Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was calling the people to Islam just by talking to them, because he had not been ordered to go to battle yet. After his immigration the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was permitted to fight the blasphemers. The Prophet himself, peace and blessings be upon him, led twenty-seven (27) campaigns (ghazwahs); at other times he sent the Muslims to engage the enemy without going himself (sariyyahs). The Prophet ﷺ told us that if it were not for the needs of some of his followers, he would have gone to every battle (for he was the most courageous and diligent).
The people of Arabia were used to war and regarded a brave warrior highly. Seeing the Muslims winning one battle after another, despite being greatly outnumbered by their opponents, convinced some people to become Muslim themselves. The Arabs used to go to war over personal matters. However, our Prophet ﷺ never fought over personal matters. He fought for the sake of God. By conducting battles, some accepted the truth and became Muslim before fighting and some made peace treaties with the Muslims without a fight.
God revealed to our Prophet ﷺ that those Muslims who die in battles to spread Islam are martyrs with a special rank. All their sins are forgiven at the first drop of bloodshed, and their souls go to Paradise while their bodies are in their graves. Then, on the Day of Judgment, their souls will return to their bodies and they will be resurrected. They will not fear and will not be questioned about their deeds. They, in body and soul, will then enter Paradise to live forever.
At the Prophet’s time, the battles were not conducted randomly, but under the authority of the Prophet, sallallahu ^alayhi wa sallam. After some smaller battles with blasphemers, the first major battle occurred on Friday, the 17th of Ramadan in the second Hijriyy year. It is known as the Major Battle of Badr.
It was said about the battle that a group of thirty (30) men were returning from ash-Sham to Makkah headed by Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. When Prophet Muhammad ﷺ started calling to Islam, Abu Sufyan was among the people who stood against him and even became one of the leaders of the blasphemers of Makkah. The caravan led by Abu Sufyan was important for the blasphemers’ economy. They invested heavily in this trade caravan. God revealed that it was allowed for the Muslims to overtake that caravan. The Muslims of Makkah had left behind their belongings and the blasphemers of Makkah had taken these belongings.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, urged and directed Muslims to go with him to intercept the caravan. Abu Bakr stood up and said good words. Then ^Umar stood up and said good words. Lastly, al-Miqdad stood and said good words. All three were Immigrants. Of the Ansar, Sa^d ibn Mu^adh stood and made an emotional declaration. He said to the Prophet ﷺ,
”We followed your Revelation and believed in you. We professed that all you relay to us is true and just. To this, we gave you our promise of obedience. Lead us to wherever you please. We will follow you even if you drive us into the deep sea; no man among us shall remain behind. We stand firm on this principle; so take us to meet the enemy in war. We hope Allah will enable us to prove our sincerity and you will witness from us a performance that pleases your eyes.”
Abu Sufyan learned about the Muslims coming. He sent word to Makkah telling Quraysh that Muhammad ﷺ was targeting him. People left Makkah rushing to join Abu Sufyan. Abu Lahab, Allah’s damn be upon him, did not come to Badr. He was ill and sent al-^As ibn Hisham to go in his place. Their number was 950 with 100 horses. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, left Madinah with 313 men; 77 were from the Immigrants and the rest (236) were from the Ansar. There were only two horses with them and seventy (70) camels. Hence, they used to take turns riding on them.
The Prophet ﷺ led the way and said (what means):
”March forward with the confidence of victory. Allah has promised me one of two gains: either the victory over the Qurashiyy men or the ownership of their caravan. I swear by Allah, I can almost see before me the image of their dead bodies.”
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, stopped at the narrow pass of as-Safra’. He received the news that the camel caravan was close to Badr and that the blasphemers had come out of Makkah to protect it. The Muslims did not capture the caravan of goods, and instead they decided to fight. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, then left that place and stationed himself at Badr, at the side of the water closest to Quraysh. Sa^d ibn Mu^adh suggested building a post of palm branches on a hilltop for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. After it was built, the Messenger of God ﷺ sat in it with Abu Bakr. Quraysh continued on. When the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, saw them he said (what means):
”O God, here comes Quraysh with their haughty strut, rejecting Your Prophet. O God, grant us the victory that You promised me.”
The blasphemers were struck with fear. Some wanted to retreat but Abu Jahl insisted that they stay and fight. Quraysh needed to pass through the area of the tribe of Kinanah. They had bad relations and were worried they would be attacked from behind. Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the form of a man they knew as Suraqah ibn Malik. Suraqah was a leading figure of Kinanah. Suraqah, the real one, was not Muslim at that time but became Muslim later. Iblis said:
”I am your protective neighbour and I will cover your back should you be attacked by my people.”
Feeling reassured, the blasphemers moved quickly with the devil at their side encouraging them to attack the Muslims. Ayahs 39-40 of Suratul-Hajj:
اذن للذين يقاتلون بأنهم ظلموا وان الله على نصرهم لقدير الذين أخرجوا من ديارهم بغير حق الا ان يقولوا ربنا الله
mean: To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight) because they are wronged; verily Allah is most Powerful to grant them victory. They are those who have been expelled unrightfully from their homes for no cause except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’…
The two parties came close to each other. Three of the mushriks (pagan blasphemers): ^Utbah ibn Rabi^ah, Shaybah ibn Rabi^ah and al-Walid Ibn ^Utbah came out asking for a dual before the battle. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, ordered that ^Ubaydah Ibn al-Harith ibn al-Muttalib would dual with ^Utbah; Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle, would dual with Shaybah; and ^Aliyy ibn Abi Talib would dual with al-Walid ibn ^Utbah.
Hamzah killed Shaybah and ^Aliyy killed al-Walid. ^Ubaydah and ^Utbah hit each other. Then ^Aliyy and Hamzah came at ^Utbah and killed him. They carried away ^Ubaydah with his foot cut off; he died a short while thereafter. The two armies marched slowly towards each other, while the Messenger of God and Abu Bakr were at the post. The Prophet was saying (what means):
”O God, if this group of people (Muslims) are destroyed, You will not be worshipped on Earth. O God, fulfill for me what You promised me.’‘
The Prophet ﷺ stayed like this until his cloak fell off. Abu Bakr placed it back on him. Then the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, made one sudden move and became alert. He said 9what means:
”Rejoice, O Abu Bakr, God’s victory has come”.
The Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, then came out of the post encouraging the Muslims to fight. He took a handful of dust and threw it at Quraysh’s faces. They became blinded. The dust miraculously went into every eye of the enemy. Then the Prophet ﷺ said to his Companions (what means):
”Press on them”.
Then, the defeat happened. During this battle, God sent 3000 angels to fight the blasphemers along with the human Muslims. The Companions would see a head fly off the enemy before their own sword had struck. This was due to the help of the angels, by God’s Will. It is narrated that Angel Gabriel عليه السلا, peace be upon him, came to the Prophet ﷺ and asked:
”How do you regard those among you who fought at Badr?”
The Prophet ﷺ answered, what means: “As the best of Muslims.”
Gabriel said, ”The same applies to the angels who were present at Badr.”
Angel Gabriel, peace be upon him, was on a horse leading 1000 angels. Mika’il followed them with 1000 angels. The third troop was 1000 angels led by Israfil. Then ayah 9 of Suratul-Anfal was revealed:
[إذ تستغيثون ربكم فاستجاب لكم انى ممدكم بألف من الملائكة مردفين]
It means: ”Remember that you implored the assistance of your Lord and He answered you. I [Allah] shall assist you with a thousand of the angels, group by group.”
Only the Prophet and Iblis could see the angels. When Iblis saw them, he ran away. Then Quraysh, thinking that he was Suraqah, said to him:
”Why are you fleeing? You claimed to be our protective neighbour and would stand beside us.”
To this Iblis said,
”I can see things you cannot,” and disappeared instantly.
The combat was on Friday morning, the 17th of Ramadan. ^Abdullah ibn Mas^ud killed abu Jahl Hisham ibn al-Mughirah. Hence, one of the worst enemies of faith was dead. Also an-Nadr ibn Harith was killed. Every time an-Nadr heard the Prophet recite the Qur’an, he would say, ”Muhammad is reading nothing more than poetic verses of the past.”
Fourteen of the Muslims died as martyrs: six from the Immigrants and eight from the Supporters. Seventy idol worshippers were killed in Badr; seventy were captured. The property seized from defeated blasphemers after a military victory is called ‘spoils’. In the laws revealed to previous Prophets the spoils were gathered in one place. Then God sent a fire that consumed them. In the rules revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the spoils were divided with a certain proportion between our Prophet and Muslims who participated in the battle. The Prophet ﷺ used his share of the spoils to help Muslims and not to amass personal wealth. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said what means, that, out of God’s Mercy upon his followers, and due to their weakness, God allowed them to have the spoils.
This battle is mentioned several times in the Qur’an. One reference is in Suratul- Al^Imran:
قل للذين كفروا ستغلبون وتحشرون الى جهنم وبئس المهاد قد كان لكم ءايه فى فئتين التقتا فئة تقتل فى سبيل الله واخرى كافرة يرونهم مثليهم رأى العين والله يؤيد بنصره من يشاء ءان فى ذلك لعبرة لاولى الابصر
Verses 12 and 13 of Suratu Al^Imran mean:
“(O Muhammad) say to the disbelievers: you will be defeated and gathered together to Hell, and worst indeed is that place of rest. There has already been a sign for you in the two armies that met in combat (the Battle of Badr). One was fighting in the cause of God; the other was blasphemous. The blasphemers saw the Muslims as twice their number. God does support with His aid whomever He wills. Verily, in this is a lesson for those with minds.“
Also verse 123 of the same Chapter talks about this battle:
ولقد نصركم الله ببدر وانتم اذلة فاتقوا لعلكم تشكرون
It means: “Certainly, Allah helped you at Badr when you were a despised little force. Fear Allah, then; thus may you show your gratitude.“
After the victory, the Prophet ﷺ kept watch in the battle area for three days. The slain bodies of twenty-four leaders of the blasphemers of Quraysh were thrown in a well at Badr. Our Prophet ﷺ stood over the well and started to call the dead by name saying (what means):
“Would it not have been much better for you if you had obeyed God and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s promise came true.“
When a Companion inquired about his talking to the dead, the Prophet ﷺ swore by God that the Companion does not hear his talk any better than those already dead in the well. Although Abu Lahab was absent from the Battle of Badr, he died in Makkah out of sadness shortly after receiving the news of the death of Abu Jahl, other friends of his, and the great and evident victory of the Muslims.
One of the great Companions of our Prophet, ^Uthman, did not fight in the battle of Badr. This was due to the fact that his wife, Ruqayyah, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad was very ill and he was caring for her. They had come to Madinah from Abyssinia. When our Prophet returned from Badr, he was told that his daughter Ruqayyah had died. Again our Prophet ﷺ was patient with the death of a beloved one. The Muslims kept the seventy they captured at Badr. The Prophet ﷺ was given the choice via Revelation between freeing the captives for a ransom or killing them. He chose the first. This agreed with Abu Bakr’s opinion. Then Allah revealed a verse meaning that they should have been killed. This had been the opinion of ^Umar, but it was revealed that the agreement of paying ransom holds. Al-^Abbas, the paternal uncle of the Prophet was one of those captured. He saw the light of Islam and became Muslim. He had been reluctant in the first place to come and fight his nephew. All the Muslims who participated in the battle of Badr are among the best of this Muslim nation.
1 The scholar of Qur’an, al-Qurtubiyy, said that, ”You” in this ayah refers to (1) the believers, (2) all disbelievers, or (3) the Jews of Madinah.