The Battle of Badr was a turning point in the chronicle of Islam in that the glorious acquisition of victory against grave probability established a benchmark of truth never dared to be argued against.
The Battle of Badr was fought on the 17th of Ramadan in 624 A.D (the second year of the Hijra) about 50 miles south-west of Madina (or Yahtrib as it was then ascribed) near the point where the then Madina-Syria caravan route wound its way through a complex terrain.
It was here that a group of 313 Muslims men, mostly without arms and with two horses and 70 camels amidst them, led by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), met a well-armed and well-equipped army of their pagan enemies of Makkah, numbered over a thousand, and won, by Allah’s decree.
The Makkan army had amid its influential some of the most skilled combatants of Arabia, including Abu Jahl, the persecutor of Islam. After individual contests, according to the traditions of Arabia, between Hamza, Ali and Obaidah on the side of the Muslims and three braves from the Makkan ranks, a pitched battle ensued. The stakes were great.
Both the forces engaged in physical encounter valiantly but the Muslims were engrossed by holy zeal. During the peak of the battle, the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was not unmindful of God and earnestly beseeched Him: “O Lord, forget not Thy promise of assistance. O Lord, if this little band were to perish, there will be none to offer unto Thee pure worship.”
It was unfeasible, devoid of the miraculous aid of God, for such a diminutive an unprepared force, as was the Muslim band, to trounce the outsized and well-equipped vigour of the adversary. But their firmness, zeal and obedience won them divine aid.
The modest displaced community of Makkan Muslims, with their friends in Madina, had ordered themselves into a God-fearing centre of population, and for that very basis were in persistent danger of being attacked by their pagan enemies of Makkah, in alliance with some of the disaffected rudiments (hypocrites) in or near Madina itself. The desire of the Makkans was to congregate all the assets they could, and with an overpowering force, to compress and eradicate the divine messenger and his party.
Abu Sufyan, a chief of pagan Makkah was leading an opulently laden caravan from Syria to Makkah, calling for armed aid at his most convenience, at a time where trade amongst them was at its richest. There were two alternatives before Muslims in Madina, to either have themselves being overwhelmed by the Makkans with all the resources from the rich Syrian trade, or to take direct action and stand unified in the face of adversity as prescribed by divine will, and the latter came to their benefit.
The Muslims had no more than 300 men, ill equipped to resist the force. But if they could defeat it, it would shake the egocentric autocracy which was in tenure in Makkah.
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) stretched forth his hand and supplicated to Allah until his cloak fell off his shoulders. Abu Bakr (Radhi’ Allahu Anhu) came up to him, picked his cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and said:
“O Prophet of Allah! You have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfil what He has promised you.”
– Saheeh al-Bukhari.
Immediately, Allah responded to the supplication and sent Angels for help, Allah says:
“(Remember) when you sought help of your Lord and He answered you saying, ‘I will help you with a thousand Angels each behind the other in succession.”
– Surah al-Anfal V 8.9
The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) raised his head and said cheeringly: “O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you; Allah’s victory has approached, by Allah I can see Jibrail on his mount in the thick of a sandstorm.”
Then he recited the verse:
“Their multitude will be put to flight and they will show their backs.”
– Surah Al-Qamar V 54.45
Ibn Abbas (Radhi’ Allahu Anhu) said, “When the two armies drew closer to each other, Allah made the Muslims look fewer in the eyes of the idolaters and the idolaters look few in the eyes of the Muslims. The idolaters said: “These people (Muslims) are deceived by their religion.”
The significance of the triumph at Badr, was consequently far reaching. It gave the promising Muslim state of Madina the much essential moral strength to stand fearless at a time when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) had almost lost all anticipation of withstanding the persecution.
“And He caused rain to descend on you from the sky to clean you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering, evil suggestions, etc.) of Shaytan, and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby.”
– Surah al-Anfal 8. 11.
The Battle of Badr dealt a rigorous blow to the stature of agnostic Makkah, and won the right of life by divine decree for many a Muslims, who chose to defend their rights and opportunity to practise Islam freely in their desired land.
‘The war that a Muslim wages is not in order to accumulate worldly benefits. He resorts to it for the moral and social reform of the world and does so when the opposing forces make it impossible to bring about reform by means of persuasion and preaching.’
– Surah Al-Anfal, V 8.1