no man of you fights them and is killed patiently, expecting (the reward of Allah), attacking and not running away, except that Allah will take him to the Paradise…” These words inspired power, determination, and activeness in them and made them rush most determinedly to fight the enemies of Allah.

The battle

The fight began on Friday morning, the seventeenth of Ramadan in the second year of Hijrah (15th of January, 624 AD). It was Quraysh that opened the door of the war when Utbah bin Rabee’ah, Shaybah, and al-Waleed, who were from the famous heroes of Quraysh, advanced to challenge. Young men from the Ansar advanced, but Utbah disdained them and was occupied with haughtiness that he said, “We do not want these, but we want our cousins from the children of Abdul Muttalib to duel with us.”

The Prophet (a.s.) ordered Imam Ali (a.s.) (his cousin), Hamza (his uncle), and Ubaydah (his cousin) to advance for the fight. The men of Quraysh accepted and the fight began. Hamza killed Shayba, Imam Ali killed al-Waleed, and Ubaydah and Utbah struck each other. Ubaydah’s leg was cut and Utba was killed after Imam Ali (a.s.) and Hamza hastened to support Ubaydah. The hearts of Quraysh were filled with rage and terror that their heroes were killed at the beginning.

The Prophet (a.s.) raised his hands towards his Lord praying, “O Allah, this is (the tribe of) Quraysh that has come with its arrogance trying to falsify Your messenger. O Allah, (grant to me) Your victory that You have promised to me. O Allah, if this group (of Muslims) perishes today, You shall be not worshipped…”

The two armies clashed; the Prophet’s companions strived to support Allah, His messenger, and the Word of Islam, whereas the men of Quraysh strived to support their idols and bad habits. However, Allah cast terror and fear in the hearts of the men of Quraysh and the Muslims’ swords began harvesting their heads one after the other.

Imam Ali (a.s.) showed indescribable courage in this battle though too young. He was the striking power in the Muslim army that penetrated the army of the polytheists and killed whoever met him. The angels were astonished at his courage and Gabriel called out in the space, “No sword except Thul Faqar,[6] and no young man except Ali.”[7]

Allah granted the great victory in this battle to His messenger; honored him and degraded his enemies and made their bodies scatter here and there in the battlefield surrounded by curse and lasting disgrace. From the chiefs of Quraysh that were killed in this battle were Abu Jahl, by whose killing the Prophet (a.s.) was delighted and said: “It is Allah that there is no god but Him”, Umayyah bin Khalaf, who was the head of disbelief and the most excessive in torturing the first Muslims especially Bilal, an-Nadhr bin al-Harith, who was one of the most spiteful polytheists to Islam, Utbah bin Rabee’ah, who was the most hostile to the Prophet (a.s.), and Shayba bin Rabee’a. Most of the men of Quraysh, who were killed in this battle, were killed by the sword of Imam Ali (a.s.) who killed more than thirty-four men from the heroes and famous warriors of Mecca.

The Prophet (a.s.) ordered the carcasses of the polytheists to be thrown in the well, and then he stopped at the well and said addressing the killed ones,

“O people of the well! O Utbah bin Rabee’ah, O Shaybah bin Rabee’ah, O Umayyah bin Khalaf, O Abu Jahl bin Hisham… (he mentioned the names of some of them who were excessive in harming him), have you found really what your god had promised you? I have found really what my Lord had promised me.”

The Prophet’s companions were astonished why the Prophet (a.s.) talked to the dead, and he replied to them, “You are not more listening to what I say than them, but they cannot reply to me.”

In another narration, it has been mentioned that the Prophet (a.s.) said to the killed people in the well, “O people of the well, the worst tribe to your prophet you were; you denied me while (other) people believed me, exiled me while people sheltered me, and fought me while people supported me.”

Seventy men from Quraysh were taken prisoners, some of whom were set free after paying ransom that was four thousand dirhams. The Prophet (a.s.) ordered those, who could not pay the ransom and who knew writing and reading, to teach the children of Muslims writing and reading instead of the ransom. The Prophet (a.s.) ordered his companions to be kind to the prisoners and to treat them very well.

The results of battle

The battle of Badr left very important results to Muslims. Here are some of them:

1. The prevalence of Islam

After the battle of Badr, Islam prevailed and Muslims became so powerful morally and materially. This battle was the mother of victories that encouraged Muslims to face courageously the severest wars that their enemies waged against them. It is worth mentioning that when the battle of Badr came to an end, Imam Ali (a.s.) was the real hero that by his sword he harvested the heads of evil and polytheism.

2. The fear of Quraysh

The victory of Muslims in the battle of Badr caused a wave of fear and terror in the hearts of the people of Quraysh and the polytheists of the Arabs. Since the tribe of Quraysh was the strongest of the Arabs in power and all other abilities and it was defeated by Muslims, so the other Arab tribes became certain that they would not be able to stand against the Muslims.

3. The sorrow of Quraysh

Quraysh felt great sorrow for the great loss in men and in properties. They concealed their sorrows for fear that the Muslims might rejoice at that. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan and mother of Mo’awiya, said addressing her sons, brothers, and other relatives who were killed in this battle, “How can I weep for you that it may reach Muhammad and his companions and so they will rejoice at our loss? No by Allah, until I revenge on Muhammad and his companions. Make-up is impermissible to me until we shall attack Muhammad.” Abu Sufyan also swore that he would never sleep with his wife (until they would avenge).[8] Their poets composed many poems full of deep sorrow and sadness elegizing in them their killed men.

4. The delight of Muslims

On the other hand, the Muslims were joyful and delighted by this great victory in this battle where Allah affirmed their religion and disgraced their enemies. Many of their poets composed famous poems on this occasion.

[1] As spoils of war after fighting the polytheists in the caravan.
[2] Qur’an, 3:159.
[3] Qur’an, 5:24.
[4] A very far place in Yemen or it is also said in Abyssinia.
[5] Either to obtain the camels with their goods or to fight the polytheists and win the victory.
[6] The name of Imam Ali’s famous sword given to him by the Prophet (a.s.) that Gabriel had brought down from the heaven as traditions mention.
[7] Kanzol Ummal, vol. 3 p. 154.
[8] Encyclopedia of Imam Ameerul Mo’minin Ali bin Abi Talib, vol. 2 p. 20.

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