The Battle Begins: The Battle Of Badr is part four of a series of the battle of Badr written by By Adil Salahi Researcher and writer
Back in the unbelievers’ camp, Utbah’s attempt to persuade the Quraish to go back met with complete failure. Abu Jahl was a master in arousing passions and spreading an atmosphere of high tension.
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His sustained efforts to ensure that the Quraish’s resolve to have a military showdown did not weaken have already been referred to. He further caused word to go round that Utbah had adopted that conciliatory attitude towards the Muslims because he feared for the life of his son, Abu Hudhayfah, who was in the Muslim army.
He further accused him of being cowardly. Utbah felt deeply hurt by all these malicious accusations to which he was subjected by Abu Jahl, and wanted to show how untrue they were. He, therefore, came out of the rank of the Quraish army accompanied by his brother Shaybah and his son Al-Walid and challenged the Muslims to a six-man duel.
The Quraish army had already started to move when Utbah, his brother and his son made their personal move. As the army moved, one of its number, Al-Aswad ibn Abd Al-Asad of the Makhzum clan, sprang out of the ranks, saying: “I pledge to God to drink from their reservoir, or I will pull it down, or I will die in my attempt.”
Hamzah ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle, struck him with his sword, chopping off his leg. Al-Aswad, however, continued to crawl towards the reservoir and Hamzah followed him until he killed him at the reservoir. Thus Al-Aswad was the first casualty of that battle.
The Muslim army was very well organized. The Prophet himself had supervised its deployment. He addressed his companions, stressing the importance of putting up a determined fight.
He then said to them:
“Do not move forward until I have given you the order. When they approach, try to repel them with your arrows. Do not draw out your swords until they have reached you.”
He then went into the shed which had been built for him.
Saad ibn Muadh and a group of the Ansar stood by the shed, swords in hand, to guard the Prophet against any attack by the unbelievers. Utbah, his brother and his son made their challenge, saying:
“Muhammad, let our equals come out for a duel.” The Prophet sent out three of his own relatives: Hamzah, his uncle, and his two cousins Ali ibn Abi Talib and Ubaydah ibn Al-Harith.
The three duels were:
Ubaydah against Utbah, Hamzah against Shaybah and Ali against Al-Walid. In no time, Hamzah and Ali succeeded in killing their two opponents, while Utbah and Ubaydah struck each other at the same time. Both fell to the ground.
Ali and Hamzah then made sure that Utbah was killed, both striking him with their swords, and carried Ubaydah with them to the Prophet, who laid his head on his leg.
Ubaydah’s main injury was to his leg, which was cut off. The marrow of his bone was spilling out. The Prophet gave Ubaydah the happy tidings that he was about to be the first martyr of Badr.
The end of these duels served as a signal for starting the battle in earnest. The Quraish army moved into attack immediately. The Prophet had marshaled his troops very well. Now he ordered them to wait until the attackers were very close. As already mentioned, they were allowed to try to repel them with arrows.
The Prophet took a handful of dust and said:
“Let these faces be hung down.”
He then blew the dust at the Quraish.
As the two armies drew closer, Abu Jahl said:
“Lord! Let the side which severs relations of kinship, and invents falsehood, be destroyed today.” His was a prayer to ensure his own ruin.
The Prophet made the prize very clear to his companions as he told them:
“By Him Who holds Muhammad’s soul in His hand, anyone who is killed fighting these people, dedicating his life for the cause of God, moving forward not backward, shall be admitted by God into heaven.”
As the enemy troops closed on the Muslims, the Prophet gave them his command to go into battle.
It was a hard fight between two unequal forces. The Muslims, however, were motivated by their faith. They hoped for ample reward from God and many of them wished dearly for martyrdom, knowing that a martyr is certain to be rewarded by admission into Paradise.
Therefore, they counter-attacked with courage and determination. No enemy leader was too far for them, no company of soldiers was too strong.
Their attitude is epitomized by that of Umayr ibn Al-Hamam, who was eating a few dates when he heard the Prophet’s words about those killed in battle. He said:
“Well, well! All that separates me from heaven is that these people should kill me!”
He then threw away his dates and said:
“If I live until I have eaten these dates, I have lived too long.”
He then fought very hard until he was killed.
The fact that they were outnumbered three to one was a great inspiration to the Muslims, who were soon to overpower their enemy.
The Quraish troops were overwhelmed by their determined onslaught. The Prophet went into his shed, overlooking the raging battle. He then came down and took part in the fighting. He kept going up into the shed and down into the battlefield, encouraging his companions and raising their already high morale.
When he was in his shed he prayed to God:
“My Lord, I appeal for the fulfillment of Your promise to me. Should this company of believers be overrun, You will not be worshipped again on earth. Grant me the victory You have promised me. My Lord, strike fear in their hearts. Let them be shaken.”
He kept praying earnestly and seeking God’s help, with his hands raised to the sky. His garment fell off his shoulder. Abu Bakr, his only companion to go into the shed with him, held the Prophet’s garment and put it back on his shoulder.
He said soothingly: “Messenger of God! Not so hard with your appeal to Your Lord. He will surely grant you what He has promised you.” The Prophet, however, went on with his appeal and prayers, but he was soon momentarily overtaken by sleep.
When he woke up he was markedly more cheerful. He said to his Companion:
“Rejoice, Abu Bakr. Victory is certainly coming from God. This is the Angel Gabriel holding the rein of his horse on top of the battle dust.”
The Prophet then went down to give his companions the happy tidings that they would be victorious.
The Role of Angels
A word should be added here about the role of the angels. Muslims believe that in all the campaigns the Muslims fought with the Prophet against the unbelievers, God sent angel troops to support them. The angels would normally stand in support, without taking part in the actual fighting.
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Only in Badr did they fight. The reports about their joining the battle are too numerous to be contradicted. As the battle was about to start, the Prophet said to his companions:
“I have come to know that a few men from the Hashim clan and others have been made to join the army against their will. They have no quarrel with us.
“Anyone of you who meets any Hashemite should not kill him. If you come across Abu Al-Bakhtari ibn Hisham, do not kill him. If you meet Al-Abbas ibn Abd Al-Muttalib, do not kill him. He came out against his will.”
Abu Al-Bakhtari, who was not a Hashemite, was singled out by the Prophet because he was, perhaps, the most moderate among the Quraish in his attitude towards the Prophet. He was indeed one of the five men who successfully mounted the campaign to end the three-year boycott of the Prophet’s clan by the rest of the Quraish.
Abu Al-Bakhtari, however, was met in battle by an Ansari man called Al-Mujaddhar ibn Ziyad, who told him of the Prophet’s specific instruction in his case.
Pointing to a friend who was walking alongside him, Abu al-Bakhtari said: “What about my colleague?”
Al-Mujaddhar said: “We will not let him off. The Prophet’s instruction applies only to you.”
Abu al-Bakhtari said: “Then both of us will die together. No woman in Makkah shall say that I have abandoned my friend in order to save my own life.”
He then fought Al-Mujaddhar, who killed him. Al-Mujaddhar then went to the Prophet to apologize and explain that Abu Al-Bakhtari refused to be taken captive and was determined to fight.
To be continued…