The Battle of Badr

The Great Battle of Badr took place on the 17th of Ramadan, two years after the Hijra. This was the first battle that the believers ever engaged in with the disbelievers, and it is, by far, the most famous, because of the several extraordinary events that occurred during it. Rasoolullah – the Messenger of Allah (
sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) had encouraged the Muslims to oppose the Quraish caravan which was returning to Makkah from Sham.

The Muslims went out with 300 and some soldiers not intending to meet a caravan of about 40 men, not intending to fight but only to overpower them. The caravan escaped, but Abu Sufyan had already sent word to Quraish to come and protect it. The Quraish marched with enormous army of 1,000 men, 600 wearing shields, 100 horses, and 700 camels, and luxurious provisions to last for several days.

The disbelievers wanted to make this a victory that would put fear into the hearts of all the Arabs. They wanted to crush the Muslims once and for all and the odds were overwhelmingly in their favour. Imagine that the believers with their small army (including only two horses), going out with the intent of meeting a mere 40 unarmed man and instead meeting a well-prepared army “three times” their size....

Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) could have easily ordered the believers to fight and they wouldn’t have hesitated to comply, but, he wanted to emphasise to his followers that they should fight out of conviction and iman(faith) and to teach us a lesson in the process. He gathered his followers to conduct shura (consultation).

Many of the muhajireen ( the Muslims who emigrated from Makkah to Medinah) spoke up, using the most eloquent of words to describe their dedication. But there was one of the sahabah (companions) whom all the others envied for his statement to Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). He, Miqdad ibn al-Aswad, rose up in front of the crowd and said, “Ya Rasoolullah! We will not say to you like Bani Israel said to Musa, ‘Go you and your Lord and fight, we are here sitting (waiting).’ (Surat al-Maa’idah). Go by Allah’s blessing and we are with you!” And so Rasoolullah was very pleased, but in his great wisdom, he waited silently, and some among the Muslims knew what he intended.

So far only the muhajireen had given their consent, but it was the Ansar (the Muslims who lived in Medinah and welcomed the Muslims into their city) who had the most to lose in this stake and it was not a part of the pledge (that Rasoolullah had taken from the Ansar at ‘Aqabah) for the Ansar to fight with the Muslims in foreign territory. So, the great leader of the Ansar, Sa’d ibn Mu’adh spoke up, “Ya Rasoolullah! Maybe you mean us.” Rasoolullah responded in the affirmative.

Sa’d proceeded to give a beautiful speech in which he said, among many things: “O Messenger of Allah, we have believed in you and we believe that you are saying the truth. We give you, based on that, our covenant to listen to and obey you.....By Allah, the One Who sent you with the truth, if you were to enter the sea, we would rush into it with you and not one of us would stay behind...May Allah show you in our actions what will satisfy your eyes. So march with us, putting our trust in Allah’s blessings.”

Rasoolullah was very pleased by this and said, “Forward and be of cheer, for Allah has promised me one of the two (the caravan or the battle), and by Allah, it is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate.” The Muslims marched forward and encamped at the nearest spring of Badr (closest to Medinah, which is north of Makkah).

One of the companions, Al-Hubab ibn Mundhir, asked Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), “ Has Allah inspired you to choose this very spot or is it stratagem of war and the product of consultation?” Rasoolullah said, “It is the product of stratagem of war and consultation.” So Al-Hubab suggested that the Muslims encamp further south on the nearest water well, make a basin of water for themselves, and destroy the other wells to thereby restrict to Quraish’s access to the water. Rasoolullah approved of his plan and carried it out. Then, Sa’d ibn Mu’adh suggested that a trellis or hut be built for Rasoolullah as a protection for him and to serve as a headquarters for the army.

Rasoolullah and Abu Bakr stayed in the hut while Sa’d ibn Mu’adh and a group of his men guarded it. Rasoolullah spent the whole night preceding the battle in prayer and supplication even though he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) knew that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) had promised him victory. It was out of his (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) love for and worship and submission to Allah that he did this. And it was said that this is the highest form of ‘ibadah (worship) known as “’ain al yaqeen”, a state of being completely dependant and submissive to Allah, which distinguished him (in superiority) from Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (radhiallahu ‘anhu) who only had “’ilm al yaqeen”, the certainty of the promise.

Unusally, that same night, the night when tensions were mounting for one of the biggest events in history, the night before the battle that would signify the progress or defeat of Islam, instead of being nervous, worried and unable to sleep, the Muslim army enjoyed a sound and refreshing sleep. That night was the night of the 17th of Ramadan, the year 2 AH. This was a Divine favour which Allah mentioned in the Qur’an: “(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from Him, and He caused rain to descend on you from the sky, to clean you thereby and to remove from you theRijz (whispering, evil suggestions, etc.) of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby.” [8:11]

The second favour from Allah mentioned in this verse is the rain that Allah sent upon the believers that very night. The place where the Muslims were to encamp was made of sandy ground which was hard to walk on because one’s feet could easily sink in it. Allah sent the rain to make the ground firm under their feet and sent the sleep to make their hearts firm.

The next morning, Rasoolullah was still asleep when Quraish were approaching. Abu Bakr was very hesitant to wake the noble Messenger (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), but was forced to do so because Quraish were approaching quickly. The Muslims were arranged in ranks. When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other, Rasoolullah began supplicating, “O Allah! The conceited and haughty Quraishites are already here and defying You and belying Your Messenger. O Allah! I’m waiting for Your victory which You have promised me. I beseech You Allah to defeat them.”

He (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) then gave strict orders that his men would not start fighting until he gave them his final word. He recommended that they use their arrows sparingly and never resort to swords unless the enemies came too close. The Quraish were haughty and arrogant and confident in their superior number, weapons, and provisions but it is Allah who would decide the matter: “(O disbelievers) if you ask for a judgment, now has the judgment come unto you and if you cease (to do wrong) , it will be better for you, and If you return (to the attack), so shall we return, and your forces will be of no avail to you, however numerous it be, and verily, Allah is with the believers.” [8:19]

The battle began with a confronation between three men from each side:
*Hamza (Rasoolullah’s uncle) vs.’Utbah ibn Rabi’a
*Ali (Rasoolullah’s cousin) vs. Al-Waleed ibn ‘Utbah
*‘Ubaidah ibn al-Harith vs. Shaybah ibn Rabi’a

In the former two cases, Hamza and Ali killed their opponents, but ‘Ubaidah (despite killing his opponent) was severely wounded and died about four or five days later. The fighting intensified, and many more duels broke out. In the midst of all of this, Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) continued to supplicate his Lord. He said, “O Allah! Should this group (of Muslims) be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped.” Abu Bakr witnessed this incessant supplication so he said to Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), “O Rasoolullah, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfil what He has promised you.”

The response of Allah was swift. He sent down angels from the heavens to help Rasoolullah and his companions. The Qur’an marks this miraculous occurrence: “I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the other (following one another) in succession.” [8:9]

Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), in his hut, dozed off a little and then raised his head joyfully crying and said, “O Abu Bakr! glad tidings are there for you. Allah’s victory has approached. By Allah, I can see Jibreel on his mare in the thick of a sandstorm.” Then he came out of the hut and exclaimed: “sayuhzamul jam’u wa yuwwalloonad-dubur” (Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs.) [54:45] This is in fact one of the miracles of the Qur’an because this verse was revealed in Makkah before any of these events at Badr had taken place. Omar (radhiallahu ‘anhu), upon hearing Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) proclaim this verse on this occasion said, “When this verse was first revealed, I asked Rasoolullah what it means. What multitude? What deafeat? And Rasoolullah didn’t answer me. But when I saw him recite it on that occasion, I then understood.”

Then Rasoolullah took a handful of dust and cast it at the enemy and said: “Confusion seize their faces!” As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew like furnace blast into the eyes of the enemy. About this, Allah says: “And you (i.e. Muhammad – sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) threw not when you did throw, but Allah threw.” [8:17] It was at this point that Rasoolullah gave orders to launch a full counter-attack. He incited the believers reciting the following verse:“And be quick for forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and earth.” [3:133]

The spirit of the Muslims was at its peak and they fought with the utmost courage and bravery severely wounding the Quraish army, killing many of their men and instilling fear in their hearts. The Muslims did not know that Allah’s help was about to descend upon them. They only knew the odds that were apparent to both sides: 1,000 against 300, 700 camels against 70 camels, 100 horses against two, enormous provisions against none, an intent and preparation for war against an unprepared group of believers. Still, despite all odds, they had trust in Allah and His Messenger and they were willing and even hoping to give their lives of this world for the ever-lasting abode of Jannah. Because of their devotion Allah sent His help and victory.

In addition to sending down angels, Allah also brought another miraculous occurrence to ensure the Muslim victory. Allah says: “(And remember) When Allah showed them to you (Muhammad) as few in your dream, if He had shown them to you as many, you would have surely have disputed in making a decision. But Allah saved (you). Certainly, He is the All-Knower of what is in the breasts.” [8:43]

And indeed, Allah did fulfil His promise: “And (remember) when you met (the army of the disbelievers on the Day of the battle of Badr), He showed them to you as few in your eyes and He made you appear as few in their eyes, so that Allah might accomplish a matter already ordained (in His Knowledge), and to Allah return all matters (for decision).” [8:44]

Many of the disbelievers were killed in this battle, the most noteworthy of which was Abu Jahl, the arch-enemy of Islam. When Rasoolullah (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) set out to look at his corpse, he (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said, “This is the Pharaoh of this nation.”

And so the Muslims defeated the disbelievers in a humiliating defeat by the Help of Allah. Indeed Allah, again, fulfilled His promise, “Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs” [54:45] The disbelievers, with all their might, turned their backs and ran away from the Muslims in disgrace and humiliation. Allahu Akbar wa lillah al-Hamd.

A month of three dimensional training

Before a marathon runner competes in the Olympics, he undergoes years of intense training -- both physical and mental (2D- two-dimensional). He must maintain a healthy diet and exercise to make sure his body is fit. He must also become mentally prepared to ward off all sense of fatigue and failure during the race. After every practice, his sport becomes easier to him until he is ready to compete. Then after he competes, he trains for years again, preparing for the next Olympics.

Similarly, our Lord, The Most Exalted, has given us the Holy Month of Ramadan as a month of training. Unlike the runner, our training is three-fold: physical, mental, and spiritual (3D- three-dimensional). Ramadan trains us for life, which is our means to Paradise. In Arabic, the word “Ramadan” means “scorching and burning”. The name highlights the intensity of the training since, according to scholars; we physically and mentally scorch and burn our sins and faults. By the month’s end, if our intentions were pure, we have bathed ourselves in a pool of spirituality.

Most people think first of the physical aspect of fasting, which for Muslims is a foundation for the mental and spiritual benefits. Hunger and thirst physically remind us of Allah’s blessings, which before the fast we had a tendency to take for granted. Fasting also provides us with numerous health benefits. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The son of Aadam never fills a container worse than his stomach.” [Ahmad and others]

When we deprive the stomach of food and drink from dawn till dusk, we improve our digestion and blood pressure, to name a few of the many physical benefits. The acts of physical restraint during Ramadan improve our self-control for the rest of the year. We must not resume eating gluttonously and wastefully. We must maintain physical consciousness to appreciate Allah’s favours and make acts of worship easier for us.

Ramadan’s mental aspect is more difficult, but the strong physical foundation also helps to sharpen our focus and strengthen our will. This training is an example of striving with one’s inner desires. It exposes our flaws and can help eliminate or reduce them.

Mental restraint is especially important now, when Islam is being maligned and we must respond with that which is better. Patience and mercy are among the virtues we strengthen during Ramadan. With the combined physical and mental training we get in Ramadan, we can improve our relations with Muslims and non-Muslims as we strive for perfection.

A three-dimensional consciousness: physical, mental, and spiritual that Muslims throughout history attest it enhances one’s relationship with Allah, wipes clean our slate of sins and allows us to reap great reward. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam stated that Allah declared: “All deeds of the son of Aadam are for him except for fasting, it is for Me. And I will reward him for it.”[Muslim] But we need to remember again the concept of training.

The heightened spiritual consciousness that we gain during Ramadan ameliorates our life to a three dimensional level: every action we make transforms from being a habit (physical and mental components of what we do) to becoming an act of worship when under the umbrella of spirituality. It is true, some may say, that spirituality always has that effect -- Ramadan or not. But in Ramadan, this spirituality is more conscious, deliberate and intense.
A time for spiritual nourishment and self-introspection, Ramadan heralds a classic opportunity to draw closer to Allah and to bask in the many blessings that accompany the month. Commitments ranging from the recitation and study of the Qur’an to increased charity to regular Taraaweeh attendance are commonly made to reap the rewards of the fasting month.

To this effect, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam once said: “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a person observing fast is better with Allah Almighty than the smell of musk. (Allah Says about the fasting person): ‘He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times.’” [Al-Bukhari]

Further, with Satan chained and the gates of Paradise thrown open, the race for good deeds begins in every Ramadan. Yet, as people dive into the anxiously awaited month of spiritual gains, they realise that it comes with its own set of challenges. Indeed, just as our everyday test is to practise Islam while living in the world, this annual retreat-of-sorts is all about maximising our worship while juggling the demands of our daily lives.

So, along with the fasting and all the plans, chores need to be taken care of, work must be attended to, and children’s needs have to be fulfilled. In order to avoid frustration due to neglecting one’s Ramadan goals or hardship caused by abandoning certain tasks and routines, a happy medium must be strived for. Striking this balance will not always be easy since it entails rescheduled days, little sleep, and a shift in priorities.

However, the results far outweigh the struggle, a feeling of contentment that we made our very best effort to capture the true essence of Ramadan. Allah Almighty Says (what means): “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Qur’an 2:183]

A month of discipline rather than diversion

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Qur’an 2:183]

This verse teaches us that the purpose of fasting is the realisation of the goal of attaining piety. It is only appropriate that anyone who witnesses this month should succeed––as one narration of the Prophet says, “Be his nose cut off in humiliation if a man [let him be humiliated who] sees the month of Ramadan but fails to have his sins forgiven.”

During this month, ourselves are trained to do good and abandon evil––and these selves that learn to avoid even permissible things during this month are therefore more likely to avoid evil things after this training is over.

Alas, many of us are unaware of these blessings and this wisdom, and fail to train our selves properly, sometimes getting worse in wanton luxury, laziness and wastefulness in a month which was given to teach them in self-control and discipline. We find that many Muslims increase their consumption of luxuriant foods and drinks in this month rather than train their souls and bodies to live on a little and focus on spiritual pursuits, as if Allah made this month the month of eating and not fasting!

The media in the Muslim world, alas, often aggravate the attitude of wastefulness and diversion––and are found polling people about their favourite foods during the month of Ramadan, as if Allah has singled this month out not for abstinence but for eating in abundance! Who are these deprived people condemned by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, if not those who find new ways to divert themselves with special television shows and movies during this month, as unfortunately is the case in many Muslim communities today?!

One of the unfortunate phenomena in our contemporary Muslim societies during this month is the open and brazen-faced violation of the sanctity of this month––as the sacredness of this month is made light of and new ways are found to spend time during it. One of the ways in which this sanctity is violated is how the producers of television shows in the Muslim world compete in producing special programs of diversion in this month rather than repent and save the world from their evil at least during this month!

But no, they rather double and treble the production of their evil so that the heedless Muslims be even more heedless and have even less time for reflection, repentance, regret over their sins and reform of their character! Rather, these traders in lust and beautifiers of desire excel during this month. Alas, their devils have been chained during this month—but who will chain them?!

Whoever reflects for even a moment about the way the early Muslims lived and worshipped and how we live and worship will see an enormous chasm and weep over our condition. Ibn Rajab, may Allah have mercy upon him, said that Al-Hasan ibn Saalih, may Allah have mercy upon him, sold a bondswoman of his to someone, and in her new house she woke up in the middle of the night and called out to the people of the house asking them to perform prayer, so they said: “Is it time for the Fajr prayer?” Upon which she said: “Why? Do you not perform except the obligatory prayers?” Then she returned to her earlier master and complained that she cannot live with people who do not perform except the obligatory prayers.

How many of us perform prayer at night regularly during the month of Ramadan, let alone during the other months? Even the few hours during the last ten nights of Ramadan seem so heavy to us!