24. The Battle at Badr
The stage for a battle was set with two opposing groups, one on each side. Firstly, the well-equipped and well-armed Makkan army with its superior weaponry and numbers was heading towards Badr. The Muslims were coming from the other side with a much smaller army which had very few weapons and armour. They were only armed with swords and sticks to defend themselves against this daunting goliath of a Makkan force.
After a long and gruelling march, the Muslims arrived first at Badr. The prophet (pbuh) commanded his exhausted men to make camp. Al-Hubab ibn al Mundhir asked the prophet (pbuh) whether it was a command from Allah to camp here. The prophet (pbuh) said that it wasn’t a command from Allah but his own choice. Al-Hubab sought permission to advise the prophet (pbuh) and was granted permission immediately.
He advised that it was better to camp at the furthest well which would be the closest to the advancing Makkan Army. There they should gather as much water as possible then cut off the supply from the other wells. This would mean that the Muslim army would have the only water source and was also at a better location to face such a big army.
The prophet (pbuh) followed this advice and the Muslims marched on to the furthest well. It rained lightly which caused the ground to become firmer, helping the small army to move quickly to the new location. The Muslims then created a large pond filled with water and then blocked all the other wells.
Sa’d bin Mu’adh suggested that a tent be setup for the prophet (pbuh), away from the fighting front. This would also provide a means to escape for the Muslims if the Makkans were to over come them. Sa’d also appointed some companions to guard the tent, as it would be a major target for the Makkans. The Muslims always put their prophet (pbuh) and their beloved deen before their own personal safety.
After setting up camp, the Muslims had a light nap which was a blessing from Allah. They awoke rested, refreshed and well-motivated – ready to face this mighty Makkan army. Scouts were despatched to gather information about the Makkan army which was now approaching Badr. The scouts reported that the Makkan army had over a thousand men - well equipped, with horses, armour and weapons. The scouts also reported that they had been greatly hindered by the light rain. There were many noble leaders and imminent warriors within this army.
Umair bin Wahab, one of the scouts despatched by the Makkans also reported back and gave details about the Muslim army. He said that it was a small army of three hundred or so men who were poorly armed and protected with only their swords. He also said that his men had checked the rest of the valley and concluded that no reinforcements were on the way.
However, Umair also advised the Makkans that the Muslims would not be taken easily because the men were brave and dedicated with high morale. They would fight to their last man to defend their deen. They advised that a peaceful settlement would be better for both sides. Abu Jahl refused this straight away and instead said that their army would crush the Muslims in the coming battle.
The Makkans gloated over the situation; they had a far larger force than the Muslims. They were also better armed and better prepared for war than the Muslims were. However, even with this in mind, many people in the Makkan army were not happy about fighting the Muslims. The Muslims had not caused them any harm and in fact, the Makkans had been the aggressors by persecuting and oppressing the Muslims for many years.
The prophet (pbuh) always preferred the peaceful solution as this was demonstrated throughout his life but when a conflict was inevitable, the prophet was prepared to take this difficult step. He would plan carefully and take the opinions of his companions about how things should proceed.
Utbah bin Rabi’a didn’t want the Makkan army to attack the Muslims either since they had only come to defend their caravan and not to fight a war. The caravan had already reached safety with some clever navigation by Abu Sufyan. Utbah bin Rabi’a suggested that the only bone they had to pick with the Muslims was the death of a Makkan by the hands of some Muslims. He himself would pay the blood money so that the conflict could be averted.
However, Abu Jahl, the great enemy of Islam was also ready for him and anyone else who had second thoughts about fighting. He called them cowards and other names so that they would be reluctant to leave. He used every trick under the sun to keep them there. Abu Jahl had a great hatred for Islam and he knew that this was a great opportunity to finish Islam and the Muslims for good.
The Makkan army marched forward to face the Muslims. They were confident that they would beat the Muslims. Abu Jahl in his pride and arrogance said that the army of truth will be victorious today. This would prove to be true and that the Makkans would get more than they bargained for from the Muslims.
Both armies faced each other across the sand dunes of Badr. The prophet (pbuh) inspected his own ranks and gave his men encouragement. He reminded them that they had more noble goals of defending the truth than any worldly gain. There was a lot at stake here with the Muslims facing their biggest trial, the future of Islam and the Muslims was in the balance.
The Prophet threw some pebbles or stones in the direction of the Makkan forces and said, “May confusion seize their faces”. The wind carried the dust towards the Makkan army, causing a sand storm and causing much confusion within their ranks.
The first encounter began when six Makkan soldiers tried to go for water. They were warriors and did not fear anyone as they arrogantly strode forward. The Muslims were more than a match for them and quickly they were all beaten with the exception of Hakeem bin Hizam who survived and later became a Muslim.
Then three Makkan soldiers stepped forward, Utbah bin Rabia and two of his family members. They wanted to combat three Muslims. Without hesitation, three brave Muslims stepped forward to fight them. However, the Makkans protested at this because these men were from the Ansar and they wanted to face their own tribesmen.
The prophet (pbuh) commanded three of his beloved companions to step forward to challenge these aggressors and the Ansar returned to their ranks. Ubaidah bin Al-Harith, Ali and Hamzah stepped forward and duelled with the three Makkans. Hamzah and Ali quickly beat their opponents and then helped Ubaidah who was seriously injured in the combat. Hamzah and Ali finished the last man and then helped Ubaidah back to safety. This signalled the beginning of the battle and both armies clashed.
Ubaidah was injured badly with his leg being cut off and the puss, blood and bone marrow oozed from the wound. The prophet (pbuh) attended to his injured companion but knew that Ubaidah would die from this horrendous injury. He gave him the glad tidings of an abode in Jannah that was awaiting his arrival. Ubaidah became the first martyr (shaheed) in the battle of Badr.