17th of Ramadan, the historic Badr Day
Among all the battles that took place between Muslims and their enemies throughout the centuries, the most important is the Battle of Badr, because of its historic importance and decisive nature. If the Muslims had failed in Badr, then there would have perhaps remained no Muslims to recite the name of Allah and follow the Deen. According to the enemies of Islam, the battle of Badr was a battle to destroy the newly developing religion and eliminate it for ever. The battle of Badr is also special for the fact that our Prophet (pbuh) took the role of the commander for the first time in his mission to spread the message of Islam. Thirdly, the battle was an example whereby Allah showed how he helps his beloved slaves towards victory with unseen help.
The place called ‘Badr’
The battle of Badr occurred on the 17th of Ramadan of 2nd Hijri. I hope that the Muslim society will discuss about the battle of Badr on the 17th of Ramadan, offer duas and ask for forgiveness for the hearts of the martyrs of Badr, who gave their lives for Islam. Badr is the name of a place to the north of Makkah, and the south-west of Madina. Almost 1431 or 1432 years ago, the routes of the trading caravans which traded with the Quraysh of Makkah used to pass through the area of Badr.
The context of the battle: Thoughts of the Makkans
After the Prophet (pbuh)’s Hijrah from Makkah to Madina, he worked to establish the city as the headquarters of a new state, civilization, culture and religion. Seeing this, the Makkans became both amazed and worried, and began to hatch plots to bring him down. They thought, we were able to keep Muhammad (SAW) in check when he was in Makkah, but he has started to preach Islam anew in Madina. If this continues unchecked, then the people of Madina will become a threat to Makah. Therefore, it was better to nip the bud in its early stages.
The context of the battle: Thoughts of the Madinians
On the other hand, Madina had become a centre for Islam and the base for the Islamic state was rapidly spreading but the Prophet (SAW) and his companions knew that they had not become free from the threat of Makkah, and were not powerful enough to challenge it. Thus it was necessary to build up strength and there was no better way than to challenge the Islam. Due to these thoughts on both sides, a battle was inevitable between the two states. Moreover, specific directives had come from Allah to get ready to fight.
Finally, a group of Muslims under the direction of Rasulullah (SAW) went out of Madina, their mission being to apprehend and seize the caravan of the Quraysh which was on course to return to Makkah from Syria. So, they lay in waiting for the caravan to pass, but the caravan received news of the Muslims beforehand, and changed their course to bypass the Muslim army. On the other hand, they had called upon the Quraysh to bring an army to protect the caravan, which the Quraysh did. This led to both armies meeting at the plains of Badr, where they both learnt of the presence of each other. The stand of the Muslims was at the place of the water well at Badr, and the non-believers were cut off from water supplies and sources. The hilly area beside he well was used as the headquarters for the Muslim army, and the Prophet’s tent was set there as well. Although the Badr plains were flat, it was surrounded by hilly areas on three sides.
Battle area and surroundings
A description of the battle area and surroundings would show that the sun was in the faces of the Muslims, and behind the enemy camp. Moreover, the ground of the Muslims was higher and softer, while the enemy was on firmer ground. But what happened due to this positioning? Dear reader, imagine that we are also there with the Prophet’s army. It’s the night of the 16th of Ramadan and going to be the 17th the next day. Amidst the tension surrounding the battle, the Prophet himself is praying to the Almighty. He is crying and saying, “O Allah, your help tomorrow is a necessity for us. We cannot win this battle without your help. If we lose, there may be nobody to worship you left on this earth. So please decide as you are the One who decides. We will fight until the last drop of our blood and sacrifice our lives. We want to establish Your way of life on this earth. Please grant us victory. We beseech You.” This heartfelt plea resonated with Allah, and he sent Jibrael (AS) to the Prophet (AS) to assure that help would be forthcoming, and that the Muslims should prepare and fight steadfastly.
Multiple instances of miraculous aid
Allah declared his help for Muslims in Ayat 9 of surah Anfal. There was rain that night in the desert, which is an extraordinary event; it helped the Muslims and softened and muddied the ground of the enemy. The Muslims had firmer ground and the rain brought them blessed sleep to reinvigorate themselves. Another miracle that Allah manifested was that the enemy, when they looked at the Muslim camp, saw it to be much larger than it really was; this made them worried. The Muslims, when they saw the enemy camp, saw it to be much small, and they felt emboldened they would win next day. This infused courage into the hearts of Muslims and they felt they could win the next day. On the next day, when the battle started, three people from each side battled each other and the Muslims won. After the open battle started, Muslims fought fiercely with spears, swords, and other weapons. Allah sent down help in the form of angels to aid the Muslim army, which could not be seen, but whose aid in battle could be felt, as per the testimony of many of the Sahaba.
At another point of the battle, Jibrael was sent to the prophet to tell him to take a handful of dust and blow it towards the faces of the enemy, which he did. Dear readers, the act is really intriguing, as we see tis in children’s play often. How far would a handful of dust go? But on that day, with Allah’s help, the fistful dust went far and clogged the faces and noses of many among the enemy. The effect of this is described in the Quran, where it is said that Allah himself was the real thrower of that sand, and describes the adverse effect it had on the enemy. This help of Allah cannot be seen by the eye, but it can be felt, and that is the miraculous help accorded to the Muslims.
The participation of the Shaytan Iblees
Iblees had also participated that day in the form of Suraaqa with the enemy. But when he saw the angels of Allah helping the Muslims, he turned on his back and fled the battlefield. A man from among the non-believers cied ot, “O Suraaqa, where are you fleeing? Have you not told us you would help us and remain with us?” The Shaytaan (in Suraaqa’s form) replied that, “I see what you don’t see, and I fear Allah and his Punishment.” Then he fled.
Participation of the Angels
Allah helped the Muslims in battle with the angels. According to the Sahaba, as narrated in the ahadith of Sahih Bukhari, they saw white robed people during battle fighting alongside them; they were not there before the battle, and neither after it. Others said, they did not see the wielders, but they saw the swords flashing and fighting in battle, much larger and longer in size and effective against the enemy. Some saw the eyes of the white-robed people, some did not see them. These were the angels of Allah sent to help the Muslims.
Army size and number of injured and dead
There are differences of opinion in the number of Muslims and enemy who fought in Badr. But the most accepted is that – Muslims were 313, of which 85 were Muhajirs and the rest Ansar; there were 61 from Aws tribe, and 69 from the Khazraj tribe. The Muslim army had 70 camels and two horses only. The enemy Quraysh, numbering 1000, among them 600 had shields, and they ahd 200 horse. After the battle, it was seen that the disbelievers had lost 70 and that 70 more were taken prisoner by the Muslims. 14 from the Muslims had attained martyrdom; 6 were Muhajir and 8 were Ansar Sahaba.
Summary and conclusion
Badr was the first planned battle for the Muslims. There are lessons to be learnt regarding the position of troops beside water and in the face of the sun, gaining high ground, and reconnaissance before battle. The biggest lesson is having faith in Allah. One has to take all measures to win, but just relying on those measure is not enough without faith in Allah. There is no need to speculate what would have happened to Muslims if they had failed at Badr. The important thing is that with Allah’s help, the Muslims won and strengthened their foothold, and created new history. We hope that the reader can derive inspiration for the sacrifices of Muslims 1400 years ago and make themselves ready to repeat the deeds of valour and sacrifice that transpired that day. The Muslims should take from the spirit of Badr, the spirit of self-defence, to defend the truth, fight against oppression and for the welfare of the people.
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