Reason Of The Battle:
We have already spoken about Al-‘Ushairah Invasion when a caravan belonging to Quraish had escaped an imminent military encounter with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his men. When their return from Syria approached, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) despatched Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullah and Sa‘id bin Zaid northward to scout around for any movements of this sort. The two scouts stayed at Al-Hawra’ for some days until Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, passed by them. The two men hurried back to Madinah and reported to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) their findings. Great wealth amounting to 50 thousand gold Dinars guarded by 40 men moving relatively close to Madinah constituted a tempting target for the Muslim military, and provided a potentially heavy economic, political and military strike that was bound to shake the entire structure of the Makkan polytheists.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) immediately exhorted the Muslims to rush out and waylay the caravan to make up for their property and wealth they were forced to give up in Makkah. He did not give orders binding to everyone, but rather gave them full liberty to go out or stay back, thinking that it would be just an errand on a small scale.
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Emigrants, 61 from Aws and 170 from Khazraj. They were not well-equipped nor adequately prepared. They had only two horses belonging to Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad Al-Kindi, 70 camels, one for two or three men to ride alternatively. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) himself, ‘Ali and Murthid bin Abi Murthid Al-Ghanawi had only one camel. Disposition of the affairs of Madinah was entrusted to Ibn Umm Maktum but later to Abu Lubabah bin ‘Abdul Mundhir. The general leadership was given to Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-Qurashi Al-‘Abdari, and their standard was white in colour. The little army was divided into two battalions, the Emigrants with a standard raised by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and the Helpers whose standard was in the hand of Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh. Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam was appointed to the leadership of the right flank, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr to lead the left flank, and the rear of the army was at the command of Qais bin Abi Sa‘sa‘ah. The General Commander-in-Chief was the Prophet (Peace be upon him), of course.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him), at the head of his army, marched out along the main road leading to Makkah. He then turned left towards Badr and when he reached As-Safra’, he despatched two men to scout about for the camels of Quraish.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already been aware that the route he was following was attended with dangers. He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad (Peace be upon him). His scouting men submitted to him reports to the effect that the Muslims were lying in ambush for his caravan. To be on the safe side, he hired Damdam bin ‘Amr Al-Ghifari to communicate a message asking for help from the Quraishites. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah in frenzy. Felling himself from his camel, he stood dramatically before Al-Ka‘bah, cut off the nose and the ears of the camel, turned its saddle upside down, tore off his own shirt from front and behind, and cried: “O Quraish! Your merchandise! It is with Abu Sufyan. The caravan is being intercepted by Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his companions. I cannot say what would have happened to them. Help! Help!”
The effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous and the news stunned Quraish and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when the Muslims had intercepted Al-Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly mustered almost all of their forces and none stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who delegated someone who owed him some money. They also mobilized some Arab tribes to contribute to the war against the Prophet (Peace be upon him). All the clans of Quraish gave their consent except Banu ‘Adi. Soon an excited throng of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600 mailed soldiers with a large number of camels, was clamouring to proceed to fight the Muslims. For food supplies, they used to slaughter an alternate number of camels of ten and nine every day. They were however afraid that Banu Bakr, on account of old long deep-seated animosity, would attack their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the guise of Suraqa bin Malik bin Ju‘sham Al-Mudlaji — chief of Bani Kinana — saying to them: “I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind.”
They set out burning with indignation, motivated by a horrible desire for revenge and exterminating anyone that might jeopardize the routes of their caravans:
“…boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the path of Allah”. [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:47]
Or as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“O Allah these are the haughty and conceited; they have come defying Allah and defying His Messenger.”
They moved swiftly northward to Badr. On the way they received another message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan had escaped the Muslims. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and inclined it towards the Red Sea. By this manoeuvre, he was able to slip past the Madinese ambush and was out of their reach.
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however haughtily and arrogantly insisted that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for making festivities. Now they wanted to punish the Muslims and prevent them from intercepting their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that Quraish still had the upper hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence notwithstanding, Banu Zahrah, acting on the advice of Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq, broke away and returned to Makkah. Thenceforth Al-Akhnas remained ‘the well-rubbed palm tree’ for Bani Zahrah and was blindly obeyed in all relevant matters.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats made them desist from that idea.
The rest of the army, now 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped themselves beyond a sand dune at Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa.
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madinese army reported to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that a bloody encounter with the Makkans was inescapable, and that a daring step in this context had to be taken, or else the forces of evil would violate the inviolable and would consequently manage to undermine the noble cause of the Islam and tread upon its faithful adherents. The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start the war activities within the headquarters of Islam, Madinah. A move of such nature would certainly damage and produce an infamous impact on the dignity and stance of the Muslims.
On account of the new grave developments, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) held an advisory military emergency meeting to review the ongoing situation and exchange viewpoints with the army leaders. Admittedly, some Muslims feared the horrible encounter and their courage began to waver; in this regard, Allah says:
“As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad [Peace be upon him) ] to go out from your home with the Truth, and verily, a party among the believers disliked it, disputing with you concerning the Truth after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death while they were looking (at it).” [Surah Anfal, 8:5, 6]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) apprised his men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice. Abu Bakr was the first who spoke on the occasion and assured the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of the unreserved obedience to his command. ‘Umar was the next to stand up and supported the views expressed by his noble friend.
Then Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr got up and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! Proceed where Allah directs you to, for we are with you. We will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses (Peace be upon him):
“Go you 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.”
By Allah! If you were to take us to Bark Al-Ghimad, we will still fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) thanked him and blessed him.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Emigrants, who only constituted a minor section of the army. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) wanted, and for the more reason, to hear the Helpers’ view because they were the majority of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the brunt of the war activities. Moreover, the clauses of Al-‘Aqabah Pledge did not commit them to fighting beyond their territories.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) then said: “Advise me my men!” by which he meant the Helpers, in particular. Upon this Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh stood up and said: “By Allah, I feel you want us (the Helpers) to speak.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) directly said: “Oh, yes!” Sa‘d said:
“O Prophet of Allah! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have vouchsafed to us and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice. 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 plunge into the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not grudge 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 valour which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allah.”
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was impressed with the fidelity and the spirit of sacrifice which his companions showed at this critical juncture. Then he said to them:
“Forward and be of cheer, for Allah has promised me one of the two (the lucrative course through capturing the booty or strife in the cause of Allah against the polytheists), and by Allah it is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate.”
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