Reaction In Makkah:
The polytheists having received a large dose of disciplining and heavy defeat, fled away in great disorder in the vales and hillocks heading for Makkah panicked and too ashamed to see their people.
Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of bad tidings was Al-Haisaman bin ‘Abdullah Al-Khuza‘i. He narrated to them how their notables were killed. People there did not believe him at first and thought that he had gone mad, but soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan scene. Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith gave Abu Lahab a full account of the massacre and the disgraceful rout they sustained, with emphasis on the role that the angels played in bringing about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and gave vent to his feelings of resentment in beating, abusing and slapping Abu Rafi‘, a Muslim, but reticent on his conversion, for reiterating the role of the angels. Umm Al-Fadl, another Muslim woman, greatly exasperated by Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behaviour, struck him with a log and cracked his head. Seven days later, he died of an ominous ulcer and was left for three days unburied. His sons, however, for fear of shameful rumours, drove him to a pit and keeping their distance, hurled stones and dust at him.
The defeat was a matter of great shame and grief for the Makkans. In almost every house there were silent tears for the dead and the captives. They were burning with humiliation and were thirsting for revenge. Wailing, lamenting and crying however were decreed strictly forbidden lest the Muslims should rejoice at their affliction.
Madinah Receives The News Of Victory:
Two heralds, ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah were despatched to Madinah, to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there.
The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madinah featured different respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread news to the effect that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had been killed, and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Zaid bin Harithah was riding Al-Qaswa’, the Prophet’s she-camel. Having reached, the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory, and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious, but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allah’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on the road leading to Badr.
Usamah bin Zaid related that they received the news of the manifest victory shortly after Ruqaiyah, the Prophet’s daughter, and the wife of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan had been committed to earth. She had been terminally ill and the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had asked ‘Uthman to stay in Madinah and look after her.
Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) suspended any solution whereof until the Revelation was sent down.
‘Ubadah bin As-Samit said: “We went out with the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allah, the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others were guarding the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) and were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said: “We collected it, so no one else has any right to it.” Those who had pursued the enemy said: “You do not have more right to it than we do; we held the enemy at bay and then defeated them.” As for the men who had been guarding the Prophet (Peace be upon him), they also made similar claims to the spoils.
At that very time, a Qur’anic verse was revealed saying:
“They ask you [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allah and the Messenger.’ So fear Allah and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad (Peace be upon him)], if you are believers.” [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:1]
On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken Al-Khums (one-fifth). When they reached As-Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and ‘Uqbah bin Abi Muait, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, and harboured deep hatred towards Allah and His Messenger (Peace be upon him). In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, “Who will look after my children O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered, “The fire (of Hell).” Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Fatimah had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with his cloak if it had not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib.
At Ar-Rawha’, a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous Madinese who had come to congratulate the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on the manifest victory that Allah had granted him. Usaid bin Hudair, acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining Allah’s praise, he excused himself for not having joined them on grounds that the Prophet’s intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept a caravan of camels only, he added that if it had occurred to him that it would be real war, he would have never tarried. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) assured Usaid that he had believed him.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) now entered Madinah as a man to be counted for in a new dimension — the military field. In consequence, a large number of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, which added a lot to the strength, power and moral standing of the true religion.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.
Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab as to what he should do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying: “They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allah could guide them to Islam.” ‘Umar advised killing them, saying, “They are the leaders of Kufr (disbelief).” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr to see them weeping. He was extreme astonishment and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said that a Qur’anic verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying them:
“It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allah, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took.” [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:67, 68]
The previous Divine ordainment went as follows,
“Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom.” [Surah Muhammad, 47:4]
Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather arch criminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.
The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 Dirhamsin accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike the Madinese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed on grounds of being hard up. Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but on condition that Abul-‘As allow Zainab to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did.
In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhail bin ‘Amr. ‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but the Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned down his suggestion for fear Quraish should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allah’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sa‘d bin An-Nu‘man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.
The Battle Of Badr In Its Qur’anic Context:
The Chapter of Al-Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr, Ramadan 17th 2 A.H. It constituted a unique Divine commentary on this battle.
Allah, the All-High, in the context of this Chapter draws on major issues relating to the whole process of Islamization. Allah, here draws the attention of the Muslims to the still lingering moral shortcomings in their character. He wants them to build an integrated, purified society. He speaks about the invisible assistance he sent down to His obedient servants to enable them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid themselves of any trait of haughtiness or arrogance that might sneak in. He wants them to turn to Him for help, obey Him and His Messenger (Peace be upon him).
After that He delineated the noble objectives for which the Messenger (Peace be upon him) launched that bloody battle, and directed them to the merits and qualities that brought about the great victory. The polytheists, hypocrites, the Jews and prisoners of war were also mentioned, being admonished to surrender to the Truth and adhere to it only. The question of the spoils of war was resolved and the principles and basics relevant to this issue were clearly defined.
The laws and rules pertinent to war and peace were legalized and codified, especially at this advanced stage of the Islamic action. Allah wanted the Muslims to follow war ethics dissimilar to those of pre-Islamic practices. The Muslims are deemed to outdo the others in ethics, values and fine ideals. He wants to impress on the world that Islam is not merely a theoretical code of life, it is rather mind cultivation-orientated practical principles. In this context, He established inter and intra-state relations.
The fast of Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the year 2 A.H., appended by the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying Zakat (alms tax, poor-due) in order to alleviate the burden of the needy Emigrants.
A wonderful and striking coincidence was the establishment of Shawwal ‘Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking) directly after the manifest victory of Badr. It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of Muslims leaving their houses praying, acclaiming Allah’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favour and grace, and last but not least, the support He rendered them and through which the forces of the Truth overpowered those of evil.
“And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but He provided a safe place for you, strengthened you with His help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful.” [Surah Al-Anfal, 8:26]
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