The Battle of Badr played a significant role in Islamic history and turned out to be a major event for Muslims where they defeated a much powerful Quraysh army against all odds. Muslims were driven out from their homes in Makkah after being persecuted. It was first of the great battles of Islam where believers were put to a real test during the battle.
History of the Battle of Badr (Jung-e-Badr)
The Battle of Badr was fought on the 17th of Ramadan in 2 Hijri or 624 AD about 50 miles south-west of Madina. This spot was near the point where Madina-Syria caravan route was located at that time and wound its way through difficult terrain. This spot was where a group of 313 Muslims led by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) met and defeated a much powerful and well-armed army of Quraish of Makkah against all odds with the help of Allah (SWT).
The battle came in the wake of the worst kind of persecution of Muslims in Makkah. After patiently enduring hardship, tyranny and oppression for thirteen years, Muslims had to abandon their homes and other possessions to migrate to Medina. The exiled Makkan Muslims were welcomed by their friends in Madinah and they grew to be a God-fearing community. However, they were always in danger of being attacked by their Pagan neighbour in Medina. Makkan forces wanted to gather all the resources and annihilate the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions with an overwhelming force. Muslims learnt about the plan which ultimately became the cause of the battle of Badr.
Abu Sufyan, the leader of Quraish was leading a richly laden caravan from Syria to Makkah and asked for armed aid from Makkah. There were two alternatives before Muslims- to have them attacked by Makkan forces or fall upon the caravan returning from Syria with 40 men. The other alternative that was adopted by the Prophet (PBUH) was to leave the booty alone and fight against the powerful and well-equipped army of 1,000 men from Makkah and defeat it which would shake the proud and selfish autocracy of Mecca.
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Importance of the Battle of Badr in Islam
The battle of Badr was the first of the great battles of Islam and its importance is huge in Islamic history. It was the first step for the Prophet’s struggle against the Makkan oppressors, an event after which Muslims felt free to make rapid advances. Battle of Badr proved to be the first test to the new and emerging organisation founded by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). He was aware of the importance of the outcome of the battle and one can understand the depth of his anxiety in his prayer before the beginning of the battle when he supplicated to Allah (SWT):
“God this is Quraish. It has come with all its arrogance and boastfulness, trying to discredit Thy Apostle. God, I ask Thee to humiliate them tomorrow. God, if this Muslim band will perish today, Thou shall not be worshipped.”
Therefore, the magnitude of the victory at Badr was quite significant and far-reaching. It gave the establishment of the Islamic State of Madina the much-needed confidence and strength to stand on its own at a time when the Prophet (PBUH) was near to losing all hopes. The victory gave a severe blow to pagan Makkah.
What Happened in the Battle of Badr?
Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an regarding the Battle of Badr:
“Indeed Allah assisted you at Badr when you were weak, so be careful (to your duty) to Allah so that you may be of the thankful ones. When you said to the believers ‘Does it not suffice you that your Lord should assist you with three thousand angels sent down.” (Qur’an, 3:123)
The two armies met at the Valley of Badr on 17th of Ramadan, 2 AH. At the beginning of the battle, single combat (one to one) took place according to the Arab customs. The famous Quraysh warriors Utbah, Shayba and Walid challenged three warriors from Madinah but refused to fight any of the ‘Ansars’, demanding their ‘equals’ and so the Prophet (PBUH) sent Ubayda, Hamza and Ali (RA). The three Kuffar were killed and others began attacking en-masse. The Prophet prayed to Allah and He answers in Surat Al-Anfal:
“When you asked for help from your Lord, He answered you. Indeed I will aid you with a thousand of the angels in rows behind rows.” (Qur’an, 8:9)
The Quraysh got frightened seeing Muslims fighting with so much courage and began to retreat. They were surprised by the skill of Muslim soldiers under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the sight of so many angels struck terror in their hearts. A total of Seventy-two Kuffar were killed including their leader Abu Jahl. Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) alone killed 36 of them. Fourteen Muslims were martyred in the battle while seventy prisoners were taken by the Muslims.
The prisoners were treated with kindness and dignity, and some eventually accepted Islam. The rich prisoners paid a ransom and were set free while others were asked to earn their freedom by teaching 10 Muslims how to read and write. Some of the prisoners in their later days said:
“Blessed be the men of Madinah, they made us ride whilst they walked, they gave us wheat and bread to eat when there was little of it contenting themselves with plain dates.”
Facts About the Battle of Badr
- It took place on the 17th of Ramadan, two years after the Prophet (PBUH) migrated to Madinah.
- Badr is located 93 miles from Madinah and takes over 1 hr and 45 minutes to reach Badr by car.
- Battle of Badr is mentioned in the Quran several times.
3:123 – “Allah helped you at Badr when you were very weak. Be mindful of Allah, so that you may be grateful.”
3:124 – “Remember when you said to the believers, ‘Will you be satisfied if your Lord reinforces you by sending down three thousand angels?”
3:125 – “Well, if you are steadfast and mindful of Allah, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand swooping angels if the enemy should suddenly attack you!”
3:126 – “and Allah arranged it so, as a message of hope for you [believers] to put your hearts at rest- help comes only from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise”
- Muslims were outnumbered by a ratio of 1:3. Uthman (RA) was unable to take part in the battle of Badr as he was instructed by the Prophet (PBUH) to take care of his sick wife Ruqayyah (RA) who is also the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH).
Ibn ‘Umar (RA) narrates:
“Uthman did not join the Badr battle because he was married to one of the daughters of Allah’s messenger and she was ill. So, the Prophet (PBUH) said to him. “You will get a reward and a share (from the war booty) similar to the reward and the share of one who has taken part in the Badr battle.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
- 3,000 angels helped Muslims to achieve victory over the Quraysh who were better equipped in terms of weapons and strength.
- Over 14 companions were martyred in the battle whose names are listed at the site of the battle. Many were taken as prisoners of war by the Muslims who were later ransomed. The prisoners were treated with dignity and respect.
Jâbir (RA) relates:
“After the Battle of Badr, prisoners of war were brought. Among them was al-`Abbas. He did not have a shirt on, so the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) looked for a shirt for him. It turned out that a shirt of `Abdullah b. `Ubayy was the right size, so the Prophet gave it to al-`Abbas to wear and compensated `Abdullah with his own shirt.” (Sahih Bukhari)
- Allah (SWT) promised the victory to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
- Quraish lost the sword contest at the hands of Hamza, Ali and Ubaydah ibn Al-Harith (peace and blessing be upon them all).
Five Major Lessons from the Battle of Badr
- Victory is only from Allah. After the victory of Battle of Badr, Allah reminded the Muslims that victory is alone from Allah and it was only through His will, they were victorious.
- Never undermine your prayers as Allah answers to all your prayers. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prayed immensely for Allah’s support during the battle and He answered it.
- Allah is all-powerful and by his decree, 3000 Angels descended from Heaven to assist the Muslim army in Ghazwa-e-Badr.
- Muslim Ummah proved victorious because of their ability to stand firm and steadfast in their faith and stayed united. The Quraish proved frail after being misled by Satan.
And [remember] when Satan made their deeds pleasing to them and said, “No one can overcome you today from among the people, and indeed, I am your protector.” But when the two armies sighted each other, he turned on his heels and said, “Indeed, I am disassociated from you. Indeed, I see what you do not see; indeed I fear Allah. And Allah is severe in penalty.” (Quran 8:48)