Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bedir War


The Prophet (pbuh) did not attack those Quraishi idolaters who displayed hostile attitudes to him and the other Muslims. He did not take revenge on them, but told the Muslims who faced insults, tortures and hardships to be patient. The revelations sent in this period were mainly composed of advice to be patient. Apart from the positive environment during the early years of the new period in Medina after the hijrah, hardships were also experienced. The idolaters of Mecca were determined to disturb the Muslims in Medina as well. Most of the local people of Medina had sincerely accepted Islam, but there were some hypocrites among them. The Jewish families living in the environs of the city appeared to participate in the agreement, but they were causing problems whenever they could and were ready to display hostility, such as betrayal.
Soon after the emigration, the prominent Quraishi members Abu Sufyan and Ubay ibn Halaf sent a letter to the Muslims of Medina. They stated that it was wrong for the Muslims to protect and help Prophet Muhammad, but that they should abandon such an attitude; if they did not do this hostilities might break out between the two cities. In response to this letter, Ka'b ibn Malik wrote a poem that refused to comply with the demands of the idolaters. In the meantime, the Quraishis started to impose some economic measures on Medina. The news of the emigration of Prophet Muhammad and his companions spread throughout almost all of the Arabian Peninsula. Many tribes followed the manner and message of the Prophet; the people who could not emigrate or who had to secret their Islamic faith waited for new developments. Meanwhile, a verse was sent that stated that any believers who underwent torture could stage armed counterattacks: "Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed able to give them victory. Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah - For had it not been for Allah's repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily Allah helps one who helps Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty." (Al-Hajj, 22/39-40). In a period of nearly one year, starting from seven months after the emigration (Ramadan 1 / March 623), Prophet Muhammad carried out some military operations to protect the Muslims from the threat of the Quraishis; to show the Quraishis that the Muslims were also strong the Sifulbahr nighttime raid, commanded by Hamza the Rabig nighttime raid commanded by Ubayda ibn Harith, the Harrar nighttime raid commanded by Sa'd ibn Abu Vaqqas, the Battle of Abva (Vaddan), the Battle of Buvat and the Battle of Ushayra were all carried out during this period. The Muslim soldiers traveled along the paths of the Quraishi caravans, but they did not strike at any point, nor did they bother the caravans of other tribes or groups. With these military operations, Mecca and Medina, which were in fact at war with each other, began to experience a period in which the rules of engagement were valid. This condition lasted until the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Seventeen months after the emigration (Rajab, 2 / January 624), troops commanded by Abdullah ibn Jahsh were sent to Batn-i Nahla to attack a Quraishi caravan that was returning from Yemen; one person was killed, with two people being taken prisoner. According to some accounts, although this nighttime raid was primarily carried out for attaining intelligence, Prophet Muhammad also wanted to intimidate the Quraishi idolaters.

The Battle of Badr

The Battle of Badr, along with the Battle of Uhud and the Battle of the Trench, was one of the most famous battles that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) fought against the Quraishi idolaters. Badr was a small town 160 km southwest of Medina and 30 km from the Red Sea; it lay at the point where the Medina-Mecca road connected with the Syrian caravan road. The Prophet and the Muslims of Mecca had been subjected to the hostilities and torture of the Quraishis for ten years and they eventually fled, taking with them only some of their belongings. With the addition of what the Muslims had left behind the Quraishis were able to form trade caravans to the south and north of the Arabian Peninsula. The Prophet was informed that a large Quraishi caravan, led by Abu Sufyan, was on its way back from Syria. It is stated that this caravan was composed of 1,000 camels and had goods of a value of 50,000 dinars. The Prophet planned to attack the Quraishi caravan in Badr and he set out from Medina on 12 of Ramadan 2 (March 9, 624). It should be noted that this was a battle carried out in self defense; the Muslims were not the raiding party. The Propehet assigned Abdullah ibn Ummu Maktum to be lead in his absence. The Islamic army was composed of 305 people (75 muhajirs and 230 Companions). Mus'ab ibn Umayr, Ali and Sa'd ibn Muaz were assigned as flagmen. There were seventy camels and two horses in the army. The Muslims continued to fast for one or two days, and they broke their fasting on the order of the Prophet.

Meanwhile, Abu Sufyan was informed about the preparations of Prophet Muhammad when he entered the Hejaz region and he sent a courier to Mecca with an urgent request for reinforcements. He followed a path away from Badr in order to avoid any ambush. Thereupon, the Quraishis, ably supported and accompanied by all the notable chiefs of Mecca, hastily formed an army. They then set out with 1,000 men, led by Abu Jahil, to Badr, even though they learned that the caravan had not been attacked. There were 700 camels and 100 horses in the army of the idolaters.

In fact, the Prophet and his companions were not aware that the Quraishi army had set out from Mecca and were near Badr. The Holy Quran states: "And when Allah promised you one of the two bands of the enemy that it should be yours, and you longed that other than the armed one might be yours. And Allah willed that He should cause the Truth to triumph by His words, and cut the root of the disbelievers. When you were on the near bank of the valley and they were on the yonder bank, and the caravan was below you on the coast plain. And had you trusted to meet one another you surely would have failed to keep the trust, but it happened, as it did, without the forethought of either of you that Allah might conclude a thing that must be done; that he who perished on that day might perish by a clear proof of His Sovereignty and he who survived might survive by a clear proof of His Sovereignty. Lo! Allah in truth is Hearer, Knower" (Al-Anfal, 8/7, 42).

On the 17th of Ramadan 2 (March 13, 624), both of the armies set out for Badr in the early hours. The Prophet reached the water wells in Badr before the Quraishis. Upon the advice of Habbab ibn Arat, he left the well closest to where the enemy would arrive open while filling the other wells with sand. Prophet Muhammad allowed the idolaters to take water from the open well. Before the battle, Prophet Muhammad had sent Umar to the Quraishis and proposed that they return to Mecca without engaging in battle; however the Quraishis insisted on the battle. In accordance with ancient Arabic traditions, two men from both sides came out to the battleground to begin the war. During this challenge, which is known as the Mubaraza, Hamza killed his opponent, Asvad ibn Abdulasad al-Mahzumi. Upon this, Utba ibn Rabia, his brother Shayba and his son Walid from the Quraishis and Ubayda ibn Harith, Hamza and Ali from the Muslim army approached the battleground. After Hamza and Ali had killed their opponents, they went to help Ubayda who had been severely wounded and then killed Utba. Because he suffered from severe wounds, Ubayda ibn Hariht died, becoming a martyr, on the return from Badr. During the war which began after the Mubaraza, the Muslims were victorious on the afternoon of the same day. Seventy people were taken prisoner and seventy people from the idolaters were killed. Among the prisoners was Abu Jahil, the greatest enemy of Islam. The number of Muslims martyrs was fourteen.

Prophet Muhammad performed the funeral prayer of the martyrs and ordered that they be buried. He also ordered that the Quraishi casualties be buried. He commanded that the prisoners be treated well and only sentenced two of these prisoners, Ukba ibn Abu Muayt and Nadr ibn Harith, to death in return for the torture they had subjected Muslims to in the past. After this, Prophet Muhammad consulted with the Companions as to how the other prisoners were to be treated. He accepted the proposal of Abu Bakr and released the prisoners in return for a ransom, ranging from 1,000 to 1,400 dirham, according to their financial standing. Some of the prisoners who could not afford the ransom were released unconditionally while others were released on the condition that they taught ten Muslims how to read and write. The booty gained from the war was gathered together and equally distributed among those who had been involved in the battle. The Prophet returned to Medina at the end of the month Ramadan or at the beginning of the month of Shawwal.

Abu'l-As ibn Rabi, the son-in-law of the Prophet was among the prisoners detained in Badr. Abu'l-As was married to Zaynab, the oldest daughter of the Prophet. He had not accepted Islam although his wife was a Muslim and yet he refused to divorce Zaynab. When he joined the idolaters and became a prisoner, the people of Mecca sent the ransom money for the prisoners and his wife Zaynab sent a certain amount of money along with the necklace given to her by her mother Khadijah as a wedding present. The Prophet recognized the necklace and became very emotional; remembering Khadijah and her services to Islam, he asked for permission from his Companions to release Abu'l-As and to return the necklace back to Zaynab. After Abu'l-As was released, he returned to Mecca and in accordance with a promise he had made to Prophet Muhammad he sent his wife Zaynab to Medina. Abu'l As later became a Muslim and performed the emigration to Medina, and was reunited with his wife (Muharram 7/ May 628).

In the Holy Quran it is stated that the victory of Badr was achieved with the help of Allah and that during the battle the Islamic army was supported by angels (Al-Anfal 8/8-12; Al‑ Imran 3/123-127). As a result of the Battle of Badr the Islamic society earned great respect in the Arabian Peninsula and the Prophet acquired extensive opportunities to convey the message of Islam. The people of Mecca, who had lost the battle of Badr, chose Abu Sufyan as successor to Abu Jahil and they swore an oath to seek revenge from the Muslims; from this date they endeavored to find ways to achieve their goal. Abu Lahab was not involved in the battle of Badr due to illness and sent As ibn Hisham as a replacement. After hearing about the defeat in Badr, Abu Lahab's condition deteriorated and he soon died. About two and a half month after the defeat of Badr Abu Sufyan came to Medina and attacked the outer environs of the city with a force of two hundred men. After killing two Muslims, he set the fields on fire and left the city. Although Prophet Muhammad followed him with two hundred men, Abu Sufyan and his soldiers evaded them by discarding their flour bags (sawik) so that they could move more rapidly. As a result, this pursuit came to be known as the Sawik Battle.

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